11 Through The Portal

through the portal
Walking Through The Portal

Eventually, we got up the courage to make a short exploration trip to the ocean and see what we could find there, since we were all anxious about keying ourselves with the Portal on time.  The path was an easy slope down sand dunes like topography on earth, winding down to the beach.  There was much plant life all around, very thick, almost jungle or rainforest like growth.  At the top of the hill the plants were much smaller, but grew taller as we descended to the beach.

The place was beautiful and looked almost like any place on earth.  I thought out loud if this was earth at some other time or were we transported to another place on the planet.  <You are on another planet,> responded Diamond.  <Look at the moons.  We believe that they may have something to do with the portal, but the K-Dwellers are very secretive about the whole thing.>  <All we know is that the keying to our bodies do not last very long outside the portals,> offered Alpha, <except for Midnight.>  That was Michael’s companion who had blue eyes.

<Maybe the color of his eyes has something to do with?> I asked.  <Could be, but the K-Dwellers control the portals, that we are sure about, and they do have green eyes,> she said.  <And we do know that the blue eyed ones have special powers; but not on earth as far as we know.>  <Well, we will find out what powers they have on this planet,> Michael seemed eager to find out.

We investigated the beach area but did not find much except for a fire pit; we hoped that it was not used very often.  Eventually we walked up the beach; looking out from the cave towards the ocean that would be to the right, heading to the south.  There was not much in way of land formation except for a small hill formation heading out into the ocean like a natural breaker to the waters.  What lay beyond that would take too much time to explore, especially since the best route would be to cross over the small hills or dunes to get a better look.  As we headed back to the place where we came from, we all noticed something very strange; we left no foot prints in the sand!

<Look!   Where are our footprints?  This is very odd!> the Professor exclaimed.  <Maybe we are not yet adapted to the planet yet?> Sarah offered.  She was the most excited, especially when it came to something new, but she was also the closest to the mark when trying to figure things out or come to conclusions.  <We have noticed that before, but never made the connection until now,> Midnight mentioned.  It seems his gifts did not include making connections.  <What do you mean,> Sarah asked.  <From our home planet,> Midnight said, <we noticed that this happened after we had been on earth for a while, but did not notice it until much later.>

<After a while our prints became clearer, almost like we had gained weight and the impression became deeper.>  Diamond also added, <But it is hard to tell when one first arrives unless you walk on mud or sand.>  <It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days,> the Professor said.  <I take it that we will be staying here for a few days?> I asked.  <Just long enough to take our bearings.  But we will be back.  There are too many things going on here for only us to investigate.  We need help from the other teams,> he said.  On the way back to the cave we were constantly checking out our footprints, but nothing was happening yet.  They were clearly not making any impressions.  Slowly we climbed back up the sandy path to the cave, trying to find an easier way up the path.

All of sudden we looked up and spotted four young men in gliding machines heading our way.  It seemed like they were trying land on the flat area at the top of the dunes that led to the cave.  We quickly jumped out of the way so as to not be knocked down.  We were all thinking at once, <What was that?> and <Don’t want to be seen.  Was it too late?> and <Don’t want to get caught outside the portal since we do not how long the keying will last on us humans and the wolves.>  After we ran for cover, we noticed that Sarah was still standing and staring at them.  That is when we noticed that they were naked, almost naked.  We were sure they saw Sarah, but seemed to take no notice of her.  Finally she ran for the cover, but almost casual like.

<I don’t think they can see us!> she thought excitedly.  <Maybe it is like our footprints, we just are not visible yet.>  <What is going on here?> the Professor thought out loud.  <I can hear them in my mind, my thoughts, but they are not talking, or I can’t hear them yet.>  <Now you know what you sound or think like to us,> said Alpha.  <Remember, words are just vocal symbols and do not necessarily give the whole or clear picture.>  <Wow!> was all Sarah could say.  I think she was still caught up with the sight of the naked men in their flying machines.  <I can hear them think, but it is like thinking in pictures,> she thought in her reveries.

It seemed like they were hunting for small game, because they all carried arrows and they each had one arrow ready.  I was hoping that something would come out of the forest just so I could see them in action; flying and shooting arrows would be quite a feat.  But eventually the wind caught their sails and they gained altitude and they just circled around.  I was hoping they would be waiting for more game to show up or come out of hiding and then swoop back down for another try.

10 The Portal

The cave was quite extensive and had many side rooms.  I am sure they only showed us a small fraction of the layout.  The rest and the food did do us much good.  We were more tired than we realized, especially considering the dangerous encounters that we had on the way here.  One thing that I noticed with these cave dwellers is how well they blended into the surroundings.  It was almost impossible to see them except when they opened their eyes.  At least we were similar in the same greenish-yellow glow.  We tried to get an understandable explanation of why our eyes glowed, but it still was not very clear.  We suspected that they did not wish to really tell us at this time and this was just a polite put off.  The Professor was afraid that it may not be a reversible effect and suspected that it came from our surroundings, but not as the cave dwellers explained it.  In a way, it was an interesting connection between us and the K-Dwellers that we may have more in common than what we realize.  The wolves, as always, were non committal and did not talk much.  This seemed to be their usual attitude around us and especially among the K-Dwellers.

How much time we actually spent among them, we would never know since telling time was next to impossible in the caves, but it felt not more than three days.  They were able to fill us in on a lot of details, but most of which we already knew.

