The Hunt For The Tree Of Life (Book One)
Arthur Zulu


A Mysterious Poem

What a poem! Yet, the professor, after six weeks, has yet to interpret it. And very early at 8 A.M. he has already taken half a dozen energy drinks. He is on the seventh now. He adjusts himself on his seat and reads the first line for the one hundredth time:
The Flood came, and swept the tree of life away, even Eden+o
Well, that was pretty simple. The Hebrews are gifted poets. And sometimes their poems can be simple to a fault. But not that simple when you read the second and the last line of the poem:
Yet, the tree and the garden remain, as God decreed at the beginnin’+o
There is no straightforward answer here. Yet, that is the message the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation want to get from him to give the FBI director for transmission to the Attorney General and then to the United States’ president. What will he tell them when they arrive at midday?
Is the tree of life still in Eden?

The professor now puts the two lines together trying again to understand the contradictory lines:
The Flood came, and swept the tree of life away, even Eden+o
Yet, the tree and the garden remain, as God decreed at the beginnin’+o
Intriguing, he thought, rising and looking out of the window into the misty Washington morning.

The White House has given him this lavishly furnished office with living rooms, a catering staff, a library of poetry books, and a handsome life salary for the sole purpose of cracking the poem.
Who else could have been entrusted with such a noble responsibility? After ten years at the University of California in Los Angeles, and fifteen years at Emory and Harvard universities, and a Nobel Prize in literature, Professor Muse Letterman was considered most suitable to explain the ancient poem and say the location of Eden and the tree of life. Only a few remember that his first name is Jones. He earned the moniker, Muse, after interpreting a sonnet that had baffled his colleagues at Harvard by just reading the first and last fourteenth lines. Now, the Muse seems to be failing him.

The answer lies in knowing where Eden is. He looked at the film of the photograph of the Hebrew text, trying to determine if some lines that could provide a clue to the meaning are missing:
äùéèôåï áà, åèéàèà àú äòõ ùì çééí äìàä, àôéìå òãï+o
òãééï, äâï åäòõ ðùàøéí, ë/ëôé ùàìåäéí ôñ÷ áäúçìä+o
He isn’t an authority in the language but he found no missing lines. They were just two Hebrew lines with the symbols. The Hebrew-to-English translation was done by a team of professors at Stanford University. So there could be no fault in the English rendering. Hebrew must be the language of equivocators, he thought.
He now decides to re-read the cryptological interpretation accompanying the poem by the cryptologists. He doesn’t know how many times he has read it. He sits and reads:

An Interpretation of the symbol of the Methuselah Poem by Dr. Divine and Mr. Sayer
The +o symbol following the Methuselah poem is a pointer to the location of the Garden of Eden and the tree of life. The + sign stands for the pagan cross, originating from Tammuz, the deified Nimrod. The symbol was widely used in the worship of the Babylonian gods, and later came to be used in modern religious worship.
The o sign represents the sun which rises from the East, and could be a reference to ancient worshipers of the sun god, Mithras. However, the circular symbol can be found on church windows of our time.
When we looked at the composite sign +o, we think it might mean a sex symbol used in worship at the temple of Ishtar, goddess of love and war. Also, the complete symbol could represent the cross and circular signs on church windows.
We looked at it again in conclusion and think that the whole sign suggests a reference to a pagan temple or a church.
The above is our expert interpretation of the symbol +o with reference to the poem.
Signed by expert cryptologists: Dr. Divine and Mr. Sayer
The professor laughed for the first time after re-reading this, and stood up again. That was the vaguest report he has ever read! Why? An interpretation of the symbol was supposed to assist him in explaining this baffling poem. But it seems that even the renowned cryptologists are more confused.

