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THE PLEISTOCENE REDEMPTION

by Dan Gallagher

1998, Dan Gallagher

 

Invitation: If high adventure and thought-provoking mysteries of the prehistoric, archaeological and spiritual kind intrigue you, please enjoy this novel and recommend it to your acquaintances. Tell them also that they can enjoy hundreds more fictions and non-fictions on these three topics via these fine websites: Paleobook.com, AncientMysteries.com, and MysteriesOfTheBible.com.

 

Acknowledgments: The author is indebted to scientists, theologians and others who contributed to this project through their writings or personal assistance. The following is a list of those who provided assistance through conversation or correspondence.

John J. Collins, Ph.D., for assistance with biblical questions.

Margery C. Coombs, Ph.D., for help with Ancylotherium.

Eugene Gafney, Ph.D., for help with the Meiolania.

Nick Graham, Ph.D., for fascinating discussions on theoretical meteorology.

Jerry L. Hall, Ph.D., for crucial guidance on genetics: the possible and the impossible.

John M. Harris, Ph.D., for excellent advice on Pleistocene fauna.

William W. Hauswirth, Ph.D., for enlightening help on genetics.

Larry G. Marshall, Ph.D., for valuable advice on Pleistocene fauna.

Paul S. Martin, Ph.D., for help with geology and fauna.

Greg McDonald, Ph.D., for extensive help with fauna.

Jim I. Meade, Ph.D., for intriguing examples of soft tissue preserved for millennia.

Geoffrey Pope, Ph.D., for help with our ancestor-races, the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon.

Merritt Ruhlen, Ph.D., for linguistics facts and provision of a Nostratic Dictionary.

Ed Stackler, for crucial editorial assistance.

Tom Torgersen, Ph.D., for extremely useful help with geological issues.

Thanks are also due to several NASA engineers for help with environmental and aeronautical issues. Many scholars’ works were of great help: Francesco Cavalli-Sforza, Ph.D., L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Ph.D., Dougal Dixon, Stephen Jay Gould, Ph.D., Svante Paabo, Ph.D., Steven Pinker, Ph.D.; R. J. G. Savage, Ph.D., Father Donald Senior, and Robert Tjian, Ph.D.. The International Society of Cryptozoology, Tucson, AZ, was a great resource. Appreciation must also be expressed to these natural history museums: The American Museum in New York, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and The Natural History Museum of L.A. County.

 

Dedication: To all who yearn to experience what or who was out there – and remains within.

 

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Prologue

 

Ancient Whispers: In the beginning, the Creator longed for the joy of creation. He meditated, and then came Rayi, matter, and Prana, life. These two, thought he, will produce beings for me.Prashna Upanishad, First Question

Arrogant Answers: … to prepare for greater enterprises... to make use of the pretext of religion, [Ferdinand] adopted the piously cruel policy of driving the Moors from his kingdom and despoiling them; herein his conduct could not have been more admirable or extraordinary. – Machiavelli, The Prince

One Final Call: They plotted and God plotted. God is the supreme Plotter. – Qu’ran 3:54

 

Mankind struggled for millennia to survive in his world and to understand it. He battled and hunted fantastic animals, even his cousin-races. He sought insight into the meaning and purpose of life, suffering, and death through superstition, religion and investigation. Have individuals or humanity as a whole advanced in this quest for true improvement? Do we view our progress, our science, as evidence that only we control our destiny?

Some say that there is a voice that calls our names before birth and as we mature, and pines to call us home at our deaths. Is this an archaic superstition, destructive of individual freedoms? Some assert that we have only a limited number of chances in which to turn our – and others’ – lives enough to merit reward. Others believe that they have plenty of time before they will have to deal with the serious issues of life and death. Pontius Pilate, a man denigrated by history but well respected by his peers, asked the haunting question: "What is truth?" The query survives him.

New questions are presented by scientific discoveries: Are socially erosive behaviors based in genetics and, hence, neither moral nor immoral? Were the Hebrews a people chosen by God or did they simply misinterpret natural phenomena? How should we interpret what we learn from science?

Whence come our insights?

Who can discern meaning from the coincidences, personality changes and dreams that develop so subtly in the passing years of our lives?

