After spending his entire professional career protecting a sixty-five-year-old secret, Zach Donovan finds his life's work is being threatened by the prying efforts of a female journalist who has entered his life. In his frustration he remembers the story told to him by his grandfather, Bill Donovan, who was also a member of Aquarius, the top secret group assigned to guard the mystery. His account explains the reasons behind the presence of UFOs and the reasons for alien abduction. How can he stop her prying? This question becomes moot when his superior informs him that Majic-12 plans to hire her and he is assigned to familiarize her with the entire program. She is to become their historian and will be present to document the most important event in modern times, which is to take place in December of 2012 on the island of North Bimini.
About the Author
As a child he witnessed the newspaper articles referencing the incident outside of Roswell, New Mexico which intrigued him immensely. His first novel, The Annunaki Enigma: Creation, book one of the Annunaki Enigma series introduced the concept of the Annunaki, the errant angels, and their relationship to our Creator. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read an Excerpt
...............John Lyly, "Maides Metamorphosis"
She should have left the heat on. Her apartment had cooled considerably since she left for the Bradley's house earlier that evening. Actually, it was downright cold.
Jean had left the party and gone by the newsroom in answer to her page. Now she was home at what she thought would be the end of her working day, but the scanner broke the silence as she was removing her coat. She reached over and turned up the volume. "Radar tracking shows it was traveling at a speed exceeding seven thousand two hundred miles an hour when it began to descend. Radar contact was lost west of Richmond one mile south of the town of Georges Tavern, Virginia."
Wow, she thought and headed for her bookshelves where she pulled out her book on scanner frequencies. The frequency belonged to the control tower at Ronald Reagan Airport. After only about five minutes another transmission came across the scanner on a different frequency. It tweaked her curiosity.
"Alpha-Tango-2, this is Alpha-Tango-1. Have you determined a location?"
"Affirmative, Alpha-Tango-1, its last location was approximately one mile southwest of Georges Tavern. The area is near state road 45, also known as Cartersville Road, which travels south out of Georges Tavern. This is the best we can determine at this time. It's a remote area and could be approached from the highway."
"Alpha-Tango-2, this is Alpha-Tango-1. I'll wake up the team and get the mobile lab rolling. You and Alpha-Tango-3 get yourselves and your group over to that site and begin the search and cleanup. I'll be looking in the same general area, and as soon as one of us locates the site we must create a security cover."
"Alpha-Tango-1, we need to enable the encoders."
At that point the voices disappeared and an unintelligible sound was all that came across the frequency. The only thing she could find out about that frequency was that it was assigned to the U.S. Government. What in the world could be traveling over seven thousand miles an hour? Maybe it was the secret Aurora stealth vehicle or maybe it wasn't even from this world.
She wasn't sure what it was or where it came from. There was no clue in the broadcast. She knew one thing: it had crashed. The broadcast did seem to indicate that much before it ended. It was late but this stood a good chance of turning into a big story. Nothing she had ever heard of flew that fast within the atmosphere. She had to get down to Virginia now.
She figured on a two-hour drive to Richmond and another twenty minutes to the crash site near Georges Tavern. It was eleven fifteen according to her watch. Remembering that it was a cold night, she took her coat from the closet and grabbed her road atlas off the table as she rushed out the door.
As she drove south into Virginia, her thoughts kept drifting back to things she had heard at the Bradley's party. She knew she was not supposed to have heard some of the conversation that had entered her ears, and if she handled it right maybe Zach might clear up some of it tomorrow at the Observatory.
The focus of the moment was that aircraft. The speed was phenomenal. She went over and over it in her head as she made her way down the highway. The only craft that could fly at that speed would be in the military research class like the Aurora and it would be using stealth technology. But radar couldn't zero in on a stealth aircraft, especially the newest super-stealth fighters. She had just researched and written about them two weeks earlier. Military research craft wouldn't be flying in these parts. They would be out west in the Area 51 region.
The ride into Virginia was long and lonely, but she finally found state road 6 that led her to Georges Tavern. Her gas tank was now only a little more than a quarter full so she pulled into a gas station to fill up. She glanced at her watch as she was pumping. It was 1:30 A.M.
Leaving the station, she drove west until she found the Cartersville Road or state road 45 where she turned south. That was the last direction she had heard before the scanner encoder was enabled.
Fifteen minutes later she was traveling north again, frustrated by her situation. About two miles south of the village of Georges Tavern she had seen a light glowing in the west, but she couldn't find an access road off the highway in that direction.
She turned on her GPS unit and soon saw there was a road a little farther west of Georges Tavern which wasn't on her map. When she finally located the road, it seemed to be hardly more than a trail, but she felt it should lead her to the glowing light. She bumped along for several hundred yards only to find a barricade with yellow wooden sawhorses and a ROAD CLOSED sign that was propped in front of one of them.
She remembered what she had heard on the scanner. Alpha-Tango-1 had said they needed to create a security cover. She hopped out of her car, dragged one of the barricades aside, drove past it and then stopped, got out and pulled the barricade back again. When she had returned behind the wheel and looked through her windshield, she could see the glow in the distance.
She cautiously drove toward the light, then remembered her headlights and clicked them off. When her eyes adjusted, there was enough reflected light from the moon for her to make her way down the road and there were no vehicles traveling on it. Soon she began to see light through the trees and saw large lamps mounted on tripods and wisps of smoke rising among the trees. By this time she was barely moving. She saw figures and shadows moving through the trees.