One thing did happen that frightened us.  Somehow in the conversation we felt that we were being used to do the K-Dwellers bidding, a subtle feeling that even they did not realize.  We were becoming angry, especially the Professor, who always liked friendly conversation and exchange of information, but freely given, not having to pry it out.  Maybe we were getting to aggressive, at least verbally, but at one point we all became paralyzed.  We were sure about this as we compared our thoughts later, that the K-Dwellers definitely had mental powers to the point of making us immobile, or paralyzing us.  Immediately our mental guards went up, and the K-Dwellers noticed this with satisfaction.  This was an odd response.  Was this a test of how well we had mastered our mental gifts?  Otherwise, if it was a defense reaction, one would not be pleased that the aggressor could defend himself.  The whole episode lasted only about a few seconds, but it was undeniable, since we all felt it.  We hoped that they would not use it in the future again.  Maybe it was a hint of what they could do to us if they wanted.  For now, we put that into the back of our thoughts to discuss later, especially with the GG.

At one point we indicated that we were ready to move on, hopefully either to finding this portal or heading out of the tunnel to the other side and contacting the GG of our findings.  This time the wolves led us through the cave passages, since we would surely have gotten lost in this maze.  Eventually the greenish-yellow light of the caves gave way to actually sunlight, but with a slightly green tinge to it that filtered into the passage which lay ahead.  It was quite a relief, since we were in the cave almost two or three days.

The Portal gave us a view of another planet!

When we reached the opening we went out into the sunlight and were almost blinded until our eyes finally adjusted!  The view was fantastic.  The cave led out onto a hill top with a sandy slope leading to a beach up ahead, less than half a kilometer.  But what ocean was this?  We were supposed to be landlocked!  There were no oceans for at least half a continent away.  What was this?

We walked around the hill top to the other side and got another great view.  On the other side of the hill, a view opened up to a valley right down below with numerous huts, but they all seemed abandoned.  The view became even more fantastic as the valley stretched kilometers into the horizon until it ended at the foot of a great mountain range, and with an immense mountain in the very middle even farther in the distance.  The human heart wanted to look on the other side of that immense mountain to know what was beyond even that, but that would be impossible, at least for the moment.  For now we enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors after the time spent in the caves.

My first instinct was to hide behind the hill top, out of sight of the village below, even though it seemed deserted.  The hill we were on seemed to be a natural divide between the ocean and this valley, keeping out the water with a land break that this hill created.  We all felt exposed to anyone coming in from the beach or up from the valley, since they would have to cross this place.  So we turned back to the cave.  After looking around for a while, a panic began to set in, as we realized that the cave opening was nowhere in sight!

<What is going on!> the Professor said out of surprise. His comment was directed more at Snow White than at anyone else.  <Here,> she thought to us, <do not panic, but be certain you know in the future where you came from, or you will never get back without us!>  <Always look back when you use the portal!> Alpha strongly reminded us.  <What portal?> I asked.  <Here!>  This time her head disappeared, then the rest of her body as she walked into the side of the hill, disappearing as she entered the portal.  <Fascinating!> the Professor exclaimed.

Inside the cave, when we turned around, we were looking out again at the view as though there was no solid side to the hill, but an opening instead.  <This portal will be your safeguard as long as you use it often to key it into your body,> Alpha explained.  <You will have to come inside the cave on a regular basis so that the portal can continue to adjust to your specific chemistry.  How often that may be, we do not know.  You will have to experiment.  Do not get into any trouble where you may be kept from entering the portal over too long a period of time or you may be locked out.  No one else can enter this portal from outside unless they have been keyed in by the K-Dwellers.  That is why we need you for this first task, to find why the portal is not staying keyed to us, but needs continual reuse.  Normally one does not need to keep returning to keep the portal open to a particular body.  The keying mechanism seems to be malfunctioning.>

<Why do you need us?> I asked.  <We hope that humans can keep the portal open longer than we can.  The Kave-Dwellers cannot leave the caves except at night time.  If they get caught outside of the cave they will perish.  We seem to be worse in keeping the key open to our bodies.  Maybe it is just temporary.>  <Maybe your enemies have developed something that is draining the energy from them?> the Professor offered.  <Could be,> Alpha said, <but only the K-Dwellers have this ability, since it is mainly mental.>

<Wow!> Sarah was impressed. <That is a lot of power.  How do you know that your enemies may not have developed something similar?>  <We don’t!  We are hoping that you humans can develop this ability also, but it is still too soon for you,> Alpha added.

9 Cave of the Aliens

The tunnel lay ahead of us in good condition.

As we climbed the pass between the hills, we would look back at the planes to see if there was any worthwhile view.   Fortunately, nothing was following us as far as we could see.  Maybe whoever was controlling the giant beasts knew that they would be visible even though they probably did not know we could never outrun them.  Soon the pass seems to be leveling off into a small valley between the high hills, but still wide enough for us to walk next to each other.  It seemed like one of the ancient highways that was spotted over the globe here and there, even though it didn’t stand the strain of time, as some areas had forests that had overgrown them.  Up ahead was a curious structure, an entrance to a cave?  But this structure was a formal entrance to the cave that also was common but rarely seen intact.

“I am sure the GG (Global Government) will want to see this,” Sarah stated.  “This is a rare sight, hardly any structural damage that I can see.”  “It seems to be one of those highway caves or tunnels,” Michael offered.  We all looked at the wolves to see what they could tell us; since we were sure they had been here before.  Everyone had stopped in front of the entrance, hesitating about going inside.

