Zack Maya, the editor of the Daily News, moves slowly around his crowded office. His baggy pants, wrinkled around the seat and sagging unevenly below the knee announcing without fanfare the editor's priorities. The Daily is successful, but the margin, as with all products that depend upon the fickle public, required a nervous eye. Maya found he had to be a politician more often than a reporter, and where this did not set well with his perfunctory personality, he had learned to accept this as a fact of life. Some news came with a price, when printed. Maya eases into his worn leather chair, flipping the pages of a story laid on his chair seat with barely time enough to grasp their meaning. Glancing up through his bifocals at Danny, who has been watching from his desk and has come to lean in the doorway, the editor is brief and to the point. Maya points a finger at Danny.
This won't fly. I won't print the story. He has no proof! It's just a crazy idea. Can I remind you that you write for a conservative newspaper? You could start a panic with this stuff.
Danny frowns and slips into a wooden chair in front of the editor's desk - the defendant's chair, not meant to be comfortable. Danny is listening but we can see he's not buying this explanation. Maya continues,
Who's going to pay the merchants for damages, for the riot that this might cause?
It's a great article. The guy impressed me, and he had plenty of sources. We've done documentaries before, asteroids slinging by and all. I, I didn't think this was any different.
Maya just shakes his head, looking unblinkingly across the desk at Danny, peering up over his bifocals.
That was maybe, this isn't saying maybe. I can't print this.
Maya tosses the story across his desk to Danny, settling back into his chair.
You're not sitting in my chair, Danny, and I'm telling you, this won't fly.
Danny scoops up the story, his mouth opening and closing as he processes and rejects arguments, blinks twice, and slowly rises and walks out the door without a comment. Outside the editor's office he stops and is lost in thought, his face smooth, showing no emotion. Finally, under his breath.
Danny grabs his jacket and strides out of the office.
The wooded campus at Brandon University backs up into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, crisscrossed with trails worn smooth by the pounding feet of
jogging students and faculty. For those familiar with the maze, the trails led to treasures in the woods known to few. Isaac is fishing with his cap down, back against
a tree along the river. Isaac casts a fishing line when a phone rings. He reaches into his fishing bag, pulls out a phone and answers.
Danny is leaning against the edge of his desk, phone in hand.
Yes Professor Isaac, this is Danny at the paper. .. Well, I want to do the story but my editor says it's crackpot stuff and The Daily is a newspaper of integrity .. But I know we've done stuff like this before. Do you happen to know why he won't publish the story? .. I know the place. I'll be right there.
Isaac is fishing with his cap down, back against a tree along the river. When Danny arrives, in jeans, he is breathing heavily from the climb. He fishes a notebook out of an inside pocket within his lightweight jacket, and flips the pages, having tucked a pencil stub momentarily behind his right ear. During their conversation, Danny is alternating between believing what Isaac is saying and wanting to deny as to take it seriously is to be frightened, so he is coming up with plausible explanations for what Isaac is laying out. Isaac is familiar with this type of reaction and counters this by just laying out the facts until they are overwhelming.
Danny . . a friend of mine at a large observatory has been tracking an incoming object, but has been told to keep mum about it if he knows what's good for him. Says this has been going on for over a decade, what's reported to be Planet X for many years. It comes through the Solar System every 3,600 years or so and pretty well tears up the Earth. Well, that's the rogue planet I was telling you about. It's real! It's inbound! And none of us is ready for it, that's for damn sure. And that's precisely why the government doesn't want the public to know about it. They're not ready for it either.
Danny had been expecting this. The editor rejected his story too quickly, barely reading it.
Who's asking him to keep quiet and why?
Isaac lifts his pole and flips the line out into the shallows again before answering. Danny is relieved to be having a discussion over the issues, but is nonetheless taking this all in but not yet willing to buy it. Isaac says,
The government doesn't want the public to know about it. They're not ready for it, and they don't know what to tell people. So they lean on people to keep it quiet. Observatories don't come cheap, they're built by big money. Universities get government grants. And the government can always come in and say it's a national security issue.
Danny is confused. Why is a passing planet special?
National security, like, don't cause panic? They didn't do that for the Near Earth Asteroid scares, they were all over the news, TV and everything. How is this different?
Isaac explains - those on top fear losing the upper hand.
