SNEAK PEEK: The Vril Codex by Ben Manning

The Vril Codex by Ben Manning

 

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Available Now!

 

SYNOPSIS

Discover the world of Vril Chronicles…

 

Chilling nightmare horror in the dark bleak landscape of Berlin…

 

In the first novel ever written about Vril and the Nazi’s, enter a strange subterranean world  brought to life, as we enter the weird world of the immortal called Helena Hister…

 

Vril is a force which to believers can heal or destroy beings and things.  It is both a force for good or a force for evil and the cult that surrounds it will do anything to secure that power…

 

For famous journalist Jane Wilkinson, a peaceful architectural assignment in Berlin is a chance for some much needed relaxation.

 

Until she notices that something very sinister is happening…

 

Until she is touched by an occult evil more terrifying than anything she has ever known.  An evil that will engulf her and reach out remorselessly to her husband Bob as he is literally haunted by his wife after her mysterious death, and tries to discover her fate and what lies beneath the ancient legend of the VRIL CODEX…

 

Part romance, part conspiracy thriller, involving Nazi‘s, the mysterious cults of the “Thule Society“, and the “Devils Bible“, supernatural forces and conspiracies combine, leading Bob and his companions into danger and a confrontation with the ancient Vril power…

 

Real life conspiracy theories are combined with Norse myth and a fantasy world to bring you a controversial heart stopper thriller with a science fiction twist.

 

 

EXCERPT

 

Fact:

The ‘Devil’s Bible’ really exists, so called because of its large frontispiece illustration of the Devil and the medieval legend surrounding its creation.

The Thule Society included Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler as members.  The Nazis believed in Vril.  A power and force that could heal, change, and destroy beings and things. They masterminded the “Coming Race” ideology and “Storm troopers of Satan” phrase, yet the former was derived simply from a work of fiction they believed to be rooted in truth.

Fact or fiction?  You decide…


 

Prologue

Gothic Berlin

 

It was a night full of moonlight, and it filled the sky of a bleak Berlin Landscape.  Strange sounds echoed around the dark looming fortress from the River Oder.  Carved by the main gate, gargoyles stared downward along the walls, vying for attention from the ancient god Odin who looked on from beyond our earthly realm.  The demons carved in the ornate gate were surrounded by rune symbols, greeting any knowing visitor.  There was a stirring inside the Germanic tower of the mansion; its gothic castle style façade looked bleak and uninviting.  Outside shuffling could be heard on the steps to the looming tower. A figure was lit in the moonlight, a young woman, moving erratically, her feet echoing and thudding around the old stonewalls.  When she reached the gate she stopped, having been there only minutes before.  She reached for the rope she had attached previously to the spikes at the top of the gate, above the staring gargoyles.  The gargoyles seemed to be laughing at her, at least in her imagination, as she struggled.  Their expression mocked her seeming greed.  She was returning to what she believed originally from tip-offs in the criminal underworld would be a successful hunting ground.

 

On breaking in earlier she knew she had dropped the most valuable goblet.  Now she must retain her nerve and get back in and get it!  Clutching her backpack she pulled herself upward then swung herself over the top, keeping hold of the rope.  The walls around her and the gate itself were steep.  She carefully lowered herself, keeping a keen eye on the ground below.  As she reached the ground she lost her grip, falling and misjudging her distance from the ground she fell, damaging her foot, tearing her backpack on one of the prominent spikes.  The contents of her bag spilled to the floor, gold goblets, ancient plates, amulets and ornate knives clanking onto the paving, shimmering in the moonlight.

Nervously she attempted to retrieve the contents, panting and panicking in equal measure.  The moonlight felt like a burning sun on her back as it revealed her silhouette.  Above her the malevolent beasts looked down – menacing and evil, wise and omnipotent.  As she grabbed the largest goblet in her hand suddenly all the wind and sounds stopped in an unnerving silence, as if time stood still.  Nothing moved.  After a few seconds she dropped the artifacts and goblets into her bag and thankfully became aware, again, of the surrounding noises, insects and the sound of the nearby river. Reasserting herself she fumbled for the remaining antiquities, most importantly the goblets, but stopping she suddenly became aware of a faint noise steadily increasing… as if to the beat of her palpitating heart.  It was unlike anything she had heard before.  It increased, becoming deafening.  As she moved forward she grabbed her belongings and began to run toward the tower but the noise seemed to be following her, coming from the gate.  Suddenly she was paralyzed, the undergrowth and long grass entangling her feet.  She could not move, the eerie noise surrounding her head in a maddening cacophony.  Looking up, it seemed the roaring gargoyles and devils appeared to be roaring in an unstoppable frenzy as the noise increased.

 

Nearly dropping her hoard she began running back toward the gate her legs pumping and thudding on the concrete.  Her breathing was heavy and frantic, she gasped as a pain gripped her.  She threw herself against the wooden gate, the old locks rattling like chains.  Pulling herself up and over the gothic gateway once again, she dropped her backpack, and it thudded to the ground.  Now as the humming menace roared, her only thought was escape.  Dropping downwards she discarded any thoughts of recovering what she had stolen.  She ran screaming into the night, gripped by a kind of mania.

Still the buzzing noises persisted.  Tripping, the shadow surrounded her.  Getting up she flung her arms out as if fighting off a swarm of bees, or as if fires were surrounding her.  She moved forward blindly but realized, far too late, that she was falling.  She plunged over into the canal, a deep chasm of darkness.  Falling to her death, yet suddenly as her last scream echoed the shadow evaporated.  It had all been in her mind.  As her psychically induced hallucination faded she fell to her death.

