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Published by: Mark Kern on Oct 30, 2013
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© 1981, 1992, 1998, 2009
Baron of Rachane
Post Office Box 470307
San Francisco, CA 94147

Baron of Rachane
Argyll, Scotland
United Kingdom
Secret of the Lost Ark & Grail Mission: Introcaution
During the summer of 1981 I was living in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.
during assignment to the Defense Intelligence Agency. One free evening I strolled up
Wisconsin Avenue to a theater showing Raiders of the Lost Ark, about which I had read
enthusiastic but unilluminating reviews in the media. Why the fuss about one more
treasure-hunt adventure movie? And indeed that is how many of even the most
enthusiastic fans described it.
But to me there was a mystery and poignancy about this particular story and its
characters. The offscreen-fame of the character notwithstanding, Indiana Jones was a
lonely, obscure scholar, whose archæological efforts seemed to have been marked by
more frustration and failure than success. From the Hovitos idol at the film’s beginning to
the Ark of the Covenant at its conclusion, everything was lost to him. Well, not
everything, because it turned out the real treasure he had found was another lost soul
named Marion Ravenwood.
Lethal antihero James Bond survived endless threats against his life by skillfully
killing the attackers or evading them with spectacular technology. Indiana Jones survived
endless threats against his life by desperate ingenuity combined with the most
extraordinary dumb luck. 007 always fulfilled his professional missions; Dr. Jones,
despite final discovery, always failed at his.
It may be glamorous and prestigious to be an MI6 secret agent, but the life of a lone
archæologist in the early 20th century was quite another thing. That profession has
always occupied an uneasy niche between scholarship and grave-robbing, and between
preserving and stealing ancient treasures. [Even some of the most distinguished museums
have found irate nations or cultural groups demanding the return of once-“legitimately”-
acquired exhibits.] Digs themselves can be fraught with danger - cave-ins, disease, local
resentment, unscrupulous competitors (such as Belloq) or thieves (such as Satipo), and of
course boobytraps ... and snakes.
Nor did Indiana’s love life fare much better. James always got at least one [and often
several] gorgeous girls along the way. Marion greeted Indy with a hook to the jaw in
Raiders; he was saddled with a hysterical airhead in Temple of Doom; he was betrayed by
a Nazi vixen in Last Crusade. In his earlier years, as related in television’s Young Indiana
Jones Chronicles, he attempted many romances from an Austrian princess to Mata Hari,
but inevitably with lucklessness or tragedy.
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In 1981 I was not aware of this glum “future/past” that Lucasfilm had in store for
Indiana Jones. I just thought that after all of that effort, fright, and injury he and Marion
deserved closure concerning the Ark. So after pondering this a few days, I decided to
give it to them. [That they might separate, as in the Lucasfilm scenario, rather than marry,
never occurred to me: This consolation and happiness at least I assumed they deserved.]
Then, too, I was curious about the Ark of the Covenant. As it happens I had never
heard of this item prior to seeing the film. As a nonJew who had essentially lost interest
in Bible-mythology at about the time I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Easter
Bunny, this is perhaps not all that surprising. Raiders of course premised the Ark as a
very real, very powerful iGod. If you left the theater without immediately converting to
Judaism, you were clearly as headed down the wrong road as if you had similarly ignored
the warnings of The Ten Commandments or Sodom and Gomorrah. This deity you didn’t
cross, else he would deluge you, earthquake you, or [in 1981] blowtorch your face.
It seemed to Major Aquino that if the Joneses were going to be reunited with their
Ark, I would have to find out where the U.S. Government had stashed it away, or at least
whether it existed at all. One nice thing about being an officer within the Intelligence
community is that one can generally find out a lot about a given object of interest, very
quickly. We had plenty of classified storage facilities, it seemed, but unfortunately no
Ark therein. Shucks.
In the process of looking for the thing, however, I found out a great deal about it, or
perhaps I should say “non-it”, because the unfolding historical evidence was that it had
never existed outside of its mention in the Old Testament. Nor, for that matter, had the
entire “Exodus from Egypt” episode. Millions of people and animals wandering about the
Sinai Peninsula for forty years would have left plenty of litter and graffiti; there is none.
Nor does such a forty-year tramp seem sensible, since the actual distance between the
Egyptian border and Jerusalem can be easily walked in about five days. In a single-file
line the leader of two million people would arrive before the last one had lost sight of the
Just as surprisingly, however, there turned out to be a good deal of information about
divine/magical arks in the literature and mythology of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used
ark-boxes and -shrines for many memorial purposes, such as this one in Tutankhamun’s
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Nor did what we know today as the Jewish religion actually exist at the time
represented in the Bible. Ancient Hebrew religion progressed through four stages: (1)
pre-Mosaic animism and magic, (2) national monolatry (one god but toleration of others),
(3) monotheism, and (4) dualism [adapted from Persian Zoroastrianism (after Zarathustra,
ca. 600 BCE)]. Dualism involves a conflict between two opposing forces of the cosmos -
in Persia Ahura Mazda vs. Ahriman, and later in Israel Yahweh vs. Satan. The Hebraic
Ten Commandments are now dated by most Old Testament scholars to ca. 600 BCE,
some seven centuries later than the biblical Exodus.
For modern political and emotional reasons, of course, such realities are not usually
mentioned in proper social circles. If there were not only no Exodus and no Ark of the
Covenant, but also no Kings David or Solomon (for all of which & whom there remains
no conclusive archæological evidence), then contemporary Israel’s claim to historic
ownership of its current territory is baseless - obviously an awkwardly-inconvenient
Most people assume that the academic field of archæology is so obscure and technical
a specialty that its professionals are insulated from ordinary concerns of present-day
society - free to live, work, and revel in the distant past. Quite the contrary, archæologists
are under considerable pressure to find, authenticate, and publicize only those discoveries
which support today’s established and accepted versions of history.
In 1972 I wrote an article in which I observed:
Our earliest evidence of man dates to about 1 million years ago. In South Africa a large
number of fossil remains of mutated apes has been found. Classified as Australopithecines, these
pre-men possess human-like hip and thigh bones in addition to enlarged cranial capacities of
between 400cc and 600cc. Conventional theories of evolution can substantiate the continued
mutation of this man-ape [or his contemporaries] to the stage of Pithecanthropus Erectus - a skull
fragment found in Java with an estimated capacity of about 900cc. Later versions of
Pithecanthropus have evidenced skulls of up to 1,100cc. And here we encounter the enigma of
the “missing link”.
The Java remains date to the Lower-Paleolithic period - about 800,000 years ago. The next
two definitive ancestors of modern man, Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal, did not appear until the
Middle-Paleolithic period - about 100,000 years ago. There is some question, then, about the
interim 700,000 years. Nor is this the only “missing link” period.
Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal, who were approximate contemporaries, possessed cranial
capacities respectively of up to 1,700cc and 1,500cc. How and why did these startling
enlargements occur? And why was Cro-Magnon’s cranium in particular larger than that of
present-day man, who averages 1,400cc?
The rest of that article, and more recent related theory, emphasizes the “startling
enlargements”. Here I want to focus on the point that high-intelligence human beings
have been around for at least the last 100,000 years.
Now consider: That’s a long time. From today back through to conventional
archæology’s “beginning of history” (+/-3000 BCE) is a mere 5,000 years. That leaves
95,000 years when human beings like ourselves were hanging around this planet doing ...
what? Just goofing off?
This is one of those questions so inconvenient and annoying, like the building of the
Great Pyramid, that conventional archæology responds to it by basically “not trying”.
Those embarrassing 95,000 years are “fast-forwarded” through in textbooks as hurriedly
as possible [“there was some migration, some arrowhead-chipping, some animal
domestication ...”], to get to the safe ground of Gerzean (predynastic) Egypt,
Mesopotamia, and so on.
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And of course “recognition” of perfectly normal modern human beings from [at least]
100,000 years ago boots conventional religions, such as Judæo/Christianity and Islam,
right out the door. There is no conceivable way that their creationist legends can be made
to stretch back that far.
In 1996 historical scholar Patty Hardy posted to one Internet discussion:
I wish to direct your attention to something Don Webb tossed out over a year ago. It
concerned the speculation of the geneticists, the so-called “Eve hypothesis” based on oddities of
human mitochondrial DNA and its rate of mutation. According to this theory, all modern humans
appeared to be related to an individual thought to have lived perhaps 200,000 years ago.
Paleontologists, mindful of the numerous hominid forms scattered around the globe for perhaps a
million years, criticized the theory.
A few months later, archæologists announced in Science magazine a controversial discovery.
Based on four different dating techniques, they dated certain carved bone tools to between
80,000 and 170,000 years of age - a “push back” from an age of 14,000 years for such tools
found elsewhere.
Earlier this month another team of geneticists announced a finding. Using genetic studies of
42 human populations around the globe, these researchers concluded that all modern humans
throughout the world were indeed descended from a small population - perhaps fewer than a
thousand, one researcher told the press - who left Africa between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago,
replacing all other hominids.
In many cultures scattered throughout the Earth, legend states that a fantastic creature or
deity bestowed a gift upon the ancestors that became the basis of civilization. The first question:
Are these legends recitals of an event passed on by oral tradition, or are they a recollection from
within - the result of the principle of self-awareness turned upon itself?
The second question: If our scientific methods identify the “original modern human” in
genetic terms, will this be the proof of the material character of the psyche, its genetic
foundation? Or would this mistake the gift Itself for the sign of its presence, the success of its
ancient recipients?
In 1993 two troublemakers decided to rile up the sleeping dog of human prehistory
even further. Their names were Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, and they wrote a
big, fat book entitled Forbidden Archæology: The Hidden History of the Human Race
(San Diego: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1993 - ISBN: 0-9635309-8-4). The book is a
gigantic compendium of all sorts of “inconvenient” archæological data that conventional
archæology has preferred to ignore or “fast-forward” through. At the end of this tome the
authors blithely propose the significance of this data: that “beings resembling
anatomically-modern humans were present in the Early Pleistocene and Pliocene”.
Everybody sitting down? The Early Pleistocene takes us back about 1.7 million years,
and the Pliocene reaches back to around 3.5 million years. [So much for my mere
100,000 years.]
A year later Cremo & Thompson followed FA with a less-technical. abridged version
entitled just The Hidden History of the Human Race (Badger, CA: Govardhan Hill,
If conventional archæology just ignores the 100,000-year problem like a mad aunt
locked in the cellar, you can imagine what the reaction to Forbidden Archæology was, i.e.
flat-out fury. The 1996 issue (#IV-1) of Skeptic contains an article “Hidden History,
Hidden Agenda” by Bradley Lepper (Curator of Archæology, Ohio Historical Society)
pouring boiling cauldrons of scorn on HHHR, complaining that it “mixed together a
genuine contribution to our understanding of the history of archæology and
paleoanthropology with a bewildering mass of absurd claims and an audaciously
distorted review of the current state of paleoanthropology”. [Try to say that in a single
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breath.] After complaining that C&T are “ignorant”, “naïve”, and “selectively credulous
to an astonishing degree”, Lepper hammers his lectern and zings his finale:
Cremo and Thompson’s claim that anatomically modern homo sapiens have been around for
hundreds of millions of years is an outrageous notion. Accepting that there is a place in science
for seemingly outrageous hypotheses, there is no justification for the sort of sloppy rehashing of
canards, hoaxes, red herrings, half-truths, and fantasies Cremo and Thompson offer in the service
of a religious ideology.
The “religious ideology” in question is of course not Judæo/Christianity or Islam. As
previously noted, they are incompatible with even a 95,000-year human prehistory. What
Lepper is apoplectic about are the Vedas, which, while not figuring per se in C&T’s
books, are distant-past compatible. And C&T happen to be, as they acknowledge at the
beginning of their books, Vedics.
The Vedas may not have been compatible with the Hebrew/Judaic premise of Raiders
of the Lost Ark, nor with the Christian premise of The Last Crusade, but they do fit in
nicely with the Shiva & Kali-worship of Temple of Doom. As for the ancient
“interdimensional beings” of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull who collected souvenirs from
all of humanity’s ancient civilizations, this [prehi]story exploded the religious premises
of all three previous Indiana Jones films, leaving us finally with the protoancient
imparting of high intelligence to humans by a being or beings Not Of This Earth.
So Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, hoping perhaps to find in archæology a scholarly haven
from the horrors of World War I and other early-20th-century perils which had darkened
his adolescent years, could scarcely have made a worse career choice!
Nevertheless, in late 1981, I set out to solve the Secret of the Lost Ark.
If I were returning the fictional Ark to plausible reality, I reasoned, then I would also
need a real Indiana and Marion Jones to decipher that secret. More research revealed that
these two individuals had not sprung extemporaneously from the imaginations of George
Lucas and Steven Spielberg, but drew from a variety of previous inspirations. All that I
needed at DIA was to follow these trails even further back, which brought the Joneses
very much to life.
The renowned fantasy & horror author H.P. Lovecraft was fond not only of using a
tantalizing mixture of real and fictional locations in his stories, but of inserting some of
his close friends to adventure within them. Feeling that the Joneses might need and enjoy
some companionship, particularly in respect of their golden years [this was, after all,
1981!], I drafted some unsuspecting acquaintances. As high U.S. government security
clearances were prerequisite, Lt. Colonel Dennis Mann and his wife Major Karen Revay
found themselves the bewildered protagonists, helped at various moments of need by
other mutual chums possessing specialized knowledge.
With the invaluable help of the DIA library, all of the locations through which our
four explorers traveled are described accurately, indeed so much so that I have heard of
more than a few readers’ ascent up Martin Bormann’s brass elevator to the Kehlsteinhaus
to examine the concealed repository behind the mural within its massive fireplace. [Well
O.K., I had to go and look for myself too, as photographed herein.]
Once more, however, Dr. Jones’ quest was to end in personal fulfillment but public
failure. The present Egyptian Department of Antiquities has either failed to find, or
refused to acknowledge any such discoveries as are related here; nor, for reasons of its
own, has the Israeli government. And despite persistent questioning over the years,
Dennis and Karen doggedly maintain that the entire account was purely fictional.
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Which was the assumption of Don Webb and Stephen Flowers until 1998, when a
startling lecture at the University of Texas shook their complacency. And now it seemed
that yet another famous religious icon, the Holy Grail of Christianity, was in its turn to be
investigated past what Lucasfilm had portrayed in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last
Like the Ark of the Covenant, the Grail turns out to be considerably more mysterious
than in the Christian myth shown in the film. According to that popular tale, it was the
cup from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper, after which it was used by Joseph
of Arimathea to catch the blood of the crucified savior. It was then sealed and dispatched
to Britain, where, because of its holy qualities, it became the object of an intense search
by the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. It was finally found by Sir Perceval [or Sir
Galahad], whereupon it vanished from the Earth.
Such is the version which has come to us via the Western Christian tradition. A
careful examination into the source material of the Grail legends, however, presents us
with a far older, more complex myth-cycle.
The roots of the Grail tradition are all but extinct. Various scholars have suggested its
literary origin in Persia, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Phœnicia, Spain, and even China and
Mongolia. But it may just as easily be Celtic, Irish, or Scandinavian. We are
archæologists only incidentally, however; our present interest lies in the substance of the
Of the scores of books which touch upon the Grail,
one of the most excellent is The
Grail Legend by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz. Originally published for the
C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, it approaches the Grail from a number
of contrasting hypotheses.
Jung identifies three major histories of the Grail from among the many versions that
have been recorded. The eldest is Chrétien de Troyes’ Li Contes del Graal, a cycle of
poems written during the last half of the 12th century CE. Slightly later came Robert de
Boron’s Roman de l’Estoire dou Graal (about 1180-1199), a 3-part saga containing the
stories of Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, and Perceval. Finally there is the best-known and
most elaborate version, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, completed in about 1207
Although there are certain distinctions between each version, the basic story of the
Grail is fairly consistent:
After various exploits Sir Perceval, a knight of the Round Table, finds himself at the
edge of an unknown river. A richly-garbed fisherman directs him to a strange castle,
which materializes mysteriously before the knight upon his approach. Upon entering,
Perceval is welcomed by the Grail King, who is revealed to be the fisherman as well. In
his side is an open wound which will not close. The king presents Perceval with a sword
and invites him to dine. A procession enters the hall, with maidens carrying the Grail, a
spear that is dripping blood, and a finely-worked platter. Perceval fears to ask the
meaning of these curious artifacts, and the king, castle, and Grail vanish. An oracle tells
him that his failure to inquire into the meaning of the Grail caused the castle to disappear,
and that the king and kingdom will continue to suffer until Perceval has found them
The definitive treatment of the symbolism of the Grail [and many other things] in the Parsifal opera of
Richard Wagner is Franz E. Winkler’s For Freedom Destined (Garden City, New York: Waldorf Press
Publishers, 1974). This volume also contains the definitive treatment of the symbolism in Wagner’s
Ring cycle.
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After a series of adventures, Perceval again finds the Grail castle. This time he asks
the proper questions, and the king’s wound is healed. Prosperity returns to the kingdom,
and the king dies naturally a short time later. Perceval then becomes the new King of the
In the Christian interpretation the Grail was the cup of Christ, while the spear was the
one which wounded him during the crucifixion. No significant meaning is ascribed to the
platter. The sword, according to one source, was originally the sword of David, reworked
by Solomon, enchanted, and finally sent via a magical ship to Solomon’s final descendant
for use in the Grail quest. The four devices, according to Cavendish, have been used to
name the four suits of the Tarot deck.
The word “grail” originated, according to some authorities, in the Latin gradale (deep
plate or bowl). Others suggest that it is derived from grele (hailstone), and consequently
there is some confusion as to whether the Grail is a cup or a stone. In de Troyes it is
described only as a “vessel”; de Boron identifies it as a chalice; von Eschenbach
pronounces it a stone:
They [the Knights of the Grail] live from a stone of purest kind.
If you do not know it,
It shall here be named to you.
It is called lapsit exillis.
This curious description has given rise to additional conjecture. One authority corrects
it to lapsit ex cœlis, a derivation of the Greek term for meteorites, “stone with a spirit”.
Various legends depict the Grail as a jewel that fell from Satan’s crown during the war in
Heaven, while von Eschenbach relates that it was subsequently guarded on Earth by the
zwivelære (doubters), the angels who took neither side in the conflict.
Alchemists will immediately suspect another allusion to the stone Grail - the famous
Philosopher’s Stone. It is noteworthy that the Stone in alchemy is identified with the
alchemical Mercurius, a being of dual aspect who may be identified with Baphomet.
According to Jung the Philosopher’s Stone - and thus the Grail - is “a matrix in which the
archetype of the self is transformed” [which means that it changes your basic personality,
in case you aren’t as Jung as you’d like to be]. An old text entitled Allegoriæ Sapientum
observes: “Thus our Stone, that is the flask of fire, is created from fire.” The elemental of
the Stone is the dragon, which, if you’re really prone to wild speculation, brings to mind
the name of Perceval’s [and Arthur’s] ancestor, Uther Pendragon (“Dragon’s Head”).
If, on the other hand, the Grail is considered a cup, variations upon the theme are
abundant throughout mythology. In ancient Egypt the vital fluids/organs of the dead were
buried with special veneration in jars bearing the heads of Horus’ four sons. In Orphic
Gnosticism reverence was given to the Cup of Anacreon, as it imparted divine
knowledge. According to the ancient Persians, all the world’s mysteries could be
perceived in the Cup of Jamshyd, while Mohammed, during one of his Astral
expeditions, glimpsed “a goblet of greenish brilliance” illuminating all of the seven
heavens. In the 3rd century CE the Egyptian Gnostic Zosimos of Panopolis envisioned a
cosmic altar in the form of a shallow bowl, “in which men in torment were being cooked
to attain a state of spirituality”(!).
In 1991 I no longer had the resources of DIA to assist me; but as it turned out those of
the U.S. Space Command at Cheyenne Mountain, where I was now assigned as a Space
Intelligence Officer, were very helpful in researching the notion that the actual Grail had
arrived from beyond this planet. Although the occasional noise from the Stargate
downstairs was distracting, I was able to pick up the trail of the Grail from its
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disappearance in ancient Britain, following it to, of all places, California during the era of
the Spanish missions. And finally to, as recounted, the suppressed and disavowed, but
very real and verifiable original Mission La Purisima Concepción, whose forbidden
ruins concealed ... what?
Few things that I have written have gotten me into as much trouble as Secret of the
Lost Ark and Grail Mission. Like Dennis, Karen, Don, and Stephen, I have repeatedly
and emphatically denied that they are anything but fiction, but it seems there are always a
few who suspect that this is merely another coverup of knowledge too shocking and
frightful to be entrusted to the public. It is to finally dispel such absurd notions that I have
written this Introcaution to the stories which now follow.
San Francisco
February 2009
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It is easy to miss the freeway exit to the Oakland Army Base, since it appears just past
the Bay Bridge toll plaza, and so it wasn’t until another fifteen minutes of backtracking
had elapsed that Dennis Mann drove into the bewildering maze of buildings comprising
one of the U.S. Army’s remaining World War II storage and shipping depots.
This assignment had been an accident. He had been supposed to go to Fort Bragg,
North Carolina for another six-month tour at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare
Center, but at the last moment the funding hadn’t come through. Instead his management
officer at the St. Louis U.S. Army Reserve headquarters had offered him a three-month
tour with an Intelligence and Security battalion headquarters at the Presidio of San
Francisco. Although it promised to involve nothing more exciting than routine staff
actions, he had accepted. He liked San Francisco and had friends there. And, as he
observed to his wife Karen, he wouldn’t mind even a brief respite from New York
The INSCOM headquarters building - an aging concrete bunker - appeared at first
glance to be both unimpressive and uncomfortable. It did hold the distinction of being
“the last building before Hawaii”, as the duty captain who greeted him described it. “Glad
to have you here, sir. Sometimes we think we’ve been forgotten, particularly now that
PSF is slated for closure in the next year or so. Oh, and I was supposed to give you this
when you checked in -”
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“This” proved to be a faxed order reassigning Mann to a two-week temporary duty as
Classified Storage Control Officer at Oakland Army Base across the San Francisco Bay.
Mann scowled. “For this they task a lieutenant colonel?”
The captain looked at him uncomfortably. “I guess they couldn’t find anyone else at
short notice, sir. Way I understand it, there was a CWO over there who had to leave on a
family emergency. A replacement’s coming, but until he gets here, someone with TS
clearance is needed, and we got tasked, and the CO said -”
Mann cut him off with a nod. Give the Reservist the odd job. On the other hand, he
mused, it might be a pleasant - and quiet - two weeks. Certainly this mournful concrete
block on the seacliff didn’t have much going for it. He finished his in-processing, then
returned to his rented car and headed for the Bay Bridge.
He had never been to OARB before, and as he drove slowly through it, he decided that
he hadn’t missed much. Back around the time of World War II the base had been a center
of activity. Now it was clearly a neglected installation, ready for the budgetary chopping-
block. Its most striking feature was a row of seven long warehouses, evidently originally
designed to store material from the nearby docks. Now the docks were little-used, and the
giant warehouses, their paint peeling with age, appeared to be simply utilitarian: places to
store furniture, old vehicles, and the like. Except, apparently, for Warehouse Six.
Warehouse Six had a barbed-wire fence around it. The wire was old and rusty, but still
quite serviceable. Metal warning signs, also brown with rust, appeared at regular intervals
along its perimeter. Mann had been to such secure buildings many times in his career;
they no longer held any magic or mystery for him. He parked the car in a grassy lot with
only one other car in it, strolled over to the gate, and pressed the buzzer mounted on one
of its side-posts. After a moment or two a door in the warehouse creaked open, and a
sergeant came out, walked over to the fence, saluted, examined Mann’s ID card through
the wire, and opened the gate. Mann followed him out of the glare of the sunshine into
the building.
Suddenly it was cool and quiet. The only light came from a small, glass-windowed
office to the right of the door; the rest of the warehouse, unlit, seemed to stretch off into
infinite darkness. The sergeant motioned him into the office and poured two cups of
coffee from a small pot on a hotplate.
“What is this place?” said Mann, ignoring his cup. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Deep storage, I guess,” shrugged the sergeant. “I really don’t know what they’ve got
in there - just that it’s old classified stuff. There’s an inventory binder over there” - he
nodded at the shelf alongside the single desk - “if you’re curious. But it doesn’t say much
- just box numbers mostly. And almost everything is in a box, which at least will make
the sign-over easier.” Plainly the sergeant was not unhappy at the prospect of
relinquishing the claustrophobia of the warehouse to someone else.
