Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The Myth and Legend of D'PTah
Dan Sewell Ward
Book I - The Coming of D'PTah
There is a magical time of day when the morning sky has just shown the first evidence of an impending dawn. Inevitably, there's a momentary hush, an intake of cosmic breath as the many and varied night creatures, all call it a night... or else call it 'another night', depending upon their unique proclivities. The sudden quiet of the pre-dawn hours in turn alerts the advance guard of the day creatures, that is to say, the roosters. With minimal fanfare they are being informed that the stage has again been set whereby the cocks must now clear their throats and wait with baited breath... all the while preparing themselves to audition for the role of lead chanticleer.
This transformation from total darkness to a faintly illuminated eastern sky has traditionally been recognized as the prime time for all manner of dramatic events to be scheduled and/or initiated. This opportunity for fanfare has long been understood by the roosters; although, it has been reputed that they are merely being inspired by the gods. These are the same gods, incidentally, who routinely use such moments in the worldly order of things to unveil the latest of their own personal god-like innovations. The gods, goddesses... and truth be told, the roosters... have always had a dramatic flair for such stagecraft.
Clearly, this particular morning was going to be one of those first lights. And in accordance with the essential fanfare and drama... Cue the music: In the Hall of the Mountain King  by Edvard Grieg.
Jianyu Yongrui was a kitsch seller. From his stall adjacent to the Great Wall of China near Mutianyu, he provided tourists with kitsch, that is to say, wares of allegedly trite and inferior quality.
I say “allegedly” because Jianyu was an unusual kitsch seller... and/or fabricator. For one, he had neither the slightest inclination nor the talent for marketing his wares... or for that matter selling anything, including himself. For such mundane matters he relied totally upon his wife who was in charge of most if not all of the Yongrui family interactions with the outside world. For another, Jianyu was an exceptionally skilled craftsman, such that his “kitsch” would have to be considered world-class kitsch – despite the fact that such a phrase is clearly an oxymoron in and of itself. Nevertheless, Jianyu's kitsch had an unaccountable level of high quality manufacture and use. In point of fact he had been a graduate of Beijing's prestigious Technological Academy and had mechanical talents far beyond the average kitsch seller. Admittedly, three fourths of the Chinese kitsch sellers near the Great Wall had talents far beyond their station and/or stall in life – but then such are the benefits of a micro managed, closely controlled society of equals.
Jianyu had managed the feat of being admitted to and graduating from the prestigious school by the simple virtue of being a technological genius. He was in fact able to design and create most anything... preferably in metal. If one, for example, needed a specialized instrument for removing the last olive from a narrow glass tube, Jianyu could provide such a device in immaculate stainless steel, one that would accomplish the feat with amazing dexterity and without the slightest damage to the olive or glass tube – not even a scratch on the olive... or elsewhere. That same device would also likely have the capability for use in any number of medical and/or neurological surgical practices, or as a key component in China's fledgling and oft times controversial outer space program (and here we're not just talking about Tibet).
Unfortunately, Jianyu's innate sense of mechanical prowess did not translate well when it came to passing written exams. He was simply far below average in studies, books and the like, and had thus found himself at very nearly the bottom of his graduating class. One of his teachers had recognized Jianyu's talents, but an inability to obtain the all important credential of good grades -- and his teacher's unwillingness to buck the system and suggest that grades should not be the ultimate criteria -- had left Jianyu unable to acquire any of the more lucrative positions in the Chinese technological world.
Jianyu had, however, managed a truly astounding feat in his young adulthood -- that of acquiring a wife of superior ambition and talent. He had accomplished this by virtue of his initially having great potential and earning power... and despite the fact that he really had no real appreciation for such potential. Jianyu, in fact, was somewhat astounded... albeit pleasantly surprised by his future wife taking any interest in him at all. Jianyu was the sort of fellow that proceeded through life pretty much oblivious to the machinations and dramas of 99 plus percent of the population. His preferential marriage, therefore, was more the work of his bride-to-be and the fates than anything else... the latter having either an unorthodox sense of humor and/or having plans and agendas not easily comprehended by lesser mortals.
Jianyu's (or more accurately his wife's) singular, marital accomplishment was, of course, prior to his matriculation from the Beijing Technological Academy... and as it turned out the comparatively dismal rank in his graduating class. But even later, after the dye had been cast (preferably in bronze if Jianyu was to have his way), his wife still recognized, understood and respected his abilities and genius. While this left her rather thoroughly pissed at the authorities for their failure to recognize Jianyu -- and of course amply reward him with a much better position in the technological hierarchy -- it was Jianyu's great fortune that his wife had never lost her willingness to promote her husband and their eventual family. She was, above all else, loyal.
Born in the Year of the Dragon, Jianyu's wife was accordingly a “Dragon Lady” and all that such a title might imply. She was well qualified to sell, cajole, and manipulate any and all foreign tourists (aka foreign devils) who happened along that certain portion of the Great Wall of China. She thereby provided an incalculable service to her government's foreign affairs ministry, allowing said tourists to return home with a genuine memento of their once in a lifetime visit to the Far East. The Jianyu family's contribution to China's foreign exchange and balance of payments was therefore legendary. That is to say, legendary at the local level... which often is where it counts most.
