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Excerpts From:

"Subterranean Visitations":

(A Preface to the Mosaic in (2 of) Three Parts)

 

Part 2: Discovery Road

Part 3: On the Eve of Adam

 

&

 

Excerpt from:

Chapter 3: "To the Winds, the Witness"

 

 

 

"We are crossing over the small mountain range ... There should be no green valley here. Something is definitely wrong and abnormal here ... We should be over ice and snow. From the port side there are great forests growing on the mountain side ... the light here seems different. I cannot see the sun anymore ... Ahead we spot what seem like habitations. This is impossible!"

Excerpts from the alleged "lost diary" of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Flight Log, Camp Arctic, Feb. 19, 1947[1]

 

 

Part 2:

Discovery Road

 

For three days, he who will soon be known as “Adam” has been following this strange black bird, wondering what it will taste like when he finally kills it. He has never seen anything like it, and yet it moves through the air like the other birds, landing occasionally for reasons he can only equate with his own desire to find sustenance, or to rest. Its wings are not like those of the other birds, either, but spin above its head so fast that he cannot track their flapping no matter how hard he concentrates his vision. All that he knows is that the bird is enormous, and will feed him and his familiars for many days. It is this promise which keeps him tracking its flight from the ground, moving as fast as he can over the uneven terrain.

Several times, he has lost the great black bird with the spinning wings, but it always has a way of making itself known to him, again, and the chase resumes. All he needs is a good clean shot from a high vantage point, and he is confident his spear will bring it down; as confident as he can be, at any rate, in the face of vanquishing an opponent the likes of which he has never before seen.

When the opportunity finally arises, the bird has landed in an open valley near a stream, and the hunter envisions the end of this long sojourn into these lands beyond the mountains from which he came, lands which his people have always feared. When he returns to them, he will draw pictures on the walls of the cave for them to see, and all of them will know of the great black bird with wings that spin.

He takes great care seeking a decent vantage point from which to make his attack, but first he is required to get within a close enough range to send his spear into its flanks. Even with his finely-honed skills in this regard, the human arm can only throw so far, and so he crawls quickly on his belly through the tall grass of the valley, closing the distance but not fast enough, he fears, to land the mortal blow before this bird takes once again to the air.

As he approaches, certain aspects become clearer which have remained heretofore unseen during the trek. Its skin is smooth, seems to be very hard—perhaps impenetrable by spear-point—and, most surprisingly, has no feathers covering it. He has most certainly never seen a bird without feathers, and wonders now if those back home will believe him when he draws the pictures. Will having pieces of its flesh make any difference?

The wings have slowed their movement but not completely stopped. The bird just sits there in the middle of the clearing, almost as though it waits for him to arrive, although of course this idea is ludicrous. No animal—bird or otherwise—would play such games. With less than a hundred feet now separating them, he considers the possibility that he won't be able to hit his mark from this distance and decides to wait, perhaps sacrificing his last chance at any type of successful attack. Closer still, he finds his decided vantage point and prepares himself to stand and hurl the spear with as much force as he can muster. That, of course, is when this strange, infuriating bird takes once again to the air.

All of his will power is required to keep from going for the kill shot, but the experienced hunter within him knows too well that once an animal knows of the hunter’s existence, the chances of bringing it down become infinitely harder. Better to wait, again, and continue the trek, hoping it lands once again before his rations of two-day old rat carcass run out. A great wind accompanies the bird’s leaving, and the grass all around him is almost flattened, barely concealing him no matter how hard the hunter tries to become one with the ground. From that position, he is barely able to see the bird’s rock-like underbelly. Smooth rock, for that matter; and appearing so hard as to be inedible by the hunter’s human teeth. There are also symbols on its side, but these make no more sense to him than anything else about this bird.

He watches, fascinated, as it heads further north, toward low hills representing the next furthest milestone his people will have ever reached. When it has significantly diminished in size, he rises and gives chase once again.

