Alex couldn’t make up his mind. The garage that he and Stephen were sitting in could belong to either a mad genius or a very disturbed individual. Or both. There wasn’t a clear space on the floors, tables or walls except for a makeshift trail that the old man used to get from one pile of junk to the next. Alex really hoped Stephen knew what he was getting them into.
The man’s name was Anthony Joseph. As Stephen explained at the diner, one of his contacts from The Times recommended that they should meet, knowing that Stephen and Alex were interested in possible lost ancient civilizations. He had the look of someone who spent the majority of his time locked inside a garage searching the internet all day looking for conspiracies. Which is exactly what he did. Only this time, he was actually closer to the truth than even he knew.
Stephen broke the silence first. “Mr. Joseph, thank you again for agreeing to meet with us. I’ve told Alex a little of what we talked about, but I thought it best if he hears directly from you.”
“Of course. And please, call me Anthony. Mr. Jamison, I’ve read both of your books. I’m impressed. Most men of your stature don’t go near this subject for fear of looking foolish. But you and I know a real scientist isn’t afraid of what others might think. The quest to explain the unexplainable should be what science is all about.”
“I couldn’t agree more Anthony. I would love to hear your thoughts. Stephen was practically giddy after meeting with you the first time.”
Anthony ignored the weak attempt at a compliment. He obviously was not one for small talk and false pleasantries, so he just pushed on.
“That’s good to hear. As you can imagine, most of the people I deal with when researching this subject aren’t as respected as you two. So no one really takes us seriously, no matter how much research we put into it. But having men of your stature will go a long way in getting the message out.”
Stephen nodded toward Alex before replying. “That’s why we’re here. We feel like we’re getting close to something. But after meeting with you, I’m more sure than ever.”
“Anthony, you’ve read my books and I’m sure you’ve heard what Stephen’s thoughts are. If you would, can you tell us your theory on this. Start from the beginning.”
Anthony walked over to a bench in the corner and pulled out what appeared to be one of a hundred cardboard boxes. He brought it back to the table and cleared some space before sitting it down. He then turned to a cork board behind him and ripped off the few papers that were pinned to it.
“First off, this idea of a lost ancient civilization with advanced technology isn’t a new one. As you know, there are countless people out there who have been floating around the idea for years. They even have evidence, such as the Piri Reis map from 1513, which depicts in great detail the continent of Antarctica, complete with mountains AND rivers. The first problem with that is that Antarctica wasn’t discovered until 1818, and secondly the latest date that Antarctica wasn’t completely covered in ice was around 4000 B.C. The detailed map was so accurate that there is no way it could have been created with the technology available at that time. This map has always baffled historians and archaeologists alike. That’s just one of many examples as I’m sure you are both aware. There is still so much unknown and misunderstood about human history. That’s why it’s so frustrating to be dismissed so easily. I always ask them ‘Well, if I’m wrong, then what is the explanation?’ The answers I get range from it being a hoax to the data used to date such objects was a mistake. Anything to keep from agreeing with me. Most scientists won’t go near it and the few who do and are actually brave enough to reach a hypothesis, almost always come to the same conclusion: aliens. There are some people, more reasonable in my opinion, that believe that there was a society more advanced than we believed was possible at the time, and some disaster wiped them out. This is a little closer to my belief, yet like you, I’m taking it a step further. I, along with a handful of others, including you two apparently, believe that there was an advanced society that history doesn’t talk about. But not just in a centralized remote location. I’m talking about the entire planet. And not just more advanced than we thought was possible for them at the time, but more advanced than even WE are today.”
Anthony took a break to catch his breath and grab a bottled water before continuing. He knew he had an eager audience and was enjoying the moment. He wasn’t used to getting this far and not being laughed at.
“Now, so far I’m guessing we are on the same page. But then something happened which erased them not only from the planet, but from history as well. My best guess is some type of nuclear explosion on a wide enough scale to destroy or damage most structures on the planet.”
Alex and Stephen apparently agreed. Alex added, “That’s our belief as well. If it was disease or flooding, there would still be buildings and other remnants that would have survived long enough to be documented.”
Stephen added, “And you have to imagine the aftermath of something that cataclysmic would be so brutal, that the few people that did survive would struggle to survive, let alone try to rebuild everything the way it was before.”
Anthony nodded in agreement. “Yes. Exactly. That’s what always throws everyone off. If there was such an advanced society, where are the artifacts? There should be something left. But those times were about survival. And I’m sure it was like that for a long time. Whatever structures were built after that were primitive, I’m sure.”
“So if all of this is true, then there must have been survivors of this Armageddon. How else would their knowledge and technology have been passed on?”
“Exactly, Stephen. But not just any random survivors either. They had to be capable enough to not only survive, but have the foresight to save and be able to pass this information down from generation to generation.”
It was Alex’s turn to be skeptical. “Just one problem though. If this society was so advanced and had all of these capabilities, why did it take so long for all of this technology to see the light of day? We know that early civilizations were still using primitive tools and weapons throughout history. If this group was around, why wait to reveal and use their superior technology?”
This was the question that was on each man’s mind, and what really piqued their curiosity on this subject in the first place. Anthony didn’t know for certain, but like most enthusiasts and like-minded believers such as himself, he had theories.