Ultimately it took the two of them over three days to inventory the building’s
contents. There were hundreds of crates, conexes, shrouded and banded pallets, and
assorted containers whose only common feature was a size too big to fit into a filing
cabinet. A few of the items were in fresh metal or plastic packaging, but most were in
simple wooden boxes whose steel bandings were as rust-covered as the outside fence.
As the sergeant had said, no contents were identifiable [Mann had hoped for at least
one UFO tailfin poking through a boxtop]. As he leaned back in the chair in what was
now his office, he wondered what sort of hidden treasure he now guarded. Certainly
nothing of contemporary importance. This was obviously a repository for things forgotten
or near-forgotten, protected from the incinerator or trash-heap only because some minor
bureaucrat had once immortalized them with a security classification in the days before
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automatic downgrading had been instituted. Probably a good many of the container
descriptions themselves, wherever they originated, had long since been destroyed as
unnecessary. He grimaced. He had seen a sight like this at the end of the film Raiders of
the Lost Ark but had never expected to encounter it in actuality.
Well, he mused, maybe I’ve got the real Ark in here somewhere. That at least would
be something. He recalled idly that in the movie the Ark had been crated and assigned a
serial number. He had picked up the paperback version of the story; perhaps the number
was cited in there. On a whim he picked up the phone, requested an outside line, and
made a collect call to his home in Utica where his wife, Major Karen Revay, would now
have arrived home from her own office.
Karen chuckled sympathetically as Dennis told her of his surprise assignment, then
asked him to hold while she went into the next room to rummage in the bookcase. A few
minutes later she was back on the line. “Here it is,” she said. “Let’s see … O.K., here on
the last page - Got something to write with?”
Mann jotted down what she recited to him: TOP SECRET, ARMY INTELL,
9906753, DO NOT OPEN. “Doesn’t sound very promising,” he commented. “MI used to
be ‘Army Intelligence and Security’, which was ‘AIS’, not ‘Army Intell’. On the other
hand, I do have a number of entries in the log with seven-digit numbers. Let you know if
I come across anything that hums or glows in the dark.”
“If you do,” she remarked, “don’t open it; it’s probably one of the Manhattan Project’s
early failures.” He laughed, gave her a telephonic kiss, hung up, and turned to the binder.
The number was there. Next to it, however, was the phrase “Lockheed P-38
components (exp)”.
- 12 -
Mann looked again, just to be certain. He started to call Karen back, then hesitated and
replaced the receiver on the cradle. Better take a look at the container first. He ran his
finger over the chart showing the number sequence breakdown by location, then threw
the light switches for the warehouse and walked out into the central aisle and down a
distant branch aisle to the right. He peered down into the dusty stacks of containers. And
there it was: 9906753. It was an aging wooden crate about ten feet long by four feet wide
and high.
There was additional stenciling on the crate, partially obscured by the surrounding
clutter. Mann tugged three other boxes aside, grimacing at the puff of dust raised in the
process. He brushed off the lettering with a hand and read: WARNING-VIBRATION
Mann stared at the crate for a few moments, then walked back to the office. He leaned
back in his chair and thought about what he had found. He considered calling the
Aquinos in San Francisco, then recalled that they were out-of-town on vacation. He
dialed the number of Peter Rivera in Oakland.
Rivera was home. He listened without interruption while Mann told him about the
crate. “This is weird,” he finally said. “What are you going to do now?”
“Any ideas?”
Rivera thought for a moment. “Well … I guess we could try to find out whether
there’s anything factual about the Raiders story. Why don’t I do a little research and
maybe meet you for lunch somewhere?”
“Treasure Island Officers Club? How about twelve-thirty?”
“You got it.”
* * * * *
By one o’clock Dennis Mann had dispensed with two glasses of icewater and several
handfuls of popcorn before Peter Rivera strode into the O-Club’s bar and threw himself
into the next chair. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. “I’ve been on the phone more-or-less
constantly since we spoke.”
Mann signaled the waitress and ordered fruit salads for them both. Then he turned
back to Rivera. “So - Find out anything?”
“Yes and no. Call Lucasfilm and start asking questions about Raiders and they
quickly decide that you’re just another kooky fan. Refer you to fan clubs and such. On
the third call I got a different operator, and told her that I was a grad student at Berkeley
doing research on Hollywood imagery. That got me to another lady who had apparently
worked as an assistant to the Raiders screenwriter.
“First thing she told me was that Raiders was wholly and purely fictional. Said that
the basic plot had been brainstormed by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg in Hawaii in
1977. Then the screenwriter - Kasdan, I think his name was - made up most of the names
and fleshed out the scenes. Lucas had a dog named Indiana, and the character was
originally going to be ‘Indiana Smith’. Someone pointed out that was too close to
‘Nevada Smith’, so ‘Smith’ became ‘Jones’.”
“Was Lucas from Indiana?”
“No, he’s from right here in California - Modesto or one of those places.”
“So why did he name the dog ‘Indiana’?”
Rivera shrugged. Then he took the point. “You think that there might be a real Indiana
Jones somewhere - someone whom Lucas had in mind as a model for the film?”
“Let me think this through. Now … Almost certainly there’s not going to be a real
person by that name, or the press would have picked up on it at some time during the
publicity for the three movies. But let’s suppose that ‘Indiana’ is a nickname. Suppose
- 13 -
that there’s an actual professor of archæology somewhere named ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’.
Suppose that there’s some truth to the story and that he told it to Lucas at some point and
said that it was O.K. to use it as the basis for a film as long as his privacy was preserved.”
“So what now? You can’t very well call every college in the country asking for
‘Indiana Jones’.”
“I won’t have to. Still have a card for the UC library? Good. They can access the
National Technical Information Service datalink there. Get them to do a name search by
campus for anyone named ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ in an archæology department. Archæology
is a small field; not too many places have a department like that. We can rough out his
age bracket as being, um, perhaps 45-70. We might take a chance cross-referencing with
‘Marion’ as a wife’s name, assuming that he might indeed be married to the Marion
Ravenwood of the film.”
“Not much hope there,” said Rivera. “Lucasfilm said that ‘Marion’ is the name of
Kasdan’s grandmother-in-law and that ‘Ravenwood’ is a street in Beverly Hills. But I’m
going to Berkeley later on today, so I’ll drop by the library and run the other stuff. Call
you tomorrow if I get anything.”
They turned their attention to the salads.
* * * * *
Two days later Peter Rivera found a message on his answering machine from the
University of California library. A small roll of computer paper was waiting for him at
the office. He trotted across Sproul Plaza, perched on the edge of Ludwig’s Fountain, and
read impatiently through a list of useless “Smith”s. Following them were only four
“Jones” responses:
Well, what do you know, thought Rivera. He headed for the ASUC building and a
* * * * *
That afternoon Dennis Mann called information in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and
asked for the number of Harry I. Jones. He dialed it and got no answer. He tried again an
hour later and decided to let the phone ring longer than usual. After about twenty rings it
was indeed answered by an obviously irritated voice: “Jones. What is it?”
“Professor Jones?” said Mann. “Harry Jones? Dennis Mann. Lieutenant colonel with
the Army out in California. I’ve found a crate out here with the number 9906753 on it.
Would that mean anything to you?”
For a moment there was silence on the other end of the phone. Then: “How do I know
that you’re who you say you are?”
“Easy,” said Mann. “Call the Oakland Army Base and ask for Warehouse Six. I’m the
only one here.”
“I’ll do that,” said Jones and hung up.
A minute later the phone on Mann’s desk rang. This time the excitement in the voice
from North Carolina was barely concealed. “Where is it? How big is it? Are there any
other markings on it?”
Mann described the crate to him. “I have a sort of problem. This is a classified storage
facility …”
- 14 -
“That’s not going to be a problem. I’ve got a clearance. I’ll have Langley pass it to
you. Listen, I’m coming right out there. Whatever you do, don’t open it. Have you told
anyone about this?”
“A friend of mine. He traced you through the NTIS. For awhile we thought you were
George Lucas’ dog.”
“The dog was named after me,” said Jones. “But that’s not the best part. Would you
believe that Kasdan hit on Marion’s name by accident? Waltzed into San Anselmo and
said ‘Marion’ and George thought he’d found out about us. But it was just a coincidence.
So far just George, Steven, and Harrison know. And now you, but I’d appreciate it if - ”
“It’s not going anywhere with me,” said Mann. “I’m not even sure this is really
“It’s happening,” said Jones curtly. “Well, maybe it’s happening. First I need to look
at that crate. Can you pick me up at the San Francisco Airport tomorrow?”
* * * * *
Dennis Mann couldn’t get away from OARB the next morning, but Peter Rivera
volunteered to drive to the airport. He did a double-take when he saw a man and a woman
walk into the terminal who might have been doubles for Harrison Ford and Karen Allen
except that they were visibly older. They smiled at his discomfiture.
“Dennis is stuck at the base for another hour, but he’s going to meet us at my place if
that’s O.K. with you.”
“That’ll be just fine,” said Indiana Jones.
* * * * *
Over coffee in Peter Rivera’s loft Jones elaborated on his comments over the phone.
“You guessed right about my telling the story to George Lucas when he was a kid, but of
course there’s a lot of stuff in Raiders that has nothing whatever to do with what actually
happened. The South American temple bit, for example, and most of the general chasing
around. But we did find the Ark in Tanis, and we did get jumped by an Ahnenerbe team -
that’s the research branch of the SS, which had several archæological expeditions under
way in the late ’30s. And they did tie us up and open it up. But there was no one named
Belloq; he was just another dramatic device for the film. And the second and third movies
were pure fantasy. Made me wish I had gone after the Grail. I do have some ideas about
“But our run-in with the Ahnenerbe was very odd,” broke in Marion, “because we
don’t know exactly what happened then. We both remember becoming faint and then
blacking out. When we woke up, the Germans were gone, we were untied, and the Ark
was just sitting there. Indy wanted to open it, but I asked him to wait until we got it back
to the museum. And of course we never got it past Washington. But no, we never saw the
Ark ‘do’ anything. We assume we were given some sort of hallucinogen at the time. But
we’re still not sure.”
Jones stood up and walked over to the window of the loft. Then he turned around and
stabbed a finger at them. “Some things just don’t add up. If the Ark were the real thing,
and if we - the Allies - got it - and this was before the war, mind you - then why the Axis
successes and Allied defeats in the first several years of the war? Why, if we had it,
would we just crate it up and bury it in a warehouse? And here, listen to this …”
He went over to the table, rummaged in the old leather briefcase he had brought,
extracted a battered book, thumbed through it impatiently, then began to quote:
- 15 -
When one says that God provokes the lightning, that’s true in a sense; but what is certain is
that God does not direct the thunderbolt, as the church claims. The church’s explanation of
natural phenomena is an abuse, for the church has ulterior interests. True piety is the
characteristic of the being who is aware of his weakness and ignorance. Whoever sees God only
in an oak tree or a tabernacle, instead of seeing him everywhere, is not truly pious. He remains
attached to appearances - and when the sky thunders and the lightning strikes, he trembles simply
from fear of being struck as a punishment for the sin he’s just committed.
From now on, one may consider that there is no gap between the organic and inorganic
worlds. Recent experiments make it possible for one to wonder what distinguishes live bodies
from inanimate matter. In the face of this discovery, the church will begin by rising in revolt;
then it will continue to teach its “truths”. One day, finally, under the battering ram of science,
dogma will collapse. It is logical that it should be so, for the human spirit cannot remorselessly
apply itself to raising the veil of mystery without people’s one day drawing the conclusions.
The Ten Commandments are a code of living to which there’s no refutation. These
precepts correspond to irrefragable needs of the human soul; they’re inspired by the best
religious spirit, and the churches here support themselves on a solid foundation.
“Who said that?” inquired Rivera. “Is that one of your books?”
Jones glanced at Marion, who smiled. “Hardly,” he said. He closed the book with a
snap and tossed it on to the table. “This is Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944, translated by
Cameron and Stevens from Martin Bormann’s own transcripts. What you just heard were
Adolf Hitler’s private remarks to Lieutenant General von Rintelen on the evening of
October 24, 1941.”
Dennis Mann let out a low whistle. “Well, what do you know? That’s something the
history books seem to have omitted. This from the supposed mastermind of the ‘final
solution’? Why would he say that about a Hebrew artifact - particularly if it were in
enemy hands?”
“And why,” added Marion, “did the United States never announce its possession of
the Ark - which presumably would have given Washington the same prestige and
spiritual authority or whatever that Berlin was seeking to acquire? And why did the
Germans abandon it, if they did? Why leave it to us? Why leave us alive?”
“Why indeed,” said Mann. “Unless ...”
“Unless?” prompted Marion.
“Unless there’s something wrong with it,” he answered slowly. “Unless when the AIS
people got their hooks into it, they found something they didn’t expect or didn’t like.”
“Or maybe it was something that they didn’t find,” said Marion. “Well, Dennis, now
it’s up to you. Are you going to let us have a look at it?” She paused, then added, slowly
and deliberately, “We have waited for over forty years.”
Mann stared at her. “I received both of your clearances today - Yes. Yes, indeed.
What about this evening unless the two of you are too tired from the flight?”
He turned to Rivera. “I hate to tell you this, Peter, but there’s a security problem.
Whatever the crate may be, it’s still classified. And the whole warehouse is a restricted
area. I can’t get you in.”
Rivera laughed. “That’s O.K. I’ll just go up on the roof here and wait for the
explosion and the light show. But I’ve got something here which might be handy …”
He went into the next room, then returned with a camera and two metal containers of
film. “Got this from John Felczak last week,” he explained to Mann. “Infrared-sensitive
film. We were going to set the camera on automatic at the next Elektrischenvorspiele and
see what it might record.”
“Elektro-what?” said Marion.
- 16 -
Rivera’s answer was preempted by a knock at the door. He hesitated a moment, then
opened it, whereupon a girl darted by him into the room. “Hi, Rebecca,” he said to the
space where she’d been a moment before.
“Listen, I’m sorry to be in-and-out so quick,” she said as she examined his book case,
“but I only have a few moments and wanted to pick up that tape you had for me - ah,
there it is. Hi, Dennis! See you guys later -”
As she was almost through the door, she noticed their two visitors. She stared at them
for a moment, then shook her head slightly at the crazy notion which had passed through
her mind, and waved goodbye to Peter. He closed the door and shrugged.
Dennis Mann laughed. “Yeah, try to explain this!”
“We’ve had that problem before,” said Marion. “Particularly at the time when the first
movie came out. We got pretty good at amateur disguises. And North Carolina isn’t
exactly where you’d expect to find, ah, celebrities either. But then I guess we’re not
celebrities, because no one thinks that we actually exist as real people.”
“Let’s keep it that way,” commented her husband. “Well, since we’ve some time to
kill before this evening, let’s do lunch at the Berkeley Faculty Club and then stop at the
library. There are some items there I’d like to take a look at.
* * * * *
Shortly after eight that evening, after dropping Rivera back at his home, Mann took
the Joneses down to the base. It was already dark, and the entire post seemed to be
deserted save for an occasional passing car or truck. There was no moon, and no nearby
streetlights, and Warehouse Six was visible only as a looming shadow behind the barbed-
wire fence as Mann punched the code into the alarm system and led them inside. Once in
the building, he threw the switches to turn on the inside lighting and led the way down
the vast main corridor. A moment later the three of them were standing before crate
Mann handed the band-cutter he had brought from the office to Indiana Jones. “Seems
to me that the first cut ought to be yours,” he said.
Unexpectedly there were tears in the old archæologist’s eyes. “Thanks,” he said
awkwardly. Then he addressed the rusted bands with the pincers. One by one they
snapped apart, and then - with an an apprehensive look at one another - the two men set
to work more carefully with crowbars. There were wrenching, tearing sounds as the
wooden slats gave way, and suddenly the top came free from Jones’ crowbar and the
sides fell to the floor with a crash that echoed throughout the cavernous warehouse.
Waving the cloud of dust away, the three of them stared at the sight before them.
The oblong box that rested quietly amidst the slats of the crate bore only a remote
resemblance to the dazzling artifact from the Raiders movie. Its sides and top were
indeed covered with what appeared to be gold, but the surfaces were plain and
unpolished. There was no ornamentation save for two massive gold rings on one end-
panel and a rather crude filigree design worked into the center of the lid. At each end of
the lid were indentations as though at one time something had been attached to them. The
impression Mann received was of very rough workmanship - and of some rough
handling, as evidenced by the absence of the other two carrying-rings and points on the
corners and sides where the golden sheets had been cut through, revealing a brownish-
yellow grained wood beneath. He looked questioningly at Jones.
The archæologist nodded at him. “That’s it, all right. That’s the Ark. The real one.”
“Indy,” said Marion, “what about the statuettes - the ones on the lid? Someone’s taken
them off.”
- 17 -
“Yeah, I noticed.” Jones bent over the box, peering around it and finally lifting up one
end to look underneath. “Not there either,” he said with irritation, but as he set the Ark
back down there was a dull clang from the inside.
Jones’ expression changed. “Bureaucrats,” he said scornfully. “They didn’t want the
crate any bigger than necessary, so they took the cherubim off and put them inside. I
can’t stand it.”
He bent down again and grabbed one end of the lid. “Get the other side, will you?” he
nodded at Mann. “Let’s slide it off and set it down over there.”
Seeing Dennis’ hesitation, Jones laughed. “This isn’t the damned movie. Nothing’s
going to happen …” - he suddenly turned and winked at Marion - “… I think!”
Mann still hesitated. This was too much, too fast: a kind of crazy nightmare. And the
ghostliness of their surroundings didn’t help either. But a moment later nothing had
changed, and it was still very real. He sighed and took hold of the other end of the lid.
Gingerly the two men raised it - it was lighter than it appeared, due apparently to the age
and dryness of the wood - and set it carefully down on one of the nearby crates. Then the
three of them turned back to the Ark and peered inside.
No explosion or other manifestation of an angry Hebrew god rose up to annihilate
them; the Ark was as tranquil as before. Its inside was also covered with the plain, beaten
gold sheets, but within the cavity were two objects wrapped in white cloth. Their shapes
were too irregular to be those of the famed stone tablets. Jones carefully lifted one of
them out of the Ark, unwrapped it - and suddenly there was the glitter of an entirely
different order of gold craftsmanship.
The object that he held up before them was about two feet long and a foot high; it was
a crouched, semi-humanoid figure with its head and face concealed by its two
outstretched wings. It was evidently fashioned from pure gold and was carved and
polished to jewel-like perfection. Noting the sudden expression of confusion on Mann’s
face, Jones held the statue towards him and nodded with evident pleasure: “I think you’ve
just noticed what we did forty years ago.”
“That’s not Mesopotamian,” said Mann. “That’s Egyptian. The wings, the kilt -
What’s an Egyptian statue doing on the Hebrew Ark?”
“We asked ourselves the same question in Tanis,” said Marion while her husband set
the first statue down and began to unwrap the other one. “But like you we weren’t
expecting such a discovery. And unfortunately we were interrupted by the Ahnenerbe
before we could try to come up with an answer. Indy, show him their faces.”
Jones tilted the statues back so that Mann could see beneath the canopied wings. Once
again he shook his head in surprise. “Horus and Set. Those are Horus and Set. What
does this mean? And you knew about this and didn’t say anything about it - didn’t write
it up or make any statement? Do you know -”
“Of course we do,” said Marion. “But we didn’t have the Ark - or the cherubim.
Who’d have believed us? After the Army took the Ark away, it was as though a door was
shut in our face. No one would tell us anything about it, or even admit to having it at all. I
can’t tell you how many people we tried in Washington.”
Mann shifted his gaze back to the Ark. “What about the Ten Commandments?” he
said. “Weren’t they supposed to be inside? Where are they?”
“Not here,” said Jones, “Unless you’ve got another box labeled, um, 9906753-A.”
Mann laughed. “I’m afraid not.”
“One of two things must have happened - assuming that the tablets were in the Ark
when Marion and I got it out of the Well of Souls: Either the Germans got them while we
were out cold, or the same people who took our two little friends off the lid stored the
- 18 -
tablets in some other place.”
“But it doesn’t make sense that they’d separate the tablets from the Ark, which is
equally important,” objected Marion. “They wouldn’t have removed them from the Ark
just to be able to put the statues inside.”
“I’m going out to the car,” said Mann. “I’ll be right back.”
Moments later he returned, carrying a socket adapter, a small DC transformer, and two
long electrical cables. The Joneses watched with interest while he connected the
transformer to the nearest overhead light socket, then attached one end of the cables to
the transformer and the others to one of the metal attachments at each end of the Ark. He
switched on the transformer after cautioning them not to touch the Ark while the current
was on. Then with Peter Rivera’s camera he took a series of infrared photographs of all
of the outside and inside surfaces of the box. Finally he switched off the current, and
disconnected the apparatus. “Well,” he said. “What now?”
Indiana Jones scratched his chin. “For the time being the Ark might as well stay here.
But first I want to take some measurements of it. And I want to take the cherubim with
us. I’ll go ahead and sign a receipt if you want.”
Mann laughed. “A receipt for some Lockheed P-38 parts? O.K., I’ll write it up.”
It was but the work of a few more minutes to nail the crate together again around the
now-empty Ark and reband it. Just for good measure Mann smeared a little oil on the
shiny new bands, then sprinkled some dust from the floor on them. “Instant age,” he
observed. Finally crate 9906753 was restored to its niche. The three of them made their
way out of the warehouse.
* * * * *
The next morning Dennis Mann picked up Indiana and Marion Jones at their hotel,
passed by the fotomat to collect the prints of the film he had taken, and continued on to
Peter Rivera’s home.
To Rivera they recounted the events of the previous evening. Jones had brought along
the two cherubim statues in an old leather suitcase, and when he unwrapped them Rivera
let out a low whistle of awe. He reached out to touch one of them, then drew back his
hand at the last moment. Mann smiled. “Me too,” he said.
Marion Jones was carefully taping four of the photographs together. “Look at this,
Indy. Hieroglyphs. On the inside of the Ark.”
Jones took the photos from her. “So that infrared trick really worked. Incredible. You
-” he addressed Mann and Rivera “- have a great future in archæology. Marion, have you
got some paper handy?”
He sat down at the dining-table and, peering carefully at the photographs, began to
make notes. After watching him for a few moments, Marion tugged two books from the
satchel she had brought with her. “While he’s working on the translation,” she said, “we
found some tidbits at UC yesterday that you might be interested in hearing. We of course
knew about the Egyptian design of the cherubim from our original discovery of the Ark.
Until now there seemed to be little use in pursuing the matter, but your call” - she nodded
at Mann - “made the difference. So yesterday we were looking for the link, as it were.
This first book is Religion in Ancient History by Brandon - Religion Department at the
University of Manchester. Bright guy. Indy knew him in graduate school. Listen to this:
- 19 -
Seraphim are mysterious beings; they clearly derive from a very primitive stage of Hebrew
culture. The word “seraphim” means “burning ones”, and it is evident that originally they were
supernatural serpents with a burning bite. Indeed, as the curious episode in Numbers 21:6
indicates, they were once worshipped. The bronze serpent that was then made was called a
saraph, and it continued to be a cult object in Judah down to the reign of Hezekiah (716-687
Equally mysterious are the cherubim. According to “Psalm 18:10”, they transport Yahweh:
“He (Yahweh) rode on the cherub and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.” Their
association in this passage with storm-clouds appears more clearly in Ezekiel’s account of the
vision of Yahweh which he had when an exile in Mesopotamia (593 BC): “As I looked, behold,
a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire
flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming bronze. And from the
midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: They had
the form of men, but each had four faces, and each had four wings. As for the likeness of their
faces, each had the face of a man in front; the four had the face of a lion on the right side, the
four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle at the back. Such
were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. (Ezekiel 1:4-5, 10-11)
In the instructions given in Exodus 25:18-20 for the construction of the Ark of Yahweh,
which was the chief cult-object in the original Temple of Jerusalem, Moses is directed: “You
shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of
the mercy seat. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat
with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim
Specialist opinion today is inclined to think that the cherubim were similar to the winged
sphinxes found in Phœnician art - their images adorning the Ark are also reminiscent of the
winged figures of the goddesses Isis and Nepthys that protect the shrine of Tutankhamen.
