THE GLOBAL MARK
© Johny Noer - www.noer.info


Chapter 1

A man ran quickly along the stones of the wall. They were lit up to show the warm yellow colours of the ancient towers. The man ran in the direction of the steps that led to a mighty portal. Then he made a way for himself through busy, black-dressed Jews, veiled women, tourists and Arabian dealers, who pulled loaded donkeys and small wagons behind them. Finally he came to the steps, leading up to the gate entrance.

Arriving there, he turned to see if he was followed. He glanced over the town. On the street beneath him a blue police car was parked. A young pair was taken to the side. Their papers were studied. Then they were ordered into the police car, which sped them in the direction of the centre…

A shot was heard, and the man at the door turned. He stared watchfully towards the park by the Sultan's Pool. There, also, an EU-jeep was parked. A man tried to flee, but was apprehended and pulled into the jeep.

An Arabian youngster came towards the stranger at the door. He held out his hand. At first the tall, thin, European-clad young man stared at the outstretched hand. He shook his head, and then changed his mind. He woke from his absent-mindedness, put his hand in the pocket, and gave a coin to the boy.

Two men in uniform watched the stranger from a nearby stone terrace. The stranger walked into the portal. The street noise at the Jaffa gate in Jerusalem is tremendous. But under the massive stone portals the noise seemed to come from another world. The two uniformed men neared the gate. In the dim light of the arch, the stranger quickly went to a large stone in the wall. His hand searched the spaces between the huge stones. His eyes watched the entrance.

Suddenly his gaze turns to the stonewall, from where he carefully pulls a rolled up piece of paper. Eagerly he opens it up and reads it. There is only one sentence. It seems to make a great impression. His face shows pain. Then he raises his gaze to heaven with prayer. His lips moving, it seems as if for the moment he has forgotten all around him.

In the light of the entrance two figures approach slowly. A dark shadow falls over the stranger’s hand. Somebody tears the paper away. The young man looks up in shocked surprise. The two policemen from the stony terrace stand before him.

"Your passport, please!"

The young European searches his inner pocket, pulls out a wine-red passport and passes it on to one of the men. The other one, meanwhile, looks suspiciously at the paper. He reads in broken English:

"But think of the former days! Antoinette."

"Mr. Jan Apostolou?"

The camouflaged EU-policeman looks at the stranger; he repeats the name from the passport. "Is that you?"

"Yes."

"From Athens?"

"Yes."

"Film producer?"

"Yes."

"What kind of films?"

The Greek doesn't answer right away. Then he says: "Romantic films."

"Antoinette, who is Antoinette?" The policeman raises the piece of paper.

"Antoinette is girlfriend," says the Greek. "It’s is a love letter." He points to the crumpled piece of paper. "She reminds me of our first days. She is French. Speaks with unusual wordings, but I know what she means."

"The former times," reads the police officer.

"Yes, a queer way to express yourself," laughs the stranger. "I would have written: Don't forget our first date ….the beautiful days in Patmos!" He looks up dreamily. "

The two men look at each other knowingly. "The first days," says one with a twinkle. "Yes," answers the Greek and closes his eyes: The former days!" He stands still, raising his arms slowly.

"Here’s, your passport," interrupts the other policeman, "and your love-letter!" He gives the young dreamer his passport and the crumpled paper. Then the two camouflaged men turn and exit by the gate door.

People stream by, Arabs, Jews, tourists, black-clad Muslim women. The young Greek takes a book from his pocket, looks cautiously around, and finds a certain page." Think of the former days," he reads softly, continuing," in which, after you have been inspired, you endured much sorrow and pain."

"I understand, Antoinette," he exclaims. "Hang on, I'm coming." He lays the piece of crumpled paper into the open pages of the book. "A big fight," he whispers. "I am on my way, Antoinette!"

The two policemen returned to their stone terrace, talking. One raises his arms, dreamily. Like the Greek. Then they stop, looking at the doorway. In three jumps the young man is at the lit-up steps of the wall. On the way he bangs against a small wagon at which an Arab is selling bread. The wagon turns over, the bread falls on the cobble stones, and the young man stands still, in surprise. Then he keeps running along the wall into town. The two men follow him with glances only. "Think of the former days," one of them jokes. Both laugh. Jan Apostolou, the film producer from Athens, disappears in the crowd….

