By Jeffrey J. Lyons
HER LOVED BE AVOWED ON JANUARY HILL
By Jeffrey J. Lyons
Royal Museum of Culture and History, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1983.
Christina Kirkgarde-Teje, an attractive, blonde Danish woman in her 20's, viewed the wrinkled body in its drawer one last time. This was an intriguing site for a student of archaeology such as herself. A man, probably an Inuit hunter, had fallen in his tracks thousands of years ago and died in the Territory of Greenland. His body remained untouched and frozen for all of this time. That is until the Royal Danish Climatological Expedition to Greenland began.
The team found the fully clothed body. Its skin was like leather but generally in tact. His estimated age at the time of his death was in his early twenties. Scientists were eager to begin their examination of the body and learn more about the way people lived their lives in those days. It was her responsibility to see that the body remained refrigerated and touched only when necessary.
Christina studied the items that were found in the walrus-skin sack, which was found near the body at the time of its discovery. The contents were routine hunting tools of the time. It was the accompanying necklace and its jagged medallion that caught her eye. No one knew what to make of that. Scientists suspected it was a badge of sorts, denoting the tribe from which he came.
Christina lowered the temperature gauge on the refrigeration unit and started to push the drawer with its remarkable contents closed. A glimmer of light made her blink. She looked again but saw nothing. The drawer was closed and locked tight. Project "Iceman" would soon begin.
Northeastern United States, July 2001
Melinda McGuire walked closely behind the swiftly moving foreman as they tramped through the dry clumps of mud and weed along January Hill. She glanced at her watch then looked up at the faces of three other construction workers staring at her as the relaxed against an idling bulldozer. They watched her. The eyes of one T-shirt-wearing, bearded man landed on her breast area and he wet his lips with his tongue.
Melinda had grown use to the gawking. She knew that she was well endowed and had even thought up a few time-honored jokes to fire back at those that stared. She knew when was the right time to use them and when it was not. This was the wrong time. She was dressed in an ankle-length blue denim skirt with a red turtleneck underneath.
"Over this bank, Miss," the foreman said gruffly.
Melinda said, "Thanks" and then shook her head, irked that the mud was attaching itself to her new hundred-dollar leather boots like moss on a tree trunk. Brown splatter spots collected on the hem of her dress as well. She was unprepared for this unexpected, little jaunt in the country and she wished she had at least wore her old working boots.
The foreman stopped at the top of the bank, removed his red cap, and rubbed the sweat from his forehead. Melinda parked her slender body next to the foreman trying not to let her eyes rest on his receding hairline. He put the hat back on and looked at her. She offered a small smile.
"It's in that small hole," the foreman exclaimed.
Melinda looked to where the foreman was pointing. There were two holes in the ground about the length of a football field away. Both holes were recently made by the construction equipment. One was about thirty feet long and the other was maybe five feet around and not as deep.
She asked politely, "Well, can we get a little closer?"
He reached out to take her hand but Melinda shook her head and said, "ll be alright thanks."
The two took slight steps as they descended to the constriction site. Melinda brushed her long amber hair from her face and thought about how more convenient would have been if she placed it in a bun or pony tail, which was her usual fashion.
She thought of the phone call she received as she was preparing to meet Tyler for dinner. Her supervisor, Dr. Henry Boisvert, told her to get to the condominium construction site right away as workers had dug up a grave. Melinda, an anthropologist for the last ten years since getting her college degree lived nearest to the site. Dr. Boisvert said he elected her to investigate and that this was top priority.
Just because Dr. Boisvert was a workaholic didn't mean his staff should be. This burned her up because she was looking forward to an evening out with Tyler and possibly more. She had waited for him to ask her out for weeks. He finally did. Alicia, her daughter, was with Martin, her ex-husband. It was one of the rare times he actually crawled out of the bottle long enough to be a father for her for a weekend. She had great plans. Instead Melinda was stuck traipsing through a trail of torn-up terrain.
Her thoughts were interrupted when the foreman spewed out, "Right there ma'am"
She blinked herself back to the matter at hand. She saw the top of the skull immediately. She sighed and stepped closer. The foreman watched her ambivalently. Melinda felt as if she was preparing to be quizzed. She was unable get the best view in a standing position.. She paused and looked at the foreman's bewildered face. Melinda rolled her eyes resignedly and abruptly hoisted her skirt above her knees and reluctantly kneeled down next to the artifact. "It's the tomboy in me," Melinda quipped to the perplexed foreman.