It would seem, therefore, that in the pre-exilic period, as Hebrew religion emerged gradually
from its primitive polytheism, many supernatural beings, of diverse origin and status, were
recognized alongside of Yahweh. Since at this stage the idea of the Devil had not emerged, these
beings were sometimes regarded as emissaries of Yahweh to bring evil as well as good on men -
which they did, most notably, on Saul and Ahab.
“You see the problem here,” said Marion. “We’re actually trying to make sense out of
a religious artifact that, at least where the cherubim are concerned, is not Hebraic at all,
but rather Egyptian in origin. Also dating back to a historical period before Yahweh or
Jehovah became a single god for the Hebrews.
“Then there is the secondary problem of the Exodus itself. Archæologically it never
happened - at least not in the way it is described in the Bible.”
She set the Brandon book down and took up the second one. “John Romer’s
Testament. Brilliant piece of work. He’s a British archæologist who’s spent most of his
professional life in the field in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Wrote this as a study of how the
present-day book we know as the Bible came to be assembled over the centuries.” She
flipped through the pages, then quoted a passage to them:
Hard evidence of the Exodus event in the preserving deserts of the Sinai, where most of the
biblical Wandering takes place, is similarly elusive. Although its climate has preserved the tiniest
traces of ancient bedouin encampments and the sparse, 5,000-year-old villages of mine-workers,
there is not a single trace of Moses or the Israelites. And they would have been by far the largest
body of ancient people ever to have lived in this great wilderness. Neither is there any evidence
that Sinai and its little natural springs could ever have supported such a multitude, even for a
single week. Several 19th-century vicars recognized this fact within a day or two of the start of
numerous expeditions in search of Moses’ footsteps. “Escaping from the rigours of an English
winter,” as one of them says, “in a land of the flock and the tent to which our only guide was the
Bible” they quickly realized that the biblical Exodus was logistically impossible and that the
Bible was a most ambiguous guide to that desolate region. The biblical description of the
- 20 -
Exodus, then, flies in the face of practical experience. Indeed the closer you examine it, the
further it seems removed from all of ancient history.
Fortunately it is easier to discover the age of the book of Exodus than the route of an Exodus
journey - and all the indications are that this was a very long time after Rameses City had
descended into ruin. For running alongside the ancient theme of creation and re-creation is the
no-less-powerful theme of a liberation from slavery and of Jehovah’s revenge upon the slave
masters. And it is in this account of Israel’s enslavement that the Exodus story departs from the
reality of the world of Genesis and Exodus. Slavery on such a scale and of the type described in
the Book of Exodus did not exist in ancient Egypt, nor anywhere in that ancient world, where
mankind was set inside a holy order in which everyone from a pharaoh to a bonded peasant was
at the disposal of the gods and the state. In such a world modern conceptions of slavery and
freedom, even of ownership and buying and selling, have little meaning. Furthermore explicit
documentary evidence from ancient Egypt shows that foreigners who lived in that country, either
as prisoners of war or as peaceful immigrants, were carefully and quickly integrated into the
general mass of the population. Ancient notions of race and culture were very different, and
Exodus’ theme of liberation from oppression is entirely inappropriate to ancient reality.
Marion closed the book. “So not only do we have an Ark of extremely mysterious
design. It is also supposed to be one of the central features of an event which, as far as we
can tell, never took place. Yet here it is. Now -”
“Got it!” said Indiana Jones, pushing back his chair and walking over to join them.
“Fantastic. Some of the glyphs were too blurred or indistinct, but enough came through.
This is just fantastic.” He waved his notes at them. “Are you ready for this?”
and … Self-Become-One has said … firstborn son of the great house of Men-maat-Ra, son of
the Sun, Ptah-meri-en-Seti, Life! Health! Strength!, bear away from Khem the sacred Sam-taui
… preserved by these nomads with … I adjure thee … writing reveals itself, to return the Sam-
taui to their most holy
“Most holy what?” said Mann. “Don’t tell me …”
“‘Fraid so,” said Jones. “That’s where they stop. The rest of the writing is presumably
on the other tablet, which left no impression on the gold. But no matter. We’ll worry
about that later. This is tremendous. Do you know what this means?”
“What’s the name of that Pharaoh?” inquired Rivera.
“Sorry, I was giving you the literal translation. It’s Seti I of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Now let’s see how good a detective you are.” He passed the notes to Rivera, who looked
over them carefully.
“Well, the writer refers to himself only as Seti’s firstborn son - but not by name.
Maybe he had some reason to conceal his name? Maybe to pose as a non-Egyptian, to
blend in with these nomads he’s talking about? Of course: Moses. That’s why he’s come
down to us with that name; it’s just the Egyptian hieroglyphic for ‘son’.”
“Like ‘Thutmose - Son of Thoth’ and ‘Rameses - Son of Ra’,” nodded Mann. “So this
is proof that Moses was not only an Egyptian, but in fact a prince of the royal house - the
crown prince in fact.”
“You got it,” said Jones, beaming at them. “I’ll bet that my movie double, Harrison
Ford, never stopped to think that the root of his first name is the hieroglyphic for Har or
Horus, which makes him ‘Son of Horus’. Anything else occur to you?”
“Hmm,” said Mann. “The Sam-taui are obviously those two statues of Horus and Set.
And they weren’t just any statues; they were two unusually important ones. For whatever
reason - perhaps a political crisis or threat of invasion - it was felt necessary to get them
out of Egypt in some manner that would ultimately preserve them without revealing their
actual significance or value. What better way than as ‘ornaments’ for a mock-sacred
- 21 -
treasure, the tablets of the Ten Commandments - which Moses also used to record this
He got to his feet and paced back and forth, getting more excited. “He must have
carved the commandments on the front of the tablets, which is all that he showed the
Hebrews. They never knew what was on the back, nor could they read the message even
if they did see it. And Moses made certain that they wouldn’t see the hieroglyphs by
decreeing that the tablets were to be locked out of sight in the Ark and not touched
henceforth. Even the Hebrew priests who were permitted to open the Ark could see only
the Hebrew writing as they looked inside. And that’s why what was on the back of this
tablet impressed itself into the gold lining of the Ark.”
“How about that ‘Self-Become-One’?” added Rivera. “That’s got to be Xepera, the
self-created scarab, right?”
“Or,” said Jones, “you might translate the hieroglyph into ancient Hebrew as ‘I am
that I am’ or ‘I will be what I will be’. But let’s not jump immediately to a simple
conclusion.” He rummaged again in the leather satchel, took out a third book. “Massey’s
Ancient Egypt,” he explained. “Massey was an interesting guy. Spent years in research at
the British Museum around the turn of the century, and published six books on his work.
He also lectured extensively in both England and the States. Many of this century’s best
archæologists began their careers as students of his. Unfortunately for him, he more or
less exposed Judæo-Christianity as being merely a plagiarism of far-more-ancient
Egyptian and Mesopotamian legends. That didn’t go down too well with the
contemporary religious establishment, which is why he’s been, in a word, suppressed.
But there isn’t an Egyptologist worth his salt today who doesn’t know Massey’s work.
Here’s the part I was looking for:
- 22 -
Ages before the Hebrew Pentateuch was written and ascribed to Moses, the one god had been
worshipped at On or Annu as Egyptian under the title of Atum-Ra. If he was made known to
Anhur by revelation, whatsoever that may imply, the revelation was Egyptian. This is the god
who was one by nature and dual by manifestation: one in the solar mythos as the opener/closer of
the netherworld; one in the eschatology as Huhi the everlasting father, and Iu the ever-coming
son as prince of peace; the one god, called the holy spirit, who was founded typically on the
human ghost. This is the living (Ankhu), self-originating, and eternal god. This is he who was to
be lifted up as god alone in his ark or tabernacle on the mount of glory - that is, as Ra-Harmakhu
on the double horizon or in the dual equinox; the deity who gave the law on Mount Shenni
through the intermediation of Anhur or Ma-Shu, the son of Ra.
In the so-called “destruction of mankind” the solar god resolves to be lifted up in an ark or
sanctuary by himself alone. This sanctuary is carried on the back of Nut, the celestial cow.
“There was Nut. The majesty of Ra was on her back. His majesty arrived in the sanctuary. And
his majesty saw the inner part of the sanctuary.”
This creation of the sanctuary for the one god Ra upon the mount is followed in the Hebrew
book. Ihuh says to Moses, “Let them (the children of Israel) make me a sanctuary, that I may
dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, the pattern of the dwelling and the pattern
of the furniture thereof, even so ye shall make it.” “And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood.”
The two together, the sanctuary and the ark, constituted an ark-shrine of the true Egyptian
pattern. As Egyptian, the ark of Ra-Harmakhu represented the double equinox in the two
horizons. This was the “double abode of Ra” in the dual domain of light and shade, the model of
the Jewish arks or tabernacles that were to be erected equally in sun and shade. The part open to
the rays of light was exactly to balance the shade or veil of the covering, and not to have more
sun than shade (Mishna, Treatise Succah). This was in accordance with the plan of the Great
Pyramid in relation to the luminous hemisphere and the hemisphere of shade at the two
The sanctuary of Ra was a figure of the heavens. The Hebrew ark was a portable copy, a
tabernacle fitted for an itinerating deity.
It was the Egyptian custom to represent the heaven in miniature as an ark of so many cubits.
There is an ark of seven cubits, one of eight cubits, another of four cubits, in which the god was
“lifted up” or exalted.
Inside the ark there was a shrine for the deity, with a figure of the god within the sanctuary.
As water was the primary element of life, the nature-powers were held to have come into being
by water. Hence their images were placed within the shrine that was carried on board the papyrus
bark and borne upon the shoulders of the priests.
These tabernacles, consisting of a boat and shrine, were the sacred ark-shrines of Egypt. Thus
the beginnings were forever kept in view. The ark-shrine on the water represented by the boat
became a type of heaven as dwelling-place of the Eternal. Thus an ark of Nnu was constellated in
the stars and pictured on the waters of the inundation. The ark of Atum-Ra was depicted with the
solar orb on board, which was always red.
In the religious mysteries, as already shown, an ark of four cubits imaged the heaven of four
quarters, or, as the Egyptians phrased it, of four sides. As we have seen, there was an ark of
seven cubits for the heptanomis, and one of eight cubits for the octonary. This ark-shrine of eight
cubits is to be built for the god to float in after there has been a great subsidence of land in the
celestial waters. So likewise in the “destruction of mankind”, when Ra becomes the supreme one
god, he orders an ark or tabernacle to be made for his voyage over the heavens. The inscription
was engraved in the chamber of the cow that was herself a form of the ark as the goddess Nut.
“So the Ark is an Egyptian device used to transport the Sam-taui,” said Rivera. “So
where does that leave us?”
“Go ahead a few thousand years,” answered Jones. “What happened to the Ark when
Marion and I first found it?”
“I don’t follow you.”
“O.K., look at it this way: We got to keep the Ark, but without the tablets. The
Germans must have drugged us, then opened the Ark and removed the tablets - which are
what are supposed to be important about it, remember? - and taken just them to Berlin.
- 23 -
Presumably the team - it was rather more of a commando outfit than a research group -
couldn’t translate the hieroglyphs on-site, or just didn’t bother to.
“Why they didn’t take the Ark and the Sam-taui as well I don’t suppose we’ll ever
know. Maybe they didn’t have time or the transport facilities. Anyway, by the time the
hieroglyphs were deciphered, the Ark was in the United States, out of their reach. There
must have been hell to pay in Berlin that day!” He laughed.
“Now we have a most interesting situation. The Germans couldn’t reveal the truth
about the tablets, because then the U.S. would know the significance of the statues. As
for the Ark, well, my guess would be that it was opened up once we got it to Washington.
When nothing was found inside, the powers-that-be decided that revealing that fact might
be a bad blow to Judæo-Christianity - or even might be seen as an anti-Semitic scheme to
discredit the biblical account. Remember that the whole Western world was pretty touchy
about the Jews in the pre-World War II period; it wasn’t just a German trait by a long
“So that’s why the government just buried the Ark in your warehouse. A religious hot
potato, if you will.”
Marion waved her finger in the air. “Now a whole lot of other things are beginning to
fall into place,” she said. “Rameses II - presumably another son of Seti I - moved the
Egyptian capital to Tanis during his reign from 1290 to 1223 BC. Tanis remained the
capital through the XXII Dynasty begun by Pharaoh Sheshonk, the biblical ‘Shishack’
who raided and sacked Jerusalem in 928 BC. That’s in I Kings 14:26. If Sheshonk knew
about the Sam-taui through court or temple archives, that might explain why he went
after the Ark - to get the sacred Sam-taui back to Egypt. Certainly there’s no reason why
he should have gone through all that trouble to enshrine a presumably false, foreign
Jehovah in the Well of Souls where we found the Ark. That would have been an affront
to the Egyptian gods.
“But what he was actually enshrining was the Sam-taui, together with Moses’
ingenious device to preserve them. And the “Staff of Ra” that you used to find the Well,
Indy; that must have been the ‘Staff of Rameses’. I’ll bet you anything that the story of
the Sam-taui’s concealment was recorded on the original shaft of that staff by Moses’
younger brother - for the eyes of future pharaohs only. Rameses must have had the Well
and the Map Room built in his new capital against a time when the Ark would be
returned. Evidently Sheshonk had reason to think that the time had come to bring it
“So now we have to get our hands on the Ten Commandments - or, more precisely, on
the rest of that inscription,” said Jones. “That means we’re off to Germany tomorrow.
You interested?”
“I’m afraid I’m out,” said Rivera sadly. “I’ve got too many things holding me to the
bay area right now. But I certainly want to know what happens.”
The Joneses looked at Dennis Mann. “Right now I belong to the Army,” he said. “But
after a couple of weeks -” then paused as Indiana smiled and waved a piece of fax paper
in front of him.
“Forgot to tell you. I took the, ah, liberty of having your orders amended. You’re now
on casual status, assigned as escort officer to a scholar with a sensitive security
background traveling overseas. That’s me. You don’t mind?”
Mann laughed. “Obviously you’ve got what is commonly called clout.”
“Ha,” said Marion. “It’s just that he creates so many problems for so many high-ups
when someone isn’t keeping an eye on him!”
- 24 -
“My reputation must be improving,” commented her husband. “This time I asked for
and got two escort officers. We’ll pick up the other one when we change planes at
* * * * *
The next morning Dennis Mann and the Joneses flew from San Francisco to New
York’s Kennedy Airport and transferred to a Lufthansa flight for Frankfurt. Waiting for
them at the gate was the other escort officer.
“Dennis, what’s this all about?” said Karen. “These orders came in yesterday. Who’s
this ‘Professor Harry Jones’?”
Mann beamed at her, then brought her over to Indy and Marion, who put on a good
show, he thought, of innocence in the “arrangement”.
Karen stared at them, then turned to him and said, “Good god, it’s Harrison Ford,
isn’t it? And you,” - she looked again at Marion - “you’re Karen Allen from the Raiders
movie, right?”
Dennis chuckled. “Well, something like that, dear. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you on the
* * * * *
It was close to noon the following day when the 747 finally touched down at Munich.
An hour later they had secured an Audi from the local Hertz office and were speeding out
of the city on the Salzburg Autobahn. Until now Indiana Jones had deflected questions as
to their precise destination, but now it seemed that he was ready to talk.
“The fastest route would be over into Austria and back into Berchtesgaden,” he said.
“But since your passports haven’t reached the consulate yet and we don’t have time to
argue with the Austrian border people, we’ll cut down 306 and catch 305 into the town.
Marion, after we pass the Chiemsee on the left, take the right exit for Inzell.”
“Berchtesgaden?” said Mann. “That means the Obersalzberg, right? So we’re going to
Hitler’s old home in the Alps? Why there as opposed to Berlin?”
“I considered Berlin,” Indiana answered. “Believe it or not, there is a way down into
the Führerbunker even though the Soviet engineers blew up the main and emergency
exits. Underground escape passage leading from a false wall in Hitler’s quarters to a
concealed trapdoor in an old building a block away. Remind me to tell you all about that
sometime,” - he smiled as Dennis’ and Karen’s eyes widened - “but my nose tells me that
he wouldn’t have taken a - talisman - like the Ten Commandments there. He may have
worked in Berlin, but his heart was here. He used to point out the window of the Berghof
at the Untersberg - that’s the mountain wherein Charlemagne is reputed to be sleeping,
waiting to rise again, sort of like King Arthur from Avalon.” Jones pulled one particular
paper from the folder on his lap and switched on the map light of the Audi. “Here, this is
Martin Bormann’s transcript of some of Hitler’s remarks the evening of January 2, 1941:
When I go to Obersalzberg, I’m not drawn there merely by the beauty of the landscape. I feel
myself far from petty things, and my imagination is stimulated. When I study a problem
elsewhere, I see it less clearly; I’m submerged by the details. By night, at the Berghof, I often
remain for hours with my eyes open, contemplating from my bed the mountains lit up by the
Moon. It’s at such moments that my mind is illuminated.
“If he acquired the tablets,” continued Indiana, “I’m betting that he hid them there.
Now the Berghof itself - his official residence at Obersalzberg - was blown up during an
Allied air raid in April 1945. Even so its shell remained standing for another seven years.
Then the Bavarian government got nervous, thought it was attracting a bit too much
attention as a shrine, so to speak, and had it razed to the ground on April 30, 1952 -
- 25 -
coincidentally the anniversary of his reported suicide in Berlin. Today there is nothing
left but the old garage, and even that is almost completely overgrown by brush.”
“You think he hid the Ten Commandments in his garage?” inquired Karen.
Jones laughed. “No - Marion, there’s the turnoff - Now then: Hitler may have lived in
the Berghof, but he had another place there for personal contemplation. About twelve
miles up a winding road from the Berghof is the Kehlstein mountain. The road leads to a
tunnel that goes to the center of the mountain. There Bormann had an elevator shaft cut
through the solid rock all the way to the peak. At its apex he built a special retreat for
Hitler - the Adlerhorst or Eagle’s Nest. It’s not exactly Neuschwanstein, mind you; Speer
referred to it as ‘ocean-liner modern’. Probably because he didn’t get to design it. But the
air raid missed it entirely, and then it was judged too much of an engineering marvel to
destroy. So today it’s a restaurant for tourists, if you can believe that.”
“I can believe that,” nodded Mann. “But I have another question to put to you: Why
do you think that Hitler had the tablets? If they were taken from you by the Ahnenerbe,
perhaps Himmler kept them - at the Wewelsburg, for instance.”
“I considered that too, but I don’t think so. You have to get into the minds of these
people. Himmler was a mystic, true, but he had a very strong phobia against anything
Jewish or Hebraic. He wouldn’t have sent an Ahnenerbe team after something like the
Ark of the Covenant on his own - or, if he had, the team would simply have had orders to
obliterate it.
“But Hitler, as per his own words, had a sense of historical respect for the tablets. He
would have wanted them intact. And that’s the way they were taken from us.”
* * * * *
As the afternoon blended into a beautiful Alpine evening, they descended into the
small valley containing the colorful village of Berchtesgaden. The Audi followed the
Achen River halfway through town, then turned onto a narrow but well-paved road
leading toward the foothills of the Obersalzberg. “We’re going to the General Walker,”
said Indiana to Marion. “You’ll see the sign up ahead. They’ve already got a suite for
- 26 -
“Clout,” observed Dennis to Karen.
She grinned back at him. “Clout indeed. When I was last over here, I once tried to get
reservations at the Walker and was told that you had to make them months in advance. So
I stayed in town at the Berchtesgadener Hof - which turned out to be a very nice place.”
“It should be,” said Indiana. “Despite the Platterhof’s - that’s the Walker’s original
name - location right in the Obersalzberg complex, many of the VIPs preferred to stay in
Berchtesgaden, which was certainly a more relaxed environment. Your hotel is where
they stayed: Chamberlain, Rommel, Raeder, Himmler, Goebbels … Plenty of important
ghosts to keep you company at night.”
Karen gave him a look. “Thanks, Dennis will do.” Jones’ eyes twinkled.
Marion pulled the Audi into the General Walker Hotel’s parking lot. “Ghosts or not,”
she said, “I for one am thoroughly jet-lagged. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since we
left Chapel Hill, Indy. And I’m willing to bet Karen is bushed too. Tomorrow we’re
going to sleep late, then breakfast in front of a nice warm fire, then lounge around on the
featherbeds while you big strong men go running around in the - brrr! - refreshing Alpine
“Listen to the lady who hates cold mountain air,” retorted Jones. He glanced at Dennis
and Karen. “If I hadn’t arrived like the fairy prince to sweep her off her feet, she’d still be
freezing her ass off in the Himalayas. That’s gratitude for you!”
“Right,” said Karen. “The way I saw it, she swept you off your feet.”
“Minor detail,” said the archæologist. “That’s what I get for telling all to a kid named
Lucas. Oh, well, let’s get the bags inside before we all freeze.”
* * * * *
As the Joneses and the Manns dropped off to sleep under the featherbeds of the
General Walker, it was still only late in the afternoon in the District of Columbia. At 5:12
a shiny black Lincoln pulled off the Parkway into the tree-shrouded access road with its
unobtrusive sign saying, simply, “CIA”. [The sign had been put there by orders of John
Kennedy, whose driver had been unable to find the unmarked turnoff on the new
President’s first official visit.]
The limousine continued past the controlled-gate checkpoint and finally glided to a
halt in front of the gleaming white building housing the Central Intelligence Agency. A
stocky, dark-haired man in the pin-striped suit that is the Washington diplomatic uniform
emerged from the car and walked up the steps to be met by a similarly-attired - but
obviously Ivy League - official who quickly escorted him into the building and through
the lobby checkpoints. They walked along the hall into the left wing, past several doors
bearing numbers but no identifying signs, and finally entered one of them: a small office
evidently used for a variety of interview purposes.
“Well?” said the visitor, taking one of the chairs and crossing his legs.
His host frowned. “I don’t like this, you know. The decision’s out of my hands, but
only because your government has confirmed that you’ll not take any action unless it’s
first approved by us. That is understood?”
“Yes, quite understood,” said the visitor impatiently. “Now what can you tell me
about Jones?”
The CIA official shrugged and lit a cigarette. “Not much, I’m afraid. He called one of
our people here a couple of days ago. Weird request. He wanted travel arrangements in
Germany, and carte blanche orders for an Army lieutenant colonel and his wife - she’s
also an officer: a major - to accompany him. He didn’t say why, and of course our person
didn’t ask; he just approved it because of Jones being who he is. But of course it came up
on the computer, and that’s why you’ve been told about it.”
- 27 -
“Who’s this Army officer?”
“Just a Reservist who was assigned to San Francisco for a two-week tour. When we
called the unit out there, all we were told was that he’d been assigned to watch some
warehouse facilities at another base in the bay area. I can’t see there’s much to make of
“I expect you’re right. Where are they now?”
“All four of them - Jones’ wife is along too - took a plane to Munich. We booked
them into the General Walker at the Obersalzberg. But there’s nothing sensitive about
that place today; it’s just a recreation site for the armed forces and a tourist-trap.”
“You think they went there to go skiing? Indiana Jones?”
“Like I said, your guess is as good as mine. Anyway we were supposed to tell you if
he left the country, and so we have.”
The visitor stood up. “All right then. Come on, I’ll buy you a cup of your lousy coffee
in the unclassified cafeteria before I go.”
Twenty minutes later, as the Lincoln purred back towards Washington, the man in the
back seat activated a cellular phone, pressed a scrambler switch, and said: “This is
MOSSAD 4310. Jones must have found it. The CIA locates him at Obersalzberg in
Germany. Yes, the General Walker Hotel. Send someone to watch him, and keep me
* * * * *
The next morning Dennis Mann rolled over, scratched his ear, and gradually focused
his eyes at the bedside table. On it was an old clothbound book with some loose papers
crammed into the back of it. The stamped title on the spine was too faded to read. He
reached out a hand, flipped it open to the title page:
by Hermann Rauschning
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
New York, 1940
A note on a torn piece of paper fell out from inside the front cover. It said: “Chapts
XVI & XVII - Understand the mind. Also Bormann’s trans of H’s pvt convs on 10/24/41,
1/25/42, 2/27/42. See you at 10. IJ” - and then below: “See red marks”.
Dennis sat up and nudged Karen. “Hey,” he said. “Wake up. Jones left a book here.”
She rolled over and glared at him. “What time is it?”
“Um, half past eight,” he answered. “But -”
“See you at eleven,” she yawned and pulled the featherbed over her head.
