Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Land to the North - Epilogue

(Blogger's Note: Yes, it has taken a long time, but the story is finished. If you have enjoyed it, please take a look at On the Second Tuesday of Next Week, a time travel novel of a war in space. You can find it in the Kindle store at under my name. Thank you... and now back to our story.)

The rest of the diary was blank. That was the last entry. Morgan closed the book and for a moment, believed every word that he had read... and then, he didn’t believe any of it. There were no hidden civilizations inside the Earth. There were no holes at the poles to allow anyone to enter. Google Earth and satellite imagery had proven this. The book was a work of science fiction that Morgan found interesting, that belonged in another age or another time, but that was all it was.

He stood up, looked at the pistol again and thought that it was a nice prop to prove the story. But it wasn’t as if there weren’t thousands of such pistols around and there was nothing special about this one. Because he could touch it didn’t mean that the story he had just read was true. It just meant the pistol was real.

Somewhat disappointed, he put the diary, along with the pistol, back in the trunk and closed it. He couldn’t figure out why either had been hidden, why the pistol hadn’t been removed long ago, why his parents had hung onto all this nonsense. They certainly weren’t looking for a publisher for this story and no one was searching for the mythical entrance to this lost world inside the Earth or the missing uncle.

He walked downstairs, into the family room and then sat down at the computer. He did what everyone did when he or she had question. He typed the information into a search engine to see what he could learn.

He found that David Morgan Stone was an American officer of the First World War who led a scientific expedition to the Arctic Circle in which his partner Eric Jensen died. He, and a woman he claimed to have come from the Inner Earth, were found drifting in a small, palm-leaf boat in the northern Atlantic. He, with the woman, Christine, who he later married, embarked on a lecture tour about the wonders of the Inner Earth. Stone was one of many such adventurers who either supported the claims of a civilization inside the Earth or who claimed to have been there to see this mythical land to the north. All his claims were based solely on his observations, backed up by those of his wife. The Stones said that they would return to the Inner Earth to prove their tales true and disappeared on an expedition in either late 1928 or early 1929.

Morgan was stunned. It meant that everything in the diary was true.

And then he realized that it meant nothing of the sort. It meant that his uncle had told the story as if it was true, but he offered no proof that it was. Or rather that he had no proof that it was. Morgan was left with the same questions that he’d had before he searched the Internet.

He was still sitting at the computer, staring at a very old black and white picture of his uncle with Christine when his parents came home. His father burst into the room, yelling that they had returned and then spotted Morgan sitting at the computer.

He walked over and then froze, his eyes fixed on the photograph. Then, quietly he said, “So now you know.”

Morgan turned and looked up at his father who might have been a younger version of this uncle. There was an unmistakable family resemblance there.

“I know that he disappeared. I know that he believed there was another world inside the Earth.”

His father pulled another chair around and sat down. He looked at his son and said, “This has been the family’s dark secret. Your uncle made quite the splash in the 1920s. He made a lot of money on his lectures, but as the audiences became more sophisticated and our knowledge of the planet became more enlightened, we all knew that there could be no civilization hidden in the Earth has he said. They all believed him to be deluded and we all believed the same thing.”

“Then what happened to him?”

“He left the family. He took his wife, who said she had been born in the Inner Earth, and disappeared. He left a small fortune to the family and a trust fund to be used by any family member who wished to follow him. That trust was broken as satellites began mapping the planet. It was broken because he had been delusional when he set it up and under the law, the contact was invalid. Now the money is used to send family members to college.”

Morgan sat looking first at the photograph on the screen and then at his father. “Then nobody ever followed him?”

“Where? Clearly he was deluded. Some believe it was because of his injuries in the First World War. The delusion was harmless enough, and in fact, his lecture fees were enough for the family fortune to expand. No one cared what he said as long as the money kept coming in and he didn’t embarrass the family in some way.”

“So it was all about the money?”

Morgan’s father shrugged and said, “This was really before my time. As I say, he was harmless as were so many others roaming the country at the time talking about their expeditions to Africa or South America. Some had stories of riches buried on far off islands, some had tales of mysterious lands hidden behind banks of fog, or of mysterious lands that no one else ever found. And there was just enough being discovered to lend some credibility to his tales. His were as real as most those others and people paid to hear him talk about his grand adventure. I understand that he had a real passion for his tale.”

“And then he just disappeared?”

“One day he was there, in Kansas City, and the next his house was closed, the trusts set up, and he was gone along with his wife.”

“You didn’t try to find him?”

“I am much too young for that but some in the family did. The last report that anyone believed was that he was spotted, or rather had bought some supplies in northern Canada and from there the trail went cold, if you’ll pardon the pun.”

Morgan sat back and scratched his head. He looked at the computer screen picture of his strange uncle and then at his father. He said, “I’d like to find out what happened.”

“So would the rest of the family, but there isn’t much to go on. He headed north with his wife and disappeared. They were alone, on their way back into his lost world.”

Morgan was quiet for a moment, thinking. It seemed impossible that a relative had been chasing a tale of a world inside the Earth. But then, it was nearly one hundred years ago, and people just didn’t know that much about the Earth. They didn’t have satellites that had photographed the planet from every angle using every available medium to do it. A hundred years ago, Antarctica was a huge unknown, much of South America, especially the Amazon basin had not been explored, and people were still disappearing in Africa.

But in a modern world, with all the information available, it just made no sense that there was something hidden away. Morgan shrugged and said, “Do you know what happened to him?”

“I don’t know, but I believe that he traveled north with Christine and then died trying to find that entrance into the Earth. All we know is that he said he was going to try to return for the proof he lacked.”

For Morgan it wasn’t a satisfactory ending. It left a door open a crack. Maybe his uncle had found his way back into the Inner Earth. Maybe his expedition had been a success, but he hadn’t been able to return. Or maybe he had just frozen to death in the great white north and some day someone would find his frozen remains.

Morgan’s father stood, signaling the end of the conversation. He pointed to the computer. “Well, there’s the best tool for learning about him. Let me know what you find out, if anything more, but dinner will be ready soon.”

Morgan watched his father walk into the kitchen and wondered how he could be so uninterested in this aspect of the family history. And then he realized that his father had probably done the same thing as he was growing up. He hadn’t found any answers so he had lost interest, but Morgan knew that didn’t mean he wouldn’t find something. After all, he had the Internet and his father hadn’t.

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