<This is one of the best preserved highway tunnels that we know of, but where it leads, no one knows or have explored it before,> Alpha said.  <We have been inside,> Snow offered, <but they can be dangerous because of collapse.>  <This is where the aliens live,> was all Alpha would say.  <So let’s continue,> the Professor anxiously said, <since there is no other way, I’m guessing.>  <This is the only way!> Alpha stated.

We started forward into the tunnel.  It was well preserved and walking on it was a pleasure.  I tried to imagine what it was like back then in their machines.  Did their vehicles look like ours, and could they go as fast?  But soon we saw why Alpha referred to it as a cave rather than a tunnel.  There in the middle of the tunnel was a huge cave in, impossible to get through.  I thought, where are the aliens?  <They are inside,> Alpha stated simply.  We went into a small opening on the left that seemed to be a side tunnel for people.  <I think this is a service walk, for you humans, but it leads to another cave.>

Eventually we entered a real cave as we stepped through another large crevice in the wall and into a large cave system.  How close had this highway been to breaking through into this cave system and not even have known? By now the lighting was getting pretty dim, but the wolves indicated clearly that we turn them off.  A strange greenish-yellow glow, the color of our eyes, lit up the walls bright enough to lead our way through the cave system.  I have seen this before and also seen pictures of it, but experiencing it for ourselves was another matter.  It seemed almost unnatural.

<We are getting close now,> Alpha thought clearly in our minds.  <This path will open up into a very large room.  You must find seats in the middle and try not to look around or show any strong emotions.  Just relax and wait for them to speak into your minds like we are doing now.  We have prepared you for this moment, so do not be afraid.  This is always the best way, so trust us like you have so far.>

I could tell Michael was getting excited for this meeting, and even the Professor was anxious to meet the aliens, any aliens.  Sarah was a little doubtful.  Myself?  Well, seeing is believing.  But I just did not know what to expect.  We had seen too much on this trip and could write a story about each encounter.  Imagine, our adventure had only begun!  We moved into the center of the large cave hall where there were seats in the middle and arranged in a circle, stone seats, of course, with backs to them.  There were about twenty of them.  We quietly sat down and waited.  If you have ever been in a cave before, your hearing can do strange things to your mind and imagination.  I could almost hear breathing, not just one person, but many people!  If one could account for the four of us and the wolves, I could swear there were more than fifty people in this cave hall.

cave (1)
We could see their eyes glowing in the dark.

Because it was chilly, the wolves’ breathing was very slow and quiet and I know that the rest of us were not breathing very deeply, because we were rested from the journey by now, besides the distance to this cave hall was not very far.  By now my eyes were playing tricks on me.  It seemed that I could almost make out a crowd of people standing around the perimeter of the cave wall.  Either they were so well blended in, or it was a product of my imagination, like my hearing.  All of a sudden the room lit up like someone had turned on a bright string of lights all around the room, that same greenish-yellow glow that matched our eyes.  It was then that I realized there was a large crowd of people or aliens standing with their eyes opened now.  How fascinating!  The pairs of eye became more and more obvious, blinking every now and then.  The sight was not only eerie but their bodies had an almost alien look to them, almost as if they were transparent, that one could see through them to the walls behind them.  Was this some kind of advanced camouflage?  It was then we heard the voice in our heads.

<Welcome!  It is time we met.  We sent out enough invitations, but they all went unanswered.  As you can see, daylight would be disastrous for us, and at night your people would mistake us for ghosts, and we cannot change our shape anymore than this.  That is why we need you humans to continue our projects, especially those against our enemies.  I am sure they will be your enemies too, if we can convince you.  But since the wolves trust you, we cannot help but put our trust in you also.  Besides, time is running out, since the Forbidden Zone, as you call it, is now open to our enemies.  This world has restricted us enough, at least now we can move around a little more through the portals, but we are still restricted to those planets that are more favorable to us and our conditions.>

<You will always have our services, for all that your people have done for us,> Alpha interjected.  <Thank you.  But it is your service that has helped us stay alive through all these ages,> continued the voice.

It was hard to determine whether it was male or female since it seem to come from a sexless (?) mind.  One can always sense, eventually, the sex of the person by how they talk and choose words and put their meanings together.  Even with the wolves, we can always sense the sex of the wolf, even though it does not make much difference now.  For example, we just know that the females always lead the group of wolves, and they will also be the main speakers, especially the alpha female.  The only exception is the male wolf with the most beautiful blue eyes, Midnight, Michael’s companion.  For some reason they always show difference to him in important matters, but he never leads the group.

<We don’t quite understand a lot of things.  Maybe you could at least explain them, if that is possible,> the Professor begged.  <It is probably better if you ask the questions, since we do not know what you want us to explain,> continued the voice.  At least it was friendly.  <Why are you here?  Why were you here?  Where did you come from?  Who are these enemies?  What part do we play in all of this> and the Professor, I am sure, could have gone on.

<All in good time,> the voice answered.  <We are constricted by the time portal.  Unfortunately, they have a very narrow window of operation that work mainly on gravitational alignment with the other portals.  We know you are tired and would like to refresh you with some food and rest.  Then we will continue to answer your questions as best we can.  Hopefully, you will then do us the favor of assisting us in recovering several things that we need to keep the portals working, since they use other sources of energy.  The food we serve you will be quite familiar, so do not worry about it.  But as you will find, when using the portal, you may not be able to find food to suit you on the other side.  So we have made up some reserves for you until your bodies adjust.>

By now Alpha had walked over to the speaker and nuzzled her/him, while the speaker automatically stroked the fur of the alpha female.  The familiar action put us all at rest.  It was still hard to determine the shape of these aliens’ bodies, though, and our minds kept playing tricks on us in trying to define their shapes.  But they were right, we were hungry and we felt the much needed rest starting to make us sleepy.  Hopefully dinner would be ready soon, but our minds were also racing with their requests about a portal.  It sounds like they want us to pass through a portal.