These asteroids either wipe life out or pass by, black or white, but this monster passes by and causes a pole shift, the globe survives, but civilization is pretty much wiped out, crashes. That's what happened during the time of Moses. Egypt lost their slaves, they walked away, and Egypt was in chaos for centuries. This is what they're really worried about. They're worried about the working man questioning their masters, gaining the upper hand. They're worried about mob rule.
Danny is beginning to connect the dots.
They think it's going to happen? This thing is coming? For sure, this is for sure? Boy, that explains Maya jumping on me. It was like somebody had leaned on him, like he knew more about it than he was telling me.
It's not just a theory, says Isaac.
My friend says they were looking for it, they found it and now they're tracking it.
An astonished Danny says,
They found it? They found it? Where'd they find it?
Isaac gives the long suppressed history, the discovery of Planet X in 1983.
In 1983, they were sending up infrared cameras above the clouds, in those days they didn't have the Hubble, and were looking toward Orion because astronomers have known there's something out there, something pulling comets and planets in that direction, some gravitational force, and by gum, they found it. Scared the heck out of them, and it hit the papers before they could squelch it. Was in the Washington Post, front page, in 1983.
But Danny is still missing the point.
Damn! But I don't understand why mob violence will ensue. I mean, so this thing passes. Why would civilizations crash?
Isaac points to the extent of devastation that accompanies a pole shift.
It doesn't just pass. Take a look at mountain building, fresh mountains like the Rockies or the Himalayas. If all we're having is a few quakes now and then, what would drive those mountains thousands of feet in the air? What force would overcome the resistance?
Isaac glances sideways at Danny, gauging his skepticism to be slight. Like most young people, he is loath to let go of his idealism, not believing the government would lie to the people. Isaac is familiar with this resistance and these arguments, and takes them in stride. Danny says,
Uh, well quakes drop buildings, and ..
Isaac quickly interrupts,
That's from the shaking.
Isaac is pondering a mountain building scene, where flat rock snaps and starts to angle upward at a 45 degree angle, climbing over foothills nearby, climbing up into the sky to the height of a Mt Everest. He says,
I'm talking about picking up a mountain and driving it up, up, thousands of feet. Whole mountain ranges, up. And look at the issue of Ice Ages and wandering poles! We just don't get it, we don't get it! You know the last Ice Age had ice over France, 11,000 years ago or so, but at the same time the grasslands of Siberia were warm and lush! Now, what did the Sun do there, blink on for Siberia, and off for France?
Isaac pulls his line in and slings it back out again, both men quiet for a moment. He says,
It's going to be a pretty rough ride, son.
Isaac is envisioning a mammoth is standing in grasslands, snow and howling winds descending. The mammoth is backing away from the direction of the winds, trunk high as though trying to defend itself, eyes crazed with fear at the maelstrom descending. The end of the trunk has grass with buttercups in it, as though this were a sudden event, mid-munch for the mammoth.
Mammoths were found flash frozen in Siberia, been frozen like that for thousands of years, with buttercups in their stomach. Buttercups, where there isn't a blade of grass for hundreds of miles, now. The Earth turned under them, son, and moved them to a polar zone. They weren't the only species to go extinct for no obvious reason. They've been dozens.
Playing the role of protester, Danny is still trying to lay out arguments. Danny's eyes are shifting from side to side as he rapidly searches for rational explanations. Danny is chewing his lower lip slightly but is clearly running out of arguments. Finally, he says, weakly.
Well, the ice formed over France because, uh, um ..
Isaac keeps up the pressure.
Makes no sense! Potsdam University documented that the axis of the world shifted, pulling Germany South, during the Jewish Exodus. The crust moved. The crust moved! Pull that back and you've got Greenland over where the N Pole is now. Got it? The crust moves, and during that last Ice Age, France was the N Pole, that's why it was frozen! We don't have wandering poles, we've got a wandering crust.
Isaac flips his line out into the river again, easing back against the tree trunk, knowing the argument has been won. Danny, now almost relaxed as he realizes he has lost the argument, is giving in, but is reluctant to admit defeat to someone in his father's generation. He says,
Is that why the weather's gone nuts and the compasses don't ever seem to work right anymore?
Isaac is still not done laying out his evidence, and has no intention of laying off.
And then there's the tidal waves, whale bones found on hills 400-500 feet above sea level in Ontario. In Sicily there's bone piles in the rock crevices that include just about every animal in Europe and Africa, all broken into bits as though the waves carried them there and smashed them into bits against the rocks.
