One hundred twenty minutes never seemed to pass as quickly as it did during the time Joe and Hannah desperately worked on a plausible argument for King Juan Carlos about why he should reconsider his stance on the Mayan calendar problem. There was the hesitation of trying to tell a powerful Mayan king he needed to do anything. Also on their minds was the freshly used trough for be-heading they saw on their way in.
Somehow they had to make the argument that the calendar could not arbitrarily stop, especially not on December 21st, 2012, which was only thirty some odd hours from now. Could they draw a parallel about his descendants in the twenty first century to get his attention? Or should they appeal to his vanity and the possibility of his kingdom surviving so long? Everything seemed so questionable.
Hannah wiped the sweat from her brow while she listened for sounds of Prince Katurba returning to fetch them for their meeting with his father. Her hands were sore, not only from wringing them over the last two hours, but also from her attempt to hold on while their time machine bus careened into this seventh century landscape.
She marveled at Joe’s seemingly unflappable expression, while knowing his insides were just as unsettled as hers. He smiled when she looked, trying to maintain the ruse. Hannah wanted to get this over with, whatever the outcome and hope they could make the king listen.
“What will we tell him?” Joe asked.
“I think we appeal to his desire for a legacy. We tell him that the calendar will end in two days and so will his kingdom.”
“There is something we need to talk about before the prince comes,” Joe said.
“I don’t know how to say this.”
“Just spit it out. We have always been totally upfront with each other.”
Joe looked at Hannah with a strange expression, then signed, nodded and began to speak, but was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Prince Katurba and his entourage.
“We must go now; my father is not a patient man!”
Hannah stood to follow, but asked Joe what it was he needed to say.
“You will see,” Joe said, concern filling his face.
They followed the four guards and Prince Katurba as they made their way towards a looming structure called the pyramid, where the king favored to do his afternoon business. Hannah’s eyes traced the steps up the slope and immediately she knew what Joe tried to tell her.
“Are we supposed to go up there?” she said grabbing his arm.
“Yes Buzz. The king does not come down among the common people, remember. If we want an audience with him we must go up there.”
“I can’t go up there!”
“I cannot do this alone,” Joe said whispering so the prince would not hear them. “Beside that if you refuse to go it will make the king angry.”
Hannah struggled with the paradox she saw in front of her. Since she was a small child the fear of heights was very strong. She attributed it to climbing to the top of her brothers twenty foot tall tree house and falling to the ground where she broke both arms.
Joe offered his arm, clasping her wrist underneath while she did the same to his. He hoped this would help her make the long ascent so they could make their audience with the king. Hannah tried to close her eyes with every other step, knowing not to ever look back or down. Her breathing was shallow and rushed, causing her real concern she might hyperventilate. She dared not look up, dreading the realization of how much farther she had to go.
“You must wait here while I approach my father,” Katurba said when they finished their climb.
Joe turned Hannah away from the view of the village below and then reassured her it was safe to open her eyes.
“I think I am going to be sick!”
“I believe that would be frowned on by the establishment,” Joe smiled.
One of Katurba’s guards returned and motioned for them to approach the area where the king was waiting.
Neither Joe nor Hannah knew exactly what to expect when they approached the king, but neither was disappointed. There were at least a dozen heavily armed soldiers flanking him on all sides. What they assumed to be his number two was sitting nearby, eyeing them nervously. Perhaps he considered them a threat.
“You may approach,” Juan Carlos announced in a strong, deep voice.
“Your highness,” Joe said. “Thank you for granting us an audience.”
“You are friends of Brown?”
“Yes, your highness,” Hannah answered.
“You came on magic chariot?”
They looked at each other with confusion, but then realized he meant the time machine.
“Yes, your highness,” Joe replied.
“I ride chariot?” the king asked.
Joe looked at Hannah, then at Prince Katurba before answering.
“Certainly, your highness.”
“Your highness we are here to ask you to consider the extension of your calendar. We come from the year of 2012 and that is when your calendar will end. Doctor Brown said it can be extended,” Hannah said.