Sybille Désirée Minzhe (and later Yongrui) was named after her paternal and extraordinarily unique French grandmother -- said cross-cultural fertilization being the result of her grandmother's enterprising son and her Chinese mother having been intimately involved in their own foreign exchange program many years prior. Désirée's diverse heritage had thus inadvertently provided her with yet another talent -- that of being extremely intuitive. And let me assure you: we're talking extraordinairement intuitif!
It was the sort of thing that comes from genetic diversity. Not only knowing and seeing things far in advance of others, Désirée also tended to be very accurate in her intuition, visions, and gut feelings. The locals who had witnessed her avocation had for obvious reasons come to have a profound respect for her abilities. Occasionally the word even reached the ears of a foreign tourist open to taking advantage of such talents. But inasmuch as prophecies, prognostications, and soothsayings were not in general officially recognized by the local or central authorities, there was not a lot of money to be made from the exercise of such talents. Or at least in a direct cause and effect scenario. On the other hand...
Well... let us just say... for the moment... that one of the better examples of her remarkable talent occurred on that fateful morning. She had awakened earlier than normal – a notable happening in and of itself; and, as it turns out, almost precisely at the moment of First Light. Abruptly she had found herself sitting up in her bed with a sense of something being seriously amiss at their stall adjacent to the Great Wall. Something had happened or was about to happen – something very important. It didn't matter if the event was past, present, or in the immediate future. Or all of the above. For her the only clear course of action was for Jianyu and her to go to their stall adjacent to the Great Wall. Their stall was in fact their station, their status in society... even if more accurately the leavings of their intended status.
She had immediately roused her husband. She had him dressed and out the door before he had begun to notice he had not yet had his breakfast. That was different, he had belatedly noted. But mentioning this apparent void in their daily routine to Désirée would have been pointless. One, he would be fed when it was appropriate, and two, she would let him know when it was appropriate. Fate, the gods, the Communist Party, and most importantly, Madame Sybille Désirée Minzhe Yongrui, were not to be questioned unnecessarily. There were authorities... and there were supreme authorities!
There was in fact something different about that morning... or at the very least... strange! Maybe even a bit of the supernatural. A thick early morning mist – unusual for the time of year – was hanging about, filling every exterior crevice and limiting the visibility to perhaps no more than ten feet. [Of course, inasmuch as traditionally so many important things have been accomplished under the cover of mists and the like; this might do no more than add to the suggestion of strange happenings.] Furthermore, this mist was not your standard smog -- not the routine tribulations of an industrial revolution come late; not even due in part to another, even more pervasive revolution. This mist was altogether different – rather like artificial snow on a mountain ski slope, one otherwise clothed in green, brown, and bright colors. There was also a distinct lack of activity in the surroundings, with virtually no early morning sounds from the locals. A deafening silence, as Sybille's father might have called it. The morning was all very... well... weird. Of course, this was the long anticipated Era of Weird, a time to set more than a few back on their heels in wonder... even if only now arriving in full force this very morning.
By the time, Jianyu and Désirée had arrived and begun to gingerly approach their stall, the mist had started to dissipate. Both had stopped short of their miniature enterprise, momentarily keeping their distance, knowing something was not the same, but nevertheless being unable to detect any overt changes in their stall. Everything looked... okay? It was only after a moment's perplexing hesitation – and a fly-by visit of Désirée's intuition fairy -- that she suddenly gasped. They had become the first – other than a small white dog – to notice that a portion of the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, had... well... moved. Or it had... shifted. Or undergone a one dimensional linear translation. Whatever.
The Great Wall of China has an average width at the top of roughly fifteen feet (5 meters). This width remains relatively consistent throughout the Wall's enormous length. Today, however, at one small section near Mutianyu, a just over sixteen foot section of the Great Wall had shifted to the north by roughly ten feet, leaving a completely smooth, exposed cross sectional surface on either side of the wall and at both ends of the relocated section of the Wall. Whatever had cut the Wall in two places had done so with a technology capable to cutting it as easily as a sharp knife might slice through soft colby cheese. While not immediately evident to Jianyu and Désirée, the 'slippage' had left a meter wide (3 foot) space along the path at the top of the Wall where individuals could continue to easily walk through. Any alleged damage to the Great Wall was thus minimal. Even the unoccupied section on the other side of the Wall had been gingerly removed to make way for the lateral, notably intact displacement.
Jianyu, Désirée, and the small white dog, the latter who was taking up a position immediately adjacent to Jianyu (and apparently patiently waiting for the man to explain things to him concerning recent events)... all three stood for perhaps ten minutes gaping at the shifted section. Then, an obvious question grabbed Désirée's attention: 'Where police?' After wondering about this for a bit, she then decided that whatever had happened, or was happening, or worse yet was about to happen again... had spooked the police and sent them running. The professional preservers of the all important peace were, after all, notably unsophisticated and would have been as easily mesmerized at a star filled night viewed through an unpolluted, dark, and clear sky... which in China and elsewhere was confined to generally unpopulated regions and thus extremely rare. As they say, you can't get there from here, and good luck on even seeing what's there when you do get here or there. They actually do say such things. It's, as has already been noted, a very strange world. It's also a very weird one.
