Legends of Ancient Places
Hannibal pulled up to Harry’s house in a used blue 1998 Chevy Tahoe. He sat for a minute in his tan shirt and khakis just looking at the modest two-story brick house before getting out of the truck. A row of boxwoods lined the front of the house with a slate step-stone sidewalk stretching from the driveway to the front door. Only the fifty-foot ham radio antenna on the north end of the house set it apart from the other houses in the neighborhood. The antenna tower bristled with smaller antennas below the main one. A single thought ran through Hannibal’s mind while approaching the front door with a small backpack slung over his shoulder: Amacia. As he raised his hand to knock, the door opened revealing Harry wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans. “Come in, come in. Don’t stand there like a goof,” Harry chimed, sporting a large smile.
Hannibal returned the smile and shook Harry’s outstretched hand firmly as he went in. “Nice place you got here,” he mused as Harry closed the door.
Harry’s son came running into the living room where they stood wearing a T-shirt and shorts. The boy ran right to Hannibal with his outstretched hands. “Hi Hannibal!” the boy cried with delight.
Hannibal leaned down, scooping up the boy. “Hi there, Dennis!” he answered pleasantly, hugging the boy and sitting him down. “You’ve been keeping out of trouble, haven’t you?”
Dennis looked around smugly, looking everywhere except at Hannibal. With a shrug of his shoulders, he answered, “Yeah.”
Hannibal glanced at Harry and grinned. “In trouble again I see. What did he do this time, Harry?” Hannibal inquired.
“He was suspended from school for fighting,” Harry answered in a condescending tone directed at Dennis.
“Really…did he start it?” Hannibal asked Harry, turning his gaze to Dennis, who sat in one of the two recliners looking at the both of them with a sheepish look.
“No,” Harry returned after a sigh. “He did, however, finish it.”
“Oh you did, did you?” Hannibal asked seriously, turning his attention to Dennis.
Dennis nodded yes; however, his smug sheepish look melted into one of shame. “I didn’t want to fight,” Dennis declared. “Jeff punched me first and tried to take my lunch money!” He was on the verge of tears as he re-lived that awful moment.
Hannibal and Harry looked at each other, and then Hannibal went to Dennis’ side, squatting down. “You know fighting is never a good way of solving things. It hurts everyone that is involved,” Hannibal stated in conciliatory tone. Dennis nodded yes. “This boy you fought with is a bully, isn’t he,” Hannibal asked. Once again, Dennis nodded yes, looking at the floor with tears of remorse in his eyes. Hannibal reached out and touched Dennis’ shoulder. Leaning close to Dennis’ ear with a slight smile on his face, Hannibal asked, “Did you clean his clock?”
Dennis looked up and saw the smile. “Yeah,” he replied. “Maybe now he’ll leave me alone.” When Dennis realized he wasn’t in trouble, his face and demeanor lightened up.
“Just remember, fighting is always the very last resort,” Hannibal instructed. “And also remember, you can’t fool me. I knew you had a problem the moment I saw your reaction when I asked you whether you were in trouble or not. Your body language gave you away. But don’t worry about it. You’re not in trouble with me for defending yourself. You have a right to do so.” At that, Hannibal rose and then sat down on the sofa, laying the pack down by its end. Harry sat down in the recliner next to the sofa. Hannibal looked at Harry, and then at Dennis for a moment. “Oh yeah!” he chimed. “I have something for you, Dennis.” As he rummaged through his pockets, Hannibal instructed, “Close your eyes and hold out your hands, Dennis.”
