By the time Doctor Philippe Akinpelu and Benjy arrive at the dig site it is surrounded by the almost thirty person expedition team. All are faced away from the approaching pair.
“What have we found?” Philippe queries during his approach. He gets no reply. That’s surprises him. He could’ve sworn he called at more than a sufficient volume to be heard and yet no one has. He glances to Benjy who is still alongside him. The archaeologist has to admit that for a heavy set young man he moves with surprising speed. Pity he infrequently exhibits real interest in anything he does or is a part of. Philippe could’ve found out why that might be but has never been one to judge people on what their files say. Had the same been done to him when he’d been young every conclusion would have been, and in the instances where some had checked he knows this to be how they perceived him, that he would amount to nothing. After all, he spent much of his youth conjuring up long lost civilizations or with his nose deep in some book or another. Generally, he engaged with fiction and history. Those were his two loves. They helped him form semi-realistic civilizations that obviously have never existed but that kept him entertained for hours. Sadly, these imaginings were not contained to his room or home life; they bled into his time at school. That was especially true when it came to subjects that he had absolutely no interest in. These included but were not limited to Mathematics, certain parts of English which boiled down principally to the language side, Religious Studies and IT.
Benjy and Philippe reach the gathering but cannot see past the tightly grouped mass to get a glimpse at what is being viewed. One of the doctors’ hands rests on the shoulder of Bianca who is stood blocking his path. She turns, smiles and then overly excited exclaims, “Doctor Akinpelu, you’re here!” Bianca, a tall stick thin woman in her early twenties almost leaps into the air at the sight of Doctor Akinpelu as those words pass her lips.
Philippe returns the smile and then asks, “What is it that’s been found, Bianca?”
There is no reply. Rather, the mass parts, as if on cue, to allow Philippe through. Benjy, curious for once, follows close behind Bianca. To his surprise the crowd do not close around him to cut him off from viewing whatever this great discovery might be. He has no ideas as to what he might be met with. He’s not an imaginative young man.
Philippe’s jaw drops as soon as his eyes get a glimpse of what has been buried out here for lord knows how long. It’s remarkable, unbelievable and to be frank more beautiful and intact than he ever considered any discovery they might make would ever be. Still, the closer he moves toward the structure the more of the pointed arch bleached white and stained with dirt he gets a view of. It is much larger, height wise, than he would’ve first considered. But it’s the beauty of the shape that takes his breath away. Yet, it strikes him that to call it an arch, he quickly learns, would be a disservice. Instead, the shape of the structure is closer to that of the pupil of a cat’s eye. Though, it is difficult to be sure as the bottom, he would guess third, remains buried beneath more dirt and sand.
“This is amazing.” Philippe hears himself say.
“Isn’t it?” Bianca explodes while bopping back and forth.
Benjy meanwhile doesn’t understand what all the hype is about. Sure, it’s impressive and looks ancient but he can’t make out what the scribbles are. If anything they ruin it for him. Suddenly, unease taps on the shoulder. He doesn’t like it but cannot resist the urge he feels to take a glance at what is causing it. He finds nothing over his shoulder. The lack of anything creeps him out more than he thinks it should and so he turns back the way of the… He doesn’t know what to call the thing that’s been uncovered. His closest description would be that it looks like the surround of a mirror after someone has punched the glass out. He wonders if that is what it once was, a mirror. If that is the case then this is even less impressive he thinks and so begins to edge backward, one step at a time. His reasoning as to why is simple, he sees an opportunity here. Everyone is so enamoured they won’t notice he isn’t with them. That’ll give him some time to check on his ‘investments.’ What Benjy really means is that he has money placed on some sports fixtures and wants to see how up or down he is. He is fully aware that none of the others, and that goes doubly so for Professor Akinpelu, would understand the importance of such things. If they did he wouldn’t have been sent out here on this expedition. He didn’t ask to go. He was ordered to. Threatened really as he was told if he didn’t he’d flunk. He can’t afford for that to happen. If it did he’d lose a substantial chunk of his inheritance. The one his Gramps left him. The same one his parents don’t think he has the right to because he’s lazy and childish. Shows what they know, Benjy thinks having edged back to the rear of the crowd without anyone paying him any mind. He edges a little further than that. Still, there is no reaction and so he risks turning and quickly walking away. The young man is headed for the raft of tents where equipment is stored and they spend the nights ‘sleeping.’ If only that were the case, he thinks. Benjy has heard what some of the undergrads do during the night and it certainly isn’t sleeping.