“There are a few thoughts that come to mind Alex. Anybody that begins looking into this subject inevitably runs into this question. My initial thought was that the first survivors probably had more urgent problems, like finding food, water and shelter. And if it was a nuclear disaster, radiation would have been an issue. Maybe in the beginning, people were just trying to survive, and weren’t concerned with the luxuries of advanced technology. And that goes along with what I finally concluded. That the first survivors were in such bad shape after the disaster that they were in no position to begin rebuilding a society. But that one of them, or maybe a group of them, had the foresight to know that they didn’t have long for the world, and that they needed to document their knowledge, so that it wouldn’t be lost for any future generation that may survive. Then, at some unknown point in history, these documents were discovered by another group of people. A group of people who would use this knowledge to their advantage. A group of people that my friends and I have dubbed, ‘The Keepers’.”
This was obviously a lot to take in for Alex and Stephen. Anthony had given a more brief summary to Stephen at their first meeting, which prompted him to bring his friend along to hear more details. But even Stephen was blown away at what all Anthony had laid out.
“So let’s say all of this is true”, said Stephen. “There is a group of people out there that have access to technology and secrets that the rest of the world doesn’t know exist. If this group is real, they should be easy to find. We just have to look at the leaders in the world of technology and science. Not to mention politicians and businessmen. Anyone with that much knowledge would surely be very powerful. Alex and I already have a list of potential members.”
Anthony responded, “That’s what the popular theory has been for years. Not just with this particular subject, but any conspiracy involving powerful men in secret societies, the usual suspects are always the same. Whether it’s actual organizations like the Freemason’s or other mythical groups like The Illuminati, people always look for whoever was the most powerful, influential and successful people of that time. Now, in the case of the Freemason’s, the members are well documented. But with the other groups, it’s pure speculation. Until now.”
This last statement stopped Stephen and Alex in their tracks. And Anthony knew it. He paused just a bit longer for dramatic effect. Alex could no longer keep quiet though.
“What are you saying? You have proof of actual members?”
“Not definitive proof, but take a look at this.” He held up an envelope. “Only one other person has seen what I am about to show you and he is no longer with us. My grandfather gave this to me on his deathbed. There was always something mysterious about him, but he never let me in on what he was up to. He probably didn’t trust me because his son, my dad, wasn’t exactly a chip off the old block. But when he knew he was about to die, he called me to his side and gave me this. I’ve been searching for it’s meaning ever since.”
Anthony opened the envelope himself and took out the paper, and showed it to the two men. They both looked it over, and neither knowing what to make of it, passed it back to him.
Stephen was the first to speak up. “Okay, so can we assume that the names on the paper are men he suspected as Keeper members? I don’t recognize any names.”
Alex agreed. “I’m not seeing any familiar names either. Where did your grandfather get this?”
“To answer the first question, I didn’t recognize anyone either. And I think that’s the point”, Anthony replied. “As for where he got this from, I don’t know exactly. But I remember him telling me about a piece of paper that he had come across in his research. He didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but apparently it was some type of code that he was able to crack. Notice the different handwriting from the top to the bottom? My guess is the original paper had just the jumbled mess on top and he was able to decipher it somehow, and the handwriting on the bottom is his. We didn’t have Google back then, but after I got the list , I did a little research on these names. And like you, nothing really stood out to me. They weren’t known men in any way. They were each successful in their own right, but nothing like you would expect from a member of a secret powerful organization. But then I looked a little closer. Each of these men were upper management for successful companies in various fields, from the world of technology, medicine, defense and energy companies. They also each had direct, day to day access with the CEO of their respective companies.”
Alex suddenly got it. “And if you are a member of a secret, powerful organization that has been around for thousands of years, and you want to keep said organization a secret, you wouldn’t want to be in the position of a CEO right?”
Anthony nodded in approval. “Exactly! But you also need to have access to the powers that be and feed them the information that they need to know when they need to know it. And what better way to stay out of the spotlight than to stand in the back pulling the puppet strings while your boss takes all the credit?”
It was then that Anthony took out another envelope. Inside was an 8x10 photo of four men sitting at what appeared to be an outside café. The four men all appeared to be the same age, roughly in their fifties. After Stephen and Alex looked it over, Anthony continued.
“This was taken about a month ago at a restaurant in San Francisco by a friend of mine. He’s a young kid named Nasir who is just getting interested in these type of things. I’ll give you one guess what their names are.”
Alex looked stunned as he replied, “You’re kidding me. This picture looks pretty recent. You’re telling me these four men in the picture are the same men on that list from thirty years ago?”
“The same. I was so excited when I saw this that I instructed my young friend to follow these four and see if he could learn anything else from them. And he did. When I talked to him last, he told me that he had something big to share with me. Something about ‘replacements’ being groomed. But he couldn’t talk because he was pretty sure he was being followed. Something about two masked men showing up everywhere he went. That was two weeks ago. Then last week I get a call from his sister saying that she hasn’t seen him in a few days and she was worried. We started calling around to local hospitals and police precincts to see if they had any information about him. The last call we made was transferred to a detective, who after a few questions, finally told us what I was starting to suspect. The description of my friend and her brother matched the body of a young man that had been found the night before floating face down in the river with his throat cut from ear to ear.”
This information quieted the room for a while, with each man considering the seriousness of the situation they were putting themselves in. The fact that Anthony’s young friend was murdered just for looking into the group just proved that they were onto something. It was a regrettable situation, but one that would only deepen the resolve of the men sitting in that garage.
Alex broke the silence. “I think we all know what we’re getting into. Any group with that much power and influence will do whatever it takes to keep that information a secret.”
“Right”, replied Anthony. “The question is, what is our next step? I wouldn’t blame either of you if you wanted to walk away now. But I’m going to do what it takes to expose these guys. The world deserves to know it’s true history.”
If he thought for a second that Alex and Stephen were walking away after getting this close to the truth, he got his answer when Stephen stood up, grabbed a legal pad and pen and stated, “Okay, here’s my plan.”