Jan storms through the Damascus gate towards the Temple Mount. He passed the temple courtyard, looking for a minute at the place where formerly the blue mosque reigned over the place. Now all he saw was a huge, snow-white building: The Third temple. There was an unusual stillness about this place, where huge, glittering stones rose which were fitted without noisy tools. Jan stood in awe before the high bronze door, which led to the enormous area. It was widened after the earthquake; it looked more like an international palace. Then he ran on through streets and alleys, until he came to an unimposing wooden door that led into an inner courtyard. Here he was met by a large, gray-bearded man in a long, white linen dress.

"Professor Fruchtenbaum!" Jan called, "So good that you are here, I need your help."

The gray beard calmed the young Greek and pointed to a veranda chair. "Sit down." He poured a glass of water, gave it to the breathless, young man: "Drink, and tell me what happened."

"Antoinette is in danger!" Jan arose, but the professor bade him sit down again.

"In danger? How come?"

"That is hard to say. She needs help. She sent me this." The professor put on his narrow glasses, opened the paper, and read the note. Then quietly he took his glasses off. A deep quiet was in the inner court. "Help? What do you mean?" The professor returned the paper. Jan looked for the book in his pocket.

When he found the place with the message, he read it to the professor. "That means, "he continued, "that some knowledge is needed. When we spent a few days in Patmos, we spoke a lot about this…."

"Some knowledge? What do you mean?" The professor leaned forward questioning.

"A code has to be cracked."

"A code?"

"Yes."

"Who is supposed to crack it?"

"You!"

Slowly professor Fruchtenbaum stood up, and walked through the inner courtyard, up and down. With one hand he stroked his beard; at last he stopped before Jan.

"And what sort of code is that?" The tone was sharp. Jan dropped his head.

"The mark!" he whispered.

"What mark?"

"The mark of the beast!"

The face of the bearded man came closer to Jan, and the voice, repeating the question, became milder: "That means?"

Jan arose and went to the door, turned around and answered with a clear voice:"666."

The professor followed Jan. "Where is Antoinette?"

"In the desert."

"More specifically?"

"About l00 km south of the Dead Sea, in the Arava; only l5 km from the former Jordanian border, not far from the Spice Route that led from Petra to Gaza. They have found her trail!"

"And if they catch her?"

"They will test her with the mark. They know that millions of EU- citizens will not take the mark because of their faith. So they want to experiment on some people whom they have their eyes on..."

"And Antoinette is one of these?"

"Yes."

"And I," said the professor sceptically, "what can I do?"

"Crack the code!"

 

Professor Fruchtenbaum sank into the veranda chair. Jan bowed towards him. "Antoinette should know how far she can go- and when is the time for her to refuse! She tries to stay in hiding, but it is only a matter of time. The enemy is at her heels. If we come too late, that's her end. They will use the Mark to separate all EU-citizens who seem dangerous to them. Antoinette will be used as a sample to find out how far they can go. Break the code, professor Fruchtenbaum, so we can tell her and others, how to play along with this evil, and still survive."

The professor stood up. "Well," he said, let us get moving." Both men entered the house. In the street outside the wooden door the police walked up and down with lanterns. They held them high. One of them knocked on the door.

*

Columns of ochre yellow sand swept over the desert plains. Twirling sand-devils danced between the mountains, they made an impression of fire. Somewhere between the sand dunes a lovely figure appears, like a tiny boat in the desert ocean, making its way through the howling weather.

It was a woman in flowing garments. Head completely covered against the sand storm. Every once in a while she stumbles and falls, and rests there a while, totally exhausted. As she passed The Oasis of Twelve Palms, not far from the border fort of King Solomon, she noticed a round, white tent. It was flat and had a copula, and seemed out of another world. The tent openings were shut tight, but through the center came a fine line of smoke, that blew violently in the wind. An unearthly homestead? The woman fought her way to the tent, calling weakly: "Help, Help."

A few persons sat inside. A fire in the center lit up the tent. Through a metal pipe the smoke was channelled up into a small opening. Red carpets covered the ground. The tent was roomy and separated into different sections with beds and other furniture.

A woman in a woollen dress sat by the fire, stirring in a kettle. Humming quietly as she worked. A crowd of children sat around her. A white-haired man, also in Western clothes, sat by candle light over some books. In spite of the strong storm beating against the tent, there was perfect calm inside.

Suddenly all lifted their heads, listening. Through the walls of the tent came a weak "Help, help." The man and some of the older youngsters sprang up, opened the tied door and disappeared into the darkness. A wind and sand billowed through the tent. The fire flickered. The door opened again, and the man and boys carried a woman in. They laid her on one of the beds, fastened the door again. The woman beside the fire got up and examined the lifeless figure. She opened her coat, brushed the sand out of her eyes; with a spoon she slowly fed soup to the stranger. The woman rallied and took more soup. The children and the man stood nearby, silently anticipating how new strength would return to her. She opened her eyes, and weakly whispered "Thank you. All started talking happily in a Scandinavian language. Before the woman fell into a peaceful sleep, the man bowed down:" What’s your name?"