Philippe has moved much closer to the structure. So close in fact that he is within touching distance. His hand is extended but as yet he has not run the tips of his fingers across the engraved surface. Rather, he has been studying the scrawl. He cannot read it. The symbols are unfamiliar to him. His excitement is palpable as a result. Those around him are stood with baited breath, except for Bianca who is close by. The archaeologist can feel her warm breath but doesn’t feel her stood in his shadow. If he did he’d have to reason to politely urge her to backup a few paces.
She means well, Philippe knows and then abandons the purpose of such a statement having crossed his mind, so that his full attention is back toward the discovery. With him unable to read whatever the symbols upon its surface are, and having no clue as to their meaning, the archaeologist turns toward the deciphering the material it is formed from.
At first glance it had looked like stone but Philippe has since discarded that idea. His second consideration is that it was some kind of ivory or bone. There are definitely marks across its surface conducive of such a possibility. Philippe can resist no more. His fingertips reach; they touch the surface of the object. It is warm to the touch. He would describe the warmth as being akin to the feeling of the sun on his face when he’d been meandering in the long grass field. He pulls his fingers away and rubs them against the tip of his thumb. The warmth transfers, curious the doctor thinks. He cannot explain it, if there is anything to explain at all. It could just be a sensation and not a discovery. He has to be sure and so rests the open palm of his hand upon the angled surface. Warmth radiates and grows. Yet, at no point does it become uncomfortable. Without doubt it does intensify however.
His hand slides down, he can feel the gouges in the surface, the ones that form what he thinks would best be described as runes. He wishes he could grasp their meaning and hopes that in time he will. Nothing, while in the search for answers, is ever swift. It all takes time and effort to make a breakthrough. As one version of the old saying goes, nothing worth doing is easy. Truer words could not have been spoken Philippe believes.
His hand feels at the curve and angles of this object. He would, from touch alone, determine the shape of the… pillar is the word he settles on, as being diamond shaped. However, it apparently twists as it makes its way from the point of the structure where the two ‘pillars’ join toward whatever the base of this discovery is.
The archaeologist moves his ear closer to the object and thinks he hears a faint hum. His brow furrows. He believes he must be wrong. It cannot be possible. But if it were then what would that make this structure? He does not know. There are too many possibilities. However, the doctor has concluded that the material cannot be ivory. This is because it does not feel right to him. Philippe knows the ivory he has held has been very old but cannot bring himself to believe that the feeling of it would be so different. In fact, the closer he gets to the surface of the object the more he feels that it is not white in colour at all but rather an incredibly light blue-grey. The only thing he knows with such a hue is silicon. Could it be?
“Doctor Akinpelu, what do you think?” Someone in the crowd of undergraduates and hired hands asks.
Philippe pulls his hand away. He can feel the warmth that has been transferred from the object to his hand as he rubs his fingers over his palm. To anyone else it will look as if he has an itch and refuses to use his other hand to scratch it. The act lasts only a brief time and when it is over Philippe turns to face the gathered. A faint smile rests on his face.
“I think we’re going to change history.” Are the words that slide from between his lips. The faint smile draws wide and then become a laugh of joy.
Everyone rejoices. They had been waiting with baited breath. None of them wanted to believe this was real. But now they do. Now they believe and want to get to work.
“Where do we start?” Bianca blurts unable to contain herself.
“Excavation crews get digging. We need to unearth the rest of this structure. I’ll join you. I’m not leaving this things side until it’s cleared out. The rest of you gather whatever you can on ancient symbols. I want to know if there is a match for even one of the markings on this. Now get to it!” Philippe orders before turning back to the object. The crowd quickly disperses behind him with a good amount of chatter.
Everyone is filled with excitement and eager to participate in what they know is a monumental discovery. No extraterrestrial unearthing of this kind has ever occurred in all of human history and they all get to be a part of it.