The work began in the morning, just after sunrise, with Peter and Ben opening the west door of the central chamber at the top of the building. The room was immediately lit with a yellow glow as the polished bronze inner lining bent the light to the black mass of obsidian stood magnificent at the centre of the highest point of Atlantis.
Peter said, “We should open the east door too. It might be too hot in here when the Sun is high.”
“It won’t be,” Meira declared and walked away without further comment. Peter looked at Ben, who tipped his head and raised an eyebrow before following her down two floors to their storeroom.
“Have either of you found the cool room?” Meira was talking as they sorted through the supplies.
“It’s cool below the water tanks,” Peter offered, “but not like a fridge.”
“There will be a cool room – one that’s cool all the time. It won’t be far away.” The men looked at each other, but said nothing. “After lunch then. We’ll find it after lunch. Best thing for now it to sort out the water.” Again the men looked at each other. “Everything in the tanks has to go,” she continued, “the tanks have to be flushed, and filled with fresh water.”
“That’s a lot of water.” Peter was becoming restless – beginning to pace – not sure he liked this new, didactic, Meira.
“Not really. When you compare it to the quantity in the aquifers it’s almost nothing at all,” said Ben, still bent over his ammunitions bags. He looked up. “There must be a pressure source. How else does the water come in?”
“The Earth has energy Ben,” she softened, almost as if she felt as Peter felt. “There’s lots of energy in the form of heat and gas pressures. The Sun has more. Either will push to water to where we want it.” She paused, then turned to Peter. “Did you see anything that might be a gate, or a valve, to control the water when you were downstairs?”
“Downstairs. I like that,” he was still pacing. “Downstairs she says like we’re in a country house. Downstairs is the twenty or more long flights down. I reckon I was a mile underground when I was listening to the water in the walls.”
“Did you see the water? Which way was it flowing? How fast? How much?” Ben was heaping questions on questions.
Peter raised a hand to stop him. “I never saw the water. I think I heard it. I definitely felt the air moving. It was slow, but massive. A large mass of air was moving slowly and I think, only think, because I never saw it, the water was doing the same.”
The three of them stood quietly staring down at the bags of food, guns, and ammunition spread on the floor. Ben said, “You were a mile underground?”
“I couldn’t measure it. Only assess it, but by looking up at the vents and skylights I reckon it was all of a mile.”
Meira said, “It would be.”
“The walk back up must have murder. How long did that take?”
“Ah, no time at all. I got a lift.”
Ben smiled. “A passing chariot perhaps – knives on the wheels? Or a pit pony. The old miners used to keep ponies underground to pull the trucks of coal and ore around. Did you get the name Peter?” Peter smiled, lowered his head – waited. “Okay,” said Ben more conciliatorily. “It must have been a long walk. Thank you for all that effort.”
“I told you I got lift and I did. I took a lift.”
Ben, surprised, “There’s an elevator?”
“Yes.” The others stared – waiting for more. “I don’t know how, I stepped on this stone plinth which immediately shook a little and started to move up between some of the support columns. It took me all the way to the first landing – which is only one flight down. When I went back the next day it wasn’t there.”
“Did you hear the water when it was moving?” Meira asked.
“I might have. The stone was pretty noisy, grinding against the columns, but there was a rushing sound. Could have been water moving.”
“What else would power an elevator?” Ben was concentrating on Peter.
“Could be gravity. Could be counter-weights somewhere.”
“The water is either up high, creating pressure, or below, in pressurised aquifers.” There was no trace of doubt in Meira’s voice.
“If it’s high,” Peter began, how did it get there? “If it’s below, what’s creating the pressure?
“Head pressure from high run off, melting snow, or it was pushed up by a heat source – like a coffee maker, like a Moka machine.
“If it’s low it’s probably carbonated, or it was at some time – but you all knew that,” she looked at Peter. He smiled. “As you know Peter has been testing some theories about the Giza Pyramids and has some interesting answers.”
They both looked at Peter – waiting for his explanations. “I think there were these portcullis arrangements with counter weights that opened sluice-gates and closed them again when the water was high enough.”
“For what reason?” Ben was circumspect.
“To control the water levels.”
“Then it rains.”
“It rains? How does it rain?”
“Hot spots – like the big obsidian block upstairs. You focus the Sun with the reflectors to create a hot spot so when water hits it spews out as a vapour.”
“Steam that becomes rain.”
“Because the land was drying up.”
“Because the land was drying up because the Earth was about a thousand years into an Interglacial.”
“So the pyramids were built to make it rain.”
“And to bake the bread, and purify the water, and a mass of other things but, yes, to make rain.”
A few moments followed when they each sat silent with their thoughts until Ben broke the spell. “Is that what we have here?”
“And then some,” said Peter.
“The pyramids at Giza were built to fulfil a need created by the Holocene Interglacial which started about twelve thousand years ago.” Meira had their full attention. ‘This city building is the result of a hundred thousand years of human development. It was created by a far larger, more advanced, society than the few who remained after the flood and volcanic chaos that came out of the Holocene global warming. The glory that was the Matriarchy was lost under the ash and the rising sea levels. What you see here is an almost completely preserved example of city living in those times.”
She moved over to the stairway and the huge wall of the central chamber. “The language, too, is very advanced. I’m afraid that unless you have memories of the sounds it’s impossible to comprehend because it’s predominantly aural – much as the first languages were – bird sounds, and all that sprang from them.” She walked up a few steps. “Notice the absence of weapons. Not a knife, or a spear, or an arrow, in sight. They weren’t fighting because there was nothing to fight over. They had all they needed. They were warm, well fed, and busy learning and improving. All the reptilian behaviour, the fight or flight syndrome, that drives the alpha male had long given way to consideration for others and learning.”
“Human instincts must have remained,” Ben interjected. “Competition to have, or to be, the best must have been there still.”
She looked at Peter. He, too, had doubts. “You are both standing in a different place to me and, for that matter, with each other. You only know the post disaster world, although Peter has spent some time studying earlier times, so you can only compare on the current scales. The struggle for survival after the floods and volcanic eruptions was dominated by the alpha male because only the fittest survived. Humans fell back to early, evolutionary, times. After the disasters there were no crops, few animals, and pollutions was the norm. It took all their strength to live from one day to the next – just as it did 180,000 years earlier.
“We are still there today. We are still breeding faster than the food supply can sustain. Add to that more than half the food is controlled by ten per cent of the population who are fat; others are starving. We came here looking for water in secret – why?” She paused, waited for them, then continued. “We are looking for water in secret because John Conway, the Commander, wants an edge over his fellows. We aren’t here looking for water for all; we are here for the few haves who want more. Why? Why do we want more?”
“Because we are afraid,” Ben offered.
“Precisely,” she dropped her shoulders. “We are afraid there is not enough. We are afraid we cannot defend against our enemies. We are afraid of illness – of disease, of climate change, of earthquakes and meteorites and ghosts. We are afraid of our inadequacies and we are afraid of death.
“We are afraid because we are ignorant. Remember those mariner’s chart that showed unknown territories with dragons ‘There be dragons,’ they declared because they didn’t know. Once they explored, once they sailed in to see for themselves, the fear evaporated. Note too, that religious extremists are not common among the informed.”
“Well I didn’t come here looking for water,” Peter announced. “I came to learn about this city – about this Atlantis.