What Dave had assumed was a standard digital projector came on with an animated audio/video splash. This was not the doctor’s color slides or home movies, or even Death-By-Power-Point, but a full-blown, multi-media presentation. Fortunately, the projector’s special effects capabilities were limited, which was encouraging: otherwise, Dave would be suspicious of any giants or monsters presented onscreen.
Following a number of jump-cuts, fades and text, the film settled into a series of still-shots, which Dr. Galilei accompanied with his own narration. So . . . it was to be the doctor’s slide-show after all.
The projector paused on a grainy, black-and-white photo of a desert scene, with a number of Arab laborers standing around a huge trench in the foreground. Above the trench was an elaborate scaffolding, with ropes, pulleys and winches. Inside the trench was what appeared to be a dinosaur skeleton, except the arrangement of the bones was all wrong.
The size looked about right, but the layout was like no dinosaur he’d ever seen. As he studied the photo, Dave realized there was something hideously human about the skeleton, combined with a vague, yet terrible suggestion of the reptilian.
“The Grigori,” said Dr. Galilei. “Better known as ‘The Watchers.’”
“And what were they? Giant grave-diggers?”
At the word “giant,” Dr. Galilei’s hand twitched so violently, he knocked the projector sideways.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. He slid the projector back into position. “Many believe the Grigori, or Watchers, are the creatures referred to in Sumerian myth as the ‘Anunnaki,’ and in the bible as ‘the Fallen.’ Highly advanced beings who came here to survey, mine, and colonize earth.”
At the word “colonize,” a pair of photos came up, side by side. On the left was a tiny carving of what looked like a 1960s astronaut, complete with backpack and space helmet, climbing a stone pillar in the Natural History Museum of Tula, Mexico. The photo on the right was the infamous carving of the Mayan god-king Pakal on the lid of his sarcophagus, apparently operating controls from the cockpit of some interstellar craft. Both photos often appeared in books dealing with Ancient Astronauts, as proof of aliens on the earth in distant epochs.
“That’s the ‘Little Guy’ of Tula,” Galilei explained. “And, of course, the sarcophagus lid of King Pakal, the Mayan ruler of Palenque, Mexico. He was said to be nearly eight feet tall,” he added.
The next scene was no photograph or video still, but a painting any Sunday school student would recognize: David and Goliath.
“Speaking of giants, note the proportions here,” Dr. G continued. “See how huge Goliath is, by comparison?”
“Someone got a little carried away,” Dave said. “He’s three times David’s size.”
“Actually, the scale here is much more accurate than the usual rendering. Remember that David was only a boy of sixteen or so, while Goliath was a mature, bearded adult—and a descendent of the Anakim.”
“One of several tribes of giants native to Canaan, dating back to before the Flood.”
“What, as in Noah’s Ark?” Not this nonsense again . . .
“Correct. Now, from the biblical account—and other, more recent evidence which we’ll get to in a moment—we know that Goliath was “six cubits and a span” in height. At 20.4 inches to the Hebrew cubit, and about nine cubits to the span, that’s nearly eleven feet tall, not the seven or eight feet typically depicted.”
“So, what does this—”
“Goliath was one of the smaller members of his tribe. Genetic dilution, you see, from generations of mixed human ancestry. His pureblooded forebears were much larger.”
“Indeed. Originally, they stood well over twenty feet tall—triple our size.”
“Impressive,” Dave said. “If it were true . . .”
“‘There were giants in the earth in those days,’” the professor quoted, “‘and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.’”
Dave stared at the screen, trying not to laugh; it was the same bible verse Cyndi had quoted him. Instead, he tried to focus on the pain in his hip, but couldn’t help grinning—a scientist quoting the bible? Ludicrous.
“So, what’s up, Doc? You and Cyndi belong to the same church? You trying to convert me?”
“I do not attend church. Besides, this has less to do with religion than with—”
“Because she quoted the bible to me, too.”
“—than with archaeological fact,” Dr. Galilei finished.
“Archaeological fact, Mr. Connors. Not faith. I’m a scientist, not a priest.”
“So, you’re saying David and Goliath were real.”