The cryptologists are doing permutation—simple guesswork. Either North or South. Heaven or earth. Land or sea. Black or white. This is not an A or a B matter. They are not sure of anything. Just shuffling cards. They should have been conjurers!
Are they insinuating that Adam and Eve who were both husband and wife committed a sexual sin in Eden? If so, how would they have begotten children?
Now which pagan god or goddess is housing Eden and the tree of life? Ridiculous!
Also which church are they talking about? Is it the old Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Egyptian Coptic Church? Or is it the latter Anglican Church, the Church of God, the New Jerusalem Church, the Mormon Church, or the Church of Christ Scientists?
He wanted to search the computer for names of churches. But he gave it up. That would only compound the problem. He would get one million results!
How can Eden and the tree of life be in one of those places? And who can undertake the task of finding it? They are talking from two sides of the mouth!
It reminds him of Croesus, the stupendously wealthy king of Lydia. When he wanted to go to war with King Cyrus the Great of Persia, he went to the Oracle of Delphi with many rich gifts and inquired which way the battle would go. The oracle told him: “If Croesus crosses the Halys, he would destroy a mighty empire.”
Thus emboldened, King Croesus crossed the River Halys and went to fight King Cyrus of Persia. But he was shamefully defeated and chained. Croesus asked for his manacle to be sent to Delphi as a reproof to the oracle. But the oracle told him that it was his undoing because when he heard the prophecy, he didn’t ask whose kingdom would fall.
You see? That is the way with cryptologists. It is the Nobel laureate—not the cryptologists—that has the answer.
Now, where was the original garden of bliss?
As the professor stood contemplating, a car with two secret operatives drives in. He quickly moves and sits, waiting …

The two agents were visibly angry as they left the professor’s office. How long will it take the Nobel laureate to explain the poem? Time was an important factor in this quest. Who knows if China has not found a clue after the sea skirmish?
“Did he think we came to listen to a lecture?” one asked the other as they drove back.
“All those talk about comparative literature and Hebrew semantics were irritating.”
“True, like teacher and student. He had better go back to the university.”
“So what do we report to the director?” the other asked again.
“What the professor said,” replied his colleague with a frown.

If interpreting the poem is Herculean, its discovery was no less. The climax of the chase was the naval encounter between the United States and Chinese’ navies, which had made the news headlines. CNN and the BBC television stations even beamed the encounter live. The reporters and viewers understood it to be a fight for naval supremacy. If so, it surprised everyone that China could confront America.
China’s economy has been on the rise and there has been talk about China overtaking America. Yet, it hasn’t been dreamt that China would test America’s naval might. And of all places—the Aegean Sea! What are they looking for there?
The United States’ Navy was first to spot the object of interest – a large slab – deep in the sea. The slab, it was thought, had broken away from around Eden and rolled down into the Aegean Sea during the Deluge.
However, what was of interest was not the slab itself, but what, according to Hebrew tradition, Methuselah had written on it. Getting those lines was worth eternity!
The American naval fleet had cordoned off the area soon after the find. The excitement was palpable on the faces of the naval officers and felt in Washington. But the poem was not visible yet. It sure must have been inscribed on the reverse side of the slab facing the sea bed. Turning it upside down was not a feat, but doing so without damaging the poem was. There were delicate matters that mistakes should not be made. And this was one of them …

There has been intense activity at the Chinese intelligence headquarters in Beijing. The secretly launched surveillance satellite has been zeroing in on the intense American naval activities in the Aegean Sea. It peered under the sea; a large slab was seen. The mission controller was sure of what the Americans had found. Quickly, he sent a coded message to Yong, the Chinese security chief. Moments later, the security czar was sitting with the Chinese Premier Wang.
“We have got them, Chairman Premier,” said Yong placing a report on the premier’s desk.

“Americans think that they are the smartest people on earth,” said the premier after reading it. “Race down the naval ships, Mr. Yong! I like this fight. And remember this: we either get it or nobody,” he had said, a mischievous smile playing on his lips.
The security chief had nodded and dashed out. Back in his office, he sent out the premier’s orders. Moments later, Chinese’ naval ships began cruising to the Aegean Sea.

NATO had been doing a joint military exercise down the Mediterranean Sea. The exercise was covered by CNN and BBC. Such maneuvers are regular features. There has recently been a rise in piracy and terrorist activities in North Africa. So it was meet that the NATO joint exercise at the Mediterranean would scare the life out of the pirates and terrorists.
The commander of the NATO military fleet had exchanged signals with the American and Chinese military intelligence. So, they are around the region as observers, he said to himself. He seemed satisfied with the answers.
Observer status is allowed in such maneuvers—he knew. He only called them up to be sure that all was well. But both the American and Chinese’ intelligence had sold the general a dummy. For he never knew of any slab in the sea bed with the Methuselah poem. And that was their quest.