By the time he has reached the summit of those low hills, he knows he'll have to sleep soon, after snacking on his rat, and probably endure another night without a fire. Thus the need to make a decision: continuing the chase will require further discomfort with dwindling supplies, while forfeiting the chase presents him with the challenge of starting all over with different game. Bringing down and eating some of this strange bird is the only choice he seriously considers, after all this work. By now, it's about something more than just filling his belly. He will kill this flying amazement and consume whatever's under that tough skin, or he will die trying.

Cresting the zenith of these low hills, he hopes with all his desire that he will see it once again landed, this time to gain a long rest if not a night’s sleep, safe in the belief it has left it's hunter behind.

What he sees beyond the ascent offers even less by way of comparison than he could apply to the great black bird without feathered wings. He can see the bird still, yet now it flies toward something even more astonishing. Its destination is large—several hundred times the size of the bird—and has corners at the top, it's angles flat unlike any shelter the hunter has ever laid eyes on. He sees no caves, because this cannot be a mountain, and yet it's almost the size of a small mountain itself.

Pandamonium, the capital city of Hell, as conceived by John Martin in 1825

Without understanding why, the hunter feels certain it's some kind of shelter, yet nothing made of natural creation; it appears formed by hands like his own, albeit others so much more advanced as to no longer remain within the same species—not that he knows the meaning of that word. Yes, they will appear to be made of skin, and of blood that flows when the skin is pierced. Yes, they will possess hands and legs with which to hunt … or build things. Things like this—a non-mountain made of sheer-vertical black sides, with openings he can now see at ground level small enough to admit one of his stature: human-size entrances to the mountain much like caves into tunnels. For now, he will call it a mountain, despite its flat upper surface, despite its fires that spread light that is nothing like the flames he has created himself back home in the prairies on so many nights.

He watches the light from these fires move, pointing their illumination as though directed by rational desire, though no such thing should be possible. Firelight doesn’t think, it doesn’t desire, and it doesn’t move unless directed so by great wind, in which case it often goes out.

This is something else; fire which can think.

He is flabbergasted by what he sees, enthralled, rendered paralyzed by the observation. On the side of this smooth-walled mountain are symbols similar to those seen on the flanks of the bird. Although larger, they are no less mystifying to him. There are others down there, like himself, that walk on two legs, but (and this he has to squint hard to see) unlike him, their bodies are covered with something clearly not made from animal fur. He watches them move along the base of the mountain's sheer walls, but doesn't understand why they do this. They appear to be headed nowhere, and they appear to be carrying long black branches whittled smooth, serving a purpose he cannot begin to surmise.

In the midst of these observations, he becomes so absorbed that he doesn’t hear the approach of something behind him, moving quietly through the tall grasses. It is almost upon him before he realizes he’s been caught unaware. Jerking his head around, he sees suddenly that one of the people he's been watching walk along the base of the mountain has not only found him, but is suddenly close enough to him that there is no way to avoid the ensuing attack.

One of those long, whittled black sticks is thrust into his back and white-hot pain flashes through his body faster than he can throw a spear. When the stick’s blunt end hits his skin, he tries to scream but can’t, something freezing his jaw in place and, soon thereafter, all becomes as black as the walls of a mountain which isn’t a mountain.

When again his eyes open, he knows somehow that he's been taken inside it.

To an eye unaccustomed to fluorescent lighting, the brief thought occurs that his optical ability has somehow been damaged. This condition brings him to the brink of panic immediately upon awakening, but doesn't quite throw him over the edge; that comes once he realizes he's restrained, flat on his back, unable to move much besides his head. He is, at first, too shocked to thrash against the straps holding him down. All he can do is swivel his head wildly back and forth, taking in the first machines he's ever seen, the first computers, the pure whiteness of walls as smooth as the black walls seen outside.

