Originally posted Oct 30th 2008
Thank you to Ann Hite for the extra voices. Enjoy!
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The Finding of Mt Olympus
By Jeffrey Hite
March 21 9:30 AM Eastern Standard Time.
“I’ve found it!” Larry shouted standing up in his cubical so that we could all see him. “I found Mount Olympus.”
“So? Why not Atlantis, Larry? Hundreds of thousands of people have found Mount Olympus, most notably the Greeks. It’s an actual mountain in Greece you know. “. Sue rebuffed him from the next cubical over, not even bothering to get up.
“What?” I blurted out while standing up for the first time.
“Mt Olympus, you know the home of the gods come see…” he said, ignoring Sue and beckoning me over.
I hesitated; going over into Larry’s cubical was a bit like stepping into a fantasy world and more often than not, not one you would really like to visit. His normal variety of fantasy was not something I really liked, but Greek myths were a passion we both shared.
“Come on it will only take a sec,” he said when we saw my hesitation. “It’s here on the map.”
“Alright, I’ll bite.” I said entering his cubical. As expected it was a dizzying array of posters, drawings and fantasy character figures. They were everywhere: on the desk, on top of his test systems, on the keyboard tray, even on the phone and his monitors.
“Hey, where did you get those?” I said pointing to the two Apple thirty inch cinema displays.
“Never mind that, they’re mine.”
“And you brought them to work?”
“Yes, yes, I needed them to look at the maps and satellite images. Look here.” he said pointing to the center of the display on the left.
“It looks like a bunch of mountains.”
“Right, let me zoom out a bit so you can get an idea of where they are.” He grabbed the mouse and scrolled out so that we could see the whole land mass. It was, of course, Greece. Then he zoomed back in. “Here, do you see that?” he said circling a spot on the map with his finger.
“It looks like a mountain, just like all the rest around it.” I liked Larry. He was a good guy, and despite his fascination with the fantasy world, he was a brilliant technician but I was beginning to regret this trip to Larry Land.
“Right. We are looking at the official topographical map. Now if I switch to satellite view.” He clicked and the image changed.
“What’s the joke? We’re still looking at the same peak.”
“Yeah, but look closer. Do you see that shadow?”
“Look at the peaks around it. Do any of them look like that? In fact, have you ever seen a peak that looked that perfect except in drawings?”
I looked at the image and he was right. There was nothing around that looked like the shadow and it did look particularly perfect.
“Now watch this.” He changed the angle of the view so that we were about 45 degrees from the ground. “Look, look, do you see it?”
“My God!” On the screen all the other mountains had flattened out as in most two dimension pictures, but the shadow stood up straight, an almost perfect cone. “Wow! That is really cool. I wonder what that is? It has got to be some kind of software glitch.”
“No, it’s not. I tried it on this other program too. See?” He switched applications and there it was again. “The last one uses fly over views from aircraft, this one uses satellite photos.”
“Right, well maybe it is one of the other peaks that just looks distorted,” I said sitting back down in my cubical.
“Yeah maybe.” He didn’t say anything to anyone for the rest of the day, and when I left late that night he was still in his cubical. I sneaked a quick peek as I walked past toward the door, and he had both images up on the left display and a number documents up on his other one that didn’t look like the code that he was supposed to be working on.
March 29 8:15 AM Eastern Standard Time
Larry came in a little later than normal with his habitual cup of coffee in his left hand and big mailing tube in his right.
“More posters Larry?” Mike asked laughing. Larry, as usual, ignored him. He walked past and sat down in his cubical. I could hear him tearing the tape off the tube and pulling out its contents. I tired to ignore him. If it were new posters, putting them up would be an all morning affair and I had things to do. I couldn’t get sucked into it. Three new systems were going live in a week and I needed to make sure that the databases would actually work when the customers started making their queries.
“I was right!” Larry screamed twenty minutes later. “I was right, I was right! See, come look at this Rob!” despite the need to get the systems out I was more than a little interested. The Greek myths were something that had always interested me and, well, I really needed a break after the morning I was having. Sue and Mike both gave me sidelong glances and Dave, our boss, gave me a look that told me that I would be working overtime if those databases were not up and running.
“What, Larry?” I said.
“Look!” he said pointing. On his desk were a dozen or so maps of different types and one huge blowup of a satellite image. “I had a friend of mine at NASA get this for me. I owe him about three cases of booze for it but it will be worth it.”
