Aztec Sun-stone and LINK

2012: Timeline Apocalypse

by Bob Nailor

Chapter 1: The Call

        Mayan Date: 8 Chuen 14 Mac ~

"O Mighty Sun God, K'inich Ahau, we honor you at this last of

time. May this offering of flowing blood, sacred of the royal line,

guide you on your path across the sky. May your light

shine upon this house and its residents.

Give us your happiness and allow our enemies and those

who incur your wrath to drown in your light. We have seen

the shadow strangers and stand ready to accept, if they

are friends or do battle, if enemies, as you desire."

Prayer of Chac Tun B'alam        

Ruler of L'akam Ha        

Metro City: 1:04 p.m., Wednesday, December 12, 2012.

            I entered my apartment and locked the door behind me. The television, still on from earlier in the morning, blared the news of all the impending disasters. A volcano exploding on some distant island in the Pacific, forcing natives to be evacuated. Another earthquake had shaken most of the Andean mountain range. Three planes had been hijacked and were currently circling London, Paris and Los Angeles. An epidemic of huge proportions, reminiscent of the Biblical plagues, was ravaging Egypt. The stock market was dropping. Doom and gloom was the hot topic. Like always, I let the television become background noise.

            I shook my head disgustedly. My involvement level with all this end-of-world hullabaloo had become pretty low. Everyone seemed to be on the bandwagon. Besides, I had issues of my own and I felt most of these catastrophes could easily be explained. The stock market dropped back in 2008. It took some time but it rallied back up and once again had stabilized in the mid-1100s by the end of 2010. It wasn't the full recovery everyone had hoped for, but it was a stable one. The volcano exploding wasn't anything new; it had blown back in late 2009, a mere three years ago and was therefore, in what I like to call, a still relatively volatile status. Peru and Chile have had quakes since the beginning of time so this wasn't anything strange for them. As far as planes go, of late, it seemed to be the "hijack of the week" with different dissidents claiming it as their coup. This time it was animal activists and the newly formed al Kadaun People's Republic. So this week's radical groups had their bragging rights until the next hijack. The Egyptian plague thing seemed new but why the sudden panic? Simple. Toss it into the fray. It was just part of the hoopla about the world ending in a couple of weeks; December 21, 2012. I still vividly remember the frenzy at the turn of the century with the 2000 scare. Some people went hysterical fearing the end of the world strictly because a simple electronic device couldn't deal with a four-digit year. People really needed to get a grip on reality.

            I ambled into the kitchen and stood there staring at the cupboard contents, mulling over the possibilities for lunch. The can of chicken rice soup looked like an easy fix but a bowl of chili with rice sounded a little tastier. Of course, that meant more work. I grimaced, closed the cupboard doors and moved to the refrigerator. I opened the frig and took inventory: leftover fried chicken, some gamey tuna salad, a chunk of cheese with growing culture, three boxes of take-out, two beers and a partial bottle of cheap wine. Reheating a meal was faster than fixing one. I grabbed a beer and the top take-out box. Lunch surprise, I thought while lifting the lid of the container. I stared at the contents; it was still a minor mystery. Chinese. There was fried rice, broccoli, a dark sauce and chicken. I didn't see any seeds so that eliminated Sesame Chicken.

            I thought back. Saturday night, Don and Elaine had set me up with a blind date; I think her name was Sheila. She'd ordered something with chicken. I shrugged my shoulders. Whatever it was, I popped it into the microwave, pushed some numbers, pressed 'Start' and then twisted the cap off the beer bottle. A refreshing slug of beer gushed down my throat; it was crisp, cold and satisfying. The TV in the living room caught my attention so I ambled into the room. Flopping into the recliner I almost spilled the beer.

"...and now live from Mexico."

The screen blinked from the news anchor, Jim Mc-something-or-other to an image of a young woman standing near a pile of stones.

"This is Lucia Camal and I'm standing near the Temple of Inscriptions here at the Palenque ruins. We are watching the latest development of a new cult, which I'm told has quickly grown to very large proportions. Part way up you can see a scuffle as the followers of this cult are trying to hold back the authorities. We've been able to ascertain that at the very top, a self-proclaimed high priest of the Mayan religion is preparing for the first of many supposed sacrifices to K'inich Ahau. This is in conjunction with the Mayan calendar coming to an end next week."

