"Tell me now!"

"I don't know what you're talking about!" my father cried.

"Don't give me that crap. You've been a guardian of it for near a decade now." The gun clicked.

"Dad, what's he talking about?"

"I don't know, son," my father replied never taking his eyes off the man with the gun still pointed at his head.

"Don't shoot that bullshit. You know damn well what and where it is"

As the moon crept over the rooftops of the brick sided buildings creating the ally my father and I were trapped in I got my first glimpse of the dark clad man with the gun's face. He was truly much younger than I imagined; maybe only mid 20s instead of the high 30s that I had thought. The beaklike nose that protruded from the middle of his face looked like it had been broken more than its fair share of times. His contorted mouth twisted into a crooked snarl as if he'd just eaten something horribly rotten. But most of all his eyes, his green, demon-like eyes that could easily pierce an unknowing soul with a single glance that currently stared straight into my father's aging face.

I tried to remember why and how we got there.

I recall that my father and I had been out to a movie that he had promised to take me to a few weeks prior until he got an urgent call from his office saying that they needed him as soon as possible. My hereditary stubbornness made it difficult for my father to convince me to leave, but finally I had to give in and we left the theater and started down the nighttime street. It was then, after about five minutes of fast-paced walking that my father noticed that we were being slyly followed. Then the man pulled out a jet-black gun that gleamed in the pale moonlight and told us to get into the ally coming up on our right and, seeing no other alternative, we obliged. I remember I wasn't too happy about missing the movie and I was scared out of my mind of the man with the gun so my father, being the kind and caring soul that he is, took off his vintage Indiana Jones-style fedora and gave it to me to help me remain calm and it somewhat helped.

I now cling to that hat as if my life depended on it.

"Fine," Dark Clad said brutally interrupting my thoughts, "If you won't tell me what I want now then clearly I have chosen the wrong pressure point."

It was then he took his well-polished gun and redirected it at me.

I stared straight up the barrel and imagined the small seemingly bullet lying in wait in the dark chamber. Waiting for Dark Clad to pull the trigger to cause the miniscule explosion that would send that seemingly harmless bullet into my skull and bring my life to a very untimely end. It's kind of funny really that an object so small can cause so much harm to anything.

"I'm sure, Dr. Lostrunn that you would be more than willing to divulge the whereabouts of the book so I can find what I seek for the life of your precious twelve-year-old son. Am I right?" asked Dark Clad as he gave a cruel smirk.

For the first time in a long while, I saw a real and honest look of dread cross my father's aging features. His careful hands tensed. His well-toned muscles contracted. His bulbous nose flared open. His gray/blue eyes, my eyes, widened.

"Alright!" my father pleaded, "Alright! Alright! Alright! I don't know the book's exact location, but–"


"But! I do know the clue that can lead to it."

"Well then, what is it?" Dark Clad demanded.

I turned to face my father and saw that he was kneeling, like I was, on the cold, dark ground. He then began to recite this clue as if he'd practiced it a hundred times over.

"Find the address to a code.

Where a tree of riches is beginning to corrode.

Find it in the knowledge of the world some say.

Of nations, and powers, and islands far away."

"If there's one thing I didn't want," Dark Clad said, "It was a goddam riddle. What does it mean?!"

"I don't know," my father replied.

"What do you mean 'I don't know'?"

"I'm only a guardian. I don't know the meaning, merely the phrase."

Dark Clad paused for a moment and put a quite sarcastic questioning look on his young, but scarred, face.

"So then," he said in a playful voice, "You do in fact admit to knowing the mysterious clue and of being a guardian, but you don't know what any of it means. You must merely be a 30th degree."

"Of what?" my father asked.

"Please, don't play coy with me," he waved the gun around as if it were nothing more than a stupid child's toy, "I'm really not in the mood. You are a 30th degree Free Mason you idiot."

My eyes went wide and I stared at my father in absolute bewilderment. For the past three years I had been obsessed with the Free Masons hoping to, one day, join their ranks. And now learning that my own father was one of them, and a 30th degree no less, was astounding. From what I'd learned, my father was almost at the top of the Masons whose ranks only rose to the godly number 33 and that once one got there, all of their secrets were revealed.

"How do you know?" my father asked, for he seemed as astonished as I was.

"It really wasn't that hard seeing as though that necklace you're wearing contains the iconic compass and square enclosing that little 'G'."

I recalled reading in a book on the Free Masons that the "G" in their symbol was identical in meaning to the Hebrew letter "YOD" and that that particular letter was located on the Scottish Right ring and represented deity and the worshiped phallus.