A person wearing garments as white as these walls is standing with their back to him. They turn when he begins to resist his restraints, approaching him with something in hand that he never gets a good look at, even as the person jabs it into his left arm at the hinge, accompanied by a sharp prick against his skin. Only then does it dawn on him that his animal hides have been removed and he is covered only by a white sheet. It is at this point when he starts to scream, until everything in him relaxes to the point the ability is lost. He is merely frozen now, but quite awake. When he attempts to thrash violently he can’t, and the resistance comes not merely from straps holding down his wrists, chest, neck, knees, ankles; the resistance comes from within his own body. This can’t be the result of the pin-prick in his arm. Can it? He’s been hurt far worse and still been able to drag himself home. In his largely animal brain, he recalls the mastodon he was running from when crumbling ground near a cliff gave way and he fell far enough to land with sufficient force to render him quite unconscious for what should’ve been plenty of time to be consumed by the creature. Nonetheless, he'd awakened alone and undisturbed, with only a twisted ankle to remind him how lucky he was—not that he had any logical understanding of the concept of luck.

            The face of the person in white is concealed by a white mask, allowing no view of the mouth, and yet words are spoken into a small black object in their hand. He derives no understanding from what he hears, but within seconds another white-clad person enters the room. This person is clearly male, and also wears a piece of white cloth on his lower face. This person’s forearms are bent upward and the hands are concealed by some type of rubbery white covering—not that he has ever seen rubber.

            The two people exchange brief conversation and then the first person disappears, moving to a new position somewhere behind him. At this point, he waits to feel the rock that will come down any second with enough force to kill him. Instead, the bed upon which he lies begins to move without resistance of any kind, leading him to realize the floor must be as smooth as the walls. Still, the concept of the wheel is as foreign to him as the concept of modern architecture.   

            Several seconds pass before he realizes the white-clad overseer who disappeared somewhere behind him is the one responsible for pushing the bed he lays on. In the next moment, he sees many more things which only serve to further distance him from any sense of logic previously possessed. He cannot help comparing this cave to his own, where no such thing as doors exist to close off the entrances to side-caves, oddly shaped grottos where light is unknown in any capacity, much less set sporadically near the seam between ceiling and wall, illuminating the path upon which he travels quite against his will. While passing one such side-cave, he strains to see what resides beyond, expecting to see some type of heretofore unknown monster waiting to consume him, its horrible jaws anticipating the sweet crunch of his bones, the warm course of his blood running down its horrible throat. Instead, all he sees are more people with their lower faces obscured by the same type of mask as those who push and lead his bed ... more machines ... more questions. The color of their skins range between colors, different from those he saw upon awakening: form-fitting as those in white, but instead the color of the sky before a rain, or black as time when he sleeps. They watch him go by the opening to their side-caves with interest, but not with as much as he has for them. Above the left breast of those in white, he sees symbols that appear to match those he saw upon the outer wall of this enormous, smooth-walled cave.

            H. E. L. L.

            As his path approaches a wider opening in the wall ahead, his imagination conjures terrors it has never seen; the imagination itself growing in quantum leaps toward worse visions by the second. His animalistic brain becomes aware that such an ability has never existed before, that nothing much has ever been imagined before this moment, since imagining is the opposite of relying solely on one’s physical sense of vision or smell. This new, hastily acquired skill might eventually come in handy, if the opportunity arises to make his getaway from this cave of horrors, but for now, all it does is propel him toward madness.  

            Worried sounds begin to escape his throat that even he doesn't recognize, and when the path abruptly ends, he finds the bed upon which he’s been secured driven through a set of double swinging doors into a room that is no longer white. It is quite dark, in fact, but still allows visibility into the surrounding shadows, enough to know he's about to be observed by dozens of sets of eyes looking back at him—down upon him, to be more precise. One such man, wearing the same white garment as those he saw in the original room, appears to be waiting for him, yet speaks to those in the shadows: “… The moment, gentlemen, is upon us when mankind is conceived from the original mold, when all the elements have finally come together, a moment un-witnessed by any but those in this room. To all others, in the varied times from which you journeyed to be here, this procedure is merely the stuff of dreams.”

            He sees there is another bed already here and waiting, a body upon it covered in the same pure white shroud that covers most of his own, except that poor soul’s head is concealed completely like the rest of him.