8. Journey to the Caves

inside observ
Inside the Observatory

We spent the night at the observatory; the professor wanted to star gaze, as he called it.  I was hoping that there would be something to observe, since the night was very clear and no moon, but didn’t realize he was hoping to see something through the structure, up in the sky.  There was a platform connected to the structure where someone could move along with it.  Since we were there for some time, we were able to catch the structure moving only three times.  The professor thought that maybe in the evening it would move continuously, and that these smaller movements was to save on the energy but keep the structure, he called it a telescope, from getting too far behind.  He was right!  When the sun set, the structure moved ever so slowly that it was hard to notice.  Suddenly the professor let out a sight of relief or exclamation!

“Finally, the stars are slowly coming into view!  Wait until you see this.  I just wish I knew how to operate this thing.”  “What would you do with it?” I asked.  “Why I would point it at the constellation that the ancient records said the last space transport left for.  Maybe we could see if they reached there yet.”  He seemed to adjust something on the telescope and let out another sight of relief.

“What about our project on Mars?” I asked.  “There were several colonies living there!”  I could tell by his thinking that he did not believe they were still alive.  Who would bring the needed supplies to keep them going, since according to the records they were still a long way from becoming self-reliant?

Suddenly the Professor waved to us to come up to the platform and look through the telescope.  I went first since I was the closest.  At first I was confused at what I was supposed to be looking at, since the view had too many white dots.  He had to explain to me that those were stars!  I was surprised, since I had never made the connection with this instrument and the sky.  We had always used small looking glass  tubes, but I was still doubtful about the whole thing.

“I thought your area is astronomy?” he asked.  “It is, but in galactic life.  Everything is done on computers.  This is news to me!” I responded.  “That is because everything nowadays is computer, computer, computer,” he said a little irritated.  “What other way is there?” I asked.  “This way, direct observation.  Isn’t  it wonderful?  One can actually see the stars without a computer in the way.”  “I thought all observations come from satellites?”  I inquired.  “They do,” he said, “but this is before satellites were even built!”

<This structure has another purpose besides the telescope,> Diamond offered.  <I think, if I gather from the alien ones correctly, the telescope is just to line it up in the general direction.>  I think Diamond was try to stop an argument, but I was getting very interested, since this was all new to me.  I believe the Professor was right; we were too much dependent on computers, if this was the alternative.

<This structure is really a portal, but made for other beings like you.  The telescope is just to line it up and the computer checks the identity to make sure it is the right coordinates, then the portals make contact before anything is sent, of course,> he said.  I think the Professor was thinking things over before responding, but in the end said nothing, just looking pensive.  <Then there must be another room to run this equipment.  Is it down below?> he asked.  <Probably, never been inside before.  This has been the first time.  As you said, the steps are usually pushed in, even when someone is inside.  And we have spotted someone inside before.> Alpha answered.  <We will have to come back when we have time and explore more next time.  For now, we have to keep going to the tunnels. It seems the Global Government is interested in that site and in this one,> the Professor said.

The next morning we broke camp and started out for the tunnels and the aliens.  I was quite anxious to see aliens, since they had always been part of our folk lore.  I am sure Michael was anxious.  “Professor, what happens there are no aliens?” Michael asked, switching to vocal.  “Then we both will be disappointed,” he said.  “But I believe we will see them, because all the evidence points to them.  But I also believe there may be more than one kind of alien, since all that has happened, especially across the globe.  The evidence points to several or at least two main contestants for the spot!”

“I don’t understand?  We haven’t even spotted one let alone two alien species.  Is there any clue to their existence that you can share, or is this government secret?” he asked.  “I think we are at a point where I can share more with you, since we will be at another major contact soon anyway,” the Professor said.  “Since the other groups started reporting happenings similar to our own, it slowly started to come together.  But I believe the aliens are more clever than we realize or they would have been discovered sooner.”

“Are you saying there have been sightings or just circumstantial evidence?” Sarah asked.  “For now just circumstantial evidence,” the Professor answered.  “For example, there are our companions.  They just couldn’t come out of nowhere.  And if you look closer they do not quite match the wolves or dogs we are used to.”  “Too bad we did not bring some dogs with us,” Sarah offered.  “Maybe it was good,” since a little ignorance can go a long way.  We do not want them to know how much we have gathered on them.  But I do believe they are trustworthy, we just do not know where they fit in yet.”  “So this circumstantial evidence,” Sarah asked anxiously.  “Would it include the Tower and the Observatory?”  “Yes, and also the power sources that we have spotted with the satellites in the Forbidden Zone,” he added.

“Power sources?” Sarah questioned.  “Yes.  There are several in the Forbidden Zone, and that is why we want so much to explore it soon after this expedition.  There are several others, but the tunnels have one and the observatory has another.”  “What can that mean?” I asked.  “Several things,” the Professor offered excitedly.  “For one, they are still operational, and very recently.”  “This is getting interesting,” I said, “but it also means that we need to be more cautious.  We don’t want to run into any active and angry alien.”

“Well, until we meet the first one, it is all still conjecture,” he said.  “How much our companions know is still debatable, but I believe they know more than they let on.”  “I agree,” said Sarah.  “I just hope that they are keeping us in the dark for our own safety and not to lead us into a mess.”  “I think the caves will help us to understand a lot,” he said, “but I am banking on a lot.”

