A conspiracy too big even for Dan Brown


Let us now praise that great journalist Dan Brown.
Let us now toast to the astounding success of his completely factual new book “The Lost Symbol” that sold an astounding one million copies in the first 24 hours after its release last week, all following on the success of his previous bestsellers, the every-word-is-true exposés “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.”
What a gratifying ride it’s been for the amazing Mr. Brown. Can you imagine, blowing the lid off of the biggest conspiracies in recorded history and selling enough books to pave your driveway in diamonds? I’d say he must have made a deal with the Devil, but knowing the intrepid Brown, he probably would have written about it by now and cashed in.
I’m just glad his books are now taught in our schools. Take that, Illuminati!
But I’m here to announce that Dan Brown is about to get some competition. Inspired by Brown’s stunning reportage, I’ve stumbled across an enormous conspiracy that will shake the foundations of Life As We Know It (quite literally, as you’ll find out) centered right here in Santa Cruz. It’s a conspiracy that will make “The Da Vinci Code” read like Unix code.
On Oct. 15, 1989, the Sunday before the Loma Prieta earthquake, a group of 36 tall, severe-looking people dressed in black robes, piled into four Econoline vans and quietly left Santa Cruz after dark for the San Jose airport. Every one of those people had sold property in the county for a tidy profit in the weeks before.
What? How do I know this? I use the same hard-nosed reporting techniques that my mentor Dan Brown uses, that’s how.
Now where was I? OK, so these strangely robed individuals met every week at a secret catacombs chamber underneath the Cocoanut Grove, and the manner in which they suddenly packed up and left town suggested they knew the earthquake was coming!
Now, let’s go back a couple of hundred years. Records kept by the California Missions Historical Society (hey, it could exist) indicate that one bright autumn afternoon in 1794, about three years after the Mission Santa Cruz was established, a very tall Ohlone Indian walked into the Mission, carrying a mysterious design drawn on an animal skin. The man, whose “head was higher than a horse” according to one account, was earnestly pointing to the cryptic design in an effort to warn someone. Frustrated, the man left the animal skin with the friars and disappeared. Three days later, in the middle of the night, a massive earthquake rumbed through town, and in the damage, the animal skin was lost.
Interested so far? Huh? OK, major spoiler alert here, so if you don’t want the most popular beach read of the summer of 2011 spoiled for you, read no further.
Anyway, it seems that that animal hide was a crude calendar on which was printed dates on which future earthquakes would occur. The Ohlone mystic was trying to warn the missionaries of the coming quake!
Apparently, present the day the Ohlone first arrived with the calendar was a monk who was part of an offshoot cult that had found ancient runes that suggested a certain energy released from the earth during seismic events could make you immortal if you were properly exposed to it.
Well, during that 1794 quake, that cult was sleeping in an underground chamber in an area they had determined was especially seismically active. The ground opened up under them, releasing a burst of steam from the bowels of the earth, killing many dozens. Some survived, though. How many? That’s right, 36.
That pricked up your ears, didn’t it, Mr. Dan Brown? There are 36 people who’ve been alive for 200 years thanks to some energy force coming out of the earth have in their possession the one and only calendar that can predict earthquakes.
Property records show that the 36 returned to Santa Cruz sometime in the mid 1990s to invest in more land speculation. The seismic energy has rendered them kind of loopy. They are known for strange habits, such as talking to themselves, making balloon animals for children, playing out-of-tune violin in public and dressing in pink while walking very slowly under frilly umbrellas.
Where is the ancient, earthquake-forecasting calendar now? Was it actually accidentally pawned at Mr. Goodie’s in 1998? Is it embedded in the brick of the Town Clock? Does the oddly named Kuumbwa Jazz Center have anything to do with this conspiracy? And when is that next earthquake due?
Of course, I know the answers to all of these questions. But, again bowing to my hero Dan Brown, I’m not about to spill the beans now. Helping humankind solve one of the most intractable problems in history, i.e., predicting earthquakes? Sure, I’m here to help. But my help only comes in the form of hardcover books, retailing at $25.95.
Hey, I want a driveway paved with diamonds too.

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