            “For our purposes today, we will call our guest Adam, with apologies to our esteemed guest, Mr. Darwin.”

            A round of subdued laughter ripples through those in the shadows. They are looking down at him from the edges of this small, man-made valley in which he finds himself. In his communicative library of grunts and other noises, he has no word for surgery much less surgical theater.

            “You have come here today to observe the most significant moment in the evolution of mankind; from his primal self into the Homo-Sapien that is you and I; from the so-called ape into man, by way of the genetic introduction of material from our true forefathers. Observe, gentlemen, the so-called Missing Link!”

            The figure in white turns from the assembled to face his guest restrained upon the table, unceremoniously yanking the sheet away that covers him. At this point, more figures in white move in from behind him, some pushing small apparatus on wheels while others attend to small machines, disengaging tubes from such, attaching things to his arms and legs. He feels more of those pin-pricks on various surfaces of his body and yet he cannot move to fend them off. Though the pain never lasts, each subsequent pinch drives him further into panic.

            “You have all paid extreme sums to attend this event, gentlemen. The necessary contacts which have brought you to the literal Dawn of Man—or, more accurately, the hours before the Dawn—are about to deliver the opportunity only seen heretofore in the pages of science fiction; no offense intended to our esteemed guests, Mr.’s Wells and Verne. It is these giants of the imagination which inspired those in the distant future to ponder the most extravagant lengths to which scientific minds could reach.”

            The man in white’s voice rises louder as he delivers this sermon, caught up in his own fervor, and those of his minions who attach the wires and hoses complete their tasks, backing away as though their handiwork might attempt to infect them with some angry virus in return. They do not seem to harbor the same apprehension toward whatever is concealed beneath that sheet, but nevertheless give it a wide berth, perhaps more respectful than distrusting.

            “Mrs. Wollstonecraft, Mr. Wells, Mr. Verne, and Mr. Darwin have all agreed to the stipulation that their memories be erased, so that when they return to the times from which they came, they will create those works which led inquisitive minds to seek the fantastic achievements in science which eventually permitted us to be together today, on such a momentous occasion. The work of these four, in turn, created the basis by which we now return to this moment of our birth, in which such inspiration is born once again … inspiration leading to more inspiration--a continuing circle. Mr. Wells' book is to teleportation and time travel what the Bible is to Christianity. Mr. Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth will give the people on the surface above their first widespread impression that something in the likeness of their known civilization does exist beneath their feet. Mrs. Wollstonecraft and Mr. Darwin, with Frankenstein and The Origin of Species, respectively, will report on what you are all about to witness, via their altered works of literature depicting a different version of this moment for all of history. It is in this moment we realize the truest paradox. Those of you who merely paid astronomical fees to attend this moment find yourselves on the verge of witnessing a miracle, and yet, unfortunately, no photographs, please.”

                                                                           

 

 

 

 

  Charles Darwin (author of The Origin of Species)       Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus              H.G. Wells (author of The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau)              Jules Verne (author of Journey To The Center Of The Earth)      

 

At this point, whatever semblance of reserve has subdued his outright panic thus far is gone, and Adam lets loose with a horrible series of screams, like a baby's first cry but far more bloodcurdling. By degrees, the paralytic is wearing off and he turns his head to the side, observing that form beneath the shroud on the gurney beside his own. Is that movement beneath? One of the assistants then pulls back the upper half to reveal something beyond mere mystery, far closer to the borderline of the impossible. It is a small figure, with eyes that are large and stretch back from the front of the face; eyes that flare out the farther they recede, depicting nothing therein to presume human intellect or feeling. They are, instead, only black and empty, like those of an insect.

            And the near-human brought in from out in the wastes, who set out to do nothing more than feed itself on the carcass of a strange black bird with wings that spun above its head so fast they couldn’t be tracked by the human eye (the nearly-human eye, at any rate) is met with the latest in a seemingly endless array of impossible visions. It is now that it screams without ceasing, staring into those dark, reptilian eyes as he feels the changes in his body begin to alter the body itself. The affect is not painful, but somehow invigorating. He feels euphoric and terrified at the same time, and the culmination is maddening. He fights against the straps and the chemicals that have rendered him paralyzed, fighting consciously to return to his own free will.

