We agreed to meet him in the bar of the Mayflower Hotel at 3 the following Monday, a time, we noted, when the spacious, somewhat dimly lit bar is usually quite empty.
There was quite a bit of snow on the ground after the weekend's blizzard that had shut down all of the area, including the three airports. The underground portion of the Metro was working, though quite sporadically. Still, we managed to start out early and only walked in from the hotel lobby entrance about 15 minutes late. Our Mr. Platte was sitting in an isolated corner booth; we told him he would recognize us as a mature couple and that I would be wearing a brown Borsalino. A man stood up and somewhat discretely signaled us over to his booth. It was clear from that single movement that this was a figure accustomed to going unnoticed. Skin pasty, hair partially gray, he wore a gray worsted suit, vaguely yellowed white shirt, nondescript tie and an unreadable demeanor. Strangely, as we approached him, we picked up the scent of a particularly old fashioned after-shave lotion. I could see my companion's nostrils flare slightly as she caught the first whiffs.
When Platte didn't offer his card, it was also clear that this was going to be an unusual business meeting. Particularly after we offered him ours and there was no reciprocity. Our host had already got a tall, colorless drink that fizzled slowly on the dark table in front of him. He took a seat first, then offered his hand. We sat down with our backs to the room and began with some very small weather talk. Then Platte managed to get the attention of the waiter and we ordered a couple of tap pints.
“Look,” I said, “ I don't know who you are or what you want so it's time you put your cards on the table, we've got a lot of things to do today and little interest in delaying our plans.”
“Well,” said Platte, “I'm not sure you'll welcome this but I am here representing people who believe you have no right whatsoever to the material you're planning to publish. The capsule was, as your research indicated, found by a young man who should have turned it over to his employer, the government. Had he, this hoax would never have seen the light of day. You my friend have been duped. There is nothing to the capsule except that it is US Government property found in a sensitive locale.”
“That's what this all about. And if you persist in going forward with this scheme you will no doubt face serious consequences.”
“Did you say you represented individuals or are you government agent of some kind?”
“All you will hear from me for now is that you have no right to publish this so-called translation that you are calling EggN. You've already indicated that the capsule was probably stolen or taken inappropriately out of a locker at ASU and that it was found by a US Park Service employee. Even if you have gone ahead and got the permission of that former employee –and let us all be clear that the name Thomas Doolittle is as much of a fiction as your recount of its discovery-- you would have no right to the contents.”
“Well, what would you say if we contended that the manuscript, itself is a work of fiction, and the introduction we published was part of that fiction?”
“I am not here to play games with you, sir.”
Throughout, Platte spoke his lines without showing the slightest emotion, as if he himself had preprogrammed our responses.
We paused the conversation long enough to allow the drinks to be delivered and as soon as we were again out of earshot of anyone in the bar (though clearly not that of the video tape being made of the meeting) we picked it up.
“Are you going to say who you are, who you represent and provide the property identity? Otherwise, my inclination is to end this conversation right here.”
Platte's response was slow and menacing: “You will be hearing more from us shortly, in the meantime you would be more than prudent in holding up on your plans to make public this ridiculous work.”
And so, readers, we apologize for failing to follow up with our promise to publish chapter by chapter the translation now in our hands.
We have decided that we have no choice for the moment other then to take the menaces of this man called Platte seriously. In the meantime we have taken precautions to protect the manuscript's multiple whereabouts from theft or intrusion. We will be talking to legal representation and other Article 1 advocacy groups. There is, of course, no way we can protect ourselves from denial of service attacks without a certain amount of aid from certain groups.
Truth in publishing: This is not the script for some modern day film noir, even if we have perhaps been seeing too many in recent weeks.
The Discovery of the Titanium Capsule
On a gray afternoon in late 1984 a battered, cream colored panel truck could be seen navigating a steep, curving incline on NM Route 82 about half way between White Sands and Cloudcroft. About a mile and half behind them followed a late model black Cadillac sedan with Nevada license plates. At one of the highest points along the way, the driver of the van pulled right onto the overlook, and then back as close to the edge as he could get. Another large man from the passenger side seat jumped out, headed to the back of the truck and quickly pulled out a large pair of cable clippers. Within seconds he snapped the double reach of cable on the right side where it joined the corrugated steel barrier post. The splayed cables lay sprawled on the sandy highway edge. Below, the almost sheer precipice dropped down about five hundred yards. Besides a few scattered clumps of brush, and some outcroppings, there would be little to slow the descent of the van as it bounced, flipped and finally took fire in the deserted valley below.
As the gasoline fueled fire raged through the overturned vehicle, a plume of thick black smoke wafted across the deserted valley. It was only two days later that the military command back at White Sands got a satellite report and downloaded a photo of the event along with its coordinates from a system that was being developed and tested for a newly started program.
Already short on security units, Colonel Charlie Landrift, (according to a press article) quickly made the decision to turn the case over to local authorities. The call went out to the State Police in Alamogordo who radioed instructions over to Cloudcroft.