So far we did not encounter any of the giant beasts, which still did not calm our fears much.  Our cmpanions seemed content to walk along with us during our conversation.  I am sure they could get the gist of it, but did not seem too interested.  I had a feeling that they wanted to make it to the caves before dark and before we have anymore incidents.  The grassy planes did not present much in the way of scenery, but soon we could see a rise of hills in the distance with high peaks leading to the left and right.  In the middle of these rising hills was a gradual rising slope that seemed to be our destination.  I was hoping we could get a better view of where we came from since these planes blocked our view with the tall grasses here and there.  Maybe I favored the high places because of the safety of a good view, but this gradual climb was offering more than we bargained for.  It would take more than a day to climb that pass, if that was where we were going.  But we all felt the sooner the better.  One more night out under the stars would be great if we had a little more protection, and the pass seem to narrow more as we started our climb.

READING CHAIR – Missionary: 8. “Mombasa”, Kenya

8. “Mombasa”, Kenya

Mombasa City
Mombasa City

Every August after the second year Novices have moved on to the Scholasticate (a house for further formal studies), and the first year Novices are on home visit, we the Staff head out for a week of relaxation in Mombasa.  August is also a great time of the year for Mombasa since they experience the coolest weather this time of the year, relatively speaking!  Sometimes we take the train and other times we take a bus, and even rarely we drive.  The train is slower but a different kind of experience.  Naturally we would have to take public transportation to get around in the city, but that is also a different kind of experience too!

This year we decided to take the train again.  Usually the train leaves at seven in the evening out of Nairobi and generally arrives in Mombasa the next morning around seven.  If we would have taken the bus, it would have been a seven hour trip and five hours by car. The public transportation system is very reliable and it is better to leave the car at home, even though it is more convenient.

There seemed to be very few travelers on the train these days, but not surprising seeing how much time it takes for the train to get to Mombasa, and the service has not been as good lately.  The train is old and small grade tracks, which means that it rocks back and forth from side to side a lot, almost like it is going to tip over.  However, the food service is great and we look forward to our turn at meal in the dinner-car.

Once we are settled in our cabin, we spend the time chatting until meal time.  We were able to get two cabins that connect by a sliding door, with two beds in each. That way we are all together and it is a great way to travel without worrying about the road.  There are four of us this time: Steve, Tom, Patrick, and myself, Mike.  Three of us are American missionaries, the fourth, Patrick, is from Kenya. Steve and I have made this trip before by train, bus, and car.

Our meal ticket has been called out and we headed to the dinner.  The dinning car was beautiful and antique looking, like a trip back in time. he fine dinning linen and china have been laid out for us and the menu included delicious tilapia fish or chicken.  We begin with beer, Tusker, an excellent Kenyan brew. Unfortunately, it has already gotten dark because Kenya lays near the equator and the sun sets around seven thirty during the summer months which begins in mid-December.  We are coming out of winter, but August is still warm for us northern climate folks and the sun still sets early.

The meal was fantastic and we lingered in the dinning car since there were not many other travelers staying for more drinks. After a while we headed back to our cabin and prepared for the evening. Already our beds were made up and ready for us if we wanted to sleep, but everyone was still chatting and having a good time, excited about our arrival tomorrow.

We awoke early since the beds are not the most comfortable, and I was on the top. I had to go to the bathroom several times during the night because of the beer.  I was ready for breakfast and ready to reach Mombasa to begin our next part of the trip.  After breakfast, we returned back to our cabins and enjoyed the countryside as we slowly made our way down from the plateau to Mombasa town.  The train makes several switchbacks with great views as we begin our final descent to the outskirts of Mombasa.  One notices the proliferation of palm tress and coconut trees everywhere.

old city mosque
Mombasa Old City Mosque

The houses in the villages here are still simple, made of mud walls and thatch roofs, until we reach the outskirts of the Industrial area of Mombasa.  Here and there more and more brick and block houses cut from coral or made from cinder blocks are beginning to dominate.  Soon we make our way into Mombasa City Center and arrive at our destination, about nine in the morning.  The city of Mombasa has a distinct Arabic architecture and Arabic flavor to the food.

Fortunately we are not in a rush to arrive at the place where we will be staying, because we have to make our way across town to the Likoni Ferry that will take us across the Mombasa bay.  Eventually we find a Matatu (Nissan van common transport in eastern Africa) that brings us to the ferry.  Several Likoni Ferries service this part of Mombasa, since it is the only way to go south down the coast. Once the ferry delivers us to the other side of the bay, we are not far from our destination.

fort jesus
Fort Jesus

For this part of our trip we have made arrangements to stay at the Consolata Retreat House which is built right next to the Indian Ocean!  Since I teach at the Consolata School I am invited to stay at their Mombasa house.  It is beautiful and the rooms have a view and constant breeze coming off the ocean.  The place hosts a chapel for daily mass, dinning facilities, a TV and recreation room, and a very spacious manicured lawn with a rich assortment of flowers and trees. The only problem is that we have to keep our doors closed or we may find unexpected visitors entering to help themselves to whatever we leave in the open, including the monkeys!  These are the somewhat small light brown monkeys; the males have bright blue testicles that are quite obvious.  They love to enter our rooms looking for anything to eat and tend to leave gifts of poo everywhere.