Jianyu on the other hand had no thought of police, their alleged sophistication, or their lack of it. His mind was instead captured by the idea of the kind of tool one would use to accomplish what he was seeing. He would love to know how to design and build such a device! Surely, it wouldn't be that difficult. And just think of the things one could do with such a tool! Especially if it were made of stainless steel! That latter fact, of course, would be essential! All great tools needed near-permanent glossy surfaces... less they be glossed over in the day-to-day events of life.
Shaul (Sol) Isaac Rosenberg hated early morning duty, especially on a moonless night in a part of Jerusalem best said to be in conflict with itself. For one thing, there were far too many major religious sites in the immediate, indefensible area -- and thus too many potential, politically-charged targets upon which could be descended: terrorists, tourists, and other serious afflictions. The addition of a low hanging, sparse but effective mist in a region that had to be considered an arid climate, only served to set the stage for suspense and potential disaster -- even perhaps hint at yet another visit by the Angel of Death. 'Jesus,' Sol unaccountably muttered, 'Where was a swath of sheep's blood when you needed it?'
As the senior officer on the ground and thus most immediately in harm's way (officially and otherwise), Sol was responsible for keeping his men moving quietly and unobtrusively though the poorly lighted streets -- while simultaneously preserving the "peace". In the latter regard, everyone in his contingent had to be constantly on the alert for any suspicious movement. And we're talking: any suspicious movement!
Of course, in such an environment, virtually everything was suspicious. A cat sitting on a low wall, surveying the scene and occasionally licking its paw, was suspicious. Extremely so. Cats are after all, cunning, not to mention inexplicable. And of course, they're not exactly Middle Eastern fodder (other than as an ingredient in a stew), and thus they are lack any pretense of being beloved pets in such locales. Cats are also utterly lacking in any loyalty to duty, country, comfort providers, or alleged masters. Worse yet there is their patron saint, Mikhail Bulgakov's Behemoth, who specialized in mischief and rampant devilry. Accordingly, and from an official viewpoint: any suspicious, albeit feline, activity would of necessity be included in the charges and specifications by the military tribunal trying to assign blame for anything adverse happening on Sol's watch.
Unfortunately, it was one thing to be constantly on the alert; it was another to avoid serious boredom. It has previously been well documented that no one can remain constantly on alert and retain any semblance of sanity... or more importantly retain the ability to think rationally in times of extreme emergency. Thus out of dire necessity a soldier has to learn to relax, go with the flow, stay sane, and yet simultaneously be vigilant, alert, and open to any immediate signs of real danger. In other words, stay alert in an environment manifesting boredom in every nook and cranny -- while also harboring the very real possibility of deadly surprises. The bummer of it all was that Sol was responsible to ensure his contingent of soldiers did not become bored, and thus become lax in their duty. He had thought of adding some song and dance numbers to accomplish his goals, but such boredom-reducing, in-the-middle-of-the-morning entertainment was also heavily frowned upon by the military authorities – not to mention the local residents. There was, in fact, not a lot in the neighborhood that was not in general frowned upon. Or even in private.
All of this was clear to Sol in some manner... he instinctively understood that much of the regulations and rules under which he was obliged to follow were fundamentally flawed [pardon the pun]. But instinct is not necessarily understanding. Sol had only begun his stint at gaining the experiences that would bring a conscious comprehension of all the self and internally inconsistent, alleged facts of life. He sensed the futility of living up to the inexplicable demands of higher authority, but had not yet figured out the logical and rational arguments to demolish such insanities in a wholly convincing manner. Not yet, at any rate. Hypocrisy is, after all, a tough nut to crack, particularly when clothed in robes of steel.
Speaking of which, Sol's hand went to the hand weapon carefully snug in its scabbard. Such a move was in fact a periodic reflex... once about every block or so... just in case an unseen observer was looking for a degree of slack in his and his platoon's readiness.
It was against this backdrop, at roughly 0500 hours, that his communicator vibrated and solicited his attention. 'Thank God,' was Sol's immediate thought. 'A need to respond, even if it's only an urgent request to bring jelly donuts back to the barracks at the end of the watch.'
However... the moment he opened the link on his communicator, the words were shouted at a decibel level far louder than expected... and/or was authorized by competent authority. “Incoming! Take cover!”
The message had come directly from the First Alert Contingent, the radar jocks responsible for monitoring against possible missile or airborne attacks... or just kites laden with explosives – just in case the war on and in behalf of terror had experienced a definitive technological upgrade. It took Sol perhaps three nanoseconds for his training to respond in the time honored tradition. “Hit the deck!” he yelled, his voice cracking at its first use in hours. “Take cover! Incoming!” (Meanwhile, he quite forgot his side arm.)
