The piece of paper said: ‘11 am sharp.’

The morning newspapers were still in ominously neat stacks.

Clearly no-one had felt like touching them. Part of a headline

read: Unexplained bizarre… -the fold in the paper clipped off

the rest of the caption. Even the ‘Le Monde’ and ‘El Pais’ were

still undisturbed in the piles. I picked up several airmail envelopes

marked ‘Señor Greg MacLean’ and headed into the tea room for

breakfast and coffee.

It was intriguing to see that despite the general unease reflected

in the morning papers, the warm sunshine pouring into the

serviceman’s club still managed to bring about a feeling of calm.

Through the large bay windows, I could see rosy-cheeked joggers

returning from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. There were

familiar faces; the health-conscious were a minor caste and usually

knew each other by sight.

I sat down on a leather couch and was soon enjoying the aromatic

esters rising up from my cup of black coffee. It was the best part

of the day, the gentle reverie brought on by the peaceful early

morning scenes and a strong warm drink. -The morning was

glorious indeed, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it for long. Events from

the previous day kept filtering back into my mind. As if the current

global events weren’t eerie enough, the curious encounter at the

British Museum had been unsettling and more than a little odd.

While at the Museum, I had been standing in front of a large

display case, -an unassuming 11th century Crusaders dagger had

caught my eye. Apart from the often insalubrious lore surrounding

Azac, the mysterious artisan who had made the knife, the weapon

itself was special in that it had American plants as motifs both

on the hilt and on the scabbard. They were out of place because

the Crusades took place long before Columbus’s time, ruling out

any possibility of the Spaniard having been the fi rst European to

discover America. More and more evidence was coming to light

about intrepid Norsemen -the Sea Dragons and certain Scots

having crossed the Atlantic many times in the past.

As I stood there gazing at the knife, wondering what sights and

sounds it had witnessed, a tall well dressed man came and peered at

the dagger as well. Eventually he turned to me.

“If only it could speak.”

“Yes, that really would be something.”

“Interesting carvings, aren’t they?” the stranger said,

looking me with an unusual intensity.

“Oh yes, very interesting.”

I wondered where the conversation was going. In the past I had

met almost every kind of oddball. Indeed sometimes they could be

a lot more interesting than ‘normal’ average people. Such people’s

beliefs were an interesting fusion of wishful thinking, paranoia

and the odd soupcon of truth. -A heady brew. However the man

didn’t fit the profile of a fringe maniac. He was calm, with steady

eyes and a self-assured air about him. My interest piqued, I tried to

relax into my semi-intuitive mindset where every word and aspect

of a person or thing was scanned and allowed to filter through my


The man looked at me almost reproachfully. “Don’t

bother. We’re on the same page.”

Something unusual was going on.