YESTERDAY IS TOMORROW’S AWKWARD COUSIN

Jonah looked over at where he had last seen Percival Lowell standing. Huh. He was still there.

And he was still parallel to Jonah even though as fast as Jonah was running he should be several feet away from Lowell.

But he wasn’t. Lowell himself was not moving at all, yet he was keeping up with Jonah. At least that was the perception here. Percival Lowell turned and smiled at Jonah. Quite out loud he said “Have fun and wonder today.” Then it appeared that Lowell had stepped on one off those people movers like at the airport. The flat escalators where the perception of movement becomes a puzzle. “Am I going this way or that way?” Is that woman with the plaid overnight bag moving away from me or am I moving away from her?”   Speaking of which Lowell now moved away from Jonah at great speed. Lowell waved at Jonah and then he became a spot on the horizon. Horizon? Suddenly the room seemed much larger than before. It did seem to have a horizon. How was that possible? And what had Percival Lowell meant by what he said to Jonah? Was it a warning or just a happy little greeting or farewell?

Jonah stopped running now. He panted heavily. He looked around and realized that he was standing next to the glowing hole that the priestess had gone down. “How is this possible?” thought Jonah. “I ran like hell to get here but I didn’t really arrive until I stopped trying to get here.” Well this was a bunch of crap.

IT HAPPENED TOMORROW

The long dark night of the spirit.

As if most nights were not long. Now is the winter of our discontent and spring ain’t looking too good either. These thoughts tumbled through Jonah’s head as he looked around him trying to make some sense, even NON sense would be something, out of what he had been experiencing these last several hours. It had all seemed like a waking a dream, which although most times is involuntary, and it tends to emanate wholly from the mind of the one experiencing it, Jonah suspected that things might be leaning a little towards hallucinations. Shared hallucinations at that. But this was not what he had thought at first when this journey began. It seemed real. And more than that Jonah wanted it to be real. Although confusing, although he was clearly out of his comfort zone, wherever that was, Jonah had felt exhilarated by this adventure.

A talking cat named Marlin. The ghost of his scientific idol Percival Lowell. The Great Kiva at Chaco Canyon, shining on the hill in the darkness, a holy room, a rare above ground kiva, full of strangers all seeming to seek the same thing. An understanding. Transcendence. Reasons to be understood. Questions to be answered. The old “Why are we here and what the hell is happening next?” standby question asked by human beings for eons. The answers to that question had never been quite satisfactory.

Now Jonah ran towards the light emanating from the hole in the dirt floor of the northern part of the room of this kiva. Marlin the cat let out a meow, or a yowl, the likes of which Jonah had never heard a cat make. Perhaps this was a kitty warning to him. Was he going the wrong way? Should he have been running from hole in the floor?  Maybe Marlin was just tired of this strange never ending adventure and maybe he was just letting off a little kitty steam. Hmmm. Probably not.

So Jonah kept running. He could see the white robed goddess now descending into the glowing hole. But before she disappeared from his view she turned and looked at Jonah, was that smile or a smirk on her face? Jonah could not tell. He just kept running. He would find out who she was he knew that much.

Why was it taking so damn long to get to that hole? He felt as if half of his life had been spent hanging out in this damn kiva. How could that be? Surely it had only been a few hours. Okay several hours. But something was off here. Standard rules of the physical world did not seem to apply. And so he ran onward.

Only the priestesses’ head could be seen now. The rest of her had descended into the hole. She looked Jonah in the eyes and smiled. A floating beautiful head bathed in the golden light coming up from the hole. And now it was gone.

TIME, TIME, TIME WHAT’S BECOME OF ME…..

 

 

Jonah walked toward the light, so to speak. He trailed behind the white robed priestess who was still ahead of him by several steps. “But jeez, why the hell was this little journey taking so damn long?” thought Jonah. He looked at the dirt beneath his feet. It was red. Tightly packed and gave off little or no dust.
Why should that matter? It didn’t, he was day dreaming as he walked. He looked up now feeling eyes upon him. But from whom?

The people inside this kiva seemed to be keeping back now. A safe distance? Moving to the back of the room perhaps? Were they getting out of harm’s way?
Did they know something was coming that might not be that safe? Jonah looked to his right and saw a man. A peculiar man. This man was looking at him.
Not so much watching Jonah just for the sake of it but the man had a look of mutual familiarity on his face. What? How was that possible thought Jonah.
Oh this had been a long journey. Jonah was starting to see things.

