Peer into the mists —
Careful to ease the airboat up to the pyramid, Jessica secured the craft to the same log as before. Straightening, she stretched. The aches in her muscles reminding of her earlier mishap, but an uneasy notion of being watched distracted her. She glanced nervously around. Who’d be out here? Seeing the same fishermen as earlier, their poles back in the water, she concluded theirs’ were the stares she sensed. Her attention turned to the slow painstaking work of removing more of the caked on limestone mud and muck of centuries.
“Wow!” Jessica startled the alligators, and the blue heron flew. She stopped and stared at what she’d uncovered. The cleared area enlarged to a meter square.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. Uncapping a bottle of water she drank half while she looked closer at the cleared area. Shocked at what she could see, she dribbled the rest of the water in the bottle on the exposed area, revealing a larger part of an Egyptian cartouche. At an early age Jessica had learned to decipher ancient Egyptian, drawn to the artistic symbols as if they spoke to her.
Mesmerized by the artifact and the implications of the discovery, she realized the skeptics, once they were alerted, would be malicious. Some would be jealous and claim what she found was a sham. She would allow them as little to criticize as possible. With greater attention to detail, Jessica was careful to go through the documentation procedures before reading the cartouche for the camera.
Drawing a deep breath, she read aloud as she filmed:
By the grace, and wisdom of the god Osiris. In the morning of the day when Ra is reborn. Behold!
The entrance to the Underworld of the West.
Enter here all who would visit the city that was once the capital of the vast, now sunken land of the gods.”
A breeze stirred, Jessica brushed a lose strand of her long dark red hair from her face. Further capturing the moment, she scanned the video camera from the pyramid around the area and back, documenting the location accurately. Without thinking anything about it, she caught the fishermen out on the lake—again.
Needing both hands to touch the indicated symbols to open the pyramid Jessica set the camera on its tripod, the camera focused to record the event. She continued to explain her actions. With unsure fingers she pushed the symbols indicated and drew a safe distance away.
A low, base rumble began to build growing into a loud roar, thunderous and strong enough to shake the lakebed and the surrounding levy like a minor earthquake. Since the lake was in a dry condition, little water poured into the chamber as the wall of ancient man-made bricks slowly slid back, scraping away eons of grime. Jessica heard
the air equalize. The fresh air of the twenty-first century combined with the escaping air of antiquity from how long ago Jessica couldn’t yet theorize.
Feeling she was being watched again, Jessica looked toward the levy, there she saw two deputies observing her through binoculars. She waved to them and picking up her cell phone called the Sheriffs’ Departments. As promised, Anthony had spoken with both departments, and each had sent deputies for security before she called.
Her attention returned to the pyramid. Wearing a fiber mask over her mouth and nose, but with curiosity and daring she peered down into the once mist-filled chamber, now cleared, somewhat. A sudden whiff of stale air struck Jessica penetrating the dust mask. A flash of the persistent dream overtook her. A faint sensation possessed her.
* * * *
Conscious, yet a part of her was no longer on the lake, but under the warm water of the Atlantic Ocean ascending from the fateful dive with her parents. Jessica sensed danger, falling debris proof their boat was destroyed. Surfacing, she saw the abandoned barge drifting away after striking their boat, making splinters of it.
Dad was hurt. His blood billowed like red clouds in the warm blue waters, turning to surrealistic colors of purple. Another boat, a yacht came along slow but close, a handsome young man with aquamarine eyes at the helm. Those were the eyes! He’d saved them! He helped her father onto his yacht, then her mother.
Her mother, more concerned with her father than their rescuer, hadn’t actually looked at him. The mysterious young man had assisted her next.
Why had he put on a hat and sunglasses over his exquisite aquamarine eyes?
Compelled to look into his eyes she took his hand as he reached out to help her to board. Their hands touched, his glasses fell off. Their gazes joined. For the first time Jessica realized their meeting had gone deeper, their souls became linked. He put the glasses back on, but the psychic connection between them once made, was unbreakable.
Dizziness was close to overcoming her. The sun was in her face, she couldn’t focus, for a moment the lump of mud was before her but reality wavered.
She was back on the ocean again, nineteen years old, in the arousing hands of their rescuer. He helped her out of her dive gear, his touch, a caress as he unsnapped the clasp across her breasts. Her breath caught in her throat, and her breasts tingled and peaked. His long, strong fingers were gentle and warm on her stomach. He decorously unsnapped the closure at her waist. Yet his contact sent chills through her. Jessica finally exhaled as he lifted the tank and dive vest from her. His hands caressed her shoulders, lingering a moment. In her youthful innocence, she’d never felt such a breathtaking touch. For the last time, he looked into her eyes, drinking her in. He neglected the sunglasses and helped her to sit next to her mother. Bright sunlight was in her face again and the vision-dream gone. This time she was fully awake but somewhat faint. She slumped in the seat of the airboat. The dream faded into her clouded sub- consciousness. But a recent glimpse of those eyes lingered.
