The Dharma Papers: Chap 13 "The Desert"

Trails of dust blast up into the air, as a jeep comes flying over the sand dune in the high deserts of New Mexico. "Whoa, Pavlov, easy man!!" Charlie Hume said, as he gripped hard on the roll bar. "Do not worry, my friend, I have lots of experience driving the Gobi desert during the war!" "Which war was that?" Charlie asks. "Does it matter?" Pavlov laughs. They were 100 miles south of Socorro, looking for a place that technically didn't exist. Charlie's research into the Syntropic Sciences Institute, that Karen DeGroot had referenced, had led them here. The SSI was a private corporation and very mysterious. They did research into Quantum Physics and apparently were trying to utilize cutting edge research to find cutting edge profits.Their motto, "Excellence through Quantum Thought" only added to the mystery. Charlie did find out somewhere out here, they had an underground research lab. What exactly they did in that lab was unknown and who ran the entire operation was also unknown. Being a private entity, Charlie couldn't find any list of officers. So Charlie and Pavlov decided to go take a look-see. They wern't alone. Sitting in the back seat was a cute brunette. Charlie didn't really want her along but she did save his neck back in the bar and she argued that she also wanted to find out who shot up her instruments and wounded her band members, effectively putting her out of business. Charlie thought, however, Megan Pace may be more trouble than she was worth. Suddenly, more dust trails to their right. "I think we have attracted someone's attention," Pavlov says. Over a dune to their immediate right jumps two black SUV's. "Well, this is where it gets interesting," Pavlov says, as he jerks the Jeep to the left to meet the SUV's head on. A game of chicken ensues. But Charlie, Pavlov, and Megan loose, as Pavlov is forced to turn. As the other SUV comes around, automatic gunfire zips across the Jeep's hood. "Wow man, if I get out of this alive, I should have enough material for a dozen songs," yelled Megan. "Glad to be of help to your career, however short that now may be!" said Charlie. Pavlov doubles back, driving between the center of two dunes. The other SUV comes careening over the dune, flying over their jeep. But that manuever buys them some time, as Pavlov hits a hard right and goes behind another, larger dune. They spot what looks like an air conditioning duct. "I've an idea," Pavlov says, "we know the SSI lab is around here somewhere and we've obviously entered a restrictive area, so while we've got a few extra seconds on our pursuers, I'll slow down enough for you two to jump out and go down that duct. It leads somewhere. Maybe to what you're looking for. I'll take off and try to lead these guys away from you. I'll catch up with you later!" Pavlov slows. Charlie and Megan jump. They run to the duct and dive. Down. Down. Down. They slide until they land with a thump! A little shaken, but not stirred, they get up and find themselves in a tunnel. "Where to now?" Megan asks. Charlie hears the sound of machinery further down. "This way, I think," he says. "I think?" Megan replies, "I've found that nothing ever good comes out of 'I think'." Nevertheless, they head toward the sounds. They come across a large vent and peer in. What they see freaks Charlie out. For sitting, bolted down in the center of some kind of lab, surounded by rows of instumentation, is an oblong shaped object that appears to fade in and out of focus. The same object Charlie discovered on the sub. The same object that apparently started this whole quest. To be Continued: Next Chap. 14 "Dancing in the Ghost Fields"

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