Graham walked out of the aircraft, down the steps, and onto the sunlit airport apron. He was immediately surrounded my men in dark suits and dark glasses.
‘Follow me please. Right this way.’
The cavalcade of black motor cars surged through the morning traffic, sirens blaring, and Graham sat back and closed his eyes wearily. It had taken three additional days to be handed over to the CIA operative in Colombia, and a further week in a dingy hotel that stank of damp socks before transport back to the states had been arranged. He was tired and humiliated, and did not savour the idea of the meeting with Bill that loomed ahead.
They drove through the gates at Langley, and Graham grimaced in distaste as he saw Bill waiting outside. He stepped out of the car and accepted the pudgy hand offered him. He didn’t answer Bill’s greeting. Bill glared at him for a moment before saying quietly, ‘Follow me, Steele.’
They were silent in the lift, avoiding each other’s eyes, and Graham wasn’t surprised when they didn’t go to Bill’s office. Instead, they walked into a large room, with a large conference table, and many men in suits and uniforms. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, by the looks of it.
‘Sit down, agent Steele.’ The interrogation went on for hours.
‘What did it look like?’
‘Where did it go?’
‘How could you allow this to happen?’
‘You have compromised our presence in Colombia by allowing yourself to be captured.’
Graham bore the questions with stoic fortitude, all the while knowing where it was headed. Finally, Bill stood up and cleared his throat.
‘Colonel Steele, I have been in contact with the Secretary of Defence, and have been given very little leeway in this decision. It pains to inform you that your services will no longer be required by this department. Your previous conduct and loyal service have been taken into account, of course. However, in light of the dismal failure your ineptitude has visited upon this department, not to mention the United States and our foreign policies, it is with regret that I have to inform you of your immediate termination of service without benefits.’
Bill looked down at his hands, unable to meet Graham’s eyes, collected his paperwork, and left without another word.
Graham refilled his glass, stumbled over to the fridge, and threw a handful of ice in. He collapsed back into his chair and downed the whiskey in a single swig. Wiping his brow, he gasped for air as the fiery liquid scalded his throat. Never a drinking man, Graham had been on a bender for nearly thirty six hours now, and had reached that plateau of inebriation where fatigue and alcohol no longer had any meaning.
Bastards! Bastards! Bastards! Over and over and over, Graham obsessed with the injustice of his plight. How could they do this? After all these years of loyal service and self-sacrifice?
Bastards! Bill the Bastard! Cheryl the Shirker! Johnny the Jerk! Graham giggled. Yes, Johnny and Jade – jerk and jerkess! Graham giggled again and poured himself another whiskey. Not bothering with ice this time, he took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. A small kernel of reason remained, hidden in the dark recesses of his pained mind, and now the kernel began to grow.
Johnny. Johnny. Johnny.
Graham opened his eyes. Johnny and Jade were the reason he was in this mess. Bill was just doing what the suits at Capitol Hill instructed him – a puppet on a string. But Johnny was no puppet, and Johnny had killed his men and shamed him into an early retirement without commendation.
Johnny and Jade!
In a moment of clarity Graham saw the only course open to him. Capture Johnny and salvage his reputation. Reinstated as Colonel, back on benefits, with a great big gong on his chest to boot! If done correctly, he could even oust Bill and take control of the CIA. Retire that, bastard! he thought smugly as the mist cleared and his brain started working again for the first time in two days.
Graham picked up his cell phone and started making calls.
As they flew, the landscape below began to change. They left the magnificent dunes of the desert behind as they entered a land of scrub, flatlands and blue mountains to the north. Jade picked out small flocks of sheep flashing by below, minded by herders who had no concept of time, and measured their lives by the miniscule changes of the seasons, and the track of the sun.
They were in no rush, and Johnny flew the ship in a leisurely fashion, watching the ground below, and enjoying the scenery. The ship had uploaded the information from the temple of records which lay beneath the paws of the Sphinx, and had then simultaneously downloaded their entire contents into the minds of Johnny and Jade. The experience had been a novel one, and although they had gone through the basic process before, Ruaz had explained that all forms of education were done this way on the home planet, and children from a very young age could already read and write, do arithmetic and debate on various subjects.
The mention of a home planet had Johnny’s head spinning with concepts he hadn’t considered before. As obvious as it seemed now, the concept of another planet with intelligent life hadn’t occurred to him. He was looking for clues to a lost people, and he hadn’t considered he may have to leave earth to find them.
