by Arthur Sánchez © 2003

"The Mayans knew. The Babylonians knew. The Bible describes it," Professor Graham said as he stormed around the tent with total disregard to the delicate objects around him. "But none of them understood," he admonished. "None of them understood what it was they were describing."

The assembled members of the archeological dig stared at one another. Professor Graham was their leader. A dull plodding sort of man, he never seemed prone to flights of fancy so his sudden descent into madness had come as a complete surprise.

"What are you talking about, Keith?" Dr. Martinez asked. A tall dark-haired woman, she was co-director of the dig and had been cataloging pottery shards when he burst in.

"The truth, Elena," Keith answered her, "the quintessential truth."

Elena looked around the tent. It was the summer interns last day and they were about to celebrate. One of the boys had even smuggled in a bottle of wine. The twelve of them stared at her with frightened eyes.

"Let's talk about this outside," she said soothingly. "We don't have to disturb the students."

"No!" Keith shouted. "They should know. We must tell everyone."

Elena nodded. In his delusion, Keith wanted them to tell everyone about his discovery. They just had to wait him out. "Ok, so what is it that we should know?"

Keith stopped pacing. "Last night it was too hot to sleep so I went down to the temple to study the hieroglyphs. And suddenly it all made sense to me."

Amy, not the brightest of the grad students, was the first to ask. "What made sense to you, Professor?"

"The Well of Creation," Keith answered in a whisper. "I know what it is."

Everyone in the tent stared at him. "We all know what it is," Elena said. "It's a myth. Nothing mysterious about it."

"No," Keith corrected her, "not myth -- fact."

Elena's large caramel-colored eyes narrowed. "You believe the world got started by a fisherman who overturned his raft on a sandbar?"

"No, no," Keith cried. "That's just a story. The factual part is that there is an eternal sea and that life begins and ends in that sea. Don't you understand? The ancient cultures of the world knew how life began -- and how it could end. They just didn't understand the process. We, however, know the process. We just didn't understand the stories. Till now. We have to stop digging!" He said it as if it all made sense.

"Why?" Elena pressed; stalling till some of the diggers arrived and could restrain him.

Professor Graham turned to her. "Because of the water. We could flood the planet!"

"Keith," Elena said, "explain."

Professor Graham rolled his eyes. "Why is it that when it rains my basement always floods?" He demanded.

"Because it's the lowest point in your home?" Juan offered. He was the boy who brought the wine.

"Exactly." Keith turned to the other students. "Now imagine that there is a low point to the galaxy. Imagine that Earth," he said slowly, "is the galaxy's basement? Scientists think it took millions of years for all the water on our world to form. But what if all this water actually drained here -- through a sort of cosmic sink hole." He began nodding his head as if convinced of his theory.

Dr. Martinez rose to her feet. "Keith, I don't -"

Professor Graham spun on her. "The trick was putting it all together. Water collects at the lowest point, Earth has oceans of water (a rarity in the universe), and the Well of Creation. Put them all together and what do you get?" They stared at him. "You get the Great Flood from the Bible!" He declared.

No one said a word.

"I believe," Keith stated fervently, "that temple out there sits on top of a hole that allowed the Galaxy to drain into our world. I believe the temple was built by an ancient race to cap the flow of water and that the seal has been broken at least once - resulting in the great flood of the bible."

Dr. Martinez arched an eyebrow. "You got all that from the hieroglyphs on the temple walls?"

Keith nodded his head vigorously. "Yes, I mean, no. I mean, some of it I had to assume but the bulk is there. Yes."

"Thank you Keith," she said with a thin smile, "that was very insightful. I'm sure our summer interns will go home and write brilliant papers on your theory. Won't you kids?" The twelve students all nodded their heads slowly. Professor Graham looked pleased by their response.

"Doctora! Doctora!" An urgent voice called from outside the tent. It was Pablo, the foreman of the excavation crew.

Elena looked at Keith. "May I?"

Keith nodded. "Of course." And stepped back.

Dr. Martinez moved to the tent opening and pulled back the flap. "Si!"

"Encontramos aqua! Mucho, mucho, aqua!" Dr. Martinez hesitated.

"What did he say?" Amy asked.

Elena looked at the students. "He said they found water. Lots and lots of water." At first they did nothing, then they all rushed outside.

The Well of Creation was a three-story stone structure that was almost completely buried in the verdant jungle. Yet, despite that, they could clearly see the plume of water that now shot out of the temple's crown. Separate jets of water were starting to spring from between the stones that made up the temple's walls.

"Oh no," Professor Graham whimpered from behind them, "we're too late."

Dr. Martinez stared at the temple as warm water began to collect around her feet. Now that she looked at it. It did look like a fountain -- a very old, very big, water fountain.

x x x

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