Premiered August 22, 2003
In the early morning hours, after an afternoon of crying, restless tossing and turning, and an evening of dreams intermixed with grieving, Dawn slept some of the deepest, soundest hours she had ever experienced. Total physical exhaustion combined with the conflicting feelings of grief and relief had resulted in a massive sleep in. The last three days had been entirely too intense.
Sometime in those early morning hours, she had wormed her way into the covers, pulling on them from every which way, until the early morning Colorado sun found her wrapped and twisted in the sheets, her wig askew and her theatrical make up smeared all over the bed coverings. When she opened her eyes, her first sense was one of being profoundly perplexed. Everything was out of place, her body in the grasp of some weird and strange python, the sounds and smells of the space totally foreign. Then she attempted to raise herself up, only to fall back, her arms caught in the sheets and unavailable to support her. Bewildered by it all, she struggled to free herself, and eventually managed to sit upright on the bed, her feet dangling off the side, only one of them still draped with the twisted sheets.
For a few moments the grief returned. But now it was strangely muted, as if it had been spent the night before, and now could only be a faint reminder. Dawn thought about crying, but sensed there were no more tears; or at least, none of the stuff from which tears were made. Something within her told her it was time to recover her spirits after the emotionally-draining night. It was also time to get up. 'Off and on,' she thought, 'off your butt and on your feet!' With little enthusiasm, she obeyed.
Her first surprise was that she could stand. Her second was when she glanced into the dresser's small, fading mirror. The latter turned out to be more of a shock. Her eyes blood red and splotched from hours of crying, the theatrical makeup smeared and streaked, the black wig hanging at a haggard angle, her natural hair mixed with tears and smeared with makeup to resemble an old mop retired from use ten years prior, and the whole picture, an example for horror film producers to emulate. Slowly the shock turned to amazement as Dawn saw for the first time just how horrible she could look. Then an even more amazing thought occurred to her: She could probably repair the damage, she had the skill, she had the technology! It was same sort of resolve wherein one could build a bionic woman!
Turning, she found her purse, overnight bag, briefcase, and the purple grocery bag where she had dropped them by the door. She picked up the briefcase and set it on the bed, throwing the twisted, soiled covers over the footboard. She then tossed her purse and the grocery bag on the bed as well, noting parenthetically that the CoD had defrosted, but apparently did not stink. Yet. Then she picked up the overnight bag, and began to empty it of the essential tools of her trade onto the bed. It was time for an all-out assault on her appearance.
Rushing in where fools feared to go, she headed for the common showers (which were almost deserted) and cleaned the accumulated grime of three days. Once back in her room she began to clean her face. Her dress was wrinkled beyond belief, caked with smeared make up, and -- as an afterthought -- indicative of where she had come from. The whole ensemble made her realize she would have to buy some new clothes. It wouldn't do to have people see her and immediately think of Seattle or the Seahawks. Especially in the land of the Denver Broncos. That could even be dangerous.
The idea of buying a new dress did not encourage her. With a substantial amount of money, she could have gone to a store where it would have been a pleasure to shop -- the sophisticated attention and care would have been a joy to experience. But when one had minimal funds, the types of shops where she could go would be more into the concept of shopping as a contact sport.
The make up job took a little over thirty minutes. She was, after all, still attempting to down play her beauty. The dress, however, was an unredeemable mess. Dawn looked at the Seattle Seahawks sweat shirt and the smeared makeup and abruptly had an idea. She turned the sweat shirt inside out, and decided it was still marginally presentable... In a revolutionary fashion sort of way. Slipping it on, she once again hid her figure from the world, and decided she would at least not frighten small children and dogs.
Then she restuffed her overnight bag and sat on the bed to consider her plight.
Finances would be difficult. Her wardrobe would have to be both frugal and nondescript. Her actions and appearance would have to exemplify... She searched for a word, only to have Temperance raise its head. Dawn smiled at the thought. She had never been particularly temperate. But it did indeed seem a time for stabilizing, adjusting and finding some form of equilibrium. It was also, quite likely, a time of testing her mettle, examining the sense of how she lived her life.
Shaking her head, she returned to the mundane details. The grocery bag caught her attention first, and she again noticed that the CoD had defrosted. She picked up one package, and wrinkled her nose at the lack of smell. Then she picked up the frozen concentrate grape juice container, which was decidedly no longer frozen and more on the order of squishy. Going to the sink, she grabbed the single, very traditional barrel shaped glass and carefully opened the concentrated grape juice -- taking care not to spill the ultimate stain liquid -- poured a quarter glass full of the juice, and then added water. Taking a tentative drink, she decided it was still palatable, and that her breakfast was going to be of the liquid variety.
