Epilogue: Key Out of Time

key out of time

Cover to one of the paperback editions of Norton’s 1963 novel “Key Out of Time”.

Circa 1333 BCE – Egypt

“So you’re the legendary Sennedjem, called the Overseer of Tutors, Father of the God, Beloved of the God, and Fan-bearer of the Right Hand of the King. Such illustrious titles for a glorified teacher.”

“And you Ross Murdock, can only see and hear me because who I was, the legend and the man, was recorded in an alien artifact over 3300 years before you were born. Thanks to an extensive telepathic session with similar but dissimilar aliens, you are able to interpret that recording through means even a man of your experiences would find astounding.”

The 21st century time traveler and former professional thief didn’t seem to find it strange that he was standing on a balcony in a palace overlooking an ancient Egyptian city, and yet the city was not a ruin, but a living, breathing community of men and women, from the very young to the very old. He was dressed as he expected to dress when not on assignment, yet the man called Sennedjem was attired as an 18th Dynasty Egyptian.

“You brought me here to tell me something, Sennedjem. What? You’re an alien?”

“Hardly. I am as human as you are and we have something else in common. We both know about aliens and time travel.”

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Walking on Fragile Ribbons of Time

time travel

Found at omni.media

Peridot, Arizona – Date Unknown

Travis woke up with a tremendous headache. The light was dim. He was laying on his back in what felt like a conventional bed.

Was he back home at the Project? He tried to get his eyes to focus. Dim light coming from his right. Shades pulled down over a window. He was in a bedroom but it wasn’t one at the base or for that matter, at his ranch.

He tried to sit up, but it didn’t work the first time. The headache suddenly increased behind his eyes. He lay back down a moment and then tried again. This time he managed to sit up. He could hear a dog barking outside.

Yes, it was a bed. Pillows, quilt, looked hand-made. Pictures on the wall of people he didn’t recognize. A cheap painting of some foothills. Wallpaper. Beat up wooden floor with throw rugs. He hadn’t seen one of those pull down shades since he was a kid (he liked to pull them down all the way, let go and watch them shoot up to the top). It gave the light coming through it a golden cast, as if the world were a sepia tone photograph.

He wasn’t far wrong.

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The Visitors

spaceship

From “The Invaders” television program (1967-68)

The strange irony was not lost on David Vincent when his car’s GPS device failed to lead him to the all-night diner off the old state highway and instead revealed a horrifying discovery.

“Damn it.” The young architect, driving through a remote area of Arizona after meeting a developer at the proposed site of a new data center, wanted to grab a cup of coffee before continuing his drive back to Los Angeles. It was after midnight and he was exhausted. Instead of a hot coffee and maybe a pastry, he found a restaurant closed for over a year. No town, not even a gas station within miles.

“I can’t make it. Got to get some rest.”

He pulled his Audi R8 off to the side of the building and after stepping out to relieve himself on a dying shrub, returned to the car’s interior and prepared for an uncomfortable nap in the front seat.

At first he thought he was dreaming. There was a shrill sound getting louder, fluctuating in tone. David opened his eyes and looked out the windshield. Off to his left, around the corner of the building. Bright, multicolored lights. He got out and hiding in the shadow of the old diner, peered around the side.

It was big, about the size of a two-story house. A short cylinder flaring out at the bottom. Three…no, four landing struts. It was setting down. There were windows in the top part of the cylinder. He could see figures moving inside. Then a light shone down one of the landing struts. Stairs. Figures were coming out. People. No, they couldn’t be.

“It began with a closed, deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy…Now, David Vincent knows that the invaders are here. That they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.”

The Invaders was an American television show that ran on ABC in 1967-68 and starred Roy Thinnes as David Vincent, a man who had witnessed the landing of an alien spacecraft and learned that their intention was to invade and take over the Earth.

The last bit of narrative above in italics is taken from the opening title sequence and was dramatic as heck to me when I was thirteen years old.

I was reminded of the show when I read a piece of fan fiction earlier this morning, so I decided to recreate that opening for 2017. Below is a YouTube video of the show’s opening sequence. To find out what happens to my version of David Vincent next, read The Hidden.

Scattered Thou Across the Ages

anubis

Burial sled of Anubis from King Tut’s tomb, on display at the Egyptian Museum – Cairo, Egypt.

The Egyptian Museum – Cairo – December 22, 2016

“Here’s what we’re preparing for our 2018 exhibit, Gordon.”

Archeologist Gordon Ashe was being given a private tour of the new wing of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo by his friend Dr. Tarek Sayed Tawfik, the general director.

“This is truly astounding, Tarek. I have to admit to being more than a little envious. All five thousand of the artifacts that had been discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb will be displayed together for the first time.”

“You shouldn’t be envious, Gordon. After all, you’re here almost two years ahead of schedule, and you didn’t even have to pay the price of admission.”

“I guess being a personal friend of the director helps.”

Both men laughed. Gordon and Tarek had become friends at Oxford as undergraduates some decades ago. Both had a passion for antiquities but their lives traveled along highly divergent trajectories. Tarek had eventually gone into administration and Gordon gave up life as a field archeologist to work for the U.S. Government, though of course Tarek wasn’t sure exactly what services the esteemed Dr. Ashe performed for them.

