Scott saw the house on the left and double checked the address he’d scribbled down
‘This is it,’ he said. He parked the car and himself and Cheryl went up the drive to ring the doorbell. He recognised Jenny immediately from the pictures he’d seen on her Facebook page.
‘Hello Jenny,’ he smiled, and she smiled back.
‘You must be Scott and Cheryl? Johnny’s told us quite a bit about you.’
An older woman appeared at the doorway, and Scott held out his hand. ‘Mevrou Venter? Aangenaamde kennis,’ he used the formal greeting. She invited them inside and Scott looked for Jade and Johnny eagerly. He felt vaguely disappointed when he failed to notice them.
‘Where’s Johnny?’ he asked politely.
‘In the room with my brother,’ said Jenny, ‘they’ve been locked in there since he got home from varsity about half an hour ago.’
She led Scott and Cheryl to her brother’s bedroom, and they looked inside. Johnny and Jade sat on the floor, with Pieter hovering in the background with a proprietary air. They were perusing a pile of books, reading the blurbs on the back covers, or scanning through the chapters while Pieter kept up a running commentary.
‘That one is all about the lost city of Atlantis; oh – and that one there is all about the Sumerians and the Babylonians and the Egyptians and stuff.’
Jenny grinned at Scott.
‘Visitors,’ she announced, and all three looked up at them. Johnny grinned, and Jade jumped to her feet and embraced Cheryl warmly.
Scott and Johnny shook hands, while Jenny introduced them to Pieter, a young man in his early twenties; a year or two older than herself.
‘I’m studying Anthropology at UCT, Scott. In my third year already,’ he explained to Scott’s polite enquiry. Scott nodded as he picked up a book at random from the pile on the floor. “The Wars of Gods and Men” the title announced, and Scott could see Pieter’s fascination with the subject was very real.
They all made their way to the kitchen, and once seated, Annetjie served up another round of tea and scones. Cheryl immediately wanted to chat with Johnny.
‘So what’s been happening since we last saw you?’ she asked. ‘What happened in the jungle, Johnny?’
Johnny told them about the attack on the temple, and how that had turned out, skipping the part of his and Jade’s own blow-up that had followed.
‘We’re just following the clues, Cheryl,’ he finished. ‘We’ve been to the pyramids, and to Iraq, and we were travelling through Afghanistan on our way to India when we stumbled across Jenny – injured and bleeding, so what could we do?’
Pieter interrupted; ‘Egypt, Iraq and India? What is it that you are looking for exactly Johnny?’ Johnny took a deep breath to clear his head before answering.
‘As most of you know, myself and Jade are not Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the strict sense of the word. Although we look and act human, a look at our DNA would show subtle differences. We are not human. This is our quest, then: to find others of our kind and a society that would accept us as equals.
‘At each stage of our journey we find new clues that lead us to the next stage. As I said, we were on our way to India after Iraq turned out to be a bust. All ancient knowledge of that region is lost to us, and we were hoping to pick up a new lead in the land of the Aryans.’
Pieter was looking at Johnny with a quizzical expression.
‘But Johnny, the ancient libraries of Mesopotamia are not lost. In fact, that part of the world has given up more written history than almost any other region in the world.’
‘Yes, really. Those books in my room – hell, more than half of them focus on the ancient Sumerian culture that predates all others.’
Johnny raised his eyebrows sceptically, so Pieter went on. ‘The Sumerians are one of archaeologies greatest enigmas. They popped up out of nowhere, with no obvious predecessors, and no apparent developmental period. They appear on our radar fully formed, as it were. They had writing, laws, agriculture, astronomy, the wheel, art, geometry, and domesticated animals.
‘They brewed beer and drank wine, they wrote poetry and music, and they had government and priests. Not many people know that they gave us the twelve houses of the zodiac still in use today, or the 360º circle so important to geometry and navigation.
‘Now what is most important here, is what they wrote about – what they tell us about themselves and where they came from.’ Pieter grinned, warming to his favourite subject.
‘According to thousands of clay tablets unearthed in the Middle East, the Sumerians believed themselves to be the creation of the gods. The story they tell is fascinating. The gods, the Annunaki as they call them, came to Earth from the heavens. Here they set up a base and began mining for gold.
‘Interestingly, they named their first settlement Eridu, from whence we get Erde, and Earth. In Afrikaans, as we all know, Earth is… Aarde.
‘Anyways, they found the going tougher than they expected, and from within their ranks a mutiny developed, with the so-called working class gods demanding a servant to help bear the load. A great council was called, and it was decided that there was, in fact, a hominid at the time that would do the trick. By what seems incredibly similar to the “test-tube” method used today, these gods succeeded in genetically altering the makeup of these creatures and finally producing us.’
Only Jade, Johnny, and Cheryl looked unsurprised. Scott and Jenny were shocked, while Annetjie was utterly scandalised.
‘Peetrus Jacobus Andries De Walt Venter!’ she declared, ‘You will be out this house on your bladdy ear if you bring such blasphemy into this house again!’
Pieter and Jenny grinned at each other. Annetjie was a custard hearted amazon of a woman, with a bark far worse than her bite. They both knew she would run naked through the streets before throwing one of her own out.
‘Seriously Ma, this is the truth,’ he said. She harrumphed, crossing her arms, and he grinned again before going on.
‘Now, obviously, you’re not going to read this in history books or be taught this at university. It flies in the face of established academia, and is quite naturally consigned to the “Myth and Religion” category of history.
‘The Sumerians tell us that the gods were involved in gold mining activities in what they called the Abzu, commonly translated as the underworld, but could just as reasonably be translated as the “down under”, or down south, below the Equator.
‘What I find incredibly interesting here is that we have uncovered ancient gold mining activity in South Africa and Zimbabwe that has been positively dated as going as far back as 100’000 years! That is incredibly old, especially when you consider that anthropology only allows that modern humans appeared on the scene between 60’000 and 100’000 years ago.
‘So we have this enigma where so-called cavemen – freshly evolved from monkeys they say – were prospecting for, and finding large seams of gold bearing strata, extracting it, apparently smelting it and producing gold in an era when flint tools were the supposed to be the norm. And on the other hand the Sumerians of Mesopotamia are telling us they were mining gold in the south!’ Pieter shook his head in mock bewilderment.
‘Something that has always tickled my fancy is this: throughout human history gold has been our most valuable commodity. Now on the face of it, it may seem obvious, but give it a moment’s thought. Yes, it’s pretty and yellow, and yes, it’s easily worked and won’t corrode, but it’s totally impractical as a mineral except for art. To what extent could a metal like that really have permeated ancient culture to the extent that it did based only on those traits?
‘It’s extremely difficult to find and to extract, yet it has always been considered noble. In South America, the Inca’s and Aztec’s had mountains of the stuff, and yet placed no monetary value to it. It was purely decorative, and was used as an offering to the gods – thrown into pyres or off cliffs or into deep wells.
‘I’ve often wondered whether the value humankind has always placed on gold may be something “hereditary”; something we were taught in our infancy as a species that has remained even when the real value of the metal has been lost. The god’s valued it, so we value it. It is only now in our technological age that the superior properties of gold have become apparent, yet somehow the Sumerians thousands of years ago tell us that the god’s needed it to stop runaway global warming on their own planet.’
He paused, ‘Anyways, there is a ton of stuff available to research in the ancient Middle East.’
Johnny leaned forward. ‘Pieter, you know what we are looking for. Where do we go next?’
Pieter frowned for a moment. ‘I think you need to find Atlantis, Johnny, and I think I know where to find it.’
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