The Shining Ones
The United Nations (Geneva)
The Fall of Atlantis
The old ones had grand and glorious machines. They could fly across oceans. Their sailing vessels filled the skies. They inhabited glittering cities of light. They mapped the stars and sent men into space—but they went mad and destroyed themselves. We are their offspring. Faint traces of the old world can still be seen in our world, in ruins and refuse not yet been reclaimed by nature.
We do not know what lies beyond our own shores. Our seafaring vessels are not capable of traversing the globe. Over many generations our people have engaged in battles but nothing like the great wars of the past between Eurasia, the Illuminati and Atlantis. We live a peaceful existence. We feel blessed.
We share a common language with the old world, with our ancestors; even so, many of their words seem foreign to us and are difficult to decipher. The old ones were capable of great magic. They were able to record and transmit images of themselves across great distances. This art has now been lost. We do have transcripts of these talking pictures along with faded photographs, ragged books and other deteriorating volumes archived in makeshift libraries.
Sadly the largest of these libraries recently burned. This is why we have decided to compile and distill from the existing archives a few stories that moved us. We are thinking of future generations, that there will be a record not just of sacred texts (stories of sky gods and virgin births), of poets and philosophers and of prophets (Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce), but we wish to produce (using the archives and literary techniques discovered in the books of the old ones) a glimpse into this ancient civilization before death and the whirlwind overtook them.
The Shining Ones
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. ~ Edgar Allan Poe
Rouan awoke in a hospital bed in a room he did not recognize, in a place he did not know. He had no idea where he was. He felt like he'd been crawling uphill out of the darkness for ages, digging himself from out of a dark cave far below the earth. He was exhausted from the climb. For some time (he did not know exactly for how long) he could make out the outline of a kind of reality (a dreamscape really) but no more. He could hear voices, sounds, and at times could understand what was being said. But he couldn't put it all together. It was all a blur, one endless night of shadows and sounds. It was as if he was buried under a great weight, and the way forward was blocked. His awakening was gradual. There were flashes of awareness. The outside world was in darkness. Even so, a nurse noticed a change in him. She brought in several other nurses and a doctor. A light flashed in his eye and after that flash everything changed, the world opened up. He reacted involuntarily. He tried to speak. The doctor was startled. He smiled. With great effort Rouan raised his arm slightly. His head would not move; it seemed to be anchored to his pillow. He looked round the room using just his eyes. Everyone was amazed. He'd come back from the dead. But for Rouan everything seemed unreal; he was unaccustomed to the world that he'd awakened to.
As the days passed, Rouan began communicating, speaking in short sentences, with the nurses in French. Rouan was told he had been in a coma. When he looked at his withered arms and legs, he thought he must have been in a terrible accident. He had little recall of the blow to his head. Finally, he was given a mirror. He could not believe what he saw. He was an old man, wrinkled and gray. It was a shock. He recognized his features, his eyes; the shape of his jaw but his skin seemed paler and had aged. As his strength increased, he was allowed to move about in a wheelchair. Finally it was disclosed to him that he had been in a coma for over forty years. He had so many questions. It was all so much like a dream. It was like waking up after a long sleep. But it was impossible to comprehend that years had gone by rather than hours. What about his family? What about his court case? Would he be returned to prison? No, he was told his case had been dismissed years before. In fact, one of the nurses told him that the hospital had gotten in touch with his former lawyer, Jean-Marc Frenot.
Frenot had aged but still was fit, agile (he was in his twenties when he first represented Rouan; he was now in his late sixties). His attitude toward Rouan had changed, the skepticism was gone. There was a look of compassion and respect when he gazed into Rouan's eyes.
Frenot shook his head and smiled, "How are you feeling Robert?" He never had used Rouan's first name before.
“I am very tired. I feel that I've been packed away in an attic gathering dust for ages.”
“We have both gathered some dust." Frenot smiled. "You are lucky to be alive.”
“It is so strange. It seems as if we were speaking just a few days ago. But I know that isn't true.”
“No one expected that you would recover.”
“Do you know anything about my family in the United States?” Rouan asked.
Frenot had expected this question but Rouan sensed it was difficult for him to answer and not necessarily because he did not have an answer but because there was something unpleasant that he wanted to keep from Rouan.
