From a Time Before
The Expedition to Malo-Moko Island
© 2017 by Richard Messer
For the better part of an hour (or as close as the pair could determine with their wristwatches) Baxter and Wednesday sat on the steps while going over another drawing showing the keys with the alien glyphs. They also added another set of keys next to the previous ones and filled them with the letters of an Earth-born pattern that they could remember.
“And if these keys are similar to ‘Shift’ and ‘Capital Lock’, then our task is done.” Sir Albert sat up from having been bent over his pad for a good long time. With a slight groan he set his large hands into the small of his back and leaned back, trying to work the kinks out.
James Baxter took the pad from his companion’s lap and studied it closely. He eyed the correspondence of the two patterns, making sure that they were as close as the two archaeologists could be sure of. This was the second most important discovery they have made since coming to this place, which was the first. But a secret fear had begun to creep into his soul. How long had this installation been here, wherever here was? And if this place was ancient, probably older than any know civilization on Earth, what was powering it? He looked to his large simian companion next to him.
“Sir Albert? I want to pass a question your way?”
“Fire away, me lad,” came the deep rumble of the peer’s voice as he removed his pince nez to rub the ache that he was having from peering at his handiwork too long.
Taking a deep breath, the buck asked softly, “If there is no evidence of power cables to these ‘panels’, if you will, then what’s powering them?”
The English chimpanzee had a canteen half way to his thick lips when he halted. What’s powering them? Now that was a thought! He managed to take a deep draft of water before passing the container to his young American colleague. He mulled the question over in his mind while his deep brown eyes narrowed.
“That is a damn good question!” Those eyes swept the pale white ceramic room once again, taking in the myriad panels and globes glowing overhead. How did whoever constructed this place managed to provide power to their – equipment – without any visible means of doing so? He turned his gaze upon his smaller companion.
“Do you have a thought or idea on how this could have been done?”
James Baxter took a quick swig of water to relax a throat suddenly gone dry from the look given him. Cudgeling his thoughts together, the whitetail began:
“I’ve read in an electrical engineering journal about an idea that the inventor, Nikola Tesla, had been kicking around for quite a number of years. This article told of how the Serbian electrical genius began formulating the thought that power could be broadcast through the atmosphere, like radio waves, since before the turn of the century.
“The article went on about an early experiment he had conducted in the Rockies Mountains of Colorado, overlooking the city of Colorado Springs. One night he attempted to send high frequency energy throughout the countryside from a very tall mast above his generation station.”
Baxter shrugged. “Tesla succeeded in knocking out the power grid of the town below!”
That brought a chuckle from both archaeologists. When they finally caught their breaths Sir Albert spoke, “I take it the people of Colorado Springs were none too thrilled about the event?”
The buck handed the canteen back. “Nope, not in the least. The city council told ol’ Nikola, in no uncertain terms, to pack up and head back to New York City.” He paused before continuing. “Which got me to thinking about this place. If Tesla was on the right path, couldn’t whoever, or whomever, had been here so long ago, succeeded along that line of thought? Could they have found the means to broadcast electrical power without the use of cables or wires?”
For a long while neither spoke, lost in thought over what had been suggested. The idea of sending out electrical power without the need of wiring? That had been Tesla’s lifelong dream for his fellow citizens of Earth. The British peer began nodding his great head.
“And whatever civilization had built this place, must have reached that goal. And that, my friend, brings us to another question.” Sir Albert stowed the canteen and other food stuff back into his haversack, and glasses into its case in a jacket pocket.
Standing up, James Baxter looked up to the senior partner of this operation. “And what’s that?”
The simian spared him a sidelong glance. “How the devil are they continuing it?”
* * * * * * *
For a while the pair slowly worked their way around the room, seeking anymore messages in that alien script. The chamber was found to be bare in their quest. But they did notice another door opposite the one on the platform. To this one they headed for. Pausing at the door the simian and buck stared at the raised plate by the doorway. With a glance to the English peer the young whitetail placed his hand on the plate. Again the plate glowed and felt warm under his palm as the triple panels of the door slide apart.