See things? This whole damn day had been nothing but unusual things to be seen. Wait a minute. Jonah now realized that the odd man was dressed in period clothes from another time.
Wait a minute. Jonah realized he knew this man. Not because they had met or were somehow acquaintances. It was because Jonah knew this man was Percival Lowell.

Jonah’s idol. Percival Lowell. Long dead. More mythical than real. Legendary professor known for discovering Pluto. Well he also said that the lines on the surface of Mars were calls left over from a long dead civilization. Now seeing recognition in Jonah’s eyes Percival Lowell smiled, kept walking in the same direction Jonah and Marlin the cat were walking in, towards the light. And now Jonah watched as Percival Lowell spoke to him. What?

Although the crowd in the kiva had backed off somewhat, and even the mumbling of their voices had ceased, he could not actually hear what Percival Lowell was saying. But yet he understood. Jonah realized he was lip reading. “Oh yeah of course that online lip reading course I took last summer” thought Jonah. He had not taken on online lip reading course. Last summer or ever.

Add it onto the pile. The pile of all the weird shit that had happened this day. Lowell was telling him things it seemed. Jonah suspended his disbelief and shock at this new event and got down to try to make out what Lowell was saying.

“There are high concentrations of magnetic materials in this place. Especially in those rocks where we are going to at the front of the kiva. The rocks around my tomb in Flagstaff also have high concentrations of magnetic material perhaps more than these kiva stones.” Jonah thought about what Lowell was telling him. “Magnetic rocks. BFD. What does that matter?”

Lowell continued his silent speaking “It is because of these deposits that we are here. It is because of these deposits that we are able to, in a sense, to walk through time.”

Again Jonah thought about what Lowell was telling him. Okay. Magnetism. Rocks. The tomb. A talking time traveling cat and now here the ghost of a long dead scientist and astronomer.
Jonah stopped walking and just stood in place. As if in response to this the light in the room dimmed slightly, then recovered to it’s former level of illumination. The people who were here in this kiva seemed to take a break in their collective breathing. Like they were holding their breath as one. As if somehow the fact that Jonah had stopped moving had also stopped something else. The progress of their walk towards the light.

What the hell? Jonah looked at Percival Lowell again. Lowell had stopped and turned slightly towards Jonah. He kept talking. “The priestess is also a time traveller. In a sense all of us, you, me, the cat are on one side of what is happening here. She is on the other side.” As soon as these words had been spoken Lowell resumed his walking. “Side? What side?” thought Jonah.
Another thing, it seemed as if Lowell had heard Jonah’s thoughts, Jonah for some odd reason had not spoken to Lowell. He was too intimidated. Too confused. Too gobsmacked by everything.

So was Lowell a mind reader now? “Not a side per se. Team. She is on the other team. And our team is the correct one to be on. We are in a competition to gather what is important from this place, other places on the globe, and other time periods.”

Oh great. Jonah had the feeling that this was not a friendly competition. This was not a game. Why was that? “Oh who knows. Probably just my feminine intuition.” thought Jonah.

And with that Jonah looked to the priestess. She was now almost to the place of light, the place of the entrance into the earth. With this Jonah thought “To hell with this.” And he began to run towards the light. And towards the priestess.

Out of the corner of his left eye he saw Marlin. And now Marlin let out the loudest “meow” Jonah had ever heard come out of a cat before. Oh that did not sound good.

TIME MAKES FOOLS OF US ALL 

Marlin made his way on little cat feet stepping daintily on the dirt floor of the big kiva. He walked beneath and between the legs of the faithful gathered here on a cold winter’s night in ancient New Mexico. He walked in as straight a line as he could towards the large sunken rectangle near the front of thekiva. The priestess, Jonah, and a whole bunch of the natives (Marlin did not know for certain that they were “natives” per se as in “Native Americans” but since they seemed to live here in Chaco Canyon that made them “native” to this place as far as he was concerned.) here in the room were headed right towards it.

Marlin knew the layout of the place, he had seen diagrams of this “gathering” kiva a few times before. He knew that the large rectangular shape up in the northern part of the big room, was actually an entrance and exit for this place. The priests, or as they had seen today, sometimes a priestess, used the entrance/exit as a way to invoke belief and mystery in the minds of the people.