Sol watched the others for just a split second, making sure that everyone had heard and was taking cover. He turned and was about to seek cover himself, when, inexplicably, he looked up into the night sky... and for no particular, apparent reason... hesitated. That's when he saw it. 'Obviously a missile', he thought. And yet Sol didn't move, didn't take cover, didn't even duck. 'But then again,' he thought, 'maybe not.' Instead of allowing his training to dictate, Sol simply watched whatever it was as it descended from the sky in roughly his direction. 'Something was wrong.' The missile looked more like a flying/descending shopping cart than a weapon of mass destruction. 'Were they about to be pummeled by laundry detergent and blue light specials?'...the latter, admittedly, being another form of weapons of mass destruction.
Sol continued to watch as the very strangely shaped object headed for a place near the 'Wailing Wall', one of the more holy places for Judaism on the planet. Two of his men, from the ground, noted his almost cavalier attitude, and began mimicking his reaction. As they stood up as well, all three of them simply stared as the 'sign from heaven' plunged into the earth, impaling itself upon one of the world's smallest olive gardens. There was a notable thump, i.e., the kind where the ground heaved, setting off seismographs, and rousing seismologists and others acquainted with earthquakes and the like from whatever else they might have been doing. (And we understand seismologists do it a lot... trying to make the earth move, that is. It's a mark of the true professional... supposedly.)
But otherwise, there was nothing. Well... nothing other than a strange object skewering the very hearts of Jerusalem. That was probably relevant. And considering the possible appropriateness of such a object in such a location... the whole scenario might possibly be construed as constituting a... well... a bad sign. Sol groaned. This was going to be really inconvenient.
Edward Roger Madison Grosvenor felt rather proud of himself. Considered something of the black sheep of his illustrious and wealthy family, he was – in his own very unique and specialized manner – now showing his true merit. Edward the IV -- as his family liked to call him -- was rising early just before dawn, and even now making his way to a previously, very carefully selected vantage point. It was from the latter that he would take the ultimate photograph of one of the most photographed objects in the world: The Eiffel Tower. Edward was thus proving to the world (and his family in particular) that his decision to become a professional photographer -- and a very avant-garde one at that – was completely warranted, justified, destined, and ordained by all that was holy. Furthermore, said decision would soon be recognized as such by the world at large.
As he arrived, ready to set up his family's reluctantly provided, yet very expensive, and decidedly state-of-the-art computerized photographic equipment, he noticed the morning mist had not yet dissipated. That was not good as he might easily be thwarted in his first attempt. 'But no matter,' was his initial thought. He was on a mission, and if it took a month... or perhaps a week... to get the shot, then he was primed for such fortitude. He had, after all, been inspired by the Planet Earth television series and knew that the truly great photographers of the world were a patient lot (assuming of course they wanted to be paid for the end result of their work). He could easily do a week, or at least a couple of days; no problem at all. He would hang tough... or surely hang separately... as someone once said... about something...
'Ah,' he thought. 'First light'. Edward had only recently been exposed to the phrase – ostensibly from those who actually rose before dawn and routinely saw such a phenomena. Edward IV was now observing his own personal, epiphany-inducing First Light, that remarkable time just before sunrise when the sky shows only the beginning hints of lights coming from below the horizon. It was really rather cool... in every sense of the word. Meanwhile, the mist did seem to be dissipating, and in fact Edward could now see the red beacon atop the tower itself. 'Yes! This was going to be a great photograph. A little mist, particularly at the base might make it even better without the need to fiddle with Photoshop. This was going to be a true and perfect photograph, untouched by modern computer techniques... and thus a true representation of nature.' Furthermore, Edward could claim to have spent countless mornings waiting for just the right moment. 'This was getting damn exciting,' he kept thinking to himself and occasionally muttering words of encouragement... albeit primarily to himself... perhaps the sort of thing a Don Quixote might have said in rare moments of momentary doubt. 'Sure it looks like a windmill! Charge anyway!'
Watching his monitor with his soon-to-be-acquired practiced, professional eye, he began taking a few preliminary images and committing them to the camera's memory. You just never knew which one of the images would really capture the moment. That was the way the professionals did it! And therefore that was the way Edward IV was going to do it!
But then Edward noticed something very weird. Also bizarre, incomprehensible and... well... odd. For no apparent reason his monitor was showing a strange and completely unacceptable wavering of the image as it found its way through the mist. Actually, it was not so much a wavering... more like the Eiffel Tower being presented in something akin to a truncated 'S'. The top and bottom of the Tower were apparently unchanged, but in the mid section, the tower's structure curved first to the left and then back to the right, until it had stretched in the right hand direction as much as it had in the left section, and then curved back to the left again. There it curved upward and proceeded to extend straight to the top.
There was in fact an unfortunate resemblance to the symbol for a U. S. Dollar – unfortunate in that the Dollar had been so routinely disparaged recently in the French capital and for that matter, those parts of the planet already accustomed to dealing in Euros. A conversion of the symbol of France into a Dollar sign was not something to be readily acknowledged or countenanced, even in the most diplomatic, artistic, or radical of circles. Nevertheless, what was undeniable was that Edward's computer screen image of the Eiffel tower now had a very decided wave in it, such that in the lower section the right most portion of the structure was now further to the left than could be believed. The same shape was repeated further toward the top in what came to be recognized as a decidedly symmetric fashion. The entire effect was beautiful in a very freaky way, but it was also both incredible and utterly astounding.
