John Parker’s relationship with Oscar Byrd had forced him to be a real go-getter. With Oscar doling out as little as possible he was always scrambling for a new story, constantly scouring every source of information for a lead. With just a ten percent flat commission every little bit helped.
In 2008 an Ole Miss alumni magazine in a Dillon, South Carolina waiting room gave him one of those leads. The University of Mississippi’s Archaeology Department had begun excavating a buried mound. Ancient Americans had built huge mounds, analogous to the pyramids of Central America. Of the many that had been discovered this one was different.
Evidently over two thousand years ago a giant pit had been dug and a full size mound built in it. Then it had been covered over and forgotten. A developer had found Indian artifacts, called in the University and they’d made the discovery.
John had carefully planned his trip to the site. He’d stopped thirty times on the way west, gathering material for a story at each. He spent three days at the site then passed through Memphis on the way back to North Carolina. The rest of the year had been spent developing the material into first rate articles.
The story about the buried mound ended up as part of a ‘Ten Creepiest Places in the Southeast’ story that was sold that Halloween. John ended up invested nearly six months in the story, traveling from Florida to Louisiana. Even though Oscar would’ve sold the story cheap, an audit going on at the time forced him to end up giving Parker a ten thousand dollar commission. But the three hundred stories he wrote from the gathered material provided forty thousand dollars of income. It hadn’t been a bad year.
The site had been fascinating. First a three million cubic foot pit had been dug by hand. Then the mound, covering over ten thousand square feet and rising a hundred feet into the air had been constructed of packed clay, carried by hand from sites over twenty miles away. Intricate designs had been imprinted on the surface on the mound. Then everything was buried under fifty feet of dirt.2
John’s article had played the burial ground aspect to the hilt. Of course at that time it had just been uncovered and little was known about it. He’d stored everything on his secure USB. Now he pulled up an Ole Miss CAD drawing that showed a structure that looked similar to the Nazca Plateau earthwork. And the dimensions were very similar to a early Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan. It might be a coincidence. The fact it was buried—or protected—under fifty feet of soil made it one worth investigating.
It was three thirty in the afternoon when the jet came in on an airstrip used as an auxiliary for a Naval Air Station on the Mississippi River. It was a two mile long strip of asphalt that looked very much like a really straight road from the air. The jet taxied to a group of agricultural looking buildings and rolled inside.
As the two disembarked the journalist couldn’t help but notice a Russian attack helicopter and a Stealth fighter sitting on one end of the hangar. Another black Acura sedan was waiting on them. It sat half way between their jet and a twin engine Navy E-2 Hawkeye with a radar dish on top of it. A minute later they were through the gate and racing through the Mississippi countryside.