Graham put his weight back onto his foot gingerly and winced in pain. Dried blood caked his combat fatigues, and he hadn’t had fresh water in three days. Now he looked through the foliage at the village in his path. Exhausted and in pain, he needed help, but he needed above all to be cautious. He squatted in the shade and scouted the village.
Patience was something that came naturally to a man like Graham Steele. As an ex-marine with twenty years combat experience, he was accustomed to playing the waiting game. This cat and mouse experience was one of the reasons the CIA had recruited him when he had finally retired from the military as a full colonel. And it was with the CIA that his skills had finally been honed into a weapon of terrifying skill.
Graham was one of the most feared agents at Langley. Used to silence targets, tie up loose ends, and on more than one occasion, employed to effect regime changes using “extreme prejudice”.
Now he crouched under cover and considered what had gone wrong.
It was quite simple. He had grossly underestimated his opponent, and for the first time in his career, Graham Steele berated himself for being hasty.
Still, what else could he have done? The very nature of his quarry meant that stealth and patience sometimes had to be sacrificed for haste. Bill had given him precious little time to prepare, and Graham and his handpicked band of special ops men had left the country only two days after he had gotten the call.
Flown in an unmarked aircraft, they had travelled through the night and reached their objective in the early hours of the following morning. Graham had set up a command post, and had coordinated the attack from there. That was probably the only reason he had survived. Every other man on the mission was dead. Graham had never faced such a devastating defeat in his career before. Not in Afghanistan, Cuba, El Salvador, or the first gulf war.
Everything had gone off as planned, and yet, without warning, the very jungle had come to life, and before Graham could get a handle on the situation, he’d lost his gunships, and within minutes his men had been decimated, leaving him alone and wounded in a strange and hostile environment. He had lost communication with Mother, and only his GPS had saved him, guiding him back to civilisation, and the village he now observed.
Shifting his weight, he scanned his surroundings. A large river lay on the far side of the cluster of adobe and wood huts, and saliva flooded Graham’s mouth at the thought of fresh water. The village itself seemed quiet, and he decided it was worth the risk. Sidestepping quietly, he started to skirt the village. He duck-walked through the foliage as the quiet sounds of the settlement drifted into the jungle. The contented chuckling of scrawny chickens, and the distant cry of an un-weaned babe. A mongrel yapped at some unseen foe, and he relaxed as he made his way towards the river, and the Columbian border he believed lay beyond. The sound of a breaking twig alerted him, and he froze. Crouching silently, he turned his head slowly from side to side, trying to identify the source of the sound.
A murmured word, and Graham knew he was in trouble. He spun around. Men erupted from the trees, surrounding him in seconds, and he raised his hands slowly as he faced the gaping muzzles of their Russian made machine guns. One of the men stepped forward and swung the butt of his rifle into the side of Graham’s temple. Stars erupted inside his head as darkness enveloped him.
‘Come look at this my love,’ Johnny invited. Jade looked up from the scroll she was reading and came over to where Johnny sat cross-legged on the floor.
The ship had been put to use teaching her how to read and write, and although she couldn’t appreciate the full implications of such a feat of brilliance, she loved the novelty of this new level of communication. As with the language barrier, a few seconds of unbearable intensity and she had walked away with a completely new understanding.
The last few days had proved awkward at first, but it hadn’t taken long for Jade’s initial frostiness to thaw, and once she’d realized that the barrier between the two of them was of her making, she had rushed back into his arms and it was as if nothing had passed between them. They now shared a bed downstairs, and nothing could have felt so comfortable, so right. It was as if she had spent her entire life with a piece missing, and now that she had discovered it, she wondered how she had endured before.
She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder as she leaned forward to look at the scroll he studied. She could smell his hair, and she felt her heart quicken with excitement. He looked up at her and smiled. His eyes were mere inches from hers, and a thrill ran down her spine as they stared into each other’s souls. She understood then that the physical act of love was but a means to an end, and that it was through the eyes that souls met. She leant forward and kissed him softly.
‘I love you,’ she whispered. He grinned at her, pure pleasure flushing his face.
‘I love you too, my pretty pumpkin!’ She was so happy that he was teasing her again; it meant he was truly at peace, and had his guard down.
‘What have you got to show me, lord of my life?’ she asked, returning his grin.
‘Okay, okay. Sit down,’ he instructed, moving over to give her space.
‘Listen to this. It’s in the same style as the writing in the temple and it tells an interesting story.’ Johnny’s excitement infected her, and she leaned against his shoulder as he began to read.
This is the telling of the beginning of time,
Before there was war and before there was crime.
Before there was sickness, famine or death,
And before men died and took their last breath.
When the Earth was young, the gods came down,
When the Earth was coloured in blue, green and brown.
They made them a place here; they called it their home,
They settled on Earth and Earth they did roam.
They mapped its four corners, they plotted the stars,
They hailed their neighbours; Venus and Mars.
They tamed the land, the birds and the beasts,
To see to their wants, and victual their feasts.