When the Chinese’ naval ship arrived at the Aegean Sea, a dozen American naval ships were in a V-shape formation about ten thousand nautical kilometers from Izmir, Turkey. The Chinese had figured out the exact location of the hunted slab from the space surveillance satellite. But the Americans were in control. The Chinese could go no further or else risk an outright military confrontation. What next?
The Americans had already seen the advancing Chinese’ ships. Late comers. They would have turned the slab and taken photos of the poem before their arrival. Poor communists!
None but China gets this poem, the premier had warned. The Chinese went out for the only option. The controller in Beijing was alerted. He shook his head sadly, pressed the button of a guided missile, and within minutes the precious slab was smashed to smithereens . . .
The pandemonium caused by the missile explosion and the resultant tsunami could better be imagined than described. Ships sank, people panicked, and sea creatures fled. The reverberation was felt from North Africa to Europe.
The NATO commander and his officers were initially shocked. But later came the moment of truth.
“To the rescue!” He immediately ordered his officers. And NATO’s airplanes and ships went into action. CNN and BBC crew followed. It went down as the greatest NATO military rescue in peace time. Air force planes flew floating naval officers suspended on ropes to NATO ships, while other sailors swam into small rescue boats from where they climbed into the ships.
The media went into a frenzy with sensational news headlines: “Meteor Sink War ships.” “Unknown IBM Destroys Naval ships.” “U.S. and Chinese’ Navies do Battle.” “Blood Flows in the Med. Sea.” “Et’s Declare War.”
Only CNN and BBC television viewers could tell the true story. Because it was telecast live and the viewers saw no dead bodies, save for brave sailors catching loose ropes or climbing into boats like a movie.

The meeting of the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York was over. Everyone was surprised because the American/Chinese’ clash was not discussed. Neither was it on the agenda. Only the activities of rogue states like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and Somalia were on the table.
The UN scribe, was most worried. Why did America and China not bring up the matter? He asked himself. Well, they are both permanent members of the world body and they would do what is right at the proper time, he surmised.
The Chinese and American heads of state were surprisingly seen shaking hands and smiling into the cameras. They seem to be saying to each other, I got you! Members wondered if that was a new kind of diplomacy. So, they accepted the official line: accident. No one knew that there was more to it than meets the eye and that each party had a cause for celebration.

“Did you say our naval officers photographed the poem before the missile strike?” the United States’ President Hope had asked the naval chief.
“Yes, Mr. President,” he had replied. “The camera was in the captain’s cabin before the ship sank.”
“All’s well,” the president had said. “The task now is to recover the camera and the film from the deep sea.”
The National Aeronautic and Space Administration had secretly deployed a surveillance satellite soon after the American/Chinese’ clash to comb the seas for USS 13, the sunken American naval ship that had the camera and the film of the Methuselah poem; and they felt secure in their secrecy.
Yet, China was watching . . .

“That is the American spy satellite trailing their damaged naval ship, sir,” said the Chinese controller at the intelligence headquarters to Yong. He nodded. “And at the sea bottom are American naval ships monitoring and wanting to salvage the wreck.”
“Can you see anything special in the wrecked ship?” he asked.
“Nothing yet,” the controller replied.
And the security chief had left to update the premier.
The Chinese had turned their spy satellite to spy on the American surveillance satellite spying the seas, moments after it was launched. They had resorted to this old communist game since the hunt began. And when it comes to espionage, like chess, no one can beat China!

