PROLOGUE
A Lost Soul Set Adrift

I found myself surrounded by an all-consuming blackness so thick that it felt as though I could touch it. It was such a deep inky blackness that it made me realize that even when we think we're in complete and utter darkness, there is almost always light emanating from somewhere: light in the hallway sneaking under the doorway, perhaps, or the light of the stars on a moonless night in the wilderness. But this inky blackness wasn't like that at all. It was so dark, as the saying goes, that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. It was so intense and absolute that the longer I stood there, the more I felt it seeping into my pores.

To make matters worse, it was also cold—bitterly cold. And while I stood there waiting, I was forced to pull my jacket more tightly around me in a vain attempt to protect myself from the freezing air. Just a few days earlier, I'd been in the tropics, wearing shorts and sandals and suffering in the oppressive, sweltering heat of equatorial Africa. But now I'd returned to the colder climate of Ireland by backtracking north on commercial airliners along the path I'd already taken across Europe and Africa.

Six months earlier, I'd filled out an entry form on a whim, and that's how I found myself standing there on that cold December morning, but I wasn't alone. Surrounding me on all sides were others waiting with me for the sunrise. I could feel their presence somehow, and I could hear them breathing the icy air. They were even close enough for me to feel their warmth, but in the invisible blackness, they might as well have been a million miles away. I felt isolated and alone as though I were a lost soul floating aimlessly through the universe.

I looked up at the ceiling. I couldn't see a thing in the darkness, but I knew it was up there—the writing that we'd discovered so many months ago—the final clue that had unlocked the secret to everything.

I had to remind myself that I was supposed to be looking down, not up, so I peered down toward my feet where at any moment the light of the rising sun would begin to carve its way across the floor of the chamber.

Just imagine being in this place so many thousands of years ago when it was first built, I thought to myself in wonder as I stared blindly into the black. Far underground, cold and frightened, and probably wondering if the sun would ever rise again, but they knew it would. That's why they built this place. And with the rising sun their world would be reborn.

My breath caught suddenly in my throat as I thought I caught a glimpse of light in motion in the endless dark. Was it the first rays of the sun breaking over the distant horizon? Or was it just a trick of my imagination?

The seconds passed, and my eyes detected a flicker of light in the gloom as the curtain of darkness slowly lifted from my eyes. Seconds turned into minutes, and I stared in utter amazement as a thin rapier of pure liquid light knifed its way across the stone floor and poured a golden heavenly luminescence into the crowded chamber, filling it with light and warmth.

My mouth was hanging open in complete astonishment at the sheer and absolute beauty of it. I glanced around me and saw that the others were every bit as breathless as I was. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

It was numinous.

It was sublime.

But in truth there were absolutely no words to describe it, and yet my mind raced to find some linguist hook upon which I could anchor the experience and never forget it, not that I ever would. I would remember it for the rest of my days.

As the heavenly fire continued to fill every nook and cranny of the underground chamber, I couldn't resist lifting my head again to look at the ceiling. Somehow, I just had to be sure that the writing was still there, and of course it –was; it had been there for many, many years before I ever laid eyes on it, and it would remain there for many years more, perhaps for all eternity. But I just had to know for sure, so for a quick moment I tore my eyes away from the radiant beam of light splitting the floor and glanced upward.

It took a moment to orient myself and find it again, but there it was, waiting to be found again.

So many months and a thousand memories had passed since I'd last been inside this underground temple of light, and yet it felt like yesterday.

With a lump growing in my throat and tears of emotion in my eyes, I lowered my gaze and watched the dagger of light slowly recede across the floor. Before I knew it, and as mysteriously as it had arrived, the beam soon retreated up the tunnel and out into the reborn world outside, plunging our underground world into the same thick and utter blackness from which we'd just emerged.

And then there was silence. A silence so complete that not a single one of us dared to breathe. For a moment, I was a lost soul again, set adrift in the universe and floating on the memory of the adventures that had led me to this place so many months before.


Interested in reading more of Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the R.M.S. Titanic?

Buy now on Amazon.com!

click here to return to the free samples page on kittyhawkworld.com