“The bible, the Torah and the Koran all say so. Anytime you can get all three of those books to agree on anything, I’d say it’s a safe bet.”
“What about the Anakim?”
“Same thing,” said Dr. Galilei. “And they weren’t the only giants mentioned. The bible lists over half a dozen different tribes, all of them descendants of the Watchers.”
“So who were these Watchers, then? Cyndi said they were fallen angels.”
“They were the Fallen. The Abandoned.”
“Or the Fallen Ones, correct?” Dave said. “That’s what Cyndi called them.”
“Correct. Angelic beings that assumed human shape and came down to earth, or fell, in order to mate with human women. The result was . . .”
“Mutants,” Dave said. “Hybrid giants. Or so I’m told.”
“Exactly. Twelve fingers, twelve toes. Two rows of teeth, in some tribes. This genetic admixture gave them phenomenal size, legendary strength, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.”
“You mean cannibals? As in all the old fairy tales and myths?”
Galilei nodded. “At the heart of every myth, you know, lies a kernel of truth. Same for religion.”
Again, Galilei advanced the film one frame, to another still shot. This one, however, was more recent and detailed. It was a photo of an Australian archaeologist kneeling beside a skull the size of a truck tire. The jawbone was as big as a man’s leg, while the teeth were larger than the Aussie’s fingers.
“Rephaim, discovered in northern Iraq, 2005.”
“One of the first, and most bloodthirsty, tribes of giants.”
“And these photos are for real? These are actual skeletons?”
“Without a doubt. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many sites never before seen by Western eyes have been uncovered. And there’s more than skeletons over there.”
“What, you mean . . . ?”
“Living remnants. Descendants of the Neph—the Fallen—still, to this day,” Galilei said. “One was reported killed by U.S. servicemen in northern Iraq, in 2006. He was said to be over nine feet tall, with two rows of teeth on each jaw and six fingers on each hand.”
Dave reeled in his seat: it was a dead-on description of the intern he’d seen at the hospital the night of his accident. But what was the name Galilei had begun to say? Nef?
“You are kidding, right? I mean—”
“I only wish to God I were,” Galilei replied. “This is the truth as I heard it from a former student of mine, a medic embedded in the 354th Armored Cavalry, based in Kabul. He took the photo.”
“So, why tell me this stuff?” Dave asked. “What’s the significance?”
“Can’t you guess?” Dr. Galilei asked. “Why would so many of these sightings––UFOs, aliens, freaks––suddenly start increasing as we got closer to December 21st, along with the worsening interference with global communications? Coincidence?”
“Probably,” Dave replied, sounding uncertain even to himself. “But what’s all this have to do with the Commandments and the Roswell symbols?”
Dr. Galilei looked nonplussed. “Everything. I believe this link of yours points to something far more serious than aliens visiting earth over the millennia, or Jehovah God returning to Israel. Something infinitely darker and more evil.”
Dave shrugged. “Like what?”
“Like the return of the Fallen in force” said Dr. G. “To finish their feud with God and destroy His creation.”
“You mean . . . ”
“Yes,” Galilei said, nodding. “I mean they’re coming back to have it out with the being known as Jehovah, or Yahweh, and end it once and for all. And then . . .”
“They will turn on us.”
Galilei nodded. The room fell entirely silent.
“Yes,” he said at last. “They will feed.”
“However,” Galilei continued, turning from the screen, “I also believe the old legends of the ‘God Key’ may be true.”
“And what legends are those?” Dave asked, trying to keep the skepticism out of his voice.
“Namely, that clues as to the return of the Fallen are hidden in a linked chain of ruins in the Holy Land, one leading to the next. Once deciphered, they might give us a way to defeat them—or at least give us the proof we need.”
“Proof?” Dave said. “For who? Dr. Phil? Oprah?”
“For Mankind,” Dr. Galilei replied. “To open the eyes of the world at last. To bring all the races and nations of earth together before it’s too late, before the Neph—er, time runs out. To unite us all as one people: Earthers.”
An embarrassing pause ensued. Dave could have kicked himself. He nodded at the screen and said: “Sorry, Doc, I meant no disrespect.”