Up ahead there was another road block. On the other side of the barricade a large van and seven or eight automobiles were parked along both sides of the road, which no one seemed to be guarding. Looking for a way to get through, she found that she was just able to squeeze between the barricades and proceed. All of the vehicles which she passed had U.S. Government on their rear tags.
Through the woods on her left she observed more movement and small fires near what appeared to be the origin of the largest amount of rising smoke.
Everyone she saw was cloaked in a yellow hooded suit that covered their body. All of them had respirators and visors to protect their lungs and faces. She decided these were either radiation suits or the suits worn by medical personnel when working with infected materials, or maybe a combination of both.
How could she get any closer without being spotted? Her party clothes would stand out like a flashlight in a dark room among all the yellow uniforms.
There were at least fifteen of the workers milling around among the trees, but so far it seemed that no one had noticed her car. She had a clear view down the road and saw that a SUV had just pulled out onto the road. It was moving in her direction. I need to get out of here, she thought.
Just before the SUV reached the position where she had driven off the road, it stopped and one of the personnel inside got out, opened the back of a nearby vehicle and pulled out several objects that appeared to be large black bags. The individual returned to his vehicle, turned it around and headed back up the road.
Body bags? She wondered.
She slipped out of her car and made her way up to the SUV. She opened the latch. It snapped as the rear door came open. She squinted trying to see inside, then crawled into the cargo area. "Well, well, what do we have here?" she whispered to herself with a smile on her face.
There was a stack of yellow suits and two smaller boxes, which she opened. One was filled with visors and the other with respirators. She could also see a box of body bags that had been opened.
A flashing red light ahead of her caught her attention. She ducked low and peeked above the seats. She saw two small security vehicles headed in the same direction in which she planned to go, but then one of them stopped, turned around and headed in her direction.
She had to do something. If they stopped, she would have to be fast to get out of there. She reached back and pulled the door closed. The closer they came to her, the brighter the lights were and the higher her anxiety level became. She could feel her heart pounding.
She decided that the safest thing to do would be to stay in the van and hope that no one would notice her car. She hid behind the boxes and pressed herself as close to the floor of the van as she could get, praying that they would keep going. As the lights grew brighter and brighter, she closed her eyes and tried to slow her breathing and calm down. She could hear the crunch of the tires as the security vehicle moved closer to her.
Now it was right beside her and beginning to slow down. She tried to flatten herself even closer against the floor of the vehicle and cover herself with the yellow suits. Her heart was racing faster, causing her whole body to pulse with each beat.
The security vehicle stopped right beside her place in the SUV. She waited and listened to hear a car door open, but instead a call came across the other vehicle's audio that was essentially unintelligible to her. She heard the driver say, "Ten four," close his door and then the vehicle immediately began backing toward the area of activity back down the road.
As soon as the danger was over, she gathered herself one of the yellow coveralls, a visor and a respirator and put them on. The yellow suit fit well enough to not look suspicious. The visor went on with no problems, as did the respirator, but she wasn't sure how to adjust the respirator to be sure she could breathe through it. She worked the knobs by trial and error until she was able to breathe freely. Then she crept over to the east side of the road where all of the action seemed to be taking place.
It wasn't difficult to move about in the suit, but even in the late November cold she could feel herself getting warm. She began to walk in the direction of the rising smoke. Thank goodness she had ditched those heels before leaving the house. The dead twigs broke beneath her feet but no one seemed to pay her any attention. The workers were busy carrying out their duties securing and clearing the debris field left from the crash. She was comfortably anonymous among the workers and she felt free to roam the wreckage as the rest were doing.
At first it appeared as if it were no more than a light plane which had gone down, but as she looked about and nosed through the wreckage there was no way she could call this a routine crash site. The wreck did look vehicular, but there was nothing that even resembled any airplane she had ever seen.
There were no wheels or wings to be seen and, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't make out the parts of any fuselage she could remember ever having seen. From what little she could tell about the main body of the wreckage, it seemed to have been almost box-shaped, resembling a standard passenger van but larger, say three to four times larger. It was difficult to be sure. The crashed vehicle was demolished and was revealing very little of its original condition.
Large pieces of the skin of the vessel were scattered about over the debris field. The piece she picked up was gray and quite thin with the edges curled back. It was thin enough to tremble in the slight breeze that was passing by. She could smell the odor of the pieces of the wreck that were still smoldering. It smelled similar to burning rubber or plastic but the vehicle's skin didn't burn with a flame. It just smoldered after having gone through the atmosphere at such a high speed. The pungent smell even penetrated the filters of her respirator.
To her left she saw a larger piece of the fuselage lying on the ground. There was a symbol on it and, as she moved in that direction, she saw that it looked like a snake poised upright over its coiled tail with a forked tongue protruding from its mouth.
Jean, feeling even more comfortable in her garb, began to look around and survey the area. The floodlights were quite effective, allowing her to easily see the entire debris field, even the ditch gouged into the earth by the crashing vessel and the young trees that had been broken and scraped aside as it had passed between and over them. She noticed personnel not too far from her and became worried that she might be spotted in view of the bright lighting all around her. She decided that she should keep her head down as she scanned the ground. She would seem less conspicuous that way. If she saw anyone moving toward her, she would investigate in a different direction.