Beyond was a long broad corridor that ended in another door. And along both walls were a series of more doorways, seven to either side. Both looked to each other before James Baxter stepped through first with the simian in tow. As the door closed behind them, the buck glanced back and paused. There was a placard to the right of the door and above the opener panel. He stepped up to it.
“Can I see that drawing pad for a moment, please?”
Sir Albert drew aforementioned pad from his knapsack and handed it over. The young archaeologist flipped through the papers before finding the one that bore the keyboard design. Together the two men studied the placard and pointed out the corresponding English letters in their hasty translation. Both frowned at what they had derived.
“’Operations Room 1’?” Baxter’s cervine face twisted up with puzzlement. He looked to his large companion, perplexed. But Sir Albert Wednesday merely nodded, a smug smile on his face.
“Remember what I had said earlier about that operations room at Portsmith Harbor? I would image that room we just came out of would be of a similar status.”
Puzzlement slowly left James Baxter’s face as the idea started to make sense.
“So that would make it a kinda radio room, but handling a far greater amount of traffic then what we would imagine. Correct?”
The chimpanzee shrugged his massive khaki-clad shoulders. ‘It would appear so. But I have a feeling that this room is far more capable of handling such ‘traffic’, as you would say, on a far greater scale than one would have encountered in the kingdom, the Channel, or across Europe.”
This bit of logic made the American whitetail buck nod in agreement, then he froze, his eyes widening a little. Sir Albert noted the change.
“What’s wrong, lad?”
The younger archaeologist looked up at his older colleague. “What if not locally, but globally?”
That brought a mask of bewilderment to that dark brown face looking down. “My God, that would be such a fantastic accomplishment! It boggles the mind!”
Both stood there quietly for a minute, lost in the thought of this sudden realization of the discovery they just made. Sir Albert was the first to shake himself out of their bewilderment.
“We best check out these other rooms, shall we?”
James Baxter woke up from his inattentiveness and nodded. They moved to the first door on the right side of the corridor. It bore the familiar pattern of door and operating panel. Baxter then recognized another pattern and waved a hand before him.
“Notice how these ‘panels’ are all set at the same height as those others from before?”
The American pointed this out to the English peer with another sweep of his hand, indicating both sides of the corridor as well as the one by the door they just came through. That large black head swiveled about, taking in what had been pointed out.
“Yes, they are,” he murmured in a deep voice.
Then Baxter dropped to his knees before the door they were facing.
“Now what’s this?” queried the chimpanzee, his own hand making a gesture towards the buck.
“There were ‘people’ in my dreams,” began Baxter, emphasizing ‘people’, as he stared at the door opening panel, “that were about this height.” Again he indicated that ‘height’ with a hand waving over his head. “They had to set these openers for them to have access through the doors, would they not?”
And he then placed his own hand on this panel, showing that it was accessible for someone of short stature. And on cue the panel glowed and the door slid apart in its tripartite way. The room was narrow but long, the center sporting a long low table surrounded by chairs similar to those in the ‘Operations Room’. But before the American could step in a large black-furred hand rested on his shoulder, restraining him. He looked back in confusion.
“We best draw out our pathway as we enter the ‘tombs’, don’t you think?” The English simian fixed his younger companion with a stern look.
The buck blinked at this, then mentally cursed himself for being so stupid in forgetting a fundamental fact in archaeology. He nodded as the ape removed the pencil from a jacket pocket, opened the sketch pad to a blank page, and quickly roughed in the beginning of the corridor, making a notation by the symbol for door with the words “Operations Room 1”. Baxter looked over at the open door again and saw another placard over the opening panel. He pointed this out to Sir Albert. Flipping back to the keyboard drawing they deciphered the alien script as noting this room as being “Receiving Room 7”.
When the sketching was done did the pair walk in. After they entered the room to study it that the door closed about ten seconds afterwards. They turned and noted that there was not an opening panel on this side of the door. A mild panic gripped the buck that he stepped up to the door, and it opened! In a mixture of relief and puzzlement the two archaeologists studied the door and found not any means of opening the door through any panel device that could be discern. But Sir Albert glanced up towards the top of the door then tapped the young buck on the shoulder.