            It is then that the sound of a snapping restraint is heard by everyone in the auditorium.

            “Stand back,” says the master of ceremonies. “We never quite know what will happen at this point.”

            The minions, to this command, acquiesce, as if some prior example of what has not yet occurred has left them with a memory that disaster might be imminent. The smaller being, on the neighboring gurney, merely watches this lowest form of itself thrash against inevitability. This birthing moment, it remembers, is always the same: the ape-like figure in a panic overcomes the paralytic drug and the straps that bind it, escapes the surgical theater, runs pell-mell through the halls of H.E.L.L., reaches the outside, and returns to its people. There is also the version of events in which the captured precursor to man kills several guards and must be subdued by tranquilizer darts; an effort to cause its heart to stop and a new example to be captured from the wilds outside this facility. There is the version where this, the Missing Link, escapes this place of discovery so many miles beneath the surface of the earth, but is never found again, despite the tracking chip earlier placed beneath its skin.

            These variations, known as “streams,” are the repository of many lost things throughout the ages to come, as we shall see.

            This smallish being, from whom DNA has been transferred to the near-beast on the adjoining gurney, is the only figure in the room to retain an overview of all the possible streams that branch from this singular moment. It watches, with amusement, as the Link writhes beneath its restraints one final time, and then surges free. It knocks aside the nearest assistant with barely an effort, the one unfortunate enough to be standing between the Link and the doorway through which he arrived, and disappears through those same doors.

            After that, the arrival from a planet system men of this world call Zeta-Reticuli, can only recall the subsequent flight of such a scientific singularity from the report it will read; either one month from now, or several hundred years prior—depending from which perspective one observes the next few moments. 

 

  

Part 3:

On the Eve of Adam

 

            There is no clear way out, merely tunnels leading into more tunnels. As a wailing noise emanates from nowhere, Adam passes many off-shoot caves, all illuminated with that blinding whiteness; fluorescent lighting, as identified by those with more evolved human eyes and mind.

            As he runs, he suffers the growing pains of a gradually changing bone structure: smoothing his facial features, blunting his previously pronounced lower face, provoking a narrowing alteration in his feet; thus far adapted to the rocky ground of the mountains in which he has always traveled. Despite the pain, he finds these latter changes most agreeable to the smooth floors upon which he lopes, desperately in search of some way out of here.

            As he travels, various figures—some wearing the noted white, others a material known as United States Army camouflage—stand back to permit its progress. Ultimately, a sizable off-shoot cave becomes apparent, in here the largest congregation of white-shrouded figures he's yet encountered, all sitting at a multitude of smooth surfaced slabs, apparently feeding. Adam ignores his own gnawing hunger pangs; a feat achieved with surprising ease when survival of the overall is at stake.

            In here, the wailing noise diminishes as soon as the doors he enters through have closed behind him. If not for the multitude of people before him, the atmosphere might actually be considered serene. Near a long surface contained by a transparent covering extended above it, he notices there are depressions within that completely comprise its length. These depressions are full of greens clearly edible, some filled with thick liquids he cannot see through, also apparently edible. He crouches behind this surface and stares over its top at all the figures in white, in gray, in green and brown (like the jungle he once traversed).

            From somewhere, he hears a voice that seems to originate somewhere above the ceiling; it is overbearing, not belonging to any of those present. From this realization, Adam’s eyes alight upon his first television screen, to see a man sitting at a table with many more men sitting on benches behind him. Suddenly, the man is gone, replaced by a different row of men who appear to be addressing the first. From somewhere, meaningless words drone on: “General, are you telling us, in the face of all of this evidence, that there was no program in place to explore possibilities of time—”

            A different voice cuts off the one he hears in the air, this one directly behind him, startling Adam then into a lightning-quick convulsion that ends with him spinning around to face this new foe. “Is there somewhere I can direct you, Sir? Perhaps the brunch table in Cafeteria Two might better serve—”

