Darmowy fragment publikacji:
Design and preparation of the cover:
TUV NORD Polska Sp. z o.o. (Maciej Kamiński)
Copyright © 2014 by Krzysztof Łanda; email@example.com
All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this
copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or
by any information storage and retrieval system, without
written permission from the copyright owner.
All characters and events presented in the book are fictitious
and the described events never took place. Any possible
resemblance to natural persons is purely coincidental.
My name is Giuseppe and I am a humble man.
I wait patiently for the heavy door to open and
archbishop Lucka to invite me to his office. Despite the time
passing I don’t feel restless. The very thought of feeling
impatient seems insignificant. Here, in the very heart of the
Eternal City, whose stones witnessed the passing centuries,
time seems to pass differently. Slower. Each time I pass the
majestic walls of the Vatican I have the impression that the
eyes of history follow me around.
This specific tingling in the nape of my neck continues.
I feel it now, as I wait on the bench in the hallway, in the
north wing of one of the administrative buildings of the Holy
See, waiting for my audience.
I examine the office door. I let my eyes slide among the
simple, hard door frame and solid door panel made of dark
mahogany and imagine what it would feel like to slide my
finger along it. I think of the slick surface and warmth of
the precious wood, managing to resist the urge to come closer
and stretch my arm out. I know that I am being discretely
watched and such behaviour would come off as ridiculous.
I don’t have to imagine what is waiting behind the door.
I remember every detail.
Someone once said that archbishop Lucka’s office has the
same character as its owner and in a way expresses his
I couldn t agree more. It is probable the dignitary’s every
guest must have noticed this correlation.
I recall the sight of his office very clearly, as if I’ve
been there yesterday. The spacious and elegant room has been
decorated very tastefully; its host, despite his high position
in the Vatican hierarchy, remained modest and resisted the
temptation to surround himself with luxury and splendour.
Nevertheless, the office made a great impression on me the
first time I was there.
The central place of the room which I am about to enter
is occupied by a large desk. It is always empty. Archbishop
Lucka is known for his fondness for order; just as in his
everyday work he does not need to surround himself with
unnecessary, distracting scraps of paper, he does not allow
himself to clutter his mind. Despite the many years that have
passed, he is still considered to possess one of the sharpest
minds in the Vatican. I can see him sitting at his desk,
upright, with his eyes narrowed, carefully wording the reply
to a difficult question with a serious, grave look on his
He is a man of shadow. Every time I was in his office,
and there have already been dozens of such visits, it was
always dim and heavy curtains covered the windows. That I also
find quite significant.
Few people realise how important a figure archbishop
Lucka is due to his function as Head of Division Two of the
Vatican State Secretary. He is the de facto counterpart of the
state’s Minister of the Interior. Not much happens behind the
walls of the Vatican without him knowing; all strings come
together in one place, behind that dark mahogany door. In the
dimness of his office, archbishop Lucka takes decisions which
are often of key importance to the functioning of the church-
state. However, he never manifests what power he has and
always keeps his distance. Just as he rarely lets sunshine
lighten his office, he prefers to avoid being in the spotlight
and, whenever possible, it is his personal secretary who
handles all contact with media representatives. I can only
guess whether it is caused by caution or just his reluctance
towards public appearances.
The selection of paintings decorating the walls of his
office is circumspect and symbolic. Along exquisite, in many
instances centuries-old reproductions of works of masters of
the Renaissance: Raphael Santi, Donato Bramante and
Michelangelo, as well as Albrecht Dürer and Robert Campin (he
would say that it did not seem proper to limit himself to
Italian painters), archbishop Lucka would also include modern
He noticed how surprised I was to see reproductions of Jackson
Pollock’s art and he laughed out loud.
‘The fact that I wear a clerical collar does not mean
that I am not interested in life outside the Church,’ he said.
‘And in art itself I see some sacredness, a divine element.