Now as I searched I saw the symbol too. I had many times asked my father what was on that necklace of his seeing as though he always kept it hidden under his shirt, but time and time again he would deny me saying, "When you're older." Apparently that time has now come though not by my father's choosing, but by the selection of Dark Clad who was still threatening to end my beloved life.

"I knew I should have done a better job at hiding that."

"Well doctor, you shouldn't be all that surprised. After all, you don't specialize in hiding objects, you only learn about them long after they're discovered and then teach others about them."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that it wasn't just the blatantly obvious necklace that told me you were of the cult called th–"

"We are not a cult!" my father interrupted.

"A secret society then? Hm?"

"No. Being a secret society actually implies that you don't want anyone knowing about your group or your meeting places. Well now if that was what we wanted to be, we're doing one hell of a crappy job. No, we are not a secret society, but instead a society with secrets."

"Fine then," Dark Clad said, "but even so, it wasn't only the necklace that aided me in determining that you are with the Masons, but also your profession."

"My profession?" my father asked in wonder.

"That is correct. Come now professor, everyone knows what you teach. History, which makes you a nice addition to the Masons. And not only that but also your undying amount of loyalty and trust in your friends."

"How do you know all this about my job and more importantly my friends?"

"You see, that's the exact kind of loyalty that I am referring to. And now to answer your rather stupid question, it is traitors. Yes. Traitors Dr. Lostrunn. Traitors, you see, in this day and age are quite easy to come by. You can't even walk down the street without meeting a traitor of some sort."

"None of my friends would betray me," my father insisted.
"Oh don't be so sure my dear doctor. Many a friend or colleague can be influenced after being introduced to a certain Mr. Franklin a few times."

"You evil bastard!"

I'd never heard my father swear that badly before so one could imagine my shock when he said that. This only added to the confusion and chaos currently burning white hot within the confines of my head. At this rate I wouldn't be able to handle many more of these strange surprises.

Now I could hear the feint noise of sirens in the distance. Someone must have called the police because of all the commotion going on out here. Not to mention that this was becoming a pretty unsafe part of town. That would mean that this guy would need to finish up real quick which was a bad thing for my father and me because it meant that sooner rather than latter he was going to have to pull that trigger. Now I for one wasn't about to sit by and just let that happen.

My father and Dark Clad were still talking so I, using them as a distraction, hurled myself onto Dark Clad's back.

He bucked and squirmed but he couldn't get me off his back. Eventually though, he grabbed hold of the collar of my shirt and flung me off his back onto the dark, hard bricks that made up the ground.

Now if one was like me in assuming that Dark Clad only had a gun than the both of us would be sadly mistaken. For he, from his pocket, produced a four-inch-long switch blade which shimmered in the bright white of the moon and began to vigorously attempt to slash at me with it while still keeping the gun pointed at my father as to insure that he wouldn't make any unplanned attempt to move or get up.

At first I thought that he had just the worst aim of anyone on the planet until I felt a sharp piercing pain penetrate my body and shoot through my central nervous system into my brain causing me to collapse to the ground. Hard.

Once I was firmly on the pavement with my senses back, I checked the slash mark. It wasn't as bad I had first thought although it was still pretty deep. It ran from bellow my left cheekbone almost to my lip and was now bleeding profusely. I then remembered what I'd learned in school and applied pressure to it.

"Anyways," said Dark Clad, "I thank you for the information, professor."

And then the thing that I had been dreading happened. Dark Clad pulled the trigger.

The repetitive and ungodly bang of the gun as bullet after bullet left the well-polished barrel tore into my innocent father ripped into my eardrums.

I heard the gun click as a signal that no more lead remained inside the magazine.

Nine rounds. That evil menace sent nine freakin' rounds into my kind-hearted father and, as far as I could tell, felt no guilt whatsoever. Right then and there I made up my mind that this "man" was evil to the greatest extent of the word and then some.

I felt a great sting and realized that it came from my new fast-forming salty tears pouring down my face and into my open wound. True sorrow gripped me as I refused to accept the truth, that Dark Clad had just brutally and unfairly murdered my father. A flood of familiar memories returned to my eyes and some I didn't even know I still had. I continued to sob as I crawled towards my father's still bleeding body. I could see the look of surprised terror still upon his permanently frozen face. I took his hand from the ground and held it. I held it as if I could somehow bring him back if I held on long enough. If I hoped long enough. I turned my head and looked with tear blurred eyes at the vile murderer. I felt that he should say something. Anything. But what did Dark Clad do but laugh; he laughed even as he ran from the ally.