            Adam swings clumsily and connects his left fist with the side of this figure that has appeared behind him, seemingly out of thin air; clad, unlike any other, in a red tunic of material never before seen by Adam. The figure stumbles sideways and hits the floor with a curious stiffness in its body that implies this person, somehow, has been made by other, actual persons from which this synthetic one is only patterned. On its side, on the floor, it continues “—the salad bar is fully stocked every day by the freshest produce grown from controlled atmospheres in H.E.L.L’s greenhouses. Brunch is served on a twenty-four hour basis, at temperatures conducive to an altitude this far below traditional sea level. The seas of Hollow Earth are another matter—”

            Backing away, Adam hears a strange sound, like twittering laughter; the efforts of this synthetic man sharing a joke it has been programmed to share with someone every third time it explains the finer points of H.E.L.L’s brunch service.

            Through metallic-colored swinging doors, Adam finds himself in the kitchen amidst various chefs and staff who are in no way prepared for what has abruptly appeared in their midst. As he races through, looking for exits, a pain arrives in his head the likes of which he has never known—not even that time he clothes-lined himself on a low hanging branch in the black mountains. Under the sudden pressure between his eyes, he squints as his vision changes, and staggers into a movable cart of some kind, full of round objects that, when they hit the floor, shatter loudly. Suddenly, the lights are brighter, especially in the reflections off various kitchen surfaces.

            The changes are distracting enough to keep him from wondering why no one, yet, has attempted to stop him. They seem, in fact, rarely more than amused, and the situation never changes, despite how long it takes him to find a way out of the mountain. Eventually, an open doorway is seen from the opposite end of a long, white tunnel--the gray atmosphere beyond indicative of freedom--and Adam’s loping run begins the course. There is no longer anyone around to watch him doing this. By the end of that hallway, the stooping lope has been replaced by a nearly upright posture, still running on two legs, but no longer hunched forward.

            Outside, his flight picks up speed as he crosses an expansive lawn with grass that's been shortened, or refuses to grow taller than an inch or two, even though it looks full and green (not that he could distinguish an inch from a mile in his own sense of distances: there are simply no such words or concepts in his vocabulary). He runs with a type of limp that hadn’t been noticeable while still incorporating the lope. It isn’t soreness exactly, but a kind of tingling sensation that brings occasional numbness, followed by strange shooting pains. Ahead, a high fence looms but he takes to it with ease, as though a whole army is hot on his heels. He scales it with what is left of the monkey in him, crests and drops to the ground on the other side. The drop, however, (unlike the climb), is clumsy and he lands off-balance, ending up taking the brunt of impact on his right knee. While standing up, he affords himself a look back and sees no one chasing him, but it doesn't slow his retreat in the least.

            It will be days before he returns to the cave occupied by his mate and offspring. This is in a region called the Black Mountains, by those who name mountain ranges. This, of course, is not Adam’s doing, nor is such information useful to him; the same cannot be said for those who are mustering to give chase even before Adam has cleared the fence around the outer perimeter. Such people as these have not only named the mountains, but most of the streams and valleys within as well. There are maps charted to the finest detail, and surveyors out in the field who report their findings by two-way radio in some cases; in others, via internet access. Meteorologists within H.E.L.L’s science division can learn of the weather on the other side of Griffin’s Valley with the same relative ease as one on the surface above can tune into a radio station and learn of similar conditions—not that anyone “topside” has ever heard of Griffin’s Valley, or the Black Mountains, or Hollow Earth Level Laboratories.

            According to those who live topside, there is nothing where he stands except molten lava or solid granite. There are surely no mastodons, or pterodactyls, or Vimana, and a TV show like Land of the Lost is purely fiction. Few know that the writers of that show were feeding off reports of explorers to these nether regions, the least of whom was Rear Admiral Richard Byrd in 1947.