As Edward looked up from his monitor, no longer trusting in his sophisticated technology to convey truth, he saw the same, amazing sight in all of its fascinating reality. For an unfathomable moment, he could only gape. This was followed by the first indication of his actually breathing -- which came out in the form of his saying aloud, “Holy shit!”
His statement had been overheard by Breanne Marie Rochelle, just as she rapidly walked between Roger and the Eiffel ("S") Tower. At the same time, she had thoughtfully ducked slightly to avoid coming between his camera and his obvious photo op target.
Breanne (Brea) had long been accustomed to doing her early morning jog before the crowds converged and the rush hour pollution arrived on the scene. She had noticed Roger and despite thinking very briefly he was rather cute, she had decided he was just another photographer, one out of the millions who thought they could capture on film (or in megabytes) -- and in a unique and tantalizingly artistic way -- one of the most photographed objects in the world. This was the same object at which she had not even bothered to glance this particular morning, having seen the sight countless times before on her many jogs... and in the evenings when she was out and about. Brea would have easily passed Roger by and cleared the early morning encounter from her mind for countless moments to come... except for a sudden, momentary hesitation on her part.
Not totally inexplicable, the “Holy shit!” exclamation carried enough emotion and philosophical awe and/or wonderment that it actually stopped her in her tracks, causing her to turn and look at Roger. Brea was very much French, but she had a good command of the English language. This included, much to her English instructor's glee, the recognition of certain highly popular English/American phrases. Her instructor had even launched a philosophical argument that anyone wishing to learn another native tongue should, by necessity, also learn the so-called “foul language” of that native tongue. Brea had tolerated her instructor's sense of humor, if only because a mastery of English would be essential in her quest to become a full fledged astronomer and ultimately to work at one or more of the greatest observatories in the world. Why else would she have dedicated herself to the mission of becoming a Ph.D. Candidate in astronomy – even to the extent to keep herself physically fit and intellectually intent – but to assist her in her major studies and career choice? Holy Shit was thus an expression of which she would of necessity have to be knowledgeable... if not conversant.
“Monsieur,” she responded? She looked at Roger, expecting him to respond in turn. But he was oblivious to her – a fact in her mind worthy of note in and of itself. Brea was very attractive and she knew it. But then she turned to see what it was that had captured the American's attention, his awe... and his demonstrated ability to ignore her. That's when she saw for the first time what had elicited a succinct description of Ed's philosophical understanding of life. When Brea saw the transformed Eiffel Tower, her equivalent response was, “Vache Sainte!”
One of the best things about Sacsayhuaman, Raul Nicolas Rolando had long ago decided was the ease with which one could teach the proper pronunciation of its name to English speaking tourists, i.e. “Saxy Wo Mon.” The only problem was that Raul's own command of the English language was still a work in progress. He worked diligently at his lessons, but had never found the confidence that might assist him in doing so. This was unfortunate for him in that if one wanted to become a tour guide and earn tips from a single day far in excess of many of his fellows' monthly wages, he had to learn the language and the confident manner of the better paying tourists. The latter were primarily Norte Americanos who unilaterally spoke various, diverse, and subtle forms of English. With the competition for being a tour guide nothing short of extreme, differences in language skills and presentation (again, confidence) were often the deciding factor of who could obtain profitable work and who could not. Raul was accordingly spending a great deal of time in learning the rich people's language(s), and searching for his own personal style for which he could become known far and wide.
Meanwhile, in the interim between school and a career in tourism, Raul had become one of the many workers involved in maintaining one of Peru's premier tourist sites – Sacsayhuaman (can you say “Sacsayhuaman”?). He was arriving today in the early morning, to spend some time reviewing his English speaking lessons in the tranquility of the park space, and simultaneously to arrive there prior to the arrival of tourists -- other than an occasional avid photographer.
As he made his way from his home in Cuzco up to the site, he had suddenly become aware of something decidedly unnatural. In one portion of the great fortress, the one overlooking Cuzco in its most spectacular view, there was a number of enormous stones where, Raul had to believe, there had been none the day before. As he stopped and stared, he realized it was not an optical illusion, an hallucination, a fantasy, or even a vivid dream. There, on the highest roughly level portions of the great Sacsayhuaman, was a large variety of huge to enormous, magnificently sculptured stones, sufficient possibly to begin rebuilding the great fortress and returning it to its former glory – albeit building it not quite from scratch. Some of the multi-tonnage, newly arrived stones were clearly sufficient to rival in size and weight those already on site. Their presence thus presented as great an enigma as the originals brought on site by the ancients.
