Welcome to The Book of Bones, a weekly adventure story. If you’re just joining the story, click here for Chapter 1.
“The Book of Bones, Mike. I need to find it.” Amanda folded her arms and tapped her foot on the carpeted floor. “It’s important.”
A curtain of denial lowered over Madden’s face. “There’s no such thing.”
“Yes, there is.”
“Come on, Amanda.” Madden forced a chuckle. “I know you’ve been writing about some odd stuff but you act like you’re beginning to believe it.” He took two steps back and dropped into the leather chair behind his desk.
“I know it was here, Michael.” Amanda’s icy tone sent a chill down Bones’ spine.
Madden lowered his head and stared resolutely at his desk.
“What is the Book of Bones? Did all my exes get together and write a slam book or something?” The joke did little to lighten the mood.
“It’s a Native American artifact. Inside it is recorded myths, legends, and history of the Anasazi.”
Jessie frowned. “The Anasazi? Aren’t they a lost tribe?”
“Not exactly,” Bones said. “Most likely they migrated and became the forerunners of the modern Puebloan peoples.”
“Aren’t they supposedly bad news? I read their name means something weird, like…” She narrowed her eyes, thinking.
“It means ‘Ancient People’,” Madden supplied.
“That’s the modern spin,” Bones said. “People are trying to put a better face on the name. It’s actually a Navajo word that means ‘Ancient Enemy.’”
“So, what’s our interest in this book?” Jessie asked.
“The Book of Bones includes stories of Anasazi contact with dwellers beneath the earth,” Amanda began. “And not just the legends we’re familiar with. Reportedly, it includes remarkable details, including the location of the path to the world beneath, and accounts of men who visited there.”
Madden shook his head. “I’m telling you, Amanda, it’s a bunch of crap. I’ve lost count of how many conspiracy theorists have come to me with this same story. If it’s so real, why are there no records?”
“Because it’s hidden here, suppressed because the contents are too… I don’t know, sensational, dangerous.’
“It’s not here.”
Amanda leaned forward, resting her palms on Madden’s desk.
“I know it was here. Klaus Fuchs mentions it in his journal. He personally examined it and what he read scared him to death. So much that he couldn’t wait to get out of New Mexico.”
“Who is this Fuchs guy?” Jessie asked.
“A spy,” Bones growled. “He was a German socialist who worked on the Manhattan Project. During World War II and the early part of the Cold War he supplied secrets to the Russians.”
“That part doesn’t interest me so much,” Amanda said, her eyes still boring into Madden. “What interests me is the fact that he saw the Book of Bones in the secret library here at Los Alamos.” She softened her tone. “Michael, someone tried to kill Bones and Jessie because of this.”
“Then they ought to leave it alone.” Madden’s voice trembled.
The man was hiding something, and Bones knew it. For a moment he considered beating the secret out of Madden, but dismissed the idea. The guy was probably afraid of whoever it was that had come after Bones, and Bones wasn’t willing to do what it would take to make himself seem the deadlier threat. Besides, if this Book of Bones really was hidden in a secret library, they’d need someone to get them in.
“Please,” Jessie said. “It’s too late for us to back off. They think we have information they want, and the only way we can end this is to get to the bottom of the mystery.”
Madden wilted under the pleading gazes of the two attractive women.
“All right,” he said, his shoulders sagging. “It does exist. But I wasn’t lying when I said it isn’t here.”
“Where is it?” Amanda asked.
“You have got to be freaking kidding me.” Bones stood, closed his eyes, and pressed his hands to his temples, fighting back the urge to hit something or someone. We can’t catch a break. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, lowered his hands, and opened his eyes. “Any idea who took it?”
Madden shrugged. “I have my suspicions, but it’s only that. I don’t know anything for certain.”
“Tell us,” Amanda said.
“Several years back, the library brought in a researcher on contract. He was a little odd, but when you’re surrounded by scientists and librarians, odd is normal. Anyway, not long after his contract ended, someone realized the book was gone. No one made the connection, but later I found out he’s a conspiracy nut. He’s all into the pyramids and ancient aliens and all that stuff. He would definitely be interested in the book. I passed my suspicions along to my supervisor, but Krueger had disappeared.”
“Would he have had access to the secret library?” Amanda asked.
“No, but he worked with at least one person who does, and rumor has it, they were an item.”
Bones couldn’t believe his luck. All the tension drained from his body. He smiled and reached out to shake Madden’s hand. “Mister Madden, you’ve been more help than you could possibly know.”
He turned and strode out of the office, leaving a surprised-looking Madden behind and Amanda and Jessie hurrying to catch up.
“All right, Bones,” Amanda said when they were back inside the car, “what’s the deal? Do you know this Krueger?”
“We’ve met.” Bones grinned, enjoying the chance to repay Amanda for her earlier secrecy.
“Do you know where he is now?” Jessie asked. “Madden said he disappeared.”
“No, but I know someone who can reach out to him.” A sudden thought struck him and his glee evaporated.
“What’s wrong?” Amada asked.
“I just realized something. If we want to get to Krueger, I’m going to have to call yet another ex-girlfriend.”