The same one in all ages, just expressed by different means, a
different artistic code…’
We chatted a bit about the history of painting, which
helped us break the ice; we saw each other for the first time
in a long while and I did not even attempt to conceal my
intimidation, which was obvious particularly given the
circumstances the previous time we met. The archbishop
confessed that art history is one of his greatest passions,
and contemplating exquisite paintings not only lets him relax
and calms him down but is also a source of inspiration and
energy that he needs for his work.
– Being around modern art is particularly valuable for a
person in my position, dear Giuseppe – he said. – The Vatican
cannot solely focus on celebrating the tradition, although,
obviously, we must remember our origins. The Vatican must
constantly face new challenges brought by the modern times,
abstractionist right next to the Renaissance masters. Art
constantly reminds me of my tasks and responsibilities,
Giuseppe. It forces me time and again to think outside the
I had to agree with that. As a person close to the
Vatican I knew how wrong everyone was who thought that the
church-state was a rigid creation which could not keep up with
the pace of the modern world. Respect for tradition and
ceremony, though important, does not preclude making use of
the latest technological achievements. The Vatican never was
against science and progress, contrary to many unfavourable
opinions, which are usually expressed by those who don’t have
the slightest idea about it.
From the room adjacent to archbishop Lucka’s office come
the sounds of computer keyboards and telephone conversation
chatter is audible time and again. That is the Vatican’s
second face, usually unnoticed, and even if noticed,
It is the face of a methodical professional, radiant due
to the glow of the computer screen rather than eternal light.
Room Two, as it’s usually referred to, is filled with people.
Many wear clerical collars, but not all of them; the
archbishop also contracts many lay people. They live in
various districts of Rome and when they enter the walls of the
Vatican, they swipe their access magnetic cards. There are
women among them. What is more, there are non-believers among
them – when hiring employees to Section Two, the Vatican
applies completely different criteria altogether. It is the
elite, the best analysts, graduates of top schools, often with
experience in international corporations. They perform their
work diligently and professionally and for that they are
handsomely rewarded. They collect and aggregate information
crucial for the work of the head section of the Secretary of
State. They sometimes joke among themselves at coffee breaks
that they work in the most powerful enterprise of all: God’s
I wandered what was occupying archbishop Lucka so much.
Never before did I have to wait so long for an audience,
usually I was ushered in at exactly the agreed hour. Meanwhile
it was already a quarter past the appointment time.
The issues bothering the hierarch most certainly were not
something mere mortals should be pondering about. On the other
hand, in our curt conversation over the phone the archbishop
insisted how important it was to meet today, so he must have
been pressed for time.
I had never thought about it before. Was something
extraordinary happening? Suddenly I have the impression that
telephones in Room Two ring half a tone quieter than usually.
The tapping sound of the keyboards strikes me as more nervous,
arrhythmical, interrupted. Through the half-open door I can
see people getting to their feet time and again. I can hear
the thumping noise of chairs being moved.
But it’s probably just my imagination. A bit weary due to
the waiting, although far from impatient. Who am I, anyway, to
rush archbishop Lucka, be it even in my thoughts? Obviously, I
simply started making up dramatic scenarios.
No need for that. I should, after all, remain calm and
And there I go: the dark door to the archbishop’s office
opens. His personal secretary and assistant, Casemiro is at
the door. The clerical collar almost glares against the
backdrop of his elegant black shirt. With a polite gesture
Casemiro invites me inside.
I enter the room, suddenly convinced that this meeting
would be more important than all the previous ones.
All the details are there; the office looks exactly the
way I remembered it. God blessed me with exceptional memory.
The archbishop is behind his desk. The drawn curtains bar
the afternoon sunlight; only single light beams cut through
the dusk. Strong, concentrated light from a lamp falls on the
desk. Covering the windows despite the sunny weather is
another sign of caution, is the archbishop afraid that spies
with the right equipment could photograph the documents he is
working on from afar? The curtains constitute a countermeasure
against listening-in. Lasers reading the delicate vibrations
of glass induced by sound of speech constitute regular working
tools of secret services.
