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Robert saw that the reporter was sitting with Jennifer at the little round, wrought-iron table as he came out into the garden. He had just returned from a trip into town.

“Honey,” Jennifer said, “this is Mary Kelly from the Catskill Sentinel. Mary, this is Robert.”

Robert held out his hand. “Nice to meet you. Jennifer told me you were coming.”

“My very great pleasure,” Mary said, taking his hand.

Robert pulled up a chair and sat down.

“On the phone,” Mary said, “I told Jennifer I’m writing a follow-up article for the paper on what’s been going on with you two, three years after the news about your amazing discoveries came out. It was such a tremendous sensation.”

“Yes,” Robert said. “As I recall, The Sentinel ran a big feature article about it back then. I remember the reporter was a very nice guy.”

Mary smiled. “Yes. Carlos Brand. He lives in LA now. The story had a local focus, and you two weren’t married yet, so he didn’t get to talk to you, Jennifer. I’m so excited to be able to interview you both. May I record this?”

Robert nodded. “Of course.”

Mary took out her small recorder, turned it, on and set it on the table. “You two have had an incredible adventure,” she said. “Your story is so compelling. Robert, you followed a clue from your childhood and discovered, less than a mile from this very spot, a building—what we now know as the Grand Truth Engine—a building that had been buried under the earth for fourteen thousand years. And that discovery led you to South Africa, where you assembled a team of archaeologists and excavated the amazing and equally ancient House of Kholoruuf, which then led you to a tiny house in Finland.”

“It was a real adventure,” Robert said. He thought about how the US government had put out a false account of the events to make the world believe that he had assembled the team. Orten’s role had been deleted from history, as it should have been. It was discovered that Orten had taken steps to sell information about Atlanian technological devices, as well as the devices themselves, to foreign governments. Robert had heard conflicting reports about Orten. Either the authorities were taking their time to prosecute, or they had foregone prosecution completely because they knew a trial could bring out facts they wanted to hide, and, as one of Robert’s sources put it, they were “determined to maintain the cover story at all costs.” At any rate, Orten was now teaching at a university in Wisconsin and wasn’t talking about Atlantis.

“And Jennifer was one of the people you put on your team,” Mary said. “Did you already know each other?”

“We knew each other, but we’d been out of touch for a long time,“ Robert said.

“Jennifer, when you joined Robert’s team, was that when you fell in love?”

Smiling, Jennifer looked at Robert then back at Mary. “I think I’ve always loved him.”

Robert took Jennifer’s hand. He knew he never could love anyone but his Jenny.

“And Jennifer, I hear you’re expecting,” Mary said.

Jennifer patted her belly. “Yes, in October.”

“That’s wonderful. I hope to be able to talk with you again then.”

“Yes, of course,” Jennifer said.

The reporter turned to Robert. “Recently there have been rumors—I’m sorry, but I have to ask—that you found advanced technology in the House of Kholoruuf, including a flying machine. Some people even claim there was a UFO connection, of all things. What would you say to people who make these claims?”

“We think,” Robert said, “that the most valuable of the Atlanian artifacts are the texts we recovered, especially those that describe the Truth Engine, as well as the Truth-Engine books on truth, goodness, and beauty. And for the record, Jenny and I both believe in otherworldly visitation.” Jennifer nodded. “I’ve seen a UFO myself,” Robert said. He had admitted in a TV interview to seeing the glowing disk over the Baltic Sea, but he’d said nothing about the alien in the wide-brimmed hat.

“The event in Finland,” Mary said.

“Yes. And it happened when we were working on these sites, so there may’ve been some connection, though it’s hard to say what it might have been.” The phrase “hard to say” had a double meaning. Robert hated to dissemble and found it painful to have someone believing something that wasn’t true, something they would want to know. But he couldn’t tell the whole truth about the Atlanian discoveries and felt relieved when he was able to answer questions without directly lying.

“So what are you two working on now?” Mary asked.

“We’re very busy with our own Truth Engine,” Jennifer said. “We’ve got two centers now, you know, one right up the turnpike and the other in New York City. And of course we assist in managing the activities at the archaeological site here in the Catskills, right up the road there.”