As a kid, Park Ranger Tommy Doolittle would sneak out of bed after lights out on the farm. He had built himself a 6-band radio from a kit he'd seen advertised in Popular Mechanics. There wasn't a lot to listen to up in those mountains back then so getting onto the Base's internal communications always had more recognizable voices than the other short wave bands he could get on different nights. One thing about these mountains, he'd discovered, was some sort of electromagnetic confluence: Depending on meteorological conditions, Tommy could listen to ships at sea on certain nights and he also often captured the downbursts from NASA and other more secret satellites.
Tommy's job over at the National Forest at first made little use for these skills. He drove a pick-up and spent most of his time clearing fire ignition debris. But a couple of years back, a group of geologists from the State University had come over and set up a semi-permanent camp about ten miles up the road from High Rolls. Tommy had met some of the guys quite by chance one day and got to talking with them. One thing led to another and they invited him over to the camp for a couple of beers and that led to a conversation about their communication system. That's when Tommy heard about how they could actually use the telephone lines to dial into their PDP11 system as if they were sitting in the computer lab.
They were standing in front of a cathode tube terminal, Sandy R___ was a little red-faced and on to his fourth can that he held in one hand while he typed instructions on a keyboard with his right: "This here is on a server at Flagstaff but you see this directory," he moved deftly through a tree structure of letters and slashes, "that's all the way over in Palo Alto at Stamford."
With a couple of commands, Sandy had logged into a database of rock formations located at a site run by the NGS. Tommy couldn't believe what he was seeing. The concept of tapping into databases stored in various places around the country brought up all his old questions about what he was doing in the Forest Service. He'd joined up because it was there and comfortable and because he thought he knew that since his mom had passed from cancer, he was needed for a while. His dad, after those pain-filled months, had never gotten over it.
So the next day at work, when he picked up the call between District 8 headquarters and the patrol car about the unreported fire, he decided to head out himself to see what had happened. After all, his crew was breaking up for the day and heading the other way into town to Johnie's Neon Boots, a place he'd never felt right in, at least, since his mom's death.
There were still about two hours of daylight left when he pulled up to the overlook. He could see where the cable lay and that it had been snipped, not broken, clean. Tire marks cut into the edge and when he looked down he could make out what looked like the burnt-out shell. Tommy also knew there was no way to climb down to the ravine bottom from up there. Somebody was going to have to get a hold of an ATV, maybe the one over at the Oppy spread to get down there. He went back to the cab of his blue and white F150 and pulled out of a khaki canvas holder a pair of government issued ranger binoculars for a better look. The sun was getting lower and starting to flare reddish by that time. And it was pretty clear to him that Trouper Ansel Kodak wasn't going to be able to get over to the site until the next day.
As he peered through the glasses, trying to follow the recognizable contours down to the spot where the wreck lay, like a beetle on its back, Tommy's eye caught something that glinted back the sunset rays. He noted in his recount that he had never seen a more vibrant color in all his life. But just as abruptly, the glint was gone. Tommy glanced at his watch to note the moment, marked in his mind the bear's jaw outline of the rock formation where he had seen the light burst and then continued down to finally spy in on the broken panels.
But it was something about that laser-like beam that kept flashing like a neon sign in his mind's eye as he shared dinner with his dad. Even the news about what was clearly a deliberate dumping of the truck didn't really grab the interest of the older man, who Tommy could tell was, as become his manner, only asking questions to punctuate their fork-fulls. As soon as they'd wiped clean the bowl of stew with the ritual slice of Wonderbread, Tommy knew his dad would excuse himself and head into their small den to nestle back in his plaid recliner, placed in front of a very snowy Channel 7, the only station that sometimes made it that far.
"The weatherman over in Las Cruces, you know the one that cottons to Madras sports coats all year round, says it's gonna be a little warmer tomorrow. Seems that the el Niño is gonna keep things drier than usual, maybe right through this year's rainy season. How's that gonna effect you guys?"
Tommy had already started to clear the dishes. He knew his dad wouldn't wait around, not even for an answer to his own question. I wish I knew where his mind really is he thought.
Dead Sea Scrolls II
Tommy had to wait until Saturday but by that time he had figured out what he wanted to do. He'd heard all about the wreck find and how there had been what seemed to be two dead bodies stowed in the back. He'd monitored first Kodak's report and then those of the team that had driven down from the State Police Crime Lab. But he was going to set out on another mission. He had been back out on the overlook both Thursday and Friday and at just about the same time he'd seen that indescribable burst of what he had already dubbed 'nourishing light'.
Even though he'd figured the shortest way to get over there by cutting through Oppy's back acres, and he'd started out just after sunrise to give himself plenty of time, he realized that what looked like a bear's head from up above was not an image that could help him as he tried to plot a way up the slope from below. The problem was that if he waited until an hour before sunset, he'd have to make his way back in the dark.
