If it was a transport vehicle, who built it and why was it buried there where it was, in a baby glacier that …
… itself should not have been there where it was? Isaac Carver Ph.D. fiercely resisted his first impression even though he was well aware that a teardrop was considered to be the perfect aerodynamic shape. Could he really have found what might actually be an ancient rocket or some other kind of air vehicle? Snow and Josh remained at the site while Zack rushed by helicopter to the university in Anchorage. The science department had recently acquired a Potassium-Argon Ion Probe system capable of molecular analysis and dating of the extraordinary samples.
After the initial testing was completed Zack met with the head of the Geochronology Laboratory, Dr. Lawrence Sloan. “The flat, round and rectangular samples are indeed weightless and seem to be inert but further analysis was impossible because their molecular and atomic structures couldn’t be identified,” Sloan reported.
Zack raised his eyebrows. “I don’t understand, Larry. What do you mean, they couldn’t be identified? Everything in the universe is made out of the same stuff.” Dr. Sloan picked up one of the artifacts in each hand and waved them for emphasis.
“True, but there are an infinite number of elementary particle recipes, I’m telling you that the atomic oven that cooked-up these objects used a concoction of elements that have no equal at any stop on our current periodic table.” He took a deep breath and continued. “As far as we can tell there is absolutely nothing like these on Earth. Well … nothing before these.”
Weird,” Zack said as he scratched his beard then pulled out a cigarette and prepared to light it. Sloan shook his head, quickly reached out and stopped Zack from igniting it. Zack shrugged, tucked the noxious, death-fuse behind his ear and took back the two items.
“It gets weirder,” Sloan went on. “Most of the strata samples that were taken in close proximity to the craft date back about forty-thousand years. But some of the core samples that were extracted a foot or so below the surface from the same period went back nearly a billion years.”
“A jump from forty-thousand years to a billion within one geological layer … that never … it’s … it’s like a goddamn time warp. Unimaginable, unthinkable, how can it be explained?” Zack bellowed.
“Maybe antediluvian visits from time-traveling alien races,” the geochronologist offered.
“No, Larry, don’t dare tell me that,” Zack fired back, exasperated. “If this gets out we’ll have the tabloids, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel. They’ll pull out all the old tried and true film clips and assorted other bullshit. UFO this and UFO that …” To Lawrence Sloan’s great relief, Zack’s Wimoweh ring-tone sounded and he pulled his cell phone from his Spare Pocket adjustable carry pouch. It was a breathless I. J. Solomon on the other end. Zack slipped his phone into a PDA slot in the nearby computer and Solomon’s live image popped up on the screen.
“Zack, as far as we can tell, your … uh … Zackosaurus has no equal anywhere on this world … now or ever. It’s like it was left behind on a visit by some interplanetary ark.”
Zack jumped right on the reference. “Jeez, just like in ET. Uhhh … Ilias, did the animal hold together when the ice melted away?”
“Are you kidding? It looked like it could have stuck out its tongue.”
“Did it have any weight?” Zack blurted out, not knowing for sure if he really wanted an answer.
“Of course Isaac, everything has weight.”
Zack picked up the two unclassifiable pieces of high-tech antiquity and hefted them in his hand. “Don’t bet on it I J, we’re heading into new territory,” he said, and placed the two unearthly samples in his pocket.
“Zack, you were right on the money about the Zackosaurus being pregnant. She was in the early stages of delivery before whatever event took place to preserve her. Also, we found the DNA was totally intact. We could probably clone another one if it were legal. And get this … the lab report says the air bubbles trapped in the ice didn’t match any of the other air samples taken in prior studies from that period. The electron spectrometer indicated that the isotopes of oxygen show a content of O2 much lower than that contained in the air of the other specimens from forty millennia back and even the air at present. Also the carbon-dioxide content was fifty percent less than expected, and the nitrogen was twice as high as what had been considered normal.”
Zack was now pacing the lab, “Normal? Forget normal! You got any theories Ilias?”