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

comet impact

Found at The Verge

Twenty year old Fred Valentich was reaching the end of his rope or at least his dreams. With only 150 hours of flying time, he had been twice rejected by the Royal Australian Air Force and failed all five of his commercial pilot’s licensing subjects, not once but twice. He’d also been cited for deliberately flying blind into a cloud and received a warning for straying into restricted air space.

He wanted to be a professional pilot more than anything, but everyone who knew anything about flying said he was no good at it.

At 1819 hours on October 21, 1978, he took off in a rented single-engine Cessna 182L from Victoria’s Moorabbin airport near Melbourne, Australia with the intension of heading across Bass Strait to King Island near Tasmania. He’d told flight officials that the purpose of his trip was to pick up some friends from the island, but he’d also told his friends that he was going to pick up some crayfish.

Neither was true. He just needed to get away and clear his head. His life was mundane, boring really. He was enthralled with UFOs and thought it would be great to encounter one in the air as other pilots claimed to have done. If nothing else, he could log a few more hours flight time.

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The Lost and the Found

man of the hole

The only known images of The Man in the Hole were captured in the film Corumbiara – Photo credit: Vincent Carelli

“Now we wait.”

Historian and linguist Aiyana Zheutlin sat down on the ground in front of the rough-hewn hut in the Amazon rain forest.

“Wait for what?” Her companion, engineer Lynn Huỳnh quickly sat down beside her, putting her tablet in her lap.

“Him. I told you. We brought the food and water as a gift. This is his land. We are intruders but we hope he’ll accept us as guests. So we wait for him to respond.”

“How long, Aiyana?”

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Restoration

mosasaurus

A mosasaurus as seen in the 2015 film “Jurassic World”.

“So you’re saying that as a direct result of our time incursion preventing the experimental Forerunner time-spaceship from causing the Tunguska blast and subsequent runaway global warming, we caused this massive change in history. A history where Leif Erikson and Christopher Columbus never visited the New World. A world where Europe never colonized the Americas and the native population was free to develop their own culture into the 21st century. Now, I’ve got a base in Southern Nevada surrounded by a foreign and potentially hostile military force and I can’t find any way to defend them.”

Colonel John Kelgarries, responding to Dr. Antoine Barnes, Project Retrograde’s Chief Temporal Scientist, had been listening to a briefing about his latest analysis of the changes in the timeline. Kelgarries and the rest of the Project were racing against the clock. Their facility at Basecamp was under siege by the military forces of the Southern Palutes State, part of the Hokan-Penutian nation which encompassed all of what used to be California and parts of Oregon, Nevada, and the Baja Peninsula.

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Atlantis Descending

atlantis sinking

Found at ssqq.com

“That’s right. This isn’t the first time Atlantis has been rocked by quakes, there have been three other events in the past two months, but the innkeeper says this series is the most severe.”

Gordon Ashe was reporting to both Captain Owen Redfeld and Lynn Huỳnh aboard the nuclear submarine Nereid and to the extraction team, now on the top of the cliffs near the city of Meropis, Travis Fox and Vasnev Romanovich. It had been four days since Ross Murdock went missing inside the city’s central tower, but intermittent contact with his implanted communicator indicated continued life signs.

Owen here, Gordon. We’ve been seeing heavy shipping traffic here, all outgoing. Every available sailing ship and galley has been packed to overflowing with people leaving the island.”

“Airborne drones report similar activity on the other three islands as well, Gordon.”

“Thanks, Lynn.”

“Gordon, I don’t see why you won’t let Travis and me enter the city, find Murdock, and get you all out of there.”

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Ashurbanipal’s Library

london being nuked

Image: Getty-US ENERGY

Aiyana Kaleya Zheutlin had been reading strange languages for the past three weeks, ever since returning to the present and the arctic base of Operation or rather Project Retrograde and discovering how much of the present they’d changed. Something Kelgarries and the fastidious and annoying Dr. Antoine Barnes had mentioned in their briefing when the six time agents got back caught her interest.

She was pouring over photographs and reports on The British Museum’s collection of clay tablets originally discovered in the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard in 1849. The Library of Nineveh’s King Ashurbanipal was a monumentally historic find. It contained important works, all on baked clay tablets, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Law Code of Hammurabi, the former included a non-Biblical account of a great flood like the one in the Book of Genesis.

The Museum’s collections database counted 30,943 tablets in the entire Nineveh library collection. Most were written in cuneiform and a few in other near east languages. However, Aiyana was looking for clues of the use of a previously unknown language in these records.

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Tomorrow or Yesterday?

yesterday, today, tomorrow

Found at flickr.com

Major John Kelgarres had been the military commander of Operation Retrograde for over five years but in all that time, he’d never gone through a gate. Not until today.

“Are you sure your presence is really required John. After all, we know our job.”

“It’s not you Gordon. I’m Walter Byrd’s C.O. I’m responsible for the safety of the men and women under my command. Byrd’s been out of touch for a long time. He and his people have been stuck tens of thousands of years in the past. They thought we gave up on them, they thought they were alone, cut off. If there’s any doubt he’ll order his team to come home, I’m here to see otherwise.”

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