Kevin Gamaliel Harrigan, driven by struggles and longings deep within, pursued these and other questions of life. He sought the truth – or perhaps it sought him – about the human animal, destiny, and himself. A brilliant man, fit and resolute, he was well equipped to capture the answers. He was, he felt, a true leader and a man of superior vision. Many had good reason to accompany him on his journey. Manfred Freund shared many of Harrigan’s qualities and curiosity, for Freund also sought insight. In a quest spanning twenty years, the two men ultimately did find the subtle answers.

Who could possibly have foreseen that such work would lead to the most ominous implications ever to confront humanity?

 

 

Chapter One

 

The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Blessed is the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death." – Thomas 18

If you consider God the master of your fate, then read no further. – D. Humphrey, Final Exit

You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. – Luke 12.20

 

 

Medical Clinic, Al-Rajda Zoological Research Preserve, Iraq

0742 hours, May 16, 2018

 

The nightmare persisted, even as Harrigan vaguely sensed the hospital bed. Images pursued him, groping at his fleeing conscience like a crowd of accusing zombies. He dozed, slipping back into their grasp. Now he was running northward through hazy woods, breathless but moving faster than most humans could run, in the bear-like mechanical suit. His view was obscured by the suit’s wire mesh portal. Gunfire, roars, and screams rang like a tolling bell from the west.

It appeared suddenly in a clearing to his left – one of the gargantuan Megalania lizards, its four-foot head jerking skyward to gulp a flailing soldier. Onward Harrigan ran, watching Freund pull slightly ahead in his own robotic suit. Something rustled branches in front of them. A screeching streak of grey, yellow, and red feathers launched from a thicket at Harrigan and Freund. As the Phorusrhacus’s three-foot beak and therapod talons opened, six grey tigers – marsupial Thylacoleos – fell from the trees onto the terror-bird. They ripped it with huge buck-teeth and recurved thumb claws.

"Left," Harrigan screamed. "Keep running!"

The pair dodged the vicious melee and swerved north again as the gun battle sounds grew louder.

"There’s our ride outta here!" Harrigan called.

Freund yelled back, "Look, they’ve got a missile! They’re gonna blow it up!"

In an instant, Harrigan found himself miles to the south, standing naked on one of the vehicle escalators in the inclined caverns that led from the plateau down to the research complex. A dark mist surrounded him and he could not calm his pounding heart. The eerie sound of infants weeping reverberated softly up through the shaft. Harrigan took shallow, halting breaths. He sensed that the horrors awaiting below would be more fearsome than those on the plateau above.

Tykvah, what have I done to so many, to you, to our son… to all humankind? Which way? I want to make it right.

The nightmare released him, fading like a dying echo.

Harrigan’s eyes stopped darting beneath their lids and he began to stir. He awoke to now-familiar dull pain and cold. It felt as if every joint and muscle in what was left of his wrinkled and decrepit body were decaying. His left arm throbbed from the I.V. that dripped serum – the serum on which he and Freund depended to survive the rapid-aging effects of a pathogenic agent – into his frequently collapsing veins. He fumbled with the bed control button to raise his body a few inches above the horizontal.

Harrigan’s hazel eyes, now sunken in his thick-browed skull, could barely open. He mustered just enough strength and coordination to wipe them free of crust. Once well-groomed auburn hair now lay disheveled, graying and thinning on his scalp. Harrigan turned his head toward the window and Freund’s bed. He glimpsed a blood-encrusted Megalania carcass, its shark-like jaw slicing a wide rut as two Iraqi troop carriers dragged it away. He sighed ruefully. The glare and irritation of morning sunlight through the milky haze of his eyes forced them closed. The room reeked of isopropyl alcohol, concrete dust and body odor – even though a single, aromatic rose bloomed vibrantly in a plastic tumbler near the sink. Despite the rose some unknown visitor had left, it seemed to Harrigan that they had just stuck him here to die. He mustered his command voice and tried to enunciate as well as he could.

"System... Page orderly." Harrigan’s intonation wavered despite the effort.