Now she was close enough to see the skull. Bits of the shoulder blades and spinal column were exposed. This was not a recent burial. It looked like someone took some care with it. This person meant something to someone long ago.
"Very well done, it looks in reasonable shape," Melinda said.
Melinda leaned forward and studied the skull. The twelve-year molars were in. The jawbone wasn't quite closed. Her preliminary assessment was that this was a teenage girl.
But then she saw something else. She carefully brushed aside a pinch of dirt under the chin. It looked like part of a necklace. This needed more serious excavation.
"The state has given me permission to seal the site for further study,"Melinda said.
The foreman nodded. "I hope it ain't too long. I got to get this project done by next month," he complained.
Melinda brushed her hands and grunted as she stood up. She brushed dirt from the edge of her dress and tapped her knees together to shake the dirt off there.
Melinda was a trained anthropologist but Tyler was the archaeologist. She knew she had to call him. Maybe the night wouldn't be a total waste after all.
Tyler Youngstreet was a good looking man of 36 with a narrow face and dark brown hair and hazel eyes. Melinda liked Tyler. He was friendly and easy going. He knew his archaeology. Tyler had explored dozens of burial mounds and abandoned Native American villages tucked away in the woods, forgotten by most.
Melinda was happy to see him but also a bit contentious that he had time to change into his digging clothes. Tyler threw up his arms playfully as if to announce his grand arrival.
"What, no red carpet Melinda?" he cracked.
"Not unless you count my red face at how embarrassed I am about tonight," she laughed.
"Not a problem. This could be just as much fun as dinner and a movie," he said.
"Don't start," she warned playfully.
They both laughed. Melinda's immediate thought was to hug Tyler to thank him for coming to help. Instead, she wiggled her finger and arched her head backwards indicating that he should follow her.
"Am I to be at your beckoning call?" Tyler said as he placed his hands on his waist and stared down at the cadaver. He whipped out his digital camera and started to take pictures. He danced around the skeleton and clicked some more.
"I'm not getting on the ground this time," Melinda declared.
"It looks like you've had plenty of that tonight," Tyler said as he leaned over.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Melinda mocked. "Just take a look before I kick you in the butt."
"Temper, temper," he said without looking and moved to his knees.
They both sobered as Tyler reached for a small brush in his back left pocket. With painstaking movements, ever so slight, Tyler brushed aside grains of dirt barely visible with the eye. Melinda found herself fascinated by Tyler's sense of caution.
"You're right," Tyler announced at last.
"It is definitely a necklace with some kind of medallion attached. Most of the necklace is well-preserved as if it was just placed there recently. It's a traditional beaded style probably from collected local stones," Tyler explained, "the metal suggests machine manufactured."
"How can that be? Is it a joke?," Melinda lamented.
"It can't be recent because of how it was so encased in the ground," Melinda pointed out.
Tyler brushed some more, sufficiently loosening the dirt to get a better view of the necklace and medallion. Well, half a medallion anyway. To Melinda, it appeared to be perfectly round on the left with sharp teeth-like edges on the right, as it if had been torn in half. It was silver and extremely well-preserved. A jagged line cut diagonally across its face from the left upper corner to the broken section. Above the diagonal line was an oval.
"It's a real mystery huh, babe?" Tyler said flippantly as he stared vacantly at the medallion.
Melinda was startled by the word "babe." Her heart pounded. She wondered if it was a slip of the tongue or if he was flirting. She hoped she had broken through the invisible barrier that kept them from becoming a couple.
"I'll call the police to secure the dig. It will be dark soon," Tyler said.
Oh yes, that thought had occurred to Melinda too. Somehow it didn't seem important that it was going to be dark. She was anxious to remain in Tyler's company.
"After a good night's rest we'll be back bright and early," Tyler said as he pulled out his cell phone to call the police.
Melindas cheerful facade hid her deeper disappointment that she was going home alone that night.
1983 Copenhagen, Denmark
Christina Kirkgarde-Teje listened to the bouncing sounds of the hottest hit single in Denmark. "Codo" by the D.O.F. bounced briskly along the radio dial. A song about flying saucers, she thought ironically as she stared once again at the tremendous find from the icy glaciers of Greenland.
Hans Larsdatter, her salt and peppered moustachioed superior, asked "This certainly is a discovery of epic proportions. This may change the way we look at the Inuit people."
"But not their culture," Christina spat. There was no love lost between her and the people of Greenland. Greenland was a territory under the umbrella of the government of Denmark. Some Greenland residents felt discouraged by that. Some of the Danes developed a type of superiority complex. Christina was one of those.