Admiral Fisher hasn’t had a job like this in all his years in the United States’ Navy. Though an African American, he has come to be greatly admired by all Americans after his enviable record of service. He led the American naval fleet that chased Iraqis out of Kuwait. He was the commander of the fleet that went to Afghanistan to wipe out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. And now he is the head of the naval quest for the tree of life. How he would have loved to make the dream of the first black president in America come true by finding this elusive poem that points to the eternal tree.
Yet, it couldn’t be said that he has failed. His officers had photographed the poem several times before the Chinese’ missile strike. Now, finding the camera in the mangled ship in this vast sea is another feat. Like discovering the longitude. Or peering into a black hole.
But thanks to NASA, they could see the ship driven by current under the sea. He and his officers had hoped for fine weather to enable them to seize and haul the ship aboard. Yet, the opportunity hadn’t come. So they merely followed the ship.
There is a sea current that flows westward at that time of the year. The wind had taken the wrecked ship under the sea through the many Greek islands to Crete. There, the admiral and his officers chased away a bunch of pirates. They continued to Sicily known as the Island of the Sun in classical mythology, where Helius, the Titan sun god, kept his oxen. There the American adventurers had a fierce gun battle with mafias, who were captured and handed over to the Sicilian authorities.
The westward journey continued north of Africa through the sea. It was now almost certain that the damaged ship was heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco. That narrow strait, thought Admiral Fisher, is the best place to trap the rolling ship if everything goes well. Because once the ship finds its way through the strait to the Atlantic, it becomes a wild-goose chase.
So he led ten ships to block Gibraltar, while two were left following the spoilt ship from Sardinia. The Gibraltar blockade frightened many human traffickers in their rickety boats which daily cross their cargo of African migrants through the strait from Morocco to Europe in search of the proverbial greener pastures. Many loaded boats making the desperate cross at night and drowning migrants in capsized boats were caught and turned back to Africa. Under the sea, USS 13 kept moving toward the straight. And Fisher and his officers kept waiting . . .
The USS 13 rescue at Gibraltar was progressing apace. As Fisher speculated, massive rocks underneath the straight stopped the ship’s advance into the Atlantic. The twelve naval ships encircled the area for the salvage mission. A crane on board one of the ships for the lifting was positioned.
Two divers went into the sea. They were to examine firsthand the ship’s state—especially the captain’s cabin—and look for an opening to hook up a chain from the crane to the ship.
The first dive brought good news: the cabin was intact. Fisher and his officers cheered. The second confirmed that there was a point at the ship’s hall for the chain hook-up. And they cheered again.
The crane then lowered a big and long chain with a hook into the sea. Divers attached it to the damaged ship. The lifting began. It was a slow and careful process.
Now, the ship was lifted high above the water. The sailors cheered wildly. But as it was about to be hauled on board, the hook broke off from the point of attachment and fell back into the sea. The sailors gave a cry.
And the Chinese were watching . . .

The ship's rescue mission has now entered the dreaded phase at the Atlantic. This S-shaped ocean, the second largest after the Pacific, has an average depth of 3,333 meters reaching up to 4,000 meters in the north.
The ocean is divided into two large troughs with a depth of 3,700-5,500 meters by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This scary North-South sub-oceanic ridge on whose crest lies several groups of islands, stretches from Iceland to Antarctica. The ridge is the axis along which North and South America split from Eurasia and Africa millions of years ago.
The United States’ Navy was not completely caught napping because they had a contingency plan waiting in the wings just in case the Mediterranean Sea ship rescue unravels. An American submarine had been waiting at the bottom of the Atlantic 15,000 meters away from Rabat, Morocco, north-west of Africa. So when USS 13 raced from the strait into the vast ocean, Admiral Fisher’s ships and the submarine kept tabs.

There is a deflecting force that circulates ocean current to the right on the North Atlantic and to the left in the South Atlantic called the Coriolis Effect. Therefore, when USS 13 entered the Atlantic Ocean, it started moving up clockwise.
The Mid-Atlantic-Ridge prevented the ship from crossing left. So it kept to the right side of the ridge speeding past dozens of seamounts and volcanic mountains called guyouts. But off the Bay of Biscay, the current ebbed, and the ship got stuck in a trench.
It was now time for the first Atlantic rescue. Admiral Fisher’s officers repeated the Gibraltar salvage exercise. The crane lowered a second chain 4,000 meters to the ocean’s bottom. Two divers went deep to hook it up to USS 13.
Unfortunately, it was a shark territory, and the creatures didn’t take favorably to the sailors’ invasion. So they chased away the officers who barely escaped unhurt. Fisher gladly received his officers. The rescue was then put on hold.
And China was watching. . .