The reply took a few seconds – he supposed the computer was having trouble recognizing his deteriorating voice. The slightly metallic and distinctly non-gendered human mimic responded, "Assistance priority requires selection from the following choices prior to interruption of the clinic’s human workflow: Say ‘one’ if your request is for supplies. Say ‘two’ if you need assistance visiting the lavatory. Say ‘three’ if –"

"System interrupt," he said. "Override. Page orderly."

Harrigan suppressed another cough. He was disoriented and becoming almost as forgetful as Freund had become. Harrigan had had enough of this the last two days, feeling doubly irritated that the clinic staff had ignored his request for a hand-held buzzer to the nurse and orderly station.

____________

 

Down the hall, the soldier acting as orderly was still sleeping in his chair. Growth of his whisker stubble was prying dried gravy, a remnant of midnight snacking, off his chin. A video screen before him on the left showed Harrigan and Freund in their room and emitted a beep which broke the guard’s slumber. He opened his eyes, cocked his head, and read the pair’s medical status from a computer monitor to the right of the video screen. It displayed results from the Magnetic Resonance Monitors built into Harrigan and Freund’s beds. He could not access data from one section of the read-out, a ‘window’ labeled RESTRICTED DATA – AUTHENTICATION REQUIRED. The readings he could see measured several signs of aging, from inhibited cellular regeneration to chromosomal frays and anemia.

Don’t understand. Still deteriorating. If whatever is doing this kills them, it would be justice for what these two have thrust upon us. He wondered further about their serum and medical status, grimaced and stood to attend to Harrigan’s call.

____________

 

Persistent cloudy patches in his vision irritated Harrigan – he could scarcely make out the door just off the lower left corner of his too-cold bed. He could see the faint reflection of the green and red lights of his status panel at the foot of the bed. The light shone dimly off the white wall directly across the sparse, twelve by twelve room. He realized now that the clinic rooms should have been designed so that a patient could read his own vital signs. Not being able to see the read-outs made him more apprehensive.

He expected the orderly, Ron from Pittsburgh whom he knew to be quite considerate, to respond. Instead he heard hard boot steps approaching in the hall. The door jutted open and smacked against the rubber stop on the wall. He could just make out the man’s features: he was one of those drab green clad, stern-faced Iraqi guards. It began to come back to Harrigan now: what had put him and Freund in this clinic. He hoped the soldier’s English was better than the Arabic that Harrigan had picked up over the years. It was, but barely so.

"What can I do for you, Doctor Harrigan?"

"Where is Ron?"

"Do you not recall? I am here for assistance to you. What do you need?"

Harrigan did begin to recall. He mocked the guard’s pronunciation as feelings of suspicion and animosity mounted.

"I nid my eyes cleaned out. I nid a blanket. I nid to see some lab results on Doctor Freund and myself. I nid the hand-buzzer I was promised would be installed. I nid the outside communication lines to operate. I nid something for this damn cough – h -hf, I nid some acetaminophen-III. I nid fresh water and a little respect for the sick around here!"

The guard’s face tightened, then relaxed, smiling. "You Americans and Europeans do deserve little respect. Rest assure that you and Doctor Freund are highest priority. I will see what to do."

He left and returned almost immediately with a squeeze bottle in his left hand and a red pill in his right. He shoved the items into Harrigan’s corresponding hands. Harrigan glared at the soldier, waiting for him to answer for the absence of the cough suppressant, buzzer, blanket, and drinking water.

"I am not authorized to administer eyewash nor provide narcotics for the coughing. You still have water there on the table."

"What about the outside lines and the bu-hu-zer?" Harrigan’s cough took him again. "And Minister Mon will learn of this treatment of the Project Director. I want to talk to Mon now. And what’s your name?"

The guard smiled. "Premier Colonel Mon is aware of your situation and he regrets the incon-ven-ien-ces. My name is printed on my uniform."

"You know I can’t make it out, you poor excuse for a sol–"

The door closed on their confrontation. Harrigan had insufficient strength to engage the soldier through it. He fumed but yielded to the irritating film in his eyes and general ache of his joints, swallowing the pain pill with a sip of stale water. Next, he tried to clear his vision without poking the squeeze bottle into his eyes. He fumbled it and stuck them both. After pained squirting, wiping and rubbing, he could see clearly for a while. Though renowned for its fast relief, the pill failed him. Yet it was the aching in his mind, the torment in dreams and full consciousness, that hurt most.