* * * *
Jessica drew a sharp breath of air and weakly grabbed another bottle of water. She poured some on her face and drank the rest.
“What happened?” She stammered and wiped her forehead on her sleeve. Thoroughly airing out a chamber, sealed for unknown centuries, was an unwritten
archaeological law. She thought she’d given it enough time!
Turning toward the levy, a warm breeze blew across the top of the barrier. She saw the two sheriffs’ officers standing and looking in her direction. Both appeared visibly concerned over her condition, one watching her with binoculars. Jessica waved. They returned the gesture, seemingly relieved to see her more alert.
Drawing a deep breath and holding it, she chanced another look into the chamber. Was she still affected by the stale air? Intuition told her the indistinct images she saw swirling in the fresh air were of the future, mingled with the decayed mists of the past. A shiver raced down her spine. She remembered more of the disturbing dream than before. Still, she couldn’t fully remember her rescuer or account for the ambiguous new memory. Was it real or imagined.
Jessica stopped the camera and stowed her equipment. She started the airboat and turned toward the Marina. Shaken and overwhelmed, she had experienced enough excitement for today. She resolved to call Bruce tonight instead of waiting until morning. After a good night’s sleep, she would begin proper arrangements for the dig.
* * * *
Out on the lake, the fishermen sent pictures of Jessica’s explorations and fainting spell via a highly secure up-link to their superior. High Lord Xerxes Kallias, aware of the exposed ancient, pyramid shaped entrance and its possible discovery by an intuitive upper-world resident recognizing the “lump of mud” for what it was—had assigned them surveillance duty. Today, his concern serious enough, he came ashore earlier to see how obvious the camouflaged structure was. He had signaled his return to the city before Jessica’s discovery of the lump of mud. As the ruler of the largest under-world realm in this sphere of the planet, one of his duties was the security of the ancient, yet unused entrance to their underwater city.
The observers’ joint report mentioned Jessica was an inquisitive woman, who promptly found the way into the first chamber. Reference was also made to the minor fainting spell she appeared to have after its opening, but she recovered swiftly, leaving soon afterwards. Special mention of the sheriffs’ appearance on the levy was included.
* * * *
As a courtesy, Xerxes had advised his councilors of the drought conditions around the upper-world Lake Okeechobee. This increased the possibility the ancient, unused entrance to their underwater world could be discovered. As a security precaution, he had assigned observers, and today he surveyed the situation himself.
What resulted came as an alarming but pleasant surprise. He unexpectedly encountered the woman he had watched for nearly five years since saving her life, and that of her parent’s in a diving accident. Those few moments from the first encounter he guarded as a treasured memory.
Today, surveying the situation from the levy his attention was drawn away to unexpectedly witness Jessica fly over the handlebars of her bicycle. It had been difficult to watch, hoping she wasn’t hurt. He had been relieved to be on the scene to again assist her. Xerxes made sure she was well and left quickly afterward knowing her memory of their first encounter was clouded and had to remain that way.
He studied the photographs transmitted to him and abruptly sat down. That beautiful face with the long dark red hair staring at the nondescript lump of mud was
Jessica Carter. Viewing the report from his observers, perhaps he should have stayed with her. Xerxes never expected she would be the one to find the pyramid-shaped entrance.
Xerxes sat alone for a time looking at the photos. He sighed. Obvious from the photos, Jessica knew what she’d found. Clever, intelligent, and insightful, she’d already discovered how to open the damn thing. Could this twist of fate answer his prayers to bring them together? His gift of insight wasn’t working today. Watching her fly over the handlebars of her bicycle had affected him more than he cared to admit.
An affable expression covered his face as a plan formed in his mind. Foremost, Atlantis’ security was his responsibility and must be protected. Jessica’s discovery necessitated her removal from the upper-world to protect the city. He’d prefer to wait, allowing her time, as an archeologist, to retrieve the artifacts inside the pyramid before the destruction of the structure and her abduction. Saddened by the necessary demolition of the entrance, this way the relics would be recovered as part of new Atlantis’ history. He would send his Head of Upper-World Security to oversee the situation.
Xerxes – High Lord Of Atlantis has found the reason to reconnect with Jessica, but at a cost to Atlantis’ antiquities. He’ll attempt to allow her to retrieve as many of the artifacts within the ancient entrance as possible before it must be destroyed and she will have to be removed from her upper-world life. Meanwhile, his closest friend and future brother-in-law, Pericles will keep a close eye on her in the guise of a Marine. Until then, Xerxes has his hands full tracking down a traitor inside of Atlantis, one who could expose the undersea world and endanger Atlantis and Jessica more than her discovery.
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