Frenot sighed: “I was in touch with both your ex-wife and mother.”
“Have you heard from them recently?”
“No.” Frenot looked away.
Rouan could see that Frenot was wounded by the question.
“There is something more. Tell me.”
“Robert, no one believed you. We should have listened.” As Frenot said this, a weight seemed to have lifted from his soul.
“What do you mean? What does this have to do with my family?” In the back of Rouan's mind, a horrible thought was taking shape, but he wasn't sure what it all meant. He was confused.
“The plans you discovered.”
“What are you talking about, the plans?” Rouan was baffled.
“About the tactical nuclear weapon that you described,” Frenot answered,
“That was a product of my over active imagination"
“Made up or not, they were prophetic. Somehow the system broke down. The computers in the United States indicated an imminent attack. There is strong evidence that the initial attack on Washington DC was a tactical nuclear weapon and not a missile. When I first learned of that, I thought back to the weapon that you had described. I went back and reviewed your notes. I asked myself if there could have been some truth he what you described. Was it something more than a hallucination? I asked myself over and over again. I became convinced that the first explosion was a tactical nuclear weapon similar to the one you documented.”
“I don't understand what you are saying. Someone used tactical weapons.”
“Initially, the United States in its confusion, after Washington was hit, released several ICBMs. This brought on a counter attack from China. Over a dozen U.S. cities were struck before anyone realized it was all a horrible mistake.”
Rouan hesitated, afraid to ask the next question. He dreaded Frenot's response. “What cities?
“The worst of it,” Frenot paused, “Houston was hit.” Frenot shook his head. “Along with Houston, a dozen more cities were hit. Fortunately, the bombings stopped before the whole country, the whole world for that matter, was left in ruins. A moment of sanity, I suppose, if one can call it that.”
“What about my family?”
A look of sadness crossed Frenot's face. “I'm so sorry. After the bombing, I did not hear from anyone in your family.”
“But many people survived?”
“Yes, many people survived. Many cities remained intact. They weren't targeted by the bombs or rather the bombing stopped before they were hit. But the bombings were just the beginning of the nightmare for America. For weeks, for months, even years, many more perished from radioactive sickness. What remained of the country, of the government was in shock, paralyzed. Washington DC was gone. There were wars of a kind between various factions, and then came well-armed battles for control by profiteers. Different parts of the country set up their own forms of government. But nobody was in control for long. That has changed in some parts of the country now. Armed militias, police, are paid for by the big companies. But there is no justice in the way they rule. There is order, but no justice.”
“How did this happen?”
“No one knows what exactly happened. Some say there was a computer malfunction. Several cities in both Russia and China were hit. Some have claimed that the Chinese had planted a computer virus in the Strategic American Command and this caused a malfunction and missiles were prematurely fired. But the damage in Russia and China was nothing compared to the United States. Actually, the United States sent out very few missiles. But retaliation came before anyone had a chance to catch their breath. Much of the old cold war mentality was still in place, the hair trigger effect. My God, the world still had its finger on the button.”
So it finally happened, Rouan thought, the thing that no one wanted to face. The monster, the Frankenstein of the nuclear age, had come down on the world and unleashed its wrath. Rouan had grown pale, his upper lip quivered with emotion.
“I believe, someone affiliated with the Shining Ones initiated the first tactical attack. You even used that phrase in your notebook, the Shining Ones. This is what made the plans you discovered so important. I have no definitive proof of this. I have your notebook. It was given to me after you were attacked.”
“You kept my notebook all this time? But why?”
“Remember you were in a coma. I was the attorney of record. Your personal belongings were my responsibility.”
“I understand. But what I wrote was a complete fabrication. There was no truth to it. None of it was real. I was very sick. I lived in a fantasy world of drugs and delusions. I imagined I could save the world. Well, I didn't save anybody.”
“Your fantasies were a foreshadowing of what was to come. What you saw was all too real. Proof? An entire continent is in ruins. Your country is gone, or at least as far as you once knew it. Those that have survived live a miserable existence.”
“Is it that bad?”