She found another piece of the vessel's skin on the ground nearby and picked it up. It looked similar to aluminum foil but when she squeezed it in her fist it wouldn't crumple. It just sprang back out into its original smooth state. She tried to tear it but it wouldn't yield. She held it up to her respirator but she could smell nothing as she had done with the earlier smoldering pieces of skin. She thought back about several of the articles and eyewitness accounts that she had stumbled across in her research.
She realized that no one was talking as each did his or her job. Each worker went about a particular assignment. Each obviously had an individual responsibility and attended to it with speed and preciseness. She did notice a few hand signals that were occasionally used between the workers but had no idea what they meant. She ignored them. It was definitely getting a little warmer in the suit.
To her right she saw a lifeless form on the ground. One of the workers was walking toward it with a sheet in his hand. Maybe this was the pilot. It was face down, motionless and dressed in a one-piece uniform made of a metallic gray fabric. She couldn't see its face but the shape of its head seemed odd to her, egg shaped to be more exact. She saw another body farther to her right that had already had been covered.
All seemed routine until a worker with a sheet began to fan it out to cover the body. Then something terrible happened, something that made her whole body tremble. Just before the sheet came down, another worker turned the body over on its back.
The face looked up with the blank stare of death, and those eyes. They were huge. It wasn't human. Memories emerged from deep in her subconscious. She had seen that face and those eyes before, many times before. She felt weak and she could taste the acid in her throat.
A wave of nausea rippled through her chest and abdomen as she looked into those inky black eyes that seemed to be looking out into infinity. She became dizzy and perspiration beaded up on her face and streamed down her forehead. Now the heat was building even faster inside the suit and she was having difficulty breathing. She began to gasp for air. She felt helpless. Her fingers and hands were feeling numb and were beginning to cramp to the point of pain.
She stumbled and fell to her knees. Her eyes searching for help, she called for the ones who had just covered the body to help her. She began to pull at the suit and the respirator, falling forward into the arms of two workers who had come toward her. They looked at her and began lowering her to the ground as she sensed her consciousness draining away.
"Help me," she gasped, pulling at the visor over her face. As she struggled for her breath, and her awareness was coming and going, she looked upward into the eyes of the two workers. Was she hallucinating? No. What she saw were the faces of Zach Donovan and Doug Bradley, who were looking at her through their visors with great concern in their eyes.
Zach stood in the middle of his kitchen early the next afternoon holding a two-quart boiler in his left hand, its inside caked with the remnants of pork and beans. He held a soapy scouring pad in his right hand and the telephone pinched between his left ear and shoulder.
"No, ma'am, I came home right after the party and got into bed. And I was happy to be there."
Zach took a couple of scrapes at the inside of the boiler and continued to listen.
"Did you have to drive back?" he asked.
"You don't know?" he asked after a pause. "Well, where was your car when you woke up?"
He shook his head and gave a sigh.
"I'm sorry, Jean," he sympathized. "It sounds like a bad dream to me. Sometimes they seem so real that you'd swear that they actually happened. I've had some similar dreams myself but I didn't have any business around Richmond last night. I'm sure I would have remembered it if I had. I do remember driving home in my car after the party."
"No, I didn't mean anything by that. Why would you think that?"
After a short pause he shook his head. "Nope, just a bad dream," he repeated. "Do you still want to see the telescope? I mean, are you still up to it after such a bad night?"
"I know it's one-thirty. II," Zach looked down at his hands and at the stack of dishes and pots on his counter. "I had some work here that I had to finish. It's been sitting around for about a week."
After an interval he nodded. "Yeah, I'm about finished. Where do you live?" he asked.
A smirk appeared on his face. "No problem. I've been over there before. I know right where you live. Give me about twenty minutes and I'll be there. Just be ready."
He wrinkled his brow at her response.
"Now why would you say that? I said I'd be there in about twenty minutes. Why would you say an hour?"
The offended look on his face disappeared. "Oh, Jeb and Marcie are just talking. I always get where I'm going in plenty of time to do what I need to do. Be sure to be ready when I get there."
Zach, shaking his head, put the phone in its cradle and began putting up his dishes. Hank, I guess I have you to thank for this, he thought.
An hour and twenty minutes later Jean heard the doorbell ring. "Hello Dr. Donovan," she said, walking out and pulling her door closed behind her. "Did we have a little trouble finding my house?"
"Not really," he answered. "They've put in some new streets since the last time I came out this way."
"Several, I'd imagine," she added.
Zach seemed more than a little irritated at her, but that was okay. She walked to the car with him and he never said a word, not even offering to open the door for her. As they drove to the Observatory she watched him as he tapped his ring on the steering wheel, fiddle with the radio and then with the directional signal. Was he upset? Yep, she was sure of that.
"You know, Dr. Donovan," she declared. "I didn't ask Hank for you to do this. It was his idea, and if you are as irritated as you seem to be, I'd appreciate your turning this car around and taking me home. I can get a look at that telescope on my press credentials and get whatever information I might needon my own."
She saw his fingers tighten around the steering wheel, tight enough that it caused his knuckles to be white. He sighed and turned his head away from her, looking out through the window into the distance.
"Okay, I'm sorry," he said turning his head toward the highway again. "I know I've been a bit of an ass. Oh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have used that word."