Dennis did so excitedly. Hannibal brought out a small item wrapped up in an old linen cloth, placing it in Dennis’ hand. “Okay, you can open your eyes now,” Hannibal said leaning back. Dennis opened his eyes, saw the cloth, and immediately proceeded to open the cloth. To the astonishment of both Dennis and Harry, the object in the cloth turned out to be an emerald scarab the size of a large golf ball. Hannibal watched the expression on Dennis’ face. Then he looked at Harry and chuckled softly. Once the shock of the gift subsided, Dennis bolted from his seat and hugging Hannibal tightly, thanking him. He then ran to Harry and showed it to him. Harry handled it gently and then gave it back to Dennis, who then rushed into the kitchen to show it to his mother as she cooked dinner.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Harry asked. “That’s a very expensive piece to be giving to a kid.”
“Yes, I’m sure. But worry not...there are a few strings attached,” Hannibal answered. A few seconds later, both Dennis and his mother came into the living room. Mary wore a plain knee-length blue dress and apron that she wiped her hands on as they entered the room.
Hannibal saw the expression on Mary’s face and spoke first. “Before you say anything, let me explain,” he stated. “This is just a little token of my esteem to you all for putting up with me.”
Mary’s mouth hung open for a few seconds, and then she ventured in a subdued tone, “Thank you. I’ve never seen anything so exquisite. But are you sure you want to do that?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hannibal replied. “I know exactly what I’m doing. The only thing I require of you in order to keep it is that you don’t let Dennis take it to school and trade it for some gum or something. That scarab is for all of you.”
Dennis immediately shook his head, blurting out, “Oh no, no, no! I would never ever trade it.”
“I know you won’t,” Hannibal said. “Still if it’s all right with you, why don’t you let your dad keep it in a safe place so you don’t lose it?”
“Sure,” Dennis returned, handing the jeweled scarab to Harry, who promptly took it out of the room.
Mary stood there in disbelief, speechless. Hannibal turned his attention to her, noticing her shock. “Mary,” he said softly, taking her hand. “It’s all right.”
“But it’s so expensive and exquisite,” she murmured.
“That it is. It’s mine, and I give it to whomever I want, so I give it to you and your family. You, Harry, and Dennis have been like a family to me. My choice of lifestyle has precluded me from having a family of my own, so I just wanted to show my gratitude for you allowing me to be part of yours,” Hannibal explained. “It’s the least I can do.”
“You have always been part of our family,” Mary avowed. “And always will be…Always.”
“Thank you, Mary,” Hannibal replied softly. “Now when is supper going to be ready? I’m starving for a good home-cooked meal.”
At that, Mary snapped out of her shock. “Only a few minutes,” she answered, smiling warmly. “I was almost ready to put it on the table when you showed up.”
“Then don’t let me get in the way,” Hannibal said. “Yell if you need any help.”
“No, I can manage,” Mary said as she went back into the kitchen.
Harry came back into the living room and sat down. Dennis sat down on the floor and began to amuse himself with a drawing pad and some pencils.
“Lock it up?” Hannibal asked.
“Yeah…put it in the safe back there,” Harry answered. “Just out of curiosity, how much do you think that thing is worth anyway?” he asked.
“A similar scarab went for twenty million at a recent auction. The thing about the scarab they sold is this: it was half the size of the one I gave you and of poorer quality. The craftsmanship was nowhere nearly as detailed. I would guess maybe fifty to seventy million for the one I gave you,” Hannibal stated. “Moreover, the one they sold was of the late Mayan period, just before their civilization collapsed. The one I gave you is much, much older. It was dated from the megalithic era when Tiwanaku was a thriving port metropolis.”
“Wow! Why would you give such a thing to us? Isn’t that the sort of thing that should be in a museum or a bank vault?” Harry asked, still trying to fathom the priceless value of the scarab.
“Yes, it should belong in a museum. But the problem is fundamental,” Hannibal explained. “Unfortunately, the scientific community at large has a party line to uphold. Politics inevitably gets in the way of the truth, even with them. That scarab is just one of many items that have been uncovered in recent times that tell history in a very different vein. If they got hold of it, it would be locked away and its story would never be told. That’s why it isn’t in a museum. This adventure I’m fixing to go on very well may end up revealing the true history of man. That’s what I believe, anyway. Of course, I could be wrong but until I’m proven wrong, I shall press forward as I always have, believing the truth will inevitably be known. The Lord has ways of doing that.”
