Taner Edis

Part IV: Into the Dark Continent

“Some of you here have heard of Alys Mbego,” SZ began. A few heads nodded. “Then you also know she has a shady reputation. The noetics community is already overwhelmed by frauds and kooks, therefore we don’t like it when someone of genuine talent acts flamboyantly and enjoys bamboozling blindflyers. She’s always been on the fringe, but we’ve never lost touch.”

SZ sighed. “You also know my weakness. I’m supposed to be the leading expert on Interian technology. Few of you appreciate how little that is based upon, though. We have never seen Their machines when intact, never when working. We have never infiltrated Them; our few volunteers who got their sorry asses abducted were so heavily Blocked up to keep them from giving themselves away that they never were able to learn much.

“We look for other opportunities. The best are saucer crashes, but they happened only twice in the last hundred years, both were recovered by governments — and you know Who controls them. Still, I got a break, more than twenty years ago now. I was studying in Tibet when a saucer crashed just miles away from the monastery. I couldn’t retrieve more than I could carry, and had only thirteen hours before the Chinese troops showed up.

“That much was enough to make my reputation. And though it made me a hot shot for a while, I knew I needed more.

“Crashed saucers are very rare. Ones we can get to are, well, forget it. For a time I was sorely tempted to go mainstream to see if I could eventually get my hands on some of the Roswell debris, but I passed on that. Orthodox science has its head so tightly up its own ass, still congratulating itself for figuring out quantum mechanics, I don’t think I could stand it.

“What else could I do? Eventually, I hit on the idea of looking for Interian access points. They don’t only emerge from the poles, you know, They also come from a few bases like Mt. Shasta. I’m sure these connect to the Interior. Well, I thought, the Interians have infested this planet for thousands of years, at least — why shouldn’t They have their own ruins, abandoned bases, and all that?”

She gazed around the long table. “You remember how some years ago, I visited IHN when you were still down in New Mexico, and spent weeks locked in your archive room? Well, I was gathering information about mountains which were known UFO sources, had local oral histories about flying lights or spirits inhabiting them. I also cross-checked them against geopsychic maps, Schaeffersmann involutions, even ordinary geological data.

“Finally, I found what I was looking for. Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, had all the properties which should make it perfect for an Interian base. But all stories about lights and spirits stopped about 600 years ago. Nothing since, except for a few recent UFO sightings which I attributed to contamination from the modern media.

“This had to be an abandoned base. So I tromped off on my first African expedition, all full of hope and idiot optimism.

“Once there, I found the entrance point was impossible to locate. It was worse than searching for Noah’s Ark on Ararat, since I had little idea just what I was supposed to look for. I left, came back twice, and was about the point of giving up when I decided I needed some local help. Alys Mbego had moved up to the area some time ago, so even though I didn’t fully trust her, I decided I had better call.

“She turned out to be very helpful, and nearly as intrigued by my idea as myself. Soon we had figured out that we needed to recruit some truly local sensitives, and at least narrow the search area.

“We started, but it was frustrating work. In the end, I gave up and flew back to Europe, hoping never to see Kilimanjaro again.

“A year later, I received a cryptic message from Mbego, telling me she had found the entrance, and I had better come quick if I wanted to be in the party which was to break in. I rushed back to the scene, to discover that Mbego had had a brilliant but ethically loose idea. To boost sensitivity, she used our local network of sensitives as a true array — the way you string radio telescopes together for long-baseline interferometry. Normally, the feedback rip in the psychic channels is too strong, and array members can be hurt, even lose their ability. But Mbego assured me she had pulled her people out in time, and I was too anxious to find the entrance to berate her or to inquire into whether all went as well as she said.

“All signs converged on a small, uninteresting lake high up on the mountain side, which was barely accessible if at all. I figured I could climb, and Mbego insisted on coming herself, along with two young assistants and George, her latest husband.

“We made it up to the pond without breaking any bones. But after that, it seemed for a while that our trip was wasted. There was nothing around, and if there was an entrance, it looked like it was long ago blocked off and water had accumulated on top.

“I stood on the shore, casting stones in the water. I focused my mind on them as they drifted down, but then I felt they speeded up after a certain point! I asked George to fling one out as far as he could, and there was the same change of speed while sinking.

“I started clambering up a rock face to get a better view of the lake. As I expected, I saw that there was a line on the surface, dividing two different shades of blue. I pointed to the opposite shore. `That,’ I told my companions, `is not water at all!’

“We trudged to the opposite shore, and found ourselves looking at ordinary water again. But I proceeded to walk into it, and came out again, dry as a desert landscape.

“‘What are you waiting for?’ I asked, `let’s go down!'”

To be continued…

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