Kian squinted into the bright sun as she walked across the wide porch to the driveway. Her white Keds® crunched in the gravel. She inserted the key into the driver-side lock of her battered-blue Jeep Wrangler and opened the door. Throwing her bag onto the passenger seat, she grabbed the handle over the door and climbed in.
Uncle Jacob was to be her first stop. She planned to check on him early before seeing her other patients and then return that evening for a quiet birthday celebration, just the two of them.
Several days ago he’d promised to “tell her everything” on her birthday. Whatever that meant.
Uncle Jacob. Now scooped with age, the small wiry man stood two inches shorter than Kian. He had always called her “Little One,” so she had always called him, “Big One.” Even after returning from Boston, she called him that. It was really kind of a joke, now. Most people found it quite amusing. But not Jacob’s son Stephen or Stephen’s wife.
Odd, Kian thought, as she braced herself for another deep rut in Jacob’s driveway.
It was also strange meeting Stephen after all these years. Odd that a son who had been told his father was dead should show up just when he was dying. Perhaps Stephen thought there would be an inheritance. She wondered if he knew Jacob’s cabin was part of the Buchanan estate. Stephen and his wife mostly left when Kian showed up. But still, they seemed devoted to Jacob.
As Kian pulled around the last bend, she spotted the log cabin, serene in the midst of the forest trees. It was smallish, actually one large room that served many purposes. A little wing was added sometime after the cabin was built. Jacob used it as his bedroom. There was a loft, too, mostly used to store Jacob’s “treasures,” the ones that had not found a spot in his overly crowded living area. Jacob, a retired antiquities professor, had many “treasures.” Like her father who was an ancient languages professor, Jacob had many books. Two of a kind, they were. That is why they had been such close friends and why Kian knew him as her “uncle.”
Kian shuddered as she climbed out of her jeep. The place had a spooky feel about it today. Just my imagination. What’s wrong with me this morning?
Kian crossed the front porch and knocked on the front door, calling Jacob’s name. No answer. She then pounded on the door. Still no answer. She pulled out her cell and called his number and heard his phone ring, but Uncle Jacob did not answer.
“Maybe he’s out back,” Kian remarked to herself. She picked her way through the overgrown bushes and past the bulkhead that went down to a cellar.
A familiar stonewall surrounding the garden area came into view. Kian had watched Jacob build this wall, showing her how stones were shaped and stacked to withstand the years. It taught Kian how the stone chambers, cairns, and walls out behind her own house had been built. Jacob had also erected a small stone circle in the center of the garden, a replica of the one near her stone chambers. Jacob had used it to teach Kian about astronomical alignments and the “shifting of the ages.” His was set to align with the shift between the age of Pisces and Aquarius. “Your circle,” he said, “is much older and one day I’ll show you about it.” Maybe that’s what he wanted to talk about.
Kian caught a flutter from of the corner of her eye. There was a curtain hanging outside Jacob’s bedroom window. Odd she thought, that it should be outside. She took a few steps closer and saw that the screen was pulled out. It lay carelessly on the ground. This was not right. Her heart pounding, Kian pulled out her cell and punched the number for the local police. A young female voice answered.
It was all Kian could do to control her voice. “Hi, my name is Kian Buchanan and I am a visiting nurse. My patient Jacob Steiner didn’t answer the door this morning and it looks like someone might have broken in. Please send someone quickly.” She gave the address.
“Do not go in, wait for the police,” warned the woman on the other end of the line.
Yeah, like I would be that stupid. “No problem, just hurry,” she said pacing around the house. To fill the time, she tried Jacob’s son’s cell. No answer there either.
Unenthusiastic was Kian’s assessment of the officer who finally arrived. He climbed out of his car and glanced around, seemingly without noticing Kian.
“Thanks for coming,” Kian offered by way of bridging what felt like a silent abyss between them. He did not respond.
He ambled to the front door and pounded his beefy fist against it. It sounded like dull thuds against the aged wood. No answer. Again he pounded on the door, this time yelling “police officer,” but again, no answer. So the officer turned and made his way through the brambles to the back of the house.
“That the open window?” He pointed but did not turn to look at Kian.
She wanted to say, “Sure looks open to me.” Instead she just feigned a sweet smile and replied, “Yes.”
“You been inside?”
“You try calling his phone?”
“Yes. He doesn’t answer.”
“They aren’t answering their phones either.”
“Terrible storm last night. Blew out lots of screens, I reckon. The old man probably went into town to get a new one.” With that the officer turned to leave.
“So what do we do now?” Kian hurried after him.
The officer kept walking. “Wait for him to come back.”
Kian hurled herself around the burly officer, blocking his path to his cruiser. “Look officer, this man is my patient. He has trouble breathing. He’s weak and may have fallen. We need to check. If you aren’t going in, I am.”
The officer glared at her, took out his cell phone, and walked into the woods.
At least you could answer me.
When the officer returned, he grabbed a nearby rubbish can and set it under the open window. Still silent, he eased his bulky body up and pushed his way in.
“Should I come, too?”
Again, silence. Kian jumped up on the can to follow the officer. Just as she was pulling herself up and into the window, she heard the officer exclaim, “What the fuck!”
It took her eyes a moment to adjust, but when they did, Kian paled as her focus narrowed. There in a pool of blood lay Uncle Jacob.
Stone cairns, chambers, and walls in the Hudson Valley:
About 50 miles north of Manhattan, the Hudson Valley is riddled with mysterious stone chambers, walls and cairns. There are several different theories about them.
One theory holds that the early settlers built the chambers as food storage, but this theory has been discounted for the most part. None of the chambers have means to keep small animals out. Any food storage would have been quickly consumed by wildlife. In addition, chambers are topped with large heavy stones. This is labor-intensive and easier means of building were available.
Early settlers re-purposed the structures, adding doors in some cases. But for the most part the structures were probably on the land before the settlers arrived.
A second theory holds that the stone structures were built by the native peoples inhabiting the area, perhaps as shelter, hunting blinds or burials.
We do know that indigenous people near glaciers still build similar stone shelters. The techniques to build with rock would be a bit trickier, but not that different from building igloos. If this is the case, then these chambers were built at the end of the last ice age. The Hudson Valley was covered by glaciers up until about 15,000 years ago, so these structures are quite old indeed if they were built at that time.
If it is true that indigenous people followed the receding glaciers north and built in stone along the way, one wonders why there are no rock chambers north of New England.
The third theory holds that Europeans built these structures long before Columbus made his famous voyage. The structures are quite similar to those found in the northern British Isles. We have also found artifacts with Runic, Punic (Carthage), and Hebrew writing along with other metal artifacts from these cultures.
Indeed, there is evidence that travel was common between the “old” and the “new’ world. The Americas may have been a refuge for displaced Europeans millennia before Columbus re-discovered it. That is the premise of this story.
Shifting of the Ages:
This is more formally known as the “precession of the Equinoxes.” Approximately every 2000 years we go from one age to another. Right now we are changing from Pisces to Aquarius.
The ancients, we have discovered, often oriented or aligned their structures to particular stars in the sky. We can now date many old stone structures by comparing the alignment of structures with maps of the night sky because the orientation of stars will change through the ages. This type of dating has been done with Stonehenge, the Pyramids and other structures both in the “old” and the “new” world.
Uncle Jacob has dated Kian’s Stone Circle as “much older” based on this system of
By dbking (Flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons