Inspirational Drama Speculative

Howard Marks drove onto the Sequentrix Industries’ lot. He’d successfully passed the security gate. The sun had dipped behind the mountain. It felt like he’d driven forever up endless winding roads. ‘Thank God for GPS.

The unassuming low-rise building built into the hillside was a former Buddhist monastery.

He’d been called there but not informed of his purpose. He had lots of questions.

Not sci-fi, Sequentrix was the most secure research lab in the world. Most didn’t know it existed. Fewer knew its purpose. Hardly anyone knew its location. Yet its government funding exceeded many better known labs. Sequentrix Industries’ administrators had deep connections to Washington D.C. purse strings and power brokers.

Located outside of Denver, no one knew how far their network of tunnels penetrated the mountain. A huge dish antenna gathered transmissions from orbiting satellites and beyond.

Knowledgeable people presumed Sequentrix Industries researched bioweapons, or worse. Of course, they had their fingers in that. Its research spanned the range of scientific inquiry from quantum physics and into the cosmos. They had money to do anything they wished.

Being a world-class journalist, and feared by the powerful, Howard’s summons there surprised him. Research labs avoid publicity, especially Howard Marks’ brand. He knew how to dig for the truth and how to publicize it. This unsolicited invitation piqued his curiosity.

Howard traveled wherever the story led. He uncovered frauds and investigated the veracity of ‘conspiracy theories.’ Known internationally, he exposed conmen, politicians, crooks and cult leaders. No one preying on the public felt safe under his scrutiny. His outstanding work had received many awards.

Despite death threats he traveled alone. Body guards are cumbersome and draw attention. ‘Moving targets must move quickly.’ Always on the move, he called his suitcase home.

Howard’s encyclopedic knowledge enabled him to shine a light where others didn’t dare. He shredded the veil spun by PR hacks and propagandists. His broad fan base sought his incisive and witty essays in print and on social media. He’d recently appeared for interviews on cable news.

“My fans are my family,” said Howard in interviews. He kept his personal life private. His family and past had been erased. Rumors of a girlfriend always proved to be empty speculation.

No one knew Howard’s spiritual views. Or that he had any. A famous skeptic, his unsentimental skewering of the powerful made most presume an atheistic bent. Someone seeing him in a church pew wouldn’t consider it evidence of faith. Rather, they’d anticipate his debunking some preacher’s wild-eyed prophesies. A clear-eyed champion of the truth, few considered Howard a seeker of divine guidance.

His appointment being scheduled for the evening, Howard knew it wasn’t management’s call. The exterior lights came on as he walked across the nearly empty lot.

‘What’s this about? Someone gone rogue?’

On entering the lobby, Howard encountered a series of security checks. He got frisked, endured wands, and stood for a full body scan… the usual that any airline traveler puts up with, times twelve. He knew cameras watched every movement. How many spooks stared at how many monitors?

He stifled a laugh thinking of those running this gauntlet on a daily basis. ‘Are the toilets monitored?’ He knew the restrooms were. ‘But the toilets?Passing an inspection’ takes on new meaning.’

Security personnel were not authorized to answer questions or make conversation. Cordial but impersonal, they efficiently moved each visitor to the next station. A smile or a human response could suggest compromised personnel. The cameras watched them too.

He made a mental note. ‘Do story on security training standards and the people hired into this growing industry.’

While passing through the final checkpoint, a man in a suit approached.

“Hi. I’m Malcolm. I’ll guide your tour this evening.”

They shook hands.

Howard said, “I have an appointment – with Matthias?”

“Yes. We’ll get to him.”

Malcolm led Howard down a brightly lit, corridor and pointed at closed doors. He offered vague, but enthusiastic descriptions of what took place behind each.

Howard knew such delaying tactics well. He wanted Matthias or someone to explain his purpose there. But he kept his frustration in check. He’d found many great stories at the ends of similar rabbit holes.

He had no idea what to expect. Theoretical, or Astrophysics wasn’t a typically scandal ridden. ‘Too many fingers in the cookie jar? Happens all the time.’