His mouth open – as much from the sight as from the high altitude and the need to breathe deeply – Raul slowly moved toward the newly resupplied and re-initiated construction area of the ancient temple. As he did so, he could make out even greater detail. To all extents and purposes many of the smaller stones seemed to be... well... some of the originals, apparently identical to those that had been missing from Sacsayhuaman for centuries following the Spanish Conquistadors. It had been the invaders who had nearly destroyed Sacsayhuaman in their quest for building materials to use in the foundations of their many Catholic Churches – and if some stories were to be believed, in their search for gold and silver in the cracks and crevices between stones . For just a fleeting moment, Raul wondered if these were indeed the same stones, and if so, how the churches upon which they had been founded [pardon the pun] might be holding up... or else simply falling down, collapsing from the centuries of abuse.
Shaking his head at the possibilities, Raul tried to find some sense in what he was seeing. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the presence of one of the old Inca guards who had found employment with the Ministry of Tourism. Raul knew the old man could speak Spanish well enough to make himself useful, but now he was sitting on a small mound, muttering in his native language, more like a bewildered ancient Inca than a conquered but obedient servant. Raul tried to understand him, but his command of the native tongue of Quechua was marginal at best. It had been Raul's heritage, but one quickly left behind for purposes of ambition in the Spanish speaking society. And with the lack of use... well... you get the idea. Meanwhile, to all extents and under what was obviously serious stress, the old man had fallen back on their shared heritage – the legacy which the Spanish Conquistadors had never quite conquered.
Raul uncharacteristically felt enough empathy for the old Indian to put his arm around the man's shoulders and try a few words of comfort. That was a typical Quechua move, and quite unlike Raul in his recent life in the Spanish Quest. Clearly blood will tell. As it began to do precisely that when Raul looked back toward the sight/site, at the subtle suggestion of things to come, and what might well be intended as a motivation to rebuild something that might have once been a holy artifact of the Incan Civilization. There was only maybe ten to twenty percent of the stones present, but there was enough here to have made an exceptional start. It was clearly a demonstration of what was possible.
Raul could only shake his head as he wondered if this was only the beginning.
The sweep had been thorough, complete, and exhausting. Two professional bomb sniffers and eight experienced guards had searched Washington's great phallic symbol from top to bottom. There were no brown paper packages, no stack of pamphlets laced with plastic explosives, not so much as even a formerly chewed piece of chewing gum that was not discovered and quickly removed from every nook and cranny of the obelisk. The bomb threat had seemed just credible enough to take every precaution, but with the interior of the structure now totally and utterly vacated, it was becoming clear that it had been just another false alarm... one of many. Such is one of the techniques of terrorism: a plague of false alarms and hidden among them the one very real impending event -- which is why every possibility had to be addressed, one alarm at a time.
Frank Antonio Lazaro had been at first energized by the imminent threat to his ward, the Washington Monument . Instead of another boring night with his three fellow guards trading the same old stories or growling about the same old failings of their sports teams, there had been this morning some real activity. Only now with everyone standing at a respectful distance from the Monument, the chief of security – whose typical scowl had not been improved by his being awakened at four o'clock in the morning with a obviously false bomb threat – had begun to provide an Executive Summary for the situation. Succinctly he said, “Another fuckin' waste of time!”
Frank almost smiled at the effect of the early morning exercise on his boss. Everything suddenly seemed right with the world when... suddenly... the lull was interrupted by a loud, amplified voice coming from above. “Clear the area!” Ten professionals looked around to find nothing, until Frank looked up and managed to croak, “Do you see what I see?” Everyone else looked first at him, and then up.
There was something there. Huge. A massive blackness in the darkness of the early morning, seemingly oblivious to the attempts of the lighted city to highlight any features of the airborne craft -- and/or a well contained and excruciatingly threatening thundercloud... with straight lines!
“Clear the area! Now! Last Warning!” roared the voice from above again.
Frank was of the opinion that he was included in the advice to fall back away from the structure -- despite such retreats and the standard operating procedures for doing so, never having been included in his civil service job description. Nevertheless, he began clearing the area with a quick back peddling. As he fled, he kept his eyes on the... craft, unidentified flying... whatever! Frank was trying to recognize some feature... anything... if only for identification purposes later on... or simply to be able to make the most of the story at his favorite bar and any-hours hangout! Most of the other guards and officials were also backing away, with only two of the younger men hesitating. It took a shuddering of the Monument as it wavered slightly with just enough force to make it convincing that something was about to happen... that the two laggards took the hint, turned, and ran for the moderate protection of increasing distance.
As eight incredulous men and two women watched in total amazement from a moderately and increasingly safe distance, the Washington Monument was literally lifted from its moorings and with the shredding of steel reinforced concrete and a fair amount of dust and debris at the base, it became airborne. Once clear of its foundation, the Monument did a 180 degree turn, and flipped end on end with apparently the same dexterity of a twirling baton in the hands of an accomplished majorette. Upon again reaching the vertical orientation -- albeit upside down -- it was suddenly driven deep into the ground with what would later be described as 'apparent ease'. Roughly nine percent of its length was embedded firmly into its former foundation of earth, while the remaining portion towered above it. Amazingly, the structure was precisely vertical and maintaining its ability to strike awe in the viewer... just a bit more awe, perhaps, than upon prior occasions.