“We will get the ship,” Admiral Fisher was assuring his officers. “It is not for nothing that we have been at sea for six months.”
His officers seemed weary. When will they be able to win this Atlantic race? How much longer will it take for them to seize this ship and ferret out the Methuselah film? Has China not overtaken the United States in this hunt?
Neptune the sea god, however, seemed to be on their side. For an eddy lifted up the ship from the trench and the north-east race continued. But it was not until they reached the British Isles that another rescue opportunity presented itself.

USS 13 was blocked in its north-bound journey by a giant seamount. This attempt mustn’t fail. It was close to the end of the year, and the sea was getting colder.
The sailors were about to reach the ship when they were jolted by an earthquake east of Greenland. The quake caused another tsunami, which prevented the mission. In fact, they temporarily suspended the search to rescue the drowning islanders.
The tsunami dislodged the ship from the seamount and was now moving through the Norwegian Sea toward the Arctic Circle. The hardest part of the salvage mission had begun. The water was freezing and the naval officers were freezing to death too. Then at 300 longitude, just before Barents Sea, north of Norway, the ship froze. All hope was lost!
One good thing though is that Arctic waters freeze at the top, not at the bottom. So while USS 13 remained frozen on top, the American submarine was watching in the waters beneath. Fisher and his officers were encouraged, knowing that soon the hunt would end. But they had to accomplish a feat—break through the ice to the ship’s location, climb the top of the frozen ship, cut into the captain’s cabin, and recover the camera.
There is nothing that intrepid sailors with the right tools cannot accomplish. For days, Fisher’s ships were breaking and advancing through thick ice. When they finally reached USS 13, the Admiral led the team in the arduous task of cutting through ice to the ship. They finally cut into the captain’s cabin where for hours they searched for the camera.
Then an officer touched something hard and square. It was it! The discoverer quickly grabbed it, gave a shout, and handed the small camera over to Fisher. They all crowded around him. He cleaned out the ice and held up the camera with the words, “Mission accomplished, officers!”

The Chinese spy satellite took a photograph . . .

Yong was discussing with his two officers, who brought him the photo.
“So this is what they have been looking for at the Atlantic?” he asked, sounding nervous.
“Yes sir,” replied one of the officers. “I think they took a picture of the Methuselah poem before we came.”
“They have beaten us to it,” added the other. “But the hunt is not over yet.”
The security chief shifted uncomfortably on his seat on hearing that. His eyes were glued to the picture.
“It isn’t over,” he said, sending a coded message to the secret agents in the Chinese Consulate in New York, which reads:
Get the Methuselah poem immediately from the Americans!
With that, he rose reluctantly to brief the premier, and the two officers left.

Stanford University is a leading research institution at Palo Alto, California. The White House had asked the university to produce the best Hebrew professors to translate the Methuselah poem after it was recovered, and cryptologists to explain it and the accompanying symbols.
That was not a problem. A team of six Hebrew professors and two cryptologists had already been assembled for the purpose. They had been waiting for the photo of the poem in a two-story building at the university, very eager to begin work. But it has been taking time for the FBI to send the image. They are having problems developing the film in the photo laboratory.

Now, the news came: It seems that the laboratory technicians can’t develop the image of the poem—the film looked damaged. And the enthusiastic spirit of the waiting experts was dampened. How they wished to get the chance to work on this rare ancient script and justify their fabulous advance payment. Why can’t the laboratory technicians get this right? What happened to the film?
However, the photo technicians were the most worried. They must develop the image of this poem from the film. They had been told that the Chinese had destroyed the source of the poem. The American naval officers had risked their lives in the seas to regain the lost camera with the film. They have to play their part. But what magic would they do now?
The naval photographer had taken a number of shoots at the slab in the sea bed before the Chinese destroyed it. But it was a haphazard job—done in a hurry or moment of excitement.
The first two shoots cut the poem vertically into two equal parts—the left half and the right half. The third and fourth cut it horizontally—one had one line and the other had the second line. The fifth film had the complete lines but they were obscured by a pair of marine fish swimming playfully on the surface of the slab.
The sixth film had the best result but it was corroded so that the lines were blurred. Whether it was owing to the quality of the shoot or the fact that the film had been long in sea water, no one was sure.
The best that the photo technicians could do was to enlarge the image after developing and re-developing the film. A Hebrew expert, they thought, should be able to figure out any missing letters and match them together to make a readable poem. And they were right!

