NASA posted a very interesting video debunking fears of 2012 disaster. Whatever you believe its an interesting video to watch.
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NASA posted a very interesting video debunking fears of 2012 disaster. Whatever you believe its an interesting video to watch.
The rest of the blog-novel has been outlined! Its so exciting. A big thank you to each and every one of you all who have visited the site and read my work. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed by the rest of the story. Its going to get more interested before it’s over.
The internet is incredible because it gives everyone a chance to let their voices be heard. I just found an incredible gem from England at http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com.What led me there was Ambrose Musiyiwa’s article about blog-novels. What kept me there was his insightful interviews with authors. If you’ve enjoyed reading my novel online you should check out his list of similar blogs. Click here to check out all SEVENTY THREE he has listed. Wow!
There’s a Agence France Presse story on Yahoo that says a drought killed off the Maya. To read the article click here. Love’s Final Spring hasn’t speculated about what ended the Mayan civilization—yet. I want to thank all of you who checked out the blog in the past few days. Leave a note to tell me what you thought. If you think improvements could be made please tell me. I promise all criticism will be taken to heart and result in well, results.
The Acura MDXs pulled off the road and through the parking lot of the Timbuktu Airport. The Dogon region was about two hundred miles southwest of the city and they would be there in a few minutes. Even by road it would’ve only been about three hours.
The airport’s ground crew were chocking the wheels of a single engine Cessna Caravan that had just landed. Crates were visible though the windows as the aircrew climbed out and stretched. Three ramshackle trucks were pulling off the main road with workers hanging on in their backs ready to unload the plane.
The three SUVs stopped by their black jet which was idling and ready to go. John and Kathy grabbed their bags then got out. Without any warning the Cessna blossomed into a block wide ball of flame and heat. Kathy’s instinct’s kicked in and she ducked between the Acura and the plane. The SUV took most of the blast, shielding her from the flame and shrapnel. As the fire and debris cleared she made her way around the back of the vehicle,looking for John.
She’d been witness to several IED blasts in Iraq and guessed the plane had been loaded with explosives. It was too big a blast for just the fuel tanks. Thoughts of the poor air crew were pushed from her mind as she saw the three trucks had accelerated and were nearly upon them. The workers in the back now brandished assault rifles. Two began firing at her as they closed the distance. She heard the smack of bullets on the SUV and then something punched her in the chest.
As she fell backwards, Kathy was aware of a gunner leaning out of a truck and grabbing John. As he was jerked into the truck the journalist hurled his bag at his partner and it skidded to a stop by the MDX’s rear wheel. Two other gunmen leapt from another truck and raced after the bag.
Suddenly they ducked to one side as other attackers fired Rocket Propelled Grenades at the SUVs and the jet. Laying there Kathy actually saw one streak toward the plane passing right over where she lay. Another slammed into the last SUV in their convoy. Instinctively she closed her eyes and opened her mouth to protect her eardrums. The rocket grenades exploded, bathing the tarmac in heat, fire and shrapnel. Seconds later the smoke cleared, revealing the jet and SUVs relatively unscathed.
The two gunmen now rose and ran for the bag. But Kathy had recovered and drew an automatic pistol in one fluid move. She fired it repeatedly, catching both men several times. They dropped and didn’t get back up.
A man in a black suit and sunglasses came around the back of the MDX. He held two stubby black sub-machine guns and passed her one as he began returning fire with the other. The magazine and firing chamber were behind the trigger in what Kathy recognized as a bullpup configuration. This made it easier to fire in close quarters. As she began firing the CIA agent realized it had three barrels, allowing a constant rate of fire. But even with all three barrels firing there was surprisingly little recoil.
Three other trucks came racing in from the main road and more attackers spilled out. Using the trucks for cover they began lobbing grenades at the black SUVs. Kathy and the agent ducked behind their MDX as the grenades went off, filling the air with even more deadly shrapnel. Another RPG came sailing toward them.
Once again the Acura proved to be up to the challenge. Kathy felt the vehicle rock under the assault, but it remained solid and seemingly undamaged. They were tough vehicles, she realized as she gripped John Parker’s bag and wondered if he was still alive.
A female agent in a black suit and sunglasses dove from the plane and huddled behind the front wheel of the MDX. She braced a three foot long black tube between her knees and punched a few buttons on its side. The top popped open and a small artillery round shot straight upward with a burst of smoke. Kathy watched what looked like a eighty two millimeter mortar round as it stopped about thirty feet above them.
Airbrakes on the sides had popped out from its back, spinning to slow and stabilize it. Then the round literally turned in midair and began its descent. It split into three small submunitions that dropped toward their targets, using small fins for precision guidance.
Three rumbling blasts shook the airport. The sound of gunfire was replaced by burning trucks and the attacker’s ammunition cooking off. The whine of diesel engines could be heard in the distance.
