A RUDE AWAKENING
John drummed his fingers agitatedly on his armrest. After thirty-six hours of flying since he left his base camp near the Bolivia-Peru border he was understandably eager to disembark.
A sense of relief flooded through him as he strode briskly through the last of the quarantine stations. He left the busy airport and hailed a taxi. He handed a slip of paper to the driver with the address to his hotel in Gloucester scrawled on it as he loaded his baggage into the boot. It started to rain as he climbed into the passenger seat.
He barely finished showering and shaving when the hotel phone rang.
“Dr Foster, your driver is waiting for you outside,” said a friendly concierge.
“Already?” John looked at his watch. “OK, please advise I’ll be down in a moment.”
Anxiety enveloped John while driving to the lecture theatre. How would the world receive his discovery? His field of expertise was the ancient civilisation of the Inca, and he felt extremely lucky that his dream of discovering a new site became a reality just six months ago. But the discovery unveiled many surprises in the months that followed. So much that he begged – no, insisted - that he be allowed to present at this year’s British Archaeology conference held at Oxford University.
The evening passed with collegial banter and average wine. A bead of sweat rolled down John’s cheek as he mounted the stage with trepidation. He connected his laptop and tapped the microphone. It was time.
“Good evening fellow archaeologists and enthusiasts of ancient cultures,” he began, pausing. After a deep breath he proceeded to tell everyone of his work unearthing a new dig deep in the Bolivian rainforests.
“And so, friends, this exquisite and unmolested site, which appears to be a tomb or grave, has revealed never before seen styles of artistry, wholly un-Incan burial artefacts, and a stratigraphic date range much, much older than any previous South American archaeological finding. I believe we need to consider that we have discovered a new civilisation.”
An excited murmur rose in the audience as John continued, “I have left the best evidence for this claim until last.” John clicked through to a new slide on his presentation.
“Common among the skeletal remains is these.” He pointed to the screen with a laser. “Perfectly shaped bone prosthetics made of metal that were, so far as we can tell, inserted into the individual bodies well before death.”
He clicked through several slides displaying examples, leaving the silence to create anticipation. A trickle of sweat ran down his nose and dripped onto his notes.
“And these strange and complex objects frequently found in the cranial cavity of the skeletal remains,” he pointed to a picture of a small square plate with ornate patterns on it. “In every single case of this object being present, there was also a precise and perfect incision in the back of the skull that would accommodate the article. We have no other conclusion but that these are neural-enhancement devices of some sort…” the audience went silent, “they may, in fact, be a prehistoric circuit board that was inserted into the brain by this ancient race.”
A thousand opinions burst forth in a raucous cacophony.
Dan Oliver (NZ)