Malcolm pushed the down button by the elevator door. He and Howard stepped in. Malcolm pushed the B-7 button and stepped out. The doors shut and the elevator descended.

Howard hoped this was a good thing.

When the door opened, a man in shirt sleeves entered the corridor. Howard saw a bank of super computers in the room behind him.

The man said, “I’m Matthias. Follow me.”

Howard stopped. “Wait. You’re not Matthias. You’re… Not you again. I told you we can’t work together. No more stories blowing up with my name on them.”

He turned to the elevator.

“Howard, wait. This will interest you.”

“Not if you’re involved.”

“It could change the world.”

Howard paused and nodded. He didn’t need to like those he worked with. As a rule, he expected to dislike them. His first priority was getting the story.

Matthias led Howard into the computer room.

Howard watched him. ‘Sometimes even bad pennies pay off. Follow the money.’

Matthias pointed and said, “This is the A-Omega-7 Triple Helix computer. It’s dedicated solely to my experiments. Take a look at our most recent results.”

He handed Howard several folders and pointed to a chair at a table. Opening each in turn, the abstracts were eye opening. Two papers analyzed deep space data reaching back to the Big Bang. The other paper’s topics were impenetrable.

Big Bang, entanglement, weak force, quark - Howard knew the words. But what they meant in context bewildered him – a fact he kept to himself.

“You want me to translate this into English?”

“As only you can.”

“I’m not a physicist. Find someone else.”

“You’re the best. And I owe you.”

Howard nodded and thought, ‘You do owe me. But that was long ago. And we were both victims of circumstance.’

Howard admitted to himself the research was over his head. Hoping for clarity, he scanned down to the abstracts’ conclusions.

After each, he looked up in wonderment. Matthias nodded and smiled.

Matthias said, “Each of these would have stunned Einstein. His work implied this but even he didn’t dream…”

“I’m not sure… You have fingerprints…?”

“Not only. If this were a paternity test, we have His DNA, so to speak, His signature on the birth cert and His address.”

Howard couldn’t hide his confusion.

“The upshot… we have proof.” Matthias raised his arms in triumph.

Howard spread the folders across the table. “But of what? What does this…?”



“Yes! The Creator. The Almighty. Maker of all things… proof He exists!”

Howard scanned the room in awe. He said, “But wait. You need proof? Isn’t it self-evident? Look around...”

Matthias didn’t listen. “Don’t you get it? When other sites replicate our findings, it will be irrefutable.”

“Yeah, but… well… Welcome to the party.”

“So, the reason I called you in – I need to leak this.”

Howard shook his head. “You can’t leak…”

“It’ll get more attention if people think the government is suppressing vital…”

“I cannot write about it, Matthias.”

“Why not? This is completely under wraps. I’m handing you the scoop of the millennium.”

“We’d lose credibility. It’s not news.”

“Even when the results get objectively confirmed?”

“Maybe especially then. You understand the implications?”

“Of course. You must release this. It will change the world.”

“It might end it.”

Now Matthias looked confused.

Howard sighed, “Look, let’s say you’re right about this earth-shattering news. Everyone will claim your work as their sacred scripture. Wars for possession will rage. They’d claim it points to their god.”

Matthias shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way. No one owns this. It’s a matter of who belongs to God, not the other way around.”

“Sure. Right in principle. But we’re talking about humans here. People always create God in their own image. Reduce the sublime to the ridiculous. These documents would become idols to fight over.”

Matthias saw his point. He stepped back, sobbed and wiped his eyes.

Howard continued. “Once published, critics will claim a misplaced comma disproved your evidence. Thrown out because a zero should have been a one.”

“A typo is easily fixed. The results stand. Once vetted and replicated, people will unite around truth.”

“Believers will say ‘you cannot test God,’ or subject Him to proofs. Confining Him in a computer – an abomination… a fool’s game.”

Matthias opened the electrical panel. “My life’s work... Should I destroy it? Have I done something wrong?”

“Relax Matthias. Look. Some people see a magician pull a trick and won’t believe it’s sleight of hand. Others witness some historical event – like the moon landing – and can’t accept it really happened.”