“What is it?”
“Come on,” he insisted pointing at the image. I looked closer. It was a picture of the same spot he had shown me last week. The lighting was different but the shadow still stood exactly as it did before.
“Wow ,that is really cool. What do you think it is?”
“Damn it Rob, don’t you believe me? It is Mt Olympus. You know, the home of the gods.”
“Larry, that is not possible. It’s a myth.”
“All myths have their roots in some fact. In ancient times no mortal could find it unless the gods wanted you to. I think this is one of those things.”
“But why would it show up like this?” I said gesturing to the pictures.
“Because you can’t hide from photography. The eye you can fool, but not film. And,” he said smiling a little, “I think that maybe they want to be found or at least one of them does.” I sat back in the extra chair in his cubical. It was then that I noticed that Larry’s office had changed. There were none of the normal posters of his fantasy world. In their place were maps of every sort of the area around Mt Olympus. On some of them he had drawn in the cone with red pen. There were maps of ancient Greece, with clear overlays of the modern map. There were genealogy charts that followed all of the gods and goddess. He had taken the system roll-out schedule off his white board and replaced it with lists of supplies, travel plans, flight numbers and hotel names.
“Larry, what is all this?” I asked gesturing to the new decor.
“I have been digging up everything I could on this in the last couple of weeks, and not just on the Internet. I have done some serious book work on this as well. I have found some really great stuff.”
“What about the roll-out schedule? Have you been doing the development for that? I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology too but…”
“Forget that, this is huge. What if we could find our way into the home of the gods? Think of the things we could ask them.”
“Larry, we are going live with the first site in less than two weeks.”
“Is that all you can think about? Look at this.” He picked up a book about the stealing of fire from the gods. “This talks about how it only happened because Prometheus, one of the gods, wanted it to. Think about what it could mean.”
“But nothing. This is huge.”
“Larry, what do you think you are going to find? What do you think you are going to prove?”
“I don’t know what I’ll find, but I’m going to find something. But right now I’ve got to go talk to Dave about some time off.” With that he got up and walked out of his cubical and headed towards Dave’s office.
“Larry, he is never going to give you time off now!” But he waved me off and walked right into Dave’s office.
They had a short argument that I can only guess at, but in the end Larry threw up his hands, came back to his desk and spent the next hour or so packing everything up.
“Larry, what are you doing?”
“I quit! Can you believe it? They would not give me the time off when I have found something this big. Dave said something about after the roll-out. But what if this thing disappears, what if this is a short time offer. What if it is only one god that wants to be found, like I think it might be, and the others find out about it and close the door. We can’t wait. We have to get over there now and check this thing out.”
“Wait a minute Larry. I can’t go. I have a job to do. We both do. We are grown men, we can’t just go running off on a wild goose chase.”
“You too? Damn narrow minded people, can’t even see past the end of your noses. You sound just like the rest of them!” was all that I got from him as he pushed past me and walked out.
March 29 10:45 AM Eastern Standard Time
“Rob,” I looked up to see Dave standing at my desk. “I hate to have to do this to you but it is going to be hard on all of us. Larry quit this morning, as I am sure you know, so we are going to have to divvy up his roll-out responsibilities.” Dave always had this way of whining that made my skin want to crawl. It was only worse when he wanted to give you bad news. It was as if he picked the most annoying voice to deliver the most annoying news.
“Dave, what did he say?”
“Something about finding Mt. Olympus and that he needed time off. I told him some time after the roll-out was completed, but he insisted that it had to be today. When I told him that was not possible, he quit. Just like that. So like I said, we are going to need to you do some over time.” there was that voice again.
April 11 2:13 AM Eastern Standard Time
I woke the sound of the phone ringing and it made my head hurt.
“Rob, Rob! Wake up man.”
I rolled over to check the clock, and winced as the receiver pressed against my ear.
“Rob, I’ve found it! You’ve got to come see this. It’s here.”
“Larry, what are you talking about? Do you know what I have been through the last two weeks since you left?”
“Rob, screw all of that. Listen to me. This is huge. I’ve found it! The entrance to Mt. Olympus. I bought you a plane ticket. I need someone here to help me document this. You are the most detailed person I know. You have to come here. I mean, it is nothing like I expected. It is more than I ever imagined!”
“Larry, hang on a second. What? There is no way. What about Dave?” I was still half asleep and having a hard time understanding him.