Now the men in black suits responded to the sudden attack. Carrying multi-barreled assault rifles and wearing futuristic body armor they pushed out from behind the wall of SUVs. As Kathy watched they methodically moved from truck to truck. The remaining attackers— only three had survived— were too stunned and shocked to resist. The agents returned to the plane with their prisoners but no John Parker.
Kathy was bustled toward the black jet. Despite at least three direct hits from RPGs it was still in one piece and even the paint still looked good. There was fear and awe in the eyes of the gunmen as they were escorted up the stairs behind her. The black suited agents hustled them through a door to the rear of the plane as Kathy collapsed in a window seat.
As soon as the stairs left the ground the plane was moving. By the time the door closed they were at full speed. The three black SUVs were racing along in front of and behind it all down the length of the runway. As the jet finally lifted off they turned and headed back for the smoking airport tarmac.
Once the SUVs passed through the gates of the university both John and Kathy began scribbling notes as fast as they could. As she jotted her reflections of the visit Kathy reflected on the similarities of their professions. Both of them had to be keen observers. Both interpreted what they saw, weighing its meaning and value. Both reported to demanding superiors and ultimately to the public.
Of course she was often called on to act on her information. But her position had allowed her a glimpse behind the news desk. She knew that many— if not most–chose their field because they thought they could make a difference. Although most of them reported the truth they dreamed of influencing public opinion, shaping world events and changing history.
And there were a few who didn’t wait for public opinion. The public would be surprised how many journalists were in the service of intelligence services. Some did it for the money, but most for ideological reasons.
The convoy of black SUVs was winding though the middle of Timbuktu when John and Kathy finally finished their scribbling. They looked at each other and both grinned. Kathy spoke first.
“This is going to be great for your story.”
“This is another solid connection to Central America. With the iron tools its nearly bulletproof.”
“Even if the University won’t give you access to them you can cite an ‘anonymous source.’ ”
“Would the Agency allow that?”
“Probably. It would be a pretty vague assertion and most digs have lots of grad students on them.” She furrowed her brow. “Do you think the Maya really had contact with West Africa?”
“I don’t know. Last week I thought flying saucers were just top secret test planes.”
Flying saucers made brought something else to her mind.
“Did I tell you about the Dogon?”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
“The Dogon live southwest of here in cliffs along the Niger River. Their mythology speaks of ancient visitations from the stars.”
Now he frowned. “I hate to be the spoil sport but so do many other cultures.”
“What makes the Dogon an exception is their advanced knowledge of astronomy. They knew the star Sirius was a double star. The second star is invisible to the naked eye and was only discovered recently.”
“Hmmm. Well, that does put things in a different light.”
“Of course some in the anthropological community believe the knowledge either came from the Egyptians or Europeans. Still, it does make you think.”
Both grew silent as the SUVs cleared town and headed for the airport. This did put their investigation in a whole different light. However, the greatest piece of evidence wasn’t the connection to the Nazca plateau or the ties to Tunguska or even the Dogon’s astronomical knowledge. The most unique link to the extraterrestrial was actually the black helicopters, cars, jets and suits that had accompanied them around the globe. These enigmatic secret agents were intractably intertwined with UFOs. It definitely made the two of them stop and think.
But John was convinced that his story— and his hope for the Columbia job— wouldn’t exist without for the woman beside him. Ever since they met his life and career had started looking up. Over the past week she’d become part of his life and he liked it. This story was their child—well, figuratively anyway.
He lingered on that line of thinking for a second longer. In the past there had been several relationships John Parker had missed out on. This couldn’t be another one.
He waited another minute then asked, “So, does my security clearance let me know about your family?”
Kathy grinned. “At your level, yes.” She thought for a moment. “Well, my Father was in the Navy on a submarine. I was the second of five kids and we moved a lot.”
He nodded. That hadn’t been nearly as awkward as he’d expected. “So what does the second child of a Navy submariner do for fun?”
Kathy smiled. “Wow. The last time I had time for fun was… several years ago. These days if I get any free time I usually take in a movie, read a book or maybe check out a concert. Or just sleep. The normal stuff, I guess.”
He nodded. “Back in college I figured that once I graduated and had a job there’d be money and time to have loads of fun.” He shook his head. “There just isn’t that kind of time. By the time work is over you’re too tired to do anything but sleep. I can barely squeeze in a DVD and my to do list is longer now than ever.” She nodded as he went on. “Look, when this is all over we should catch a cup of coffee together. If this article pans out I can make my own schedule and if it doesn’t, well, I should have plenty of free time.”
By now the road to the airport was coming up and both grinned as they tucked their notes in their bags. Kathy felt part of her heart begin to feel warm for the first time since Charlotte. John was feeling her out about moving their relationship to its next step. He liked her, that much she’d figured out before. Greg would’ve been hitting on her as soon as they met.