Then man was created to lessen their load,
He planted their crops and constructed their roads.
He served them their wine and attended their meals;
If god was the carriage, then man was the wheels.
Many years passed, and time ran its course,
The gods ruled with wisdom, power and force.
Many cities were built, many nations were founded,
In the way of the gods was man’s culture grounded.
In the east the first cities, the homes of the blessed,
Gave rise to more cities, built in the west.
Between the four rivers the gods kept their prize,
And from this Eden, more did arise.
At the head of the Abzu they erected their towers,
Three mighty temples to proclaim their vast powers.
In the shape of the hunter, they stood bold and bright,
And the form of the Lion kept watch day and night.
The jewel of their crown was the once mighty land,
From which came forth armies, weapons in hand.
Founded on greatness and meant to impress,
This great city of power then succumbed to distress.
In the great ocean, as yet still unfamed,
A paradise awaited, yet to be tamed.
A land of abundance, wildlife and game,
The gods made a home there and gave it a name.
Atl: water; the giver of life,
If Earth is the husband, then she is the wife
Antis: earth; the flesh of the land,
From which springs abundance, with water at hand.
And so it was named, a new homeland was born,
Atl-antis by name, Atl-antis by form.
Surrounded by water, sustained by the earth,
This was the land that gave them rebirth.
But in the age of the Lion, the sky burnt in fire,
The Earth was convulsed and put to the pyre.
Many millions were killed, the Earth writhed in pain,
The gods looked on grimly as their creation was slain.
The oceans up-heaved, their shorelines transgressed,
As the worlds waters were put to the test.
The clamour of voices was heard through the land,
As thousands and thousands sought their god’s hand.
But their crying was futile, the gods heard them not,
And the bodies of men lay in the sun; left to rot.
So man became Man, and took fate in his hand,
He built homes on the plains and began farming the land.
The gods took an interest, and gave man their leave,
To follow his fate and do as he pleased.
Released from his bondage, man lost direction,
And looked to the skies once again for protection.
Bereft of their guidance, man sought to rule,
And over the masses the few became cruel.
Claiming their right as ordained from above,
The few ruled the many and ruled fist in glove.
At the time of this writing it has become clear,
That the rule of man is one to be feared.
The lack of guidance the gods did provide,
Shows as the knack of guidance seems to have died.
Johnny looked up at Jade. ‘Pretty heavy stuff!’ She nodded.
‘Is there anything more?’ she asked.
‘Just a footnote,’ he replied. Looking down he finished reading the scroll.
The remnants of the gods are all lost to us,
As the temples all crumble and most turn to dust.
Should their knowledge you seek, the clues are rare,
But they do exist if with courage you dare.
Look to the east, from whence they came,
Look to the cities that bear their name.
Their hand is upon us, their signature plain,
Look long and hard and remember their pain.
Once they abided in peace to the east,
Before water swallowed their homely retreat.
The home of the gods is there to be sought
Should you look to the east where battles are fought.
One home is submerged, and lies in wait.
Beneath the waves that sealed its fate.
The other awaits, covered in sand,
Awaiting the master who covets this land.
‘That’s it, Jade,’ said Johnny, rolling the scroll up.
‘What do you make of it?’ she asked.
‘Believe it or not, Jade, I think I understand most of it,’ he replied. ‘Atlantis is still a popular myth amongst my people, and if I read the clues right, the East could very well be what we call the middle east; a place that has been at war as far back as our history goes.’
Johnny frowned as he puzzled over the clues. ‘The three mighty towers in the shape of the hunter, with the lion standing guard could only be the pyramids of Egypt,’ he said. Jade looked puzzled, so Johnny explained.
‘One of mankind’s biggest mysteries is the pyramids of Egypt,’ he said. ‘Egypt lies in the north of Africa and is an ancient land, as ancient as your own, but it is dry and bare; a desert without life. In plain view, as far back as our history will allow us, stand three mighty pyramids, built in a style and means that escapes our modern way of thinking.
‘This enigma has haunted our scholars for millennia, and many, many theories have been advanced as to how and why they were built. Modern thinking would have it believed that they are merely the tombs of dead kings, but I happen to know that not a single pyramid in Egypt, including the ones obviously unmolested by vandals and robbers, has produced a mummy or corpse of a dead king’.
Johnny frowned again. ‘It would seem that this scroll is backing this up, though what it is implying is beyond me,’ he said.
‘Perhaps there are secrets there to be discovered, as in my temple?’ suggested Jade.
‘Without a doubt, my love,’ he replied, ‘what concerns me here is that, firstly, your temple is deep within the unexplored jungle, undiscovered, and ripe for investigation.’
‘And the second thing?’ she prompted.
‘The second thing, my love, is that almost every square inch of Egypt, and the pyramids, have already been explored.’
Jade looked at Johnny and showed him once again why she was so unique, and why he loved her so.
‘And yet, we are going to go there and explore, are we not?’ she smiled.
Johnny smiled back at her and said, ‘of course we are my beautiful. Of course we are.’
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