            Adam’s tribal relatives notice immediately the change. They sniff at him, they bump against him, they encircle him; interested in a way similar to those observers in the surgical theater who leaned forward from the shadows with interest when he was wheeled into the pit. His brethren, of course, are not as restrained. They make curious grunts to each other, they gesture at him, they emit the occasional half-scream, half-screech. Adam lets them sort it out for a moment, then moves through them to the cave-wall and searches along the ground. What he finds ultimately draws the gathering to close around him again in a semi-circle as Adam puts whatever he has found against the rock and begins to etch thereon some type of image.

            It takes a few tries to get it right. He messes up the first five, but nails it on the sixth and steps back among them to regard his own handiwork. It is the bird he tracked to the black cave in the north country, which of course isn’t a bird, at all. Somewhere deep in his evolving left brain, even Adam knows this, but he lacks the terms of identification. The others are still trying to understand how he put the image on the wall in the first place. His child—the male—comes forward to stand at his father’s knee and oversee the reaction of the others to this image of a bird with strange apparatus sticking out of the top of its head. And where are the wings?

            That night, after the gathered have slipped off to sleep, the son of Adam rises from between his father and mother and squints at the image again by the light of a dying fire, unable to get it out of his mind. He lope-creeps to the mouth of the cave and glares at the sky in hopeful wonder, wishing to see what his father has seen, and deduce for himself if the image accurately reflects the bird, itself.

            The night here never reaches the darkness of the surface world the son of Adam doesn't know exists. From the perspective of his ground view, the sky is concealed behind a veil of misty gases that offer no clear view of what lies above them. So it has always been. It would've been several more years before his father took him to the top of the black mountains, doing his best to point out that the sky has limits. That was the plan, anyway.

            The son of Adam lets himself stray from the mouth of the cave—a practice normally forbidden—but there is a general air of excitement in the group tonight, and if ever there was a good time to get away with something, it is now. He resolves to make sure he gets himself into no trouble, and climbs nimbly down to the lower ledges. The closest is actually more of a platform, but a natural outcropping provides a type of ledge to travel further still. It leads to an even larger cave in which a carcass usually resides, when they're lucky enough to have one. This place was disdained by his tribe because of its larger mouth, thus allowing more room for some of the creatures of this world to enter after them in the event that the terms of a hunting trip became reversed. Outside of this larger cave he sits and lets his eyes roam the distant lands. Far away, the gaseous sky flickers with suppressed light streaking away into obscurity; soon water drops will fall from the sky—maybe by morning. Sometime after the rain, he and his father and some of the other males will go in search of game, since Adam came home empty-handed. Food must be located quick; the gnaw in his stomach is now turning painful but it's not the first time and it won't be the last.

            Down below, movement among the foliage of jungle-like growth between them and the river begins to move, and hackles rise on the arms of Adam’s son. There is something nearby, and the needs of hunger take precedence over matters of safety as sure as most of the creatures he sees on a daily basis can run faster than he. Imagine the amount of appreciation he will garner among the rest of his tribe if they could awaken to a nice dead carcass ready to be devoured! He seeks along the edges of the ridge outside the cave’s mouth for a rock big enough to bring about this beast’s demise upon first impact. Unfortunately, it emerges from the growth not a hundred yards below this ridge before he can do so, and he sees one of the lizard men, marking the third time he's ever seen one.

            The prior two occasions took place last week to the day, not that he has any concept of weeks, months or hours. Adam's son watches the lizard man stare back at him for a few seconds before recalling prior efforts to find a weapon, a project he quickly resumes. What he sees instead is the second strangest thing of his life, after that which walks on the legs of a man but wears the head of a lizard. This new anomaly is a man who wears the head he should, and yet the difference between these two is at once paralyzing to either party. The first question: how did someone suddenly appear in this place without him noticing was answered by the obvious position he held between the son of Adam and the mouth of the cave. Clearly he'd come out of it, yet this man doesn't appear to have ever lain in uncomfortable places. He wears clothing—a concept utterly foreign to Adam’s son; clothing that is called a “uniform” so many thousands of feet above their heads. If it is made from the skin of an animal, it is no animal he has ever laid eyes on.