Professor Daniel was the head of the team of Hebrew professors at Stanford who did the translation. The Methuselah poem was written in early Hebrew. When he first saw it, he smiled. The poem reads as follows:
äùéèôåï áà, åèéàèà àú äòõ ùì çééí äìàä, àôéìå òãï+o
òãééï, äâï åäòõ ðùàøéí, ë/ëôé ùàìåäéí ôñ÷ áäúçìä+o
He could have single handedly done the translation. But team work is team work.
One mysterious thing about the assignment was that all the translators first took an oath of secrecy before being given the job. But they merely shrugged it off. They were well paid. And the color of the dollar was worth a thousand oaths.
Professor Daniel made copies of the cryptic poem, shared it to all the members and asked each of them to turn in their translation in twenty-four hours.
That was another thing about this project. It was to be done post-haste.
The professor wanted to harmonize the translations. He wanted to know if his colleagues were seeing what he was seeing. When the professors met again and compared notes, their translations were unanimous:
The Flood came, and swept the tree of life away, even Eden+o
Yet, the tree and the garden remain, as God decreed at the beginnin’+o
Only two professors used two synonyms in their translations. One replaced Flood with Water, while the other replaced Tree with Fruit. They both defended their choice of words saying that the words came from the same Hebrew roots, but the other professors joked about their love for water and fruits. And they all laughed heartily.

The six members, including Professor Daniel, however signed their signatures at the bottom of the common version, handed it over to the two waiting security operatives, and wondered American government’s interest in two contradictory lines of an ancient Hebrew poem.

Mr, Sayer, a middle-aged man spent twelve years in Egypt studying symbology. His study covered Egyptian civilization to Middle Eastern studies and European fraternities. He is versed in the ancient secrets of these lands, including their gods, goddesses, and mythology.
Dr. Divine, on the other hand, is in his eighties, gray-headed, and speaks with the authority of an oracle. He studied cryptology and ancient cultism in India. He is knowledgeable in the secrets and fraternities of India, Asia, and the South Americas.
These two American cryptologists were now to interpret the symbols ending the two lines of the poem. If they are not able, then there are no other cryptologists in the world able to do so.
Both have been anxiously waiting for Professor Daniel and his team to finish their translation, which will further help them to interpret the symbols. They received the translated poem from the secret agents, sat at the opposite end of a table and read:
The Flood came, and swept the tree of life away, even Eden+o
Yet, the tree and the garden remain, as God decreed at the beginnin’+o
“That’s a key,” Sayer quickly said. “A mystic key to unlock this contradictory poem.”
“Yes, it is. What a poem this is!” said Dr. Divine. “Now, we have a difficult work to do. Let’s not look at the complete symbol yet. Let’s detach the + sign from the o symbol and look at them separately first.”
“I agree with you, doctor. Now, the + is a cross, the pagan cross,” said Sayer.
“Yes, you are right. But you would have said the Christian cross,” said the doctor, examining it.
“I mean the origin before Christendom and other religions embraced it and its different forms.”
“That’s correct. The T symbol was used by pagans for Tammuz, shortened Tau, also called Dumuzi, the Sumerian and Babylonian shepherd-god and consort of Ishtar or Inanna. He is the re-incarnated mighty hunter, Nimrod, who built the early Sumerian cities. The cross-piece was later lowered to form the cross,” replied Dr. Divine.
“And the T symbol afterward came to be used for Bacchus, Bel, and Odin—all ancient gods. It also resembles the image borne by the sun-god worshiping Egyptian priests and kings signifying their authority,” said Sayer.
“You mean the Crux Ansata?” asked the doctor.
“Definitely—the cross with the circle sign. A variation of this symbol was used to represent the Babylonian sun-god. The Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, first made a coin out of it. And Emperor Constantine, the sun-god worshiper, similarly struck a coin for a not too different type of this symbol known as the Solar Wheel.”