Dennis considered whether to tug it back down, then thought better of it. He settled
back, opened the book, and began to read from the memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s confidant:
Black magic, white magic - Hitler is the typical person with no firm foundation, with all the
shortcomings of the superficial, of the man without reverence, quick to judge and quick to
condemn. He is one of those with no spiritual tradition, who, being caught by the first substitute
for it that they meet, hold tenaciously to that, lest they fall back into nothingness. He belongs
also to the type of German who is “starving for the unattainable”. For all those who have been
unsuccessful in the battle of life, National Socialism is the great worker of magic. And Hitler
himself is the first of these; thus he has become the master-enchanter and the high priest of the
religious mysteries of Nazidom.
Hitler’s henchmen make more and more play with this quality of his of supreme magician, a
quality supposed to outdistance those of a great statesman. And amid the ecstasy of his speeches,
or in his solitary walks in the mountains, he feels that he does possess this quality …
- 28 -
He flipped through a few more pages …
Revolution without end: I must add a few words on the subject of this doctrine of Hitler’s.
Few know about it. Yet his political purpose can only be understood with this background of his
ideas. Hitler is not superstitious in the ordinary sense. His interest in the horoscope and the
cryptic elements in nature is connected with his conviction that man exists in some kind of magic
association with the universe. The political element is for him only the foreground of a
revolution which he pictures on the most stupendous scale.
The story of apocryphal literature gives him the material for his doctrine. But what is of more
importance than the doctrine is the will behind it. Hitler never tires of proclaiming, with endless
variations on his theme, that the movement into which he has led the German people and the
world is an unending movement, an unending revolution. This revolution embraces the whole
existence of mankind. It is the liberation of mankind, which, according to Hitler’s doctrine,
advances a step every 700 years. This liberation is at the same time, for the great majority of
mankind, a subjection to a new form of bondage. For the liberation is that of the sons of God. It
is the revolution of the new nobility against the masses.
He has gone far, if we recall where he began. Hitler the conspirator and paid propagandist
has become the prophet of a new religion. Is this merely the megalomania of a sick man, or is it
not, after all, the outcome of a logical process? A red thread may be plainly seen running through
all the inconsistent, contradictory activities of this most extraordinary man. “Activity is
everything. Keep always on the move.” His natural restlessness finds expression in everything.
But at the back of it there is not only his “haunting hysteria”, as he himself so significantly calls
it. A world in full process of dissolution, and a people no less hysterical than himself could not
but come under the leadership of a man of this sort.
“Time,” he says, “is working for us. I need but give them a kick, and we shall be free of the
chains of a world that has outlived its day. All these things that seem so solid are rotten and
ready for collapse.”
All things do, indeed, seem to be inwardly rotting and in dissolution. In its dismay humanity
seems to be abandoning itself to restless movement, perpetual change. And self-surrender to the
uncontrollable impulse to wreak destruction seems to be the essence of the spirit that guides this
insane adventurer. “We do not know yet,” said Hitler on one occasion, “the full scope of our
objective. But we have it in our blood, and we are living it.” That is literature - bad literature. It
dates from the outset of the present century. At that time there existed a sort of hysterical
romanticism in Germany and Austria. It flourished especially in Vienna and Munich.
It is not the first time that the sick fancies of a whole fevered nation have found concrete
shape in figures that have worked havoc for centuries thereafter. Whole peoples have broken
suddenly into an inexplicable restlessness. They undertake pilgrimages of penance, they are
seized with an hysterical dancing mania. The present is one of these cases, A nation has become
sick in mind; the circumstances may be investigated, but the root cause remains undiscoverable...
Mann pulled the photocopied transcripts from the rear of the book, laid the worn
volume back on the table, and looked at the first of Hitler’s confidential statements which
Indiana Jones had highlighted with a red pencil:
14th October 1941, midday. Special guest: Reichsführer Himmler
An educated man retains the same sense of the mysteries of nature and bows before the
unknowable. An uneducated man, on the other hand, runs the risk of going over to atheism
(which is a return to the state of the animal) as soon as he perceives that the state, in sheer
opportunism, is making use of false ideas in the matter of religion, whilst in other fields it bases
everything on pure science.
But one must continue to pay attention to another aspect of the problem. It’s possible to
satisfy the needs of the inner life by an intimate communion with nature, or by knowledge of the
past. Only a minority, however, at the present stage of the mind’s development, can feel the
respect inspired by the unknown, and thus satisfy the metaphysical needs of the soul. The
average human being has the same needs, but can satisfy them only by elementary means. The
person whose life tends to simplification thirsts for belief, dimly clings to it with all his strength.
- 29 -
24th October 1941, evening. Special guest: Lieutenant General von Rintelen, coming from Rome
The microscope has taught us that we are hemmed in not only by the infinitely great but also
by the infinitely small - macrocosm and microcosm. To such large considerations are added
particular things that are brought to our attention by natural observation: that certain hygienic
practices are good for a man - fasting, for example. It’s by no means a result of chance that
among the ancient Egyptians no distinction was drawn between medicine and religion.
For a world population of 2,250,000,000, one can count on the Earth 170 religions of a
certain importance - each of them claiming, of course, to be the repository of the truth. At least
169 of them, therefore, are mistaken! Among the religions practiced today, there is none that
goes back further than 2,500 years. But there have been human beings, in the baboon category,
for at least 300,000 years. There is less distance between the man-ape and the ordinary modern
man than there is between the ordinary modern man and a man like Schopenhauer. In
comparison with this millenary past, what does a period of 2,000 years signify?
Night of 25th January 1942
It’s striking to realize what a limited view we have of the past. The oldest specimens of
handwriting we possess go back 3-4,000 years at most. No legend would have reached us if those
who made and transmitted them hadn’t been people like ourselves. Where do we acquire the
right to believe that man has not always been what he is now? The study of nature teaches us
that, in the animal kingdom just as much as in the vegetable kingdom, variations have occurred.
They’ve occurred within the species, but none of these variations has an importance comparable
with that which separates man from the monkey - assuming that this transformation really took
If we consider the ancient Greeks, we find in them a beauty much superior to the beauty such
as is widespread today - and I mean also beauty in the realm of thought as much as in the realm
of forms. To realize this it’s enough to compare the head of Zeus or Pallas Athene with that of a
crusader or a saint! If one plunges further into the past, one comes again with the Egyptians upon
human beings of the quality of the Greeks. Since the birth of Christ, we have had scarcely 40
successive generations on the globe, and our knowledge goes back only a few thousand years
before the Christian era.
Legend cannot be extracted from the void; it couldn’t be a purely gratuitous figment. Nothing
prevents us from supposing - and I believe, even, that it would be to our interest to do so - that
mythology is a reflection of things that have existed and of which humanity has retained a vague
memory …
It’s against my own inclinations that I devoted myself to politics. I don’t see anything in
politics anyway, but a means to an end. Some people suppose it would deeply grieve me to give
up the activity that occupies me at this moment. They are deeply mistaken, for the finest day of
my life will be that on which I leave politics behind me, with its griefs and torments. When the
war’s over, and I have the sense of having accomplished my duties, I shall retire. Then I would
like to devote 5 or 10 years to clarifying my thought and setting it down on paper. Wars pass by.
The only things that exist are the works of human genius.
This is the explanation of my love of art. Music and architecture - is it not in these disciplines
that we find recorded the path of humanity’s ascent? When I hear Wagner, it seems to me that I
hear rhythms of a bygone world. I imagine to myself that one day science will discover, in the
waves set in motion by the Rheingold, secret mutual relations connected with the order of the
world. The observation of the world perceived by the senses precedes the knowledge given by
exact science as well as by philosophy. It’s in as far as percipient awareness approaches truth
that it has value.
Mann glanced over at the clock, saw that he had an hour before meeting Indiana
Jones. He was seized with a sudden desire to see what was left of the Berghof. He
jumped out of bed, pulled on some clothes, and headed downstairs into the lobby.
Outside he turned to the right and walked down an old access road that wound around the
base of the General Walker past the ruins of an old guest cottage. When he thought that
he had reached a point approximately above the ruins, he turned and plunged down the
hill through the underbrush. After a few minutes he saw something flat, covered with
- 30 -
grass and weeds. Scrambling down the slope to its right, he saw the exposed upper corner
of what once must have been an arched doorway. Peering through it, he could see the
dark expanse of the Berghof garage - the only structure still standing from the twice-
blown-up structure. He slid inside, stood up, and looked around. The darkness and the
quiet looked back at him. As his eyes became accustomed to the shadowed interior, he
saw a tapestry of crude graffiti covering the inside walls.
He crawled back through the half-buried doorway, dusted himself off, and hiked back
up the hill to the access road. As he re-entered the lobby of the General Walker, Indiana
Jones beckoned to him from one of the armchairs.
“Act normal and keep your voice down,” he said. “We’re being watched. At the hotel
entrances. Now we’re going to casually walk back towards the suite, but be prepared to
move quickly when I do. Got it?”
Mann nodded. The two men strolled through the inner door of the lobby, out of sight
of the front door, then Indiana pulled Dennis down a hallway to the left. They hurried
down it to its terminus: a locked metal gate at the top of a long downward flight of stairs.
Jones fitted a key to the lock, let them through, and secured it behind them. He led the
way down the stairs, which seemed to go much farther down than a normal basement
might require. At the bottom he proceeded through a second door, flipped a light switch,
and closed the door behind them.
- 31 -
Mann looked with fascination at the tunnel which stretched out before them. “What is
this place?”
“By late 1943,” answered Jones, “the Germans began to appreciate their vulnerability
to air-raids. Key industrial and governmental facilities began to be moved underground,
or at least have sub-surface emergency bunkers. Obersalzberg received the same
treatment. There’s a network of tunnels under this hill that would do a family of moles
proud. I, uh, borrowed the keys. I’m counting on our strange friends not being familiar
enough about the building complex to know about the tunnels - at least until we’ve done
what we have to do, which should only take us a couple of hours. As far as they know,
we’re still in the Walker. I’ve told the girls the situation. They’ll maintain enough of a
presence to cover for us. This way -”
- 32 -
They followed the main tunnel through a maze of twists and turns. Periodically small
side passages and rooms branched out from it, but as far as Dennis could see the entire
complex was completely empty of furniture or furnishings: just unrelieved concrete
stretching off into darkness.
“We’re passing the Berghof now,” said Jones as they came to a cluster of side-tunnels.
“This” - he indicated a dark doorway to their right - “was Hitler’s quarters. But I don’t
think he ever had occasion to use it.”
Finally they came to a steel door, to which Jones again fitted a key. They emerged into
daylight shielding their eyes against the sudden glare of the Alpine Sun. A short distance
from the bunker entrance was a paved parking-lot with a small gateway, ticket office, and
bus by the uphill exit. Apart from the ticket-seller and the bus driver, they were alone.
“Good,” said Jones as he purchased two tickets for them. “I was hoping we’d be able to
get a look around the Eagle’s Nest before the lunch-crowd starts to arrive.”
- 33 -
The bus ride up the road to the Kehlstein took only about ten minutes. The road
terminated in a small paved circle, at the far end of which loomed the massive bronze
doors to Martin Bormann’s tunnel. The bus driver unlocked the doors and informed his
passengers that they were welcome to go up by the elevator, but that the restaurant
wouldn’t be opening for another hour.
- 34 -
The tunnel, arched and lined with dressed stone, bored into the rock in a straight line
for 130 meters. It terminated abruptly in a round, domed chamber and another set of
gleaming metal doors flanked by candelabra. Within Mann saw one of the most lavish
elevator cars imaginable: Its interior was worked completely in polished brass, offset by
green leather seats and mirrors. A circle of clear lights atop the cabin enhanced the effect.
As Indiana Jones pulled the lever to send the car upward, he remarked: “We’re going
up another 400 feet into the Eagle’s Nest. This place is something of an enigma. Took
Bormann two years and 30 million marks to finish it. The usual story is that Hitler didn’t
like it because of the high altitude and only visited it a few times. I’ve heard otherwise,
and that’s why we’re going up to take a closer look.”
After about three minutes of what seemed to be a very slow ascent, the car door
opened into a stone hallway, which in turn led to a large, semicircular room - the main
reception and living area during the Third Reich, now remodeled into a restaurant. Three
large picture-windows were located at the far end of the room, offering breathtaking
views of the Alps and, far below, the town of Berchtesgaden.
Jones leaned on one of the tables and looked around thoughtfully. “Here’s where those
tablets have got to be, if they’re anywhere. They were supposed to have come from a
mountaintop; I’m guessing that Hitler would restore them to a similar setting if only
because of his strange regard for them. But where? There’s this room, that little parlor
over there - generally called Eva Braun’s tea room - a couple of utility rooms back of the
elevator, and a basement. We might examine that basement, but then again ...”
- 35 -
His eyes turned to the central feature of the big room: a massive fireplace constructed
entirely of rich Italian marble. He approached it and peered inside at the bas-relief cut
into its back wall. Then he sat down on the large flagstone “I get the feeling that I’m
missing the obvious,” he said irritably.
“Well,” said Dennis, “Hitler wouldn’t have hidden the tablets so permanently that he
couldn’t get his hands on them when he wanted to. This is clearly the focal point of the
building - and of course he didn’t imagine that it would turn into a restaurant either! But
he wouldn’t have wanted a place of concealment to be overly obvious … Have you got
that Bible with you?”
Jones felt in the pocket of his leather jacket, extracted a paperback Bible, and tossed it
to Mann, who flipped through the pages of Exodus looking for the selection which had
suddenly occurred to him:
20. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.
21. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock.
22. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the
rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.
23. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not
be seen.
- 36 -
“That caught my eye just the other day because its similarity to the ‘two-sided’
tablets,” said Dennis. “Do you think that Hitler might have … What about the
Jones glanced down at the large dressed stone on which he was sitting. Then he stood
up, knelt down, and took a closer look. The entire expanse consisted of three stones, each
about four feet wide. He peered carefully at the mortar, then took out a pocketknife and
pressed down with the blade. Nothing.
“These stones are too big to be moved anyway, but I have a hunch you’re right about
the fireplace; maybe there’s a release or counterweight somewhere. Hmm -” He crawled
into the fireplace, looked carefully at the design of the bas-relief, then said, “I wonder,”
placed his hands over the faces of the figures, and pushed. Then harder. Then he jumped
back as the entire back wall of the fireplace slowly rotated upwards and back.
They peered into a dark cavity behind the hearth.
There was a sudden noise from the hallway. The elevator doors hissed shut; it had
evidently begun to descend. “Oh, great!” snarled Jones. “That’ll be the staff. Hurry!
We’ve got only about six or seven minutes before that thing makes a round trip!”
But Indiana Jones was wrong. The brass elevator descended much faster than it
ascended, and in only four minutes the doors opened again, revealing eight Germans who
stared in confusion at the two Americans before them. Both Jones and Mann were
- 37 -
covered in soot. Despite the coldness of the air, Jones’ leather jacket was bunched under
his arm, obviously wrapped around something bulky.
One of the Germans was suspicious. Had some decoration been stolen or another
fragment of marble been chipped off the fireplace by these tourists. He gestured at the
jacket and said, politely but firmly, “Was haben sie, bitte?”
“Hier? Nur eines Andenken aus Berchtesgaden,” said Jones with a smile. He opened
the jacket, revealing two stone tablets. “Die zehn Gebote. Eine Reproduktion.”
The Germans glanced at the tablets and smiled back. Only Americans would bring a
copy of the Hebrew tablets to this of all places. They dispersed to their tasks, whereupon
Jones and Mann stepped quickly into the elevator. “Sometimes,” remarked Jones as the
brass doors hissed shut, “the truth is not only stranger than fiction; it is simply beyond
* * * * *
They retraced their subterranean route to the General Walker; as they passed the
archway to the lobby, Dennis saw slouched in a chair the same individual they had
glimpsed in the entrance two hours earlier. “He looks bored,” observed the archæologist
with some amusement.
“Well, Indiana Jones, you’ve finally got your Ten Commandments,” said Marion.
“Now what? How do you intend to explain all of this?”
“It’s a little premature for explanations. Next thing to do is work out the full
inscription on their backs.”
“With those watchdogs downstairs?” asked Karen.
“Why not? If it’s us they’re watching, they have no reason to do anything as long as
they’re sure we’re just killing time in this hotel. They know we’re here, but I’m certain
they can’t know why we’re here. I wasn’t entirely sure myself. Marion, I’m going to need
your help on these hieroglyphs.”
A thought occurred to him. “Here’s what I need the two of you to do,” he said to
Dennis and Karen. “Again we’ll push our luck. Just go out, get into the car, and drive
back to the Kehlstein parking lot. Don’t take anything except your coats. If these guys are
assigned to tail anyone, it’s me, so the odds are they’ll just assume that you’re sightseeing
and will continue to watch the hotel. We should be finished with the translation in about
an hour. Then we’ll take the bags, go out through Bormann’s tunnel, and meet you at the
An hour later Dennis was piloting the Audi back down the road to Berchtesgaden.
“Wonder how long our friends are going to sit up there admiring the view?” said Karen.
“Whoever sent them after us is going to be peeved when they come up with a goose egg.
Anyway, you two look pretty pleased with yourselves. So what did the inscription say?”
“We got it all this time,” said Marion. “Here it is.” She opened her notebook and
began to read:
Recorded in obedience to the Word of Him Whose Seat is Behind the Constellation of the
Thigh. I, Firstborn Son of the Great House of Khem, now renounce my name and my Coming
Into Being to the Two Crowns that I may preserve the sacred trust of our guardianship against
the coming times of peril and destruction.
In this day I have come to the Great Temple of Khnum, wherein I have received the most
sacred Sam-taui from the priests who watch over them according to the ancient Word. The Holy
Fire of Khem shall diminish in the Black Land with the taking of the Sam-taui, and so our home
will at last undergo its trial at the hands of those from the lesser lands. But if I abandon what it
has been set forth for me to do upon the Earth, then Khem shall perish utterly because of the
abominations that shall finally prevail even against the Great Temple of Khnum.
- 38 -
With the knowledge of my brother who shall now be Ra-messu-meri-Amon in my stead, and
because of what the Self-Become-One has said must be done, therefore I, Firstborn Son of the
Great House of Men-maat-Ra, Son of the Sun, Ptah-meri-en-Seti, Life! Health! Strength!, bear
away from Khem the sacred Sam-taui, that they may be preserved by these nomads with these
tables of law in their savage tongue.
I adjure thee, priest of time unborn to whom this sacred writing reveals itself, after the dark
time has passed, to return the Sam-taui to their most holy places in the Temple of Khnum.
If you who read this are not purified priest of this holy mystery, cursed be you unto the Tuat
if you hinder this thing. Touch not the Sam-taui, nor disturb their place of concealment, nor
speak of this matter, else the breath be drawn from your body and the blood from your body, and
your flesh be consumed by serpents. I, the Son who is nameless, am he who writes this.
“I don’t like the bit about snakes,” remarked Indiana Jones.
“As it happens, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the curse,” said Dennis.
“Let’s just say that I am able to touch the Sam-taui and leave it at that for now.” Jones
looked at him oddly but made no response.
“Were you able to get through to your friend in Stuttgart, Dennis?” asked Marion.
“Yes, and the consulate people too. He’ll have picked up our passports by now, and
said he’d meet us this afternoon at the Munich airport. Said he’d take care of booking us
on the next flight for Cairo.”
“Cairo!?” said Karen. “Dennis! I thought I told you after Desert Storm that I would
never go back to an Islamic country!”
He looked at her helplessly. “I know, but that is where the Sam-taui come from.” He
had a thought. “Besides that’s where the Joneses are going, and we are on assignment to
escort them …”
Marion said, “I happen to agree with you, Karen. Remember, the last time I was there,
I got trapped in a basket, tied up, and thrown into a pit of snakes. This is when the local
males weren’t busy just leering. No thanks to this guy” - she elbowed Jones in the ribs -
“who was too busy running around playing with that headpiece he tried to steal from me
in Nepal.”
Karen laughed. “I’ll match my year in Arabia and Kuwait against that any day. O.K.,
just this time. But this is it. You find anything else weird, please pick some normal part
of the world?”
“Not too many of those left,” said Dennis. “O.K., coming into the Flughafen …”
* * * * *
As promised, Roland Winkhart was there to meet them at the Lufthansa desk. After
greeting Dennis and Karen warmly, he shook hands with the Joneses in obvious
puzzlement. Then he brightened. “I thought I recognized you. You’re the two film actors
from Raiders of the Lost Ark, aren’t you? Harrison Ford and Karen Allen? Here are your
tickets - for Dr. and Mrs. Harry Jones, as Dennis said. I saw Mr. Ford in the other two
films too. Are you making another movie in Germany?”
Indiana Jones cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Um - We look a little like them, but
we’re really not those actors,” he said. “I’m just a professor from North Carolina, and
she’s my wife, and we were just, uh, doing some research at Berchtesgaden.”
“Well, we’re glad to have you visit our country anyway. Dennis and Karen always
know such interesting people. If you ever pass through Stuttgart, you must visit with me.”
“We’ll do that,” smiled Jones. “As a matter of fact, I have been thinking of checking
into something I had heard about the Externsteine …”
“One thing at a time, dear,” said Marion.
* * * * *
- 39 -
Unfortunately the Audi had been seen speeding down the hill from the Obersalzberg.
Since that didn’t seem at all like tourist behavior, the MOSSAD agent at the General
Walker asked the desk clerk about the party in suite 3. When the clerk responded that
they had checked out, the agent politely asked to borrow the phone and proceeded to alert
his backup in Berchtesgaden. The Audi was followed to Munich, and note was made of
the flight to Cairo. Then more telephone calls were made.
* * * * *
Dennis and Karen’s first impression of the Arab Republic of Egypt was that it was
uncomfortable: hot, humid, and noisy. The Cairo Airport seemed out of place: a bizarre
marriage of the jet age to a society more comfortable with camels and the small sailing
vessels that glided up and down the Nile.
Indiana Jones got them a rather alarming-looking taxicab, whose equally-alarming-
looking driver maneuvered them nonchalantly through some of the most terrifying traffic
Karen had ever seen. Dennis, perhaps more prudently, kept his eyes shut. “At least we
know the horn works,” commented Marion, “even if the brakes don’t!”
The cab careened along the Sharic El Uruba and Sharic El Nahda expressways past
the old Boulak railway station which, in an earlier age, had been Cairo’s most fashionable
point of entry.
“Take Sharic 26 July,” shouted Jones to the driver over the general din, “and drop us
at the Continental Savoy.” He glanced over at Dennis and Karen. “26 July: named after
the ’52 revolution when they kicked out Farouk, not to mention the British. The Savoy
used to be a posh hangout in the old days. Hardly that now, but it’s got more atmosphere
than the Hilton.”
- 40 -
Karen recognized the Savoy immediately when the taxi finally screeched to a halt in
front of it; its facade had been showcased in many films such as Death on the Nile and
Sphinx. But she also noticed a second reason why Jones had selected it: The famous
terraces were overrun with scores of little shops and stalls. The hotel itself swarmed with
Kenyans, South Africans, young Americans, and other non-Arab students and tourists
who either didn’t want or couldn’t afford more modern accommodations.
The next morning they assembled on the Manns’ veranda to decide what to do next.
“I don’t know what to do next,” said Indiana Jones. “I keep trying to figure this out as
I go.”
“We looked through a directory of antiquities this morning,” explained Marion, “and
there is no such thing as a ‘Temple of Khnum’ among the landmarks most commonly
associated with the Nineteenth Dynasty.”
“Khnum was an interesting and rather unusual god,” commented Indiana. “His name
means ‘Creator’ in a very literal sense. He created himself, as well as the heavens and the
earth and all of nature, and the gods, and mankind. He was depicted as a ram or ram-
headed man with horizontal, wavy horns, and was also associated with the elder Horus
and with Amon-Ra. His cult center was located in Elephantine near the First Cataract of
the Nile in southern Egypt. What makes the legends concerning him unusual is that he
was said to have fashioned mankind and animals out of the mud of the Nile. You can see
the parallel to the Genesis mythology of the Bible. But as Marion said, none of this
squares very well with the Nineteenth Dynasty, which was a Setian dynasty following
one of Amon-Ra.”
“What about talking with someone in the Cairo Museum?” suggested Karen. “They
might know of some association that isn’t in the usual sources.”