"Well," Larsdatter said, "Their culture and legends are are interesting depiction of ancient history. They are a people who are very traditional."
"And superstitious," Christina added.
"That may be the reason for this necklace," Larsdatter muttered as he reached forward to touch it.
Christina saw a brief flash of light from the medallion that hung stiffly from the neck of the subject. She blinked and rubbed her eyes. She grabbed for Hans's hand, licked her lips and said, "Let's look at it later. We have better things to do now."
Hans did not need to hear that again. The drawer was shut once again and they walked away to a secluded area of the office.
July 2001 - Northeastern USA
Melinda enjoyed the beautiful sun rise over the construction site, which had the makings of a full scale archaeological dig. Paper coffee cups from a local fast food chain were in the hands of the four students from Tyler's class who volunteered to assist in the dig. They looked barely beyond their teens and probably had high hopes of discovering Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, or even the remains of a long forgotten dynasty.
Tyler waved at Melinda and she waved back flashing a big smile. She wrapped her arms around her chest, now covered by an oversize sweatshirt. There was a chill in the air but it was supposed to warm up by mid-day.
"Pardon me, Ms. McGuire," boomed the bass voice behind her.
She turned, surprised to meet two men. One pointed a video camera lens at her and the other thrust forward a large hand. Her instinct was to answer with a tenacious handshake.
"Mike Hardwick, TV-11 News," he said in a ludicrous, highly-annunciated voice. Each syllable was forced as if he did not want to miss a single consonant.
She withdrew her hand and said, "May I help you?"
She knew his face. Everyone knew his face. Mike Hardwick smiled with his perfectly straight pearly-whites, blue eyes, and gel-filled, dryer-blown hair.
"It's a real honor to meet you Ms. McGuire."
"Melinda is fine," she began.
Hardwick, unphased, asserted, "and I'm wondering if I could talk to you a moment about what's going on here. I'm sure our viewers would love to know. This shouldn't take too long."
"On camera," Melinda asked.
"Yes. I only need to ask you a couple of questions then I need to get down there and take a little B-roll of the digging. It's for the 6:00 news," he blathered on.
"Well, I," she stammered and absent-mindedly ran a finger along her hair as if to make sure it wasn't disheveled.
"It's simple. I'll just ask you what you found, what you're digging for, and what you hope to accomplish, you know, those sorts of things," Hardwick recited with a smile.
Melinda didn't mind doing media interviews but she wasn't sure if this was her place. She had only been the initial investigator. This was really Tyler's project now. With that thought she heard a air of feet amble up behind her.
"What's up?" Tyler asked quizzically as he emerged off the short bank. Melinda relaxed and felt as if she had just been rescued from the lion's den.
"Mike Hardwick, TV-11 News," Hardwick repeated and thrust his hand out to grasp Tyler's. "I'm just looking for a couple of-"
"-Sound bytes for the evening news?" Tyler interrupted.
"Well, yeah," Hardwick said deflated.
"Come on," Tyler said as he winked at Melinda.
Hardwick looked at his cameraman, shrugged, and waved him along. They made their way to the actual excavation site.
As the camera rolled and Tyler described the activities as if it was one if his weekly lectures. "We think that this individual was buried here 3,000 years ago. Maybe earlier. We are attempting to identify the remains but we are fairly certain they are those of a female and that she was the member of a local Indian nation."
Melinda reflected on Tyler's wink. She liked it since it made her feel special. Martin never winked at her. He usually shouted at her. That was another reason the marriage failed. She knows the only reason they were married in the first place was because she became pregnant with Alicia. She loved Alicia with all her heart but she made a personal vow never to let that happen again. If Tyler and she ultimately made love, she would be certain it was the right thing to do. She shook those thoughts away. This was not the time or place to think about it. She and Tyler hadn't even had their first date. There had only been a lot of flirting in the hallways.
Mike Hardwick waved his hand in the general area of the buried skeleton. The cameraman nodded, stepped closer to the grave, and pointed the camera downward zooming in the medallion.
"How about that piece of jewelry?" Hardwick asked while jotting in his notebook.
"Priceless. When we are finished we'll analyze its structure. Regardless it is unusual," Tyler explained.
Hardwick lunged his hand forward again, grasped Tyler's hand, and shook it vigorously. "I really appreciate how much help you have been Dr. Youngstreet. This is a fascinating story. Check out the 6:00 news. Maybe it'll even go national."