“Oh, I quite understand. It’s a bit much to swallow.”
“Exactly. I mean, if any of this is true, isn’t someone going after the story?”
“Not anyone in his right mind,” Dr. G replied. “Not since Alexander the Great tried, just before his death. It was his only failure, you know,” the Doc added. “Besides, there are other, much more recent, cases to investigate. Encounters with the advance scouts, so to speak.”
“Recent encounters? In the Holy Land?”
“In the Holy Land.”
“Like—where, for instance?”
“Take the sightings of 2009, in the Golan Heights, near the Gilgal Rephaim. Dozens of eyewitnesses reported odd, cigar-shaped objects in the sky—similar to sightings in this country, I might add, at the turn of the last century, and in the Glasser woodcutting.”
“I’m sorry, Gilgal . . . ?”
Galilei smiled. “Gil-gal Reph-a-im. An ancient, circular stone edifice, built by those beings we discussed earlier. Best not to say their name. You’ve no idea . . . Anyway, Gilgal is the Stonehenge of the Middle East. Buried somewhere inside it, supposedly, is a clue as to who and what came here—and what’s coming back for us.”
“And there’ve been UFO sightings there recently?” Dave asked.
“Oh, yes. Or take the temple ruins at Baalbek, in Lebanon. They’ve—”
“—Whoa, now there’s one I actually know about, from reading Sitchin. In the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. Supposedly built before the Flood, according to ancient Akkadian sources.”
“Correct,” Dr. G agreed. “But built by whom?”
A postcard photo of the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek came onscreen. It was a three-quarter shot of the northwestern wall, showing the six remaining Roman columns and the three gigantic stone slabs at its base. Dave knew where the good doctor was heading: Baalbek’s famed “Trilithon”—the three most massive objects ever quarried and used as building blocks—over 6,000 years ago. Now Dr. G wanted to know who had put them there.
“Giants,” Dave answered. “Or so local legends have it.”
“Precisely. Of the same species that built Gilgal Rephaim. Here, too, is another clue as to who and what the Fallen were—an astronomical clue, at that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Many of these sites are astronomically aligned to certain stars and constellations. Finding the correct ones, according to their alignment, could help you solve the world’s oldest mystery.”
“By tracing their aeronautical approach and landing vectors. If you focus on those sites that line up with Draco and their first landing zone at Mt. Hermon, you could pinpoint exactly where these beings came and went, and what clues they left behind. Clues as to their identity, and their eventual return. Again, according to legend.”
“Legends . . . myths,” Dave said, sighing. “But no proof.”
“On the contrary, the proof is there,” Galilei stated. “It’s been hidden in the Holy Land for untold thousands of years. And, more recently, in some of the finest portraits, sculptures and frescoes of the Renaissance. These are the places and things you must see, David. These hide both the proof and the clues to the Grand Puzzle: who or what is God, and when is He, She or It coming back for us? Or will the Fallen prevail? This is what you must find and publish, while you still can.”
“Why do you keep saying ‘While you still can,’ and ‘Before time runs out?’”
Galilei’s gaze darted about the room. Then he nodded and said, “You know about the Great Alignment of earth and sun with the center of the galaxy, on December 21st?”
“Sure, everyone does. Occurs once every 26,000 years, only this time it marks the end of both the Mayan and Aztec Calendars, supposedly meaning the end of the world.”
“Heh, if only,” Galilei replied. “I fear much more will happen first. You see, the Maya believed something would come from that Rift. They believed it would be the return of their god, Kukulkan or Quetzalcoatl.” He glanced up at Dave again, his heavy brows crashing together like a freight train collision. “No less a prophet than Nostradamus himself predicted it.”
“Seriously? You’re going to drag Nostradumbass into this, too?”
“Don’t mock what you don’t understand, young man,” Galilei fired back. “Don’t you know? Haven’t you read? Quetzalcoatl’s return? The great, feathered serpent, who stretches from the opening of Genesis to the very ends of the Dark Rift? He and his kind are what will happen, Mr. Connors. The Reptilians, the Grigori, first of the Watchers. Would to God it were merely the end of the world.”