The hierarch rises from behind his desk and smiles mildly
when he sees me. I move forward, accompanied by Casemiro’s
watchful gaze and the inscrutable stares coming from the
pictures on the walls. I still feel the tingling in the nape
of my neck, which it is impossible to get rid off in the
‘Giuseppe,’ says archbishop Lucka, reaching out his hand.
We greet each other; he embraces me and gives me a pat on the
back. I don’t reciprocate the gesture; I am far too humbled
‘Your Excellency,’ I reply. My voice sounds stiff, far
from natural; I’m surprised at myself.
The archbishop points me to the chair and I sit in front
of him, with the smooth surface of the precious wood between
‘I am sorry to have kept you waiting. Certain…. events
took place which somewhat disrupted my plans,’ the smile left
his face. ‘That is why, yet again, I must ask for your
‘Whatever you need, Excellency.’
The archbishop looked up, looks deeper into the room,
towards the door. I don’t turn around and just hear fast
footsteps and hasty words, someone came up to Casemiro and
handed him something.
After a moment the assistant approaches the desk and
stands next to me. He is holding a stack of print-outs.
‘Please forgive me, Your Excellency,’ Casemiro says. His
smooth voice in unobtrusive and blends in well. This is the
reviewed annex to the latest report prepared by group one.
The archbishop nods. He takes the pile of papers from the
assistant and places it on the desk.
‘Forgive me, Giuseppe. I absolutely must read this
It seems to me that the hierarch is slightly nervous,
‘But of course, Your Excellency,’ I say. ‘I understand
perfectly. I will wait outside…’
I want to get up, but archbishop Lucka stops me with a
‘It will take just a moment, my friend. Casemiro, please
serve some water, our friend must be thirsty.’
I am not thirsty at all but I don’t dare to refuse.
The archbishop starts reading. His focused gaze covers
whole parts of the text like a scanner – quickly and
methodically. For a moment the hierarch stops reading, looks
me in the eye, sighs and goes on reading.
I realise that the situation must indeed be exceptional.
I don’t know any other person whose gaze would be that
sharp and penetrating; a gaze there is no running away from.
I remember the first time I saw that gaze twenty years ago
On that particular spring day I had tried to kill myself.
Being young, naïve and desperate, I was convinced that
nothing could stop me from taking my life. I thought that the
world had clearly showed me how unnecessary it finds me and
continuing the farce that was my life was pointless.
The woman with whom I had wanted to grow old walked out
on me. She left me. She made in clear that she was leaving for
good. I realised that there was no point in fooling myself
anymore and that there was no hope left. Paradoxically that
brought me some relief by ending the emotional struggle I had
been experiencing for weeks. I had nothing to fight for
anymore. The realisation that it can’t get any worse can offer
such strange, bitter comfort.
However, when I thought that all I had to do is endure
the pain, waiting for time to heal the wounds, the Piccola
Lirica theatre where I worked decided to let me go. Due to
drastic budget cuts for the new season, the theatre’s profile
was being changed. The classic repertoire was to be abandoned
and my countertenor, although supposedly “quite possibly the
most superb in the whole of Italy”, was no longer needed. I
couldn’t possibly imagine myself doing anything else. Piccola
Lirica was my second home. Naturally, finding employment in
another theatre would just be a matter of time but that was
not the point. I loved that stage, that backstage, the
audience. I loved it all like you love a woman.
Today I obviously realise how limited I was at that time,
but I felt unmistakably that I had just lost the two cores of
my whole world and that I was falling into a dark, infinite
abyss. Arduous rehearsals, voice tuning practice and endless
repeating of the practiced songs and then looking forward to
the première of a new show; the evening meetings with my
beautiful Editt, her smile which made the cheap wine we drank
taste like divine ambrosia – that was my whole life. Editt and
Piccola Lirica defined me, made me who I was. By losing them I
lost myself completely.
The sun was still low when I descended to the Termini
subway station. The morning rush hour was over but it was
still quite crowded, trains were arriving and departing,
commuters were getting on and off. People preoccupied with
their own affairs were headed towards the city; others were
running towards the train station. Everything was happening
somewhere beside me, as if behind thick glass and it didn’t
concern me in any way. I was sitting on a bench, numb as a
lizard after a cold, sleepless night.