Tyler added, "Well, glad I could help."
Hardwick unlocked his hand from Tyler's and moved toward Melinda, hand outstretched. Before he could grab her hand Melinda waved and said, "Thank you Mr. Hardwick."
He threw up his hands comically and smiled. He waved for his cameraman to follow him and they left.
After Hardwick was out of earshot, Melinda and Tyler laughed boisterously. Tyler flung his arm around Melinda's shoulder. With a smile, Melinda cranked her head back and rubbed her neck on Tyler's arm. Tyler said, "Back to work."
Christina Kirkgarde-Teje and Hans Larsdatter lied side by side in a secluded corner with blankets upon the floor. The night had passed. Christina felt troubled by uneasy dreams that filled her head during her restless sleep. This was not the best place to sleep anyway. It was only a place to enjoy moments like this,
"You are awake?" Hans asked her.
"I am disturbed," Christina said. Her eyes became accustomed to the darkness of the room. "I dreamt of the man."
"What other man is there? Our ancient traveler," she said.
Hans shuffled the makeshift sheets and moved his hand to caress Christina's back. He rubbed her gently. She sighed. "He came to me in the dream. He wanted something of me."
"I don't know," Christina muttered. "Answers. I could not give them to him. I did not even know the questions."
"That is not helpful," Hans concurred, "to not know the anwers I mean."
Christina looked in his direction. The shadow of his face and head stared ominously back. "He cried, you know."
"Cried?" Hans asked, astonished.
"That is how it felt to me," she remembered. "It was as if he was in mourning. He mourned the lost of someone dear and near to him."
Hans cuddled and rubbed his sandpapered face against her cheek. He said, "Just a dream."
"He seemed to think that I was his conduit to his lost love. It was almost as if he wanted to reach out and ask for my help," Christina recalled.
"Like I said," Hans said, "Just a dream. This is the reality now. You and I are here together and this is our place to be close, to forget our chores."
She smiled and kissed her lover. She moved her hands carefully along his stomach and then downward. Hans leaned his head back against the wall. As Christina prepared to touch Hans again, she could not help but to think that there would be answers someday.
Tyler, his three students, and sometimes Melinda spent the day clearing the dirt. Sometime during the day Melinda dubbed the remains "Angie," which combined the words ancestor and angel. Tyler laughed at that but the students thought it was a clever play on words. So Angie it was.
With conscientious, deliberate movements, Tyler removed the necklace and medallion from Angie's neck. Melinda ogled the artifact. The medallion shimmered in the sunlight. Melinda saw, but for a second, a reflection that flashed all of the colors of the spectrum.
"Did you see that sparkle Tyler?" Melinda asked
"A flash of light? No I didn't see anything. Probably just the sunlight," Tyler remarked, "Or my brilliant personality".
Melinda was sure she saw it. She squinted upward toward the sun. She shrugged it off.
Tyler placed the medallion delicately into a small plastic air-tight storage container and motioned to one of the students to put it in the chest on the back of the pick-up truck.
By the late afternoon, Angie was free of dirt and clay. There was no evidence of any other burials or jewelry in this area.
Tyler announced, "That's all today. Be back tomorrow for final checks. This is just the way I like it; short and sweet without any problems."
The sun lowered. Melinda still considered the colorful flash that filled her eyes when the medallion was first removed from the sand.
"Hey Melinda, can I buy you a drink at Old Jack McBlack's Tavern?" Tyler asked, "We can make a toast to Angie."
Melinda thought that these were the best words she had heard all day. "I would love to."
The smiling waitress showed them to a window booth that overlooking the river. Old Jack McBlack's Tavern was one of her favorite places to visit. It had excellent food and home brewed beer and wine. Photographs from the early twentieth century dotted the walls. The hardwood floors suggested a rustic atmosphere. She felt that she and Tyler were finally sharing their first date and it was at a place she loved. Since the divorce two years ago, she visited many times. But it was always alone.
"Hey, Melinda look," Tyler said pointing to the television screen.
There was Mike Hardwick standing near a parked bulldozer with a microphone. It was loud enough to hear over the casual conversations of the twenty or so people in the room.
Hardwick yucked obnoxiously, "A construction crew, in the process of building riverside condominiums up on January Hill inadvertently stumbled onto a portal to the past late yesterday. University scientists spent the day excavating and examining the skeletal remains of a young girl that may have rested here since the time of the pyramids. ***Images of the three students brushing away the dirt.***
"One intriguing find was is the discovery of this medallion." ***Image of the medallion resting in the dirt. Zoom in on the etchings.*** "There are etchings on the medallion, begging the question, what is this female of the past trying to tell us?"