But John wanted to make sure she was okay with it first. Kathy Bennett felt the warm glow inside of her spread and wondered if she was blushing. Wait till she told her mother and sisters about him. He was a great guy and a great journalist. Most importantly he listened to her and enjoyed having her as a partner.
But even if this didn’t work out it was still a salve for the wounds still raw from where Greg had hurt her. It was reaffirming for another man to tell her he thought she was valuable and desirable. Plus, she thought with a grin, John was way too busy to have an affair.
Take a look at this article on Yahoo. It shows Horsetail Falls in Yellowstone appearing to be a river of lava. If any of you saw Yellowstone go up in 2012 you’ll know why it made me stop in my tracks.
Check out this Chevy ad that mentions the Mayan Prophecy. Click here to watch it on Yahoo and stay tune for the hilarious VW ad. Watch it all the way through for a special treat.
Just a quick note to say I’m still here. Right now some friends are helping me pull together a book trailer for Love’s Final Spring. More news to come soon!
Kathy Bennett had been in many Saharan cities during her time with The Company. But even as depressed Saharan cities went, Timbuktu wasn’t doing well. The sixty thousand or so people here were barely hanging onto a life that was harsh at best.
The economy was dependant on salt mines and trade with the Saharan nomads. Tourism had been seriously disrupted when Al Qaeda began kidnapping foreigners in 2008. Despite the research she had done it was still hard to believe this was the famous Timbuktu.
Legend said Timbuktu—or Tombouctou— had been originally settled by Egyptians. But it was the Saharan nomads that built the trading center there. Gold from the south and salt from the north fueled it growth. Under the Malian Emperor Askia Muhammad it was transformed into a center of Islamic culture and learning.
When Moroccan armies took Timbuktu in the late sixteenth century it began the city’s decline. The Saharan tribesmen seized it two hundred years later and it changed hands several times until the French finally seized it in 1879. Seventy years earlier the Frenchman Rene Caille won ten thousand francs prize for being the first European to reach the city and return.
Life seemed to have changed little over the hundred fifty since Caille entered the city and Kathy could imagine his reaction.
Nomads, cattle herders and camel caravans still crossed paths here, trading salt, livestock, and dates. The one bright in the city was its manuscript collection and the University.
Founded nearly a thousand years ago, Timbuktu’s University had been surprisingly similar to contemporary European Universities. Its three madrassahs taught over twenty thousand students and the library held nearly a million manuscripts. But that had ended in the sixteenth century and The University of Timbuktu had been a legend until four years ago.
Kathy had read and reread the dossier in the jet’s library about the new University. Four years ago an anonymous donor had funneled twenty million dollars through shady Swiss banks to reestablish the University. A new campus had been built on twenty five acres east of town. They’d also repaved the road through town and modernized the airport’s Instrument Landing System(ILS).
The thousand students at the University studied a variety of subjects but the school’s main focus was document research and restoration. Anthropology, ethnology, information technology, library science, photograph and chemistry were some of the best equipped departments. These were staffed with top notch faculty drawn from far and wide by generous salaries funded by the mysterious benefactor.
When the SUVs rolled onto the campus Kathy was impressed by the nine two story buildings lining the road. Their design mirrored the architecture of the Sankore mosque, home to the original university. The single two story classroom building stood just north of the circle drive next to the three story library and manuscript depository. Both were lavishly built in the Sankore architecture style. The school’s 6 megawatt hour solar farm was visible from the back of the school’s property.
As the driver stopped in front of the library Kathy pulled on a headscarf and they got out. A gravel path led to a porch with a heavy, carved wooden door. The lobby was simply but elegantly decorated with a tile floor and walls decorated with Islamic tiles. John walked to the reception desk where a young black man sat studying a thick chemistry book in French. He looked up and greeted them in fluent English.
“Good morning, welcome to Timbuktu University’s Manuscript Department. How can I assist you?”
John passed his card across the desk. “I’m a reporter interested in Malian metalwork that seems to have come from this area nearly a thousand years ago. I was told this was the place to come.”
The young man smiled broadly. “It certainly is.” He gestured to a waiting area to one side of the room. “Please have a seat and someone will be with you shortly.”
As John and Kathy sat in the comfortable but plain chairs the receptionist made a phone call. A minute or two later a stately African man in a western style suit entered the lobby and straight to where they sat. Both stood and he extended his hand to John, speaking in English.
“Mr. Parker, I am the Dean of the University and am pleased you have come here with your question.” He turned to Kathy and extended his hand. “Miss…”
John spoke. “Andrea Litz, my photographer and assistant.”
The man shook her hand. “Miss Litz, pleased to meet you.”