The haunting melody of Wagner could be heard from the house.  From the tower above the music emanated from an old 1930’s gramophone player.  It could be heard over the wind.  Above, a woman, Helena Von Hister, was standing by a window alongside the record player.  The 78rpm record spun round.  The window was ajar and she stood staring into the darkness.  Her hair black as night, she was beautiful.  She had an ageless face, but her features were dispassionate. She stood motionless, gazing to where the body of the thief (or possible assassin) floated briefly, then sunk with eyes lifeless into the dark waters….

Chapter One

In every dream home heartache

 

The Wilkinson’s house stood on a quiet side road leading off from Barnes High Street.  Barnes village, as it was known, was adjacent to the long leafy Castlenau road.  It was a spacious but simple home, with modern and old-fashioned style.  Its furnishings worked nicely but had a traditional sense of cosy home-like sensibility, without being pretentious.  In the front room, chairs, cabinets, paintings and tables all reflected the Wilkinson’s individual tastes based on experiences and memories, rather than any need to impress anyone else.  Functional and stylish at the same time, there were paintings on the walls.  They mixed traditional landscapes with modern oddball art.  Though they had the money, the artist didn’t concern the Wilkinson’s, as long as Jane or Bob liked them or had a sentimental connection with the piece. Various news journals and popular newspapers rubbed shoulders with highbrow broadsheets and magazines.  Under distinctive headlines to articles of war and tyranny and the greed of big business, there proudly sat the name Jane Wilkinson ‘photographer and journalist’.   Another article, ‘The future of the environment by Jane Wilkinson’, showed her depth and scope.

 

Jane had specially mounted framed copies of these many articles, but they were somewhere in the loft; she was far too modest to display them, preferring visitors to stumble upon both her photography and her journalism.  It was an unusual marriage of opposites, rather like Jane and Bob’s marriage.   On this evening she sat head in hands.  Jane frowned as the images flashed on her laptop in front of her.  Images poured from all manner of website, her research fascinated her but made her feel desperate for humanity at the same time.

 

At 25 years of age, seemingly carefree, young and sexy, she had a maturity and knowledge far beyond her years.  Wilkinson knew too well the scenes of horror and depravity in front of her.  Whether it was of war or the corruption of those in high places, she had seen it all, as her furrowed brow attested.  She looked up at a mournful portrait of Marilyn Monroe on the wall and she sat back, breaking the patterns of memories in her mind these images stirred.  Leaning forward she poured another glass of red wine, swirling the glass in her hand.  Her face was interesting, with wide childlike eyes, rather like those of her favorite actress.

 

Disturbing her from a seeming reverie, a newsman popped up on a YouTube piece of footage. “Robert Stephens, owner of ROGCO to attend conference on fighting third world debt,” said the newsman.

Jane chuckled to herself.  “Positive propaganda,” she whispered under her breath.  Despite her reverie she focused enough to turn off her laptop, as Bob and Sally Baldwin came in from the hallway.

“Honestly I’m not kidding,” Baldwin was explaining, precariously trying not to spill her tea and biscuits, “You have the best men in the world”.

Bob smiled to himself and murmured under his breath.

“I don’t think George would like that very much dear.” He sat down sweeping his stylish hair back.

“Even he would agree with me,” she replied.

 

Sally set a table of various biscuits with a large antique teapot full of fresh tea.  Baldwin was a sturdy buxom woman in her early forties, abrupt and bossy in a schoolteacher kind of way. She was Jane’s agent and longtime confidant. A former journalist herself and now a press agent, she ran her own agency taking care of various journalists and press photographers.

“My hubby knows he is no ideal Englishman that the Americans lap up.”

Turning to Jane she continued. “You’re a lucky bitch you know that don’t you… not that I am convinced these American fantasy squeaky clean Englishmen even exist, but Bob’s pretty close!”

“There’s nothing lucky about meeting Bob,” Jane said smiling at her OTT American friend.

“He is my man, he’s gorgeous and he knows it.”

She leaned over seductively giving Bob a peck on the cheek, sending him red with a mixture of embarrassment, rather like a doted on child.  He felt intense sexual desire. “He was just an innocent when I first met him, I’ve taught him everything he knows, isn’t that right darling?” she said with a naughty sexy grin.

“Absolutely.” Grinning he glanced at Baldwin.

“I humor her, it’s the only way!”

 

Standing behind the sofa Jane became distant, wistful, always observing like an artist, savoring the simple domestic bliss.  She knew as a go-getter that life was about taking risks, living on the edge for her art.  All the life-threatening experiences had built up a long list in her short life.  Now simply being and living was enough.  Best of all was what lay in front of her, her home and her friends, and her husband who was so special to her.  Bob was her soulmate. She thought how she had been told marriage would change her life and hold her back and that she would settle down.  However, her hunger for danger and cozy domesticity had never left her.  Danger and life on the edge drove her, but there were always the protective arms of Bob to reassure her.

“Sugar or not?”

Sally asked the question of Bob whilst aiming to pour the beautiful earthenware teapot.

“No sugar thank you,” said Bob nodding toward the laptop.

“What’s going on in the world tonight then Jane?” he asked.

Jane moved over to the drinks cabinet, preferring a Brandy it seemed to the incumbent tea.

“No change, still a mess,” Jane replied.

“Brandy?” she asked turning round.