"Archaeologist Dr. Tyler Youngstreet heads the excavation but shed very little light on this artifact other than to call the it 'unusual.'" ***Cut to head shot of Tyler talking:*** 'we'll be analyzing this medallion to determine its properties and origin. I suspect it was some sort of family heirloom piece of its day,'
***Cut back to Mike Hardwick:*** "In any event, this site is of intense interest to state officials. Although some from the local Abenaki Nation liken it to grave robbing. Mike Hardwick, TV-11 News, January Hill."
"Grave robbing? Come on!" Melinda shouted at the TV. Her face was red.
"What do you expect from a reporter like him?" Tyler said sympathetically.
"I know, but it just galls me when he says things like that for everyone to see," she complained.
"Forget about it. Order a round and drink to Angie," Tyler said and reached over to tap the back of Melinda's hand.
Melinda was glad that she wore a sweatshirt as her breasts heaved slightly when Tyler's hand brushed hers. She calmed down. She felt good around Tyler. No matter how upset she got, he found ways to comfort her.
After dinner, Melinda and Tyler returned to separate vehicles parked side-by-side in the parking lot. Melinda paused outside her blue Chevy two-door and wished that she was climbing into Tyler's pick-up with him. She knew she had to go home because Alicia was due to return from Martin's home later the next day. While Melinda would have loved company for the night, she did not want to have to explain his appearance to her daughter. Alicia had met Tyler on many occasions but had always been told he was only a friend and a colleague.
"I enjoyed dinner," Melinda said softly, "Thank you for inviting me."
"My pleasure. It was fun," Tyler responded.
Melinda gazed into Tyler's eyes and almost recognized her reflection in the pool of hazel. Tyler stared back. He broke the stare with a succinct look to the right and then back again. He leaned forward without comment and pecked Melinda right on the lips.
Melinda reached her hands around Tyler's neck and pulled him forward and returned with an elongated kiss. Their hold on each other lingered.
"Well," Tyler whispered, "I'll see you later."
He twirled his finger around a few strands of Melinda's hair, brushed her cheek, and turned and stepped into his truck.
Melinda was awakened by the second ring. She groaned and creaked her watery, left eye open to gaze at the clock. The phone rang again. The glowing red digits read 3:14 in the morning.
"What the hell?" Melinda grumbled, pushed herself upright, and fumbled for the phone. "He-Hello."
"Ms. McGuire," a somber female voice responded in near perfect King's English.
Melinda's mood changed abruptly as images of Alicia danced in her head. Was something wrong? Was Alicia hurt?
"We need to talk about your excavation of January Hill," she began eloquently.
Melinda calmed herself. "Who is this and why are you calling me at 3 o'clock in the morning?"
"I represent the Danish Ministry of Culture and History. I am sorry but it is mid-morning here and I am required to work briskly," she told her. "The medallion that you have found is a significant find."
"Well of course it is. It is an historic artifact," Melinda said guardedly.
"For nearly twenty years I have presided over a study of a similar artifact discovered in Greenland." the voice said.
"What study?" Melinda asked.
"In August 1983 the warmer than normal meteorlogical conditions caused some receding of the glacier. This, in turn, presented an opportunity to further research of those barren lands. The team found a frozen man. They found a necklace on that body," the woman explained.
Melinda was alert now. The next question was obvious. However her question was answered it before she could ask it."Yes, Ms. McGuire, there was half of a medallion."
Melinda's mind reeled. What could be the connection between two bodies found thousands of miles apart? Obviously, more than was realized.
"Does this suggest that a people whose main purpose is to hunt were worldly travelers like the Vikings?" Melinda pondered.
"That may be," she answered, "but the point is that I shall arrive at 14-hundred hours your time with my half of the medallion to see if they're linked or one in the same."
Later this afternoon? Melinda was disturbed at the short notice but intrigued at the possibility of solving a riddle.
"We did not allow for widespread news coverage of our find as we felt it was of more scientific interest than of the general population," the woman conveyed, "However, I shall enjoy viewing your excavation site. I suspect the news coverage did not do it justice."
Melinda could only think of Mike Hardwick's obnoxious report. She remembered his off-the-cuf remark about going national. This ended up going international. "May I ask your name?" Melinda said.