“Rob, I promise that you will not regret this. Listen, the ticket will be delivered to you first thing in the morning. I have to go.” The line went dead.
I lay in bed for a long time, not able to get back to sleep. Half of me was cursing Larry for waking me up, half of me dying to see what he had found. I had to admit even with everything I had been through in the last few weeks, I was interested. I had been since the first day he had shown me. I did not quite know if I should believe him, but it was certainly interesting. Besides, although he was a bit odd with all the fantasy things, Larry was not one to really make something like this up. He always did his homework.
For a long time I could not decide what to do, but in the end practicality won out. If this ticket did show up in the morning I would just throw it away and go on like the phone call had never happened. Larry would have to find someone else.
April 12 8:42 AM Eastern Standard Time
“Rob, is that your fifth cup of coffee?”
“Yes, Sue, it is.”
“Going kind of heavy aren’t you?”
“I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“But it’s not even nine in the morning.”
“I have been here since five, Sue.” I was beyond aggravated with this line of questioning, and so made my way to my desk trying not to hear her last comment. She was the kind of person that always had to get the last word in.
I had no more than sat down at my desk when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and was both relieved and concerned that it was an internal call. That meant that the customer was not having a problem with their newly rolled out system, but it could very well be Dave with a complaint that the customer had taken over my head.
“This is Rob.”
“Rob, this is Mary, you have mail and it is marked urgent.”
“Thanks Mary. I will be up in a little bit to get it.”
“It needs a signature, and it is not marked with Untide’s name. You know the policy about not signing for personal things.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” I said with as much annoyance in my voice as possible. “I will be right up,” she hung up the phone and I headed for the front desk.
“Not going for more coffee already are you? You are going to give yourself an ulcer, you know,” Sue was at it again and I did my best to ignore her.
When I got to the front desk, Dave was standing there and he didn’t look happy. Apparently Mary had called him right after she got off the phone with me. Or maybe right before. One look at the delivery guy, and decided it must have been before. Mary and Dave looked like a firing squad.
“Thank you.” I said taking the envelope from him and checking that it was addressed to me and not Unitide.
“Just sign here.”
“Thank you, I said handing the clipboard back to him.
“Rob,” Dave was using that voice again. “You know the policy about getting personal mail delivered to the office.”
“Yes,” I said turning around. suddenly felt like a little kid who got caught stealing a cookie.
“What is this all about, who is it from?” I had not looked at who it was from but I knew it was from Larry. “Rob? Who is it from?” Now he was getting on my nerves.
“What difference does that make?”
“You are not supposed to be getting mail at the office. It is a distraction. Hand it over and it will be on my desk when you are ready to go home.”
“You are kidding right?”
“Come on hand it over.”
“You had it delivered here, it is company property.”
“Go to hell Dave,” I said as I walked back to my desk.
Who did Dave think he was? Wasn’t it illegal for him to take my mail? I would have to look it up when I got back to my desk.
“Rob, we need to talk about this,” He must have taken the other way around because now he was standing at the entrance to my cubical.
“What is the deal Dave, why all the fuss over a letter?”
“It’s from Larry isn’t it?”
“What is the difference?”
“Do you know why the policy is what it is?”
“You know, I never really understood that. You think that grown men and women are going to be distracted by getting mail? We are not three-year-olds Dave.”
“It is what it is, you can have your opinion, but there is more than that. We think Larry could be a security risk since he knew our roll-out schedule before he left.”
“Bull! Larry never cared about what we were doing here, he was here for the paycheck and you know it!”
“He knew the schedule.”
“What did he tell you before he left?”
“Give me the letter Rob you can have it back after work.”
“I am not a three-year-old,” I said raising my voice a bit so that everyone else could hear. “This is total bull. You have no right to take my mail where ever I get it delivered. I have given ten years of loyal service to this company, and you want to treat me like I am a child. Fine! You want the letter, take it.” I held it above me head waving it slightly. Dave reached for it but came about six inches short. I smiled at him and walked past him into my cubical. I picked up my jacket and keys with my free hand and pushed past him again.
“Where are you going?”
“Same place Larry did. I quit!”
A few minutes later I sat with my head on the steering wheel, my heart pounding and hands shaking. What was I going to do now? I was on my way home to get my resume up to date, when I remembered the letter. It was sitting on the seat next to me. I felt like it was calling to me, tempting me to open it. I didn’t even want the damn letter and now I had quit my job over it.
