Atlantis

[one_half]

sandLThe road trip was, as Israel stated, just a little journey in a half track troop carrier that seemed to meander all over the place. The ascent by foot though, up steep trails and along barely passable trails, seemed long and arduous. She was glad when they rested, but subsequently amazed to see that even after a continuously steady climb that was, in reality, of a mere twenty minutes or so, they were now overlooking a long, sheer, drop – the bottom of which her eyes could not reach. “Careful,” Ben warned her. “You won’t be able to see the bottom, no matter how far you hang out.” She retreated to safety.

They continued for another five or six minutes until they reached what appeared to be the entrance to a cave. She followed Israel and Ben as they stepped in then stopped. It was cold and, to her surprise, a little windy. Flashlights came on as men nervously took stock of their surroundings. She felt comfortable though; she knew where she was. Breathing deep and slow she advanced into the opening without fear or hindrance from the rest of the party. With Ben beside her she lead the way to where she knew there would be a stairway. In fact they came to a sizable open area with light filtering down from openings high, very high, over galleries stretching up and around. She stopped to take it all in. No one spoke.

No one spoke until she broke the silence. “Have you ventured on the steps?”

“They found bodies, Meira,” Ben told her. “They found three men dead but no indication of what killed them.”

“Where are they now?’

“At the bottom of the drop.”

“Young, old? Modern, western dress?”

“Young. Turbans – Taliban style. No sign of violence. They were strong and well fed.”

“So?”

“Fear. These guys want the water, they don’t want authorities here, but they are scared of what might have killed them.”

Martin Keene/PA

Martin Keene/PA

Inwardly she smiled. Perfect: An ancient solar city hidden by fear. Perfect. “What about the water?”

Ben signalled her to follow to the end of the hall where a short flight of steps opened out onto a gallery over what appeared to be a lake: only it wasn’t. It had stone sides, of maybe two metres, and stretched as far as she could see. It was cold – colder than the other place. She started to walk. “It’s about twenty minutes to the far end,” Ben said as if to stop her.

She looked back. “So?”

“There isn’t time.”

“Why?”

“We have to go back.”

She thought for a second or two then conceded. “Okay,” and followed him back to the others. Once outside the heat and sunlight hit them like a furnace door. “I need time here,” she said. “I need days and nights here.” The men’s faces said they were uncertain, anxious; that they wanted to leave. They weren’t just anxious, she realised; they were scared and they wanted to leave now – this very instant.

Ben said, “I’ll bring food and water.”

“No,” she said. “I’ll come back on my own when I know more about this place.” She turned back inside. The men left.[one_half][/one_half]

[one_half_last]

Inside Atlantis

She went quickly to the main hall then up the steps, all the steps, all the steps she could find until she reached the top. She thought she knew what she would find here and she was right, there it was, but not one, but five – five chambers each with its own huge, jet black, obsidian stone dusty from millennia of disuse and stained from previous millennia of continual use. She gasped at her discovery. This, she decided, must be the heart of the mother and father of all solar cities. This is Atlantis? It could be. If Atlantis is not just a place, if it’s a state of mind, then this could be Atlantis. She sat in the centre chamber and gazed at the huge doors to the outside world and wondered when last they were opened. In no time Catherine was with her.

This had been a successful community. There had been many, long, generations here. This place was built during the last Matriarchy, before the sea levels rose, before the catastrophic volcanic irruptions, and long, long before the religions stole the hearts and minds of frightened men.

Amina had been here. She had long memories from years in this city right up to the volcanic dust that covered everything killing most of the people and all of the animals. Amina had seen the floods, the falling mountainsides, and the freezing winds. She had seen all of this and survived long enough to continue the line but her daughters were frail. The climate and the pollution stunted their growth, shortening their lives to not more than sixty years, and their children’s children’s lives not much longer. This was the beginning of the long descent back to the survival of the fittest. Here, in Anima’s memory, was the end of the Matriarchy and the new dawn for the Alpha Male.