At one point I felt an impulse; something told me I had
nothing to wait for anymore. I got up from the bench. The
loudspeakers had just announced the arrival of a train, the
speaker asked the passengers to step away from the edge of the
platform. A small crowd of luggage-bearing passengers had
Moments later red headlights flickered and the subway
How tempting it was, one jump and that’s it. The huge
wheels would obliterate all my despair and all my pain. I
wouldn’t even have time to scream.
I headed towards the edge like a sleepwalker. The train
was approaching inevitably, the navy blue face of the train
growing with every second. I had reached the very edge of the
platform and was one step away from the tracks. I knew that if
I chickened out, if I let the front of the train pass me, it
would be too late and I would not gather up the courage to try
I closed my eyes for all my worth. I got a grip and
flexed my muscles.
It’s not true what they say about your whole life passing
through your eyes, about that movie made up of your memories.
I didn’t feel anything.
At the last moment someone caught my arm and pulled me
back onto the platform with a decisive move. I lost my balance
and fell. At the same time the train, coming to a stop, slowly
rolled passed me with a deep roar; it was slow by that time,
hundreds of thousand kilograms were reluctantly losing
I realised what had just happened. I knew I wouldn’t have
it in me to give it another try. I got up slowly.
The man who saved my life was standing next to me. He was
looking at me with a focused gaze, slim-built, around forty.
He was wearing a clerical collar.
I felt weak, as if I was about to faint. He approached me,
firmly but politely and led me to a bench. I didn’t say a
He sat next to me. He was silent for a moment and then
‘The world is huge, son. Much greater than we usually
realise. The fact that you can’t find a place for yourself
just now does not necessarily mean that it is actually like
He paused for a moment; the train departing from the
neighbouring platform would have obscured the sound anyway.
‘My name is Lucka,’ he reached out his hand.
I shook it, although I could hardly do it. I was drenched
‘Are you all right?’
‘Yes,’ I lied.
‘I don’t believe in coincidence,’ he said. ‘God wanted us
to meet today. My train from Milan was half an hour late. If
it did come on time, I would have left the station over a
quarter ago. In which case you wouldn’t have been around
either, would you?’
‘And therefore,’ he continued. ‘God must have plans for
‘I am not particularly religious...’
‘Do you think God ever minded that?’
We sat a few minutes more, talking. The priest was
interested in me working for the theatre and performing in
operettas; it turned out we appreciated the same outstanding
Father Lucka gave me his business card. We said goodbye
and I promised I would get in touch with him.
That is how our incredible acquaintance started; on that
day I met archbishop Lucka and my life started anew.
I am still in his debt.
The archbishop puts down the documents he had just read.
He observes me for a moment and nods thoughtfully. Then he
speaks, in an unusually gentle voice. It creates a strange
dissonance given how dark his words were:
‘Dear Giuseppe... It seems that we are in grave danger.
We are staring to lose control over what is happening in the
There is silence for a while. It seems as if the
archbishop s words are echoing ominously within those elegant
walls and yet I know that it must all be happening in my head.
I don’t say anything. Archbishop Lucka sees the expression
on my face although I do my best to conceal my emotions. He
smiles. Was it not for my theatrical experience, I probably
wouldn’t be able to tell that it is an empty, forced smile.
And yet it does do the trick: It nips my fear in the bud,
before it really got to me.
‘So far the power remains in our hands,’ the hierarch
speaks in a gentle, soothing voice. ‘If we act calmly and
reasonably, there is no way we could lose it. The stakes are
very high and in such situations the winner is the one who is
guided by reason. We must react fast and reasonably at the
same time. Any mistake will immediately be used against us.’
I can’t help but notice that when saying this, he is
unknowingly drumming his fingers on the edge of the desk.
After a moment he notices it and his hands freeze.
‘Obviously, I am getting anxious,’ he sees I’ve noticed;
his smile gets wider. ‘However I can assure you that we’ve
developed a plan for such circumstances a long time ago. We
are very well prepared.’
