22 December 2012, 06:11.
Somewhere on a mountain in the Karoo of South Africa, Jack Roux, an
anthropologist, slowly opened his eyes after what felt like a long dream.
He suddenly jumped up as he heard someone called his name “Jack!”, and then more faintly “Jack”. Jack recognised the voice of Mary Davies, his colleague and friend.
It started a week ago when a group of hikers overnight in a cave in the Swartberg Mountains. The cave is well known for its rock paintings and is a national heritage site. When returning to the cave after the day’s hiking, the group noticed that something very strange has happened with the rock paintings. Although the paintings were encased by glass for protection, someone or something has added new symbols to the paintings, almost as if it came back to finish a chapter…
Professor Jack Roux, a young upcoming world class anthropologist, frowned at the text of the email he’d just opened. It was from Don Bradman, an old classmate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Don's email briefly described the incident about the rock paintings and he also attached an article from the local newspaper that interviewed the hikers. After he pondered about the email, Jack decided to take a shower before going to bed. Jack enjoyed the warm water massaging his skin, and reluctantly stepped out of the shower. He dried his long blonde hair, thinking about Don’s email. “Maybe it is time for us do a hiking trip”, Jack muttered as he look at his well-toned thirty two year-old body in the bathroom mirror.
Doctor Mary Davies is in a relaxed mood. It is Saturday and she is looking forward to do her Christmas shopping. The forty year old post-doctoral research fellow at UCT is living alone in an apartment in Clifton Beach. She is recovering from a heartless relationship that ended six month ago in divorce. It was an unusually hot summer morning, and Mary decided to go for a swim before going on her shopping spree. She was alone at the swimming pool and Mary quickly removed her yellow bikini top and dived into the water. She loved the freedom of her nudity and with her long black hair draped around her body, she looked like a mermaid. After swimming several lengths of the pool, Mary hoisted herself out of the water. Standing on the side of the pool, with her towel in his hand, was Jack. “Jack! Professor Roux! “, she shouted, as she tried frantically to cover her breasts.
“Morning doctor Davies”, Jack answered with a twinkle in his eye. Jack is head of the anthropology department at the UCT and is Mary’s research leader. Mary, on the other hand, was commissioned by NASA to investigate the “Dooms Day” scare. 21 December 2012 is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Many people suggested that the “world will end” on this date. Jack quickly used the towel to cover the nudity of his colleague. Looking Jack in the eyes, Mary felt a warm feeling flowing through her body. She adored this young gentle genius.
Back at Mary’s apartment, Jack briefed Mary about Don’s email. “This is scary” Mary whispered looking at Jack’s face for an answer. Jack’s face was however stern. “We are going next weekend to the Swartberge to investigate the phenomenon. I will pick you up at six o’clock Friday morning”, Jack said hurriedly.