PUPPET MASTER DIVINE
(PROLOGUE)



BY CLIFFORD VANCE CAST




It is well known that the more skilled and professional an assassin becomes, the closer he works with his targets and the more precise his selection of weapons. Marshal considered himself more than professional; he was an artist. His targets were the canvases upon which he created his work. He took personal pride in the weapons that allowed him to get intimately close to his targets.

Marshal pressed [13] as the mirrored elevator doors shut in front of him. His stare shifted from the hotel corridor to his own reflection. He only had twenty seconds to rehearse the rest of his day.

His middle-aged manner and military experience made him mindful and unassuming, taking
great care in every detail of his work; his clients were never displeased.
Marshal adjusted the collar of his white hotel concierge’s jacket then ran his hand over the left jacket pocket, taking a mental inventory of his expertly fashioned weapon. The uniqueness of his current contract required an equally unique set of tools and method of operation.

The ice pick was quiet, easy to conceal, and non-traceable to Marshal. Welded to its tip was a
razor sharp, double-edged fishhook barb made of surgical grade stainless steel.
As part of his pretext disguise, he also carried a white, letter-sized envelope, and a small gift
box wrapped in red-metallic paper and white ribbon.
The elevator chimed when it reached the thirteenth floor of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The doors opened and Marshal stepped out, scanning the hallways for possible witnesses. He took a moment to smell the vase of fresh violets placed in the cleanly decorated hallway. His exhale soothed his nerves, and refocused his thoughts.

He didn’t have to search for his target’s room; he had already scouted the room earlier that
day.
“May I help you?”, asked the gray-headed man through the crack of his room door.
“Doctor Fredrick Cohn?”
“I am. How may I help you, sir?” He read the man’s golden, engraved employee name tag.
“I’m bringing you the schedule for tonight’s events in the Main Ballroom. I also have a
package for you to sign for.”
Doctor Cohn opened the door and invited the man inside, then shut the door behind them. Marshal watched as Dr. Cohn adjusted his robe. He looked ready for a shower. Marshal handed Cohn the small package. “Personally, I’m taking the evening off because of your speech tonight. I’ve followed your work for many years.”
Cohn sat the box on the foyer’s cherry credenza. “Here’s a pen, sign here.”

“Thank you, sir.” Cohn bent slightly at the knees and started to sign for the package. “I’m
always flattered when someone takes interest in my research.”
“As you should be, sir.”
Marshal reached into his left jacket pocket and grabbed the wooden handle. He slowly, but
deliberately, withdrew his weapon and aimed for the base of Doctor Cohn’s skull.
Marshal’s primary profession awarded him the knowledge of anatomy to know where to
strike his target and the surgical skill to make the hit seemingly effortless.
Doctor Cohn continued, “For years…”
Marshal thrust his blade into the base of the doctor’s skull, exactly where his spine enters his
cranium, stopping his words mid-sentence.
The blade popped like a pencil jabbing through a piece of construction paper. Marshal imagined the blade beginning to penetrate the three membranes of connective tissue that protects and separates the brain from the skull. First, the Dura Mater, Latin for “hard mother.” Then the Arachnoid membrane that is the spider-like middle tissue. Finally, the Pia Mater, or “Tender Mother” tissue.

Marshal didn’t think he’d get to see the protein, glucose, urea, and salt-filled cerebral fluid in
its clear, colorless form because of the impending blood.
When Cohn’s face and jaw went slack, Marshal knew he had penetrated the Pons area of the
brain that controls motor and sensory nerves to the face.
His work entered a traumatic slow motion as the blade easily slid through the cerebellum, which coordinates skeletal movement. It went through the mid-brain and the fore-brain, containing the cerebrum, which comprises up to ninety percent of the brain’s weight.

His long jab came to a sudden stop when the blade hit the hard surface of the inside of the
forehead and Marshal felt the blade stick into the occipital bone.
Doctor Cohn was still standing. The effects were slightly delayed. Marshal knew he probably missed the medulla oblongata that sits below the Pons. It controls breathing, blood vessel constriction for blood supply, as well as the heartbeat. However; the damage to the brain would cut off blood supply to the medulla region, bringing certain death to his target.

He didn’t want the doctor to suffer anymore than necessary, so he pulled back on the blade, imagining the sharp barbs ripping the brain apart. He pushed forward again and again, ripping, sawing, and scrambling Cohn’s brain into mush.

Within a couple short seconds, Doctor Cohn collapsed motionless back into Marshals arms. Marshal shoved the blade one last time as deep as he could into Cohn head where it would stay. He caught the lifeless body and carried it into the bedroom. He placed Doctor Cohn’s body on the bed and straightened him out. He folded the quilt over
his body, leaving his face exposed.
From his right jacket pocket he pulled out a small silver vial and cupped it in his hands. He closed his eyes and mouthed a few inaudible words followed by, “In Jesus name, Amen.” Marshal twisted the vial open and poured a small amount of the newly consecrated oil into the palm of his left hand.
After dabbing the forefinger of his right hand into the palm of his left, he touched his oily finger to the forehead of his target then placed both hands on the top of Cohn’s head. Normally in his religion such a blessing is given to the sick and infirm, but in this case he was given special instructions for a specific blessing after the hit had been performed.
“Dear Heavenly Father, my orders are complete. By the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, bless this man, Doctor Fredrick Cohn, with eternal wealth, strength, and happiness in his divine fellowship, for his work and worth is great. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Marshal removed his hands and covered the Doctor’s face with the remaining quilt corner. He solemnly, almost politely, picked up Cohn’s black grain leather attachu00e9 case and left the hotel room, softly closing the door behind him.

Marshal’s trip down the elevator wasn’t as private as his trip up. It stopped on the fourth floor and two, young Chinese hotel maids got in. He wondered why the twin-looking girls didn’t take the service elevator, which was SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for the hotel. The two were laughing and didn’t seem inquisitive about his presence, his fake concierge’s jacket, or the small bloodstain on his sleeve that he tried to hide with a subtle twist of his wrist. He couldn’t understand their native tongue so he had no idea if they mentioned him.

“Infinity,” one of the girls said as she peered at him under her long, silky black bangs, chin
down and reverent.
The statement took Marshal by surprise. “I’m sorry?” he questioned, not really wanting to
make too much eye contact.
“Infinity.” She smiled as she pointed to the symbol embossed on Cohn’s attaché.

“Oh, yes, infinity.”
A nervous breeze chilled the conversation, and the elevator doors opened, saving him from
not knowing if he should respond any further or just drop it.
“Have a nice day, Sir.”
“Thanks; you too.”
He hung his head as he scooted past the girls to get off on the second floor. He’d walk the stairs out the back entrance, hoping the girls didn’t pay too much attention to his physical description

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