Basically it was all about show business. Once the last few people had gone inside the big kiva the main and apparently only entrance, was closed. It appeared there was no way to get in and get out of the room except by the main doorway. And once all the people were inside the kiva, the priests, who had been waiting outside in the cold, would be given a signal. The time for them to make a grand entrance. The sunken rectangle entrance/exit gave the holy folks a chance to “rise up” out of the earth and impress the locals. Then when the sermon was finished the holy persons returned “back into” the earth.

Marlin stopped his walking for a moment. The people above him had begun to move back and forth, their legs seeming to sway in unison to some barely audible rhythm. Marlin dodged between a few moving pairs of legs waiting for a moment or two to see a clear path. He looked up into the eyes of a child standing with their parents. It was a very young female member of the tribe he guessed. Her eyes had grown big when Marlin looked up into hers. Great, had he scared her, was she going to start crying or screaming because she had seen him, a very strange creature at her feet? Marlin raised his right paw and waved at the child. She calmed down at seeing this gesture, smiled and raised her hand and waved back.

That seemed to do the trick and Marlin began to make his way through the shifting forest of legs. He thought of Jonah again and wondered how he was doing. When Marlin had made the decision to jump off Jonah’s shoulder to pursue his own path towards the sunken rectangle he had not had time to tell Jonah what he was up to. Oh well, Jonah was probably safe as could be, this was just another time traveling adventure after all. Nothing much to worry about.

Well there was that one trip Marlin had taken in 1916 to the front lines in World War I. Deep in the muddy, wet, freezing trenches Marlin and his companion had hunkered down. When his companion stood up to look out over the deep, dark, bleak landscape before them a shell had flown high in the sky lighting the night up ever so briefly. Then it fell to earth. It had exploded and fragmented, a piece of metal flying and hitting his companion in the face apparently killing him instantly. So it wasn’t all fun and games here in the far past. Still Marlin felt confident about this trip. These were a peaceful bunch of folks and he did not expect violence from them. He knew he would hook up with Jonah again when they all converged at the sunken entrance/exit spot.

Now Marlin noticed something in the corner of his right eye through the jungle of legs. He stopped again to look. There he was. His old friend Percival Lowell. Standing off in a shadowy corner Lowell peered out looking more out of place than either Marlin or Jonah. He wore a three piece dark suit, white shirt and tie. Marlin could see his bald head glinting occasionally in the dim light. He could see Lowell’s walrus like mustache. Here was the man who had begun this whole strange experiment. God knows when. But it had to have started some time before Lowell’s death. Marlin knew that Lowell himself had chosen the spot for his tomb on the property of the observatory facilities. He believed Lowell had discovered the proximity of a time traveling vortex there where the tomb was eventually constructed. Had Lowell done any time traveling before Marlin showed up? Marlin was not certain. He thought it very likely.

Lowell nodded at Marlin when their eyes met. Lowell looked towards the sunken rectangle and pointed ever so slightly that way with his chin. Marlin nodded back and resumed making his way to that spot. He saw Percival Lowell step out of the shadowy corner and acting as nonchalant as you want, all the while trying to stay in step with the moving crowd, make his way to the target before them. Lowell, Marlin, Jonah, the priestess and a whole bunch of other folks here in the room were getting ready to converge on the same spot. “This could be interesting” thought Marlin.

TIME JUST TAKES A LICKING AND KEEPS ON TICKING

Jonah walked behind the priestess as they made their way to the rectangular sunken pits near the front by the circular wall here in the big kiva.
He continued to match the walking pace of the priestess. He found this odd. He just seemed to have fallen into her rhythm of footsteps. Not sure why.

He looked around the room as he walked. Taking in the orange flickering firelight of the torches and of what appeared to be small fires burning in the rectangular pits.
Lots of fires but little smoke. Yes it was smokey but they seemed to have a good ventilation system. Breathing was not a problem. He looked up to the wide expansive ceiling and saw that it was constructed from young, long, pine tree poles. Stripped of branches and bark the poles formed a supportive matrix and a roof for the kiva. He recalled these poles were known as vigas. A prevalent method of roof building in adobe structures in the American Southwest. New Mexico especially.

As the people continued to step back out of the way of Jonah and the priestess as they walked he studied their faces. They seemed either complacent or very mellow and content but he could not tell for certain. At first he wondered if they had been zombified in some way. But that seemed ridiculous. If they were zombies how had they known the Old Testament name of God Jehovah? The timeline worked in a sense. If he had traversed eleven hundred years to arrive here, and the Old Testament, which had existed before Christ, who had lived at least two thousand years ago, then the concept of God and Jehovah had existed. But how did that idea get here? Brought by silver saucer flying bug eyed aliens? Vikings or Columbus or somebody like that who arrived in the Americas and inadvertently brought such ideas with them? How about a car full of clowns who beam up from the Star Trek sets at Desilu Studios in Hollywood in the late 1960s all carrying flip phones? Okay now Jonah knew he was starting to flutter a little. He must be getting tired. Still he walked. Still he looked.