“No need to extend,” Juan Carlos said. “All will be gone by then.” Juan Carlos waved his hand around as if he was meaning everything they could see when he said ‘all’.
“You show,” Juan Carlos said.
“Father, if you leave King Omar will come and destroy us!” Prince Katurba interjected out of turn. His unexpected and uncharacteristic breach in protocol brought all activity nearby to a halt.
King Juan Carlos slowly turned his attention from Joe and Hannah to his son. The younger man stood stock still, knowing his moment of indiscretion could mean his end.
“My son speaks truth!”
Everyone released a short sigh as the result of Katurba’s impetuousness seemed to be no more than a serious look of warning.
“Your highness, we can prove your kingdom remains. These are documents showing the thriving village of Katurbis, named after your son,” Joe said, offering a photograph of a Mayan village taken in the 1950s. He hoped the king had no previous knowledge of such a thing as a photo, or that no village had ever existed.
“What magic is this?” Juan Carlos asked.
“In our time we can capture pictures to show to others, your highness,” Hannah explained.
Juan Carlos studied the picture, and then shifted ever so slightly before he spoke again.
“I control only half of calendar. Omar is problem!”
“Your highness, we will talk to him,” Joe offered.
“Will be hard. Omar stubborn!”
“So is he!” Hannah said nodding toward Joe. She wondered why everyone was staring at her until it occurred to her to add “Your highness!”
Juan Carlos offered a small smile in return, and then he motioned for his son to approach so he could whisper in his ear. This movement left Joe and Hannah to wonder what was happening.
“We shall go see King Omar at once!” Katurba said after standing to face them.
The trip back down was easier for Hannah, but still stressful. She did not cherish the likelihood of having to repeat the process a few more times, but at least there was the promise of a resolution.
Prince Katurba filled them in on the feud as they traveled to Pachuca, where King Omar reigned.
“Will King Omar receive us without knowledge of our visit?”
“Yes,” Katurba replied. “But only because I am his favorite nephew.”
The temple at Pachuca was also atop a large pyramid, which Hannah noticed immediately.
“Look at it this way,” Joe said. “You can save the world and beat your phobia at the same time!”
“That is not funny,” Hannah said.
King Omar was more imposing than Juan Carlos, in no small part due to the expressions on the faces of his two dozen spear toting protectors. Joe thought they resembled the starting defensive line at LSU, his favorite college football team. Prince Katurba approached his uncle who looked stern until the young man stood three feet away. Then his face broke into a large smile and he enveloped the smaller man in a ferocious bear hug.
“My favorite nephew!” Omar crowed for all in earshot to hear. “Why come you to see me?”
“He sounds like Yoda,” Joe whispered to Hannah.
“I have prophets from the future,” Katurba said, knowing how to gain his uncle’s attention. “They tell of your kingdom continuing past the end of our current calendar.”
“My kingdom remains?” Omar smiled.
“Yes your highness,” Joe said. Hannah saw him reaching for the satchel hanging from his shoulder and her eyes screamed “NO!” They had bluffed Juan Carlos with the National Geographic printed replica map; they did not need to do so here.
“It is large?”
“The largest, your highness!” Hannah told him.
This pleased King Omar. He smiled broadly as he nodded to his people.
“But your highness, the calendar will end soon,” Joe continued. “Without an agreement between yourself and King Juan Carlos, we cannot promise your kingdom will continue.”
“Doe his kingdom remain?”
Hannah glanced at Katurba, who as slightly as possible nodded no.
“Unfortunately, your highness, it does not,” she answered.
“Then he must come here!” Omar announced. “He must come here and declare I am the supreme ruler. Only then will I agree to this!”
Follow this link to the conclusion
Note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part serial fiction work created by Hannah McAmis and Joe Owens. Hannah is a 16 yr old junior at Twin Springs High School and I had the joy of meeting her and her family on a recent mission trip to Belize. Please understand this is merely an opportunity to collaborate on a purely fictional work. As Christians we both know the world will not end on Friday, but thought we could have some fun with the subject.