“The maximum resolution DNA scan indicated that when the Zackosaurus became … uhhh … inanimate it was over a hundred and fifty years-old. Now it has long been suspected that although we depend upon oxygen to live, those who live on less O2 might live longer. The hypothesis is that oxygen causes us to physically rust.”
“Are you saying that less oxygen can mean a longer life? What about that guy from high in the Ural Mountains in Russia—what was his name—Bagrid Tapagua? He was in his eighties and his mother was a hundred and two. Is that why they lived so long—the thinner air with less oxygen?”
“Perhaps, though there’s no real proof yet. It was either that or possibly the yogurt.”
Zack felt some of the tension seep out of him and he chuckled at Ilias’ joke. “I’ll go out and buy some immediately. What about the carbon dating on our animal friend?”
“Couldn’t do it.”
“No go, too much ambient radiation. And before you ask, Abbie Diamond over at Paleo-Botany said the plant has no match here either—and that’s only the half of it!”
Zack was already on a fast track to Dumbfoundedville. “I don’t know if I’m ready for part two.
“No, you’re gonna love this. Dr. Diamond said she couldn’t understand why the grass was still green since it showed no other signs of photosynthetic activity. I suggested that it might have been mummified, but she disagreed and said that she leaned more toward paralyzed—but then thought better of it and went completely science-fiction on me. She told me outright that the best way to accurately describe the specimen’s state was … suspended animation.”
“Suspended animation? That’s just one small theoretical step before still alive! Is that why you used the words when it became inanimate to describe the Zackosaurus’ final state instead of when it died?”
I think we may have to look for some new words, Zack. Dr. Diamond has the grass samples under a battery of sunlamps. We’ll keep you posted.”
“Good, Ilias. But take care not to overheat our little suspended Zacko-friend or she may bite you in the ass when you’re not looking … and Ilias, don’t mention any of this to anyone. I still want this whole business kept under wraps. Keep everyone quiet. No papers, no announcements and no interviews.” Zack took a quick glance at Dr. Sloan. “Oh, one more thing, I J—Make sure you speak with Larry here at Geochronology about the billion-year-old core samples.” Zack lifted his phone from the PDA slot and the computer screen went to standby. “I need a good stiff drink. No, make that drinks.”
When he returned to the dig site Zack became a force of nature; an immovable object remaining awake for days on end while ingesting a river of coffee and smoking incessantly. The excavation work preceded one scoop-full of ice, dirt and rock at a time, and as more of the craft was uncovered, it incredibly showed no outward signs of damage. The spaceship, or whatever it was, seemed to be as intact as the Zackosaurus. Geiger counter readings and spectrometric wavelength analyses registered substantial signs of an unfamiliar form of radiation on the exterior and the other matching pieces. How could there be any radiation at all? It was nearly a million millennia old and any radioactivity would have long since decayed. Even more bewildering was the fact that except for traces of Carbon 14 there was absolutely no evidence of radioactivity in the surrounding soil.
Inevitably, the story of a startling find somewhere in the frozen north was mysteriously leaked to the press. CNN covered it first. What was it that was discovered in the Alaskan tundra? What makes it so newsworthy? How long will it remain under wraps? Why is it a so closely guarded secret? These questions were setting the table for Dr. Isaac Ludlow Carver to become one of the most sought-after talk show guests and lecture circuit speakers in history. But in fact, the only sliver of integrity Zack still possessed was bound up in his work. Above all else he considered himself a scientist and not an opportunist. In spite of the magnitude of what he had come upon, he said nothing and refused to go public even though it could have represented an instant salvation of his career.
However, principle didn’t stop others. In the University of Alaska at Anchorage geochronology lab, Lawrence Sloan was intently studying Dr. Abbie Diamond’s Paleo-botany report. Something caught his eye; he picked up the telephone and punched in a set of numbers.
“Hello, this is Dr. Sloan. I need to speak with him. It’s urgent. I have some valuable information.” The geochronologist listened for a moment, “Yes sir, and tell him the terms we discussed will do nicely.”