The Shaolin Temple - Chapter Nine
The Shaolin Temple - Chapter Nine
Vanucci played the scene like an actor out of a B-rated monster movie. He and two of his Jesuit goons got out of the car, disregarding Wang almost entirely, and headed for Damian. While the two priests’ faces were menacing, Vanucci’s was anything but, as he seemed almost perversely calm and relaxed for a scene that was scaring the literal breath out of Damian. A nightmare had finally come to life, a face that he finally recognized as the one in his dreams had frozen Damian with fear and left him speechless...and Vanucci was enjoying every minute of it.
“You know why I have come,” sneered Vanucci. “The necklace! Give it to me,” he hissed, “and we’ll leave.”
But Damian was so numb that he still could only stare. Momentarily, he flashed back to the night when his father had heard those very same orders, and now the same fate was to be his. This was the man he had vowed he would someday find and kill, yet, pitifully, he was paralyzed.
“The necklace is a sacred relic of the Church,” Vanucci continued. “It can do you no good. It was stolen from us, and we want it returned, that’s all,” he said almost apologetically.
But one thing Vanucci did not know, and that was that Damian had witnessed his true character almost twenty years earlier. While this moment should have brought the fulfillment of his dream of killing Vanucci, Damian instead discovered an impulse that he could not explain, perhaps survival instinct. An explosion of adrenaline coursed instantly through his veins, and Damian found himself running up the mountain as fast as he could go. Wang attacked the two men and caused such mayhem that Damian was far up the hill and over a ridge before Vanucci went for his gun. A shot rang out, and Wang was lifeless, lying face down next to his car.
“Afrer him,” Vanucci screamed, forgetting for a moment that an amazed Chinese guide was now backing away with the car in which he and his men had arrived. It was too late. The car was speeding out of sight around the bend. All of Vanucci’s attention returned to the source of his greatest headache, the necklace around Damian Miller’s neck...and Vanucci would personally strangle him when he got it.
Up ahead, Damian saw an overhang of rock that looked like it might have a cave he could crawl into and hide. It was near a thicket of bushes, making it seem like the ideal place for the moment. He ran for it. No sooner had he gotten to the overhang when it seemed like he heard the wind pick up. Strangely, he felt no breeze stirring. Nothing! Why could he not feel this loud wind? He could hear it, why couldn’t he feel it? This phenomenon had Damian’s full attention. The roaring sound continued to grow until it literally sounded like a tornado was coming. Damian was transfixed, his troubled eyes searching the horizon for the source of what he thought must be a raging storm. Wind! No wind! What was going on? Then it hit. At first it could have been the gravel under his feet slipping around a bit, but soon, as large rocks began to shift, it became too obvious to not know—earthquake! Damian braced for the worst.
The intensity built. The ledge overhead let out a crack, and that was the last thing Damian remembered. Hit on the head and partially buried, his fate was far less than that of Vanucci and his men. The earthquake had only begun to unfurl its ugly wrath, and cracks began to split the earth as people of Hunan had never seen before. One of Vanucci’s men went over a cliff as a whole side of the mountain seemed to give way. The other went to his death pulling on the robe of Vanucci when the ground opened up to swallow them both. Cheating death, Vanucci had clung to the root of a tree and kicked the Jesuit in the head with his free foot until the priest fell into the gaping abyss. When the quake finally ended, after what seemed like an eternity, Vanucci, drained of all his determination, stood to his feet. Visibly shaken, but like the rat that he was, he began to look for signs of Damian. A crackling noise came from out of nowhere, sounding like distant thunder, and before he could look up to see what it was, the entire top of the tree was coming down on him. Pierced through the hand and foot, Vanucci felt like he had just been crucified. He was pinned to the ground, and at the sight of his own blood, passed out.
There are those who feel that the fate of men is prescribed by God, Himself, but if that is the case, then Vanucci would have died out there on the road to the mountain monastery of Shaolin. Instead, when he awoke, he found himself bandaged and in a hospital bed. Surrounded by unsmiling Chinese faces, one of them got up and left the room, and shortly thereafter, returned with two guards and a man who appeared to be an officer. He came to Vanucci’s side and began to read a prepared document in Chinese. When he was finished, he said in English, “When you are released from here, you will be taken before the People’s Tribunal and tried in the murder of Comrade Wang Xiu Na.” After informing him of the few rights he had in this country, the officer left the room.
Vanucci, coldly demonic as he was, had other thoughts on this matter. Within a week of that pronouncement, Vanucci, was back in Rome licking his wounds. Aware that a return to China would be suicide, he prepared like a cat waiting for a mouse to leave his hole. He knew that Damian had to come back to Rome at some point, and with Vanucci’s network, he had eyes everywhere. Not only would he know the minute Damian set foot back in Rome, this time he would not be satisfied with just the necklace.
No, he would take the life of Damian Miller, as well.
Go to Chapter Ten
Go to Chapter Ten - Remembering