Danny protests. Surely there is another explanation for tidal waves in our past.
So maybe a meteor fell, like what killed the dinosaurs, fell in the ocean and caused a giant tidal wave.
But Isaac has more.
Chief Mountain in Montana took an 8 mile trip over the plains, and the Alps have moved hundreds of miles overland. We're talking about slabs of rock thousand of feet thick. What force is moving those mountains?
Danny tries proferring the standard explanation for massive geological changes in the Earth's past.
Oh, that happened millions of years ago.
But as with all the other protestations, Isaac has the trump card.
Niagra Falls is running in a channel that's less than 4,000 years old, son, and several lakes on the West Coast have existed for only about 3,500 years. Sound familiar? Scientists have known for some time that the ocean level dropped 20 feet world wide, simultaneously, guess when - 3,000-4,000 years ago.
Finally, Danny submits.
Holy cow! This is big! Why wouldn't they let this out? They warn people about floods, about hurricanes, stock up for the storm, and all. How is this any different?
Having reached the end of the game, the contest between generations put aside, Isaac admits his own weakness, shows his softer side to Danny, as the argument is dropped and has become a discussion. He says,
Put yourself in the shoes of the people in charge, Danny, and look at the list of your worries. One, there's no way after the crust moves and all the cities are dust to house and feed the citizens. So they get into thinking about saving a select few, and the few always includes them, of course. They've built bunkers, you can be sure, and stocked them well, and the heck with the taxpayer. This is why that story gets resisted. You can believe they've got their guards at the newspapers watching for it. Gets shot down every time.
The light goes on for Danny, who realizes Maya's reaction is not the first.
You mean, you've tried this before?
I was asked to contact your paper, give it another shot. A group of us have been trying to find an outlet. So far, no one's gotten past the guard. They tell these editors that it's national security or something, can't have panic. God knows what they tell them, but one thing is clear, this is a story that the public is not allowed to hear.
Danny is new to the cover-up, and is searching for a route around it.
Someone could go to an observatory. I mean, our observatory has a public night, you can go there, point the scope anywhere you want, they help you ..
Isaac, older and wiser, knows what encountering a serious cover-up means.
You can try it. We did, when it was still able to be seen in the night sky. Got the runaround. It's not just the editors, it's the observatories, the astronomers you can't believe. You think the American people didn't want to know about what happened to JFK? They didn't get the story then, and they don't have it now. When the hammer comes down to protect the people in charge, in Washington, it comes down hard.
Youth perseveres. Danny says,
Yeah, but I bet I could. I mean, I can be pretty persuasive.
Too late, in any case, says Isaac.
Observatories don't cut it anymore, it's too close to the Sun now. They can't look at light, they need the night sky. It's arrived, Danny, we're not doing the waltz anymore, we're setting up for rock and roll!
Danny has fallen silent, but finally takes a big breath.
So what do we do?
Isaac explains that bottom line, one should be personally prepared.
I know what I'm going to do. I'm not waiting for anyone to tell me to do it, either. I've got a place up in the hills, and as soon as things get funny, that's where I'm headed.
Big Tom and Red are replacing wooden fence posts out in a field. They have a stock of posts in the back of the truck, are pulling a broken post, snipping the wire, hammering a new post in its place, and finally patching the wire with a new piece of wire. Meanwhile, they converse. Big Tom says,
Heard that some rich folks come in from the coast wanting to stock a bunker in big-top mountain. Wanted this quiet, I guess, but you know Fred Harvey.
Big Tom and Red glance up and grin briefly at each other through their sweat. Fred Harvey is apparently a known big mouth. Big Tom continues,
Fred says they had him take enough bottled water and canned good to feed an army for a year up there, one truckload after another. Says the big shock was the hole in the mountain.
Big Tom stands straight, hand to his back, stretching. He continues while standing, gesturing, his two hands together punching forward to indicate the tunnel hammered in the rock.
They'd had someone hammer a tunnel, then a room. Lights everywhere. Furniture too.
Red glances up from where he is crouched, mending the wire. He is not interrupting as he wants to hear the story. Big Tom continues,
Now what were they expecting? An invasion?
Big Tom shakes his head and puts the sledge hammer back into the truck. Muttering to himself and Red.
Crazy rich people. Got more money than they know what to do with.