William H. Hallahan -

BOOK: William H. Hallahan -
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THE MONK
By
William H. Hallahan
Contents

PROLOGUE

PART I

CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER
2
CHAPTER 3

PART II

CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER
5
CHAPTER 6

PART III

CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER
8
CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER
10

PART IV

CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER
13
Epilogue

 
 

TERROR!

The Runaway Bestseller.

THE SEARCH FOR JOSEPH TULLY

"Really frightening. . .Hallahan creates an
atmosphere of unexplainable dread."

Chicago Tribune Book
World
 

 

MYSTERY!

CATCH ME: KILL ME

Edgar Award-Winner for Best Mystery of the Year.

"Breathtaking. . .Exciting."

The New York Times

"A masterpiece."

Time
 
 

SUSPENSE!

The International Thriller.

International Bestseller.

THE TRADE

"Hallahan graduates to the Ludlum-Follet class
with this crackling good thriller."

Publishers Weekly
 

 

WILLIAM H. HALLAHAN
 
 

NOW FUSES BESTSELLING TERROR,

MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
 

 

THE MONK
 

 

A NOVEL BEYOND ANYTHING YOU

COULD EXPECT.

 
 

Other Avon Books by

William H. Hallahan
 

 

Keeper of the Children

The Trade

 

 

AVON BOOKS

A division of

The Hearst Corporation

1790 Broadway

New York, New York 10019
 

 

Copyright© 1983 by William H. Hallahan

Book design by Patty Lowy
 

 

Published by arrangement with William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number
82-18782
 

 

ISBN: 0-380-64956-x
 

 

First Avon Printing, November, 1983
 

 

AVON TRADEMARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND
IN OTHER COUNTRIES, MARCA REGISTRADA, HECHO EN U.S.A.
 

 

Printed in the U.S.A.

 
 

FOR DION

 
 

THE MONK
PROLOGUE
Satan

First came the hawk. Barely moving her broad wings, she rode the
thermals high over the Hudson River Valley, heading south, the
late-afternoon sun striking her glossy black feathers. As she passed
over the dun-colored fields and the red-and-gold-hued foliage of
autumn, she noted everything, even the smallest of the field mice
hurrying into its burrow with seeds and grass.

The sun was low in the sky when she passed over the New York state
line into the Pocono mountain range of Pennsylvania, still searching.
Several times she wheeled off course, to study a small crossroads
hamlet far below her.

From her height she could look down on great migratory flights of
birds fleeing winter--starlings like pepper, grackles, robins, blue
jays, swallows, juncos, whitethroats, mixed in with the long V's of
Canada geese, snow geese and ducks. There were marsh birds, rails,
solitary rufous towhees, tribes of goldfinches, whole nations of
warblers. Following them were the powerful hawks and falcons, buteos
and other predatory relatives. The black hawk ignored them all as she
sailed on, searching.

Over Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, she noted the multitudes of
humans with binoculars making the annual bird census; many of them in
turn noted her singular dark color and her impressive wingspread. She
found a new thermal there and let it boost her still higher in the
sky. The sun was setting, and other hawks were diving into flights of
birds, taking one for the evening meal with a burst of feathers.
Shadows were filling the valleys as she soared on.

In the last flush of sunset, she crossed into the autumn patchwork
of Bucks County, banked south and crossed the Pennsylvania Turnpike
and followed Route 611 to Philadelphia. At dusk she wheeled in vast
circles over the countless lights of the great city, wedged between
the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, over the wedding-cake
construction of City Hall. Then finding something at last, growing
alert, making smaller and smaller circles, she shortened her
wingspread and stooped with astonishing speed at Rittenhouse Square,
sailed low over the trees to navigate silently between some trees and
land on the roof of a brownstone mansion.

Her cruel claws clattered on the slates, then carefully she folded
her stiff black wings like a man collapsing an umbrella. She waited
for the emanations.

Inside, the house was bustling with the new baby. The young mother
had just gotten home from the hospital, and in celebration her
husband was taking her to a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra
at the Academy of Music on Broad Street.

The chauffeur was at the door, the new mother in her gown, noting
that her figure had not regained all its slimness and the master was
giving final instructions to the nursemaid.

"You're absolutely safe here," he said. "The
windows are all barred. Johnson is on duty until morning with a
trained guard dog. There's plenty to eat in the kitchen. The
television is right here and Bob's your uncle."

The nurse nodded casually: a routine nursing assignment.

"Feeding time is ten p.m."

"Yes." She nodded again, then watched him descend the
stairs to speak to Johnson in the huge hallway. At the door the
Doberman pinscher paced restlessly, his claws clacking softly on the
Italian marble tiles. A few moments later the limousine pulled away,
watched by the hawk. Then she too left. She spread her wings, took a
hop and glided down the slope of the roof, and pumping powerfully,
crossed Rittenhouse Square and slowly rose into the night sky and
disappeared.

Two hours passed.

The nurse fed the baby at ten, changed his diaper, resettled him
in his crib, then returned to the television. A while later she
turned her head and listened. She looked through the crack of the
door into the darkened nursery.

Nothing could possibly have gotten into the nursery without having
passed through the television room. She leaned over and squinted at
the nursery window. Shadows of the bars lay on the glass panes.
Annoyed with herself but still unsatisfied, she stood up and pushed
the nursery door open.