He turned again toward the window side of the room. Had he noticed the giant burn-scarred gouge in the grass, Harrigan would have recalled its significance. As hazy thoughts continued to trouble him, he glanced over at Freund.

"Mannie. Mannie, are you awake over there?"

Manfred Freund looked as old and frail as Harrigan. His hair was not falling out but the blonde had turned a dull white. Slowly Freund awoke, blinked his gray-blue eyes, and turned his head stiffly toward Harrigan. He started to stretch his limbs but clutched the crook of his left arm as a sharp pain from the I.V. bit into his bruised flesh.

"Aaah; OWW!" Freund mustered his self control and struggled to clear the confusion from his mind. He glanced again toward Harrigan: "Did you ask me some... Oh, uh, yes. Yes. Are you okay?" The rapidly aging German’s accent was imperceptible in his weakened and quavering voice.

Harrigan’s response was almost a whisper. "That depends, as you so often told me, on how one views life."

"So," Freund’s shaky voice lifted to surprise, "you're getting philosophical in your ‘old age,’ eh, Kevin? That’s a good sign. We haven’t much time left for this serum to work, have we?"

"I’ve been thinking about the things we talked about. I could never have said this to you before, Mannie. But now I have t-h-hoo."

Harrigan coughed from deep in his chest and spit into an already-used tissue. His tongue and throat felt almost too thick to function as he abruptly changed his own subject to blurt out more disgust and frustration. "Why can’t the orderly bring new tissues? No view-phones working. No nurses. Gotta beg for a glass of water around here."

Harrigan tried again to expunge the phlegm. It repeatedly seemed to leave some of itself inside him, no matter how many tissues he filled. Only the water gave temporary relief and the few mouthfuls left were beginning to taste like swill.

After a moment of silence Harrigan began again in a subdued tone. "I’ve really screwed things up. My life, I mean; yours and everybody else’s. I wish I’d never let Mon convince me to come here. If only I had listened to Tykvah when I had the chance. I always put myself and my work first. I’ve always been the center of my world, even this world we created." Harrigan’s feeble voice became a gruff whisper: "Mannie, I’m responsible for... so many deaths. If it weren’t for me you’d be back in Megiddo with your family. My God, Mannie, I’m so sorry. I just can’t purge myself of..." He trailed off, winded, worried.

Freund sat up awkwardly while Harrigan ineffectively fought the resumption of another cough. It took a minute or two for Harrigan to regain his tired and fearful voice. "An – And now it looks as if it may be over for both of us. Mannie, what if you were right after all about that anomaly in the girl? It was no statistical fluke, was it? And what if you were right all along about everything else? I keep having horrible nightmares about what it could mean for the entire human race."

Freund responded in a quavering, though warm and comforting, tone. "As for the anomaly, how can we presume to know? And as for the rest, well, if I’m right, then there’s hope for us yet, isn’t there? You must realize that by now. All we can do is wait. These events have focused your thoughts, Kevin. That’s good. Very good."

Harrigan fell silent, except for a few suppressed coughs. Then he turned his head toward the ceiling so Freund could not see him weep. But he knew Freund would see, and he knew that Freund would try to challenge him with some pep talk.

"Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Kevin. If you think I blame you for this, you’re wrong. We all worked on this. We all acquiesced to Mon’s agenda. You haven’t even considered the possibility that all these things were meant to be. Someone else would eventually have done everything you’ve done in the course of scientific research."

Harrigan’s quivering hands grasped the cup of water on his night table. He sipped for a moment, wiped his eyes, and worked to draw in precious air deeply. He marveled at Freund’s lack of animosity, at the undeserved, kind consideration.

"You’re just trying to make me feel better," Harrigan told him. "And I appreciate that. But what I’m trying to say... this is not self-pity: All my life I’ve needed to prove myself; feel superior. It became a habit to always rank, ridicule and measu – hu -whu – measure everyone." He paused to wet his throat. "It was a security blanket for me. To me, the maintenance guys, the guards, clerks, housekeepers – they were all ignorant by choice, unwashed or crude. In my mind, everyone’s lesser achievements magnified mine.