She answered, "Antoinette, from France." Thank you, merci, merci, God bless you."

The family gathered around the fire. The storm died down. Dogs barked into the night. The man opened a big book. All joined in with songs in this unusual language. It sounded like prayers. The children were covered in blankets; the candles extinguished. Only the fire lit up the place. There was a wonderful, unexplainable peace within that white, flat tent.

Outside the moon hid in dark clouds sailing by. The dogs growled. From one of the sand dunes nearby a magnifying glass was directed toward the lonely tent. People up there were talking in German. Some dessert jeeps with the blue EU flag were visible behind the sandbanks. On the doors signs were painted. As the dark clouds opened up, the moonlight revealed an Iron Cross: The German Iron Cross.

*

The soldiers in the small German EU –contingent called him "Kaiser Wilhelm". Not that they showed any historical knowledge, but they joined the emperor's name with Prussia, old military tradition from the l9th century, Bismarck, and "Im Gleichschritt, marsch!" Nobody knew his real name. Even the officers called him "Kaiser Wilhelm." It didn't seem to bother the oil- and dust-covered sergeant. He was now looking through the glasses at the tent and the wildly barking dogs…

"Damned dogs," he growled, and retreated slowly behind the sandbank. "She is in there; the girl is in the tent. For now we will wait quietly here. She is only 600 yards away....."

The men looked at each other, knowingly. Kaiser Wilhelm turned to the tired group: "Repeat."

"600 yards, Sergeant."

"Good," called Kaiser Wilhelm, satisfied. That's how it will be. 600 yards" He tasted the words calmly with his tongue, and then ordered arrogantly: "Repeat."

"600 yards, sergeant," they answered, as if in sleep. It was obvious that this scene was repeated daily.

"And again," ordered Kaiser Wilhelm merrily.

"600 yards, sergeant," the men answered in monotone, as they finished camouflaging the four jeeps.

´"Well done," said Kaiser Wilhelm with a somewhat crazy look. 600 yards, now she is only 600 yards away. But we are waiting a while. What’ that? Who have we here? Who are these people? Only 600 yards away from here?"

It was no secret that Kaiser Wilhelm loved signs and numbers. Insignias, flags and numbers were his first love. He never rested before taking down the blue EU- flag with l8 stars, rolling them up and inserting them in their covers. If it rained, the flags had to be dried first. "18 stars," he taught his men, that’s three times six, a holy number. Of course more states will be added into our global unity, but the number of stars has to follow some anointed rhythm" Kaiser Wilhelm nodded ecstatically. "Three times six, a pretty number."

When he passed one of their military vehicles, he stroked the military emblem on the doors. "The Iron Cross," he whispered, wonderful symbol: Iron and Cross!"

"The Iron Cross was founded in l8l3 as a Prussian order," he used to say to the uninterested group of soldiers, and continued: "and would be given as the highest military decoration under Kaiser Wilhelm." "The Iron Cross got renewed in l870, l9l4, and l939, with oak leaves. The Iron Cross is related to the Lombardian Iron Crown, and it is said ..." every time Kaiser Wilhelm came to this part of his lecture, he could hardly retain the tears: "It is said that one of the nails of Christ is embedded in it. I myself saw the crown. It is visible in the cathedral of Monza ..."

Because of his public, religious beliefs this German sergeant was chosen for the special work of trailing special people…

During the last years the authorities realized that a peculiar class of citizens was potential enemies of the system. They enjoyed the security and well-being of the new system, but were against the laws of the constitution and would not bow to them. So the authority of Brussels decided to get rid of them. Simple enough. They were put in jail, then the Mark was presented to them. 'Where there was resistance, more pressure was used. In that way it was apparent how global registering could be accomplished. "The Mark" was the best way to find the undesirables - and eliminate them!

Kaiser Wilhelm was a good, faithful Christian soldier, enrolled in the "Hunters". He was expected to make order with tact. He was not to kill, only to find. For the next step other people were ready to take over. "Ours is a comfortable job," Kaiser Wilhelm would explain to his soldiers. "That's why we wait for the sunrise. We don't wake people in the middle of the night. We are polite, and keep 600 yards distance."

The tired men exchanged glances.

"Repeat," ordered Kaiser Wilhelm with a yawn.

"600 yards, sergeant," answered the sleepy group.

"Again," whispered the Kaiser, half asleep.

"600 yards, sergeant..."