We have three wonderful days at this retreat place with great meals of fresh fish and squid, plenty of reading and in the evenings movies to watch. The beach is right there, and at high tide the water comes right up to the steps so that one only needs to dive into the ocean off the breaker wall.  During low tide the visitor would have to walk all the way out on the coral reef, about a mile, to reach the edge.  One would also have to wear some kind of shoes because of the long black spiked pin cushion like sea anemones that cover the reef in many areas on your way to the edge. There are also many pools along the way that may harbor deadly sea snakes, which the weary visitor needs to be aware of.  Other than that, the walk is worth the weary traveler because of all the sea life that one may encounter.

What makes Mombasa such a wonderful place to visit is that we only travel there once a year.  Our other brothers that live here year round may have gotten used to the place and the wonder has worn off, or they are too busy to enjoy an occasional visit to the ocean. The only disadvantage would be the weather. Mombasa is hot, hot, hot, and humid most of the year except for a few months of July and August.  During those months, the weather is cool, but never cold. However, most of the people here run around with jackets and overcoats as though they were in the Arctic during those months!  Surprisingly, most of the tourists come during the northern winter months, which happen to be the hottest months in Mombasa!

After a few days in the sun, some swimming in the Indian Ocean so we can write the relatives, a hike out to the edge of the reef, a casual walk on the beach, reading an exciting novel, catching up with favorite videos/ DVDs, even paradise can get boring after a while.  So, eventually we have to head over to our other community across Mombasa, located behind the Bombalulu Cultural Center, and everyone knows that place. Just take the Twapa Matatu from the Ferry and they will drop you off at the Bombalulu Road.

The housing in the Bombalulu area has taken off at a considerable pace.  What was once open fields and mango and avocado tree groves everywhere were now packed with housing development.  Our own house was in the middle of just such a housing boom.  It is a short walk from our house is the local parish that we run, a very large building with two stories to accommodate everyone.  Fortunately, we have planted many trees and flowers and bushes around the property that it now seems like a botanical garden compared to every where else.  There are also several projects located at the parish; a clinic, office buildings with conference rooms, a trade school which features carpentry, hairdressing, catering, computer classes, and metal works.  I was anxious to see what else they may have added.

Bombalulu Cultural Center

We always enjoy staying at our community in Bombalulu because of the fantastic hospitality and it is much cheaper than the Consolata Retreat Center, but not as quiet and minus the view of the ocean.  I love the laid-back atmosphere of Mombasa because of the heat.  People always dress casual, and with the constant rain, pata-patas (or flip-flops) seem to be the trend in foot wear.

Our stay in Bombalulu quickly comes to an end though, and we find ourselves back on the train to Nairobi, starting out at seven in the evening again, only this time we look forward to the morning approach into Nairobi.  After breakfast, we stand at our windows outside our cabin, and look out at the landscape as we approach the capitol of Kenya.  If one is alert, the well informed tourist knows that the train will have to travel through the very large National Game Park that butts-up right to the inner city, next to the airport.  This time the train stops!  The problem, we learn, is that there are several giraffes on the train-tracks.  Zebras and wildebeests usually accompany giraffes, since they travel together for protection.  Sure enough, as they move off the tracks, the train starts up again and we can see them clearly not far from our windows.  This is a real treat to end our short vacation to Mombasa.  Maybe next year we will be treated to even more.  It is difficult to be a missionary in Africa, but it does have its benefits!

7. The Observatory

The next day we were ready to get started, but our only concern was that we would be out in the open and very vulnerable to another attack.  Our companions thought we would not encounter them again for a while, but the rest of us were not quite so certain about that, especially with the giant warthog like creatures on a rampage.  So we started out before the Professor got too anxious with our worries.  He was definitely ready to go alone if we delayed any longer.

The Observatory

The journey didn’t take as long as we thought, even though the pace was pretty gruesome, with the Professor leading, of course.  I remember the nights under the stars.  They were so beautiful and bright.  Even our own eyes would shine like bright yellow-green florescent lights.  My own companion, Diamond, even though somewhat plane as wolves go, had eyes that were a bright blue florescent and stood out from all the rest of the wolves.  The other wolves seem to give him more respect or even wait for his opinion.  Later on we found out that there were other eye colors depending on the gifts that were received when the change overcame them.  It seems that the butterflies were important to the transformation, but no one knew yet how it happened or who initiated it or even directed and chose the gifts for each person or creature.  At first, it seemed that it was all just part of the territory, like something in the soil lingering from the radiation maybe.  The wolves never questioned it themselves, but just accepted it.

I had a lot of questions in my head that were still formulating or finding a way to express them.  For example, if the members of our expedition did not change significantly, other than being able to read minds, did that mean the wolves were also initially intelligent but only now able to express themselves to us through mind talk?  At some point I needed to discuss this with the Professor.  Why go looking for aliens, when they may be here among us masquerading as wolves.  As deep as the bonding with the wolves have gone so far, I wonder how much they can really read from us, from our minds.  As for ourselves, it seems that as a group we are growing stronger and more confident in using these new abilities of our minds, maybe potentials that were there all along, but never able to tap into them before.  It does seem that the wolves are not able to read us when we use regular language, but they are able to discern a lot from our body language and emotions.  In the long run, we were able to block our minds from anyone reading them, so that we eventually got our privacy back and more so, depending on how good we were at blocking.  The Professor was the best, but that is not surprising since he highly valued his privacy.  I also noticed how more alert we were and able to notice small things, especially in the environment around us.  Maybe we were becoming like our wolves in using our senses from being in nature.

In the distance we could just make out a rounded top building or structure.  There were neither windows nor any noticeable entrances.  The Professor thought there would be no windows, but there should be a door or entrance somewhere on the structure.  He kept calling it an observatory, but said it was rather small.  The wolves were thinking that it was a portal or entrance to another place; in their thoughts they were thinking to another planet!