“That’s a silly question,” said Sally.

She knew not to ask Bob.  He had been virtually teetotal for years.  Jane walked back to the table inside always admiring Bob’s understated decency.

“When is George back Sally?” remarked Jane, going along with the somewhat trivial nature of proceedings thus far.

“Next week, as long as his mums health has improved… bless him.”

 

Baldwin sniffed the brandy. “Hmmm smells of oak, thank you.”

Suddenly business was in the offing.

“When have you got to catch that plane on Monday Jane?”

“Five-thirty AM straight to Berlin.  I could have done without the early start but Berlin is a direct flight thank God!”

Baldwin sat in the chair opposite, with a mocking expression, but soothingly she sympathized.

“I hate early mornings too darling.”

Jane crossed the room looking at the various magazine and newspaper articles of hers arranged by Bob of course.

“I’m really not looking forward to this job it’s not my scene at all, horrible place,” she said.

“You will be OK once you’ve got there, they say it has the most vibrant art and young people’s scene in Europe,” said Bob reassuringly.

“It’s too late the contract is signed, it’s a done deal, darling,” asserted the breathy and husky businesslike voice of Sally’s, sounding terribly like an over the top acting coach.

“I closed that deal sweetheart and you know I did a great job.”

Jane whispered in reply. “I agreed in a moment of weakness, you know how it is.”

Sally blurted back. “Oh c‘mon, you’d have to be insane to have turned that down!”

“Steve Blake rang me today, there’s another job in Iraq I’d love to get my teeth into,” replied Jane with an expression that conveyed she felt it a more relevant assignment. Bobs concern was plain to see.

“Look Jane you’ve risked your neck so many times.  Please don’t do another dangerous job, please.”

Jane replied with a firm tone. “Someone’s got to cover these things and educate others about what is happening.   Can’t you see that?  Breaking news is what I’m good at, a good hard story. Not some sightseeing tour in dreary Germany.”

She looked at Sally, narrowing her brow.

“Yes, but your takes on architecture are always unique, remember the piece you did on Albert Speer, it was highly acclaimed,” Bob responded.

 

Baldwin interjected: “That’s what the broadsheets are doing.  They are after less danger and more creativity and some positive news for a change.”

Baldwin knew her words were nonsense in reality but she along with Bob still tried to continue the persuasion.

“You can’t be Kate Adie and Melvyn Bragg at the same time dear, you need to specialize.  Specialize on something safe for change.  They want to see all things Germanic ancient and modern.  Right now it’s fashionable in all the architectural journals and magazines I’ve been reading.”

Jane looked perplexed.

“But why me?  All my best recent work has been about Zimbabwe, Darfur, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, why middle of the road post retirement stuff?”

“Because…”

Baldwin paused thinking of the best counterargument.

“You won an award with the arts documentary you did on architecture.  Everybody loved it.”

Jane tried to turn the argument around again.

“That was a different situation.  It was a surprise offer and it seemed like something different to show my human creative side.  I’m not a faceless presenter.”

“Everyone knows that you’ve nearly been kidnapped twice for Christ’s sake!” said Baldwin who looked increasingly desperate. Bob smiled over his hot tea at Jane.

“It will only be a few months traveling Germany and Berlin and then you will have a bestseller on your hands because of your reputation alone.”

Jane then winced with guilt.

“Great so all those stories I reported that no one cares about have achieved what… a bestseller?  Well done me!”

 

Sally and Bob looked mystified at each other.

“Look, there’s no law against you taking creative time out in between times and then covering the odd news story,” Bob said.

“I suppose your right,” said Jane grudgingly.

Sally then nearly spilled her tea.

“Preferably you won’t get kidnapped, tortured and murdered!”

Jane then softened, appreciating the tough love coupled with common sense.  She sat by Bob, running her feline fingers sensuously through his hair.

“Would you really miss me darling?”

Bob frowned.

“Don’t ever say that, not even as a joke.”

“Sorry,” said Jane.  Often she didn’t seem to appreciate Bob’s real love for her.

“I’m sorry but I still think this isn’t the right sort of work for my skills.”

“Don’t worry Jane, the publishers know what they are doing, have faith! Besides Bob could join you for a bit of how’s your father! I mean a break in Berlin,” Sally joked.

“Very funny, Sally,” Jane was inside slightly smarting at the over familiar and overbearing agent, however much she was a friend.

“Pity you can’t go out there together Bob,” added Sally.

“Well I’m only halfway through that job for the English Cricket Board.  I’ve used enough paper on this series I can tell you… still, any excuse to see a free Test match. The head guy seems to think highly of my profiles and general work with the players, easy journalism for me really.”  Jane looked at her husband encouragingly.

 

“So he should, you’re like a walking cricket encyclopedia.  I bet you could teach those players a thing or two”.

Sally didn’t usually look after both a journalist and a photographer in one go. Both clients were unique.   Jane whispered to Sally whilst Bob’s back was turned as he went to get a glass of water.

“I think it’s high time Bob was on your books.  He has got to the top of his narrow profession all by himself.  You could get him more varied work and broaden his horizons.”

“Great idea,” whispered Baldwin.

“Let’s branch you into other sports Bob,” said Sally when Bob returned to the room.  “Ever thought of TV presenting? I know a few people in that industry.  Say so and I will get you in there.”

Bob could never take flattery or generosity as it was intended, his modesty found it surprising.