Kathy nodded and remained silent. This was a Muslim country and not everyone considered women equal with men. She was willing to go toe to toe with any man, but discretion was the better part of valor. Cultural sensitivity was an essential part of her work with The Company. The dean was speaking to both of them now.
“Will you join me in my office?”
As they followed the distinguished older man down the hall Kathy reflected that he looked just like any history professor anywhere else in the world. And he would be welcome in any college anywhere on the planet.
Her prep work on the plane had revealed quite a bit about him. He was born to wealthy Nigerian parents and educated in France. After getting a PhD from Oxford he returned to Africa and spent twenty years compiling a thirty volume set on pre-Islamic Africa. Twenty years later it was still the best in the field. He was the perfect choice to be Dean of the University.
His office was a book lined room with a single window looking out on a lush garden. As they settled across the desk from him a young Nigerian man set a tray of coffee on the desk then left. Kathy knew this was the Dean’s grandson who was his secretary and protégé. The man’s son had filled this role before taking a prestigious position with a leading South African University.
“So, how can I help you Mr. Parker?”
John laid a manila folder on the large desk. “I’m doing an article on archaeology and came across these specimens. Can you identify them?”
Opening the folder, the Nigerian studied the photos of the iron tools from under the Mississippi mound. Summoning his grandson, he had the young man retrieve several books from the shelves. After comparing the photos to the books he finally looked up and nodded.
“May I ask what exactly your story is about?“
“The iron trade and the trade in iron tools specifically.“
The academic nodded. “Where exactly did you find these samples?”
John nodded. “Someone in the office passed them to me when they heard about my story. They didn’t tell me much about them, just asked me if I was interested.”
The dean regarded the two with interest and contemplation. Finally he shrugged and nodded. “I can say I have never seen any examples of Malian tools this well preserved. Except for a few details I would suspect a modern facsimile of the original. However, that is out of the question. These are most definitely the original item.”
John was taking notes. “How old are they?”
“I’m going to guess fifteen hundred years old but to be certain they would have to be carbon dated. The Mande people have been experts in iron working for several millennia.”
John was impressed. “That’s a long time.”
“Its not just the craft itself they value. Blacksmiths are considered to have spiritual powers. The very act of taking rock and transforming it into tools was looked upon as something supernatural — a gift from the gods.”
“Blacksmiths were held in high esteem. They provided spiritual, medical and political advice to the people. Their skills—and secrets— were passed from father to son. The hunter’s shirts they made were believed to endow supernatural powers.”
John was still scribbling. Finally he looked up.
“Which part of Mali did these come from?”
The man sipped his coffee and sat back, regarding the two for a very long time. Finally he spoke. “These were manufactured by Dogon craftsmen not far to the south of here. As I said these specimens are the best I have ever seen.”
As John made another note Kathy kept her poker face on while her excitement mounted at the mention of the Dogon. Finally the journalist closed his notepad and stood. “Sir, we are very privileged to have met you and very grateful for your help.”
As the man stood slowly Kathy spoke for the first time. “Doctor, it’s privilege to finally meet you. Your Encyclopedia of Pre-Islamic Africa was a great help in my classes several years ago.”
He smiled at her. “Thank you. That book was hard work, but truly a labor of love.” He looked at the manila folder John held. “There is so much about Africa that is unknown even here.”
The three moved from the inner office, past the secretary and into the hallway. “Very few people know the grandson of the great Sundiata, Mansa Muhammad, sailed west with a fleet of ships. Some scholar actually believe he reach America.”
Even though John and Kathy kept their eyes on the scholar, each could feel the excitement growing in the other. The older man went on. “Five hundred years ago a French noble married a Songhay princess and took her back to Paris. Her personal physician treated the future Charles VII many times. West Africa and Western Europe were very close commercially and diplomatically. Over half of Europe’s pre-Colombian gold came from the Malian Empire. Five hundred years ago the Italian historian Beneditto Dei was sent here by Florentine bankers to negotiate a trade agreement.” He nodded gravely. “The wars that cemented Switzerland’s democracy were funded by our gold.”
They had reach the lobby now and he smiled at the two of them. “Did you know my father wanted me to be a petroleum engineer? When I was sent to France I had to take my history classes at the same time as the chemistry classes. After a year my uncle discovered what I was doing. But by then my history grades were so good and my chemistry grades so bad I had to drop chemistry.”
Everyone smiled and they all shook hands. He went on. “When you find out more about the specimens please let me know.”
John nodded. “I will. Thank you again for your help.”
The two Americans left the building and the man returned to his office. The young man behind the desk watched the black SUVs pull away from the curb. He had never seen the Men In Black before but had heard of them once or twice. That was why he waited five minutes to pick up the phone and dial a number written on a card in his pocket.