The pair of Americans were guided down steep stone staircases with only cold, bare cold stone walls to guide them. After what seemed forever John and Kathy reach the bottom of the second set. They were walked in circles a few times then their blindfolds were removed.
It was in a dark, narrow corridor with walls covered in Tibetan tapestries. Anne and a monk stood watching them. The monk wore NIkes, blue jeans and a Bob Marley t-shirt.
“Are you all alright?” Anne asked. They nodded as their eyes adjusted to the dark and she went on. “Good, we’ve got to hurry. The tour group only has fifteen more minutes.”
She nodded to the monk and he led the way down another three levels, their only light coming from a glow stick he held. After three sets of narrow stairs carved from living rock they stopped in a hundred foot long hallway. Anne gestured to mosaics that covered the walls around them.
“This is where the abbot worked after he arrived. His studies were recorded in these mosaics. I suggest we work quickly.”
There were many mosaics of different sizes. Kathy thought one looked like binary code, another like a musical scale and another kind of like a complete periodic table. But the largest was a mosaic of a sky chart. A huge dragon hung among the stars.
John spoke first as he gestured to it. “Alright, so what we’re looking for has to do with the Maya. Since they were geniuses with astronomy this is probably where it is.”
Anne shook her head. “Maybe. But they were also incredible mathematicians.”
As they discussed where to start Kathy scanned the mosaics while the muscle bound monk studied her. She was used to looking over large amounts of jumbled data and finding clues. But her gut said John was right. The Maya would have been here because of the stars. If they could tell something was coming then maybe the abbot recorded it.
Suddenly she stiffened. “Hey, look at this.” The other two joined her at the largest mosaic of the star chart. “If I’m not mistaken this is Quetzalcoatl.”
After a moment John nodded. “You’re right. I’ve seen that serpent enough over the past few days to recognize it anywhere. That is Quetzalcoatl,” He stepped back. “and this has to be what we’re looking for.”
Kathy looked over the stars on the chart. Her expertise in celestial navigation told her this map was off. It took her a minute to realized it was a global starchart, covering the entire world. That was a revelation in itself. But a little voice inside her head insisted that something was still wrong.
Why? What was wrong with it? Then it hit her. The star chart wasn’t off, she was. Or rather, what she expected to see.
She gestured. “This is a current map. How is this a current star chart?” ‘Andrea’ turned to Anne. “Are you sure this is where he worked?”
Anne studied the mosaic, then suddenly grabbed the other woman’s arm. A hour ago Kathy would’ve flinched, but now she didn’t. Strange.
“No, it isn’t.” John and ‘Andrea’ looked at the academic. “Its about a hundred years old.”
Kathy stared as Anne pointed. “See here, this comet and here, this star. If this is a global star chart then these are at least a century old.”
But John was studying something else. “So why is Quetzalcoatl on here? Is this supposed to be Mexico?”
Kathy shook here head. “I don’t think so.”
Anne confirmed her suspicions. “No, this is the Southern Cross. That dragon’s in the Northern Hemisphere.” She glanced at her watch. “Alright people, I hate to rush you, but we’ve got two minutes.”
They all stared at it. Guessing their thoughts the monk spoke to Anne who translated. “He says no photos, no sketching and no mirrors.”
The others shrugged. Kathy spoke. “Can we take notes but leave them here? Like, just to get our bearings?“
The monk shrugged, confirming her suspicion he spoke English. Anne brought out a notepad and pencil. “Okay, here’s the Big Dipper.”
John pointed. “Little Dipper, Southern Cross.”
Kathy nodded. “There’s that comet. Right here.”
Anne stared hard. “Okay, I’ve found Hydra, Draco and Taurus. So, calculating backwards a century, here’s Hawaii…” She began making invisible latitude lines with her fingers. “Zimbabwe, the Yucatan, Stonehenge, Elberton…” She stopped and stared. “Its over Siberia.”
“What?” Kathy leaned closer.
Anne traced invisible lines with her finger. “Pacific, North Pole, China. Its over Siberia.”
Then Anne glanced at her watch. “Shoot. We’ve got to go.”
Anne handed the monk the notepad as they rushed up the stairs. Kathy asked. “Are you sure it was over Siberia?”
“A hundred years ago?”
“More or less.”
Three flights up they paused to be blindfolded. John asked. “Okay, I give up. What’s the significance of Siberia?”
After a moment Kathy replied. “Have you ever heard of a place called Tunguska?”