“Surely it’s not that easy?  Actually, much as I’m enjoying it I’m not sure it’s for me long term.  Sports journalism was a lucky break but long term I’m not sure we need two, however different, journalists in one household”.

Sally looked perturbed at the lack of confidence from Bob, how sad she thought to herself.  He had it all, dark good looks, tall, handsome and clever, much like his wife in terms of the looks and the skills, though in truth he was not quite the ideal man each woman in the room perceived.  Bob’s personality and charisma seemed to imply that he had every attribute.  In truth he had struggled with dyslexia all his life and was no more than average in looks.

 

“Hey, you’ve already made it.  So it’s too late you are a cricket journalist and photographer whether you like it or not!  Well, you’re getting paid after all.  It’s not like a hobby to just drop,” said Jane encouragingly.

Bob smiled at Sally.

“I’m freelance.  I had a lucky break at a friend’s cricket dinner, purely networking.  It’s not long before a Cambridge upstart with the right background will gazump me.”

Sally looked impatient.

“Fine, yes, yes, yes, but when you change your mind the offers on the table.”

She clicked her fingers as if it could be his in a thrice.

“Ta,” he said smiling.  Sally smiled at them both.

“A toast I think… here’s to Jane Wilkinson’s arts and design book on Berlin, then and now.”

 

Later on, after a few more brandies and Sally’s hesitant departure, Jane and Bob eased between the sheets and made love.  Their passion for each other was like nothing else either had ever known.  As fresh as a virgin experience, in a frenzy of loving ecstasy, it began as slow loving warm intimate sweetness and culminated in writhing wet thrusting joy.  Soft lights entered through the gaps in the bedroom curtains lighting their limbs entwined, like a sculpture, seeming as one.  They panted like panthers at first gasping for breath, the sweat, sweet and strong bonding them.  Bob smiled at Jane.

“That was indescribable.”

“Better not be, I want a full review written by the morning,” she said smiling.

“I love you.”

“Thank you my love,” said Bob, frowning.

“Ok, but are we going to chat about it now?”

“What about?” said Jane.

“Selling-up and moving down to the Somerset hills,” said Bob excitedly.

“It was only a thought I had traveling back on the train from the Quantocks.” Suddenly she wondered how Bob knew.  He had to be psychic.  For years now she knew when the phone would ring or when an email would arrive from him before it happened.  Bob would suggest something literally as she thought it.  A sixth sense or ESP as it is known.  She viewed this as proof of their love; neither had experienced it with anyone else.

“This is scary, but special,” Jane said pulling him closer.

“Let’s start looking properly,” she agreed.  Together they now lingered longingly.  She turned over with her back to him thinking how lucky she was.  A long dragon tattoo ran the length of her back.  Years of pain, rejection and being used had left her scarred.  She could barely believe she had found such a sensitive kind man.  Together they could do anything she felt.  They were so different.

 

Bob was the son of a politician and from a rich background.  Financially he was secure, but creative too.  In his youth he had dropped out of college and rebelled, even ending up homeless at one point.  In a way he had revisited the working class routes of his family history, going back decades.  His father’s history was very much a rags to riches story.  In contrast hers had been a checkered past.  From a rundown area of London’s East End, all she had ever had as a young girl were her looks.

 

Soon she found funding university was no problem, through a variety of means, the sex industry being one of them.  Usually she turned to stripping in West Soho nightclubs.  She had even worked as an exclusive escort as a young 18-year-old.  But thankfully these roots were forgotten, the newspapers unaware.  A truth that even Bob had accepted.  It was in the past… gone.  Their closeness took her away from her aims and goals, which disturbed her.  But she enjoyed every moment; it helped her to live.  Their minds and body’s were so immaculately matched.  She looked at Bob.

“I wish I wasn’t going away.   I can’t live or function sometimes without you darling.”  “Don’t say that,” said Bob.

“We need this bit of extra money and Sally would do her nut… besides I need a break,” he joked.

Jane hugged him Bob closely.  A fearful foreboding hollow pit in her stomach rose as she thought of the Berlin trip.  Something she hadn’t felt for years; like a first day at school.  She put it down to the fact that Bob meant everything to her.  She couldn’t live without him she thought, and sighed contentedly.

 

 

Chapter Two

A Peaceful Assignment…

 

“We announce the arrival of Flight RV 6616 arriving from Stansted, UK,” came loudly over the airport speakers.  The small plane had arrived on time in Berlin and was heading to drop the passengers off.  As they disembarked, Jane was the last person off the plane.  She inhaled the fresh air, carrying in one bag a collection of duty free cigarettes and in the other her much-used laptop and digital cameras.  But something caught her eye, she always, in almost a predatory manner seemed to catch and observe relevant happenings around her.  Jane was always scenting a story or picture that could tell a story.  She perceived a rather unusual small black bus with windows blacked, strange she thought to herself. The bus was heading toward what seemed a private jet of the type she was used to seeing being used by corrupt leaders, hounded celebrities and has-been millionaires.  Even though she had an arty creative job, she still had a head in any situation for the sensational.

 

Jane pulled herself together and walked toward the terminal.  She wasn’t in Berlin to cover some sensational original story.  She was here to evoke the Berlin topographical landscape and architecture.  Jane waited for her small bags to come round on the heaving conveyer belt along with all the other passengers.  A few of them, mainly young men, had offered to carry her bags once she was off the flight.  All were politely refused. “Mrs Wilkinson,” said a voice to her right.  She turned and saw a tall well-dressed German.

“Hello?” she said.