“What was I thinking? I wonder if it is too late to go back in.” Still the letter was calling me. I reached over and opened it. Inside was a set of plane tickets, a thousand dollars in cash and a note.
The tickets are for a 2:30 flight so you will have to hurry once you get this. Don’t worry about packing. If you need any clothes or anything you can use the money in the envelope. I will pick you up at the Athens Airport.
“Now what?” I had his money. I was glad that I had not run the entire letter through the shredder or given it to Dave. “But, now what?”
April 13 7:30 Am European Summer time
This morning I found Larry standing in our hotel room. His towel still wrapped around him, a set of maps in one hand and a slice of bread and lox in the other. He didn’t notice me for a few moments.
“You eat that?” I said, making my way to the coffee pot.
“Oh, good morning Rob. Sleep okay?”
“Yeah, where are we? It was pretty late last night.”
“We are in the Olympic national park, south of Mt. Olympus. Here, let me show you.” He carried the map to the table with the coffee pot spreading it out. “Here is Mt Olympus. It is about 2917 meters tall. Now here is the GPS unit I bought. See, it has the ability to save previous locations so you can find your way back. Now I know that it is accurate to about one hundred feet. See, the latitude, longitude and elevation of this place is here, and this is what the GPS shows.”
“Wow it only appears to be off by about twelve feet.”
“That would be because we’re one floor up. Last week, I climbed up to the highest point on the map, here.” He pointed first to the map and then to the GPS the numbers all matched. “Then using this enlargement of a satellite photo I found this trail right here.” He said pointing to a thin white line on the photo.
“Okay I see it.”
“I followed that path for about ten minutes, and it was pretty steep. Since this is a picture and not exactly the same scale as the map, although it is close, I would guess that I stopped about here and took a GPS reading.”
“You know that that means don’t you?”
“Yeah, I means you found a point higher than anything recorded.”
“No. It means that I found the home of the gods!”
“Rob, listen to me. When I was up there as soon as I found the trail, everything around me seemed to be shrouded in mist. At first I didn’t really notice it, but the further I went the denser it became.”
“You are high enough up that you could have been in a cloud.”
“I thought so too, but then when I turned around I had a really hard time going back down the path. There were even parts I felt like I was going up again, and I can promise you that when I was going up there were no downhill parts. It was like I kept getting turned around, but the GPS unit said I was going the right way. And here is the kicker: as soon as I was back down at 2917 meters, no mist, no cloud, nothing.”
Could it really be possible that he had found what he was looking for? That he had found the fantasy world he had been trying to find all of his life?
“So?” He said breaking me out of my thoughts.
“Do you believe me?”
“Larry, I’m here. You have given me some pretty hard evidence, but I want to see it for myself before I totally agree.” I could not believe the words that were coming out of my mouth.
“Good. This morning after we get dressed, we’ll go into town and get outfitted with some supplies. It is a two day hike to the top. You will be glad of all those times I dragged you to the climbing gym with me.”
April 15 3:30 PM European Summer Time.
“The path was just over here.” Larry said as I trailed behind him a few feet. We had reached the peak only a few minutes before.
“Hang on a second Larry,” I sat on a near by rock and caught my breath. “Larry, I had a thought. What if we get up in the mist like you did and we can’t find our way out?”
“That is why we have the extra supplies. They should last us a few days at least, and longer if we get really lost. But I don’t think we will get that lost. We have the GPS unit, and can just keep following it until it eventually leads us out.
“Eventually? that is not very comforting.”
“Everything will be fine. You’ll see Rob. Ah, here it is!” He was pointing to a little worn spot in the rock. “This is it, just like I told you! Now we just follow this a little ways and we are in. Ready?”
“I have an idea.”
“Let’s tie the climbing line it to something down here in case we need to find our way back. Then we can move it up the path when we run out.”
“Wow! How low tech of you my friend, but I am game!”
I tied the rope to the base of nearby boulder and we started up the path. Within seconds we were enveloped in a fog so thick, we could hardly see each other.
“Okay Larry, end of the rope. I will go back and untie it. You wait here and tie your end off,” I said a few minutes later.
“Fair.” He said as he looked around for something to tie it off to.
I picked my way along the path and as Larry had said at points the path seemed to go up and down, even though when we had come in it was most certainly all uphill. When I finally made my way back down to the base the fog had indeed cleared. I untied the rope and made my way back up the rope, winding it up, as I went so that it would not get snagged on anything.