“I called you in. You seek the truth.”

“Thank you for that. But the truth is out there. Everywhere. For everyone. Written in the stars.” He held up a folder. “These bits and bytes will neither convince a doubter nor confirm the believer. We’re throwing noodles, hoping something sticks.”

Matthias paced in frustration. “You think this is meaningless?”

“Of course not. But God doesn’t need our assistance. He needs the faithful. And their faith weighs more than proof.”

Matthias paused. He flipped through the reports.

“What if these discoveries bolstered people’s faith? This might knock some off the right side of the fence.”

Howard considered the question. Vague, unfocused spirituality was ascendant and deep belief had become an afterthought. ‘Thousands of denominations and no one goes to church.’

“You have a point, Matthias. Everyone’s hot to ‘follow the science’ these days. What if science points to, bows to God?”

“That would open some eyes. Hoped you’d see it my way.”

They nodded. Understanding settled in. Howard cleared the table. Matthias brought a legal pad and some pens.


“Thought you’d never ask.”

“I’ll make fresh.”


Not yet visible, the sun had brightened the sky by the time Howard left the facility and walked to his rental car.

They had a plan. Howard carried a thumb drive containing the essential reports and abstracts of Matthias’ profound discovery. Matthias trusted Howard to leak it at a time of his choosing. He needn’t wait for the results of other site’s vetting of the data.

Howard smiled. The truth has a way of coming to light.

July 20, 2023 17:17

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Amanda Lieser
14:07 Aug 12, 2023

Hi John, This was a fascinating piece. I loved the dynamic between the two characters. You did a masterful job of creating years of tension and history in a few short sentences. I also loved the way this story portrayed all of the philosophical musings of these characters. Who is God? Does He exist? Is it our right to know one way or another? And the cheesiest question: just because we can, does that mean we should? Nice work!!


John K Adams
14:58 Aug 12, 2023

Once again, Amanda, thanks for your close reading of my stories. Your comments confirm for me that some people are actually reading them and appreciate them. Makes the process that much more fun.


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Luca King Greek
13:55 Jul 27, 2023

What a clever premise, and well executed, with bits of ambiguity inserted to get the reader involved. I liked it. I liked the italicized thoughts.... made the character more dimensional. Couple of minor thoughts; didn't think Malcolm served much purpose.... and in the epilogue, I wonder if you could have completely dispensed with the middle para? Sun... light... kind of rounds it out nicely without the distraction of the thumbdrive para? FWIW. Good stuff!


John K Adams
15:03 Jul 27, 2023

Luca, Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Positive or negative, I can always learn from other's perspective.


Luca King Greek
15:49 Jul 27, 2023

John, I hope it wasn't construed as negative! Just sharing honest thoughts on the journey. Best!


John K Adams
17:10 Jul 27, 2023

Not at all. Criticism, even when constructive, makes me think. And it offers an objective appraisal of the writing not always available to the writer. I appreciate honesty. Always.


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Delbert Griffith
13:26 Jul 21, 2023

I really like the premise of this tale. Proving God exists. I especially liked that you included Einstein's historical search for a proof for the existence of God. Fabulous! The philosophical discussion was very good, John. Well reasoned on both sides. Trapping God in a computer reminds me of the "God in the machine" literary device. Wonderfully done, that. The only thing that jarred me was the vague history between the scientist and the journalist. The animosity seemed unnecessary and took away from the focus of the tale, IMO. Terrific ...


John K Adams
13:44 Jul 21, 2023

Thanks for your comments, and critiques, Delbert. It was fun to write. As to the vague history between the characters, I wanted to ground it in some reality - that working clandestinely, over time, one is bound to encounter familiar faces. Even under high security, one must trust the not necessarily trustworthy. However, considering the brevity of the piece, it may have been more of a distraction. Thanks!


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Mary Bendickson
17:59 Jul 20, 2023

God does exist. Sounds like basis for a movie.


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Bonnie Clarkson
23:07 Jul 25, 2023

Good use of science. Good use of how the information would be received. Good job.


John K Adams
01:38 Jul 26, 2023

Thanks Bonnie!


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