The camera panned up to the figure near the top.

"He has a goat, which I was informed he will be sacrificing to the sun god."

A man, dressed in a dark body suit with a white skeleton printed on it and a skeleton mask strutted about the top of the temple, his robe of bold blue, black and white feathers flowed in the wind. He held a dark object that glittered in the sun. It was a knife - an obsidian knife. He raised the knife above his head using both hands, and then plunged the black blade into the animal with a single swoop. There was some movement then his hands came up, clasping a bloody mass. Blood oozed down his arms.

"Oh my god, he ripped the animal's heart out–"

The screen blacked out and reverted to a caught off-guard news anchor flipping a pen into the air while his feet rested on the desk. He grabbed at the pen, fumbled it and watched it roll to the edge and fall off. In his hasty attempt to sit up, Jim Mc-something-or-other nearly fell out of the chair.

"What? Uh, yes, folks, we'll have more information after this word from our sponsors."

Jim Mc-something-or-other slapped on an insincere smile for the camera while straightening some papers on the anchor desk. The commercial cut in.

            The phone rang, startling me from the hypnotic view of the screen. I sat back in my chair, reached over and grabbed the receiver.

            "Hargrove Detective Agency," I snapped before realizing I wasn't at the office.

            "Mr. Hargrove?" A timid voice asked. "Ah... er... are you Detective Barry Hargrove?"

            "Yes," I replied and frowned. "Can I help you?" In the kitchen I heard the microwave chirp. It had finished and was waiting for me to remove the food.

            "Hello. My name is Dr. Alvarez Martinez," he said. "I am in... If you could... Would you be willing to accept a case, Mr. Hargrove? I realize this is very short notice."

            There was a pause. A case? He had definitely piqued my interest. I mean, after all, it was work. Things had been a little slow at the office, so anything would be a start. Of course, I was curious as to why he was calling me at home. Then I realized I'd put the office phone on call-forwarding.

            "Sure," I said nonchalantly. "Exactly what are the details of the case?"

            "Perhaps we could discuss this at my office," Martinez said. "Is there any particular time which would be convenient for you? Later today? Maybe tomorrow?"

            "Any time after nine tomorrow will work." I replied. "Of course, I could stop by this afternoon if that's better." I still had no idea what was happening or where I was going but it sure sounded like I'd be taking the case. That was a good thing. The sooner I started, the sooner I collected some much-needed money.

            "Nine thirty tomorrow would be fine," he said and proceeded to give me the address. "Oh, wait. I have a meeting at nine forty-five. Hmm?" There was a pause. "You said this afternoon? Could you be here by two thirty? I realize that it would be tight but–"

            "See you then, Dr. Martinez," I replied cutting him off while scribbling his name and address on the newspaper in front of me.

            "Fine. Fine," he said absently. "See you then."

            "G'bye." I slammed the phone into its cradle.

            I glanced at my watch. 1:20 p.m. I didn't have much time. I grabbed my coat and keys and left the microwave chirping: a hot dog from a street vendor was a better bet than that mystery container of salmonella in the microwave.

Chapter 2: The Cult

        Mayan Date: 8 Chuen 14 Mac ~

Father Sun, I implore your aid with the shadow

people. I offer my blood to honor you.

Help me to understand a true meaning.

Prayer of Chac Tun B'alam

Ruler of L'akam Ha

Palenque Ruins: 12:20 p.m., Wednesday, December 12, 2012.

            The cult mob cheered and rallied around the man in the feathered robe. He stood there, hand held high, blood oozing down his arm from the goat heart. The feathers fluttered lightly in the gentle breeze and his golden headdress glistened in the bright sunlight. He tossed the heart to the mob and they burst into screams, stretching, reaching to grab the bloody mass.

            A gunshot echoed across the grounds. Hysteria and melee swept the group and they fled down the steps, which were dangerously steep and severe. The park guards, suddenly assailed by the downward surging crowd above them, were pressed backwards. The guards treaded carefully so as not to fall while the mob streamed down in a hurried descent.