“My mind keeps going back to that initial explosion in Washington DC. It occurred a full fifteen minutes before the ICBMs were launched. No one knows the size exactly of the initial explosion, since Washington was hit a second time by a much larger warhead. There was a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. Wars broke out from one side of the world to the other. The whole world has been marked, turned upside down, wounded by this catastrophe, famine, bio- terrorism on an unimaginable scale." Frenot let out a breath. "We'll have time to talk about this later.”
“My family, my country.” Rouan was horrified. It was more than he could bear. Frenot stayed with Rouan while he took in all of the news, sitting silently with him. Frenot even held Rouan's hand at one point.
Frenot had written several articles in Le Monde. Many pointed out that tactical nuclear weapons weren't used but rather Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles. They went on to say that the tragedy was not caused by terrorists but by a system destined to end in catastrophe. Frenot replied to this in several more articles (stirring up quite a debate) that Rouan's hypothesis and notes only illuminated the dark path that the terrorists were on and pointed out the initial attack, the trigger, for the conflagration that followed was a rogue tactical nuclear weapon.
All this speculation disturbed Rouan. Long ago he'd accepted responsibility for the hoax he concocted. Rouan thought of the old adage in intelligence analysis: that there is some truth to be discovered even in a lie. Rouan was consoled with the realization that there a kind of inevitability to it all. If the weapons exist, someone would use them. Rouan then remembered something else. The dream he had shortly before being attacked in jail. He remembered every detail of the dream: the countdown, the Boeing blast door, and finally the firing of the missiles. Rouan was convinced that the dream was somehow prophetic. This was more than coincidence. He could come to no other conclusion. Why had he been handed this vision? He consoled with the thought that he wasn't the only one who foresaw this almost inevitable consequence of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the arms race. A race that no one could win but everyone could lose. Many had warned about it over and over again from the very beginning. But no listened. Or if they listened, they took no action. The world had been in a state of denial and been awakened from its sleeping state (just as he had) by the sound of thunder in the skies. The shoe had dropped and now there was no going back. It is a wonder that the whole world hadn't been reduced to ashes and smoke.
* * * *
In the following days, Frenot visited Rouan often. He gave him more details on what had gone on while he slept all those years. He gave him a kind of history lesson. He explained that electric power functioned sporadically in the United States in the years after the bombings (leaving pockets of the country without power). With a worthless dollar, commerce on a large scale became impossible. Biological weapons were released; no one had a reasonable explanation why. It was madness. There was civil unrest, massive starvation. What was once the United States was now under quarantine; in the beginning, martial law was declared and the remnants of the federal government existed but were powerless exercise any control, and with no federal banking system and an inability to collect taxes, became irrelevant and ultimately collapsed. The country had been broken up into territories, counties, city-states. The United Nations was now headquartered in Geneva. Rouan could not believe what he was told. He asked himself over and over again, how was it that he had survived but his country had not?
While in a vegetative state, Rouan had been housed just outside of Paris along the Marne River in Champigny. Though he had been in the coma, the nurses had exercised his limbs so his muscles had not completely wasted away. Still his limbs were fragile, thin and weak. He was told he would never walk again; that his legs would never be strong enough again to carry the weight of his upper body. His heart had been weakened but his lungs were in good condition, normal for someone his age. They could have just left him to die. But Frenot and others saw to it that he had been properly looked after. Rouan was so grateful. He learned that while the blow to his head did cause unconsciousness, it did not cause the coma (or rather what was diagnosed after his awakening as a minimally conscious state). The coma was ultimately caused by an infection in his brain from his intravenous drug use. The infection eventually cleared up and after a change of medication, he awoke. It would have been relatively easy with the right medication to bring him out of his sleeping state (once the infection in his brain cleared up) but everyone assumed that his condition was hopeless; that his condition was irreversible. Who would have guessed that his grave condition could have changed so miraculously? Brain scans were done in the beginning, but bleeding from the blow to his head hid the underlying infection from those radioactive eyes. The good news, of course, was that he survived at all. The doctors told him there was no sign of brain damage.