“So it all comes back to the Fallen?”
Again, Galilei’s gaze darted about the room, as if the creatures themselves were about to storm his office “Please, it’s best not to mention them,” he said, at last. “They aren’t entirely unaware of what we do or say, you know.”
“They can do things,” Dr. Galilei added, a wild look in his eye. “To our flesh. Things no damned Renaissance Man ever put to canvas, I guarantee you that, boy.”
“OK, Doc, I guess that about wraps this up,” Dave said, trying to sound polite. “It’s been great talking with you, but . . .” then he paused and looked more closely at the professor. “You don’t sound real hopeful about our chances.”
“I’m not,” Galilei said. “However, there is one man I know who’s more sanguine. He’s an academic like me, but far more up to speed on biblical trace evidence.”
“Really? Would you mind if I called him?” (Maybe he’s not so freaked out . . .)
“You should. Alien beings in the bible are his specialty. He’s not local, though; he teaches at Baltimore University, in Maryland. This isn’t exactly a topic one shares with one’s peers on campus. Not if one wishes to retain tenure.”
“No, I suppose one doesn’t.”
“Here’s his card,” Galilei said, fishing one from his desk. “Dr. Richard Dincke, Astronomical Sciences, University of Baltimore. There’s his number.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Dave said as he pocketed the card. He thought he’d reached the end of his search for information here, with Dr. G. Apparently not. Now there was a Dr. D. He hoped Dincke was the goods; his hip wouldn’t take much more driving and gimping.
“So, you really think they’re coming back? These Reptilians?”
“Oh, yes. And in a way no bible-thumper can possibly imagine,” Galilei replied. “They’ll think it’s the Rapture, you see. Or the Second Coming. But it’ll be the greatest deception of all time: Our ‘Space-Brothers’ Return,’ you see. But it’ll be a Bar-B-Q, son. Mass extinction.”
“Uh huh. Well, I—”
“Do you think it’s mere coincidence that descriptions of the alien ‘grays’ and the reptilian Grigori are so similar? Or that their behavior when in contact with humans is so characteristically demonic? Read the accounts, son. Alien abduction? Demonic possession? They’re one and the same! The Neph—”
Just then, Dave thought he heard a muffled *thump* from the rear of the classroom.
A book falling over, probably. Dr. G heard it, too: his eyes registered stark, staring terror, but he was too ramped up now to stop for any soft, uncertain noises.
“Remember Genesis, chapter six?” he continued, sounding slightly hysterical. “What these beings did with human women? ‘They took them wives of all which they chose?’ Took, mind you. Abducted. Beginning to sink in yet?”
“Look, I didn’t mean to—”
“Don’t believe the biblical account?” Galilei continued, his voice rising higher, as if in challenge. “Fine! How about Enoch? He tells how the Fallen planned it! Once they’d decided to come to earth and take human females, they swore an oath by ‘mutual imprecations’ to go and ‘do this thing,’ i.e., rape human females. They bound themselves, you see, by oaths—that’s how Mount Hermon got its name! It means ‘bound by oaths.’”
“You know, Doc,” Dave said, “next time we get together for one of these little chin-wags, try cutting the Prozacs in half, OK?”
But Dr. Galilei plowed on, like a freight train careening out of control:
“And just who was that serpent in the Garden of Eden? Or Quetzalcoatl? Hmn? Or Leviathan? Don’t you see? Reptilians? Grays? Grigori? Neph—er—whatevers? They’re all the same.”
Dave thought he heard another thumping sound, following by a louder bumping noise, somewhere in the classroom. They were distinct, physical sounds, nothing supernatural or “paranormal.” Yet, Dr. Galilei’s eyes took on a fanatic glare, as if he had to finish what he’d begun—now, before he could be silenced.
“Nostradamus himself foretold these days, when he spoke of ‘strange portents’ in the skies, men fighting for control of the clouds, and the return of ‘those who were banished,’ the very same Neph—things, we were discussing.”
“There you go again—‘Neph.’ What’s a ‘Neph?’”