Jones sighed. “I guess that’s all we can do. I hate to get them involved if I don’t have
to, however. Next thing you know they’ll start nosing around for themselves. After the
original Ark business back in the thirties I’m not exactly their favorite foreign
“So nobody has to know you’re involved. Dennis and I will visit the museum and see
what kind of Khnum-references we can turn up. You and Marion can be tourists this
time, or go look up old friends or whatever. We’ll see you for dinner this evening.”
* * * * *
“Any luck?” inquired Marion over a glass of mineral water. Across the terrace at the
Savoy the Sun was setting over Giza, and the famous outlines of the three pyramids were
dramatically silhouetted.
“Nothing that jumped right out at us,” admitted Dennis, taking another bite of the
lamb and wrapped grape-leaf concoction that he had ordered. “Just as you said, Khnum is
considered to be a somewhat minor god and not really in the swing of things by the time
of the nineteenth dynasty.”
“We did find one oddity, though,” added Karen. “We asked some questions about the
pyramids, because we thought we might like to visit them tomorrow. So we asked the
fellow we were talking with at the museum some questions about them. And he said, ‘Do
you know that there’s an obscure link between Khnum and the Great Pyramid?’”
Indiana sat up and stared at her. “What kind of link?”
“As you know,” she said, “the Great Pyramid is bare of any inscriptions. A rather
conspicuous phenomenon in Egypt, where tombs, temples, and monuments generally are
covered with hieroglyphs and artwork inside and out. When we asked how that particular
pyramid had been traced to the Pharaoh Khufu, he said that Khufu’s cartouche had been
found scratched or painted roughly in one of the stress-relieving cavities inside. Usually
- 41 -
assumed to be a quarry-mark, he said.”
“And he said that only a few pyramid specialists are aware that there was another
cartouche found there too: that of ‘Khnum-Khuf’. He photocopied a passage from
Flinders Petrie’s History of Egypt for us - here it is:
This raises a difficult question, to which no historian has yet given a satisfactory answer.
Who was the person designated as Khnum-Khuf? That he was not a successor is evident by the
name being used indifferently with that of Khufu in the quarry marks inside the Pyramid, and by
his not appearing in any of the lists.
The name is found in five places. The addition of Khnum cannot be merely a flight of
orthography … The two names being placed in succession in one inscription cannot be mere
chance variants of the same. Either they must be two distinct and independent names of one king,
or else two separate kings. If they were separate kings, Khnum-Kuf must have been the more
“Or ‘Khnum-Kuf’ could have been the name of a god, and so on. But no one really
“As it happens, I can add something to that,” said Indiana. “Khufu’s cartouche by
itself is almost worthless as a dating or identifying device, because like Imhotep he had
become a semi-legendary figure by the later eras of Egypt. His cartouche was used as a
charm or decoration on architecture right up to the Ptolemaic period. Furthermore,
outside of one statuette about the size of your hand, no images of him have survived at
all. The blunt truth of the matter is that the scrawled cartouche inside the Great Pyramid
is probably nothing more than graffiti. We cannot date the Great Pyramid to him, nor
even to the Fourth Dynasty, nor even to dynastic Egypt. It’s simply one of those
architectural phenomena which defies explanation. But because it’s smack in the middle
of Egypt, and because someone found some Khufu graffiti in it, it’s become the accepted
convention to call it Khufu’s tomb. Asinine. That thing could have been erected in the
Fourth Dynasty, or twenty thousand years earlier for all we know. The only certain fact
about the Great Pyramid is simply that the damned thing is there. Right now -” and he
waved his hand at the dark shape across the Nile.
“And it also has this ‘Khnum-Khuf’ cartouche in it, doesn’t it?” said Karen. “Ever
think that it might be your ‘Temple of Khnum’?”
Indiana stared at her a second time. Then he gazed at the Great Pyramid. Then back at
her. “Now that would be a long shot,” he said. “But who knows? Let’s trot out there
tomorrow and take a look.”
* * * * *
After breakfast the next morning a battered Renault took them down the east bank of
the Nile past the ruins of the old Shepheard’s Hotel on Sharic Corniche an-Nil to the El
Giza Bridge and thence along the road that led out into the desert to the Giza Plateau.
The Manns had looked forward to a close-up view of the famous monuments, but they
were destined to be disappointed. By the time the little car reached Giza, the winds had
whipped up the sand to near-storm levels. They had to roll up the Renault’s windows to
protect their eyes, with the result that they were soon bathed in perspiration from the heat.
Karen said evil things under her breath to Dennis. Indiana Jones, on the other hand, was
pleased. “Looks like everyone has gone back to the city. Good. All we need is the usual
crowd of tourists and guides getting underfoot.”
And he was correct, for when the cab deposited them at the base of the Great Pyramid
and drove off into the sand-clouds, it was apparent that even the so-called “guides” who
- 42 -
normally cluster at the Pyramid’s entrance to badger visitors into hiring them had
departed pending better weather. The Americans scrambled up the first several layers of
stone to the entrance of Al Mamoon’s tunnel, still the most convenient access to the
interior. By the time they gained the entrance, the full force of the sandstorm was
howling across the entire plateau. They felt reasonably certain of not being interrupted.
By unspoken agreement they proceeded to the Ascending Passage, up to the Grand
- 43 -
and finally into the King’s Chamber, where Jones set the case containing the Sam-taui
and the tablets down on the floor. They paused to catch their breath. Dennis had expected
to visit the Great Pyramid some day, but he had always supposed that he would enter it
slowly and reverently. A mad scramble through the cramped passages of the monument
on the heels of an impatient Indiana Jones was not what he had had in mind.
He and Karen peered over the edge of the dark granite coffer, then looked curiously
around the room. Here on August 12, 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte had insisted upon being
left alone. Much later, according to witnesses, he emerged from the Pyramid pale and
trembling. At St. Helena, shortly before the end of his life, he had seemed on the verge of
breaking his mysterious silence to Las Cases - but then shook his head and said, “No,
what’s the use? You’d never believe me!”
Here too, shortly before his infamous Cairo Working of 1904, Aleister Crowley had
come with his first wife Rose to celebrate a secret magical ritual. According to Crowley’s
diary, the incantation had caused the interior of the King’s Chamber to glow with an
iridescent, ultraviolet light. What was this place? Were they now finally close to its
Here, deep within the Pyramid, the howl of the storm could no longer be heard; the
only sound was the hiss of the ugly florescent lights which had been added to the
passageways and to the ceiling of the King’s Chamber itself. But then there was another
sound: the cocking of an automatic pistol.
Four pairs of eyes jerked round to the entrance to the chamber - through which there
now emerged a short, swarthy man in an open-fabric shirt and jeans. In his right hand he
held the weapon which had announced his presence. He peered at each of them in turn.
Then, in a quiet but clear voice he nodded at Karen: “You - Bring that case over here.”
She looked at him, then at Indiana. The archæologist nodded slowly.
“Good,” said the visitor. “Now listen very carefully. The lady and I are leaving here
with the case. When we reach Cairo safely, I will allow her to return to the Savoy to
await you. But if you hinder me in any way, or if I even see any of you emerge from this
- 44 -
pyramid before we are away from here, I will kill her. Then, of course, I will also have to
kill the three of you.”
“What do you want?” said Indiana Jones evenly. “I can offer -” But the other shook
his head.
“I’m not interested in anything you might have to offer, Doctor Jones, but rather what
you have found for us at long last. A priceless national treasure - the tablets of the law.”
“‘Us’?” said Jones.
“Israel. Or, more precisely in my case, MOSSAD. You will be flattered to know that
we have been watching you for many decades, against the possibility that you might
come upon some lead like this. You know that we are very efficient, and you know what
this means to our country. So no heroics, please. After all, you have done us a great favor.
Perhaps you will even be properly honored for it - after the tablets are restored to us.
They were, as you know, originally intended for us.”
Inching slightly back from his side, Karen quietly released the catch of the suitcase.
“Now please remember what I have said. In an hour it will be safe for the three of you
to leave this place. In the meantime, you may enjoy such an undisturbed tourist
He smiled ironically and indicated the expanse of the King’s Chamber with a
contemptuous arc of the automatic. As soon as its barrel was no longer pointing at
Indiana, Marion, or Dennis, however, Karen swiftly reached into the suitcase, drew out
one of the tablets, and swung it at the agent. He saw it coming and dodged, but not quite
fast enough. It glanced off his head above his left ear, spun out of Karen’s grip, and
landed with a sharp clack on the stone floor.
The MOSSAD agent reeled, dropped his gun, and sank to his knees. Blood dripped
from the corner of his mouth. Then he collapsed unconscious.
Karen calmly kicked the gun over to Dennis, then regarded the large welt she had
raised behind the agent’s ear. “Indiana Jones and the temple of doom?” she proposed.
Dennis groaned and rolled his eyes.
“Now we’ve got to do something with him,” said Marion. “He’s obviously hurt. We
can’t just leave him here.”
“Why not?” countered her husband. “None of us is going anywhere outside during this
sandstorm. We have no transportation. And I didn’t see a phone on our way up here.
Believe me, the moment the storm’s over, there will be plenty of people swarming
through the Pyramid who can worry about him. Oh, and nice shot, Karen!”
Ignoring the slumped form on the floor, he walked back over to the granite coffer.
“Something look familiar about this to you, Dennis?” he inquired.
Mann looked at it, shook his head. “I don’t frequent pyramids.”
“Right. No, I mean its size and shape. As in the last week. As in your warehouse.”
Mann realized what he was getting at. “The Ark. It’s about the same size as the Ark.”
“Let’s see how much the same size …” Jones produced a small measuring tape from
his pocket and took a brisk sample of the coffer’s dimensions. “Well, well, what do you
know? Ninety inches by thirty-eight and a half inches by a little over forty-one inches.”
“So, my friend, it’s not just approximate - it’s identical.”
“You mean the Ark is an exact image of this coffer?” said Marion.
“That’s right. Now I have to think this through. That was obviously an additional key
to where the Sam-taui came from, for someone seeking to return them to Egypt. All of
the gold and such on the Ark was just camouflage, like the Hebrew laws on the front of
the tablets. So now what happens if we …”
- 45 -
“If we?”
“If we put the Sam-taui back on top of this coffer. I wonder …”
Jones opened the suitcase and carefully extracted the gleaming figures. He centered
Horus on the south end of the coffer, then Set on the north end.
“Tsk, tsk,” said Dennis. “Some Egyptologist. You’ve got them backwards.”
Jones gave him an irritated look, then exchanged the location of the statues.
Absolutely nothing happened.
After a moment of anticipation, they looked at one another with mild embarrassment.
“Where’s Industrial Light and Magic when you need it?” commented Dennis.
Suddenly the florescent lights flickered out; evidently the still-raging sandstorm was
affecting the power-lines. Marion groped for the suitcase to fumble for the flashlight it
contained, found it, switched it on.
Jones said, “Turn it off, Marion.”
“Turn it off. Now.”
She did. Once again they were enveloped by the darkness.
But not quite.
As her eyes became accustomed to the dark, Marion saw two faint streams of light
flowing into the King’s Chamber. The air-shafts, she realized, the two air shafts that
extended in a straight line to the outer walls of the Pyramid.
All of them followed the streams of light. Each one glanced off a wing of the statuette
nearest to it, and then the two deflected beams intersected at a spot on the east wall. Jones
ran over to it, marked it lightly with a pencil.
“Marion, turn the light on now. Let’s see what we have here -”
The four of them clustered around the mark on the wall. It was about a foot above the
floor, and perhaps two feet from the entrance. Nothing besides the mark itself was
visible. Just the large expanse of stone.
With both hands Indiana Jones pushed against the stone. Nothing.
Then he reached out a finger and pressed it against the penciled mark. And jumped
back as there was a faint creaking and scraping from behind the wall.
Slowly, with a grinding noise, an irregular pattern of stones began to move straight
backward from the plane of the wall. After the section of stone had traveled about four
feet, it came to an abrupt halt.
Cautiously the four ventured forward, and Marion directed the flashlight around the
exposed cavity. On three sides were merely the surrounding stone; on the right side a
ramp descended into the depths. Marion pointed the flashlight directly into it and drew in
her breath.
An entirely different order of architecture leapt back at them. Instead of the rough-
hewn granite of the known parts of the Pyramid, this passage was constructed of
gleaming white limestone, polished to a mirrorlike brilliance. There were no side-rails,
but every few steps were miniature reproductions of the two large Sam-taui, each
supporting a highly-burnished metal disk. As the flashlight beam played down the tunnel,
the disks caught its beam and played with it into the distance: a clever arrangement for
enabling a single, small light source to illuminate the entire expanse of the passage.
Dennis started forward, but was stopped by a cautionary hand on his shoulder. “Let
me take the lead. There may be traps, and I’m more familiar with what to look for.”
“I’ll say,” added Marion.
Jones had another thought. “Take the Sam-taui. They might be necessary.”
- 46 -
Dennis returned to the coffer and took one of the golden statues under each arm. The
moment he touched them there was a snap and a hiss from the florescents as they
flickered on again. He rejoined the party as they entered the passageway. The old leather
case containing the tablets rested against the side of the coffer, forgotten.
The ramp continued at a mild incline for some distance, then switched back to the left.
As soon as they turned the corner and the flashlight illuminated another row of mirrored
statuettes, they heard a grinding noise in the distance. It was, they realized after a
moment, the stone panel returning to the wall of the King’s Chamber. Since they couldn’t
possibly return to it in time to pass through before it closed, they exchanged apprehensive
glances and continued downward into the depths of the Pyramid.
* * * * *
As the stone panel shuddered to a halt, once more indistinguishable from the
surrounding masonry, there was a groan from the MOSSAD agent. Then, fighting his
way back to consciousness, he looked dazedly around him at the empty chamber. The
lights continued to flicker on and off irregularly, testifying to the continuing fury of the
sandstorm sweeping the plateau. But he did see the suitcase. Lurching to his feet, he
staggered over to it, ripped it open, saw the two stone tablets. He had enough presence of
mind to wipe as much of the blood from his hands as he could before reaching in and
carefully picking them up. An involuntary shudder went through him; despite the pain in
his head, he was uncomfortably aware that he was now holding in his hands the Tablets
of the Law that Yahweh himself had forbidden to be touched. But they were what he had
been sent to find; he had to get them out, get them to the embassy before Jones and the
others came back. And now they had his gun. Clutching them to his chest, he reeled out
of the King’s Chamber and half-slid, half-fell down through the Grand Gallery and the
Ascending Passage. He rested for a moment, his breath coming in painful spasms. Then
he crawled up the length of the Descending Passage and out of the Pyramid through Al
Mamoon’s tunnel.
He was greeted by the full force of the sandstorm. He paused, wavering between the
safety of the Pyramid and the fear that at any moment the Americans might discover their
loss and come after him. Clenching his jaws against the throbbing pain in his head and
the sting of the sand against his skin, he clambered down the stones to the desert floor.
Then he took five or six steps away from the giant edifice into the sandstorm, sank to his
knees, and relapsed into unconsciousness. The two tablets tumbled to the ground beside
* * * * *
They had now counted five switchbacks in the passageway; Jones speculated that by
now they must have passed below the Great Pyramid itself and into the depths of the Giza
Plateau. “In the King’s Chamber we were about forty-three meters above the surface. We
must be getting very close to the water-level of the Nile.”
“What difference does that make?” asked Karen. “The plateau is solid, isn’t it?”
Jones stopped, pulled his notebook from a pocket. “Since we eventually want to get
out of here, and I haven’t the faintest idea how to open that stone door from the inside,
let’s hope that on this point Herodotus was right. Here’s what he said in his History II:
So the ten years were for this, and also for the underground chambers on the hill where the
pyramids stand, which he made as a tomb for himself in an island, bringing a channel from the
- 47 -
“And this, further on down, where he’s talking about the Second Pyramid:
… for there are neither chambers under the earth beneath it, nor doth a channel come into it
from the Nile, like that which floweth into the other through a conduit of masonry and encircleth
an island within, where Cheops himself is said to lie …”
“Records from the Fourth Dynasty are virtually nonexistent. The simple truth is that
we aren’t even sure there were Fourth Dynasty kings named Khufu, Sneferu, Dedefra,
Khafra, or Menkaura. And even if there were, that still doesn’t help us much with this
particular Pyramid.”
“But it’s well known that the early Egyptians constructed a lot of pyramids,” objected
“Not like this one. There are about thirty to eighty pyramids in Egypt - depending on
how fancy a mound has to be to be called a pyramid. All of the ones that are even
partially standing were built with much smaller stones and had elaborate stone
infrastructures to keep them from collapsing. Only these three Giza ones don’t; they’re
constructed so well that they don’t need them.
“Incidentally an original burial has never been found in any Egyptian pyramid. I was
here in the ’50s when the Pyramid of Sekhemket was uncovered at Saqqara. Inviolated
central chamber - sealed stone ‘sarcophagus’ like the one in the King’s Chamber here,” -
Indiana nodded upwards - “again empty. So we’re looking at the possibility that the other
pyramids were copies of these three at Giza, and that even the chambers of the others
were designed for something altogether different than mummies.”
“That Herodotus business,” mused Dennis. “That might explain why we’re breathing
fresh air here. If this were a dead-end into rock, we wouldn’t have been able to take more
than a few steps past the panel without passing out.”
“Right you are, but at this particular point we might also be underwater. In Herodotus’
time the Nile would have been about fifty-eight meters below the plateau bedrock.
Today, however, the bed of the Nile is about ten meters above that; and the water-level is
two to ten meters above the bed, depending upon the season.”
“Great,” said Karen. “So we hold our breaths and swim several miles underwater back
to the Nile?”
“Doesn’t figure that whoever built all this with such precision would not have
anticipated changes in water-tables. I’m betting there will be some sort of air-trap to
protect the island. If in fact there is an island.”
“One thing is for certain,” observed Marion. “We won’t find out just standing here.”
A few minutes later they did find out. Ahead of them they began to smell water, and
then, oddly, the mirrored statuettes ahead of them began to reflect light from some source
in the distance - first faintly, then with such strength that Marion switched off the now-
unnecessary flashlight. Ahead of them they could finally see the end of the tunnel; it
opened into a much larger space from which the light could now be seen to be
shimmering with a blue-greenish hue.
* * * * *
Far above, on the Giza Plateau, the sandstorm had finally spent its strength. The
normal daily population, impatient at the delay and lost tourist revenue, was hastening to
return. In due course the unconscious form of the MOSSAD agent was discovered. An
ambulance was quickly summoned. As a small crowd gathered to watch, oxygen was
administered - and there was a burst of delighted clapping and cheering when he coughed
and began to sit up. But despite the protests of the medics, he refused transport to Cairo
- 48 -
until he found, as he haltingly told them, two tablets containing copies of the Ten
Commandments which he had had carved by a local craftsman. The crowd obligingly
fanned out to search, and after a few moments they were duly discovered and presented
to him. He quickly examined them with an apparent casualness that belied the panic he
felt inside. Then he sighed in relief. By good fortune both tablets had landed face-down
in the sand. The sandstorm had cut deeply into their backs, razing them to a smooth
surface. But the sacred laws on their faces were completely untouched. Wordlessly he
clutched the tablets to him and gave thanks to Yahweh for this miracle.
* * * * *
And far below four human beings stood together on a stone balcony and marveled at
the sight before them. The cavern that stretched before them was immense, at least the
size of the Giza Plateau itself. It was clearly not the product of any human engineering; it
appeared to be a natural formation of the surrounding rock. The platform upon which
they stood had been constructed of the same white, polished limestone as the passage; at
either side of it was a dark granite pillar - apparently the same deep brown stone as the
coffer in the King’s Chamber - about five feet tall. Atop each one was a circular platform
of metal: gold on the right-hand pillar, silver on the left.
The waves of an underground lake lapped quietly against the edge of the balcony,
which was only about a foot above the level of the water. Almost the entire cavern was
embraced by this lake, which they could only assume came from the Nile by some hidden
labyrinth of locks.
But what riveted their attention was what occupied the very center of the vast cavern.
It seemed to be a small, circular island surfaced entirely with a rippling silvery metal. It
looked like nothing so much as part of a large metallic object that had been almost
completely submerged in the water. If so, the mild slope of the island suggested a great
size for the entire object, and a correspondingly impressive depth for the lake in which it
rested. But it was what was positioned on this unearthly, artificial island that
overwhelmed all of the other features of the cavern.
In a loose ring encircling the apex of the island were statues of the principal gods and
goddesses of ancient Egypt. But what statues! All were of some onyx-like, black stone.
All were cut and polished to such perfection that the slightest light upon them sent bursts
of prismatic flame glancing and sparkling from the figures as though they possessed a
radiant energy of their own. They ranged in height from about thirty to fifty feet.
Within the ring of colossi, at the very apex of the island, was something unlike
anything they had ever seen before or could even imagine to exist. Utterly silent, and
neither solid nor gaseous: One moment it appeared as a nova-like starburst of flame, the
next as a crystalline solid of ever-changing facets, with tongues of the flame playing
gracefully over its shifting angles and planes. Because of its brilliance they were unable
to look at it for any length of time; they could not see if it were attached to the island or
simply floating in the atmosphere above it. It was the light which reached out to the ring
of onyx statues, which illuminated the entire cavern in a blue/green aura.
How long they stared at this sight they couldn’t guess. Finally Indiana Jones led them
back from the edge of the balcony to the tunnel opening, where they huddled together,
their hearts pounding and involuntary tears washing from their eyes. The sensation was
exhilarating, overwhelming, and frightening all at once; it was as though their entire
sensation of being had been multiplied a thousandfold merely by the sight of the island.
“Dennis,” gasped Indiana, “did you see the tops of the two columns? The gold and the
silver? They have to be the ‘holy places’ for the Sam-taui: gold for Horus, silver for Set.
We’ve got to try it.”
- 49 -
Mann tried to steady his own breathing. He placed his hands over his face, pressed
against his skull, and drew air into his lungs. Then opened his eyes, stared back at the
archæologist, and nodded slowly.
Jones picked up the hawk-headed statue, Mann the one with the head of Set. Slowly
they retraced their steps to the edge of the platform and carefully lifted the statues into
place atop the two columns. Each settled into the center of the disk with a soft click.
The lake began to move toward them, foaming and bubbling around the edge of the
platform. No, they saw as the four of them looked around; it was the platform itself
which had begun to move, detaching from the tunnel entrance and gliding out towards the
island. How long it took to traverse the entire distance they had no way of guessing; the
closer they came, the more the fiery thing at its center seemed to reach out to embrace
their minds. At the same time they were strangely without fear. Whatever was happening,
they seemed instinctively to sense, was not a thing of evil.
Finally the platform lay adjacent to the island; days or minutes might have passed;
they could not be sure. They did not care. Alive, their hair waving softly against their
heads, their senses gorged in an entire universe of color, form, and sound, they seemed to
float from the platform towards the center of the island. They could not tell if they were
standing upon it or soaring in the air high above it.
The gods and goddesses were moving now, alive with them, and it seemed as normal
and natural as their own ethereal state of existence. They were drawn to the center of the
ever-changing polyhedron, bathed in its fire. Drawn deeper into its center, where the blue
and green of the light softened to violet; drawn finally to its ultimate center, where the
light surpassed all color in an endless, limitless darkness. For them time shot
simultaneously backward and forward to infinity. Now their breath became the oscillation
of the cosmos itself, expanding into millions of galaxies and slipping back through itself
into a mist of plasma, then a mirror-image of its expansion.
They were spinning on a wheel, being shaped, the hands of Khnum gliding over the
glittery, fragile things that marked their extension in time and space. Then, suspended,
they saw the Sam-taui emerging from the indistinction before them. No, not the Sam-taui,
but the onyx statues of Horus and Set.
And still no, because these were not the statues at all, but the very neters themselves,
bolts of light and darkness flashing over bodies which could not be seen, hands which
were not hands but eyes reaching out to touch them, see them. Their souls were sucked
from their shapes, energized, purified, returned in a painful, beautiful perfection.
The wheel of Khnum spun. The wheel of Khnum spun.
And then it was over.
They were Created.
- 50 -
They lay on the island.
Blood ran from their eyes and ears.
As they struggled to raise themselves, their hands pressed against the silver metal with
an exquisite sensitivity.
They managed to return to the platform. Above them the Sam-taui pulsed, and they
covered their ears as the sound cut through them. Finally Indiana Jones and Dennis Mann
- for they had begun to remember who they were, reached up without knowing why and
removed the golden statues from the pedestals.
And then they fell to the cool stone of the platform and slept.