            A scream arose above the bedlam, and a brightly dressed human rolled, bouncing downward, knocking two guards off balance. The three tumbled down the steps until one, a guard, finally broke free of the other two and turned around to breace his legs on one of the steps and stop gravity's pull.

            The other two bodies continued on their way down and Lucia watched them silently. She knew, without even getting close, that they were dead. Emil, the camera man, followed their path, filming the gruesome death scene.

            "I know those sons of bitches cut my feed," Lucia yelled. "But I'm not finished here. There is a story, a big ass story, that will put me on top. I'm not about to lose it. Emil! Maribel! Follow me. Where'd the asshole with the knife disappear? Come on folks, somebody dressed up like Big Bird's shadow shouldn't be that hard to locate. Find me those feathers."

            Lucia stretched on her tiptoes and attempted to locate her man in the mob. The group continued to escape down the stairs of the Temple of Inscriptions. A few clusters of tourists wandered about the grounds. She looked to the Palace, no feathered person there.

            "This is one hell of a story, Lucia," Emil huffed. "I can't wait to get this in the editing room." He lowered the camera. "Just remember, I'm your cameraman when the big guys come calling. I know how to make you look good." Emil glanced over at Lucia and she motioned for him to continue rolling the camera.

            "On me," Lucia demanded, and then continued for the camera, "As you can see over my shoulder, some mayhem has broken out here at the Temple of Inscriptions at the Palenque ruins. An unknown person who has declared himself a high priest of the Mayans just performed a live sacrifice to the sun god, K'inich Ahau. The police and the followers of this so-called priest were in a furor when a lone gun shot rang out. At that time, again over my shoulder, in the background, the mob and police all started down the steps. One person slipped, knocking down what I believe to be two officers. One of the officers was able to stabilize himself, but it appears that the other officer and the person who tripped continued to roll to their death at the foot of the pyramid. I will be interviewing the priest, some of the members of this new sect and, of course, the police. This is Lucia Camal coming to you live from the Temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico." She smiled.

            "And that's a wrap," Emil said. "How in the hell are you going to find the priest?"

            "I won't," Lucia said with a sly grin. "He will find me. Trust me, Emil, that guy didn't go up there to commit a sacrifice and then decide to slip into anonymity. He will be hunting me so he can strut his stuff to the world. Extraverts, like this guy, always want to talk about themselves."

            "I still think he's a quack," Emil said. "I'd be real careful if I was you, Lucia. Remember, that dude ripped the goat's heart out with his bare hand. Tell me, is that really a talent you're looking for in the dream man of your life?"

            Lucia laughed and waved her hand to dismiss his comment. "I'm not wanting to date him, just interview him, okay? Besides, he actually cut the heart out."

            Emil put down the camera and started to wrap up wires in preparation of heading back to the station. "Cut... ripped... who cares? Bottom line is that the heart is no longer on the inside," he mumbled, and then noticed Lucia was scowling at him. "Fine. Just be careful, okay?"

            She handed him the microphone so he could pack it away. "No problem, Emil. I'll watch my step." She wrinkled her nose at him. "And my heart."

            "Miss Camal?" a man called out as he approached.

            "Yes?" she replied while doing a snap evaluation of him: a solid six foot tall, maybe six two, Mayan, muscular, brown eyes, black, wavy hair, very attractive and a smile. It was the smile that pulled her in. She didn't care who he was, he had her under his spell. Then she noticed the red on his one sleeve. Blood? She pulled back.

            "Please don't be alarmed," he said, putting down the bag he carried.

            Lucia cocked an eye at the black feather which fluttered at the puckered cord drawn opening. He gently stuffed it into the hole and tightened the leather strap holding it closed.

            "I saw your station's van pull up while I climbed the steps," he said. "I take it you got the notification of my event and that is why you are here." He glanced about and sighed deeply. "Actually, I was hoping for more coverage but one takes what one can get. Would you like more information?"

            "Hey, Emil," Lucia said. "Hold up a minute. Not so fast with cleanup." She turned back to the stranger. "Exactly what is your event here?"

