The Challenger was in the air headed for America. Anne had stayed in Russia to check out some new archaeological dig so the only passengers were John and ‘Andrea.’ The cabin had been reconfigured for only two workstations with a shower in the back and galley in the front. Once again John wondered what was in the rest of the plane.
He sat at the back workstation wondering if whatever took up that space had anything to do with them reaching Russia within an hour. Looking back he decided the Professor had always been mixed up with this group. It would explain a few things.
Professor Braun and Anne had always traveled widely yet very rarely missed class. Now he knew why. He could see the Professor being part of a group like this. He was so interested in absolutely everything. Then there were a few things the Professor had used that the advanced technology could explain. There was that electric typewriter and the CD player. Among others.
The journalist was tired despite the little he had done since he they left Lhasa. But he was satisfied with what he had accomplished. Even though he’d been unable to look through the archives in the warehouse, the time hadn’t been wasted.
John had spent it pulling together the first part of his story. The warehouse’s atmosphere had really seeped into the piece and shaped it. He would title it ‘2012: Who Knew?‘ The mysterious atmosphere would be great.
Looking at the wall in front of him once again reminded him of ‘Andrea.’ She seemed pleased with what had been accomplished at the archives. But he wondered what had gone on in the dark windowed limousine.
The two of them existed in different worlds. Occasionally they would cross paths, like this time. But usually he wouldn’t even know she existed. And he figured it would definitely be healthier for him if she didn’t know he existed.
She and Anne had been tired, dusty and quiet when they came down the stairs. He hadn’t kidded himself about being able to help— he couldn’t. Sure, being up there might be good for his ego, but they were doing the real work. The nicest thing he could do was to get out of the way and let them read Russian.
The door from the lavatory opened and ‘Andrea’ stepped into the cabin. She wore a fresh t-shirt and jeans and was still running a towel through her damp shoulder length hair.
“Hey, John. Is everything okay?”
He grinned and forced his brain to focus on something other than the way Kathy’s wet hair fell across her forehead. “Perfect. I’m starting to see this angle coming into my story and I like it.”
She pulled a chair across from him and sat down, handing over a manila envelope. On the back was the wax seal of the Central Intelligence Agency. He broke the seal as she went on talking and drying her tousled hair.
“John, what was in that warehouse is highly classified. In fact most Company agents don’t have this level of clearance.” She waited as he pulled out the thick sheaf of papers, then went on.
“We’ll have to review your article when you finish it. And you’ll be bound by all the nondisclosure and national security agreements in there. Like it or not you’re the proud possessor of highly classified information. All it would do in public is stir up trouble.”
The journalist just sat there riffling through the papers. He signed where indicated then handed back the packet. “So what is it that I know?”
She smiled at his confusion. “Well, for one thing…” She extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Kathy Bennett.”
John looked at her for a moment then smiled back and shook her hand. “Pleased to meet you Miss Bennett.”
She leaned back against the wall. “What you saw in the warehouse elevated you to the clearance you’re at. Evidently just the fact that archive exists rates higher than my identity.” Kathy shrugged. “It is nice for you to know my real name.”
He nodded. Kathy Bennett. He repeated it in his mind. It sounded good, it fit her. John grinned. “So why is the warehouse so top secret?”
“That’s what we need to discuss next. Anne and I both had a pretty good idea what we were looking for.” She handed over a thick sheaf of papers. The top was marked CLASSIFIED and ABOVE TOP SECRET. And in the right hand corner printed in green ink was the word MAJESTIC.
John flipped through them. They looked like photos of typed Russian documents. He looked at her. “And these are…”
“First I want to welcome you to MAJESTIC and thank you for my own higher security clearance.”
He shook his head. “Why is that warehouse so top secret? And why do we have security clearance? And what is …”
Kathy leaned forward and placed her index finger inches from his lips. “Don’t say it. Don’t ever speak that word. The public can throw around conjecture about it but now that we’re in the game we can’t whisper it.”
John nodded. Okay, so he could never talk about MAJESTIC. Kathy sat back and took the documents. “These are testimonies taken by Tsarist officials about the explosion at Tunguska. Numerous individuals reported strange omens prior to the events of 1909. Evidently the entire Tunguska region had been prone to these omens.”
Now he was curious. “What kind of omens?”
She looked down the sheet of paper. “Lights in the sky, booming noises, burning shields seen in the sky and the occasional strange creature.” Now John knew why Majestic was a word he could not say.
Kathy looked up. “Flying saucers and little green men.”
“We can say that?”
“Not often, but yes. The Russians chalked it up to superstition and vodka, but recorded it anyway. Anne and I both were thinking the Maya may have had some ‘outside’ help, although we didn’t know how much. This document tells us where to go next.”
“The Horse and Buggy Photo Archive.”
“In 1938 a Ohio business man set about to record a passing way of life. It’s a ten acre warehouse filled with photos of, well, horses and buggies.”
John studied her. “So who was this businessman?”
She grinned. He was getting the idea. “American intelligence officer from the First World War. Made a killing from confiscated German technology in the twenties. He was in intelligence during FDR’s Administration and after. His companies built a lot of Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. Later he was an Undersecretary for Truman. In thirty eight he was approached by someone in the government about building an archive for data on UFOs. This is it. The largest in the world.”
“And you know about it because…”
“I was given a briefing document by our flight crew.”
John sat back and nodded. This was a lot to take in. Aliens, the Maya, horses and buggies. Kathy Bennett.
The CIA agent stood. “Well, welcome to the club and welcome to Ohio. We’ll be landing in about an hour.”
He looked up. “An hour? We just left Russia.”
She shrugged and returned to her own workstation, leaving him with questions and the distinct impression of what her wet hair smelled like.