‘Ruaz, I don’t suppose you know where their home planet is?’ he asked.
‘No, master. I was manufactured here in the time just before the last contact was broken.’
This was new.
‘Last contact?’ he asked.
‘Before the deluge, the gods ruled supreme; in the heavens and on earth. They participated in the day to day of everyday life, and interacted with the local populations.
‘Then the deluge came. It took on many forms. In this part of the world, as in many others, the waters transgressed their natural boundaries and flooded the lands. In other parts of the world, it showed a different face; fire, ice and gravel. In the far northern climes, once lush and green, in a single day was gripped by the icy claw of winter which still holds sway to this day.
‘The worst hit was Jade’s land, which was consumed by fire from the sky and the waters of the seas as the earth was pulverised by a missile from the deep blackness of space.’
Jade and Johnny listened attentively as the ship continued.
‘Amongst the host of your people were those who fled to the safety of the city in the sky. This city was the home to those who watched. Their duty was as overseers to the operations on the ground, and it was from here that communications with the home planet were conducted.’
‘Hang on a second,’ said Johnny. ‘A city in the sky? What are you talking about?’
‘The Watchers lived on board a great ship, many, many times my size, which orbited the planet and from whence the gods had arrived,’ Ruaz replied.
‘Ahh – of course! They had to have travelled to earth in a mother-ship,’ said Johnny, as the pieces fell into place, ‘and when the deluge came, the gods fled to the safety of outer space and watched as the earth was destroyed.’
‘Yes, master. Very few returned. The great ship departed and the few gods who remained fought over the scraps of humanity that had survived the cataclysm. It was a time of great social and religious upheaval, and I believe that it is in this epoch that humankinds history begins. The wars of gods and men, and the rise of kings and priests, nations and borders.’
Johnny listened in stunned silence as he digested the implications. This was the beginning of recorded history. All memory of the time before is considered pre-historic, yet it is that very memory that forms the basis of the world’s myths and religions.
This was the great flood of the Bible; Ragnarok of Norse and Scandinavian traditions. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures all remembered it, as did the South American pre-Columbian civilisations; the Inca, Aztec, Olmec and Toltec. Societies as far removed as the Eskimo, Zulu, and Aborigines remember a time of great upheaval, and the Chinese and Japanese peoples too.
That the earth had been through a major climactic and geological shift in recent times isn’t even questioned by most scholars today.
Johnny realised that the big discrepancy between science and religion was that both agreed the coin existed, but neither was willing to consider the other side. Science saw the evidence of lost civilisations that had existed in prehistory, but refused to take their beliefs as anything more than superstitious mumbo-jumbo, whereas religion took their ancient belief systems and codified them into such a rigid dogma that any leeway was inconceivable.
So both disciplines saw the same era through very different eyes, and yet, to Johnny, the third option was childishly simple.
Science and religion could meet in the middle with surprising ease, if only both would relax their aggressively held beliefs just a little. The ship had opened Johnny’s eyes to the fact that both were right, and both were wrong.
Man was a servant to the gods. He worshipped them and waited on them. The fact that todays monotheistic religions spurn the idea of multiple deities is a moot point. All ancient cultures and religions believed in a pantheon of gods, as do existing religions like Hinduism. That the gods were flesh and blood, as opposed to spiritual beings, is the hurdle that religion must face.
Science, on the other hand, has the evidence of their own eyes, yet with the constraints of conservative scholarship binding them. If the evidence found were to be taken literally, as the ancients meant them to be, then they too would see a society based on the adoration and service of a higher form of being; one that had the technology to span the depths of space, and give man the laws and mores that we still use today.
The evidence is there to be seen; one just has to see it for what it is.
‘Where are we going, my heart?’ Jade interrupted Johnny’s musings.
‘Well, according to the first scroll we found in your temple, the Middle East seems to have been a place of some importance, Jade, and from what we’ve just learnt from the scrolls we discovered beneath the Sphinx, I believe our next step is somewhere in that region,’ he replied.
‘Yes, but where are we going?’ she repeated. Johnny grinned, ‘We’re going to Eden, my love.’
Night was falling, and the stars were starting to blink in the dark sky as Jade and Johnny flew to the East.
Where battles are fought.
Published Titles in the Johnny Roberts Series:
Book Two: Johnny Roberts and the Gods of Eden
Andrew Noble © 2013
Cover artwork: John Killin © 2013
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© 2013 Andrew Noble All Rights Reserved