"I was never as good a friend to you as you – hoo – hm – have been to me. I’d always felt that your priorities in life were a waste. Family and all your philosophizing. But you had the better priorities, Mannie, I know that now. Even back in the Army. If I’d seen others as you did, I’d have accomplished more – and for more honorable reasons. I’d have been happy. I’d never have..."

Harrigan’s voice trailed to a low-pitched, terrorized quaver. "… killed so very, very many... and..." He fought without success another eruption from his lungs and drank the last of the water as if it could cleanse him. "Now I’ve placed you in grave danger, too." Tears pooled in his dark, wrinkled eye sockets.

"How can I hold these things against you, Kevin? You gave me the opportunity and means to support my family when I hadn’t even a mark or a dollar to my name. You allowed me to peer into the very seeds of life.

"Kevin, you can help us both," he said, attempting an upbeat tone. "I know my mind has been deteriorating. You can help me exercise it. Help me remember something stimulating. Anything."

"My memory is going, too. Like what, the Megiddo Preserve?"

"More than that. How ‘bout uh..."

Harrigan’s fits of coughing took him again. He motioned for Freund to wait as he staggered into the lavatory.

As the door shut, Manfred Freund tried to recall Tykvah’s face. He tried to remember this evil behavior Harrigan had just accused himself of – but could only come up with dim and perforated memories from the past twenty years. Freund could not visualize many details of the past. Still, though, Freund remembered as if it happened yesterday what Harrigan had done for him and his family after the army or a research hospital – he could not recall which – had interrupted his career. His thoughts returned to the present and his growing suspicion of the Iraqis.

He needed Gertrude. He knew his memory was going, but his recollections of her were vivid. He thought about when they had argued over his coming here and having to be away so much; how she wanted him to retire early. The trips back were always like honeymoons. And there were weeks at a time when he could stay in Megiddo and telecommute to Al-Rajda using his computer. He smiled, almost blushing, engrossed in these memories with now-rare clarity.

Now, Freund thought, there might be no more Sunday rides along the mountain roads – here or at Megiddo. There might be no more visits with the kids. Will I ever hold her…

Freund stopped himself. Why are all the communication lines out still failing? The serum has to show some effectiveness soon! Harrigan and I might not even live a few days more and…

Freund began to fight the mental fog. He needed to know exactly what was making the two of them look as if they were ninety years old. He needed to gain clear insight on where Ron and, he sensed, everyone else had gone. He felt certain that both he and Harrigan were only in their early forties. Freund silently searched his memory for the chain of events that outlined his life. But his concentration only succeeded in conjuring unrelated memories out of order. He had gotten several important events congealed correctly in time, only to sense the sequences fall apart like ancient, crumbling flesh.

What, Freund puzzled, had made me think of old and crumbling flesh? Eerie, profoundly unsettling, thoughts flooded his consciousness. There’s something – I can feel it – some important event looming, beyond even this recent catastrophe, that my life and Harrigan’s life have been building toward. Or have we been tools in some mysterious destiny? My God, I must be losing my mind! I’ve got to get a grip on this.

He watched Harrigan emerge from the lavatory and hobble back into bed.

"Kevin," Freund said in an insistent tone, "let’s talk about something besides this hell-hole. When I try to think about how the heck we got here and even farther back – everything’s becoming confused. I know I should remember more details of what you’re so agonized about, but it’s not falling into place. Are we prisoners of war? No, wait: We’ve never been in a war! But, I feel like... did all this start with the Army Medical Corps, somehow? No. No. Can’t have. And what about these species preserve projects? That’s where we are, but..."

What am I doing? Harrigan’s no better off, mentally or physically, than I am.

____________

 

Back in the hallway, the guard set down his coffee and rose from the orderly station, visibly fearful. His lieutenant and the facility’s garrison commander, a colonel, approached. He had been nervous around the senior officer for years. The tired soldier offered a quivering salute and was dismissed. The two stern-faced officers halted, conversing at the desk. The colonel entered his code and checked the restricted status window. Then both stepped rapidly down the hall toward Harrigan and Freund’s room.

 

End Chapter One