After drinking the first glassful, and with a second glassful in hand, she returned to the business of checking her assets. First, stuffed within her larger strapped purse, was her small handbag -- wherein resided some $35, several credit cards whose use could be more dangerous than allowable, two sets of useless keys to a condo and an automobile and an office, and the miscellaneous variety of objects traditionally associated with women's purses. The inventory completed, Dawn decided money was going to be the prime problem. Then she put her purse aside and turned to Gil's briefcase.
The letter was still on top where she had left it, and still addressed to Doctor Alexander Dukas in Fort Collins. For a moment, she wondered where Fort Collins was. Then she began to look over the letter itself. Her curiosity was aroused, but she decided it was not yet time to open that can of worms.
Next, she began to check out the other contents of the briefcase. Item: Two airline tickets to Mexico City. The sight immediately brought tears to her eyes -- apparently she was not entirely out of the stuff from which tears were derived. Then some little used instinct for survival overrode the sentimentality associated with the tickets she and Gil would have used, and instead questioned if they could be exchanged for cash. She suspected they couldn't -- at least not in the legitimate world of rules and proper behavior. There was also the fact they had been issued by a travel agency of whom she had never heard, and which presumably, had never heard of her. The end result was the lack of the necessary credibility in which one could easily cash in the tickets.
This left the slightly shadier world of ticket agenting by unauthorized personnel. It wasn't a world she was eager to enter. Maybe later, she told herself. Carefully putting them into one of the small pouches in the briefcase, she had another thought and wondered aloud, "Why, Mr. Lenki, did you keep these tickets in this particular briefcase? And why in the second safe?" When no answer was forthcoming, she mused, "Were you maybe planning to take this briefcase to Mexico City, the pyramids and then the ancient American ruins in the Yucatan?" She smiled slightly at the nonsensical train of thought. "Maybe a business meeting on top of a pyramid?"
Returning to her inventory of assets, she immediately came across her and Gil's passports, lying underneath where the tickets had been kept. The discovery immediately caused her to chastise herself. It had never occurred to her to take her passport when she ran from her apartment. And a passport might be essential for someone on the run. Only Gil's foresight had saved her. 'Of course,' she began to think, 'it might have been luck. But I don't really believe in luck. Perhaps this was somehow fated to be.'
As she handled her passport, another thought occurred to her. A passport was not actually needed in order to go to Mexico. The only requirement there was just a proof of U.S. citizenship, and that was primarily needed to get back into the United States. Or at least, that was what she remembered from prior trips south of the border. Of course, a passport would work, but it wasn't necessary. Curious, Dawn opened the passport, as if looking for clues. Instead of answers, however, she found more questions. Included in her passport, were recently acquired visas to Peru, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Greece. Gil must have gotten them without her knowing anything about them. But why in the world, those places? Their planned trip had been Mexico! Not a worldwide jaunt!
Dawn sat holding the passport in her hand, her eyes wandering around the room, but not focusing on anything in particular. There were a lot of pieces of the puzzle here, and it was not entirely clear that there was even a single puzzle. There was a host of questions, and Gil was not around to answer them. The thought of Gil had an effect on a deep emotional level, but Dawn's conscious mind seemed to overrule it. There was quite clearly a great deal of information and planning that Gil had not shared with her! The sense she had had of his trusting her took a rather substantial hit as Dawn realized Gil had been taking a lot of unilateral actions concerning them, and had not bothered to clue her in. A sadness mixed with wounded anger welled up inside her. Then she shook her head, and finished off the glass of grape juice in her hand. Getting up, she mixed and refilled the glass, and returned to the bed.
The bulk of the contents of the briefcase turned out to be a stack of scientific papers, mostly photocopies, but a few reprints. Each of them bore Gil's characteristic highlighting of every passage that didn't move. Dawn didn't think Gil had been a scientist -- even though recent revelations had made her begin to doubt if she really knew -- but she did know he was smart enough to understand most scientific concepts. Of course, Dawn was not a scientist either, but she too was far from dumb. For a moment she leafed through the stack of papers, looking at the titles, and glancing briefly at their contents.