He saw men and women, occasionally a child. Families were a part of this place it seemed. They were all tanned or dark skinned. Except the priestess. She was very pale. The people had black hair. They wore simple clothing. Handmade woven pullover shirts and either calf length pants or shorts. Some were barefoot. Others wore sandals of a sort. Although it was warm enough in this room he knew it was winter outside. How did they put up with the cold dressed so spartanly? Good heavens maybe this was just a big sweat lodge thing going on. Was this a hibernation room? Maybe they stayed in here for days.

(Speaking of which how long had he and Jonah been together? It seemed less than a day. They had met before dawn in Flagstaff at Percival Lowell’s tomb. Then they took a little trip. If they had indeed traveled in time then would ordinary Mickey ouse watch time continue? Or does time as measurement just sort of flip back on itself? Like a loop? Thereby cancelling ordinary time itself out?)

Overall the people he saw were incredibly focused as if this event was a sacred ritual of belief or who knew maybe a damned political party meeting. No that couldn’t be it. Advanced primitive society perhaps but no stinking democracy please. Their rulers were the sun, moon and stars. The wind. The heat and the cold. Water. No water. Corn. Farming. The priestess seemed like their leader or mentor. Jonah had a feeling that soon enough all would become clearer. Perhaps when they reached the large stone rectangle in the floor.

He still had not seen Marlin who had disappeared from his shoulder. But when did that happen? Jonah had no idea. What was it that Kurt Vonnegut had written about Billy Pilgrim the character in Slaughterhouse Five? That he had somehow become unstuck in time. One moment he was much older and in a different unfamiliar place like another planet. Then he was a child again swimming against his will in a large public pool. Now he was an American soldier crouched down in a bomb shelter in Dresden as Allied bombers flew overhead in the darkness. Crap. Jonah had no desire to follow Billy Pilgrim’s lead.

Marlin had stopped talking when the priestess showed up. Jonah wanted to know why. But without Marlin being anywhere around, maybe he was frightened and in hiding, no answer would be forthcoming. Nothing to do but wait and see.

Now Jonah could see more details of the large stone walled rectangle much. Holy crap. It was an entrance of some kind. Or an exit. There seemed to be a source of light coming up out of that rectangle glowing and illuminating like a light reflected off a golden mirror.

Whatever would happen next Jonah felt that at least there would be mysteries revealed. Whether they were good mysteries or bad he could not say.

He hoped he would see Marlin again. Soon.

TIME FLOWING LIKE A RIVER

 

Jonah heard the name of “Jehovah” invoked by the joined voice and breath of the people who stood inside the big kiva for the ceremony. At least that is what he thought he had heard. How could that be?

He thought about various “new age” references to Jehovah he had read about over the years.
One legend had said that when the wind blows through the branches of a pine tree that you can hear the name of God spoken. As the wind passes through the needles on the branches you hear a soft intonation of an old Judaic form of the name of God. Perhaps a trick to the ear. The obvious reference however was that somehow, ancient Native American peoples somehow knew that particular name of God hence they recognized the sound in the wind.

But in the writings about this the name of God it had been spelled oddly.
It was something like Yehowah or YHOWH. Or various other spellings some with only consonants, no vowels. But when spoken out loud the words all had the same basic sound. It sounded like the Old Testament name for the Godhead.

But then Jonah thought that all of this didn’t matter much. He and Marlin were in a ceremonial room filled with mysterious strangers. They seemed friendly enough but truly he and Marlin were strangers to these people as well. Who knew what they were thinking about an unusual looking man and his cat? The cat thing again. Jonah doubted that there were any cats like Marlin around here. What cats there were  must be extra large cousins of bobcats or catamounts or pumas. In the end just what did these people have in mind? And what was the deal with the beautiful priestess?

She turned away from Jonah and Marlin, still smiling, and began to walk to the front of the room. The people in the crowd slowly opened a way for her to pass through the crowd. She stopped and turned back to look Jonah in the eyes. Standing before him, in her pure white woven gown, colorful feathers on her head like a crown, still smiling her mysterious smile, Jonah knew he must follow her.