“I am Gustav Werner, your guide to Berlin and chauffeur to the flat provided by my client Mr Steiner.”

“Of course,” said Jane.  “I’m sorry, must be minor jetlag, how are you?”

She shook his hand vigorously.  The German thought it rather unlikely an hour’s flight could possibly induce jetlag.  He smiled.

“I am good, Mrs Wilkinson.  May I welcome you to Berlin.” He reminded Jane of a stern policemen or official, self-important yet friendly.

“Thanks,” she replied.

“You had a safe and uneventful flight I trust?” he asked.

“Why should I have?” she laughed in reply.  She nodded, indicating with mild humor her unease at his offer to organize the transferal of her bags to his waiting car.  Silence echoed it seemed, her humor going over his head.  She nodded, accepting his offer and politely changing her manner.  Jane was somewhat taken aback by his self-important tone.

 

“Please take a seat miss.”  She did as she was told, no point in turning down help after all.  She was tired from the flight so may as well let him go and find a porter.  Gustav saw to it almost before her bottom hit her seat. As she sat she viewed a nearby newsstand.  There had been a terror attack in Spain.

‘Twenty killed protesting.  Middle East extremists blamed for terror attack’

Jane knew all too well every terror Cell and network worldwide.  She was already internally reaching a likely conclusion to who was responsible.  The style of the attack and location revealed a jigsaw that, if pieced together, indicated the perpetrators.  In her mind the pieces were already coming together, such was her knowledge.  Still, thought Jane, I’m in Berlin not Barcelona.  She looked over to the windows looking out on the tarmac and could once again see the black minibus and private jet she had spotted earlier. Outside there appeared to be a strange disagreement.  Two tall burley characters stood arguing with an airport staff vehicle.  There seemed to be a traffic jam she thought, smiling to herself at the wild protestations of various individuals.  The two men looked like brothers.  Strangely their clothes looked old fashioned and almost militaristic, but not in a modern way.

 

It was as if she had landed in the 1940s.  Three men hurried about in a manner reminiscent of strange sinister characters in some old cold war drama, she thought.  To her astonishment, she recognized one of them wearing dark glasses, the last man to walk from the jet to the private taxi bus.  It was a British architect famous for nearly all the modern build projects going on in Western Europe – Sir Peter Jones.

What is he doing here? she thought, marveling at the coincidence in relation to her reasons for being in Berlin.  Jane had only been online viewing his website a few days before and she clearly remembered that this weekend he was at an architect’s forum in Japan.  It was being frequented by every top firm in the world, some sort of official event for the biggest firms.  Even royalty and heads of state attended.  Jane got up and looked where her bag was stacked.  What on earth was Jones doing in Berlin and why was he looking so awkward?

 

But hold this was an artistic mission, she thought.  No need to worry about the world of big business, unscrupulous MPs or terrorist groups.  She was going to relax.  Maybe this was a good omen, if there was only a way she could speak to Sir Peter… that would be ideal for her book!  It was hard to just ignore her professional instincts, it’s what had won her awards and paid the bills for the past few years.  Jane would never change her spots, not for anyone.  Half an hour later she and Gustav were headed into the heart of Berlin.  She savored the passing sights, so inspiring to her.  Jane started to daydream.  Here she was in Berlin, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia.  It had evolved into a global focal point for young individuals, artists and architects attracted by a liberal lifestyle and the modern Zeitgeist, the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag building, and going back thousands of years, the land of the Norse gods such as Odin… so much inspiration.

 

Would she stand a chance of even coming close to evoking it accurately? Gustav was staring intently at Jane and she came out of her daydream.  Raising her eyebrows, she invited a question.

“I understand you’re acquainted with Mr Steiner, yes?” he asked.

“No I’ve never had the pleasure.  One of my best friends knows him that’s why I’m here you see.”

Gustav looked surprised.

“I wasn’t led to believe you didn’t know my client.  It is unusual for him to arrange his property to be let to someone he doesn’t know.  It is one of the many houses he owns in Berlin Mrs Wilkinson.”

“Well I’m sure he doesn’t mind he is very rich I hear… well… my friend told me,” said Jane nervously laughing.  Looking out of the window she savored the architecture that would be the making of her book that Sally had worked so hard to make possible.  She observed a perfect candidate for the book, a City Hall, with its distinctive redbrick architecture and a fountain featuring a mythological scene.  It was stunning, she thought.

Werner turned to speak.

“Mr Steiner is away on business in Asia, he will be away for many months.”

“Oh!” said Jane, as Werner bit his lips.  The car made its way along, reaching less attractive narrower streets.  It was dull and rather predictable she thought, but still had style that was in keeping.  Berlin might be the best place for her Jane wondered.   Maybe Bob was right and this would be a welcome creative break with a fat paycheck at the end of it.  Werner turned momentarily as he drove.

“This is a lovely part of Berlin, my favorite, such charm I always think. Do you not agree Mrs Wilkinson?  But it can have far to many tourists looking for important landmarks usually connected with the war.”  His face frowned and he shook his head disagreeably. “So boring…”

 

They reached a square and the car stopped.  The driver turned expectantly.  They got out and Werner said something in German to the driver.  He turned and opened the boot.  Jane looked on interested.  Gustav lifted the luggage.

“We must walk to the house.  It’s not far my dear.”

He looked weighed down like a lumbering donkey swaying with the weight.  Jane took one of the smaller bags, along with various items of equipment.