There followed the millenniums of the law of the strong: the taking and the killing; the deception and lies and desperate thrusting to prove that strength, and prowess, could overpower knowledge, truth, and reason. Gods were invented, religions born, wars proliferated and millions upon millions died almost as fast as they could reproduce. How sad. How sad that we are still there.

With the exception of the sealed, upper, chambers volcanic ash must have covered everything at one time: Its chemical content would have dissolved all animal and vegetable content and eaten into the floors and walls but she knew where to look. Beneath the thinner coatings on the upper walls she could make out the murals – not the reliefs and engravings of later artists – these were ceramic murals on a vast scale. This was the legacy of the Matriarchy at the apogee of its of it grandeur. She gathered some of the larger pieces of debris and broken pieces of staircases together to form a mound so she could climb higher, to the top of the walls where rich colours could be seen peeking through the grime.

In the lower chamber she explored the artificial lake. It was, she estimated, four thousand metres in length, about one thousand wide, and two metres deep. It could hold up to eight billion litres. There wasn’t that much water there now; now there was not more than a couple of hundred thousand – still, that was a lot of water, and from where had it come? She was tempted to climb in, test it for depth and temperature, but her instincts warned her against that. She needed tools, pumps, hoses, solvents . . . she needed a team of helpers and, above all, she needed secrecy because once the heavy mob arrived it would be impossible to care for, and preserve, this wonderful find.

Back at the camp she found Ben in an intense game of chess with Bill. Neither looked up when, hot and dusty from walking and climbing, she pulled a chair to the table and sat. All the others in the room were clearly alarmed, and giving her their full attention. “You walked? How did you know where we were?” Israel was clearly annoyed.

“Driving that half track around in circles is not likely to fool anyone Israel. Even in the bullet proof rear cabin one can see sunlight and shadows.” She sat down.

Israel recovered. “Yes, yes, I’m sorry. My manners, I’m sorry. So water?”

“Thank you. Do you have facilities here . . . showers, toilets, places to eat and sleep?”

Bill looked up as if from a coma. “First impressions?”

“It’s an important find. I will need help, tools, logistical support.”

“And the water?” Israel was watching her carefully.

“There is a lot there, but as to how old it is, or how it came to be there, needs analysis and testing.”

“Did you think to bring samples on your walk?”

“Think, yes; bring, no. Secrecy is vital. Only our own people, only our own, most trusted, people should know of this.”

“Indeed,” Ben piped up. “I will bring Peter. No one should leave.”

Bill stood. “I will have Peter brought here, and whoever, and whatever, else you need. You are correct Ben: no one should leave. Especially not you or I.”[/one_half_last]

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Peter Under Atlantis

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Peter had walked the passageways to the end of the subterranean reservoir where a staircase had taken him down, down, ever down into cool air maybe a kilometre underground. He reached a landing, about a three metres square, with archways in two directions, each enticing, each unnerving in its darkened mysteriousness. Looking up he could see two of what must be many of the narrow roof openings that brought light from the surface to go all the way down all of the steps. Venturing to the archway straight ahead he saw more steps that seemed not to be lit from the openings above, but from lower down. He turned, went to the other archway where he saw more steps leading down to another landing that appeared much wider than the one on which he stood. He started to descend, noting as he went that the steps grew ever wider until the last one was half the width of the landing. In the middle was a hole – about the same size as the upper landing with a low peripheral wall not more than forty centimetres high and about ten thick. He walked around the wall, peering as he went into the dark hole. He was comfortable, he noted, able to walk easily because the air was fresh, cool – there was ventilation and there was light, but not in the hole. Looking over and down he could neither see, nor smell, anything to suggest its purpose except, perhaps, the square appeared perfect, and the walls were flat and smooth.
He returned to the first landing and took the other archway. There was plenty of light which was increasingly mysterious because there were no roof openings above these steps. Again he travelled down, and down for another kilometre or more before the area opened up and there, high on four marble columns, was the source of light. He was stunned. Standing back he leaned against the wall to take stock of a huge dish, about ten metres across, resting atop four marble columns so its upper edge appeared to be a metre and half from the roof. Surprising as it was to find such an object in such a place that wasn’t the source of his amazement; it was the light coming from it, extending all over the ceiling to illuminate the chamber in a soft white, that stunned him. He stood upright again and stared. It wasn’t clear as to from where the light was coming but it had to be from the surface. It had to be from a light, and, or, a ventilation, shaft reaching up, maybe a mile of more, to the surface, yet it was pleasant here. It was cool and clean; how could it be clean? How could it be free of dust and dirt and volcanic ash? That didn’t make sense but there it was. He was standing in a comfortable, clean, well lit, chamber a mile underground that was devoid of any kind of machinery. He decided to sit, to contemplate, to give his tired legs a rest and his addled brain a chance to assemble the pieces.