"That's all right, Zach. I quite agree with your assessment."
He looked over at her, a studied look, and turned his head back toward the road.
"Please, Ms. Irwin, let's don't go off on a tangent like we did Friday at work."
"It's fine with me," she answered, "but I want you to know that I didn't plan to intrude on your time off, especially on a Sunday afternoon. I was as surprised as you were when Hank suggested that you take me to the Observatory."
He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "No, it's really no intrusion. I'm pretty much on call all of the time and this is not unusual for a weekend." He looked back her way and continued, "But just for the record, that old refractory telescope is no longer available to the public. It has been designated as an antique and far too delicate to allow unrestricted access. Not even press credentials can get you in to see it without special permission. So," he added with a soft smile, "you won't be able to get in to see it on your own."
There was an air of confidence in his voice that pleased her, and she realized the privilege she was about to enjoy to see the telescope. But this was no time to show weakness, not with this guy.
"I suppose," she added, "that depends on your perspective as to how I would be able to get to it on my own."
There was a twinkle in her eyes as she spoke and she noticed him sneak a look in her direction. Was that a smile she saw out of the corner of her eye?
As they turned into the almost empty employee parking lot of the U.S. Naval Observatory, they approached the reserved parking section. She could read his name painted on the curb.
"Hmmm, DR Z DONOVAN," she mocked, "a private parking space. I'm impressed."
"It's usually pretty deserted around here this time of the year on the weekends," he said, ignoring her remarks as they got out of the car. "We have only a skeleton crew in our area, mostly the janitorial and maintenance crews. There are a few of the dedicated who come in on the weekend to catch up on unfinished business."
"And what are they doing?" she queried. "Charting stars?"
"That's just a part of their work," he explained. "Over the years our job has grown from research to setting standards in time and navigation and much more, including mapping of the universe. Sometimes our objectives become much more complicated than I want to deal with."
"I can bet on it getting too complicated," she chided.
She saw him turn a troubled expression in her direction and felt his hand against her back as he guided her through a doorway that he was holding open. After a short walk down a hall in an older part of the building, he took keys from his pocket and unlocked a door.
"Can you get the light switch?" he asked as he held the door. "It's on your right."
"Ohhh, look at that," she whispered reverently as the lights came on illuminating the shiny brass mounting of the old instrument. It was located on a raised platform in the middle of the room, and the polished brass gleamed as she walked toward it.
"The platform is brand new," Zach commented as he closed the door behind them. "They're still working on it."
"It almost calls out to you to touch it," she noted as she studied it from bottom to top.
"It's still quite a precise instrument, even today," he added. "And you don't have to whisper. It won't fall apart."
"I'm sorry," she responded. "Please tell me about it."
"I'm not sure of the date of manufacture," he said as he climbed up onto the platform where the telescope was located. He put his hand near the control levers in front of him and turned back toward her. "In 1877 a scientist by the name of Asaph Hall was using it when he discovered two moons orbiting the planet Mars."
Jean looked up at him and wondered just how difficult it would be for her to get on the platform with him. She hadn't planned on having to climb to see it. Most observatories had stairs.
"Here, step up on that ridge and give me your hand. I guess they still have to complete the stairs," he suggested. He had seen her dilemma. Taking one hand he tried to pull her up, but finally had to squat and grasp under her arms to lift her up beside him. As he did, she sensed a warmth that pleased her. She saw in his eyes and felt in his touch something that made him seem different from her earlier opinion of him. Stay on your guard, she warned herself.
"It's out of place," he said.
"What's out of place?"
"Your hair is. Come here."
He took a lock of her hair which had fallen in front of her face and repositioned it. When he did his hand brushed against her forehead. It felt pleasant. No, it felt good, and for a brief moment she continued to gaze into his eyes, until she realized what she was doing. She felt uneasy. Why should I feel this way? she wondered.
Turning she reached out and touched the side of the telescope. "Can you operate this?" she asked, looking back at him. Why was she trembling?
"Sure," he answered, "but I can't change the position right now. We don't do that except immediately after routine maintenance. That way we can be assured of adequate lubrication. Even then we rarely make changes. This instrument is just too old and too much a part of history to take any chances with it."
She leaned forward and looked through the eyepiece, squinting with one eye and using the other to peer through it. It was pointed at the ceiling. No stars could possibly be visible. A small grin came to her face.
"You know where I'd like to look?" she asked.
"Where's that?" he asked with a smile as he knowingly took her bait.
"I think I want to see the planet Hivania," she said touching her chin. "Is that right? Zach, did I pronounce it properly. Hi-VAN-ia? Yes, that's what I want."
She switched her eyes to see his response and saw him pale at the mention of the word Hivania. She pulled back and motioned with her hand toward the telescope.
"Put it on Hivania, won't you, Zach?"
In his momentary confusion he fumbled his words. "Wh-what in the world are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about Hivania. What's the matter, cat got your tongue? I thought you were going to help me. Hank said you were going to help me in every way you could."
"We'll, this is one thing I can't help you with. I've never heard of a planet named Hivania in the solar system," he said, regaining his control.
"That may well be," she countered, "but what about a planet named Hivania in another star system? Perhaps you can focus the scope on a planet named Hivania in another star system, say the Zeta Reticuli system. Okay, Zach?"