“Come this way,” Werner announced.  As they walked away from the rather plain street behind them they reached a small side road.  On the way, to Jane’s delight, she had seen in the distance a rather glorious Gothic-styled house that was quite different to the houses in the streets they had just left.  She must explore it, she thought.  Werner unlocked an arched door and ushered Jane in ahead of him.  Jane noticed the house had been restored beautifully, returned to probable former glories.

The structure seemed well kept and good as new but was not new at all.  The upkeep had been superb, preserving the old style of the building.  They both stood outside the house, Werner sweating somewhat.  Once Werner let them in it was clear the kitchen and front room were all ordained with period furniture and antiques, which were in the original style of the building.  On close inspection though, the house seemed to be like a mini fortress, superb security equipment and central heating invisibly installed.  The house delighted Jane, the perfect home, if only Bob could see it she thought.   Werner was relieved to be free of the luggage and turned to Jane smiling.

“This place is perfect,” she beamed.  “It’s fantastic!”

“The facilities are adequate,” said Werner, turning the light on and off. “But it is a very old house indeed, maybe at its core 800 years old… it belonged to Herr Steiner’s father so much has been spent on it by him,” added Werner.  “You will be here a long time Miss Wilkinson?”

“Oh, on and off,” she replied.

“Maybe I will come and go quite a bit.  I have a lot of Germany to see, for my book, though I might focus on Berlin… at least to begin with. This is such a lovely place. It will be lovely to stay here.  I hate living in hotels.  I can relax here, I think.”

 

Werner nodded in a robotic fashion, Jane thought, as if he hated concerning himself with basic everyday conversation, preferring only essential matters.  It was clear he wanted to bid a hasty retreat.

“So you are very famous, a journalist I understand?  But I have not heard of you Mrs Wilkinson.”

 

“Well I’m told I am good at what I do.  I do TV work, newspaper journalism… even some of my own photography hence all the luggage!  Maybe my admirers are mistaken.” She smiled, looking slightly perturbed.  “My husband will join me and no doubt come and go as well, in a few weeks.”

Werner went stern again in his manner.

“Are there any more questions… can I be of further assistance?”

“No I’m fine,” she replied.

Jane was now rather perplexed by the questioning. “Have you anymore?” she said slightly sarcastically.  Werner ignored her tone and produced a handwritten note and a set of keys.

“Here is my card and number, call me if you need anything Mrs Wilkinson.  I look forward to meeting your husband soon, I’m sure.”

“I’m great.  You’ve been very helpful.  I will be in touch,” she replied as he went through the doorway and through the small archway that led to the front door.  Jane closed the door and took her first two bags up the stairs with her.  She opened one case in a brisk manner as it lay on her bed.

A little later Jane had a quick bath in the lovely bathroom and then headed downstairs mobile phone in hand.  Impatiently she dialed Bob’s number.   As soon as Bob answered she went through an excited description of the house.  To Bob she seemed truly at home and he felt rather jealous at the sound of the beautiful place.

“So what’s the plan for tonight darling?” asked Bob.

“A bottle of red, my architectural manuals and publications, and some interesting local cuisine I think,” she cheerfully said.

“Lucky you!  Order me some sauerkraut!” he replied.

The rest of the call consisted of endless “I love you” and sweet nothings – they were truly in love.  The call had a somewhat repetitive endless and touching series of loving exchanges.  Soon, Jane thought, they would be reunited.

 

Later that evening Jane took a walk down to a riverside café.  It was both romantic and Germanic.  It all seemed very much like the ‘Third Man’, or the old eighties video for the song ‘Vienna’.  However she was in Berlin, she chuckled to herself.  But the melody of the haunting song was an inspiration to her nevertheless.  Then she ate slowly, admiring the view of the river.  As she ate two local folk musicians were busking nearby.  She sipped on her wine, gazing at the water.  Jane had intended to plan her writing and photographic schedule for the next day, but in her usual haphazard fashion she felt happier daydreaming and enjoying her wine.  She would be spontaneous she thought.  The barman looked out at her blonde hair shimmering in the evening sunshine, its Marilyn Monroe, he thought, nearly dropping his glass at the thought of the old film star.  She nodded at him, as he appeared, and he began counting the bill.  As she looked at the waters, to her surprise in the distance she could see a slowly moving boat, heading nearer to the riverside.

“I hope you enjoyed your food?” said the waiter.  He was perhaps fishing for a compliment from such a beautiful women.

“Wonderful!” she said fumbling almost comically for her German phrase book.

“Sehr Gut!” she finally answered.

“You speak German?” asked the waiter trying to charm her.

“No,” she said firmly.  “I’m afraid.  Nein, nein!”  He smiled handing her change.

 

The waiter was surprised at how much wine she had drunk but she hadn’t touched the food. He raised his eyebrows as he cleared the plates.  Jane tidied her books and her handbag.  She began walking slowly along the riverside.  In the distance the boat she had spotted was now by some steps near a waiting car.  By the car were two men, very similar to the menacing types she remembered from the airport that had been with Sir Peter Jones.  She looked on curiously as a man stepped up, walking from the boat toward the car.  With astonishment, she observed the more than recognizable, in fact world famous features of the man in question, known to journalists worldwide.  It was Robert Stephens, owner of ROGCO, the largest oil and gas company in Europe.  The security men made sure he entered the car safely, and they slipped into the front and drove hurriedly away.  They disappeared into the distance and Jane stood thinking, “Surely it can’t be the wine?”  But no, it was him, and now nothing could stop her from wondering what Stephens and Jones were doing in Berlin.