“Keep looking,” the Professor said, “it has got to be around here somewhere.  “Would it have any particular shape?” I asked.  “It may just blend in well with the structure,” he mentioned, “not necessarily meant to be inconspicuous, but just weathered so much that it would be hard to see from a distance.  We may have to go up close and feel our way around”.

The whole structure was mainly white with lots of rust spots everywhere, but none were rusted through.  Eventually after feeling our way around the ground level, the Professor finally spotted it.  “There it is,” he said excitedly, “Up a few feet off the ground.”  “Oh, yeah,” said Sarah, “How could we miss it?  It is quite clear.  How do we get up there?”  “There must have been a ladder supporting a platform at one time,” he said.  “Now it is definitely gone, and without it there is no way we can get up there without it.”  “Maybe that was the idea,” said Sarah.

“Here, what is this?”  Michael said.  Seems he spotted a recessed stairway that could be pulled out, sort of like shelves or short rectangular platforms that one could pull out as they climbed up them to the door.  And that is what we did, except the door was locked!  “Great!” the Professor said.  “Does anyone have the key?” he said half jokingly.  <Actually,> Alpha offered, <you do.  Just put your hand on that small pad there.>  And the Professor did, even though he looked doubtful.  Slowly, the old door opened outward and we moved out of the way to swing it open, and then stepped through.

It was surprisingly bright inside.  The large domed roof had a long wide strip of opaque material about ten feet wide running through and dividing it in half that provided enough light, in the day time.  The building was immense compared to any we had ever seen, and in the middle was built an even more surprising structure.  It was hard to describe with the metal rods seeming to give it support and rigidity crisscrossing back and forth.  But at the bottom was a platform holding large multiple mirrors and half way to three quarters of the way up this structure was a smaller device centered in the middle of the mirrors.  The Professor said it was an observatory, but admitted that he had never seen anything like this before.  He was used to smaller devices that were much different from this.  It is used for observing the night sky.  Surprisingly, the wolves seemed to be familiar with the structure, but also seemed uninterested.  They were sniffing around the floor area, which we sensed through our mind-read, looking for something or someone.

<Professor, put your hand on this pad here,> Alpha pointed to another one similar to the one outside.  He pressed his full hand against the device and suddenly the roof slowly began to open.  <How did you know that?> he asked.  <Have you been here before?>  <Many years ago,> she answered.  <As you can see, we cannot open the building ourselves.>  <Then how did you get in?> the Professor pushed.  <Let us say,> she reluctantly answered, <one of our many friends let us in to show us around.>  Not surprisingly, she was also reluctant to say more on the topic.

By now the roof was fully opened, with not only the opaque section moved out of the way, but parts of both sides opened to a much wider opening, letting in a wonderful view of the day time sky.

The Professor looked around now to see if there was anything of interest, since nothing else was in the room except what he called the very large telescope.  He said he was looking for control panels to operate the thing, but Alpha said they were elsewhere, maybe under the floor.  As we looked up at the sky, we could see our butterfly friends returning via the roof, casting a shadowy cloud inside the room by their sheer number.  Unfortunately, they were also followed by their enemies, the hornets.  But this time we were able to deal with them and they eventually left us alone.  Michael had immediately gone back to the door and tried to close it, but it would not budge.  Alpha informed him that he needed to put his hand on the pad to close it again, which he did, and just in time.  There was an awful stomping on the stairs that sounded like they were trying to remove them, and then came the bang, bang, bang sounds that filled the whole structure like it was a big hollow drum being pounded on.

“I was able to get a glimpse,” he said, a little frightened, “of what they looked like, but I am not sure of this kind of animal.”  “What did they look like?” Sarah asked excitedly.  <They had a very big body with a short horn at the end of its snout,> Michael switched to mind-talk.  <Sounds like it might be a Rhino!> Sarah said.  <It probably is a rhino, or rhinos,> said Diamond.  <They are a very ancient animal that can grow to an immense size!  They were quite rare before the Great Disaster, but have been spotted in quite large herds around the perimeter of the Forbidden Zones.>  <Fortunately, they will not be able to break through that door.  Besides, it opens to the outside giving it more strength,> Alpha said.

<Seems like this place was build to withstand such encounters,> offered the Professor.  <And besides, from the outside the structure does not look that old.>  <There are several of these structures built over all the Forbidden Zones,> Alpha pointed out.  <But what they are for, may be more than what is obvious.>  <I think they are portals,> the Professor challenged.  <You can ask the ancient ones themselves when you meet them,> Alpha finished.

Since there was not much more that we could do here, and the Professor could not find the controls or the control room, if there was one, we decided to move on.  “We have a change of plans,” Sarah stated.  “Because of the strange beasts that keep confronting us, we have to take a different route, since the way we came from may lead us into their paths.  Any suggestions!”  “Like you said,” Michael offered, “it seems that they want us to stay away from this structure, or at least try to chase us off.”  “It seems they may have kept us inside,” the Professor said, “because it would be too dangerous for us to move on.”

By now the butterflies have disappeared along with the hornets and, we guessed, the rhinos.  The wolves were in agreement that we would not encounter them again, like the last time; otherwise we would have encountered them on the way.  The rest of us humans were not so sure, since the wolves could easily outrun them and leave us behind.  Maybe dodge them in a wooded area, but Michael said these were very big animals, quite capable of knocking down the trees.  Unlike the giant warthogs, the trees could keep us safe, but from these animals?  The wolves suggested that there was another pass, but through the mountains, an underground road the ancients used to get through the mountains.  The Professor was very interested, because so few of them survived the Great Disaster.  I guess that would be the route we would take and the wolves could lead the way.