 

When he awoke Meira was there, only she wasn’t. She was there, in his head, but not, physically, present. How could that be? He let it go, sat up, stretched, stood, and started to walk. Where? Where was he going? Another archway to another passage and it was lit. How was that? There was no obvious light source here, where he was walking to no conscious purpose, but he continued and continued and continued until – until he stopped at what appeared to be a concrete box between four stone columns stretching to the roof. He stepped into the box and waited. For what? He didn’t know. He didn’t know why he was here or where he was going when slowly, and by no means quietly, the box began to rumble up between the columns. He wasn’t alarmed – even

All Giza Pyramids

as it went through the roof to another chamber and through that roof and another and another until it stopped – he wasn’t alarmed. He simply stepped out and walked through an arch to the first landing he reached on the way down. He wasn’t surprised at that. He should have been. His head told him he should be amazed, but he wasn’t. Instead he walked up the first set of steps until he was back at the big reservoir where he rested again.

 

Meira and Peter Communicate

“I can reach you now – from anywhere. I can reach you wherever you are.”

“I know.” Peter was calm: in total acceptance of the changes.

“Don’t you think it’s wonderful?” Meira stared into his face.

“Fuck. I’m not sure. I don’t fucking know what I think.” He paused, ruminated, “If you can reach into my head you can read my mind. That’s frightening.”

“No, I can’t read your mind. I can send guidance when you ask, and can read your face and eyes when I’m with you. You should be happy. You can reach out for help from me. I can reach the Old Ones so you, too, can reach them. That’s wonderful. That, as you would say, ‘Is fucking, fan-fucking-tastic.’” She looked at him: Long and hard she looked over his face and eyes. “Innit?”

He relented. “Yeah it is. It fucking is.” He grinned, smiled, slapped his leg, walked in a circle, stopped, looked at her. “Yes it is. I have a goddess.”

“No Peter – none of that nonsense. I am a well developed human making good use of my mind. Soon you will make better use of yours.” She watched him.

He thought a little more then turned to say, “Wish we had some champers.”

“We will. We’ll have oodles of champers and caviar, and smoked salmon and pâté de foie gras and oodles and oodles of pheasant and grouse and vin du pay.”

“Oodles and oodles?”

“Oodles and oodles and oodles.”

“Always the last word.”

“Who’s goddess?”

“Bitch.” He hugged her, held her long – gave her all his love.

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In France

[one_half]