He began to walk slowly behind her. Soon he fell into her walking pace. Now he kept stride with her. Marlin, still riding on Jonah’s shoulder, spoke finally. He whispered into Jonah’s ear “Has it occurred to you that we both have fish references with our names? You are Jonah like the Bible story about a fisherman named Jonah who got swallowed by a whale. And my name is the actual spelling of one of those giant fishes sportsman people like to reel in from the back of a big boat. The fish are called marlins.”

Jonah whispered back to Marlin. “That’s great. What has that to do with anything that is happening to us right now?” “Oh nothing really.” replied Marlin. I just thought of it that’s all.”

Now Jonah could see where they seemed to be going. Just a few feet ahead of them, he saw a long, stone, rectangular low wall like structure on the floor of the kiva. As they drew closer he thought he could see steps leading downward within the rectangle. But down to where? It seemed as if they were walking right for those steps. Whatever was down there, Jonah now believed, that the priestess, and he and Marlin, would be going to wherever the steps led.

FOR THE TIME BEING TRAVEL IS SUSPENDED

Jonah was remembering a dream he had when he was very young. It involved a large diamond kite flying near power lines, a raven smoking a cigarette and a little blond girl in a pink dress riding on a skateboard. It had nothing whatsoever to do with what was happening here, now, whenever this was. But that’s what happens in time travel. Time…travels. Right out of your hands. The memory was a nice break from reality especially since the reality that Jonah perceived at this moment involved hundreds of people coming slowly towards Jonah and Marlin the cat sitting on his shoulder. They were all here together inside this semi-dark, smokey, large, stone walled room participating in some special ritual.

A feathered priest (priest?) was walking towards them through the crowd. Jonah assumed it was the priest or shaman who had been leading the people in the ritual. The priest was shorter than most of the other people but Jonah could still see the progress of the priest by watching the moving brightly colored feathers adorning the priest’s head. Part of a costume apparently. Through the slowly parting crowd Jonah saw parts of a pale white robe wrapped around the priest figure. It reminded him of kachinas, or katsinas, manifestations of Native American spiritual entities, that he had seen at the Heard Museum in Phoenix when he was little. He knew that priests, or holy men, in a tribe dressed up as these beings for festivals and special celebrations within the tribe. Sort of a God made manifest.

Jonah made a quick assessment of the situation. Everything had been going along nicely until Marlin opened his big mouth. The crowd might have put up with the appearance of a domesticated striped, gray ,tabby cat, even one so small as compared to the bobcats and pumas that might live around these parts. But a talking cat? Sitting on Jonah’s shoulder? Blabbering on in a language that was total nonsense to their ears? Even the bravest among them would have to wonder just what was going on. Was this an evil spirit in their midst? Or a good spirit or a new deity to worship? Whatever, the ceremony had quickly ceased as more and more of the people noticed Jonah and the cat.

Come to think of it besides Marlin, Jonah must have a looked a little strange to these folks as well. He was considerably taller than most people here. He wore Levis and a brightly striped soccer jersey. He had a currently fashionable, bushy beard and what might be described as a typical boy’s haircut with the sides buzzed. In short he looked like a lot of guys from his own time. But here, now, he looked absolutely like no one else in this room. He doubted if he looked like anyone in this part of the world. In this time.

Torches flickered sending shadows undulating on the high walls around them. These were the shadows of the people, the forms of their bodies converted into shades and shifting animated shapes that seem to echo the spirituality of this place. Jonah held his breath. He sensed something was about to happen. Something important. Perhaps something like a life or death situation. Maybe their own life or death situation. Marlin was oddly quiet. But Jonah knew the cat was taking it all in. And thinking. Thinking.

Now the circle of people stop moving and enclosed them. Their eyes staring at Jonah and Marlin. They didn’t seem to be afraid as much as they seemed very, very curious. Now people in the part of the circle in front of them slowly parted. Now here was the feathered priest stepping out of the crowd towards them. Here was the white robe, the bright feathered headdress. The soft beautiful face of the priest smiling at them. Correction the soft beautiful face of the priestess smiling at them. Wow. A good looking priestess too. Still smiling at Jonah and Marlin she raised here right hand heavenward. Her hand stopped gracefully in midair and then she snapped her fingers. A this signal the people in the room all let out a soft sigh and it seemed as if all the sighs now joined together and that sound was like the wind blowing through the low branches of a thousand ponderosa pines in the forest. And the sound was a voice and that voice said Yehowah.