“There’s been a lot of traffic here,” Robert said, “people wanting to see the site. The Atlantis Conservancy is planning to allow limited public entry into the building itself. This week they started to widen the road that leads up there.”

“So the Truth Engine lives again,” Mary said.

“Yes, it does live,” Robert said.

“It’s kind of incredible how, up until just a couple years ago,” Mary said, “people were sort of cynical about argument, but now you’ve got everyone debating—it’s almost the new American sport. Graham Wilson says in the Times that your Truth Engine is accelerating the resolution of controversies. Your radio debate programs on the Internet have taken off, and the periodicals you publish for the big-box stores, the new ‘American village squares,’ as you call these stores—all of it’s tied to the Truth Engine.”

“The Our Mysterious World series,” Jennifer said, “Our Community Speaks and Beauty in Our World.”

Mary nodded. “Yes. Did you ever imagine you’d become editor in chief of a publishing house?”

“No,” Jennifer said, “but I’ve never had so much fun.”

“Graham writes that many users of the Our Community Speaks forums treat it as a game,” Mary said, “yet they self-report, in many cases, a vastly increased understanding of political and social issues. He noted that the Beauty in Our World forums have energized debates about art, and that lots of new music is being performed by the electronic keyboard-ensembles all around the country. And I understand people are creating Truth Engines in other countries. Your idea is catching on.”

“We can’t ignore those other engines,” Robert said. “Any one of them that isn’t guided by goodwill has to be seen as dangerous.”

“The Anti-Engines,” Jennifer said.

“I’ve read Congresswoman Nancy Martell’s new book,” Mary said, “in which she describes her first visit to the House of Kholoruuf and her first meeting with you two. She was very complimentary and wrote about what a fantastic job you were doing at the time.”

“She’s been a wonderful friend,” Robert said. “She was so helpful and gave us tremendous support.”

“We talk to her all the time,” Jennifer said.

“I guess if all the other interviewers have asked you this, I might as well ask too: Have you been able to identify the so-called Great Place for Humankind that some of the Atlantean texts refer to? It’s been a matter of conjecture ever since you disclosed your discoveries.”

“There are all kinds of mysteries about the Atlanians we have yet to solve,” Robert said with a smile. “We have a few theories.” Again he felt a pang of regret. He yearned to tell the whole truth, but there were external forces that forbade it. Only the top-level Truth-Engine researchers and some government officials could know about the Great Place. He hoped someday the world would learn the full story, but until then he could at least make sure the Truth Engine was operated with integrity.

“You know,” Mary said, “I’d love to see the famous key case that started it all. Would you show it to me?”

“Sure,” Robert said. “It’s one of the few artifacts I was able to keep. We’ve got some more things here too.”

The three stood up and went through the garden and into the house.

An hour later Robert and Jennifer waved as Mary pulled out onto the turnpike and drove away. Robert put his arm around Jennifer.

“So our Truth Engine’s really taking off,” he said.

“I think we’ve done a good job,” Jennifer said, returning the hug. “We are making a difference.”

“You know, Jenny,” Robert said, as they headed toward the door, “I’ve been thinking. Our Truth Engine doesn’t have an Ikon yet; it’s all Logos. It needs an iconography, a game or a book that expresses the love for truth, goodness, and beauty…something that expresses an appreciation for what the Truth Engine offers all of us. The Ikon in the Grand Truth Engine was electronic, and it’s degraded—it can’t be read. We need a work that will keep the Truth Engine on track, that will give it an enduring goodwill.”

“Any idea what kind of book or game?”

“I’m not sure.”

“How about this?” Jennifer said. “A hero’s journey, where the hero—his name could be Robert—starts at home, is led by a discovery into conflict that involves strange external forces, stays stalwart, solves puzzles that teach him the principles of the Truth Engine, receives unexpected help, and in the end comes up from below the earth in triumph.”

“And he’s saved by a blue-eyed beauty. I think I heard this story somewhere. What happens next in the plot?”

“Then the blue-eyed beauty reminds him to take out the trash.“

“I already took it out.”

“I meant today. In you go.“


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