FionaFiona McMahon walked into the Cafe le Roma on Victoria Street in East Central London. Benjamin sat at a corner table with hands folded on the white tablecloth. Just like his father, she thought. How we miss dear William. She sat on the chair directly across from his so he could talk to her without taking his eyes from the door.
Without preamble he said, “She’s just down the block in a cosmetic clinic. They do major work there. Good people. Well qualified. Hellish expensive.”
She smiled, rested her gloved hand upon his. “In good spirits?”
“Thinking about a Greek nose, and enlarging the eye openings.”
She smiled. “Secure there?”
“Commander Conway’s people everywhere. I suppose that’s why he had her brought here. He’s got clout in London.”
“I won’t stay for lunch – too many people here. Any idea for whom the Commander is working?”
“He doesn’t really work for anyone nowadays. He acts as agent for governments, and the fuel people of course, but he seems to be much occupied with his own agenda now.”
She smiled at his earnestness; his father would be proud. “Try to get a handle on what he’s up to, and why he’s tracking Meira so closely.” She stood, touched his hand, and left. He picked up the menu.
Meira Meeting Ben in Paris
Meira strolled along the Champs-Elysées soaking in the soft morning Sun and inwardly hugging herself. She had much to tell Fiona, her mother, and much to do now she knew but, she paused, care was still needed, and Fiona still needed protection.
She returned to her apartment in Avenue Ledru-Rollin and made a call. An electronic voice asked her age when in Cairo, and again when in London. She was told to await a call. Later she was told to be in the bar of the Novotel near the Gare du Lyon for lunch. Benjamin was there.
She was so glad to see him again she wanted to rush up and hug him but, his hands were not on the table, he was looking down at what appeared to be an e-reader, a Kindle or a Sony Reader or some other electronic device. She turned, left the bar and walked out into the street. At the Gare du Lyon she called again from a public phone. Benjamin answered, “Fiona wants to see you but not here, not in Paris. Too many people know who you are and where you live. Rent a car and drive south, towards Toulouse, I will contact you when I’ve dealt with whoever’s following you so closely.”
Damn. She wanted to stay in Paris. She loved Paris with its elegant boulevards, spacious gardens and the riverbanks. She wanted to while away the hours with her mother beside the Seine over too much wine and too little walking. Damn whoever it was. She thought the Federation and the mad oil men had all taken a different tack nowadays. She thought they had turned their greed sodden eyes to monopolising the renewable industries. If it was them, why were they following? What could they possibly want in Syria? She was busy there – there was much to learn.
At the hotel La Réserve on the Route De Cordes, just outside Toulouse, she took a room with wonderful view of the River Tam. She would wait there: catch up on her reading; monitor the news from Syria a walk the riverbanks. It was a pleasant, peaceful, place and doubtless therapeutic, but after just one day as boring as BBC Radio Four and twice as frustrating. There wasn’t one presentable male among the staff and not one fellow guest under fifty-five years of age. The food was passable which, by French standards, was not acceptable.[/one_half][one_half_last] After a second day and night she was approaching her screaming point; on the third her mind turned to Ben, to his continuing absence – doubts as to his safety began to arise. He was light, thin, quite nymph like, but lightning fast and had all his father’s instincts for sensing danger. She thought it unlikely that he had been hurt, but he had never before kept her waiting so long.

"Raymond IV of Toulouse" by Merry-Joseph Blondel

“Raymond IV of Toulouse” by Merry-Joseph Blondel

She focused on the Middle East – dedicated most of her time to monitoring the progress of the civil war raging in Syria, the unrest in Egypt, and the continuous exchanges between Israel and Palestine. She had spent many years studying the cultures and history of the area at school, and under her father’s, special, tutelage, but she had little time for any of that now. All that mattered now was to bring enlightenment and, in it’s glaring brightness, peace, to the people there. Raving clergy and despotic administrators continue to wreak misery on of the middle-eastern peoples – they had to be stopped. If she could bring the Ancients’ ways of food, and energy, production to the surface all the madness of the oil potentates and armament pedlars would wash away to the far recesses of history. The way forwards lay in the minds of the Matriarchs, but hers had yet to be unlocked. It had yet to be released to her immediate cognition and, to achieve that, she had to connect to the Ancients’ world.
Meeting Fiona in Toulouse
Fiona was in the garden, on an iron bench overlooking the Tam. Excited, Meira hurriedly sat beside her. “This is a nice surprise.”
Her mother turned, looked long at her daughter, “Love the new face darling. Wow, look at Grandma’s eyes.” She turned her head this way and that to take in every new feature. “Um, like the nose . . . yes, and sculptured cheek bones.”
“Thank you. Those London doctors did a nice job ay? I’d already given up changing my name after every encounter with the oil men because, I thought, they’d moved on. This,” she turned her face to the light, “pushes away immediate recognition, don’t you think?”
“I do think. I think you look even more beautiful.” She patted her hand. “My lovely daughter.”
“Can you stay? I so wished I could have come to you in Paris. I so love Paris, and our walks.”
“Ben is keeping watch, so yes; yes we can have some time together here but be ready.”
“Always. I’m always ready to disappear.”[/one_half_last]

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