Such a wondrous lot: “Microclusters, small aggregates of atoms constituting a distinct phase of matter” -- A Scientific American article, which Dawn could probably decipher. “New Radio-activities, atomic nuclei somehow spontaneously restructuring themselves”- Another Scientific American article. “Superdeformation in 104, 105Pd”, “Collective and single particle structure in 103Rh”, and “Possible discontinuity in octupole behavior” - Physical Review articles which she found the titles alone difficult to understand. Three papers with enough mathematics to obscure any concept: “Inertias of superdeformed bands”, “Quantum size effects in rapidly rotating nuclei”, and “Bound States, Cooper Pairing, and Bose Condensation in Two Dimensions.” Then there was a much thicker paper entitled “The New Superconductors” -- which Dawn decided, after a cursory review, might be legible to her novice mind. After all, it had pictures! And explanatory drawings! This in contrast to three more papers with a bewildering array of modern mathematics: “Random electrodynamics: The theory of classical electrodynamics with classical electromagnetic zero-point radiation”, “Gravity as a zero-point-fluctuation force”, and “Inertia as a zero-point-field Lorentz force.” Amazingly, (at least to Dawn), Gil had extensively highlighted the third paper despite its awe-inspiring-to-the-novice mathematics.
Dawn looked up, amazed at the continuing revelations about her former boss. Picking up the Gravity paper by Puthoff, she flipped through it, impressed by the mathematics. But then she noticed one sentence which Gil had circled and placed multiple stars about -- his method of strongly emphasizing what he felt was important. But then Dawn read the sentence: "For the two-dimensional Zitterbewegung motion assumed in our case (N=2), geometrical considerations require that U be reduced by a factor (N/3)2 = 4/9." That made no sense at all. And yet, Gil had been impressed enough to write in the margin: "exactly the right amount!" Clearly, there was something she wasn't understanding.
Dawn shook her head again, and glanced at the remaining three papers: “Magnetic Flux Quantization and Josephson Behavior in Living Systems”, “Nonlinear Properties of Coherent Electric Vibrations in Living Cells”, and “Extracting energy and heat from the vacuum.” These looked easier to read, but there was no way she was going to find them trivial. Microclusters, spontaneous fission, superconductivity, zero-point energy, living systems... All of this was more than a little strange.
There was also a set of Gil's typed notes, entitled "Order Out of Chaos by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers". These notes had not only been highlighted in detail, but some passages had been underlined with a typewriter. All very, very strange, Dawn thought, but at the same time, probably very, very important! Gil had, after all, included them in a briefcase, locked in a secure safe. And yet these were papers taken from very public journals and available in most any scientific or university library. But then it hit Dawn: If the papers themselves were not highly secret, them perhaps the combination, the juxtaposition of them in one place, was a secret. Perhaps it was the connection between the papers that was so important!
Slowly, Dawn began to realize that in order to penetrate the mystery and connect the concepts, she would have to study the ingredients. Smiling, she said aloud, "Perhaps some light reading for later."
But then she noticed a paperback book, Myths of Mesopotamia.
Dawn knew that Gil had been into mythology, but to keep the book in a safe!? Strange! For a moment she leafed through the book -- which was primarily a translation of a variety of different Mesopotamian myths. Then she noticed out of the corner of her eye, a small notebook in Gil's beloved scrawl lying quietly in the briefcase. She immediately turned her attention to the notebook, and began to leaf though it. It was, after all, something of Gil's that carried a great deal more of his personality than simply the accumulated papers and books written by others.
But the topics in the notebook were strange and intermixed with unusual abandon -- at least for Gil. There were notes on Egyptian and Mexican pyramids and the mathematical similarities between them. There were detailed geometrical notes -- apparently connecting different places on maps of central Mexico, as well as separate but similar maps of the Peruvian highlands and the Middle East. There were also on other pages references to precious metals, volcanoes, and South Africa -- the latter with a detailed description of a seam of precious metals in a deep South African mine. The book also contained numbers on the amounts of Incan gold taken by the Spanish conquistadors, and several references (but with no explanation) to "The Golden Tear from the Eye of Horus". The latter even had a simple diagram, carefully drawn with a broad felt tip pen. Puzzling. The only Horus Dawn could recall was an ancient Egyptian god. But why lock in a secure safe, notes on something that well known?
Dawn shook her head, subconsciously thinking perhaps that the physical movement would cause all of the disjointed pieces of the puzzle to suddenly fall into a connected and consistent whole. But it didn't happen. For the moment the pieces just laid there, as if mocking her.
Then she noticed several postcard sized printed photos in one small pocket of the briefcase's interior. She knew immediately they were photos of crop circles. As she began to look at each one individually, she sensed an overpowering emotion welling up within her. As if the unique and precisely executed designs were communicating with her subconscious in some mysterious manner -- reaching down into her mind via a form of communications for which language was woefully inadequate. One of the photos showed what looked like a sun burst with a large circle in the center and six smaller circles connected in a slightly curving loop extending outward. On the opposite side of the card, she noted the title: "Danebury Ring, Hants. Formed June 1995 in barley. © Lucy Pringle." Dawn also noticed that the card was published by an organization called the Centre for Crop Circle Studies, 13 West Parade, Norwich NR2 3DN, July 1995. Presumably, the Centre was in Norwich, England.