The window was firmly locked, the bars were untouched, the room
was empty save for the baby, who breathed softly in his crib. She
walked over and looked down at him. He was a beautiful child with a
high brow and handsomely proportioned face.

When she turned away, she found herself in near darkness. The
light in her sitting room and the television were off. Only the
distant streetlights illumined the two rooms. She paused, thinking
that a circuit breaker had tripped somewhere. In a moment there would
be light again.

Then in the corner of the room she noted a mass of unusual
blackness, an opaque shadow that drank light. As she watched it
seemed to thicken and spread. Was she imagining or did arms seem to
extend from it? It assumed a larger and more distinct shape. A trick
of light? It looked like a huge figure, a black gown with a hood and
a hidden face. Or was it? She tried to make it out as she stepped
back involuntarily. Swiftly the huge figure moved and enwrapped her.
She disappeared into the inky-black folds, her white uniform
completely swallowed up. She was unable to breathe, unable to move a
muscle. Abruptly, at the door the Doberman exploded in a volley of
sharp barks, its claws scraping the wood. Wildly now it leaped
against the door, making the panels shudder, digging into the wood
with its claws, straining the door latch.

In a moment the nurse slipped limply to the floor and the
amorphous mass turned to the crib. Johnson the guard was bounding up
the stairs, calling to the dog. The baby was lifted and now could be
seen a beautiful purple aura around the infant's head. The figure
enfolded it in the sleeves of the soutane.

II

A black clawlike hand descended on the baby's face and remained
there for a moment Then the child was carefully replaced in its crib
as the door opened and the dog charged into the room, its savage
teeth snapping at empty blackness.

The guard turned on the light. There the nurse lay and there in
the crib the child lay. Both were dead. There was no one else in the
room.

Before midnight the red-haired priest and his bull mastiff
arrived. The priest observed the two ambulances and the four police
cars and the knot of people. He sighed and walked away at a brisk
pace with the dog. Too late again.

The hawk watched the priest go. The priest was called Timothy, and
the hawk had been watching him for thousands of years--fighting the
bitter game of the infants with the purple aura. She had just beaten
Timothy again.

She watched his undefeated upright back striding away. Once they
had been associates in heaven--never friends, but never enemies--long
before the Fall, long before the Game of the Infants. She followed
Timothy a short distance, skimming from tree to tree, then rose and
flew off into the night. Black as the darkness that surrounded her,
she uttered a triumphant cry for Timothy's ears only.
Cree cree
cree
.

High into the night sky she flew, on patrol again. But she'd grown
weary of the game. The red-haired priest was like some blind cosmic
force that never tired. The instant she killed an infant with a
purple aura, Timothy would turn and commence searching for another,
always hoping that this time he would arrive first--before the hawk
could kill. Did he never weary of the game? He could afford to lose
for thousands of more years, she knew. He needed to find only one
infant, to win just once in order to bring final punishment to all
the legions in hell. But he would never do it. He could never beat
her. For the hawk was Satan's surrogate. Invincible.

His name hadn't always been Satan. And the name was not of his own
choosing to begin with--it meant adversary. He was God's adversary.
Even the role of Prince of Darkness had been thrust upon him.
Originally he had been the brightest and foremost of all the angels
in the firmament, second only to the Lord Himself and his original
name proclaimed it--Lucifer light-bringer.

The quarrel had started when the Lord, totally without
forewarning, had made his stunning announcement. Lucifer had been in
his pavilion overlooking the river when Michael had summoned him to
meet with the Lord. And in the meeting the Lord said to Lucifer, "I
am going to bring forth a Son."

Lucifer, who scorned the pomp and parade of words, said nothing.
Instead he went off alone to consider this news. It was a lowering of
rank. He would no longer be second in the hierarchy, nearest of all
to the throne of heaven. He would be third or less, possibly
eliminated completely if he failed to find favor with the Lord's new
Son. It was more than a simple demotion. There was an unmistakable
overtone of criticism in the announcement, as though Lucifer had
failed the Lord somehow and was to be replaced by one whose service
would be more "satisfactory."

Lucifer searched his conscience. Had he been disloyal? Not by word
or even thought. Puzzled though he had often been by the Lord's
actions, difficult as it was often to submit to another's will,
pointless though many of His orders seemed, Lucifer had always
suppressed the inner voice that rebelled against serving another. Nor
had he shown to his friends and supporters even a hint of
dissatisfaction. He always publicly endorsed the Lord's decisions. He
had never encouraged dissatisfaction in the hearts of others.

If it wasn't disloyalty, was it incompetence? He searched his
memory carefully. His work had always been exemplary. There had never
been any perfunctory motions. No mere compliance or indifference. He
always made sure the Lord's orders were carried out completely.

But never once had the Lord asked him for his counsel. He had been
summoned, commanded and dismissed.

Lucifer knew that he did not have a convivial temperament.

His reserve was a flaw in his makeup, he confessed to himself. He
had never been able to reach out, to encourage the Lord to confide in
him. It bespoke a lack of warmth. Had his reserve been interpreted as
arrogance or coldness or disapproval?

But if his personality had been the flaw that brought him down,
then it was the Lord Himself who had given it to him. He decided he
had been unjustly treated.

When the news of the new Son was announced to the others, Lucifer
would feel himself disgraced in front of all the hosts of heaven. He
would see his diminished stature in their eyes, their sidelong
glances at him, their eyes staring at him as he passed. Oh, the
little clusters that would gaze and murmur at him.

BOOK: William H. Hallahan -
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