Frank kept thinking, 'Was I supposed to have prevented that? Is that somewhere in my job description?' Then he realized that the flying intruder had vanished as quickly and surreptitiously as it had arrived.
Roper and Brea had momentarily retreated to Edward's apartment. Both were in a state of semi-bewilderment. Brea, for her part, hardly noticed Edward's decidedly upscale, Parisian digs -- so distracted by what she had just seen as to be oblivious to such mundane matters. Roger's mind, meanwhile, was slightly less boggled by the scene, but then he had an advantage: He had become intently attracted to Brea... if not distracted! He was, after all, the namesake of his dear uncle Roger, and thus had an alternative family tradition and personal example to uphold.
This caused considerable confusion in his mind while they were in sight of the newly remodeled Eiffel Tower. He simply could not make up his mind as to where it should be focusing: on Brea (as per standing orders for all such possible opportunities, standing orders long established by Edward Roger's primary goal of obtaining love and affection), or on an astoundingly unique, historical event. His problem was only alleviated when the two of them retreated from the scene that had begun attracting a great deal of sound and fury... said sound and fury primarily provided by the local police who had gone utterly ballistic. Graffiti, the bane of civilized existence, had just been taken to an entirely different level... and right under the watchful, if not incredulous, eyes of the gendarmes. The law of the land had just been challenged to a duel... and everyone in uniform was desperately searching for someone to slap in their face with their velvet and/or hammered iron glove.
Roger had no such retaliatory impulses. His goal was a calculated retreat to his apartment, and thereby out of sight, out of mind of the tumult at the Eiffel Tower. As for the choice of his apartment in which to escape and regroup (for both he and Brea)... the gist of the arguments were based on: 1) convenient location (only blocks away), 2) the opportunity for bodily collapse in the face of the inexplicable (ideally on to a soft, comforting couch), 3) the necessity of escaping the police ballistic demonstration (with any and every one in sight suddenly highly suspect), and 4) the chance to study in detail the various computer images that Edward had managed to collect before and after his belated recognition of the event.
Please note, for the record, that Roger had not suggested to Brea that he wanted her to come up to his apartment in order to see his etchings... although in some respects that's precisely what he had suggested. Instead, he had the other three viable arguments with which to convince his quarry. Brea, meanwhile, was momentarily off stride and not yet thinking about the possibilities. That, of course, would not last. But it did have its moments... marginally about three such moments for a woman of Brea's sensibilities and experience.
After some genuine study of the images, some printed and others still on the desk computer, Brea had become notably calmer... even to the point of being able to notice that she was... voluntarily... in the apartment of a total stranger... the latter who was spending more time watching her than the images. As if to distract him from the clear intent of where he was probably heading, she said, "Nice photos." She looked directly at Roger, as if appreciating a hereto before undiscovered character trait of the man. As Roger smiled at the compliment, she added, "They're really quite... beautiful."
Roger saw his opportunity. "Possibly. But not nearly as beautiful as the lady I'm with."
All of Brea's extensive self-educating female group analysis of the male mind, and her personal vast experiential training in such matters quickly leaped to the fore. Any number of the different forms of lust all had similar symptoms. Nevertheless, Brea wasn't, she obliquely noticed, so much defensive as she was ready and willing to go a few rounds of repartee... even with this man that fate had suggested they share a few moments together. At the same time, Roger's was a rather blatant compliment and a bit too rough around the edges. Accordingly, Brea gave Roger "the look" -- recognized the world over, and almost as often intentionally ignored. Then she added a smile so as to not unduly discourage him.
"It's true," Roger insisted, even while ignoring the look. "You're much nicer looking than these... images of..." His mind suddenly recalled his bewilderment. "...whatever we saw."
When Brea merely smiled (and herself recalled the phenomena), Roger regrouped and raised the stakes. "Okay..." he confessed. "I admit it. You've found me out." When she looked surprised... albeit suspicious, he added, "I had the Eiffel Tower reshaped just so that I would be able to meet you. It's not something that I'm proud of, but I have to take responsibility here. I did it for you. I'm sorry if I went too far."
Brea was internally laughing, but managed only, "Well... you certainly went to a lot of trouble."
Roger was suddenly perplexed by her comment. "Not for you," he quickly added. "You're worth a lot more trouble than... than all the stuff that's going to be happening now. A lot more."
Brea was momentarily awe struck. 'This man had already leaped into the full court press... and rather nicely done at that,' she thought. As she watched him, smiling and studying his alleged chagrin, Roger's apartment and its quality managed to begin seeping into her consciousness (as per her own standing orders for responding to similar situations). Then she looked at him intently, thinking that this was a very interesting man. 'But one must not make it too easy,' she thought. Quickly, regaining her composure, she smiled lovingly and said, "I know that I will never forget the first words you ever said to me."
Roger was suddenly caught off guard. Not knowing where to go with this one, he asked, "What... words."
Smiling her sweetest smile, Breanne answered, "Holy shit."