            "As I am quite sure you are aware, the Mayan calendar is coming to an end," he said.

            "Wait a minute," Lucia said, leaned over and grabbed the microphone from Emil's hands. She shoved a cord into the end while Emil plugged the other end of the cord into a camera beside him. "Let's start this over. Who are you? What is your name?"

            He smiled warmly at her then bowed. "My apologies," he said. "I should have introduced myself when I first approached. My name is..." He hesitated, smiled and held up a one finger. "Let me start over. I call myself Ah Pukuh now. I took my name from the Mayan gods. Ah Pukuh is the Lord of the Dead and ruler of the lowest level, vilest of the nine levels of the Mayan underworld."

            "My, isn't that impressive. Could I get you back into your pinãta costume by any chance?" Lucia asked and pointed to the bag.

            Ah Pukuh's brows furrowed. "This is not a costume, Miss Camal. This is my ceremonial garb for the moment when I and my god, K'inich Ahau, commune together and I am able to assist him on his journey across the sky." He held one hand up and slowly waved it in an arc to designate the sun's movement. "Perhaps you and your colleagues consider this just a prank to cash in on the fast approaching moment, but trust me, this is neither a joke nor is it bullshit mysticism. The lines of time are coming into conjunction. The vibrations of renewal flow toward us. Even the heavens are joining in the celebration."

            Lucia held the microphone outstretched before her, glad to have the extra distance between them. She pulled her hand back quickly.

            "So this is connected with the Mayan calendar and its end of time?"

            Ah Pukuh rolled his eyes. "That is the misconstrued concept. Time is not ending. Only this existence of time is ending. Time will renew itself. Think of it as more like the regeneration of the end to a beginning, so to speak."

            "Fine," Lucia said. She motioned to Emil in an attempt to have him zoom in on the duffel bag with the feathered robe. "If you won't put on the robe, would you at least pull it out so my viewers can see it?"

            It was then she noticed the necklace the man was wearing. A leather tong held it securely around his neck. The black obsidian, finely chipped knife glittered in the bright sunlight. The handle, in the shape of a parrot's head, was made of jade with inlaid turquoise. Lucia rolled her eyes at Emil hoping he would zoom in on the knife necklace instead; she was sure it was the same one he'd used for the sacrifice.

            The tall man looked around at the mob and police in the distance. One could barely hear the distant howler monkeys for all the commotion of the group. The jungle birds, for the most part, were silent.

            "I really don't think I should be doing that," he said and motioned with his thumb to the group behind him. "I don't need the police over here right now."

            "Actually, sir," Lucia said, "I do believe one of the policemen is headed this way."

            Ah Pukuh glanced behind him and grabbed his duffel bag. He casually swung it over his shoulder.

            "Miss Camal," he said excusing himself with a disarming smile. "Let me assure you the pleasure was all mine. I will be getting in contact with you later."

            He ambled away toward the van and the parked cars in the distance beyond. The officer quickly approached.

            "You guys are with a television station, right?" the officer asked while coming closer. "Did you get all this on tape? Any chance of us taking a look to see who the guy was at the top?"

             Emil rolled his eyes and put the camera down into its case. He started playing with the cords, stalling for time.

            "We were doing a small segment on the ruins," Lucia said then looked to her camera man. "Ah, Emil, did you happen to pan up on the pyramid during that mess? Did you get any of the action?"

            Emil looked up with absolute innocence in his eyes. "Yeah, I tried a closeup but really couldn't see anything. It could have been a guy. Maybe it was a woman." He snapped the box shut. "What were they doing up there? At first I thought it was some sort of park exhibition." He shrugged his shoulders and grimaced at the officer. "I'm guessing it wasn't?"

            The young policeman shook his head. "Nah. Just some idiot demonstrating. Sorry to bother you folks. If you see anything on the tape you feel could help us, I'd really appreciate the support."

            Emil cast a knowing eye to Lucia then glanced back to the officer. "Any idea who shot the gun?"