“So the reference to the sun is clear,” said the doctor.
“Abundant pointer to the East. Either for the sunrise or for the sun-god worshipers facing the direction.”
“So much meaning for Tammuz and his T.”
“Do you remember how he died?” asked Sayer.
“Oh yes, violently, and mourned with fasting and weeping for forty days in spring. Nimrod too died in a manner too bad to relate.”
They helped themselves with a cup of water.
“Now, what is the clue of the + sign for the location of Eden and the tree of life?” asked Sayer.
“Not yet, let’s look at the o symbol distinctly as well,” the doctor replied.
“Of course, o represents the number 15.”
“But is it a letter or a number? Let’s look at it carefully.”
They looked at it closely.
“It is a letter, the alphabet o,” said Sayer.
“This was written in Hebrew, and the Semitic language has no vowel sound, remember?” said Dr. Divine.
They paused for a moment.
“Do you suspect fraud in the writing?” asked Sayer.
“I was just thinking. The letter o is a Greek alphabet, not Hebraic. But it’s a letter, not a number.”
“Let’s say the Hebrew poet borrowed it from Greek. The writer must be tying the location of the poem to the number 15.”
“It’s getting tough, now,” said the doctor. “Which address is number 15?”
They paused again.
“This must be a reference to the sun!” exclaimed Dr. Divine.
“Oh, you are right, doctor. The sun god, Mithras, again, worshiped every winter.”
“Yes, that’s what I think. Remember the o sign for the circular sun used to be etched on glass windows and on religious buildings, which later took the form of the almost circular windows on the churches.”
“So could the sign be pointing to the East where the sun rises from in the same way as the sun worshipers face the East?”
There was a long meditating silence. They walked toward the window, saw the agents still waiting, came back and sat down.
“You mean Eden in the East?” asked Sayer.
“I am not saying so yet. Just guessing. Now, let’s look at the complete symbol,” said the doctor.
“The symbol taken altogether looks like a variation of the solar wheel or a sex symbol—the phallus or coition—used in the altar of the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, also called Ashtoreth in Bible times, Aphrodite in Greece, Astarte in Phoenicia, Atargatis in Syria, or Venus in Rome. You know that prostitution formed part of her worship.”
“Yes, Mr. Sayer. But I am looking at its bearing to Eden.”
“Or of Adam and Eve falling into sexual sin?” asked Sayer.
“No, the Bible said they ate a forbidden fruit; they were meant to have children, remember?”
“Rather, I am thinking of the composite sign as either a symbol for a pagan temple for sex worship or the cross and sun sign as a reference to a church building.”
“The tree of life and the Garden of Eden in an idol temple or a church?” asked Sayer, laughing.
Dr. Divine laughed too.
“What do you want me to think? You know the nature of our job. We must write a report explaining the symbol and include it with the poem to be sent to the White House. These agents are still waiting,” said Dr. Divine.

“Yes, but we don’t have to be harried.”
“Unless we find some new interpretation to the symbol.”
“It won’t be easy, doctor. Let’s write our report,” said Mr. Sayer.
And they wrote their interpretation of the symbol . . .

The casually dressed students of Stanford were milling around the university premises. Among them were two men lurking under a basement with their books and dressed like the rest of the students. But they were not.
These are North Korean twins—deadly Taekwondo experts—working for the Chinese’ intelligence. They have one mission—dispossess the American agents of the translated poem without firing a shot, and meet the waiting Chinese spies in Sacramento. The American agents did not know.
The twins saw them descending the staircase and began consulting their books, pretending to be immersed in some academic discussion. They have blended. None would believe they are spies.
As the American agents with the sealed poem and report were walking briskly to their parked car, the Taekwondo twins quickly emerged and went after them. The Americans sensed danger and brought out their pistols to shoot. They miscalculated. These were Taekwondo champions!
The twins leaped on the Americans, punched the guns out of their hands, jabbed and choked them to insensibility, and within moments, they were gone with the sealed document leaving the American agents lying prostrate on the ground.
Such scenarios are common features on university campuses. So the few students that witnessed it passed it off as a Taekwondo training lesson. But after the trainers fled with a document and the trainees were still lying comatose on the ground with their guns beside them, the students, smelling foul play, rushed to the scene.
By this time, however, the twins had changed cars on their way—not to Sacramento but to Long Beach. Yes, that was the perfect place to hide and think about the next move . . .