The woman paused and answered, "My name is Christina Kirkgarde-Teje." The phone clicked and the dial tone hummed.
When Melinda hung up the phone she knew she would get no further sleep that night.
At 5:30, Melinda arrived at Tyler modest home. The ranch style house rested on about a half an acre of land in a large residential development. A pair of plastic lounge chairs and a round table with an umbrella sat snuggled in the corner nearby two small blue spruce trees, just tall enough to offer a cozy shade. The sun was beginning to rise. Melinda knocked on the door. Moments later, a bleary-eyed Tyler, in only boxer shorts and a red T-shirt, opened the door.
"Well, good morning. Nothing like getting an early start," he quipped.
She leaned forward and kissed him. The memory of the night before flooded her senses. He accepted her kiss without protest. "Did I wake you?" Melinda asked.
"No," he lied, "I have been up a little bit. Want some coffee?"
Melinda nodded, "Sure."
"Sorry I am so unpresentable but then I wasn't expecting company just now," Tyler joked.
"Believe me, you look fine," she laughed. Dreamy, she thought.
Tyler sauntered into the kitchen and poured the freshly-brewed French Roast into a cup. He added two teaspoons each of sugar and cream. She was pleased that he remembered how she liked it.
"Why so early Melinda?" Tyler finally asked,"We don't need to be out there for another couple of hours."
"We aren't going out there this morning," Melinda said bluntly.
Tyler handed her the steaming coffee cup and asked, "What do you mean?"
"The answer is coming to us," she teased.
"What? I don't get it," Tyler said befuddled.
Melinda repeated the early morning conversation with the Danish official. She watched Tyler's eyes widen between sips of coffee.
"Do you think it's possible?" Tyler queried.
"We'll see," Melinda said playfully as she sat on the couch.
"You are welcome to stay here and relax while I shower and shave," Tyler said as he prepared to leave the room. "I'm, glad you came by, unannounced and all."
"I'm glad I'm here too," Melinda said.
Tyler smiled and turned to walk away. She watched him and waited.
They left Tyler'ss home. Their mutual goal of resolving the riddle of the medallion remained although Melinda's phone call meant it would be resolved differently. They stepped into Tyler's pick-up truck. It had a back seat so he offered to stop by her ex-husband's place to collect Alicia.
The drive was about thirty minutes and then only about fifteen minutes to January Hill from there. Martin lived at the top of a hill on a back road that wound through the woods. However, it would be a quick ride down the other side to where they were ultimately going.
Tyler thought it was intriguing that Denmark was sending a female archaeologist. Melinda glared at him asking him with her eyes, "What do you think I am?"
"You're not Danish," Tyler put in.
Melinda glowered at him. Tyler got the point and acquiesced. "I meant no harm."
"You'd best not," Melinda said. But her voice inflected an air of frivolity.
"I give in," Tyler said.
"I'll have you know that the Queen of Denmark is a trained archaeologist," Melinda retorted with a laugh.
"You know, I think I knew that little piece of trivia," Tyler responded.
They both laughed. Melinda loved laughing with Tyler. It did not come forced. It was truly sincere. They arrived at Martin's converted two-bedroom log campsite. She hated many things about Martin. But one of his rare assets was his ability with a hammer and saw.
Tyler drove into the narrow gravel driveway, which was surrounded by trees and brush. Melinda saw Alicia's blonde head peak from the side of a window near the front door. Melinda waved. After a moment, Alicia waved and jumped away from the window. Almost simultaneously, the front door opened and Alicia marched out, suitcase in hand. Alicia was a lovely long-haired girl of 13 who already showed the outward signs of womanhood. Melinda knew from which side of the family Alicia inherited that particular trait.
Melinda grinned, stepped out of the truck, and watched her daughter walk briskly toward her. "Hi Mom, why are you in that truck?"
"Hi sweetie. I missed you," Melinda said as she reached out and give her daughter a hug. It was always the most wonderful feeling to get a hug from her daughter. Nothing could rival that. Well Melinda thought one thing might rival that if it were meant to be.
"We are going to the dig," Melinda responded.
"Oh yeah, we watched Mr. Youngstreet on TV last night. You found a skeleton? Like, that's gross," Alicia scoffed.
Alicia threw her suitcase into the back of the truck. She whipped a flirtatious smile in Tyler's direction and said ever so sweetly, "Hi Mr. Youngstreet."
Melinda sighed and shook her head. She remembered those days. She patted the backside of her daughter's cut-off jeans and told her to get in the truck. Melinda looked around for Martin. He never even poked his head out.
