The Cataclysm Scroll - Chapter 23 -23- “That was an excellent steak, Ty,” Mahkah complimented the chef. “Thank you.” “All I did was cook it,” Ty replied modestly. “Black angus from my rancher neighbor, Roy. They’re on the hoof over there less than a half-mile away,” he said, pointing north. “Great steers. The best eating.” Laura threw a glance to Mahkah and smiled, remembering their conversation from an hour before. Mahkah smiled back, knowing what she was thinking. “Sure was good,” Laura nodded. She stood up and started to clean off the table when Ty insisted she didn’t have to. “I’ll get that. You should call your professor,” he said. “Okay,” she agreed. “May I use your phone? Mine’s been turned off since before I got here because it has no signal.” “Sure!” Ty said, pointing to the phone on the wall near the refrigerator. “Help yourself.” She knew his number by heart and made the call. Katz answered. “Professor, this is Laura. I just wanted to let you know I was okay and tell you everything that’s happened,” she started. Ty and Mahkah stayed in the kitchen for Laura in case she needed a little moral support. “I know,” she answered defensively. “I should have called but my phone doesn’t work here and I haven’t had time to pick up voice mail…” She paused, apparently interrupted by the professor. Ty could hear a man’s angry voice coming through the handset. He’d been witness once already to Katz’s intimidating phone manners, and now he was hearing it again. Even though Ty had never met Katz, he didn’t like him already. “I know, sir,” Laura apologized. “But please, let me tell you what happened…” There was more shouting on the other end of the phone. Ty suppressed an urge to take the phone from Laura and tell the guy off. But he knew it would get her in trouble with her employer so he bit the bullet. He looked at Mahkah in frustration. The shaman was sitting passive, arms folded across his chest, also listening to Laura get tongue-lashed. “Are Josh and Katie all right?” she asked. She paused while more loud words flowed out of the phone, and she said, “Good. Thanks for getting them. I really appreciate it.” She tried to explain what had happened, but Katz wasn’t giving her an opportunity to speak. Every time she’d start to say something, he’d cut her off. Apparently, Josh and Katie had already explained to Katz that the scroll was on its way back to the cave. And he was very angry he hadn’t had the opportunity to see it. “I’m sorry, sir,” Laura said, getting frustrated. “But if we had kept it, more disasters were going to happen…” “How do you know that for sure?” echoed loudly from the telephone. Ty and Mahkah could now hear Katz clearly because Laura had pulled the handset back from her ear. She glanced nervously at them, as if apologizing for her boss. Laura shook her head as she became more flustered and said, “I can’t explain how I know it, sir, not right now. It wouldn’t make sense. I need to wait until we meet and I can explain things completely.” More shouting. Laura was looking down at the floor. She leaned up against the refrigerator and assumed the posture of a person who had been tongue-lashed beyond their ability to cope with it. “Yes sir,” she said quietly, then hung up the phone. “That was bull****,” Ty said. “What an arrogant ass!” Laura moved slowly to the table, plopped down in her chair and said, “I was told to clean out my desk at the university. The professor just fired me.” “What?” exclaimed Mahkah. “Without giving you a chance to explain?” “Yes,” she nodded. “I guess Josh and Katie did the best they could to tell him everything they knew. But he didn’t believe them. He didn’t believe anything about the scroll being connected to what’s going on. Katz thinks he’s lost an important archaeological find, that’s all.” “This is wrong,” Ty insisted. “What an *******.” “He can be that,” Laura looked up at Ty. “But that’s okay, there’s other jobs.” She tried to smile. “Things happen for a reason,” Mahkah said. “Sometimes you need to let go of that rock and flow down the stream to find a nicer rock.” He grinned and winked at Laura. “Don’t be distraught, my dear,” he continued. “The man is a tyrant and so full of ego and self-importance he’d drive anyone crazy. As you just said, there are other jobs.” “Yep,” Ty agreed. “I think Mahkah’s right. Things do happen for a reason. And you didn’t want to work with that Kirk Perry asswipe anyway. He almost got us all killed.” The shaman nodded that Ty had a point. The volume was down on the television, but there was a graphic of a meteor on its screen. Ty patted Laura on the shoulder as he went over to turn it up so they could hear the latest about the meteor. The news anchor looked like she hadn’t slept in days. In a very tired voice she said, “Observatories around the world have calculated the meteor will hit in the Atlantic ocean near the equator twenty-eight hours from now. But the U.S. government is insisting that NASA’s calculations clearly show the meteor is going to miss Earth by over a million miles. They urge that there is no reason for the panic that has gripped the world.” “Meanwhile,” she continued, “chaos in the streets of nearly every city on Earth has now claimed over two million lives. And the number is steadily growing as reports continue to flow in. The Associated Press and Reuters are unable to keep up…” “A million miles is a big difference, don’t you think?” Ty asked his friends. “How can there be that big of a gap in their calculations?” Mahkah chuckled, “It’s our government’s job to keep telling us everything is okay. No problems at all. Business as usual. The meteor’s going to miss. The economy is fine. It’s what people need and want to hear.” “Sheeple,” Ty said in a disgusted voice. Laura looked at him with a curious face and asked, “What’s sheeple?” “People who are sheep,” Ty smiled at her and replied, “sheeple. Those who need to be led and have no desire to know the truth.” Mahkah laughed and said, “I’ve never heard that term before. But it sure does apply.” Laura stood up and said, “I think I’m going to go to bed. The wine and that great meal, and the day we’ve had have worn me out.” “That’s not a bad idea,” Mahkah nodded to Laura. “I’ll sleep down here on the couch.” “And I’ll sleep downstairs,” Ty said. He looked at Laura and said, “And you sleep in the master bedroom up in the loft.” He pointed up the steps. “I’ve been up there,” she said, “when I hid in the closet because someone was coming over.” She looked at Mahkah and smiled, admitting, “I didn’t know you were a nice guy at the time.” They all laughed, then Mahkah said, “Sleep tight, Laura. You too, Ty.” She looked over at the Indian and asked, “Dreams tonight?” “Maybe,” he mused. “That is, if you have any energy left to remember them.” Ty shook his head again, as he always had when they talked about these things. “Scary stuff,” he said. “Yeah, sure,” Laura chuckled sarcastically. “After the gun fights you’ve had today, you think dreams are scary? Ha!” He was smiling as he headed down the steps to the basement.