Kathy Bennett pressed the button on the Blackberry then set it on the charger between the seats. “Thank you.“ John Parker nodded and glanced at the clock on the console. “We should be right on time for the flight. If I had to pull over and do that we’d probably miss the plane.” He glanced over at her and smiled. “I should bring you along more often.”
‘Andrea’ nodded. “You’re welcome.”
She’d just used his phone and company credit card to book two business class seats so he could keep both hands on the steering wheel. They’d left Bailey University ten minutes earlier and were making great time. The journalist knew his little detour had cost several hours, but to him it was worth it. He also knew you couldn’t make up time on the road. It was like his pastor had said. Better an hour late than a minute dead.
Kathy would sleep on the plane so for now she just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Even in the dark the land looked beautiful, with wide, rolling pastures. But Bailey University was still on her mind. She’d already gone over the little she knew about it. The place was creepy, did high level government research and was a center of high strangeness. Okay, she could’ve figured that out on her own.
She didn’t want to believe that Anne Rutgers was why she was so interested in the college. Kathy wasn’t even interested in John Parker—well, not that way. Obviously Anne and John had gotten to know each other when he had was there. It was a student-faculty relationship and Anne was just a friendly person. Yeah, that was it.
She was trying to convince herself that her interest in the Jones College of Chemistry stemmed from the stack of books Parker had in the trunk. That it had to do with the research they did there. And why it was so doggone mysterious up on that hill.
But, Kathy did admit she welcomed a chance to learn about John’s college days. Despite the friendly conversation on the way across the mountain he was still a mystery she wanted to find out about. They’d discussed family, hobbies and jobs. Now it was time to find out more.
“So, you got a Bachelor’s Degree from Bailey?”
John nodded. “Yep. I spent four years in those damp and cold halls.” He shook his head. “It was even chilly and damp in the summer.”
“How many science classes did you take?”
“Not many. Just what was required and one or two more.”
“And the Doctor taught all of them?”
“All of them. He did a great job, although he could get really enthusiastic.” He shrugged. “But he taught me chemistry, biology and physics. And a couple of history classes.”
“Was Anne in your class as well?” Kathy forced herself to keep breathing as she listened for the answer. She was glad it was dark and John couldn’t see her face. But he didn’t seem to find the question odd. He just chuckled and smiled.
“Anne Rutgers was his assistant back then and she still looks pretty much the way she did then. The woman never really dressed up and never did much with her hair. She always preferred the dressed down comfortable look.” His grin broadened. “In class Dr. Braun would be pacing back and forth, gesturing energetically, lecturing enthusiastically and Anne would be calmly arranging the next slide or set of notes. He always wore a suit to class and she’d be there in jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. It was quite a contrast.”
Interesting. Kathy thought. She wondered about the relationship between the two academics. Neither had worn a ring but they seemed to compliment each other very well. Dr. Braun was head of the chemistry department but they seemed to flow seamlessly together. She wondered how long they had actually worked together. John interrupted her thoughts.
“I hope those books can help me.”
“Figure out this story. I have to come up with an angle on 2012 that hasn’t been done before. I have to be able to investigate it and turn into literally the best story I’ve ever done.”
“Where are you gonna start?”
He was silent for a long moment. “Even though the calendar was calculated hundreds of years ago some things haven’t changed. What would I do if I discovered my world was going to end.”
Kathy leaned back. She knew how it felt to watch your world end. Over the phone. She remembered the feelings that had swept over her. Finally she said in a quiet little voice. “You’d wonder how you’d go on living. You’d wonder if life was worth living. You’d look for something to hold onto to keep you going.”
For her it was her job. Her job at The Company. That was what kept her going, kept her sane. That was…
Kathy literally jumped in her seat. At first she thought they were going to wreck. But John was sitting straight up, a wild look in his eyes.
“That’s it, Andrea. They would have kept going.” He grinned again and Kathy decided she liked him when he smiled. “Cultures like the Maya were very long term. For them, the Chinese and the Egyptians time was a very long thing. They planned to be there forever. If I was a Maya and knew the world would end centuries in the future I would prepare.”
“But you wouldn’t be there then.”
“But you would.”
“Their descendents. The Maya had no reason not to believe they still wouldn’t rule the Yucatan in 2012. If you believed your descendants would be here went the sun died what would you do?”
“Find another…” Then it hit her. “… planet.”
“So, you’re the Maya would have looked for an alternative to extinction.”
He nodded. “Right. So theoretically there should be traces of what they left behind. Maybe even a Seed Locker.”
“Like the one in Greenland?”
“Yeah, a place to stash something to begin life anew.”
Now both were silent. Finally Kathy spoke. “So what are you looking for.”
“Anything unusual. If they did this they’d leave signs. They’d realize future generations might not ever know what was there.” He smiled across at her again. “Like I said, I should bring you along more often.”
Kathy smiled. John was onto something here. Both lapsed into silence as they continued toward Greeneville. Both wondered if the books in the trunk would help any.