            The officer stood there silently for a few seconds then looked back at the pyramid and shook his head. "I'm not sure, probably either Gomez or Alvarez; they're the ones who get to carry firearms." He took a deep breath. "Guess I can go clean up the dead goat now; I'm low man on the rosters." He tipped his hat, turned and walked back toward the crowd still milling about at the Temple of Inscriptions.

            Emil looked up at Lucia. "That was easier than usual," he said. "He must be really new."

            She laughed. "There will be repercussions, Emil, honey." She watched the young officer heading to the Temple of Inscriptions. "Not only for us, but also for him." She smiled and pointed a finger at the retreating officer. "That I can assure you. Let's get the equipment packed and back to the station before some veteran officer shows up." She snapped her cell phone out. "Angela? Hey, get me all the information you can on K'inich Ahau. Also see what you can find out about Ah Pukuh - you figure out the spellings. While you're at it, grab some Mayan calendar data, too. I've got a hot one this time." There was a pause. "Oh, you saw part of it? Well, I got a lot more since. Just you wait and see... Momma is coming home with the bacon."

Chapter 3: The Theft

        Mayan Date: 8 Chuen 14 Mac ~

Father Sun, I have offered my blood and now beseech

your help with the shadow strangers.

Prayer of Chac Tun B'alam

Ruler of L'akam Ha

Metro City: 2:12 p.m., Wednesday, December 12, 2012.

            I briskly hiked the couple of blocks from the subway to the address I was given. The wind, snow and cold air blew against my back, pushing my coat against me. I hunkered down into my coat and shoved my hands deeper into the pockets and trudged down the street. I looked up at the grand building: a museum. I nodded my head in satisfaction. Dr. Martinez had never really told me exactly what he wanted. Finally, a break; a decent job, I thought. I popped a mint in my mouth and started sucking on it, hoping it would calm my stomach and kill the sewer scent in my mouth. The coney I'd consumed was excellent but I shouldn't have doubled-loaded the onion. Once again I wasn't thinking ahead. Other passengers were giving me sour looks; I tried to keep my mouth closed.

Museum: 2:47 p.m., Wednesday, December 12, 2012.

            I followed Dr. Martinez through the museum into the Mesoamerican Arts Exhibit. In his office he'd been informative yet all the time very cryptic. All I knew for sure was there had been a theft of an item, and the item was quite valuable. I quietly snickered trying to think of any item on display in a museum which was worthless. He had alluded to Mayan history, a calendar and something about an upcoming timeline or deadline. I now questioned if it was a part of the 2012 frenzy. Dr. Martinez had fidgeted all the time while we were in his office. Here, now, in the hallways, his mannerisms had completely changed and he was very calm.

            For the most part, this area of the museum appeared empty but as we turned and entered a large room, we came upon a small group of school children with their teacher who ambled about the exhibits. They were about as quiet as a passel of nine-year-old kids can be when in a group environment. Dr. Martinez nodded to the young woman in charge.

            "Good afternoon," he said then smiled at the children. "Are you finding the exhibits interesting?" His eyes twinkled as he watched the children's responses.

            They nodded excitedly and raised their voices in acknowledgment. The teacher immediately shushed them and thanked him.

            "Have fun and be sure to come back again," he said and then turned to me. "Shall we continue?"

            "Lead on," I said and politely nodded to the teacher.

            She was approximately thirty years old and possibly single, since there were no rings on her finger. My nod was more than polite.

            "Mr. Hargrove," Martinez whispered. "In just a few more steps, we'll enter into the antiquities section of the Mesoamerican exhibits. You'll be able see what I've been talking about." He produced a key and opened a door to another dimly lighted section of the museum. "We quickly secured this section so we would have the proper time to assess and address the situation."

            I frowned. "Please, call me Detective Hargrove, or just Detective; mister sounds so formal." Actually I hated when people referred to me as mister. I had struggled to get my license just as he had for his doctorate. Suddenly it hit me. "Situation?" I thought and was now confused. "Wasn't this a theft?" I kept my mouth shut.

            "Here it is," he said stopping in front of three displays. "What do you think? I figured I'd show you the crime scene before going up to Security to view the tapes."

            The pieces were striking: a crystal skull, a small, finely beaded satchel and a baton inset with colored gems. I was clueless about what was wrong.