As they drove toward January Hill, Alicia discussed her weekend, "Dad promised to let me get my bellybutton pierced."
Tyler guffawed but immediately bit his lip. Melinda tried to quash a snicker and said, "Alicia, we'll talk about this first."
"They say it doesn't, like, hurt that much and it takes like a second," she pleaded.
Melinda remembered when her mother protested when she dyed her hair neon orange, painted her fingernails black, and ripped holes in her shirts before wearing them. It's what everyone was doing in the early 1980's. Melinda did not want to be her mother but could not help acting like her.
"Sandra pierced hers. She said it was like, fantastic," Alicia said enthusiastically.
"We will definitely talk about this later baby," Melinda said in an effort to change the subject and added, "but we're here."
Tyler parked the truck upon the hill next to the police cruiser. All three hopped from the truck. Melinda focused her eyes to the hillside as if to investigate whether anything had changed in the last 36 hours. Tyler reached over his truck bed into the container, which housed the medallion. He removed the airtight container that stored the artifact. He asked Melinda bring along the folding table.
Tyler led the way followed by Alicia, who had her head down. Melinda tagged behind. It was not yet 2:00. Tyler greeted the mustachioed, police officer and the four of them just waited for company to arrive.
They did not have long to wait. A black Lincoln Continental pulled up and parked next to Tyler's truck. Melinda watched as an elegant lady in her early 40's stepped gracefully out. Her hair was a mix of gray and blonde but it had an appealing look. She wore a red pant suit and carried a rectangular yellow container under her left arm.
"That lady is from Denmark?" Alicia whispered to her mother.
Melinda nodded, "Uh huh."
"I never met anyone from there before," Alicia added.
Melinda smiled. She admired her daughter's inquisitiveness. She wondered how her daughter would put that to use when she was an adult.
As if reading her mind, Tyler whispered to Melinda, "At least Alicia looks interested now."
The lady smiled as she walked closer. Melinda eyed her with uncertainty. After all they had spoken only a few short hours ago. "My name is Christina Kirkegard-Teje," she said without preliminaries. Melinda introduced the group.
"I am ever pleased to make your acquaintance," Christina said in very proper King's English. "This shall be of interest to us all will it not?"
"Yes," Tyler responded.
"My, but what an attractive daughter you have Ms. McGuire," Christina said.
"Melinda, please, and thank you," she responded as she watched her daughter's face turn beet red and heard her giggle.
"Well, we know why we are here and I guess we should take care of it," Tyler said anxiously.
"This seems to be the lead that my government has been awaiting since the discovery we made years ago," Christina said as she placed her container on the folding table.
Tyler placed his container next to hers. They looked at each other. Christina removed her lid and gracefully lifted the medallion from inside. It sported the same sort of jagged edge and diagonal line but it was a triangle and not a circle that laid on the round side.
Tyler and Melinda frowned. Maybe it had been a wild goose chase. Tyler removed his lid and delicately removed the prize from within. Melinda saw another flash of light like a prism. No one said anything.
It was Alicia who bellowed, "Do you see that? It's a rainbow."
"A rainbow?" Melinda enquired. That comment also surprised Christina as her usual adroit manner seemed interrupted. Her deviation was brief.
It was Tyler who turned his half of the medallion and saw the common tears. Christina recognized Tyler's actions and she moved her piece forward. Melinda held her breath as Christina locked her piece snugly to Tyler's. The two pieces were the perfect match.
"At last," Christina said.
"Spectacular," Tyler exclaimed. Tyler reached out his hand to exchange congratulations.
"How much shall you have for it?" Christina declared.
"You want to buy it?" Melinda asked.
"I will have it. My government will pay very good money for it," she insisted.
"We can't just sell it. It is the property of the university," Tyler said.
"An endowement would be beneficial to the university would it not?" Christina said, her face narrowed.
"It can't be done without an act of the board of trustees," Tyler said firmly.
"You should not be so sure of that," Christina said. Her voice hard a harder edge. The King's English became slightle accented.
"It is not in our control," Melinda put in.
Christina stared at her. With her gaze turned toward and refocused upon Alicia. "You might want to rethink that."
Melinda's heart pumped. She wondered if this woman was giving a veiled threat. Out of the corner of her eye she saw in Tyler's stern face that he had similar thoughts.
Then a gust of wind ripped across the hillside. It was strong enough to cause Alicia to teeter off balance. Melinda wanted to laugh at first until she saw her daughter place her fingers to her temples and then turn pale as a ghost.