"I couldn't do that, and you know it, even if your statements were true. Beside the fact that the ceiling would block the view, you can't use earth-based standard optical telescopes to study planets in other star systems. Even a science novice would know that. What are you doing? What kind of game are you playing?"
"Game, Zach?" she smirked. "I'm not playing a game. The moment I heard of this old scope I wanted to see it. I've been thinking a lot about it since Friday and a lot about a group of anthropologists whom I met last night, both at Doug's house and in my dreams."
She watched as he clinched his teeth. For the first time since the cafeteria incident he seemed shaken and a bit unsure of himself.
"So?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"So, things don't add up," she snapped back. She brought a finger up to her chin and forced a quizzical smile at the ceiling. "Now," she started, "why would a group of well-trained anthropologists such as you and your friends be working here? You explained to me, as we came in, the purpose of this facility, but I can't quite fit a group of anthropologists into my idea of this observatory."
"Don't be trying to fit us into anything," he suggested. "Just accept that we have a job to do here, as do thousands of other government employees here in D.C."
"Oh, I'm sure you have a job to do. That's what troubles me." She paused for a moment then continued. "Tell me about your job, Zach. What do you do around here other than get into my dreams, or should I say nightmares?"
"There's no big secret to what I do," he said. "In addition to what I've already told you, we're also involved in the study of the possibility of life in other star systems. We have nothing to hide about that. You heard Hank's presentation in Boston yourself. We also act as low-level ambassadors to other nations who might be using the facilities here at the Observatory."
"Give me a break," she challenged. "Don't tell me that the government would hire three individuals, as well trained as you all are, to create theories and study such a concept. Or, even more preposterous than that, do you expect me to believe that you three are an accessory diplomatic corps?"
"Well, here we are," he pointed out. "What do you think we're doing here, twiddling our thumbs?"
"I think not," she said commandingly. "You're here to do just what you did last night. You resemble a cleanup team for chemical spills, except that you do your job when there is a UFO incident or some close encounter somewhere that goes bad. Your job is to get in as quickly as possible, clean up and get out as fast as you can. By the way, are you alpha-tango 1, 2 or 3?"
"Lady, you've been watching too much TV," he barked back, the anxiety obvious in his voice. "Where do you come up with all of these off-the-wall ideas?"
"No, Zach, it's not off the wall, unless you mean off the walls of Doug and Maureen's home."
"Now what are you talking about?" he asked.
"I think you know what I'm talking about. I think you know a lot more about it than you want to let on."
"You're wrong, lady. I don't, and I think it's about time for you to explain yourself. What's it all about?" he demanded. "What the hell are you getting at? I thought you were here to see a telescope."
"Last night at Doug's I heard some intelligent people discussing distant star systems," she began, defiantly smiling at him. "I was familiar with most of the stars they mentioned but then they began naming planets. They spoke of planets that I have never heard of in my life, and I'm a science editor. Zach, have you ever heard of planets named Dromedos or Janos? I hesitate to mention Hivania since that mention, just moments ago, sent you into a tizzy. To the best of my knowledge planets outside of our system have never been named anything other than code numbers or letters, at least that's what we've been told." She paused as she remembered the night before.
"And another thing struck me," she continued. "It was the names of these stars. I later realized that they were familiar names but at the time I couldn't remember where I had heard them. This morning, after my bad dream, it all came back to me. These are the star systems from the Fish Star Map."
"What the hell is a fish map and what does that have to do with stars?" he asked shaking his head and scowling.
She snickered. She definitely had him on the defensive now.
"Ridicule me and shake your head if you want, Zach Donovan," she warned. "I feel sure you already know about the Fish Star Map, but I'll refresh your memory if you've had a lapse. Fish was a school teacher and the architect of the map. In the 1960s," she continued, "after Betty and Barney Hill decided to get professional help with problems they encountered after their abduction experience near Exeter, New Hampshire, both of them underwent regression hypnosis. During the time she was under hypnosis, Betty drew a two-dimensional picture from her memory of a star map that she was shown during the time she was on the alien ship. No one could make anything out of it until Fish took the two-dimensional map and created a three-dimensional version that clarified the locations of the stars on it. The other scientists were considering it from the perspective of viewing the stars from earth. Fish decided that it had to be considered from another perspective, that being the celestial origin of the creatures on the vessel. When she found that location it all became clear."
"Oh boy," Zach said, "now we're dealing with space aliens and abductions. Okay, so what?" He shrugged his shoulders and held out his hands.
"So what?" she asked, her voice filled with frustration. "Those stars on the Fish Star Map are the same names I heard over and over again at Doug's last night. What's going on, Zach?" The tone in her voice changed. Now she had challenged him with facts.
"What are you hiding?" she asked. "Is there really a cover-up, as the public has been screaming for the past sixty years? Are you part of it? Why won't you open up to me about what happened outside Georges Tavern last night?" She bit hard against her own teeth and waited for his reaction.
"Jean," he urged, "don't fall into that 'cover-up' trap. You're too smart for that, and you've come up with the wildest story I've heard in a long time. You're confusing dreams with reality and accusing Hank and Doug, even me, of things that any serious scientist wouldn't waste his or her time discussing. These things are too unrealistic to be a part of any serious debate. Even if we knew such a thing, why would any of us spout off in front of you?"