“It’s time to eat. Everything is ready,” Mary announced, peeking back into the living room as Hannibal finished speaking. Everyone then followed her into the dining room where a modest meal awaited them. On the table was a plate of roast beef already sliced and waiting. Large bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy were present along with dressing, green beans, and corn. Drinks were already set at the table awaiting the diners.
Hannibal quickly surveyed the table and complimented Mary. “This looks really good,” he said. “I haven’t had a meal like this in months. Thank you.”
“Would you like to say grace, Hannibal?” Harry asked as everyone sat at the dining room table.
“I would be honored to do so,” Hannibal replied. “Our Father in Heaven, we come before you this evening to give thanks for this food which you have so generously provided us. I would also like to give thanks for Harry, Mary, and Dennis – for their hospitality and friendship tonight. You have brought us together and given me a family with them that I would not have had otherwise. Thank you, o great and merciful Father for all things that have happened to us in the past, good or ill, and all the things that may come upon us in the future. For all things work to the good of those who believe in you and your precious son, Jesus. Bless this food that it may keep us strong and sound in our bodies, minds, and spirits. As always, thy will be done in all things that we do. In Jesus name we pray and ask these things, Amen.”
The prayer astounded everyone at the table for it was a side of Hannibal they’d never seen before. Harry spoke up after a few seconds. “Hannibal, I didn’t know you were so deep spiritually,” he admitted. “I knew that you were a Christian but I had no idea of how devout you were until now.”
Mary nodded in agreement. “Yes,” she said. “This is a side of you that hasn’t been seen before. It’s a pleasant surprise.”
“Yes, it’s a most pleasant surprise,” Harry agreed, reinforced her assessment. “Now if you haven’t any more surprises for us, let’s eat before this delicious meal gets cold.”
“No more surprises for now. Maybe more surprises later, but not now,” Hannibal said. “Let’s eat.”
Thus they ate, exchanging small talk about events that happened over the last few days. After about half an hour as they finished their dinner, the conversation turned to Hannibal’s various expeditions: what he did and uncovered on those trips. Hannibal began to tell of lost cities that he had uncovered and the history they tell. He also told the tales of Tiwanaku and Machu Picchu: of the strange megalithic structure and locations of these ancient cities. While he expounded on those topics, they finished dessert.
“Do you need any help cleaning off the table?” Hannibal asked as they rose from the table.
“No, it’ll be all right,” Mary said. “I’ll just put away the leftovers. It’ll take just a minute or two.”
“Here, let me help,” Hannibal said as he started to scrape off the plates. Harry stood there for a moment, just a little surprised again and then got into the act. Within minutes, they cleared the table and everyone moved into the living room.
“You sure have been many places,” Mary said. “And your knowledge about these strange places you’ve been telling us about is astounding.”
“Yes, it is,” Harry agreed. “And he’s not done yet, are you Hannibal?”
“Well no; if I haven’t bored you to tears,” Hannibal returned.
“Oh no, no, no; this is fascinating. I love hearing about this kind of thing,” Mary blurted out.
“Me too,” Dennis crowed, his eyes lighting up with delight. “You’re not boring me. This is great. Dad, I want to be just like Hannibal when I grow up.”
“That’s good, Dennis,” Harry answered. “One day, you very well may.”
