Stephen couldn’t get over it. “Sounds like fun? Jesus, I don’t even think that sounds like fun.”
Alex knew what he meant. He and Stephen had spent the last few hours going over their presentation for that night. They were feeling more confident, but they also hoped Sebastian wouldn’t be suspicious when he walked into what he thought was going to be a room full of people and only found Alex and a middle-aged journalist in attendance.
“This is it Stephen. In a few minutes that kid is going to walk in here. After tonight we’ll know one way or another if our little project will be a success.”
Stephen just nodded his head, the reality of the situation hitting him at once. “In all seriousness, we need to discuss what happens if he turns us down. When we lay our cards on the table tonight, and he joins them anyway, we’re going to have huge targets on our back.”
“I know. That’s why we have to convince him. If you want to back out, it’s now or never.”
“That would be the smart move. Just back away and forget all of this. But nobody ever accused me of being a genius.”
As the two friends laughed at that, the doorbell rang. They looked at each other one last time before Alex went to answer the door.
Alex met Sebastian at the door and led him into the living room. He introduced him to Stephen, who then went to the kitchen to get everyone a drink.
“Slight change of plans. I was expecting a few others tonight, but they backed out. I was hoping we could still sit and discuss the topic if you don’t mind. Stephen is a journalist by trade, but also a student of archaeology. He and I have worked together on a couple of projects over the years.”
Stephen brought drinks in from the kitchen and joined them in the living room. “Student being the key word there. This man has taught me so much. I met him when I was working on a story about the Nazca lines in Peru. I didn’t give archaeology a second thought until then, but just seeing the passion and knowledge that he possessed, it really opened my eyes. I’ve been soaking up as much information from him as possible ever since.”
“I don’t blame you”, replied Sebastian. “After reading his book last year, I’ve been fascinated as well. When he asked me to come hear him speak tonight, I jumped at the chance.” He then looked around the room and added, “Although I was expecting more people.”
“I was too”, answered Alex. “But maybe it’s for the best. Perhaps this subject is more suitable for a discussion than a lecture anyway. I’d love to hear both of your thoughts.”
“We’ll probably have more questions than thoughts, but I suppose you’re right”, Stephen added.
Alex had his laptop connected to a projection screen in his living room. He turned it on and began his usual presentation. He showed numerous examples of out of place artifacts that he had shown to his classes for years. He described the Piri Reis map, the Antikythera Mechanism, the Viking Sword Ulfbehrt, etc. Neither of the other men in the room had ever taken his class, so a lot of this information was new to them. Stephen had of course heard of most of the examples already, and Sebastian had as well, having read Alex’s book. But to hear Alex himself explain and add more details made the presentation all the more interesting. They each asked questions and made observations as Alex went along. Then Alex got to the point where his normal lecture would end. He typically left the rest to the imagination of the students, and would ask them what their thoughts were. This wasn’t his normal lecture, but he decided to treat Sebastian as if he was a student in his class.
“So, hearing all of this Sebastian, if you had to give an explanation as to how these artifacts existed at the time they did, what would you say?”
Sebastian had obviously given this some thought, but still was hesitant to give his thoughts. “Well, I know that there are a lot of theories out there. There’s the ancient astronaut theory, where people believe that aliens visited earth thousands of years ago and shared their technology with humans. But that seems a little too convenient. If aliens really came to earth in the past and connected with humans, why haven’t they come back? And the technology that they supposedly shared with humans wouldn’t have disappeared for hundreds of years only to reappear again. How do they explain that gap?”
Alex and Stephen shared a quick glance at each other during this, each impressed by Sebastian’s answer.
Alex answered, “You’re absolutely right. I’ve never really given much credence to the astronaut theory myself for those very reasons. But you have to admit, that idea does make for some excellent science fiction movies.”
“Then there’s the possibility of time travel. I remember you discussed that in your book as well. I guess that’s a little more plausible, but I’m not sure I’m ready to believe that someone invented a way to travel through time and has kept that a secret. A secret that big would be impossible to keep for all those years, right?”
Alex thought to himself, ‘Oh, if you only knew.’ But he kept that to himself and turned off the computer. “What if I told you that there was another alternative?”
“I was hoping you would get to that”, said Sebastian. “I knew this was going to be interesting.”
Alex glanced at Stephen for support before continuing without the help of his slides. This was a lecture that he had been rehearsing in his head for months now. Stephen gave a slight nod of encouragement and Alex began.
“First off, just think about the world around you and how far we have come as a civilization. A little over a hundred years ago we didn’t have electricity. People traveled by horse and buggy. Most people lived and died without ever leaving a hundred mile radius of where they were born. Telephones were a luxury item found only in homes. Now fast forward to present day. Even the most rural areas on earth have electricity, internet and cell phone towers. You can travel from New York to China in the same day. The average life span has almost doubled thanks to modern medicine. You can have a live video chat with someone thousands of miles away. And you can find all the information you will ever need in a device that fits in your back pocket. All of that in a little over a hundred years.”
