The best thing about being seventeen and a high school graduate is having a whole summer to laze around before college. Knowing this, Glen’s mother signed him up for a summer course. Glen was ticked at first, but the course was in Archeology, a topic that interested Glen thanks to his Uncle, and it was being taught at the Museum of Natural History in New York City so all in all that was not so bad. The train ride into the city, the path, and the chance to take the A-train all the way up the West Side alone made it worthwhile.
Glen’s Uncle was an amateur archeologist in Arkansas. He never got out of the ninth grade, and the PhDs had terrible names for a man like him, but he could read the soil better than anyone Glen ever knew, and he taught Glen to do the same. Glen’s Uncle cherished the things he found, and he was respectful of the descendants of his digs who still lived on reservations in Oklahoma. They were glad to see that someone was making the effort to learn and preserve their history and heritage, and so with that approval in his pocket, Glen’s Uncle did a lot of digging. Eventually, he had several articles published in scholarly magazines, and more than once the University of Arkansas called on his help in their digs, and why? Because Glen’s Uncle could read the dirt better than anyone Glen ever knew.
On the last day of the class in New York, Glen and his classmates met early in the morning, piled onto a bus, and drove to a dig back in New Jersey somewhere up around High Point. New Jersey Indians were not nearly as well heeled as the Caddo in the Southwest. The dig was small, but interesting when they took the tour. Then they had time to wander and watch as long as they stayed out of the roped off areas. Most of the students watched the work in progress. Glen knew that was like watching grass grow, so he thought to wander toward one area that was cleared of vegetation and grass but which was not roped off.
“Excuse me.” He stopped a man who had gone back to his jeep for a trowel and brush or something. “Has this been cleared for future exploration?” The whole area was dug into a pit about a foot deep, but no one was working there.
“No,” the man responded. “We thought there were signs there. It looked promising, but it proved to be nothing.”
“What do you mean nothing?” Glen asked. He examined the dirt. “Look at this. There are red, brown, and yellow specks mixed in all of this. Somebody dug through several layers of dirt to bury something here. Look. There is even some charcoal here like from a ceremonial fire mixed in.”
“That’s what I thought.” The man swerved to join Glen. “But we dug some test holes. Here, here and I think here.” He pointed to three spots along the perimeter. “We went down about six feet but found nothing.”
“Do the test in the middle first to see if there is something there. That’s what my Uncle taught me. If there is something, you can mark the perimeter after and work your way slowly to pay dirt.”
Glen looked up at the man and felt the embarrassing need to lie. “University of Arkansas.” It wasn’t a complete lie, he told himself. “Got a shovel? Mind if I dig since you folks aren’t interested?”
The man hardly hesitated. He took Glen to a stack of shovels and let him pick. “I always thought there was something there only my colleagues talked me out of it. Good luck, kid.”
Glen dug, right in the middle, and not very far before two things happened. First his shovel went “Clunk!” It was not the clunk of metal shovel against stone, but the sound of metal against metal. A few more shovelfuls and he uncovered a two-foot wide space and knew it was a sphere. The other thing that happened was an older gentleman saw him and started a row.
“Put that shovel down. Get away from there this instant.” The man made a terrific racket and got everyone’s attention as he came running. To be sure, the poor man was terrified of being sued in case Glen got hurt; but Glen ignored him. He continued to remove clods of dirt until he had the whole top hatch uncovered. You see, he was driven because he recognized the symbol in the center of the hatch. It was the symbol of the royal house of Hacharri of the seventeenth Hungdin dynasty of the Humanoid Empire. That same voice in his head was telling him the ship, and it was a ship, had to be at least two thousand years old.
When the man arrived, he stopped and stared. The younger man Glen had first met was there as well, along with his teacher, Miss Watson. They were all open mouthed and staring, so Glen thought it safe to speak.
“Got a rope?” He asked as he touched the external release button. The hatch popped and there was a great whoosh of air while the two pressures equalized before the hatch opened wide to reveal a dark hole in the earth.
“Rope.” The younger man yelled and a University student came running. “Flashlights.” He added the word, but two other students had to run off to fetch them, and a lantern.
“I might be able to get the lights on,” Glen said. “This thing has a ten-thousand year half-life battery and it can’t have been buried here much more than two thousand years.”
“What?” The old man did not believe what he heard. He looked at Miss Watson, but she could only shrug.
When the rope arrived, someone backed up a jeep and the rope got tied to the trailer hitch. Then Glen prepared to descend, but the old man got in his way.
“You can’t go down there. There is no telling what is down there or how deep it is.” Glen dropped the rope into the hole and they clearly heard the clunk as it struck bottom. He grinned for the old man. “Absolutely no chance of you going down there. Miss Watson, your class needs to leave, now.” Miss Watson only looked disappointed, and the young man Glen met first looked equally disappointed. But then something or someone rose up inside of Glen and he did something rarely seen in seventeen year old boys in those days. He told off a full college professor who was used to being in charge.
“No! I am the only one who can go down there. You have no idea what you are dealing with. You touch the wrong spot and you can blow up the whole eastern seaboard.” Then Glen left that place and Captain Dimitri Alesandros of the Solar Defense Force came from the future to stand in his place. There were plenty of gasps and shock when Dimitri appeared, but Glen thought the military Captain would at least command respect and have the right words for the situation, him being more mature and all.
“Move it fatso,” Dimitri said, and somewhere in time and space Glen sighed. “Hand me the torch, er, flashlight.” With that, he slowly lowered himself into the hole and no one dared stop him.