6 Giant Warthogs and Hornets

Giant Warthogs!

Quickly we broke camp and headed along the path that would bring us onto the planes.  According to Diamond, my companion, that was not very far.  It was a good day for walking, maybe a little better than when we started out.  The morning was cool and helped to relax everyone after last night’s discussion and revelations.  The wolves felt a little nervous though but would not mention what was bothering them.  My guess is that they did not know themselves.  Diamond said as much.  I wouldn’t be surprised that she had read my mind, since they said we were still broadcasting our thoughts everywhere.  We still needed practice at mind-blocking and peace of mind, and that made them nervous also.  But I believe it was something else.  We were coming to a clearing with the trees thinning out, guessing that we were near the edge of the forest.  All of a sudden we were surrounded by hornets, clouds of them, like the butterflies.  It was hard to see each other, besides we were all in a panic.  They seemed reluctant to sting us, maybe more to distract us.  Fortunately, our butterflies showed up and the wolves reminded us to block our minds.  This time with the butterflies, they seem to be able to amplify our efforts.  I felt in my mind that the wolves were putting them into confusion, and eventually they left us in peace, dissolving into the air, it seemed.  The wolves were even more nervous and asked us to look for trees to climb in case something else came along.  At that moment, we heard a loud squealing sound, like hundreds of pigs were being slaughtered, except for the thunderous sounds that stampeding hooves made.

It took us no time at all to climb those trees, and just in time.  Out of the woods came what looked like a stampede of giant warthogs; their squeals making a deafening sound.  But what struck us was the horrible smell that accompanied them.  We all climbed further up the trees and hung on for dear life.  We were somewhat helped by their bad eyesight, and hopefully their smell covered ours.  The hornets returned again, but seemed to be spurning the animals on with their stings, almost trying to get them stirred up.  Their thick hide probably helped them, but there were vulnerable places for the males, and they were the fiercest animals we would have to contend with anyhow.  The butterflies and the wolves tried to avoid them both, and with us safely up the trees, they did not have to worry about us.  After a while, it seemed the wolves with the help of the butterflies were fighting them more with their minds rather than chasing them.  Eventually the noise subsided and the large beasts ran down the path which we came from and into the forest, out of sight and sound.  The hornets lingered a little longer, almost confused, and then evaporated into thin air again.

“What was that all about?” the Professor said.  “I hope they are gone,” Sarah said shaking.  “I barely made it up the tree!”  “Did you see that!” Michael interjected.  “It seemed the hornets were herding the pigs.”  “The wolves helped us a lot, especially with the butterflies,” I added.  “I am surprised you didn’t see that Michael.”  “I was too caught up in the hornets’ role in all this!” Michael said.

<That was your first run in with the People of the Tower!> Alpha broadcast her thoughts to us.  <There will be other encounters now.  They know we are here, and we will have to be on the watch.  And that is where the butterflies are critical!>  <Somehow that doesn’t seem good, that they know we are here,> the Professor thought out loud.  “Correct me if I am wrong,” interjected Michael, “but it seem the giant warthogs were not after us per say.”  <The hornets will use any convenient animal available,> she said, <even us wolves!  But the butterflies somehow have the ability to protect us.  Why us, we do not know, but we are thankful just the same.>  <It did seem that they were interfering in the hornets’ plan to run those warthogs into us,> Michael thought out loud.  <I have to see what other animal they can command,> Sarah said.

<The bears can be quite fierce,> Diamond thought, <but the butterflies are especially fond of them and are a priority in protecting them from all outside danger.>  The Professor interrupted, “Outside danger?  Like what, aliens?”  <Yes, aliens, but also the mutants, which can be very dangerous!  Fortunately not many of the species mutated, but some species have crossed bred over the millennium.  We believe that the radiation has caused some effects and the result is that some are more intelligent.>

<We believe,> said Snow, <that some other force or interference have caused these interbreeding for good or bad.>  <Probably for bad,> said Alpha, <seeing that the results are mostly aggressive!>  <By now,> said Alpha, <I hope you realize that we need your help.  We sensed that soon the area would open up and you would come, but there was not much we could do to keep you out, if you were not friendly.  The butterflies seem to act on their own, but who knows who eventually controls them.  We could only hope that you would be friendly and we could enlist your aid.  Sooner or later we will have to enter the land of the People of the Tower.>

<We came mainly to explore this immense area that has opened up, for several reasons, but mainly to find out about own past, and see if there is any technology left behind that we could use or that might be dangerous to us and would need to be quarantined.  Actually we are headed to the observatory between here and the mountains.  I am hoping you can come along with us to investigate it> the Professor asked.

<We will be with you as long as you are in this area.  The bonding has already been made between us, which only the butterflies can initiate.  If you are headed in that direction, than we can lead you to the aliens.  They are not far from that ancient structure.>  <Aliens?  Now I’m excited,> thought the Professor!  <Why did you not mention this before?>  <Like you,> said Snow, <making sure you were accepted by our friends.>

Eventually, when we had some time to ourselves, I was able to ask the Professor what was the third concern of the Directors.  He had never given us that, but he said that we already know that and are already doing it; to be bonded by the butterflies and hopefully with the wolves.  “Was there any other animal that we could have been bonded with?” I asked.  “Bears!” he said.

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