"I don't know," she argued. "It sounded real enough to me and maybe they didn't know they were spouting off in front of me. Maybe they were just talking business and didn't know I could hear them. See this ear, Zach?" She grinned and pointed to her right ear. "This is the ear of a journalist and it's a trained instrument, educated and dedicated to finding the news. The only problem I had last night was that I couldn't ask questions at Doug's party, and in Virginia, well, I passed out. But now Zach, I have you. If I can just stay conscious and get you to cooperate, perhaps I can get to the bottom of all this."
"I don't know what's going on with you, Jean. You're ranting as if you have lost your senses. It appears you've seen all you want of our telescope. Do you have any more questions?"
"Do I have questions?" she asked, and then sighed. "Yes, I have many, but I believe I'm out of luck for getting any answers today, huh?" Maybe she had crossed the line with all of her challenges. Maybe she should have handled it in a different fashion. It would be impossible to get any information from him this way.
"Absolutely, m'am," he replied. "You answered that one for yourself with no help from me." That being said, he jumped off the platform and turned, waiting for her to do the same, but she just stood there looking down at the floor below.
"Come on," he offered holding out his hands. "I helped you up there, so I'll help you down. It's all a part of my diplomatic responsibilities."
"I always seem to be offending you. I'm sorry," she said.
"No offense taken," he assured her. "Come on down."
She leaned forward and placed her hands on his shoulders and he held her by the waist and began to lower her but he had misjudged her weight and as she shifted forward she had to hold around his neck for balance causing her to slide down against the full length of his body. She stood there, her body against his, her face not three inches from his and her arms still around his neck. His breath felt warm against her cheeks. He stared into her eyes for a moment, then dropped his arms and turned to leave.
She followed him. She needed to get to fresh air. Why did she feel attracted to him but yet repelled by him?
"You'd better hurry if we're going to get to the Lincoln Memorial," he said, looking back at her. "I understand it is next on my agenda. Maureen told me we were going there after we finished up here."
Jean's face flushed as she remembered her conversation with Maureen the night before.
After a quiet, tense ride from the Observatory, the unlikely twosome stood looking down the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument. The Lincoln Memorial was behind them. Their heavy overcoats offered protection from the cold except for an occasional gust of wind that Jean could felt cutting down her collar. Snow flurries began to pepper them. She shivered and pulled her scarf tighter into the collar of her coat.
She wanted him to think about anything but their conversation back at the Observatory. She could care less about their apparent diversity. She knew that connecting with him and his group could prove useful in accessing the information she needed for her job. There would be no more intimidation if she could control her temper.
"Have you visited here before?" she asked.
"Sure," he answered giving a slight nod. "I grew up on the outskirts of Alexandria. I've been here many times, visited all the museums and memorials and even most of the tourist haunts."
"I would think that growing up among all of this would dull your appreciation of it," she said. "Doesn't it?"
"No, not at all, Jean, not if you grew up with Bill Donovan as your mentor. Look," he said, "let's go up there near Mr. Lincoln. It's getting pretty blustery out here." He took her arm to move her along. His grip was strong and firm but considerate. It was turning colder and the snow was stinging their faces.
"Maybe," he suggested turning loose her arm, "if we get up there in the memorial it will knock some of this wind off of us."
As they walked together up the steps, she wanted to keep their civil conversation going. "You were saying that Bill Donovan was your mentor. Who was he?" she asked. "I heard his name mentioned several times at the party last night. Was he a relative of yours?"
"Yes, he was my granddad. He was an old-timer who came from the old school of life. He taught me the origins and reasons for every monument here, as well as the meaning of patriotism and love of country. He guided me in my work ethics and helped me to develop the priorities in my life. Growing up around here has actually increased my appreciation and respect of these treasures rather than dulled them."
"Where did he work?"
"At the Observatory, you might even say that he was the founding member of our group," he answered.
She saw an affectionate smile pass over his face.
"Oh, then this is like a family affair," she joked. "What about your dad, did he work with you and your grandfather?"
"No, Dad was killed in Vietnam. I was just a toddler then, so I don't remember much about him. We had pictures but I was just too young to get to know him. Two years later, Mom died of leukemia and it was then that my grandparents entered full press into my life. After that they were my parents."
"That's such a tragedy to lose both of your parents at such a young age. It sounds as if your grandparents did a great job in stabilizing your life. What did your grandfather do at the Observatory? What was his job before he retired?"
"About the same as the rest of us," he answered.
"Was he an anthropologist?"
"Yes, well, not with a formal degree," he corrected, "but back then they didn't pay as much attention to degrees and certifications. A person could advance just as much on his knowledge, merit and experience. Pop didn't learn his trade in college. He learned it on his own as he worked. And he never really retired. He worked on up until his death."
"I still can't see why anthropologists are needed to chart stars and play diplomat," she said, shrugging her shoulders. Her voice trailed off. She realized she was headed back into the same forbidden area that had been a problem back at the Observatory.
Zach stopped as he held his collar closed. They were almost at the top of the steps and Lincoln was looking down across their heads. His anger flared.
"Jean," he said in a firm but courteous voice, "we've had a good conversation up to this point but I don't plan to get on this subject again. You're trying to manufacture a story for your paper, but I have a job to do and it's not dealing with a reporter in a feeding frenzy or a UFO nut. I think we should leave now."