There were other photos with similar legends: Another by Lucy Pringle showing three large concentric rings with what looked like a radiating squared off lattice in one half of a single quadrant. One by someone called Busty Taylor showing four concentric rings within a four pointed spiraling flair. Then one with a series of circles in a long curving loop, the circles decreasing in size in a systematic fashion.
For some reason the latter photo captured her attention. She noticed the largest circle was slightly out of sequence in terms of the regular increase in size of the other connected circles -- the largest circle being a bit too large. Then she unaccountably counted the number of circles. Twenty-one, not counting the largest. The number suddenly set off bells in her mind. This was the crop circle Nathan Fox had described -- the one he had been apparently very upset about!
Dawn turned over the photo, and was immediately struck by the sight of Gil's handwriting where he had written "Shoemaker-Levy, July 20, 1994! Right on schedule!" Dawn stared at the words. Clearly Gil had assumed the comet which had broken into twenty-one pieces and struck Jupiter during that summer week in 1994, was somehow being recognized in a field of grain in England. This had some meaning -- some profound unstated, and perhaps unknown implication.
Dawn sat for a moment, trying to piece it all together. The only real hope, she began to suspect, was to talk to the unknown Alexander Dukas. Or else open the letter addressed to him. Replacing the notebook and paperback book in the briefcase and again picking up the letter, she began to try to sense the contents. She was loath to open it, but in holding it in her hand, she knew it could contain a lot of the answers.
It was quite thick -- probably seven to ten pages, she guessed -- and sealed with considerable care in an extra large letter envelope, a brown one resistant to peering through -- even though she knew the contents were enclosed in tinfoil as well. To open it would later be obvious to anyone. Of course, she could always acquire a new envelope and perhaps no one, particularly Doctor Dukas, would be the wiser. Still, it was a matter of ethics. Dawn could not violate Gil's trust; even now. Especially now. Dawn put the letter back into the briefcase and closed the case. Knowing the combination, she felt comfortable in spinning the small dials and locking the contents away for the present.
With the briefcase closed and out of mind, she noticed the purple grocery bag with its cargo of CoD, laying on the bed. "So little formerly frozen cod... Why don't you stink?"
Taking one package out of the bag, she began to unwrap it. Within moments, she had her hands full of American Eagle gold coins. Dawn was amazed, delighted, and a little giddy. She suddenly had all the money she would need! And Gil had told her the "CoD" was especially for her! Tears welled up in her eyes, as she felt Gil's caring hand in providing for her -- even "in extremis". The intensity of her gratitude to him was rekindled, and she cried in joy. Then her practical nature returned her to the now.
She began counting the coins. The total came to thirty six coins, amounting to, presumably, thirty six ounces of gold in each package. At roughly four hundred dollars per ounce (or coin, coins being worth more than simple gold bullion), she had... "$14,400!" Voicing it had gotten her full attention. Then the more relevant revelation hit her: "$14,400 per package! That amounts to $57,600 in all!! Oh my heavens! I'm rich!" The realization sent her into another crying spell, an emotional gamut ranging from the thought of Gil's caring and providing for her to the profound relief of knowing that her chances of survival had been enormously increased with the availability of the potential cash in her hand.
Looking at the other three packages, with their carefully labeled, "CoD, AuG 88", Dawn began to smile. "Oh Mr. Lenki," she said aloud, "You and your intellectual shenanigans. I know what's going on here! 'CoD' stands for C.O.D. or 'Cash on Demand'! Oh, my... I do miss your Gemini wit!" Tears welled up again, until her curiosity kicked in. "But what about AuG 88? A date? Maybe the 'Harmonic Convergence'? No, that was the year before." For a split moment, her mind analyzed the situation. Then her intuition broke through and reminded her of Gil's interest in numerology. "Of course," she realized! "'88' is a master number, and 8's represent material wealth. Of course, the two eights add up to sixteen, and one plus six is a seven... So what does a seven mean? Enlightenment?" Dawn turned her head, trying to see if the latter fit. It seemed to.
Then there was the "AuG". Abruptly she smiled. The fact that the "u" was a small u, and not just a stunted capital letter when he wrote it, gave the secret away. "'Au'", she smiled, "the chemical symbol for gold. And 'G'? I suppose it stands for gold as well." For the first time in days, Dawn laughed. "Unbelievable. Mr. Lenki, you must have enjoyed your little mystery in packaging the gold in this way so much. Too bad there was no one else to see this expression of your delightful humor." In her mind, she added, a melancholy sadness sweeping over her, 'Until now.'