Melinda leapt forward and grabbed her daughter who looked ready to faint. "Alicia!" she cried. Her heart pounded. Tyler's mood changed and he bolted toward Melinda and Alicia. The table shook. A distant high pierced hum emanated from the now-whole medallion. It grew louder. A light burst forward and reached for the sky. The white light became the eight colors of the spectrum. The shock knocked Christina and the police officer to the ground.
Alicia's eyes glazed over. Melinda held fast to her and Tyler clutched Melinda's shoulders as if he could not let go. They were transfixed on Alicia. The humming sound became deafening.
Another gust of wind whipped branches from trees. Suddenly black clouds tumbled into the sky at fantastic speed. A bolt of lightning flashed. A crack of thunder followed. The black clouds opened in a flood of rain. Gallons of water streamed from the sky onto January Hill.
Alicia opened her mouth and began to speak. It was her face but the sound she made was more of an amplified facsimile of her voice. "I speak through the one closest to me. I prepare to free myself of what bounds me to this world. I am coming oh my dearest. I am coming home. Oh my love, take me now. I return to you."
Tears poured from Melinda's eyes. She cried, "Alicia! Alicia!"
"It's not her!" Tyler shouted. The whipping wind drowned out his voice.
At that moment, Angie'ss skeleton rose from the hole as if it had come alive. With each lightning flash, the skeleton glowed like a rainbow and a new body part emerged whole. A face formed over the skull. The features resembled Alicia.
Alicia's voice wailed, "Oh my love, I am whole again. We are whole again. The body of a young girl aides my recovery. I am returning to you whole."
From the sky burst the god-like sound of man's voice. "Oh, my dearest. I await your return to me. I searched yet the entire globe before my body fell without you. We shall be as one together, forever!"
The clouds spun counterclockwise and opened like a whirlpool, which seemed to welcome the rainbow. Stars appeared in the opening. Melinda did not recognize the constellations.
The skeleton, now whole, appeared as a duplicated imitation of Alicia. As the wind-whipped and the rain fell, the cloned Alicia floated from above the hole toward the beam of light, which erupted like fire from the medallion.
Once in the light, the figure gazed at Melinda who felt something penetrate inside her head. It told her to look heavenward. She did. She saw the shadow of a young man in the stars, reaching out an open hand. Melinda heard a message in Alicia's voice yet no mouths moved. "I return to my love. Your love returns to you with no harm."
The figure raised her hands above her head and ascended rapidly into the awaiting arms of the image above. She was gone in an instant. The stars vanished. The rain stopped. The storm clouds and wind subsided. In a flash, the rainbow light was gone and all was silent.
The medallion crumbled to dust.
Tyler let go. Alicia's eyes opened. Melinda immediately burst into tears and hugged her daughter tight.
"I was so scared. Like, it felt like someone was inside me and couldn't get out," Alicia wailed.
"Oh honey, I thought I lost you," Melinda said.
Alicia regained her composure and said, "I felt it. Like, I didn't understand what was going on. but oh-my-god, She like, really loved him. He really loved her. I knew it."
Tyler shifted his body closer and placed his arm around Melinda and asked, "Are you both OK?" They nodded. Tyler leaned forward and kissed Melinda's lips. This was not the peck of the night before.
Christina and the police officer wobbled to their feet. All five looked at each other speechless.
"An unimagineable power has now left my grasp.," Christina said.
"Our grasp," Tyler corrected.
Unphased, Christina added all that she could add,"She's gone home."
"Wherever that may be," Melinda muttered.
"As you can see, the now infamous excavation site is a scene of chaos. Trees are down. Construction equipment is damaged. It looks like a tornado roared through here. Rescue crews treated everyone. The members of Professor Youngstreet's archaeological team were a bit shaken up. They said that they just got caught up in this freak thunderstorm. They told me that the skeleton that they had so diligently worked on was gone, probably washed away in the storm.
"It will take weeks to assess the full damages and make the repair of this extraordinary incident. But the loss of this amazing find to the science community is irreplaceable.
"On a related note, the Royal Danish Ministry of Culture and History in Denmark announced that an electrical problem caused a refrigeration unit to malfunction destroying the contents that were inside. Amazingly enough, those contents were that of a three-thousand year old frozen man, whom scientists had been studying for nearly twenty years. The sudden exposure to the heat essentially melted the item away."
He flashed his pearly whites and closed. "Mike Hardwick, TV-11 News, January Hill."