Zach turned to descend the same steps that they had just climbed, but Jean knew this might be her last chance and she decided to go for it.
"You just hold on, Zach Donovan," she ordered and pointed her finger down at him from her perch on the top step. "First, I'm not just a reporter. I'm a journalist, and a damn good one. I try to be factual and I do investigative reporting where I feel it is needed. I'm the science editor of a major publication and that's not an easy position to achieve. Second, I'm not a UFO nut as you so inconsiderately remarked and I'll debate you about your own field any time you have the courage to do it."
Zach had stopped as soon as he had heard her speak. She saw that he had lost that smug look of confidence as he turned to look up at her.
"Just what gives you such insight," he said looking up at her, "and how can you say such a thing? That's the same as my saying that I know as well as you how to be a science editor."
"Because Mister, no DOCTOR Donovan, I've been there." She felt a slight quiver in her chin but she held her gaze on him.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Been where?"
"I've been with those things that you saw last night. It was too real. Last night in Virginia when I saw that face and those eyes, those awful eyes, it all came back to me. I've been abducted by those creatures. I don't remember exactly what happened to me, but I can recall probing in my abdomen and having a piece of flesh taken from my arm."
Jean almost lost her composure. Her eyes welled with tears and she gripped her fists tightly to control herself. The snow was getting thicker and began to hang in her hair as her cheeks reddened from the driving wind.
Zach put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her collar up closer around her neck. He just stood there not saying a word. There was pain in her eyes.
"Come on," she challenged. "Aren't you going to laugh and call me a UFO nut now that you know I'm one of them? Here's your chance, a real live UFO nut."
"No, Jean, I didn't mean it that way," he said. "It's one of those defenses that I've developed after years of people accusing me of being a part of some big conspiracy. I don't really think of you that way. I can appreciate your intellectual interest in all of this."
"Nope, this is more than an intellectual interest. For years I've had this crazy feeling deep inside every time I heard the word alien or UFO, or when I watched one of those abduction programs on TV. I finally quit watching them, and last night I bumped into you and your friends in Virginia and I saw something that shook me to my very soul."
"It just sounds like a dream, Jean. It was a dream of a plane crash that for some reason contained some gruesome scenes."
"Oh, no, Zach, it was no mere dream. I saw you cover that body, and when you did I saw its eyes as the sheet fell over it." She had to stop for a moment. It was getting too difficult to continue. She was trembling, and it wasn't the cold that was doing it.
"Let's get inside," Zach said. He reached out and took her hand. He led her up into the memorial and over to a corner of the chamber in an attempt to shelter her from the icy wind. She saw a young man and woman staring at her. They had noticed the tears and her demeanor.
"Are you all right?" the young man asked as he approached her and scrutinized Zach.
"Oh yes." Her lips trembled as she answered and wiped the moisture from her eyes. "He's helping me through a bad time." She tipped her head in Zach's direction.
The couple smiled and turned away as she looked up at Zach. He seemed to be genuinely concerned about her.
"Jean, you're shaking all over," he said, trying to put his arm around her for consolation, but she shrugged it off.
"I'm fine," she barked, "but dammit, Zach, you need to be upfront with me and tell me what's going on. You know, and it hasn't killed you. I simply must know."
She took another tissue from her pocket and wiped away the tears from her eyes. She looked into Zach's eyes and saw a worried look, but again he said nothing. She felt frustrated but what did she expect, a sudden admission that she was right and he was wrong and then the truth? The way she had him figured was that this cover-up was his business and a few tears from a trembling female wasn't about to make him spill the beans on over sixty years of secrecy.
"You're not about to tell me, are you?" she persisted.
He looked at her but no answer came forth. This time he didn't have that overconfident look that he had when they got into the car to go to the telescope.
"No," she said answering her own question, "and I don't think you ever will. You don't care about people like me. We nurse our anxieties and neuroses until we die and you know the truth and won't say a thing."
"Who are WE?" he asked.
"WE are those who don't believe the years of lies and deceit from Washington," she answered. "After last night I've gained some small insight into the truth, but there are many others who will relive their encounters in their dreams and flashbacks for years to come. They'll never know for sure what happened to them or why they were taken from their homes and treated as if they were lab animals. They'll just have to go on having their night sweats, and they, as I, will never be able to understand the invasion and probing into their bodies."
"Do you believe all those crazy tales, Jean?"
She couldn't believe he was asking such a question. She clinched her teeth and balled her fists. "Zach!" she yelled. "What do you mean? I am one of those crazy tales." She shook her head. "How can you, of all people, deny what's been happening all of these years? You and your friends work right in the middle of it."
"No," he said. "I won't fall for this. There has never been any proof of an alien presence, only stories such as your fantasy from last night. There is never any solid proof." He stuffed his hand inside his coat and looked back at her. "Let's go to the car. It's cold as hell up here."
"Sure," she said following him down the steps as she spoke. "You and your people run in and cover it up and there's no time for confirmation or documentation. I don't know what you would have done if I hadn't fainted as I did, but I'm sure you would have handled it and I would still be the confused witness with no one to go to."
Jean's frustration was building. She pleaded. "Zach, how can you take part in suppressing this information? You were brought up by an honorable man who, as you have characterized him, would have never lied or deceived in this way. Don't you understand how this affects people?"