Briefly, it crossed her mind: Perhaps he had had a premonition of his death. It was an idea she could dwell on for only a moment or so.
Then reality returned, and Dawn, taking a deep breath, began to plan. She would go to a coin dealer and sell some coins. Maybe just one coin at the first dealer -- the way she looked, he might become suspicious if she walked in with a small mint. In the interim, she could buy a new dress (or two). Then cash in a few more coins. She would also carry a few in her purse, and perhaps even a few on other parts of her body. Gold, after all was supposed to be a health thing -- she might as well wear it. In fact, she seemed to recall, one needed colloidal gold for health purposes.
But no matter, she smiled: she was now dressing "heavy metal" style! The rest of the gold, she would keep in her overnight case (which was now reaching saturation), some in her backpack purse, and some in the briefcase. She was determined to always have some gold available for emergencies, and even in the event she was parted from any and all of her carry-ons. She was not going to be destitute poor again!
Then, as an afterthought, she mused, 'No wonder the grocery bag had turned out to be such a lethal weapon. It was heavy!'
"Good morning, big brother. Found your little runaway yet?"
Nathan looked up from his desk. He guessed there were perhaps two people in the world with the gall to walk in on him unannounced. One was his youngest brother, Kurt. And in this case it seemed likely Kurt's conceit today would be based on his having some inside information. Nathan grimaced at the game Kurt was playing. "She wasn't on the Chicago flight. Instead, we found her shoes on the airplane -- with the implant in one heel."
Kurt looked suddenly surprised. "I'm impressed," he said with complete honesty.
"I'm not," Nathan replied. "Clearly, it's time for someone competent to take over the effort. And despite my better judgment, you come to mind."
Shrugging, Kurt answered, "Sorry. I'd like to help. But they need me elsewhere."
"What are you talking about?
"We've discovered the identity of the brazen individual who tried to sell the rhodium," Kurt replied, a cynical grin on his dark, chiseled face. "And we know where he lives!"
Nathan's expression did not change. "And why is this person still alive?"
"The Committee thought you should be informed first."
"I'm surprised you didn't once again overstep your authority," Nathan replied. His fingers came up to match each opposing finger tip, as he stared at his younger brother.
"It's in your backyard," Kurt replied, sarcastically. "At least, the one you recently acquired." Kurt's dark face, framed by a slick, close-cropped black hair, suggested sarcasm and challenge. But it was understated just enough to allow for a hasty retreat if things turned ugly. "Besides," he added, "The man is obviously something of a fool. Or quite desperate. He was willing to sell the rhodium at a mere $2,500 an ounce. I suppose I took pity on him. You know what a softie I can be."
"Where did he get the material?" Nathan asked, ignoring the cynical attempt at humor.
"Don't know yet. I thought I'd ask when I see him," the younger brother answered. "We do know he's been frequenting certain university and corporate research laboratories -- primarily those with the more sophisticated technological testing apparatus. In fact, he's been recently using them with some regularity. Apparently, he doesn't believe what he actually possesses. He has to prove it."
"What are you talking about?"
"It appears he has managed to come up with mono-atomic rhodium."
Nathan's expression suddenly hardened, his fanatical concern for control abruptly threatened.
Kurt continued, twisting the imaginary knife in Nathan's gut. "I might remind you that a major portion of our revenues are based on the absolute control of certain products and services. But this man appears to be dabbling in technologies which would make the rarity of our precious elements a thing of the past. And anything which is not rare, is going to have significantly lower profit margins. Obviously, we can't have someone running about threatening one of our most lucrative markets!"
"It's not the market, idiot! It's the very life blood of the Father!" Nathan was clearly angry.
"I know what it is!" Kurt flung back. "But the underlings don't!" Then, with Nathan ready to turn away, he added, "How long must we wait? How long do we continue this 'hiding behind the scenes'?" The last phrase, Kurt virtually spit out. Then his voice grew colder and even more ominous. "How long must we tolerate the insidious Humanki?"
"A few meager years," Nathan answered. "Now go! Take care of this infidel. And do it personally! I want a full report immediately upon your return."
Kurt turned and began to walk from the room, ready to do his elder brother's bidding. At the door and over his shoulder, he asked, his voice heavy with sarcasm, "Do you want to know his name?" When Nathan dismissed the idea with the wave of his hand, Kurt smiled cynically. "His name's Alexander Dukas, a Ph.D., former professor, and a very foolish and naive entrepreneur." With that Kurt left the room, letting the double doors close behind him.
Chapter Four -- The Hanged Man
Chapter Six -- Strength
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]