            "Can you believe the audacity of some people?" he asked while waving his hands wildly in front of him to encompass the three displays. Suddenly he was once again the nervous Nelly I'd first met up in his office. "Did they think we wouldn't realize it was a fake when we saw it? Just look at it."

            A fake? I continued to look at the three displays; one of them was a fake. The crystal skull appeared quite authentic but I wasn't trained in ancient Mexican art. Maybe it was plastic? The beadwork on the satchel was very detailed and almost perfect – maybe it was machine made? The baton was covered with colored stones and turquoise. It appeared very real. All three items were contained inside glass domes and it was quite obvious they were sealed and probably electronically protected. I'd already seen other items in the museum in similar domes.

            "Any idea of how it was stolen?" I asked stalling for time and a possible hint to which item Dr. Martinez was referring.

            "We are guessing it was done during the monthly cleaning," he replied."If you touch or push them, nothing really happens; but, if you lift the dome, an alarm will go off. They are electro-magnetically locked." He lifted the dome. "The alarms only get turned off when the domes are being cleaned."

            "Is it a silent alarm?" I asked, again stalling for time and not hearing anything when he lifted the dome from the crystal skull then replaced it.

            "Yes, a silent alarm. As you can see, the security on these displays are of the utmost complexity and sophistication. We knew children would probably push and tap on the domes." He rolled his eyes and tapped the dome covering the crystal skull. "I mean, have you ever watched a child at the aquarium? They are going to tap on the glass no matter how large the sign you put up telling them not to do so."

            "Very ingenious," I replied and stared at the crystal skull. It was stunning, shining under the bright lights, glistening and gleaming. I bent over to get a closer view and see it head-on. "How can you tell it is fake?" The eye sockets glittered at me and I felt as if it was looking directly into my soul and could read my thoughts. The hairs on the back of my neck hackled. My mind raced; the answer was in front of me; I couldn't see it, but I was close.

            "The skull is real, Detective Hargrove." The words were spoken snidely and it stung, yet he stood there wringing his hands nervously. "It is the Scepter of Time that is the fake." He pointed to the baton. "The dullness of the rubies and sapphires was the first clue, but anyone with the most elementary knowledge of turquoise would see the flaws in that reproduction."

            He reached over and removed the dome. Again, nothing happened. I gave him a questioning look as he placed the dome on the floor.

            "We're economical, too. We've closed this exhibit and secured the room. We have an alarm on the doors so we're not going to waste a lot of time and money on individual pieces," he said and removed the scepter from its display pedestal. "See how the jewels are cloudy? This isn't even quality, cheap cut glass." He ran his finger over a piece of turquoise. "This is nothing more than shellacked clay mixed to appear like turquoise and jade. A very poor imitation. In fact, a jewel" - he slurred the word - "fell off and the cleaner was very distraught at the thought of losing his job."

            "Fell off?" I repeated. "Cleaner? You let the custodial staff touch these?"

            "Of course not!" he screamed. "Whatever possessed you to think we'd let one of the custodial staff clean or touch these on purpose?" Dr. Martinez asked shaking his head. "As to the staff having access and touching the items, our custodial staff consists of seven bonded and well-trained personnel." He frowned at me. "Do you actually think we just hire anyone who wanders in off the street for a job?" He pursed his lips in contempt. "They are only to clean the domes and not touch the items. Seems when they were cleaning this one and started to put the dome back down over the item, a gem fell off." Martinez stood there nervously tapping his lips. "Anyway, I closed the exhibit this morning when I was notified of what transpired last night. Then I got authorization to seek outside help and called you." He cocked an eye at me. "Your listing said you were bonded, not bondable." There was a hesitation. "You are bonded, aren't you?"

            "Yes, I'm bonded," I said while at first thinking to ignore the slam but then deciding to take the bait. I let my index finger play on the glass dome. "You never noticed it as a fake?" I asked.

            "Excuse me?" He stood there staring at me with a frown of indignation. "Do you think all I have time to do is walk through the museum making sure that every piece is the original? I think my last visit into this particular room was over four months ago and that was to validate a possession ...

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