“What?’ was all Baxter said before noticing the older fellow pointing upwards over the door. The buck followed that thick brown finger and finally saw the square bulge in the wall overhead. A quizzical look crossed Baxter’s features until the simian peer waved his hand in front of the door below that bulge. The door silently split open. And in ten seconds after the chimpanzee had waved at the odd protrusion that the door closed again. They looked at each other.
“That’s amazing,” the American announced in a soft voice. He glanced back up at it. “Somehow that ‘device’ seems to detect whoever is approaching the door and opens it for them. But how?”
A large brown hand rubbed a heavy jaw in contemplation. “Either it ‘sees’ whoever walks up, or maybe ‘senses’ by either sound or,” he gave a shrug, “heat, possibly?”
“Or it detects motion, such as when you waved your hand at it?”
Sir Albert looked to his smaller companion. “You may be onto something there, lad. You may be onto something.” Then he turned back to the table in the room. It sat lower than any piece of furniture both were familiar with, had four columnar pillars spaced equidistant under it, and made from the same ceramic material as the rest of what they’ve seen.
Again, Baxter pointed out that this room may have been constructed specifically for those short ‘people’ he had seen in his dreams as indicated by the chairs. But the surface of the table bore what appeared to be openings evenly spaced along both sides of its center line. The openings were not large; roughly two inches in diameter. The English simian dug a flashlight out of the knapsack to peer down into an opening, only after putting his glasses back on. What he estimated to be three inches deep, the hole bore a smaller hole in the center and was surrounded by a ring of pinholes. He mentioned as much to Baxter. This caused the whitetail buck to frown.
“They must have had something that fitted these holes and plugged into those other holes at the bottom.”
The peer nodded. “My thoughts exactly. Which brings us to the question of ‘What was it’?”
The American pulled one of the chairs out and sat in it. Though short for even his small stature, he was quite surprised as how soft and comfortable it was, being made from something else. The material used for padding seemed to mold itself to his backside.
“Whoever sat in one of these will definitely not have a ‘dead end’,” he chuckled as he stood back up. He watched with mild amusement as the padding filled itself back in after the relief of his getting out.
Sir Albert nodded with a wry smile. “Not knowing how long these ‘occupants’ had to endure their shift, it would make sense. Whoever constructed this place wanted to make sure the operators wouldn’t have to suffer through an agonizing shift of being seated for very long.”
James Baxter nodded in return. “And that would depend on how they measured time here, and how long one of those shifts was supposed to last.” Then a sudden thought hit him!
“Sir Albert, did you by any chance bring a camera with you?”
This cause those large brown eyes to blink a couple of times before squeezing shut behind the pince nez, followed by a thunderous slap of a large hand to a sloping forehead!
“Dammit! I knew there was something I forgot to pack!” He turned a pained expression to his companion. “Sorry, lad, even some of us ‘experts’ tend to forget essential items from time to time! Even my batman, Lionel Jeffries, would ask such questions!”
The American just nodded his understanding. After a moment the buck took the flashlight and peered down the nearest opening in the table, head cocked for a better look while giving off information of what he was seeing. The simian took this as a clue and began making rough sketches of what was being passed back to him. Then he took out a tape measure – which he knew they would need – and got the dimensions of the table itself.
“Now, the placard said this was ‘Receiving Room 7’, correct?” Baxter was busy winding up the tape.
The English ape looked up from the sketch pad laid out on the table top. “That’s true. Why did you ask?”
The buck joined the other. “Well, wouldn’t logic dictate that this could be a radio receiving station next to an operations room?” He pointed in that direction.
The ape nodded. “Sound logic, James. And these openings,” He pointed to the holes running in two lines along the table top, “could be the means of setting up whatever communications devices needed by your ‘people’ to use while in this room.”
The buck nodded in return. “Then if this side was being used to receive messages, then it’s a good idea that those doors on the other side of the corridor lead to rooms that ‘transmitted’ messages to whoever was out in the field. Or someplace else!”