            As for the long piece of dark wood this strange creature holds pointed at him, it seems made from no tree that exists around here. Adam’s son knows, because he has scaled at least one of any kind that would sustain his weight, during efforts to prolong his own life. This wood, to his eye, seems made of something that may not be wood at all.

            It is a credit to the son of Adam that he retains the presence of mind to remember there is another threat standing behind him, and the movements of that other anomaly, at this moment, are unknown. Adam’s son returns his attention to that threat and sees the fully strange become even more so: the lizard man has not moved from his position but reaches up, touching the back of his neck. What the son of Adam sees next defies any understanding by a mind previously pondering no thought greater than acquiring food. The lizard removes its head to reveal a different head beneath; that of a man like the one who has lived in the cave where the trees apparently grow of gunmetal. He is seeing the turning of a lizard into a man, and because of this, hardly feels the tranquilizer dart sink into flesh hardened by the elements.

            Behind him, the man from the cave says, “we call you Sasquatch topside,” but all meaning is beyond the best efforts of Adam’s son to understand. What he knows is that his vision is starting to swim. As it does so, he hears the cries from the cave where the rest of his tribe has been sleeping. No trepidation of losing his balance on the narrow ledge back up the side of the hill is strong enough to keep him from making the attempt, anyway. He knows what love is, despite the theories of supposedly “evolved” men who analyze the high definition video captured on previous occasions by various field-researchers over the years. They would argue that a display of affection is actually an effort of the observable party to better themselves; i.e. snuggling together against the cold winds, or sharing food. To do so is merely designed to keep the self warm, to ensure the future reciprocation of shared sustenance. They only stay together because of an inherent understanding of safety in numbers. Those who would have it otherwise, in these lands, are carnivores that almost always outrun (or out-fly) their quarry. In most cases, the opposition is larger, and probably hungrier than that which it seeks to devour. Desperation makes the best killing tool ever designed.

            Halfway back to the cave he loses vision for two seconds; just enough to induce complete inertia in the midst of all-out flight. The son of Adam staggers on this narrow ledge that, moments ago, presented barely a threat. He hears a cry that he somehow knows without equivocation belongs to his mother; it is the cry of pain, surprise, and anger. Below him, the fall is far enough to ensure damage of some kind, but the alternative might be an even less desirable notion.

            What appears in the sky at that moment is something we might consider miraculous, but of course the son of Adam has no frame of reference for recognizing a miracle beyond that which he has encountered in recent days: his first sighting of the lizard man, then the revelation that he could replace that skin with the skin of a man. Both interlopers are stunned by the sight of what floats in the sky. A round device, large, revolving as it hovers, with a domed top and lights that burn green and blue on its underbelly has arrived from nowhere, and it is nothing like the bird his father drew on the wall. There is no way, in fact, that it is a bird at all.

            Another scream from the higher plateau calls to Adam’s son, and he turns to move that way again but now his legs don’t want to behave as he tells them to. The immediate horizon begins to tilt and he thinks this should be impossible. He does not immediately realize that it's he who is doing the tilting. That realization doesn’t come until his feet are no longer on the ridge, and his body is suddenly falling into space.

            Distantly, he is aware that his end is about to arrive, and there is a remarkable lack of fear. For this reason, the fact that he will survive is merely a bonus. It is the method by which that happens that is responsible for reviving him. The jaws of a beak which catch him belong to a creature that emerges from a fissure in the mountainside, and it is a creature that knows to clamp too hard will cause the prey to burst; bereaving the inevitable meal of any juicy seasoning. Caught in this way, Adam becomes rescued by one killer from the murderous intention of another. He will wait until he is over the right tree before poking the eye of this pterodactyl hard enough for it to open its beak and let him fall.

           

 

Chapter 3: "To the Winds, the Witness" 

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[1] Swartz, p. 51-52

 

 

  1. Swartz, Tim R. Admiral Byrd's Secret Journey Beyond the Poles. (Global Communications/Conspiracy Journal, 2007)

 

 

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