Some days Rouan would fall into a deep depression that he could not climb out of (no matter how hard he tried). A dark cloud covered his world, time stopped and once again he was back in the Santé behind its bleak, gray walls, and once again its ghosts came back to haunt him. The United States had been taken to its knees—and so had he. But when we thought of his own descent into the depths, he would begin to recall the day of his rebirth, of his resurrection, and he found some consolation there, some hope, and gradually he would come out of his funk. There must be some reason for his survival. Other times, he'd find himself sitting beside by the Marne River looking out at that green water and he'd think about the life that it held; the fish, the plants, the turtles. Then he'd think about the future. And that gave him hope. Hope for a new world, a world without sickness, addiction, wars and bombs. He hoped for that better world. He prayed that he could be a part of it. He felt a responsibility. He wanted to make up for all the mistakes he'd made. He wanted to make amends to one and all.
While Rouan had been physically debilitated and disabled by his long sleep, his ability to communicate had not been diminished. He had begun writing in his journal in long hand. It was good therapy. But he tired easily (even after such a long sleep) and found it necessary to dictate his notes, his thoughts, to a nurse. She dutifully took down done all that he said (even at times laboriously transcribing his handwritten notes). Her name was Camille Demoulin. She had been a nurse for over twenty years. She was in her mid-forties. She had auburn hair and an alabaster complexion. She was a great beauty but without pretense or affectation. She carried out her duties with grace and humility. She looked after Rouan's every need (as she has been assigned exclusively to him since his awakening).
Things began to bloom in Champigny. Rouan spent as much to time as possible outdoors on the grounds of the center usually accompanied by Camille. The air was cool and fresh and the world was turning green once more. The blossoms hung from the bushes and were heavenly both to smell and to look at. On those days in particular Rouan would wonder again and again if any of what drifted before his eyes was real. How had all of this come to pass? Rouan had a hard time putting his mind around it all.
One day Rouan asked Camille how long she had worked at the home. She looked him square in the eyes and smiled: “I've been here eighteen months and I've known about you just as long. You know, you are kind of a legend in Paris and elsewhere. There have been several newspaper articles written about you and Monsieur Frenot.”
“Oh Frenot was mentioned.” Rouan laughed.
“You don't know, do you?” She looked at him oddly.
“Know what?” Rouan asked.
“About Monsieur Frenot, he is a very important person in the government.”
“Important in the government, how so?”
“He was the top assistant to the former president. They say Monsieur Frenot might one day be the president of France.”
"If I could vote, I would vote for him.” Rouan stated.
“Monsieur Frenot did not tell you?”
“Another surprise, I suppose.”
"You are a citizen of France. In order for your care to continue, French citizenship was necessary. Monsieur Frenot took care of it long ago.”
“Oh my father would be proud, his son a French citizen. I must thank Jean-Marc.” Rouan had begun calling Frenot by his first name. After all, they had known each other for such a long time and had been through so much.
“Jean-Marc Frenot, your good friend the next president of France,” Camille laughed. “You will invite me to the inaugural ball.” She winked.
"Whatever you want Camille. Just don't ask me to dance.”
"I don't know Robert; you are getting stronger every day. We might have to include dance lessons in your rehabilitation.” She put her hand on Rouan's shoulder and smiled so tenderly. That touch brought the world and all its joys back to him. After so much evil, so much loss of life, human tenderness had survived.
Rouan had known Frenot as the young lawyer who had taken up his case. Taken up the case of a seemingly delusional madman, murderer even, and in the end showed such affection and concern for him. It was not hard to comprehend that Frenot had made such a success of himself, Rouan thought. He was always bright, capable and seemed to know how to broker a deal and make peace even with fools (Rouan included himself as one of those fools that Frenot had dealt with. Rouan realized he had not been an easy client.).
Rouan teased Frenot when they met next: "They tell me that you are to be the next president of France."
"The rumors are greatly exaggerated. I suppose it was that pretty nurse of yours who put those ideas in your head."
"I suppose so. Or did she say you were holding out to be crowned king. There hasn't been a king in France for several centuries. Maybe it's time." Rouan laughed.
"It is good to hear you laugh, Robert." Frenot smiled. "I see you too still think big. But seriously, I have no interest in being out front in politics. I prefer to stay behind the scenes. Which brings me to another point, if you think you’re up to it, how would you like to visit the United Nations in Geneva? I have someone I would like for you to meet."
"I would love to go to Geneva. Who is it that you would like me to meet?"
"Assistant Secretary General Christophe Tousant. He is a friend of mine, an amazing man."
* * * *