* * * * *
Karen awoke first. It seemed to her that she had been asleep a very long time indeed,
but she felt nothing but the warm pleasure of dawn. Yes, it was a dawn; she could see
between the two expanses of stone the first rays of the Sun as it rose over the Nile. She
looked around her, saw Dennis and the Joneses lying beside her. She rolled over, nudged
each of them in turn, and watched while they sat up and looked around them.
Then they looked up and saw a very large chin. And realized where they were:
between the outstretched paws of the Great Sphinx.
- 51 -
There were too many things to say, so by tacit understanding they said nothing. They
stood up, dusted themselves off, and walked forward - back to the world of Cairo and
other things with shapes and limits.
That evening, as they packed in preparation for their return flight to the United States
the following morning, they saw a news bulletin on television. The original tablets of the
Ten Commandments had been discovered by the state of Israel. An ornate Ark of the
Covenant was shown on camera; even so it was said that this was merely a temporary
repository for the tablets and that an even more opulent Ark would be constructed to be
their permanent home. A rabbi almost submerged behind an array of microphones
explained that, unfortunately, the tablets themselves could never be shown to the public.
But he and other privileged elders had seen them and could testify to their authenticity.
Dennis Mann shook his head. Indiana Jones gave a short, amused grunt. Karen and
Marion looked at one another without comment. Then they all went down to the dining
room for a very expensive dinner, during which a series of vaguely shocking toasts were
proposed which utterly confused and mildly offended Mr. and Mrs. Fred Carson at the
next table, a couple who had just arrived that afternoon from Wichita with a travel club
and were looking forward to their tour of the Great Pyramid of Giza the next day.
* * * * *
At Kennedy Airport they separated, Karen going back upstate to Utica and her regular
Army assignment, Indiana and Marion Jones transferring to a commuter flight to Raleigh,
and Dennis continuing on to San Francisco. As he walked off the plane into the terminal,
he was met by a very impatient Peter Rivera. “Well? What happened? What did you find?
Have you heard in the news -?”
Mann regarded him for a long moment, then smiled.
“My friend, it was a long flight and the food was abysmal. I am going to treat both of
us to brunch at the Airport Hilton, and then I will tell you an interesting story about
- 52 -
I traveled to the city of Hollywood ... I gave a lecture at Hellhouse of Hollywood ... I
mention these activities not as an example of how keen I am, but as an example of how to
realize a working. Quite a February!
- Don Webb, “Notes from Neheh”, Scroll of Set, April 1997
11:38 PM, Saturday, January 4, 1997; home of Don and Rosemary Webb, Austin, Texas:
“Don!” called Rosemary Webb. “Stephen on the phone -”
“Coming,” said her husband, rubbing his eyes as he hurried in from the study. Never
get used to how fast time flies at a computer keyboard, he thought. Rosemary had left the
handset on the chair; he picked it up and stifled a yawn. [What time was it?]
“Stephen? Don here.”
The measured voice of Stephen Flowers came back at him. Always so deliberate, Don
thought. But why a call at this time of night?
“I’m sorry to phone so late, but I just found out about a lecture at the campus I want to
drive in to catch tomorrow. 3 PM. It’s on old California archæology, at the UTC, and
you’ll never guess who’s giving it.” He paused, evidently enjoying himself.
“O.K., I’ll bite. Who?”
There was a rustle of paper at the other end of the phone. Stephen cleared his throat
for effect: “The title of the lecture is ‘The Riddle of Drake’s Landing in California’ and
the speaker is Marion R. Jones, M.A., Visiting Docent, J. Paul Getty Museum of Santa
- 53 -
Don spent about thirty seconds wondering why he - or Flowers - should give a damn
about Sir Francis Drake (particularly at this hour). Then his mind registered what Stephen
had said. “Who did you say she was? Did you say -”
“Marion Jones.”
“You don’t think it’s the same - that story of Michael’s - I mean, that was just made
up, right? Got to be a coincidence.” Don got a grip on himself, felt foolish. I’ve been
writing too much fiction, he thought irritably.
“Could be,” answered Stephen. “But then I’ve never been able to get a straight answer
out of Dennis or Karen, or Peter Rivera for that matter, about Secret of the Lost Ark. And
Michael just gives me that Cheshire Cat smile when I ask him. But, you know, Rebecca
Lance told me last year that she recalled once seeing someone who she thought looked an
awful lot like Harrison Ford at Peter’s place in Oakland. She said she was just in and out,
and didn’t want to put her foot in it if it were just a coincidence, but after reading that
narrative a couple of years later she wasn’t so sure.”
“What about Roland?”
“Winkhart? He also told me that he did meet Dennis and Karen at the Munich airport
a few years ago, and that there were two people with them that he mistook for Ford and
Karen Allen. But he said that when he found out they weren’t, he didn’t pay that much
attention to them. He was busy trying to get all of their ticketing straightened out.”
“That’s two corroborations …”
“Only maybe. On the other hand, tomorrow we just might get something more.”
“Or make fools of ourselves.”
“Or that. By your place about 2? The worst that can happen is that we’ll find out more
than we ever wanted to know about Drake.”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
2:55 PM, Sunday, January 5, 1997; University of Texas, Austin:
Stephen Flowers found a parking space next to the LBJ Library, and the two friends
strolled leisurely across the campus to the University Teaching Center, a somewhat
awkward polygon of white limestone and glass that clashed glaringly with the older
classical architecture adjoining it. Don decided that every university he’d ever visited had
one building that didn’t fit with the prevailing style. Not all of them were such
monstrosities, however.
The campus was still on holiday break and seemed nearly deserted. Don wondered
why this lecture had been scheduled for a date almost guaranteeing it modest attendance.
The UTC’s inside was in keeping with its outside: oddly-shaped classrooms, out of
sequence door-numbers. It took them another ten minutes to locate the lecture, and when
Stephen pulled the door to the hall open a crack, they realized that the talk was already in
progress. They quietly entered and took seats near the back.
The silver-haired woman had turned away from them, writing some dates on a
chalkboard next to the lectern. When she turned back to look at her audience, Don saw
that she was wearing wire-rimmed glasses. But a sudden shiver went through him; the
resemblance was inescapable. He looked sharply at Stephen and saw that he had caught it
Don turned back to look at Marion Jones. He didn’t register anything she said yet.
Thoughts were racing through his brain, tumbling over one another. If she existed, then
her husband existed, and that meant that Aquino’s story was true, and then all that
- 54 -
about the Ark and the Great Pyramid ...
He shook his head, took a deep breath. Not so fast. Might still be a coincidence.
Maybe we’ll be able to talk with her after the lecture. He tried to pay attention to what the
woman was saying.
Marion Jones examined the chalk dates she had written, and cleared her throat:
“The story of Drake’s visit to California began in 1577. Up to then only
Ferdinand Magellan had successfully circumnavigated the globe, and Queen
Elizabeth was looking for ways to boost English sailing prestige against that of
Spain. Also for some stronger colonial links and possibly some fattening of her
treasury in the bargain.
“So she commissioned Drake, already well-known as a resourceful seaman and
successful ambusher, to take five ships and sail around the world for the glory of
England. He was supposed to sign as many treaties as possible with cultures he
might encounter en route, plunder any Spanish shipping that might be unfortunate
enough to blunder into him, and try to find the fabled northwest passage from the
Pacific Ocean to the North Atlantic.
“Heading down the eastern coast of South America towards Cape Horn, Drake
managed to lose all but one of his ships through accident or refusal of the crews to
continue. On his remaining vessel, the Golden Hinde, he headed up the Pacific
coast, raided the ports of Valparaiso and Callao de Lima, and seized a Panama-
bound galleon carrying treasure from Peru. He then continued northward, looking
for the fabled ‘Straits of Anian’ that would supposedly offer him a shortcut back to
“Drake got as far north as what is today the coast of Oregon, whereupon what
he colorfully called ‘vile, thicke, and stinking fogges’ forced him to turn around.
Also the Hinde was leaking, and he needed a place to rest his crew and make
“On June 17, 1579 he sailed into ‘a faire and good Baye’, spent 36 days
repairing the leaking ship, treating with local Miwok Indians, and exploring the
countryside. On July 23 Drake sailed westward across the Pacific, down through
the Indian Ocean, and finally back to England in September of 1580 to a delighted
Elizabeth, whereupon he was knighted ‘Sir Francis’.
“This all seems pretty straightforward, except that Drake’s log books, charts,
and journal of this spectacular journey promptly disappeared into the Tower of
London, never to reappear. What we know of the voyage is only through some
secondary sources of maddeningly-imprecise references. For instance Richard
Hakluyt’s 1589 work The Principal Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries and the
1628 work The World Encompassed, published by Drake’s nephew. Both of these
accounts were apparently based on fragments of memoranda by one Francis
Fletcher, preacher of the Hinde. But even the most pertinent parts of Fletcher’s
papers seem to have been lost or destroyed upon the expedition’s return to England
in 1580.
“Even more curiously, a strained tension seems to have existed between the
captain and the cleric during the voyage. In the Harleian Manuscript, reprinted in
Vaux’ 1854 edition of The World Encompassed, Drake at one point ordered
Fletcher chained to a hatch in the forecastle of the Hinde and cursed him in front of
the whole crew: ‘Francis Fletcher, I do here excommunicate thee out of the Church
of God, and from all the benefits and graces thereof, and I denounce thee to the
- 55 -
Devil and his angels.’ Drake then forced him to wear a sign on his arm: ‘Francis
Fletcher, ye falsest knave that liveth’.
“Drake’s ostensible reason for his voyage was to circumnavigate the globe for
the glory of England, annoying the Spanish and of course engaging in suitable
land-claiming and opportunistic piracy along the way. Indeed he was so successful
in these incidental objectives that the Spanish ambassador to England, Don
Bernadin Mendoza, protested furiously to Elizabeth upon Drake’s return. This, by
the way, was assumed to be the reason for the instant concealment or destruction of
Drake’s records - but even after Mendoza’s departure for Spain in 1583 the official
silence persisted. After the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, there was
certainly no reason to be further concerned about Spain, yet only fragments of
records seemed to have survived.”
Jones paused, sipped briefly from a glass of water on the lectern, surveyed her
audience, and walked down the stairs at the edge of the stage. She paced slowly back and
forth before the front row of seats.
“And now we come to the central question: What took Drake up the west coast
of the Americas almost all the way to what is today the Canadian border?
Supposedly he was searching for another ‘northwest passage’ to Europe - the
rumored ‘Strait of Anian’. But he never took the Hinde far enough away from the
coast to conduct such a search. Rather he doubled back on his course, entered that
‘faire and good Baye’ near 38°N latitude - which we know today as San Francisco
Bay - and encamped for thirty-six days at a site in the north bay which he named
‘Nova Albion’. Supposedly this stay was to perform repairs on the Hinde from
storm damage in the southern seas, though one wonders why he would have gone
so far north to do this.
“While based at Nova Albion, Drake made at least one expedition into the land
to the west of his landing - toward where San Quentin and San Rafael are today -
and left a curiously-inscribed brass plate, which was discovered on a hill
overlooking the site in 1936.
“That plate resides today in a glass case at the University of California’s
Bancroft Library. It remains our only clue to these unanswered questions, and my
research at the Getty Museum will involve subjecting the plate to some of the latest
techniques of scientific analysis with this in mind.
“Thank you - are there any questions?”
By unspoken agreement Stephen and Don waited patiently until the last of the
audience had left the hall and Jones had returned to the stage to assemble her notes. Then
Don, realizing that Stephen was going to let him carry this particular ball, walked
hesitantly up to her. She glanced up at him.
“Mrs. Jones? My name is Don Webb, and I enjoyed your talk very much.”
She nodded, smiled politely/impatiently. Webb sighed, then took the plunge.
“I think we have some mutual friends in California - Dennis Mann and Karen Revay?”
The smile vanished, replaced by a flicker of surprise and then a blank mask.
Don continued: “I understand that you and your husband were involved in an
archæological expedition with them a few years ago ... to Germany and then to Egypt.”
Marion Jones still remained silent, but her eyes shifted to Stephen, who had joined
them on the stage. Don nodded in his direction:
- 56 -
“Mrs. Jones, Dr. Stephen Flowers, also -”
“Flowers? The Stephen Flowers of the rune books?”
“The very same,” said Don smugly.
“This is a pleasure,” said Marion. “Dr. Flowers, we have several of your books at
home. My husband Harry swears by them, says he can always tell in a minute when he
comes across real archæologist blood. In contrast to all the stay-on-old-ground academic
“Thank you,” said Stephen with a slight bow. “Coming from him, that’s very nice to
hear. I know the Manns too, and therefore something of your husband’s and your own,
um, ‘breakthroughs’ in the field.”
Marion laughed shortly. “There’ve been more than a few of those. My back still hurts
from the one in Tanis.”
“Dennis and Karen haven’t been running around talking about you,” Don broke in.
“Another friend of theirs, fellow named Aquino, wrote up an account of their trip with
you, but everyone’s sure it’s just a prank of fiction. Stephen and myself too, frankly, until
we walked in the door just now.”
“What else could it be?” said Marion wryly. Who’d believe it? So buy me coffee -
there is some place around here, right? - and tell me what I can do for you.”
An hour later, at a small table in a cafe near the campus, Marion had fielded the last of
Stephen and Don’s questions concerning the events of Secret of the Lost Ark. And
concerning her husband. “Indy’s back in North Carolina,” she said. “I’ll give you each
three guesses.”
Stephen caught it on the first try. “What he was talking about in Berchtesgaden - the
“Bingo. That third Lucas movie got him going, got under his skin. His initial premise
was that it - whatever it is, cup, stone, talisman - was secreted away somewhere in central
Europe, perhaps found by Himmler’s Ahnenerbe expeditions and taken to the
Wewelsburg. Otto Rahn and so forth. Dead end. I mean, we found out lots of interesting
tidbits about the Wewelsburg and Ahnenerbe research, but it all went off in other
directions. Not the Grail.
“Then Indy decided to take a shot at the various legends saying the Grail went to
England, or was found in England. Remember, we’re not necessarily talking about a
Christian-cup thing, but an event about a so-far-unidentified object or artifact.
“But of course no Grail has surfaced anywhere in Britain - and not because the British
themselves haven’t taken an intense interest in that legend.”
“Does this have anything to do with your work in California?” said Don. “With
“Bingo again. Indy’s researches in the British Museum brought up some cryptic
references in the papers of Dee - John Dee - which might have been about the Grail.
Personally I’m not holding my breath; it’s pretty vague stuff, and Indy may be jumping to
conclusions. Grail-on-the-brain, you know.
“Anyway, he noticed that before Drake left on this voyage - the one that took him by
California - he spent rather a lot of time with Dee, supposedly to confer on the contents of
Dee’s 1577 work The Perfect Art of Navigation.
“This was a time of considerable tension in England, because of the growing Spanish
threat that would culminate a few years later in the Great Armada.
“Indy thinks that if the Grail existed as one of the most guarded and valued treasures
of the monarchy, Elizabeth might have decided to send it out of the country to prevent its
discovery in any Spanish invasion. The Hinde’s odd detour to California has him
- 57 -
wondering whether Dee and Drake decided to take it - and hide it - there.
“So when this job offer came along from Getty, I took it to give him the benefit of the
doubt. Gives me all the direct research access I need, for instance to that very interesting
brass plate. Meanwhile I don’t mind wintering in Santa Monica instead of North
Stephen took a thoughtful sip of coffee, leaned back in his chair.
“Well, let me try out a thought of mine on you. From the slide of that plate you
showed during your lecture, its inscription - the letters, I mean - were all chiseled into the
brass with angular cuts.”
“That’s right. So?”
“So a thin sheet of brass is not that difficult to engrave. So Drake, or one of his ship’s
craftsmen, could have produced a more flowingly-inscribed artifact, something more
suitable as a monument to Elizabeth or England.”
The ghost of a smile stole across Don’s face. “I do believe I see where this is going.”
Marion looked from one of them to the other. “Well, I sure don’t.”
“Go ahead, Don.”
“It was the Manns’ account of the events at the Oakland base warehouse that gave me
the clue. The inscription hidden behind, or concealed within an apparent one.” Don
turned to face Marion, hooked a thumb in his friend’s direction. “Runes-on-the-brain.
One of the emphases of Stephen’s books has been the chiseling - the angled cuts. So you
show him a chiseled inscription that didn’t need to be, shouldn’t have been, he starts
wondering if something else is hiding in there. Am I right?”
Stephen nodded. “But in answer to the question you’re about to ask, no, I don’t see
anything from this slide, but it’s pretty superficial quality. I’d have to take a more
extensive look at the original from that premise.”
“And then it’s not in the best shape,” said Marion. “The plate sat in the bushes above
Point San Quentin for 354 years collecting seagull poop and teethmarks from passing
“If you’re taking this back to a Drake-and-Dee conspiracy,” added Don, “then you’re
going to have to consider the code angle too. Dee wrote much of his serious stuff in
Marion Jones sighed. “Great. I don’t suppose I could coax the two of you into taking a
trip to Berkeley with me, could I?”
Don Webb rose and bowed. “Where the advancement of science is concerned, how
could we possibly decline?”
- 58 -
10:15 AM, Thursday, January 23, 1997; Bancroft Library, University of California,
The display case containing the brass plate stared back at the three of them.
“We’re going to need to take a look at it without that glass in the way,” said Stephen.
“The Getty already cleared the way for that,” said Marion. “This afternoon in the lab.
We’ve got permission to photograph it, and to touch it with surgical gloves, but not to use
any liquids on it, heat it, pick it up. Really. Someone from the Curator’s office will
probably be right there to peer over our shoulders.”
“That’s O.K.,” said Stephen. “I’m not looking for anything high-tech here. And
obviously not on the back. But from what I can see already, we just might be on to
something. Notice the ‘R’s, ‘B’s, ‘P’s? The doubling? And look at those ‘N’s. The ‘A’s,
‘Y’s, etc. are normally angled, but the ‘N’s are all crossbarred. Those are uruz-runes.
Look at the ‘S’s; sowilo-runes.
“Unless there are some faint strikeovers I can’t see, that’s it. I really need an X-ray of
the carvings. But my first guess is that we’re facing something in code, all right. The key
has something to do with the number or placement of the runic symbols, and possibly the
doubled letters.”
“I’ll check with the office. If we’re lucky, they’ll have X-ray prints somewhere in the
- 59 -
2:52 PM,Thursday, January 23, 1997; photographic laboratory, Department of Physics,
University of California, Berkeley:
“What we’ve got here,” said Stephen, “is a mixture of runes, black letter, and Roman
letter. For instance, those ‘M’s and ‘N’s are what you’d find in Chaucer, and the ‘D’s and
certain other of the ‘N’s in the Magna Charta. Then there are unique monograms, such as
the superimposed ‘CG’ before Drake’s name, possibly standing for his rank of ‘Captain
“So are we left with the inscription as it is?” said Marion.
“Seems to me,” said Don, “that the mixture of these three writing devices suggests a
code of some sort. Otherwise why mix them at all? Why not a uniform style? And there’s
something else that jumps out at me. Notice that phrase ‘By the grace of God ...’?”
The others looked at him blankly.
“You may not know this,” continued Don, “but English commoners of that day did
not normally presume to do anything ‘by the grace of God’. You might expect Elizabeth
to have used such a phrase, but not Drake - who was not even knighted until he returned
to England following this voyage. Unless there were something in his action which he
felt the direct result of her command.”
“Now that you mention it,” said Marion, “I noticed something similar in Dee’s Perfect
Art of Navigation. It jumped out at me for much that same reason - that it seemed so
oddly, well, presumptuous: ‘Then, By Gods grace, we may (comfortably) thus Answere
- 60 -
this first Dowt, In the name of the whole Body Politicall.’”
Stephen shrugged his shoulders. “This is all very tantalizing, but unfortunately I don’t
see that we are any the closer to discovering a ‘hidden message’ here, if indeed there is
one. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Drake was using some kind of code -
perhaps one of Dee’s, as we know he was a prize hog for codes and ciphers. But we’d
have to know which one of Dee’s codes Drake was using, to say nothing of why.”
“At least,” countered Don, “you’ll grant that it looks as though something were coded
“I think we can go beyond ‘possibility’ to ‘probability’,” said Marion. “But I fear
Stephen’s right. Absent some kind of key, we’re at a dead-end.”
“Perhaps,” mused Don, “we could approach it from the ‘other end’, so to speak. If
Drake took something - let’s be optimistic and suppose your Grail - ashore to hide it,
leaving the brass plate as some sort of coded guide to it ... O.K., we know that the English
never came back here. They just founded colonies on the east coast, beginning with
Roanoke some six years later, then Jamestown, then what ultimately became the famous
Thirteen Colonies. But never back to Drake’s ‘Nova Albion’. I mean, here’s all of this
virgin west coast - a major doorway to the Asian trade markets - and the English would
not return to it. Smell a rat here?”
“You’re saying,” said Marion, “that they wanted to rid themselves of the Grail
“If it’s the Grail,” broke in Stephen. “Remember, this could be something else
“Here I have to fall back on Indy’s research,” said Marion. “Remember that he said
that he’d found a trail to the English royal house and thence to Dee, just before Dee’s
sudden, intensive round of secret conferences with Drake, just before this expedition of
Drake’s. And then it’s as though all trace of the Grail just vanished from English history
“Well then,” said Don, “Who came here next?”
“That would have been the Spanish,” said Marion. “The Russians didn’t make it down
this far from the north. The Spanish California Missions. The first one in this area was the
one in what would later become San Francisco - San Francisco de Asís, founded in
- 61 -
“I thought it was called ‘Mission Dolores’,” countered Stephen.
“No, that was sort of a nickname it got later on,” said Marion offhandedly. “Because
of the blight of illness and death and Indian desertions that hung over it for the next forty
years ...” She stopped and stared at them. “You don’t just suppose -”
“- That they found it?” smiled Don. “And that it proved to be a dangerous discovery,
as the English apparently had decided two hundred years earlier?”
“Looks like your next stop is Mission Dolores,” chuckled Stephen. “Unfortunately
I’m going to have to go back to Texas at this point - got too many irons in the fire back
there, as usual.”
Don looked glum. “And I can’t take more time off either - I’ve got some lecture and
interview engagements in Los Angeles coming up at the turn of the month. And between
now and then I’ve got to stop back by Austin and get ready for them.”
“That’s O.K.,” said Marion. “If you hadn’t come up here with me, I’d have no leads at
all. Besides, if there’s any record at Dolores, it would probably be a fairly straightforward
kind of thing. I don’t figure the padres writing in code! What I’m gambling on is simply
that they might have left records of some ‘device’ or ‘relic’ that would be significant to
me, but obviously not to previous Mission historians.
“But shoot, the Getty’s down in L.A. too, and I’ll probably have found either
something or nothing by the time you’re giving your lecture, Don. So I’ll just plan on
seeing you there. Where’s it going to be?”
“Place called ‘Hellhouse of Hollywood’,” said Don. “No, really,” he added, seeing the
look on her face, “it’s a quite respectable bookstore and museum. I mean, it’s - well,
you’d really have to see it for yourself.”
Marion looked at him skeptically. “Why am I suddenly getting that ‘here I go again’
feeling?” Her eyes suddenly twinkled. “Oh, all right. Can I bring a guest?”
- 62 -
7:00 PM, Saturday, February 1, 1997; Hellhouse of Hollywood, 6666 Hollywood
Boulevard, Hollywood, California:
It was Don Webb’s first visit to Hellhouse, though he had heard about it from the
Schrecks and seen the photos they had sent him. But nothing quite prepared him for the
reality. First, of course, it was located right in the middle of the most volatile part of
Hollywood Boulevard - Frederick’s to one side, the Scientologists to the other. Legions
of the crazed paraded up and down the sidewalk, some excitedly, some in a daze, as
though walking the Boulevard automatically sent one into an somnambulistic trance.
Maybe, thought Don, if you stay around here long enough, it becomes like the “Hotel
California” song, and you can never get away, will just keep drifting back to endlessly
wander the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.
Hellhouse itself also defied easy description when he walked into it. It was “sort of” a
bookstore, “sort of” a museum, “sort of” an occult artifact shop - but all of these were
mixed together in its single high-ceilinged hall. It was the kind of place to keep a visitor
or browser “off balance”, he thought. Wonder how people will handle my talk in a setting
like this?