As he sat there with easy access to a half dozen of the on-site monitors -- selecting out bits and pieces from what were apparently disjointed happenings -- he could only shake his head in amazement. 'Was this really going to work,' he wondered? 'Had his fellow conspirators really managed to enact a plan that had any hope of accomplishing anything positive?'
Logically and rationally, of course, it might very well do precisely as advertised. It was the epitome of cause and effect, one action leading irrevocably to the next, all in a carefully choreographed series of events... assuming of course that logic was having its day. But humans, Homo allegedly sapiens, were seldom logical and rational. The only notable exception was in the very human use of logic and rational arguments in order to justify an emotional point of view with a tool that passed the scientific credibility test. Why else even bother with such things as reason? Rationalizations seldom benefited from any appeal to making sense, but if reason could be placed in the spin-cycle... Who knows?
The cause was blatant enough... not something that could easily be ignored. But the desired effect? What after all was the goal in all of this? Some sort of “shock and awe”? Even if one with a somewhat less than a literally explosive effect? What was the term she had used: 'Civilizing'? Ah, yes! Like that hadn't been tried countless times already... and like so many such attempts always meeting with miserable failure.
Thinking about the possibilities, he grimaced, his mind still in an analysis mode. Then in a typical gesture, he browsed for another bit of information, looking up the word itself:
“Civilize 1 bring out of a barbarous or primitive stage of society. 2 enlighten; refine and educate.” Possibly with pretensions toward polishing, edifying, acculturating, broadening, elevating. 
His immediate response was, 'Yeah, right!"  'Lots of luck, gang!' Clearly, the candidate for said polishing was indeed a “barbarous and very much primitive society”. To seriously consider that education and refinement, even enlightenment, could stem from the cause now flickering across the on-site monitors... That was another matter entirely. Not to be overly cynical, but before anyone can convince anyone else of anything, one must first realize the paradigm upon which the person to be convinced relies. To assume that blatant demonstrations of superiority can turn the intellectual tide... assumes first and foremost that the target, the observer, even recognizes -- much less acknowledges -- the demonstrated superiority.
Smiling with a wry grin, he thought back to a phrase only recently encountered and one that he associated with his favorite author:
“...the sense of being a lone soldier of reason and enlightenment pitted against the vast, dark ocean-like mass of peasant ignorance and superstition... experiencing in physical reality the moral anomaly... that intolerable discrepancy between the advanced civilizations and culture enjoyed by a small minority and the fearsome, pre-literate, medieval world of the peasantry... the point of contact between two cultures which are about five hundred years apart in time.” 
Indeed... that about summed up the current situation. Vast hoards living five hundred or more years in the past... more like one to two thousand years actually... and now being asked to cast away all of the superstition and mindlessly primitive acceptance of centuries old ignorance, and for what? An exchange for an enlightened view? 'Yeah! Like that was going to happen! Were these people serious, thinking that this was anything but utterly futile?'
'Admittedly, they were not stupid, these folk. They were even, seemingly wise. They had gone to a lot of trouble to initiate... well... something.' Only, perhaps, not the obvious claim of 'civilizing'. Perhaps the agenda was something altogether different, possibly one that acknowledged the abyss between the various subspecies of Homo sapiens, and one that furthermore would thereafter culminate in action toward a very different goal. 'Now that idea had possibilities.'
Then he smiled in a self-deprecating manner. 'Consistent cynicism was not an attractive quality,' he thought. 'How long can I use the cynical defense of quick dismissal for anything grandiose or with pretensions to genuinely great accomplishment? Why not allow for the possibility that positive thinking could create a totally different reality? Clearly, on an individual basis the evidence for such cause and effect was considerable. Still... on a global level?'
'It was going to be a very interesting journey,' he thought. 'And I have to admit that I love this kind of stuff! What a trip this is going to be!'
The latter was particularly true, he thought, in light of the way it had all started some nine months ago.
References and Notes (just in case there isn't enough to read already):
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzyi3C4gNnE This rendition is only one of a dozen or so of this extremely popular song, including its use in numerous popular movies. Additional information is contained in Wikipedia.
 Garcilaso de la Vega (edited by Alain Gheerbrant), The Incas; The classic account of the rise and fall of a great American civilization, (The Royal Commentaries of the Incas), Avon Library Book, the Orion Press, New York, 1961.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument "The Washington Monument is administered by the National Park Service. The national memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. Technically, the stairs are no longer accessible to the general public due to safety issues and vandalism of the interior memorial plaques. For ten hours in December 1982, the Washington Monument was "held hostage" by a nuclear arms protester, Norman Mayer, claiming to have explosives in a van he drove up to the monument's base. Eight tourists trapped in the monument at the time the standoff began were set free, and the incident ended with U. S. Park Police opening fire on Mayer and killing him. The monument was undamaged in the incident, and it was discovered later Mayer did not have explosives."
 Complete Wordfinder, Reader's Digest, Oxford, Pleasantville, New York, 1996.
 One of those very rare occasions when two positives yield a negative.
 Michael Glenny, Introduction to Mikhail Bulgakov's A Country Doctor's Notebook, Harvill Press, London, 1990.
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