Alex took a breath and let Sebastian digest all of that. He could tell that he was listening intently so he continued.
“Now, I say all of that for a reason. The human mind and human beings in general are capable of incredible things. That’s why I don’t put much faith in the ancient astronaut theory. I’ve seen what we as people can do. I don’t doubt for a minute that we are responsible for our own technology. My only question is a question of time. How did we go from where we were in the early 1800’s to where we are today as a civilization?”
Stephen spoke up for the first time since the discussion began. “That’s the question that sparked my interest in this subject.” Sebastian nodded in agreement, not yet ready to chime in.
Alex continued. “I have a theory that I’d like to share with you Sebastian. It actually ties into the out of place artifacts discussion from earlier.”
“I was wondering about that”, said Sebastian. “I can’t see the connection yet.”
“Okay, but stay with me. This is a theory that requires some imagination, but if you really think about it, it might start to sound plausible.”
“I came here with an open mind, Alex”, replied Sebastian. “I’m all ears.”
“Good. I’ll remember you said that. Now, as I’ve discussed before and I wrote about in my book, there have been countless examples throughout written history of artifacts and items found that just can’t be explained. Scientists are quick to dismiss ideas like the astronaut theory and time travel, but have no explanation of their own. I’m sure they all have their own ideas, but are afraid of making those public in fear of looking foolish. I’m no different, which is why you won’t hear me giving this lecture in my class. However, what if there was an explanation? What if all of those artifacts were here on earth for thousands of years. Not just those artifacts, but the technology that you and I enjoy to this day.”
Sebastian was eating this up and Alex knew it. But he was really about to test him about having an open mind.
“Now think about modern human civilization as we know it. History tells us that modern civilizations began popping up around 3100 B.C. So if we are to believe that, then humans have been living as a society for just over 5000 years. But what if that wasn’t true? The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt began around that same time, according to scientists and historians alike. That’s based on the fact that those artifacts are the earliest proof of human civilization that have been found. But remember what you said about having an open mind?”
Sebastian laughed and replied, “Yes, sir. That’s what I said.”
“Imagine this. What if there was a society, even more advanced than our own today, that existed even longer ago than those two?”
Sebastian was still following along but was confused. “Okay. Let’s say that’s true. What happened to them?”
“My working theory is that there was a great and terrible war. A war so wide ranging and destructive that most of the world’s infrastructure and people were obliterated. Wiped off the face of the earth. But not quite. In fact, what we refer to as out of place artifacts today were actually the remains of a society far older and more advanced than ever thought possible.”
“I guess that’s not impossible, but I have a few questions. If what you say is true, and the only remnants of that society are a few artifacts spread throughout the world, and if all the people from that society were killed, then how did their technology survive?”
“Remember, I said most of the people were killed. Based on my theory there would have been a handful of survivors throughout the world. And at least a few of those survivors would have had the foresight to know the end was near and collected information about their technology and put it in a place that wouldn’t be destroyed by the coming war.”
“Alright. But that still doesn’t make sense. If they had that technology available to them after the war, why did they hold onto it for so long? I know enough about history to know that they didn’t have TV and internet 5000 years ago.”
“True. But keep in mind, all of the world’s infrastructure is gone. The few people who did survive were probably more interested in food, water and shelter. They were literally blasted back into the Stone Age. I don’t know for certain, but my best guess is that after everything settled down, this group of people who hoarded this treasure trove of technology, weren’t too anxious to let the others know about it. Or maybe they just didn’t have the capabilities to do anything about it. I imagine this group kept this information to themselves and became very powerful.”
Sebastian suddenly got it. “And if they wanted to remain powerful, they wouldn’t just reveal what they had all at once. They would slowly feed the information to the people. Yeah, I can imagine those guys would become very powerful in the new society. Not to mention very dangerous.”
Alex and Stephen glanced at each other one more time before Alex continued.
“If I’m right, then yes, this group is very powerful and very dangerous. Imagine all of the technological breakthroughs that we’ve been taught about in school. What if there was a single group of people responsible for all of it? Imagine the power they would have. And the fact that they have kept themselves a secret for all of these years? There’s no telling what they would have done to keep that secret.”
“This is crazy, Alex. If all of that is true, then everything we know about human history is a lie. This group has been pulling the strings of the world and no one knows about them. So, who are they? Do you have any ideas?”
Stephen rose from the couch and walked over to stand beside Alex. It was Stephen who then said, “We call them ‘The Keepers’. And we want you to help us destroy them.”