Several rows of chairs had been arranged to face a Gothic-leering lectern, and Nikolas
and Zeena Schreck had begun to circulate among the assemblage, announcing the start of
the lecture. Don walked to the lectern and began to thumb through his notes, then jumped
- 63 -
as a door behind him banged shut.
“Jesus,” said the man who had just barged through it. “I thought I’d seen just about
every bizarre thing on the planet, and now Christopher Lee’s showcasing me axe-
murderers in the dark! Are you sure - ?”
“Indy,” hissed Marion Jones, “will you please just shut up, sit down, and listen to the
nice man talk?”
9:30 AM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; Hamburger Hamlet, 6914 Hollywood Boulevard,
Breakfast was already bad, thought Don. It was bad because here he was, sitting
across the table from Indiana Jones - right below a giant mural of Harrison Ford as
Indiana Jones! This is a joke, and the Schrecks - Don glowered at Nikolas, Zeena, and
Bob Moffatt - the others at the table - are in on it too, and all I can do is play along with it
and wait to be sucker-punched. But how could they get someone like Harrison Ford to do
Zeena, on the other hand, was enjoying herself. It had been she who had suggested the
restaurant, and of course because of the mural - guessing just the effect it would have.
Across the ceiling a gigantic Steven Spielberg examined them all critically, setting them
up for the next scene in the movie. “So, Dr. Jones, what did you think of Hellhouse?”
Zeena asked brightly.
- 64 -
“It grows on you,” the man in the leather jacket admitted to her. “First impression is
just more Hollywood-shock; obviously you have to do something really extreme to get
people’s attention around here -” he waved his hand in a circle “- but what you two put
together does have a subtle cut of elegance to it. The museum in the back - ‘Walk of
Fire’, you call it? - is a case in point. First it just jars you. Then you start wondering why
those particular exhibits, why the lighting effects, and of course why all the trouble to get
someone like Lee to narrate it. Then the sit-up-in-bed-later feeling that you were the
exhibit and they were the watchers.”
Nikolas allowed himself a slow grin. “The idea was never to just ‘open a shop’. What
do you think, Don?”
“I had a great time at Hellhouse. Everybody seemed to like the lecture, and that made
me feel good too. But today - well, frankly I’ve never had breakfast with someone right
out of a movie before - no offense, Dr. Jones - and I’m sort of trying to get a grip on
Indiana Jones smiled, glanced over his shoulder at the giant mural. “And yet isn’t it an
interesting commentary on human behavior that here I am, and there that is, and we’re
surrounded by people here, and not one of them has noticed a damn thing? People see
pretty much what they expect to see,” he continued, “and the flip side of that is that if
you see something you don’t expect, you have a strong tendency to blank it out, so to
“You should be familiar with that, Don,” added Bob Moffatt. “I mean, in terms of
your own stories, which often flip the reader back and forth between the real and the
Don sighed. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound naïve about all this. I mean, I did talk
to Dennis and Karen, and of course Stephen and I both met your wife. It’s just that it’s
somehow ‘all worse’ with you yourself here. And Zeena, I’ve decided I am going to owe
you one for the murals.”
“Murals?” she asked in surprise. “Oh, those murals. But it isn’t really any worse than
hunting the ‘Holy Grail’, is it? Dr. Jones, you were going to tell us more about what your
wife found.”
The archæologist folded his hands together, looked at them all thoughtfully.
“Marion went to that mission in San Francisco, spent a few days looking through
faded Spanish manuscripts about crops and Indian conversions and so on. Then she
found what was apparently a list of items being sent to the Pueblo of Los Angeles on one
of the regular pack-trains that used to run up and down the mission chain. On the list was
the ‘English fire’ or ‘English light’ - something like that, she couldn’t be sure of the
translation - and something like a prayer against harm or a curse written next to it. That
was all. Today she’s down at the Times archives, looking for anything interesting about
the Pueblo. I’ll phone her there at noon. In the meantime, I’d like to go over to the place
and have a look around.”
“We can drive you there right after breakfast,” said Zeena. “It’s not that far away. But
I wouldn’t get my hopes up. You’re not going to see anything remotely resembling an
original Spanish fort.”
10:18 AM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; Avila Adobe, Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los
“Reconstructed,” said Jones irritably. “Everything’s reconstructed - or just destroyed
to make that promenade outside. This adobe was originally built in 1818, which is within
- 65 -
that 40-year window of the problems at the San Francisco mission, but it was just another
residence, and not a very important one at that. We’ve no reason whatever to think that
the, um, ‘object’ would have been brought here.”
“The only other building here going back that far,” said Nikolas, “is the church across
the market - ‘Our Lady Queen of Angels’.
If some sort of religious artifact were being sent here from the mission, wouldn’t it
have been sent there?”
“If it had, it could scarcely have been kept a secret - or even preserved there this long,
what with all the activity there.”
“Churches have crypts and basements ...” suggested Zeena.
“As it happens,” said Bob, “I can help you out a bit there. Back in the, ahem, days of
my youth when I was studying for the Catholic priesthood, I spent quite a lot of time at
this church, helping out with some of their community and maintenance work. Indy’s
right - almost. It’s pretty much a bare, simple building.”
“‘Almost’?” prompted Nikolas.
Moffatt led them over to the window. “See that bell tower to the left of the church?
Below it is a small cellar where we kept tools for grounds work. Over in one corner of the
floor was a trap-door. I remember it because when you see something like that in a
basement, it’s normally wood, usually to plumbing or utilities, you know. But this one
was iron, and from the looks of it quite old.”
“What was under it?” said Zeena.
“Don’t know - I never opened it up, never had any reason to. I think I mentioned it to
one of the priests once, and he said that it was probably just access to some old sewer
system. I gathered that none of them had ever thought it worth bothering with.”
“Time to call Marion,” said Jones, looking at his watch. “I’ll use the phone in the
office over there.”
“While he’s doing that,” said Don to Bob, “Let’s go over to the church and see if the
tower’s open and the cellar still the way you remember it. Nikolas, Zeena - you wait for
Dr. Jones, and let’s all meet at those benches in the plaza park in twenty minutes or so.”
- 66 -
10:56 AM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; The Plaza, beside the statue of Felipe de Neve,
across from Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles:
“Well, this is seriously strange,” said Jones. “Here’s what Marion just faxed over
from the Times archives - a page from a book by Mike Marinacci named Mysterious
California. Listen to this:
Deep beneath the heart of Los Angeles’ financial district, hundreds of feet below the huge
downtown edifices that house banks, corporate offices, and government agencies, lies another
city remembered only in obscure Indian legends, an underground world built by a strange race
that vanished five thousand years ago.
At least that’s what mining engineer W. Warren Shufelt claimed in the January 29, 1934 Los
Angeles Times. According to reporter Jean Bosquet, Shufelt was ready to dig up downtown L.A.
in search of this ancient subterranean civilization.
Shufelt had first heard of the city in a Hopi legend about “the Lizard People”. They were a
fabled lost race who had built thirteen great underground cities on the Pacific Coast after a huge
holocaust swept the southwest back around 3000 B.C. The subterranean settlements were
constructed to shelter the tribe against future disasters, and housed a thousand families each,
along with stockpiles of food. As the story has it, they bored out the tunnels of their subsurface
homes with a “chemical solution” that melted solid bedrock. Among other things, the Lizard
People possessed troves of golden tablets that chronicled their race’s history, the origin of
humankind, and the story of the world back to creation.
A Hopi chief told Shufelt that the vanished race’s capital city was located under present-day
downtown Los Angeles. After surveying the area, Shufelt showed up on the Banning property at
North Hill Street and sank a 350-foot shaft straight down, digging for what he said was a
“treasure room” directly underneath. Shufelt said he had located gold in the catacombs below
with the aid of his “radio X-ray”.
This peculiar instrument, which was a sort of glorified dowsing pendulum, had also helped
Shufelt map the location and extent of the underground tunnels. He said that the subterranean
city was shaped like a giant lizard, with the tail tapering out beneath the Central Library and the
head in the vicinity of Chavez Ravine (now Dodger Stadium). The “key room” - the chamber
that contained the map of the city and the directory to the golden tablets - lay several hundred
feet under the present site of Times-Mirror Square. Shufelt also claimed that he’d traced
passages stretching to the region around the Southwest Museum, and said that ventilation tunnels
extended westward, opening at the Pacific Ocean.
“And?” said Don.
“And - nothing! There was nothing further in the Times archives about Shufelt or his
dig. If it had turned out to be a hoax, you’d think there would at least have been an
editorial snicker about that. But nothing at all. Marion looked up “tunnels” in the index
and did find some later passing mention of some odd tunnels underneath this part of
town, but she says they were apparently dismissed as the work of smugglers hiding
illegal Chinese laborers in the 19th Century.”
“I don’t know,” said Nikolas doubtfully. “In the early 1950s they dug up Chavez
Ravine to build Dodger Stadium there. They would certainly have had to dig pretty deep
to lay the stadium foundations, yes? And apparently no Lizard People tunnels ...”
“One of the lessons of archæology,” said Jones, “is that old locations and later maps
or directions to them rarely coincide. This fellow Shufelt might have been telling the
truth about the Hopi legend, but went off the track with some crazy ‘dowsing’ gadget and
wasted digging. But here come your friends ... So what did you two find?”
“Nothing’s changed at all,” said Bob, easing himself onto a bench. “The door to the
bell tower’s open, the little stairwell to the cellar too, and the trapdoor’s still over there in
the corner.”
- 67 -
“Better yet,” added Don, “we found a couple of flashlights and a Coleman lantern
down there on one of the shelves. So what are we waiting for?”
11:55 AM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; The bell tower cellar, Our Lady Queen of Angels
Church, Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles:
“Whatever’s - hiding under - there - doesn’t want - to come out - without a fight!”
panted Don as the four men strained to raise the iron trapdoor.
“Explains why nobody’s disturbed it before,” agreed Nikolas through gritted teeth.
“It’s moving now,” said Bob - then with a screech of protest from the ancient hinges,
the hatch gave way; they jumped back as it swung over to hit the floor behind them with
a dull clang.
“Phew!” said Zeena. “What a smell!”
Jones winced his agreement. “At least we know no one else has been down here for
quite awhile. Bring the flashlights over, and let’s see what’s down there.”
The beams from the two flashlights played through the dusty haze below, dimly
illuminated what appeared to be a subcellar of roughly the same size as the room they
were standing in. A wooden ladder descended from the hatchway about twenty feet to its
dirt floor. Around the edges of the subcellar were scattered haphazardly what appeared to
be a number of old wooden boxes - too small to be coffins, Don decided with relief.
“Bob, since you have some credentials around here, I think it would be a good idea for
you to go back to the bell tower door and keep an eye out,” said Jones. “Keep any
wandering visitors away. If someone official from the church shows up - well, just think
of something.”
Moffatt laughed. “‘It’s O.K., father, I just brought some friends by to dig up your
“Something like that. Say we’re from the gas department checking a reported gas-
leak. Whatever.”
“O.K., ‘gas leak’ it is, but you’d better be ready to explain the leather jacket and
fedora instead of a Southern California Edison uniform,” grinned Moffatt, heading back
up the stairs.
Jones turned back to the others. “Don, you and Nikolas go on down, take a look at
those boxes. Better put on these gardening gloves so you don’t get cut on something.
Zeena, see if you can get that Coleman going to pass down to them. I’ll keep an eye out
from here in case we get company.”
Don stuck one of the flashlights through his belt and gingerly began to descend the
ladder. The wood felt oddly light, with the whole ladder quivering each time he took
another step down. Even more strangely, as he reached the bottom, he felt a noticeable
current of air flowing through the room. He played the flashlight over in its direction, saw
a crude opening about the size of a large window cut into the wall - then tumbled to the
floor as something heavy crashed against his shoulder.
The ladder, apparently, was more decayed than it had appeared at first glance. It had
survived Don’s descent, but as soon as Nikolas was about halfway down, the ancient
wood had finally disintegrated, hurling him to the floor in a rain of rotten splinters and
dust. Fortunately Don’s body had broken his fall.
“I’m all right,” said Nikolas as Don helped him up, then called up to the two anxious
faces above: “We’re going to need another ladder, or a rope, to get out of here.”
“I’ll go find something,” answered Jones. “There’s some clothesline here, but it’s too
thin for you to climb.”
- 68 -
“I can lower the Coleman with it anyway,” said Zeena. “Are you sure you’re both
“Nothing busted,” answered Don, gingerly massaging his shoulder. “Just reminds me
why I never took to football.” He reached out for the Coleman coming down on the
clothesline, then held it up for a better look around the subcellar. Nikolas was already
examining the boxes; after four or five impatient mumbles, he suddenly beckoned Don
“Bring the lantern closer; look at this!”
Jammed between two of the wooden cases was what seemed to be the remains of a
leather box, about two feet square, mostly disintegrated, retaining its shape only because
of two vertical and two horizontal bands of some heavily-corroded metal, perhaps badly-
tarnished brass or copper. “Look there,” pointed Nikolas, “at the mark on the top band.”
“I’ll be damned,” said Don - then got up and walked back over to stand to directly
beneath the hatchway above: “Zeena, there’s a case down here with the same kind of
writing on it that I saw on the Drake brass plate. Can’t make it out - it’s too corroded. But
lower the line, and we’ll send it up. Maybe Indy can make something of it.”
When they gingerly picked the remains of the box up, they noticed a small parchment
roll, evidently somewhat newer than the leather, sitting inside on the base, which was
completely of the corroded metal. Fearing it might also be near disintegration, they left it
untouched, but told Zeena to bring it to Jones’ attention.
“I can’t understand why he hasn’t come back yet,” said Zeena with some irritation.
Then she turned to see Bob Moffatt coming quickly down the steps.
“A problem,” he said. “The kind we were laughing about over breakfast. Jones was
headed back across the plaza with a ladder, and I guess that attracted some attention.
Then some kids looked at him too closely, and now there’s a crowd around him cheering
and waving. They obviously think he’s Harrison Ford.”
Zeena rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Oh, for Christ’s sake!”
“The Christ part comes next,” said Bob. “The mass has just let out, and there are
people from the church all around here. Notice the time?” - he showed her his watch -
“It’s almost noon. That means -”
“- Someone’s going to be coming here to ring the damned bells, right?”
“Right. So we’re going to have to get out of here now.”
Moffatt turned to call down through the opening. “Don? Nikolas? I’m going to have to
shut this door until we’re sure that everyone’s away from the bell tower again. It may be
awhile, hours, I don’t know. But we will be back to get you out of there.”
Not pausing for an answer, he then levered the iron hatch back over on its hinges, until
it again slammed shut with a boom that echoed through the room below.
Don looked glumly at Nikolas. “Why does this remind me of the Well of Souls scene
in Raiders of the Lost Ark?”
“No snakes this time,” said Nikolas helpfully. “On the other hand, no giant statues to
break through the walls with either. But rather than just sitting here until evening, or
tomorrow morning, let’s take a look through that hole in the wall, do a little exploring.
After that lizard city story, I’m wondering whether this is just old Spanish work, or
something else.”
The two of them walked over to the darkened aperture and directed the flashlights
through it. The beams disappeared into the distance of what seemed to be a tunnel bored
through the earth and rock beyond. As far as they could see, it was completely empty.
“You get the Coleman,” said Don. “Let’s keep the flashlights off to save the
batteries.” He pulled a small notebook from his pocket and tore a page out of it. “I’ll
- 69 -
leave a note right below the trapdoor to tell them where we’ve gone.”
“How far do you think this leads?”
“Only one way to find out!”
Far above them they heard the church bells begin to ring.
12:27 PM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; a taxicab, northbound, the Hollywood Freeway,
near the Sunset Boulevard offramp:
“Of all the rotten, lousy luck,” snarled Indiana Jones.
Bob Moffatt patted his shoulder. “Most people in this town would be overjoyed to be
mistaken for a movie star.”
Jones glared at him. “It isn’t funny. And this isn’t the first time either. Marion and I
were almost trampled to death one time in Tokyo.”
Bob wasn’t fazed. “Everyone’s almost been trampled to death in Tokyo. All you have
to do is ride the subway. Besides, why do you keep wearing that hat and jacket?”
“Bob does have a point,” commented Zeena.
Jones sighed. “Touché. But you have to understand - they’ve been with me my whole
life. I’ve been around the world in them. Maybe I’m superstitious, maybe just
sentimental. My big mistake was telling George and Steven, because then they just had to
make them a trademark of the films.”
“At least we’re away from the crowd now,” said Zeena. “Bob, how soon do you think
we can go back to the tower?”
“Nothing happens there except the bell-ringing. That’s on the hour, of course. It
wasn’t automated when I worked around there, and I didn’t see any sign that anything’s
changed now. I’d say this afternoon’s cutting it too close; some of the people who saw
Indy may still be hanging around the square. I’d recommend we wait to just after 7 PM.
Then people will be drifting away to home, and it’s still too early for any of the evening
service crowd to be around the church.”
“But that means Nikolas and Don will be stuck down there for seven hours!”
“Nothing’s going to happen to them except boredom,” said Jones, “but Bob’s right,
I’m afraid. If we go back earlier, we might blow the whole thing - not to mention having
to explain to the church and maybe the cops what we were doing down in their
3:45 PM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; somewhere under Los Angeles:
The initial tunnel, they discovered, was only a short branch off a somewhat larger one
about five hundred yards along it. That main tunnel - as far as they could see as bare as
the branch one - appeared to extend in a generally-straight line in angles to [as near as
they could determine] the northeast and southwest. Don tore another page out of his
notebook. “Right or left?”
“Do you feel the current of air?”
“I think so ... yes. From the southwest. And it smells fresh.”
“Then that’s our direction. It’s got to bring us out to the surface somewhere.”
As they made their way down the main tunnel, their original hopes of coming upon
some water-main or manhole-access to the surface began to fade. This was no ordinary
piece of excavation. The bottom was smooth enough - perhaps a little too smooth,
thought Don - but the sides were, well, melted rather than cut or bored. And the sidewalls
were angled slightly, irregularly inward, as though whoever had created this passage were
- 70 -
indifferent to its dimensions beyond the wide, smooth ground surface.
But the current of air persisted, and felt stronger as they continued down the tunnel,
occasionally passing other apparent-branch openings to their right or left.
“No lizards yet,” said Don, just to break the silence.
“Or gold,” returned Nikolas. “But this might not be part of Stufelt’s lizard city at all.
On the other hand, it’s just as obviously not part of the L.A. sewer system, and for that I
am frankly grateful! What’s left? Storm drain to the ocean? Not if there’s a branch from
beneath that bell tower. Smuggling route? Then you’d think we’d find some sign of
people having been here. But it’s absolutely empty. I’ve never seen anything quite like it
“I don’t think you’re going to see anything like it for very much longer either,”
commented Don, looking at the Coleman. “Looks like we’re about out of gas. When this
goes, I vote we just turn around and head back to the bell tower. We can use just one of
the flashlights at a time, and that should be enough to get us back at least. Then we just
sit in the dark and wait.”
“Sounds reasonable,” agreed Nikolas, “and timely, because there goes the lantern.”
They halted and watched while the glow from the Coleman began to fade, then
winked out altogether, leaving them in an inklike darkness. Nikolas switched on his
flashlight, saw Don staring down the tunnel before them.
“Nikolas, maybe I’ve been down here too long, but when the light went out, I thought
I could see something in the distance. Turn the flash off for a moment, will you?”
Nikolas obligingly did so, also peering in the direction indicated by Don. Then he
could see it too: a faint glimmer of light from something in the ceiling, perhaps fifty
yards further down the tunnel. They both switched on their flashlights and ran towards it.
When they reached the source of the illumination, they found it to be an irregular
panel in the ceiling above them, slightly dislodged from its apparent setting. Had it been
properly seated, commented Don, they probably would never have seen it at all.
“Which makes me wonder how many of them we might already have passed by in the
tunnel,” said Nikolas. “Particularly with the lantern on, we wouldn’t have seen any of
“Well, I suggest we have a go at this one anyway,” said Don. “You get up on my
shoulders, brace yourself against the walls, and see if you can get up through it.”
Climbing up on someone else’s shoulders in such narrow quarters turned out to be not
as easy as it might seem. After a somewhat precarious success, Nikolas was able to reach
up to the dislodged panel, knock it to one side on what was apparently a surface above,
then grip the edges and haul himself through the opening. He turned on the flashlight,
looked around, and let out a sharp hiss of shock.
Don’s voice came up from below: “Nikolas, what is it? Are you all right?”
“Don, I’m O.K. It’s just what’s up here. I - there’s a rope ladder here. I’m going to
drop it. Just keep your cool when you get up.”
Webb hurried up the ladder in puzzlement, then stared through the opening at the top
at a scene of stark horror.
The roughly-cut room they found themselves in was also irregularly cut, but perhaps
thirty to forty feet at its greatest length. But scattered throughout it were pieces of what
had once been human remains, sliced through as though with a butcher knife or saw, and
all curiously wrinkled and shrunken.
“What is it?” gasped Don. “What happened here?”
Nikolas’ normally-measured voice was shaken. “I don’t think it was recent. These
bodies don’t look as though they’ve been disturbed for years - decades. Also, did you
- 71 -
notice, there’s not a bloodstain anywhere. Someone or something drained all the blood
from these before throwing them in here.”
Don closed his eyes momentarily to blank it all out, then remembered: “We’re looking
for a way out. Do you see anything?”
“No - yes! Over there on that wall ... rungs, I think. Maybe there’s some kind of
access to the surface? Let’s try it.”
“Nikolas, if there is an opening up there, be careful. What’s above us could have some
connection with - all this.”
5:10 PM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; a backstreet alley, Leimert Park, Los Angeles:
A piece of weed-covered ground trembled, then moved upward as the hatch
underlying it slowly rotated open. After a moment two dust-covered figures dragged
themselves up through the opening, rolling over onto the dirt of the alley beside it. For
perhaps five minutes they both remained that way, silent, unmoving. Then, unsteadily,
they stood up. One paused to kick the hatch closed again, then they began to walk
towards the street a short distance away. Blinking in the fading afternoon sunlight, they
saw a gas station at the corner, and in its driveway a pay phone. Nikolas fished out a coin,
dialed his home number. “Zeena?”
“Nikolas? Nikolas! You got out? Are you all right? Where are you?”
“We’re both fine. Yes, we got out. There was a tunnel out of there, a long one. We’ll
tell you all about it later. Right now we just need you to pick us up.”
“Where are you? I’ll be right there.”
“Hold on, I’ll look for a street sign ... I’ll be damned!”
“39th and Norton, Zeena. We’re at 39th and Norton.”
- 72 -
8:10 PM, Sunday, February 2, 1997; Cherub Dining Room, the Magic Castle, 7001
Franklin Avenue, Hollywood:
“I needed that,” said Don Webb with a contented sigh, rocking his chair back. “What a
great dinner! Until I hit the festelboard, I’d forgotten that none of us had any lunch
“Well, we were sort of busy,” remarked Indiana Jones.
- 73 -
“All the more reason we need a relaxing evening here without thinking more about it
right now,” said Zeena with a sharp look at him. “No more shop talk tonight, remember?
Agreed? Now let’s relax and do the shows.”
“I’m for that,” agreed Nikolas. “Too bad Bob had to beg off this evening. If it hadn’t
been for him today -”
“No more shop talk, Nikolas?”
“All right, dear.”
- 74 -
10:20 AM, Monday, February 3, 1997; lounge area, main lobby, Hollywood Roosevelt
Hotel, Hollywood Boulevard:
“So Dr. Jones is off to the Getty with that trinket this morning,” said Don to the
Schrecks. “Frankly I can use the breather. He’s a nice guy, but he gets on my nerves after
awhile. By the way, why did you get me a room in this particular place?”
Zeena beamed at him. “Because it’s haunted, of course. The Roosevelt is supposed to
have more ghosts per capita than any other place in Hollywood. We felt it was the least
we could do to keep up images - yours, ours, and theirs, I mean.”
- 75 -
“I did have a little problem with the big mirror across the room last night,”
acknowledged Don. “It stayed lit for awhile after I turned the lights out. But I figured it
was merely because of yesterday.”
“Lit?” queried Nikolas. “Lit how?”
“As though there were a light on at the back of the room which reflected in the mirror.
But there was no light on in the room, and nothing from the window which would have
hit the mirror.”
“I’d say that’s normal Roosevelt,” said Zeena. “You get special points only if a dead
movie star steps out of the mirror - Barrymore, Marilyn, Mix, Rin Tin Tin, whoever.”