“That’s nice, Dennis,” Hannibal said plainly. “These tales of my journeys and adventures sound fun, but every account that I speak of entails countless hours, days, and weeks, and months and sometimes, years of study and hard, sometimes dangerous work. But for those who are willing to do the work, the rewards can be equally as great. Take the scarab I gave you for instance. I found that little item in the most unlikely place: an archaeological excavation in the jungles of Indonesia on the island of Sumatra that’s still ongoing. Eight years of having my face buried in the ancient texts had led me to the western end of Sumatra, high in the mountains. Reports came to me saying some of the locals had found something strange carved into a cliff deep in the jungle. The natives of the area had said the same area was sacred, cursed by some unspeakable evil. The research I was doing at the time was on an obscure cult of the Babylonian goddess of chaos, Tiamat. Tiamat was a giant thirteen-headed draken worshipped in ancient time...supposedly the very incarnation of chaos itself and the very source of our world. During those eight years of research following the various clues, I discovered this draken cult went further back into antiquity than I previously thought and that they had various locations where they gathered. The cult, I discovered, was worldwide at its height and they had thirteen locations worldwide where they gathered. The scrolls and writings I pored over about these locations revealed a pattern to them. These temples were built in locations where natural magnetic and electrical anomalies are located. When you look at satellite views of these areas, the pictures are usually blurry, even at high magnification. Live images shimmer violently and the color is all askew.
“The New Agers refer to these places as energy vortexes; place where they believe that other dimensions are accessible: dangerous places not to be trifled with. Many unexplained things happen in these places,” Hannibal explained.
“You’re talking about places like the Bermuda Triangle, right?” Harry asked.
“Yes, I am,” Hannibal returned. “These energy vortexes seem to coincide with where the ancients claim these centers of the Tiamat cult worshipped. Magnetic and electrical anomalies plague these areas and no one seems to know why. Well, enough of the science lesson on the vortexes. Let me tell you about Sumatra. My research on these locations showed a very general pattern with one major exception, Sumatra. For some reason, Sumatra kept showing up in the writings. Of course, the ancients didn’t call it Sumatra. They had as many names for it as there were peoples that lived but no matter what they called it, the meaning was always the same: the land of the drakens where the gates of the underworld were rumored to be.
“This land was described as a land of magic, with tall majestic mountains and dense jungles that teemed with all manner of mythical creatures that guard the gates. They constantly fought amongst themselves, only ceasing hostilities against one another to hide or flee from the great drakens who preyed on them constantly. The drakens, according to the ancients, would fill the sky in this land, like a swarm of locust, and devour all they could find. Apparently, the drakens of this land were the ones who actually ruled. Just as there are racial divisions in the human race, so were there in the draken species. Some were good, some were evil, some warriors, some scholars, etc.... Also, just as we humans have wars, so did they; however, according to the ancients who state that these drakens are as old as the world itself, there was a certain clique of the drakens that physically guarded the gates, devouring all who try to open the gates. According to the writings, they seem to know the hearts of those who come to the gates and would only let a being that was of pure heart and mind with no malice or evil intent to pass unfettered. Those who fail to measure up were immediately devoured and their souls sent through the gates into the underworld forever. According to the ancients, it is a place of nightmares at the ends of the Earth where only the bravest and most pure could ever go and return. Every creature in this land is hostile, especially to outsiders. It’s a very dangerous place. The jungles, beaches, and mountains were littered with the gleaming bones of those who dared to trespass. Well, that’s enough of what the ancients say about this place. Let me tell you now about how I found the Temple.”
Everyone sat in astonished silence as Hannibal expounded his tale on the Sumatra expedition. “As I stated earlier,” Hannibal stated, “after eight years of back-breaking research, I managed to zero in on the general location in western Sumatra. Still, Sumatra is a very big island and rather than waste precious resources wandering blindly through one of the most dangerous jungles on the planet, I sent out some of my most trusted associates to the area to gather intelligence from the locals and the natives. Six months, a year passed without as much as a rumor. Another three months passed, and then the crucial tip came in that spurred me into action.
“One of my associates, Dan Zubriar, had found a remote tribe in the western jungles quite by what I believe is an act of God. He was sitting in a bar in the town of Kutacane in central Sumatra having a drink when, according to him, a local prospector came in, white as a sheet, looking like he’d seen a ghost or something with his clothes in tatters,” Hannibal stated; describing Dan’s encounter with the prospector after a brief pause.