The Keepers

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Chapter 4

While the outgoing CEO of Sandcorp,Inc. was being lauded in Silicon Valley, a few hundred miles away, veteran investigative journalist Stephen Phillips was having coffee at his favorite diner. He was waiting on one of his closest friends to meet him here, a weekly ritual that both of them looked forward to. Just then Dr. Alex Jamison walked through the door, looking around until he finally spotted Stephen, who was waving at him from a booth near the back of the diner.

Stephen and Alex met more than twenty years ago, when each were trying to make a name for themselves in their respective fields. Alex was already a published author, having written a book about the Nazca petroglyphs in South America. Stephen was working on an article for a small magazine about ancient mysteries and something called oopart. Stephen was more interested in writing about politics and business, but he was new to the magazine and was in no position to turn down an assignment. He was absolutely stuck in neutral while trying to come up with an angle for the story, when he came across Alex’s book. He could sense the young author’s passion about the subject and quickly became fascinated with the topic himself. He reached out to Alex the old-fashioned way, by sending a letter to a P.O. Box that the publishing company had given him.

Not surprisingly, Alex didn’t get much fan mail. He responded right away and the two began a correspondence with each other. This was during the early stages of e-mail and the two would share articles with each other about different artifacts that they came across. They even began to discuss working together to write a book about a theory that they were working on. A theory that, as crazy as it sounded to them, was apparently not new in the world of conspiracy theorists.

They, along with a few other believers, thought that there had to be an advanced civilization that existed thousands of years ago, that was lost or destroyed, along with their technology and engineering ideas. That some great catastrophe had occurred which basically hit a reset button on civilization, and the ingenuity and advancements that these people had created were destroyed and not discovered or reinvented until thousands of years later.

Naturally, most credible scientists and historians dismiss this theory as nonsense, and the handful of men and women who have dared to even bring up the idea that this might be possible, are quickly shut down and cast as conspiracy nuts.

But at the same time, they offer no real explanation for certain artifacts’ existence. That’s what drives people like Alex and Stephen. There has to be an explanation, no matter how insane that explanation might be.

As Alex approached the table, Stephen was already flagging down the waitress to come and take his friends order.

Stephen shook Alex’s hand and said, “I was going to go ahead and order for you, but I didn’t know how long you were going to be getting here.”

“Traffic wasn’t too bad today. Class did run a little long though. Believe it or not, the students actually showed signs of life today. There may be a future archaeologist or two in there. Poor kids.”

“Well, they would have a great mentor available if they did decide to go that route. You inspired me to learn about topics I didn’t even know that I was interested in. That’s what makes a great teacher.”

Alex, looking slightly embarrassed, was eager to change the subject. “So I assume you saw the spectacle going on at Sandcorp today right? Jeez, you would have thought the man cured cancer. All he accomplished was helping a generation of people to be controlled by their cell phones.”

“Spoken like a true curmudgeon. I seem to recall you being lost in your phone from time to time.”

Alex took out his phone, looking as if he just discovered it for the first time. “I guess it does come in handy sometimes. Although I think trading the convenience of modern technology for actual human interaction and conversation isn’t worth it. But enough of that.”

“I agree. So, you think Sanders is still a prime candidate? If so, I guess he should be looking at a replacement pretty soon. Without the access that being the CEO of a major tech company enjoys, it would be impossible to carry out his groups work.”

“That’s what I’m thinking. And it all fits in with the fact that our other suspects are going to be going through changes at their companies as well. If we’re right, then business is about to be picking up. If we were ever going to uncover anything about these guys, it would be now.”

It was then that Alex noticed a coy grin on his friends face.

“What? Am I missing something? I thought we were on the same page.”

“We are, we are. But that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today. There’s someone I want you to meet. A fellow believer I guess you could call him.”

Alex looked uneasy at this prospect. During the last few years of their research they had met plenty of people who had similar ideas about an unknown ancient society. There were a few who had some interesting opinions and insight, but they were seriously outnumbered by the wackos. But Alex trusted Stephens’ judgement.

“Okay. Who is it? Or more importantly, where did you find him?”

“An old contact of mine from The Times told me about him. He didn’t take him very seriously, but he thought I might get a kick out of meeting him. My contact has an idea of what I’ve been working on, but I haven’t told him any details. I think we’ve both seen what looks we get when we actually let people know what we’re researching.”

“Yeah, understandably. You have to have a pretty open mind to consider some of the theories that are out there.”

“You’re right. And that’s okay. When we finally uncover the truth, it will all be worth it. Which is why I met with this guy. I only talked to him for a few minutes, but I knew he had something that we were missing. He’s willing to go into more detail with me, but I told him to wait until you joined us. He agreed to meet us whenever we were ready.”

“Great. I’m ready. When do you want to go?”

“I’ll make the call when we leave here. But Alex? Just be prepared. I’m pretty sure this guy hasn’t left his house in a few years. He’s out there.”

“I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a little off. But if you say he has something to give us, I trust you. Set it up. Just wish we knew more about this guy.”

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