Three weekends later, and still coming up empty despite all the various schemes he'd dreamed up, he knew he would have no choice but to camp over the following weekend. Maybe then he'd get a look at the reflection from below or if not he'd had the whole of Sunday to cover the area he guessed the source was located in.
But it wasn't until his fifth weekend that he located the small rocket shaped container he had been searching so diligently for. Tommy trembled all the way back on the path the crime squad had blazed the week they'd spent in November. It was now January and even Tommy's dad had begun to wonder what had so taken him over. His crewmates had even stopped ribbing him about his strange distant look. Tommy had not taken his mind off of that capsule from the first time it had contacted him.
Tommy didn't know what binary code was at that time. But the closer he looked at the strange markings engraved in the shiny surface the more he guessed that the marks were neither random nor the product of natural forces. On February 15th, he drove over to the University campus where he met up with R___, G___ and B___ at the cafeteria across from the Geoscience Department. He had on one of those lightweight backpacks they sell in the Orvis catalogue.
"I have something to show you", he said, "and I think we oughta keep it secret, I don't know why but I just reckon you might go along with me on this." They went back across the parking lot and into the basement where the assistant professors shared offices. R____ flashed his card and they let themselves into the area clustered around the small conference rooms. R____ had a key to S22, the one with vertical blinds which they pulled. Then Tommy carefully laid his precious object on the white birch table. He had also come equipped with magnifying glasses and a laser pointer that he'd also sent away for.
The events of this day were to greatly alter the lives of all who were there. Tommy would agree, despite all his gut told him, to leave the capsule in a steel locker across from the room they were gathered in. There was immediate recognition among the three scientists that the metal alloy they were inspecting was beyond unusual, like nothing they'd ever seen before. B___ quickly got a hold of the project's Geiger counter and they relaxed when it determined that the object's radioactivity level was no more excessive than a lot of natural formations in the area.
None of them were metallurgists and they all concurred that the only way to know more was to locate someone who could be trusted, for an analysis. They guessed it was a remnant from one of the secret programs around there and understood that if it was, the Government certainly hadn't made public its loss, not to the scientists working in the area nor to the local Forest Service. Around Alamogordo that wouldn't surprise anyone.
The geologists inspected the tiny pockmarks on the outside and agreed that none of them was capable of making any kind of interpretation of what looked like some kind of code. G___ mentioned a guy name J_____ over in the computer science department that they all knew. He'd been instrumental in getting them set up to access ARPANET, and, most importantly, was someone they thought could be trusted.
Then, while three of them sat there, G___ went back to his office and located a combination locker lock he'd gotten for a lapsed New Year's resolution, that was still in its paper bag. The capsule would be deposited and locked in the metal locker third down from the entrance to S22. Only they would know what was in it and the sequence for the lock.
What happened in the ensuing 48 hours has never been revealed even though friendships and trust were tested to their ultimate limits. Their were accusations, police involvement and even more than one armed threat. All to no avail. What is known is that the locker was broken into by some one or entity and that the capsule vanished along with all traces. No photographs had been taken during the period, only drawings, notes and oral interviews. The matter was reported in the local press at the time but does not appear on line or in microfiche records.
This is as much as we at DymaxionWeb have been able to piece together from our own due diligence. We are well aware of the rumors that spread after the capsule's disappearance and cannot verify nor disprove any of the major hypotheses that have appeared in various Internet forums on the subject of various strange findings (and disappearances) in the surround desert and highlands that have been frequently reported upon.
It is important for all readers to note that all of us who have handled the Eggn> manuscript are working under the terms of a publishing agreement that is protected by a confidentiality agreement made between the present holders of the text and its providers. We can make clear to our readers that we hold the sole rights to the publication of the materials we will publish under the title Eggn> and that we are further obliged to make no changes to the text as furnished to us by the holders.
We can affirm, however, that we have never seen the alleged capsule nor have any knowledge of its whereabouts (although we have been made quite convinced of its existence) and have played no role in the translation that has provided the text to be published under the title Eggn>. We are required by our agreements to not reveal publicly or privately any information that might lead to the identity or whereabouts of the text's owners.
Further there have been extreme measures taken to make opaque the manner in which all contacts and communications have been made between us and the holders.
We can reveal, however, that we have been told that the process of machine decipherment was extremely "tortuous" and are convinced that until recently it would have been impossible for most CPU arrays to have succeeded in the task. Further, we have been told that there has been no human intervention to change wording or phrasing resulting from the machine translation.
We are planning to publish the full text in excerpts as they are made available to us over a relatively short period of time. The website set aside for the publication of Eggn> www.dymaxionweb.com/eggn. We are inviting readers to follow this link to the text. An Archive section will be provided that allows new visitors to read all excerpts in the chronological order in which they are published.
First excepts will be published on EggN from early February 2010 forward until completion. We look forward to your comments.