I am tempted to have a look at the papers lying on the
desk, which obviously were the reason of all that agitation. I
resist that urge. They were not written for my eyes to see. I
would have understood very little anyway and no good would
have come out of that, excessive curiosity was always frowned
upon in the Vatican.
And I know my place. I am a humble man.
The hierarch speaks on:
‘In a nutshell, your task, Giuseppe, will not be
different from the previous ones. I am not asking you to do
anything you haven’t done before.’
The archbishop reaches out to a desk drawer. He takes out
a flash drive, a small, inconspicuous USB memory stick and
weighs it in the palm of his hand.
‘Once again you are going to take data to the safe in the
Monastery. Just like you’ve done dozens of times before.’
‘Certainly, Your Excellency.’
He hands me the flash drive. I fiddle with it.
‘In the beginning was the Word,’ the archbishop says.
‘And the Word was with God... The Word, that is information,
is still the most potent power and is the basis of every act
of creation... or destruction.’
I am holding what seems to be an ordinary flash drive
which you can get for a few euro in every electronics store.
Flash memory, a few gigabits, or maybe several terabits of
virtual space are captured in that plastic cover.
The archbishop continues:
‘Today, in the third millennium, we sometimes forget how
great that power is. We are flooded by words from every
direction and the media feed us with more information than we
can imagine. We are drowning in this noise, we are becoming
indifferent. And despite that there still exist words which,
if said out loud, would strike with greater power than an
atomic bomb. There is more and more information that has the
power to change the world...’
A thought goes through my mind – how much can such a small
cube weigh? Ten, maybe fifteen grams? Certainly not more.
‘I am saying this so that you realise how important your
task is, Giuseppe. The flash drive you received is sealed. Its
content has to remain a secret, both for your safety and the
best interests of our cause. What you need to know however is
that never before has such important data reached the
Monastery. There is no second integrated copy of this
information. If it got into the wrong hands it would lead to a
great misfortune. There is no one else I would entrust it with
than you, Giuseppe.’
I am not asking any questions. It is obvious that the data
in question must be of great importance. The less important
data is transferred electronically; naturally after they have
been encrypted multiple times; only the most important
information is transported on actual data carriers. The threat
must be significant if the archbishop decided to lock it in a
safe in the Monastery. In a safe where it is bound to be
secure. In a safe which can be opened with only one key.
And I am that key.
‘You know how much I trust you,’ he says. ‘This time,
however, for the sake of your safety, you will go with two
‘Casemiro,’ he addressed his secretary standing further
in the office, that silent ghost, whose presence I have almost
forgotten. ‘Please fetch Davide and Klaus.’
Casemiro approaches the door without saying a word. He
opens it and for a moment I can hear the muffled bustle in
Soon after the door opens again. Archbishop Lucka rises
from behind his desk; I get up as well and turn around.
Two tall, well-built men are standing next to Casemiro.
Both are wearing cassocks, but their posture likens them more
to sportsmen or soldiers than priests: broad-shouldered, with
broad chests, they exude physical strength.
‘God bless, Your Excellency,’ they greet the host.
The archbishop introduces us.
‘This is Giuseppe, and these are fathers Davide and
We greet, discretely and respectfully. Both of them grip
my hand strongly.
Father Davide seems a bit older. He has long hair tied
back in a ponytail, although his forehead is high and his
temples are grey. The wrinkles on his face are not deep but
quite distinctive; my guess is he might be around fifty. His
dark eyes are penetrating and mysterious; you can tell by
those eyes that not only are his muscles are strong but his
mind is sharp as well.
Klaus on the other hand cannot be older than thirty-five.
He is a bit taller and even more athletic. He doesn’t look
Italian. He has short, fawn-coloured hair and stubble. His
grey eyes seem surprisingly cheerful, although his face is
focused and serious.
Both of them look as if they weren’t priests at all and
have just dressed up in cassocks.
The archbishop turns to them.
‘I would like you to accompany our friend on his way to
the Monastery. The situation has become so serious that your
knowledge and experience may prove necessary.’
Pobierz darmowy fragment