The outgoing message offered no name but simply asked the caller to leave a message.
"The floor panel has been broken!" she pleaded as she left the message. "The other three are dead!"Sister Sandrine did not know the identities of the four men she protected, but the private phonenumbers stashed beneath her bed were for use on only one condition.
If that floor panel is ever broken, the faceless messenger had told her, it means the upper echelonhas been breached. One of us has been mortally threatened and been forced to tell a desperate lie.
Call the numbers. Warn the others. Do not fail us in this.
It was a silent alarm. Foolproof in its simplicity. The plan had amazed her when she first heard it. Ifthe identity of one brother was compromised, he could tell a lie that would start in motion amechanism to warn the others. Tonight, however, it seemed that more than one had beencompromised.
"Please answer," she whispered in fear. "Where are you?""Hang up the phone," a deep voice said from the doorway.
Turning in terror, she saw the massive monk. He was clutching the heavy iron candle stand.
Shaking, she set the phone back in the cradle.
"They are dead," the monk said. "All four of them. And they have played me for a fool. Tell mewhere the keystone is.""I don't know!" Sister Sandrine said truthfully. "That secret is guarded by others." Others who aredead!
The man advanced, his white fists gripping the iron stand. "You are a sister of the Church, and yetyou serve them?""Jesus had but one true message," Sister Sandrine said defiantly. "I cannot see that message inOpus Dei."A sudden explosion of rage erupted behind the monk's eyes. He lunged, lashing out with the candlestand like a club. As Sister Sandrine fell, her last feeling was an overwhelming sense offoreboding.
All four are dead.
The precious truth is lost forever.