 

 

Chapter Three

European Feline…

 

As soon as dawn broke Jane was up arranging her thoughts about the day ahead.  Soon she was in a hire car roaming Berlin.  She enjoyed the surrounding buildings and dramatic changes of architectural styles from bleak modernism, evoking the work of abstract Bauhaus styles, to the Neo Classical styles.  Her mind was being fed with inspiration.  From the stark to the warm and traditional here was so much to write about and photograph, much more than she had thought originally.  The younger trendy side of Berlin clashed with the traditional skylines.  Everywhere were observational nuggets to form chapters in her tome she thought.  The Socialist Classicism Style, the beautiful cathedrals, everything inspired, indeed, moved her.  She passed the Holocaust memorial; its interior was lit revealing the many empty shelves, symbolizing the Nazi book burnings during the war.  Thoughts of the world war city and footage she saw as a child flashed through Jane’s mind.

 

A young romantic mixed race couple kissed nearby.  A moving photograph she thought, reflecting a positive modern world, or at least she hoped so.  South Africa had changed since apartheid in a similar way, and it had been even quicker.  As the drive went on she stopped regularly, taking a shot and furiously writing notes and ideas for her writing.  She was unaware of the day passing as she was in her ‘creative zone’.  There seemed fresh scenes as for a painter, everywhere.  She parked near an old character that was sleeping; he looked like an old busker.  In the background were some classical ornate railings.  Another shot she thought, as she walked down the narrow lane towards him. The old man was slumped totally unaware.  Suddenly nearby, she could hear a rumbling whirring noise.

Perhaps it was a helicopter, but she could now see a small private jet flying low, odd in a city she thought.  She took a quick photo and then departed in the car heading as near as she could to the low-flying light aircraft that had an old-fashioned appearance.  Now she realized she was on the edge of the city, in Brandenburg.  The Bach Concertos of the same name constantly went through her mind.  Jane realized now she was looking out at a beautiful view of the Lower Oder Valley national park.  The scenery was superb.  She left the car and started walking.  Here was more to capture, the flat western shore of the Oder.  In this environment she knew she could find several Levees that prevented high floods, another good photographic study.  The water flowed freely into the dramatic floodplains.  The plains were perfect to photograph so she began observing and capturing the rare habitats, warbler birds and best of all otters.  After a while she made her way back toward her car, but as she approached the side road she froze holding her breath.  A group of about ten well-dressed men stood with a menacing look of foreboding by some large limousines.  She realized then that plane she had followed had possibly landed nearby.  Jane watched as a man walked towards the group standing by the cars. Thankful her car was parked round a slight bend in the road, she was careful to keep out of sight.

 

Jane hurried to her car and reaching into the back she retrieved a superior camera.  Thankfully it had a state of the art zoom lens.  Whilst unable to see round corners she could, only just, camouflage herself with the slim camera, hoping she couldn’t be seen.  The men were the ones she had seen at the airport and the riverside in their bodyguard black suits and military bearing.  They wore sinister dark glasses and black gloves.  Their hair was slickly brushed back and greased.  She snapped a picture of them.  Then the man from the aircraft moved forward to shake hands.  All the men seemed to have a distinctive handshake, not normal she thought.  It seemed false and staged, almost ritualistic.  Smiling to herself she wondered what they were going to do next? A Viennese waltz?  Recognizing the man from the small plane she had to pinch herself, it was a prominent German government minister, Hans Schluter.  He also owned a huge building firm Schluter – Wiesmann GMBH.  Speculation had been rife that he had a close and good relationship, perhaps a manipulative one, with the media.

 

They all seemed friendly as she continued shooting, shaking hands in greeting one another and laughing.  She took photos of all three, Schluter, Sir Peter Jones and Robert Stephens.  Jane couldn’t believe it, she had come to do something innocent, but this had to be a complete news world exclusive.  Having been engrossed in creativity, now the press vulture instinct was taking grip of her.  Taking shot after shot, she had done it in war zones and had a knack of molding like a chameleon into her surrounding as her slim frame hugged the wall corner.  The implications of all this ran through her mind as she took each photo, this had to be highly significant.

 

These were prominent government members, one in charge of one of Europe’s biggest firms.  She saw the most famous architect in the world and a magnate of the largest oil company in Europe.  As far as anyone knew they were strangers to each other, but were now meeting secretly in Germany.  What was it all about? Why?  These images would have meaning to the political world and the business world alike.  She stopped photographing and observed as the men got into the vehicles and headed towards an extraordinary gothic house.   She had seen it on the way to the park by the river Oder.  It stood tall and imposing with a tower and a front gate.  The front was ordained with gothic gates and menacing gargoyles stared from the walls overlooking those who entered.  Jane had thought of photographing it, but had intended a special visit the next day, that is how distinctive it was.  Stepping back into the car when they were out of site, she blocked any thought of betrayal to Sally.  This piece of significant news research had only filled a few minutes; otherwise she had stuck to her task.  No need to feel guilty she thought.  She had six months in Germany, most of all Berlin, plenty of time to achieve Sally’s wishes.  The day so far had more than proved that fate had taken her in this direction.  “It’s fate,” she whispered to herself.  This story, it seemed, had followed her.  Wherever she went, miles apart, it seemed this story wanted to reveal itself to her. Suddenly fear gripped her, she suddenly felt vulnerable, wishing Bob were there for a second.  It seemed unfathomable.  Much to his unease she had traveled alone to Afghanistan, charted no-go areas in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, the Lebanon and Iraq.  Yet she had never felt this frightened.  Maybe because these were people in power and were trusted authority figures.   However, they were being furtive and shifty.  This was far more unexpected and frightening than some war zone.  But the fear was in the pit of her stomach and her instincts were to flee; yet a strange fascination gripped her.