“Nothing, nothing,” Dr. G said, smiling. “Slip of the tongue. Or take the—”
“Were you about to say Nephilim?” Dave asked. “The return of the Nephilim?” he pressed. “That’s what this is all about? So what are they going to do, these Neph—”
“Please don’t—heh, heh—don’t keep saying that name.” The doctor glanced at the door, then the projector. “You’ve no idea . . .”
But Dr. Galilei appeared not to have heard him, too busy glancing around the room, toward the door, the windows—even though the blinds were down—then back to the door. He turned off the projector, stumbled to the light switch and turned on the overheads again.
“Doc, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, nothing. Just . . . heh heh, just realized I’m running over. I’ve a . . . yes, a class to miss—I mean—a class I can’t miss. Yes.”
“Look, Dr. Galilei, I apologize if I’ve said anything to—”
“Oh, no, no, no. Think nothing of it. I actually—hah hah—got a laugh out of your ‘kumbaya’ remark earlier. Quite droll, yes. Quite . . .” His eyes were darting in every direction as he shut off his computer, tossed his notebook and folder into a desk drawer and locked it—all in about 2.4 seconds.
“Doctor, I don’t—” Dave tried, but it was useless.
“Sorry, must go! Must run! Ha! Yes, run . . .” The doctor cackled, as if he’d just uttered a private—and very sick—joke. “Well, nice meeting you, Mr . . . eh, Dave, and please feel free to call on me anytime. But I must. Yes, be going.”
He practically galloped to the door with his briefcase, his lab coat flying. Dave had to gather up his drawing of the Ten Commandments in record time just to keep up with him.
And, like that, they were outside. Dr. Galilei waved distractedly at him, gave a strangled “farewell,” and then stumbled down the hill in the general direction of the administrative buildings, leaving David to gape after him.
The brilliant autumn sunshine, a beautiful, blazing bronze only moments ago, now seemed oddly dimmed, somehow, as if a great shadow had fallen over the earth. The wind kicked up and a slight, drizzling rain began to patter about him. Yet, as Dave walked away from the building, still clutching his 5×7 card, he felt sure of one thing:
That the Nephilim were the crux of the matter. The reason Oded had been so evasive with him. The reason three members of the expedition had been murdered, the reason he had been run down by a car, the reason Sgt. Lacy had died. The reason he was feeling watched, being followed . . . growing paranoid.
One thing he didn’t know was that a black sports sedan had just sped away from its place of vigil only moments earlier. If Dave hadn’t indulged Galilei’s projector show, he would have run right into Sgt. Heim and Friends.
As it was, they’d finally despaired of catching him here: too much security. And too much time out in the open; they’d be made before long—by campus security, if no one else. There would be uncomfortable questions, possibly even a call to Jerusalem—sparking the wrath of Inspector Schriever. And that would not do. No, better to brace Connors on his way to work in the morning. It was much simpler, much more discreet and far more likely to succeed.
But not if M-12 could help it.
They were still there, still watching David Connors and the lately departed Israelis. They knew the same: this was far too public. And, despite the government plates, they couldn’t take him out here; campus police, security, cameras, etc. They’d have to pick their time more wisely, as well. Like the Israelis, they slipped away in their dark sports car, not defeated exactly, merely put off for the moment. There would be another time. Another place.
Dave withdrew his cell phone with his left hand, while balancing himself on the cane with his right. Suddenly, all the pain and throbbing in his head, back, hip and thigh were gone. All he could see or think of were the three photos he’d taken in Galilei’s office a few minutes earlier.
At first, he didn’t see anything—the crappy little cell phone had failed yet again. His heart skipped a beat as he punched it up again. And then, in the next beat, there it was: the sketch came through in bold relief. It was an excellent pencil rendering of the Roswell symbols. In perfect definition.
When he saw the symbols onscreen, and compared them with his lone remaining photo of the Commandments inscriptions, a rush of energy—pure adrenaline—raced up his spine, his neck and into his scalp. Finally, he knew. Even though all he had were photos and sketches, he knew.
The clouds above let loose at last, and the storm broke over him in all its fury as he stuffed everything back into his pockets. And, as he hobbled to the cabstand, he couldn’t tell the rain from his tears as both poured down his face.