"Why do you insist that we are hiding anything? You live in America, and this government has always been open about space exploration, UFOs and such. Read your history and you'll see that back in the nineteen-fifties, sixties and seventies, when the Soviets were exploring space behind a veil of secrecy, we were completely open with our space program."
"I see it different," she replied. "The Soviets were open with their control of the media and we, on the other hand, contrived methods of appearing to be open. In reality many things never made it to the public, especially evidence of extraterrestrial life."
Zach grimaced. They had reached the car and he used his remote to unlock it.
"Let's get in out of the cold," he said as he continued to debate her. "How can you say that? You have no evidence to support that premise."
She knew she would never get him to come around, but it was time he knew how much others knew about this stifling of probably the most important information since the creation of man.
"Doctor Donovan," she instructed as she closed her door and latched her seat belt, "I refer you to the Brookings report that came out sometime around 1960. This report was hidden within the bureaucracy until some old-time investigative journalism brought it back to the surface during the 1990s. It took over thirty years to find it. What else might be hidden there that could take another thirty or more years to find?"
"I've never heard of such a report," he snapped.
"My, my," she scolded. "We are defensive today. I wonder why you say that, since that report would have been the basis for the continuation of your group. It has kept your family in business over the years."
"Accuse me all you want. I've never heard of such a report," Zach responded, still in his defensive mode.
Jean's nostrils flared as she renewed her attack. "It was titled 'Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs.' There, how's that for recall? That study would have remained hidden if we were dependent on people such as you to keep us informed."
"There were many such studies back then," he replied. "You know the government. Before they make a move on anything they study it to death. The importance of the space program back then would have spawned many impact studies."
"But just how many would have mentioned the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life?" she asked.
"None of this would have had any effect on our group," he said rather unflappably.
She turned and glared at him. "That remains to be seen. The Brookings report recommended more studies and specifically questioned the need to withhold from the public any evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life that might be found during such explorations."
"Why, Jean?" he asked. "Why hide the most important discovery in the history of mankind? Why would the government withhold the first contact of humanity with beings from other worlds?"
"They never made a straightforward recommendation to suppress evidence, only to study whether there was a need to do so, the idea being that it could shake the fabric of all of the world's governments and religions if intelligent life were to be found somewhere other than on earth."
"So, there was a government study suggesting that they just might consider smothering that kind of evidence if ET life were just happened to be found," he mocked. "It never was and they never did. You saw everything from the lift off to the splash down in the oceans."
"Not true," challenged Jean. "The same investigator who brought to light the findings of the Brookings report also investigated allegations of suppression of evidence from early Martian and Lunar probes."
"Where the hell do you read all of this bunk?" Zach questioned with a look of disbelief on his face.
"I told you that this was my area of interest and now you know why. I've researched this field for years and I've accumulated reams of data containing facts as well as allegations. Some allegations have turned into facts. Doctor, this problem is real, not imagined."
"Well," Zach replied gripping the steering wheel a little harder, "I've about had my fill of it today. I'm ready to go, or did you have some other place to you want to visit? Maureen forgot to tell me if I had another stop."
"Enough for me," she answered, looking at him hard enough that she hoped he could feel her stare.
Zach started the engine and drove back to her apartment, neither of them talking. To her surprise he walked her to her front door and held it open for her to go in and then closed the screen behind her. She turned to say good-bye but he spoke up first.
"I hope I've taken you where you wanted to go today," he said, "but I'll tell you this. I think you have some delusional thoughts about our team."
"They are far from delusional," she said, "but I think you already know that. I do thank you for your time."
"See you at the Observatory on your next assignment," he said, nodding and forcing a smile. He turned and left.
She stood at the door as he drove away. She was upset at his nonchalant attitude, and she was tired of the deception she had experienced during the last twenty-four hours, much less the misinformation of the last sixty years. She thought for a moment and smiled when she remembered something that Hank had said to her at the party the night before. Maybe, just maybe, she might someday have the last word, but she needed to initiate things now.
Jean watched in the distance as Zach's car topped the hill and disappeared behind it. She smiled again from the doorway. The cold winter wind, which earlier had been miserable, was now stimulating.
Yes, Zach, she thought. I'll be seeing you around the Observatory all right. Maybe it will be sooner than you think.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE ANNANUKI ENIGMA: CREATION By Symm McCord, MD A Review by E. Gaylon McCollough, MD, FACS Having written a non-fiction book on the creation of humankind, I was intrigued by Dr. McCord’s fictional account of how the earth and its inhabitants came to exist on this little planet at the outskirts of the Milky Way. The manner in which the author created characters in his book that correspond to those identified in the Bible is masterful, making the reader wonder if—by chance—superhuman races from another galaxy actually employed the miracles of science to shape the climate of earth, seed it with plants that sustain animal life, and top the experiment off by using genes collected from three different metaphysical species (from different planets) to produce a pair of human made in the images of each of the three contributing races. The mastermind of the entire project was a brilliant leader identified by the author as Jhowah, who will quickly be recognized as the God figure in the story. Other scientists who participated in the “earth project” make the reader wonder if it is they who were the “us” and “our” in Genesis 1:26 when the Scriptures tell us: “And God said, let us make man in our own image after our own likeness.” Not only will the reader be entertained, his or her mind will be stretched to new dimensions. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with a fertile mind and who has wondered: How did it all come to be?