 

“Christ Jane sort it out, stop being silly!” she shouted to herself as she sweated whilst driving along the road, speeding slightly.  Jane sped along the deserted streets and reached the gates of the tower house.  She decided to look at the high walls and imposing gate but her mind was warped from all the excitement of the architecture and streets, pulling herself together once more.

 

A tall guard appeared from a camouflaged area near the sidewalls.  He shouted something in German, walking menacingly toward her.

“I don’t understand… please, I was just looking at the architecture.  Do you understand?  I will just be going,” said Jane nervously.    Thankfully he seemed to understand as he turned and went back where he had come from, perhaps through a side door.  Once he had gone, a striking-looking woman appeared.  She was tall slender and graceful, with striking features, extraordinary Jane thought.

“How can I help you?” she said in a polite English accent.  Indefinable to some, it was not her native tongue.

“Well I was wondering…” said Jane.  “I’m writing a book on Berlin and its architecture and this amazing house really should feature.  Can I interview the owner; maybe photograph it?  I will pay of course.”

“No,” the women said flatly.

“This is a private house and is for the owner alone, nobody else.  You shall not invade her privacy, do I make myself clear? Now kindly remove yourself from this driveway or I shall call the police is that understood?”

Jane was horrified. “I assure you I only wanted to see the views of the river and park from the house and explore its designs.  You’ve got me all wrong.  I am a professional.”

“Miss, I’m sorry but you can find other buildings and the views you mention easily elsewhere.  This is an invasion of the owner’s privacy, please leave immediately.”

“OK, I’m going. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.” Jane turned and walked away quickly.

 

How horrible she thought, but then she wasn’t just after pictures.  Jane longed to know what secrets were contained within the tower, but it was obvious from the guardian lady that confronted her that there wasn’t a chance.  Here the story seemed to end stone dead.  Resigned, she returned to the car. Driving off quickly another car approached the tall house, one of the limousines from earlier.  Inside it another striking woman sat staring.  Her eyes were like a large feline’s on the prowl, curious and menacing.  In the dark inside the car Jane could make out little else.  Driving away she felt a strange feeling come over her, this time not of fear but of physical pain in her arms and chest.  In her left arm the pain increased, she could barely drive, partially paralyzed.

 

Unbeknownst to Jane, far away in Barnes, London, Bob Wilkinson got off the train from work clutching his chest.  Pain increased, in his arms rising to a numbness that was paralyzing.  Passengers looked, some ignored him with a typical everyday lack of empathy, but others showed a more old-fashioned decent concern.  One passenger asked if he needed an ambulance, but thankfully the feeling subsided.

“Thank you I’m fine,” he staggered to the exit and along the country-style lane, finishing with the short bus ride to his front door.  After a few minutes he crossed the drive to the front door.

 

Jane stopped the car suddenly gasping, unable to catch her breath.  Her eyes were stinging with sweat and her head became a ball of fire.  She held both sides of her head letting out a scream.  Sitting up suddenly she became serine; her head felt the same.  The road ahead was suddenly clear and peaceful, normality returned.

 

Meanwhile in Barnes, Bob seemed OK now.  The pain had subsided.  Maybe a visit to the doctor was in order, because what he experienced was not normal.  Still he was fine now and opened the door relieved.

 

Jane lit a cigarette and pondered on what had just happened.  The blinding agony lessened as she puffed, sighing with relief.  She could only assume all the photography and excitement had damaged her eyes.  Perhaps squinting through the camera had strained her pupils and caused the agonies she had endured.  Maybe she should make a call to her doctor, she thought.

 

ME1AUTHOR BIO

 

Ben Manning is a trained actor from the UK.  He studied English literature and Art history at the Arts University in Bournemouth.  He was taught by noted biographer Gijs Van Hensbergen who has published acclaimed works on the architect Gaudi.  Ben has taught about the great poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge at Coleridge cottage, run by the National trust. From 2008 to 2012 he led guided tours on the romantic poets on the Quantock hills.  In 2011 he performed at a major UK music event at the Beautiful Days festival which is held at the birthplace of the great romantic poet.  Manning has also worked on architectural/Design and music publications for SPG Media in London.

In 2012 Ben was featured on BBC radio, firstly on national radio for radio 4 talking about his experiences as a writer and then on BBC Somerset/Bristol and surrounding areas talking about his Vril Codex novels.  In 2010 he wrote a tribute to the poet Coleridge and to Roald Dahl as an epic poem and as a result it is displayed at the Roald Dahl museum in the UK.  In 2012 a number of his articles were published on the popular online magazine called “World through my specs”.  He is also a Cricket presenter/commentator for the radio.  He is featured in various films including a forthcoming Zombie comedy called “Zombie Snuff Movies”.

He continues to develop his Vril series as well as science fiction books.  The Vril Codex is the first contemporary novel ever written on Vril power myths and the Nazi’s as a series, and was first developed in 2010.  The Vril Codex is book I in the Vril Chronicles.

 

benmanninguk@yahoo.co.uk

http://vrilcodex.blogspot.com

 

 

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