Don't miss the startling first chapter of The Thetan Templar.
It was cold and drizzly outside—as cold as the trail leading to the Islamic glass dildo, currently nestled within the elegant antique Egyptian laptop desk in the office of NYU Professor Nate "Shirky" Stryker, the world's leading academic in the fields of new media, the occult and nanotechnology. But Stryker wasn't keeping office hours today, and neither was the mysterious dildo.
"Get the phallus," Nate Stryker said to his beautiful assistant professor, Tanalyne Foster Wallace.
"What's a phallus?"
Stryker glanced out the window with its unobstructed view of the Empire State Building
"You're a genius," she said, brushing a lock of lush, brunette hair from her eyes. "I don't think I've ever heard that word before."
"It's Greek," Stryker said with a knowing smile. "But there's nothing Greek about the Arabic tattoos around the ankles of these severed legs in my elevator."
Tanalyne returned with the antique glass dildo and placed it gingerly in Stryker's waiting hands. He squinted at the elaborate Arabic calligraphy and then lifted one of the legs to his eyes. A perfect match.
"We'll need to get the Mayor's Office of Terrorism involved," Stryker said with a grimace. The last thing he wanted was to see this story blown out of proportion by the right-wing political blogs.
"I'll text Sully directly," she replied, obviously referring to Tankard O'Sullivan, the gruff police commissioner in charge of the city's terror squad.
What a disaster, what a world, Stryker thought. I should be halfway to Cairo by now, enjoying a flute of my favorite champagne and finishing up this animated GIF edition of the Nag Hammadi codices. But instead I'm still stuck in my office with more legs than Radio City Music Hall.
The detectives arrived in minutes, making use of Stryker's heliport atop New York University's Forensic-Parapsychology Studies building.
"Hullo, Tanalyne," Sully said to the associate professor. "You're looking a lot better than this old idiot you work for, as usual."
"Touché," answered Stryker. It meant something like the American word "touch," but Sully was a tough first-generation Irish cop, so he didn't know.
"Blimey, look at the leg stumps," Sully cursed. "No blood!"
Stryker wiped his brow with his trademark tweed beret and studied each of the dismembered legs.
"Of course there's no blood," he said finally. "These aren't human."
"You don't mean?" Tanalyne bit her lower lip gently, haltingly.
"No for God's sake, not aliens. These legs are from mannequins."
And that means the Fashion District, Stryker deduced. Or, at least, from an exclusive uptown retailer. These legs are of the highest quality, not the kind of dingy gams you see poking out of some knockoff at Century 21.
"Turn on the television," Tanalyne said, looking up from her porcelain Google Android clamshell phone. "The president is about to speak."
"About to speak about what?" barked Sully, who didn't care for politics.
"About the other dozen legs just like these, found moments ago in the ruins of a just-discovered Benghazi sun temple dating back to third millennium, B.C."
Nate Stryker hit the UP button and they all went to the rooftop helicopter port, including the mannequin legs. But the helicopter had taken off without them.
And it was on fire.