“It was enough for me after yesterday afternoon,” said Don. “But, Nikolas, you were
going to tell me what got you so spooked about coming out of the tunnel system at that
particular location.”
“A lot near 39th and Norton was where the body of the Black Dahlia was found in
January 1947,” said Nikolas. Seeing Don’s curiosity, he continued:
“That was the nickname of a young woman named Elizabeth Short - one of the
Hollywood starlet-hopeful types who survived on temporary jobs and the generosity of
various boyfriends, but not anything like a prostitute. She was last seen January 9th at the
Hollywood Biltmore, then just vanished. Six days later her body was discovered in the lot
- cut completely in half, savagely mutilated, many of her organs gone, and completely
drained of blood. One of the exhibits in our museum -”
“I saw it,” said Don. “Unsolved?”
“That’s right. The usual parade of deranged confessors after it became a media event,
but nothing at all conclusive. So after the LAPD dropped it as an impossible
investigation, it became one of the legends of Los Angeles folklore. James Ellroy wrote a
bestselling novel about it in ‘87; a man named John Gilmore followed it up with a book
called Severed in ‘94 - purporting to solve the murder. But it’s still only speculation. I
understand there’s going to be a big-budget movie about it soon - probably because of the
successful filming of Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential. If so, you can expect another rash of
“The nickname resulted from an old Alan Ladd film The Blue Dahlia,” added Zeena.
“Elizabeth Short had jet-black hair and liked to dress in black, so around her social haunts
she became known as the Black Dahlia. You can see how a nickname like that would
have fed the sensationalism.”
“So what we saw yesterday ...” said Don thoughtfully. “Back then everyone was
looking around the area, but apparently no one considered looking underneath it.”
“That’s right,” said Nikolas. “Short must have been butchered in that same
underground room, just like those others. Why her body was the only one thrown up onto
the surface of the lot I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. Or who or what was responsible
for the killings.”
“So what do we do about this?”
“Zeena and I discussed that last night. As far as I know, there’s no trace of our having
been there - we were wearing those gloves the whole time, remember - and we’d really
rather not have to deal with another round of crazy conspiracy lunatics. Can’t you see it?
Particularly with that Dahlia exhibit in Hellhouse? So this morning we made an
anonymous call to the LAPD from a payphone and told them about the trapdoor in the
alley. Now it’s up to them to follow it up or not.”
“Did you say anything about the church cellar?”
“No, because I can’t see that there’s any direct connection. That tunnel system
obviously goes all over the place down there. The branch below the church just happened
- 76 -
to lead into a main route that took us by that particular room and its exit. My guess is that
the iron hatch in the church cellar will go right back to being ignored and unopened for
another hundred years or so.”
“Anyway, Don,” said Zeena, “as interesting as this has all been, Nikolas and I are
going to have to bow out here. We’ve got the final work on that Christopher Lee CD to
finish up with him, and the store, and the Internet mail-order side of it that’s also starting
up. We can’t let it go any longer.”
“Don’t tell me,” sighed Don. “The lecture here was just one of several I have to do for
Seven Faces of Darkness, and my publisher in Denver’s after me to get the final proofs of
Stealing my Rules to him. And I talked with Rosemary on the phone this morning, and
Seven Faces is bringing in an avalanche of inquiries and interview requests. So what am I
doing? Chasing after what might be the Holy Grail with a movie star who isn’t really the
character - the other way around, I mean! - running through the L.A. lizard underground,
and now this Dahlia business. Do you know how that sounded on the phone? Rosemary
would think I’d gone over the top except that Stephen backed me up on the Marion-and-
Drake business. And apparently she’s had another chat with the Manns as well.”
“So are you going to call it quits and go back to Texas?”
“Jones said he’d phone me later this morning from the Getty, after he and Marion get
through looking at that old container. If that’s what Drake buried near San Quentin, I
guess that’s the end of the trail, because whatever it contained - if it contained something
- is obviously gone. But I’d like to know anyway. So I’ll just wait around here until he
calls, then catch a hotel shuttle to the airport.”
He stood up and embraced each of them warmly. “Thank you both for everything - the
evening at Hellhouse, your hospitality, last night at the Castle; it’s been a wonderful visit.
As for the other stuff yesterday, I’m just going to try not to think about it any more. I
already have my quota of regular nightmares to keep me company.”
2:30 PM, Monday, February 3, 1997; home of Patty Hardy and Andrew Nourse, San
Francisco peninsula hills, California:
“Andy! How’d you like to take a quick trip to Lompoc?”
Nourse’s head emerged from the door to their living room, focused in on Patty
Hardy’s in the kitchen. “Lompoc? What’s happening in Lompoc? For that matter, where
is Lompoc?”
“Remember that phone call about an hour ago from Don? Don Webb?”
“Yes - Did he make it back home safely?”
“He never went home. He’s still in Los Angeles. Apparently there was something
going on that he didn’t want to talk about on the phone. But when he called, he said he’d
just been given some astronomical coordinates from the year 1812, and he wondered if I
could pinpoint a location to go along with them.”
“And you got Lompoc?”
“Right. That’s a town down the coast near Point Conception, near Vandenberg Air
Force Base. I just called Don back and told him about it, and he sounded quite excited.
Said there’s one of the old Spanish missions there - La Purisima - and he’s going to drive
up there this afternoon with a friend of his. He asked whether you and I could meet them
there, so I took a chance and said yes.”
“I’m ready!”
- 77 -
5:10 PM, Monday, February 3, 1997; home of Dennis Mann and Karen Revay, near
Santa Barbara, California:
“That’s marvelous!” said a delighted Dennis Mann to their two surprise dinner
guests. “What a great story! Do you really think it’s the real Grail?”
[He wouldn’t think it was so great if I’d told him about the tunnels, thought Don.]
“That we won’t know until we find it, whatever it is, if it’s up at the Purisima
Mission,” said Indiana Jones after another swallow of coffee. “We’ve chased this thing
from the Continent to England to San Francisco to Los Angeles and now up to that
Mission. We’re now talking 1812. That’s almost two hundred years for it to have moved
somewhere else. All we know for certain is that the trail’s taken us this far.”
Karen Revay walked in from the kitchen balancing four dessert plates of berry pie.
“Here you go, guys - fresh out of the oven. So, Don. Still think that Secret of the Lost Ark
story was all fluff?”
Don laughed. “Theoretically I stopped thinking that the moment Stephen and I walked
in on Marion’s lecture in Austin, I guess. But emotionally it took a little longer. This isn’t
your usual kind of encounter. But I don’t have to tell you two that, do I?”
Dennis shook his head. “We didn’t say anything about it originally. Who’d have
believed us? Then Michael wrote that story, and of course some people who read it asked
us about it. Still what were we going to say? That yes, we were looting old Army
warehouses in Oakland, running through secret Nazi tunnels on the Obersalzberg,
breaking into Hitler’s fireplace at the Eagle’s Nest, fighting off MOSSAD, going down
more secret Egyptian tunnels in the Great Pyramid? I don’t think so.”
“Sometimes,” agreed Karen, “you just file something away as a remarkable part of
your personal life experience and let it go at that.”
“Aw, come on,” protested Indiana Jones. “When did you ever have a summer vacation
like that one?”
Karen looked at him. “I guess you’ve got a point there. But I think once was enough.
I think I remember you saying something about the Grail while we were in Germany,
though, so I’m not surprised you’re after it. But who’d have thought here, now?”
Dennis held up his glass. “Welcome to the club, Don. Even if you don’t find it, now
you can spend the next few years answering the kinds of questions we’ve been getting.
Particularly if Michael finds out about what you’ve been doing and writes it all up
“This one he isn’t going to hear about,” said Don firmly. “I don’t know how I’d begin
to explain any of it to anyone, and I really don’t want to even have to try.”
Jones looked at his watch. “That was a great dinner, Karen, but I think we’d better be
going if we want to reach Lompoc before dark.”
“Think of it, Karen,” said Dennis. “All that time we lived in Lompoc and we were
right on top of the Holy Grail. In Lompoc! You two will see what I mean when you get
there. You’re thinking a castle from a Wagner opera; well, Lompoc is at the other end of
the scale.”
“Got that right,” said Karen. “Anyway watch yourself, Don. This character” - she
nodded at the grinning archæologist - “seems to find all the wrong kind of interesting
Don’s thoughts crept back to 39th and Norton. He decided that he agreed with her.
- 78 -
8:45 PM, Monday, February 3, 1997; Embassy Suites Hotel, 1117 North “H” Street,
Lompoc, California:
Patty Hardy and Andrew Nourse were having coffee in the restaurant when Don
Webb and Indiana Jones walked in. Patty waved them over; Andy jumped to his feet and
gave Don a friendly hug.
“Harrison Ford!” said Patty, shaking hands with the archæologist. “What a nice
surprise! No wonder you were being so cagey over the phone, Don.”
“Ms. Hardy,” said Jones awkwardly, “I know I look like him, but I’m not Harrison.
I’m -”
Andy broke in: “It’s the other way around, right? That story about Dennis and
Don nodded, deadpan. “May I introduce Dr. Harry Jones from the University of North
“Well, sit down, sit down!” said Patty. “This is great! So the story wasn’t a fake after
all. Who’d have thought it? Now what brings you here, to those coordinates you phoned
“Ms. Hardy,” said Jones, “I’m on the trail of an, an artifact that was apparently
brought to California by Sir Francis Drake, then found by the Spanish and sent first to
their Pueblo at Los Angeles, then here. I’m still not sure what it was, but I think ...”
“You think it’s the Holy Grail, don’t you?” said Andy smugly.
“It might be,” said Don, “but honestly we haven’t seen anything actually describing it
that way, or even describing it, whatever it is, at all. All we know is that the English
seemed to be very anxious to hide this thing, first in England itself, then to get it out of
the country as far away as they could before the Spanish Armada was ready to threaten
invasion. Then the thing was apparently found by the Spanish here two hundred years
later, and seems to have been something of a hot potato. They sent it away from the San
Francisco Mission - not to one of the southern Missions, but to the Pueblo military
outpost. The case that contained it turned up in an old storage room under a church built
there later, but in the meantime the thing had been sent away again, according to a note
left with the case.”
“And that was all the more curious,” said Jones, “because the letter didn’t identify
where the object was being sent - just gave those astronomical navigation coordinates.
We’d have been at a dead end, except that Don remembered your computer work with
ancient astronomy and took a chance on your being able to dial the skies back and give us
a place on the map.”
“So it must have been the Mission here,” said Don. “Misión la Purisima Concepción
de María Santísima, to be exact. It’s just north of the town. Let’s go there first thing in
the morning and check it out.”
- 79 -
11:45 AM, Tuesday, February 4, 1997; La Purisima Mission State Historical Monument,
near Lompoc, California:
“One end of the place to the other,” said Jones, taking off his hat and wiping his brow,
“and nothing unusual that I can see.”
“Dr. Jones,” said Patty, “there was one thing that struck me as curious. But I’m not an
expert on Missions ...”
When he nodded, she continued: “It was in the chapel. I’m accustomed to seeing all
sorts of graves of priests and notables in Catholic churches and chapels. But in this one
there was only one grave, up by the altar.”
“Go on,” said Jones with interest.
“The way I see it, that could mean one of two things: Either the person buried there
was exceptionally highly regarded, in which case it was an honor, or it might be that he
was - not highly regarded, in which case his placement there might have been for
spiritual protection of the Mission. That would also account for no one else being buried
anywhere around him.”
“Or maybe the grave is not that of a person at all, but is perhaps a blind?” suggested
“Hopefully we’ll know more in a minute,” said Patty. “Here comes Andy. I asked him
to go to the Mission’s library and see what he could find out about that particular tomb.”
Andy Nourse came up to them, out of breath and obviously excited. “You’re going to
love this! But after I tell you about the tomb, I learned something even more interesting -
I’ll get to that later.
“That’s the grave of the fellow who was the pastor here at the time you were
interested in - 1812. Fray Mariano Payeras. Seems he kicked the bucket in 1823. But
here’s the strange part. When they were restoring this Mission much later, and got
around to the chapel, they exhumed him. Know what they found? Just his top half! The
body had been cut in two at the middle before burial.”
“Did they ever find out what happened?” said Patty.
“Well, sort of. Payeras’ lower torso and legs were later discovered at Mission Santa
Barbara, sixty miles away to the south. So then he was reburied in one place, that’s
what’s here in the chapel. I don’t know if he was stitched together first or not. Why
would anyone cut a dead person in half, anyway?”
- 80 -
The image of Elizabeth Short crawled back into Don’s mind. But no, he thought, there
couldn’t be any connection. This was 1823, that was 1947. But the coincidence gnawed
uneasily at him.
“In medieval times that was one of the ways of dealing with vampires and other kinds
of unpleasant posthumous monsters,” observed Patty. “You staked them, burned them, or
dismembered them; and presumably that made it more difficult for them to get up and
stagger off to the nearest village. What kind of a person was Payeras?”
Andy shrugged. “Actually he seems to have been closer to a saint than a vampire.
Arrived here in 1804, apparently with considerable knowledge of farming and irrigation,
because the Mission’s crop production and water supply both grew steadily under his
direction. He even helped the Mission to survive smallpox and measles epidemics a
couple of years later. The trouble happened in - guess when?”
“How about 1812?” said Don.
Andy nodded. “What they called here el año de los temblores, ‘the year of the
earthquakes’. On - get this - the South Solstice, December 21 of that year, the Mission
was suddenly and completely destroyed by a massive earthquake. The chapel was
pulverized instantly, and all the other buildings broken open. That was followed by
several days of violent rainstorms, which disintegrated all of the exposed adobe. The
earthquake also opened a giant fault rift right under the original site.”
Jones swept his hand around at the Mission buildings behind them. “I don’t
understand. This is all fairly recent reconstruction - early part of this century, at least.”
“I was getting to that. This isn’t the site of the original Mission! That was about four
miles southwest of here, below the Santa Ynez River. And during the floods right after
the earthquake, out of that fissure erupted waves of ‘black sand’. That freaked the
Indians, who regarded it as the worst possible kind of curse, and they refused to go
anywhere near the ruins. That’s why Payeras came up here to rebuild.”
- 81 -
“And then?” said Don. “Up here everything went O.K.?”
Andy shook his head. “Only up to the time of Payeras’ death in 1823. As I said, he
seems to have been an unusually strong, inspirational leader. Maybe that’s why the
people in Los Angeles sent your gizmo to him for safekeeping? But after he died, it all
came apart. Less than a year later the Indians revolted and took over the Mission. The
Spanish promptly sent a military force up here and recaptured it, then executed some and
imprisoned several others of the Indians. It was touch and go after that, as you can
imagine. The Mission was finally secularized in 1834, and shortly thereafter abandoned
entirely. Around the turn of the century the land was acquired by the Union Oil
Company, which later deeded it over to the State of California as a historic site. What you
see here is a complete restoration done mostly by the CCC in the 1930s. That’s also when
the grave of Payeras was accidentally discovered, and when, er, all of him was reinterred
in the present grave in the chapel.
“One thing more: This is the only Mission in the entire chain that the Catholic Church
washed its hands of. All the others remain consecrated churches. Just not this one.”
“Just thinking out loud here,” said Don. “But our artifact comes up here in 1812, let’s
say to be safeguarded by this super-saintly padre. But instead it destroys the entire
Mission, so much so that no one will come near it and Payeras has to rebuild some
distance away. But there’s still an atmosphere of, call it ‘contamination’, and as soon as
Payeras is no longer around to counteract it, the second Mission self-destructs too. Then
the Catholic Church wipes it off their books entirely. If the state hadn’t taken an interest
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in it and rebuilt it for a park, it would now be virtually unknown and unremembered.”
“That’s some artifact, all right,” said Jones. “Let’s head for that original site and see
what there is to see.”
“Lunch first,” insisted Patty. “Not all of us metabolize adrenalin, you know.”
2:15 PM, Tuesday, February 4, 1997; overgrown earthquake fissure near the Santa Ynez
River, four miles southwest of Mission La Purisima, Lompoc, California:
“As near as I can tell from those maps at the new Mission,” said Jones, “we’re now
standing right over Payeras’ original chapel building site.
Looks to me as though all the interest in restoration was focused on the new site up to
the north - good! Now we look for any remnant of that structure, or something that might
have been under it, perhaps.”
The four of them fanned out among the rocks and underbrush. The afternoon sun gave
them plenty of light to examine the terrain with, but the Pacific breezes from off Point
Conception kept the day pleasantly cool. As he clambered around the rocks, Don decided
he was enjoying himself on this bizarre treasure hunt, even if they didn’t find anything
more than, well, more rocks. But then he did.
As he clambered around one large boulder, his gaze fell on an elongated crack
between its edge and the ground next to it. What caught his eye was that the edge of the
crack was not jagged, but straight. Trying not to get his hopes up, he called to the others,
who came plunging through the brush to examine his discovery.
- 83 -
Jones’ excitement was electric. “O.K., let’s try to get this rock off that opening. Don,
get the jack-handle from the trunk of the car, will you? Andy, you by any chance have
another one in yours? Good - we’ll need that too.”
Fifteen minutes later, and with all of them straining on the steel bars wedged under the
boulder, they were able to roll it further off the opening. Catching their breath, they
gathered round to see what they had uncovered.
It was a rectangular opening, of some adobe-like substance, with what seemed like a
step barely visible at one end of it. The rest of the stairwell, if that’s what it were, was
completely filled with dirt and rock fragments.
“This is going to take some digging,” said Jones unnecessarily. “We’ll have to go
back into town and buy some shovels and, I think, a pick. Also a couple of lantern-lights,
in case there’s anything down there to see once we open it up.”
11 AM, Wednesday, February 5, 1997; entrance to the chapel crypt, Mission Vieja:
“That should about do it,” said Jones, throwing down his shovel. “Don, you found it -
you lead the way!”
Don switched on one of the lanterns and slowly descended the cramped staircase.
With the pick he hacked away at the remaining rubble at the bottom, breaking through it
into an open space beyond. He widened the opening another few feet, then stepped
through it and directed the electric beam out before him.
- 84 -
He was standing in the remains of what had once been a long, low crypt. Part of the
sides had caved in, evidently from the earthquake, and areas of the ceiling sagged
ominously. “Come on down. Look at this!”
The other three filed down through the narrow entrance to join him.
Wordlessly he pointed the beam of light at the far end of the room.
And there It was.
- 85 -
Sitting atop a raised earthen platform, about three feet above the floor, was what at
first glance seemed to be a cup or goblet tapering down to a thin stem, which then flared
out to a wide, flat base.
But that is where the similarity ended. Because the thing flowed, or oozed. As they
came closer to it, the saw that it appeared to be made of some mercury-like liquid metal,
that emerged from its recessed center, flowed over the top and sides, and down over, then
under the splayed base - which they now saw was not circular, but irregularly and queerly
angled. And as they watched, the angles changed, also randomly, as though some strange
geometric puzzle were being played out before them.
From across the room the Thing had appeared to be a dull yellow - Don had first
supposed it to be gold - but now as they looked at it closely, they realized that it was
actually a shifting spectrum of colors, in which the dull yellow and a kind of translucent
green seemed to predominate. Andy reached out to touch it; then his wrist was gripped
hard by Indiana Jones. “No, not a good idea. Never seen anything like that before. Might
be dangerous.”
“Could - that be the Grail?” asked Don.
Jones glanced at him. “I think we’re looking at something far older and more alien
than any of the Grail legends you’re familiar with, Don. If it bears any relation to them,
it’s as the prototype - something that gave rise to all the stories.”
“What do you think it actually is?” said Patty, more curious than intimidated by the
strange apparition.
Before Jones could answer her, Andy leaned over the top of the object and pointed the
beam from his electric light at the center of the metallic effervescence. “See that? I think
we’re looking at molecular transmutation of some sort. The ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, if you
like. Energy-to-matter conversion without atomic fission or fusion. I bet if you had a
- 86 -
Geiger counter here, it wouldn’t register so much as a blip. And whatever is going on
here has some sort of Klein-bottle, some Mœbius topology to it; it’s folding back into
itself.” He turned back to them excitedly. “Do you realize what this is? This is a perfect
steady-state,” - he grasped for words - “the whole perpetual motion thing. Not even
gravity affects it, probably.”
“But it’s evidently affected other things,” Don pointed out. “People around it. In this
case very obviously the entire ground-structure underlying the original Mission here.”
“I’ll hazard a guess on that,” said Patty slowly. “This - Grail - may be something
stable or steady-state in itself, but it has an external property as well: amplification.
Amplification not of what we usually think of as matter and energy, because we’re
presuming it to be insulated from that. Amplification of ... of the soul, of the soul’s
Indiana Jones stared at her, then at Andy, then Don in growing surprise. “Where is all
this coming from? Are you listening to yourselves? You sound as though - as though
you’re speaking from that thing itself!”
Patty turned, smiled at him, through him, then continued:
“That would explain why the Grail is supposed to be both a source of great healing
and great harm to anyone coming into contact with it. Near a malign person it radiates,
well, ‘evil’. Near a gentle, peaceful person, it radiates ‘good’. Can you see what a danger
it is, given the instability of the human psyche?”
“It’s all beginning to make sense,” said Jones thoughtfully. “The desire of the English
to keep it, yet their fear to keep it in increasing times of anxiety and stress. Its erratic,
unpredictable influence in all the places it was kept in Spanish California. And Payeras!
The Grail must have been sent to him as an ‘object of evil’ which he was expected to
‘contain’. So what did he do, with his exemplary religious piety? He focused his will on
this ‘evil thing’ as something to be hated, not knowing that in doing so he was activating
in it amplified forces of his own hatred which reached out to destroy his entire Mission!”
He stopped abruptly, looked around at them again with a startled expression, put his
hands to his forehead with a sudden shudder.
“More than that,” said Don slowly, evenly, “we’re looking at the key to all of the
legends surrounding the Grail: why it served innocent and naïve people beneficially, yet
proved deadly to even the most well-intentioned seekers of more deep and complex
character. Why whenever it was found, it would quickly be concealed or ‘lost’ again. As
soon as its actual effects were comprehended, it became of the utmost necessity, and
urgency, to send it away or depart from its presence. As,” he added quietly, “we’re going
to have to do now.”
One by one the others nodded, Indiana Jones the last and with obvious reluctance.
“This was going to be the greatest find of my entire career,” he said dejectedly. “And
now not only can’t I produce it for the world, but I have to do as all the rest of the seekers
did, and conceal it again!”
Patty put her arm around his shoulder sympathetically. “There’s something you’re
forgetting, Indy. Most people who have looked for the Grail - and there have been a great
many, you know - have never found it, never known this exquisite and dreadful truth that
we have come to see here. You have done it. And you, like Galahad and Parsifal, have
survived that encounter, passed the test that has destroyed lesser beings. No display case
in a museum is going to grant you anything close to that.”
Jones sighed deeply, took off his hat and rubbed his forehead again. “You’re right, of
course. And we’re in danger the longer we stay in its vicinity, just as obviously. Let’s get
out of here, now.”
- 87 -
The four of them, after a final, fascinated glance at the unearthly phenomenon before
them, turned and retraced their steps through the rubble and up the crumbling stairwell
they had so eagerly descended a few minutes earlier. Nothing more was said; nothing
needed to be said.
Later that afternoon they returned to the ravine with several bags of concrete, mixed
them, and poured them down the aperture, filling the stairwell completely. Dirt and debris
were then added to the top, until it was once more indistinguishable from the surrounding
8:30 PM, Wednesday, February 5, 1997; Andersen’s Pea Soup Restaurant, Buellton,
“I’m betting,” said Andy contentedly, “that nobody else who’s ever done what we did
ever finished the day with a better bowl of pea soup than that!”
Indiana Jones nodded affably, then stood up from the table and stretched. “I suppose
I’d better head on back to L.A. During the drive I get to figure out how much of this I can
explain to Marion - and why her paper for the Getty is going to be - going to have a less
spectacular conclusion than she’d hoped. Drop you at the airport down there, Don?”
“No, I think I’ll hitch a ride north with Patty and Andy, stay with them at their place
in the redwoods for a couple of days. I need to walk around in the trees awhile, get my
head together on all of this before flying home.” Don reached out and gripped Jones’
hand warmly. “But, you know, I’m never going to be quite the same again. And
whenever I pass through Hollywood, I’m going to stop at Hamburger Hamlet and drink a
silent toast to the mural.”
- 88 -

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