“Rob? Is that you?” I heard Larry voice just a few feet in front of me.
“Did you hear that?”
“What? You calling to me?”
“No, before that.”
“I didn’t hear anything. What was it?”
“I thought I heard someone talking.”
“No, I didn’t hear anything.” When I was close enough to see him we stood still and listened for some time, but we didn’t hear anything.
“You know something weird?” Larry said breaking the long silence. “When you were walking away, you went down the path, but there were times that I watched the rope, go way up like you were going up hill. Just like a told you.”
“Yeah, it was very odd.” I was starting to feel more than a little nervous. “Did you tie your end off the line off?”
“Okay then let’s keep going.”
“Right,” he said taking the coil of rope from me and heading up the path, but he could not hide the slight quiver in his voice. Whether it was from excitement or nervousness, I could not tell.
“I will go back this time. You look a little wiped out.” Larry said when we reached again reached the end of the rope. It had taken us longer this time as the path had begun to wind and we had to find places to loop the rope so that we would be able to follow it back if we needed to.
“Thanks,” I said as I watched him walk back in the direction we had come. In truth I was more than a little tired. I tied my end to the nearest rock and sat down on it.
“Why are you here?” a voice from the mist said.
“Larry?” He didn’t answer. I pulled gently on the rope and I could feel him moving away.
“Why did you come? It has been so long.” The voice said. The voice was soft and sweet and definitely not Larry’s. Then I heard something moving nearby and it sounded like a big animal, but it was coming from a different direction than the voice.
“Who’s there?” I said, no longer able to hide the fear in my own voice. There was no answer. I yelled for Larry again.
“Coming,” he said from only a few feet off. “What is it?”
“Larry, the voice you heard before?”
“Tell me you heard it again.”
“Larry there is someone out here with us. And I think they might have brought an animal with them.”
“Come on, lets keep going.” he said, a little more calmly than I felt.
“Larry, I am not afraid to admit, I am more than a little freaked out.”
“Come on, it will be alright.”
“You have nothing to fear.” the voice said again.
“I heard that,” Larry said.
“Me too.” We looked around but could see nothing in the mist.
“Let’s keep moving,” He said. I again handed the coil of rope to him and we walked on, the voice urging us on now and again.
“I’ll go back this time,” I said when we reached the end of the rope.
“Don’t go back,” the voice said. “You are too far now.”
“Did you see that?”
“I’m not sure but it was a huge shape.” We watched the swirling mist for a few minutes but saw nothing more.
“I am going back to get the rope,” I said after a few moments.
“No!” came the voice, more insistent this time. “You will not be able to return.”
“You mean we can’t leave?” No answer, but now I saw something moving in the mist. “I am not going on with out the rope,” I said to Larry.
“I know I made fun of you before but I totally agree with you now.” With that I headed back to untie the other end.
“You have come so far,” the voice said, sounding as though it was weeping.
“Who are you?” I asked, but there was no reply.
In a couple of minutes I found the end of the rope. I untied it, turned around to go back and bumped into something. It was softer than rock, but just as solid. I backed away and felt something brush against me.
Whatever it was, it was moving around me to prevent me from going either forward or back. I fought to keep calm and tried to see through the fog, but could see nothing more than a large vague shape and feel the occasional brush of what felt like hair against my skin.
After what seemed like an eternity the voice spoke again, “You cannot return to your friend. He has passed beyond you.” This time it had more firmness than before, but it was still soft.
“What do you mean?”
“Follow the beast, it will show you the way out. Do not attempt to come back. It will be guarding the way.”
“What about Larry?”
“He is with us now.”
“What does that mean?” There was no answer. “Hey, what does that mean? What have you done with him?” Then I felt a huge body pressing against me. It was covered in hair and more than a match for me. “Wait!” I yelled, but it did no good. The beast was forcing me down the path. I screamed for Larry until my voice was gone, but the beast never faltered and soon I stood alone on the top of the mountain. The air was clear and I could see all around me.
I tried to go up the path again and again, only to find the huge beast there.
That was three years ago. I have written down every detail of what happened to us, thought it will make little difference as no one will believe it. I have tried many times since then to go back, but each and every time I did the beast was there. I heard from Larry only one more time. I returned to the mountain ten days after our first encounter. This time the beast was accompanied by a smaller creature. It appeared to be a sprite of the kind that Larry used to keep on his desk. It did not speak, but handed me a small scrap of paper.
I have found it.