Cheung and the other Chinese operatives have been waiting endlessly in a hotel room in Sacramento. Why is it taking so long for Qiang and Gang to get back to them? He has been calling their telephone numbers but they remained switched off. Could it be that the twins had failed and have been arrested?
No, it can’t be. When the Taekwondo twins fled North Korea swimming across the Yalu River to Manchuria China to claim asylum in China, he saw the potentials in them. Chinese’ intelligence could use their Taekwondo skill in operations—a silent killer-weapon in place of guns. So he had approached Yong, his security boss, and made the case to use these asylum seekers. That was how they were recruited to work for Chinese’ intelligence and came to be included in the spy squad that came to America to steal the Methuselah poem—a poem that lights the way to the tree of life. But where are they now?
Cheung was sure a Professor Daniel and other Hebrew professors were translating the recovered Hebrew poem in Stanford University. He was also certain that the translated poem would be handed over to two American agents on that day to be taken to the United States’ president. Now, the twins were as elusive as the poem.
Then came breaking news on the television:
Taekwondo Champs Floor Agents at Stanford
The news briefly stated that two Taekwondo experts punched and jabbed two American operatives to unconsciousness, stealing a secret document. Sketches of the two Taekwondo men were shown on the television. The report said that no one knew their nationality or intent, but that the police had started searching for them.
Cheung and the rest of the Chinese’ spies were happy. The twins will soon arrive and they will be on their plane back to China. Cheung sent a message to Beijing:
We are returning with the poem.
He smiled. Taekwondo is a good skill after all. And he had made a sensible decision to use the North Korean twins . . .

The waxed sealing and the red ink handwritten instruction on the envelope was frightening. Qiang and Gang read it over and over again:
It was even scary holding the envelope. It seemed as if they had a great mystery on their hands. What is this big secret that the Chinese want to steal from the United States? Cheung never told them because they are foreigners—North Koreans. They just wanted to use them and maybe dump them later. They both do not attend their secret meetings. Yet, they are supposed to work as a team. Bad!
They hadn’t meant to defect to China at first. The country they had in mind, which will easily take them, is America. Yes, the American government believes that North Korea is an evil regime and that all her citizens are in perdition. So they are most likely to believe their story of persecution in North Korea. Besides, America is a free country; China is more or less like North Korea.
The time has now come for them to become part of the free world. They would not open the sealed document. They would turn themselves in, hand it over to the police and plead for political asylum. This secret in their hands, which China badly needed, would improve their chances.

A Police Commissioner walked into the office of Mr. Solomon, the Attorney General in Washington, and handed over a sealed parcel to him.
“Yes, thanks Police Chief,” said the Attorney General, examining the document.
“It has not been tampered with, sir,” the Police Commissioner remarked.
“I can see. Thanks again. Did you say they turned themselves in?” asked the Attorney General.
“Exactly. At a California police station. Were holding up at Long Beach after they stole the document.”
“Any idea who they are working for?” he asked.
“They said they are North Korean twins working for the North Korean government,” the Police Chief answered.
The Attorney General was troubled. North Korea? Tree of life? China would have been more plausible.
“But how did they know we have this?” asked the Attorney General lifting up the sealed parcel.
“Intelligence, sir. They have been watching us,” replied the Chief of Police.
They have been watching us.
That sentence sank. The Attorney General looked more worried. He knew the implication of that statement: They are still watching us.
“Are they working alone?” he asked the Police Commissioner.
“Yes. We have not got any contrary evidence at this moment. I guess they would have fled but for what they are now asking for.”

“And what is that?” asked the Attorney General, brightening up.
“Asylum. They are defecting and requesting for stay.”
The Attorney General nodded.
“I see, but it’s puzzling how they were able to disarm our agents and make away with this secret document.”
“It’s Taekwondo power, AG. They are trained fighters,” replied the Police Commissioner.
“Yes, I know. I am wondering if all of our security and intelligence officers should learn Taekwondo.”
They laughed.
“Yet, it isn’t funny. It’s a shame these two men could easily dislodge two armed American agents with martial arts.”
“I agree with you, sir. It can be incorporated in our security training.”
“So where are the men now?”
“They are still being interrogated by my officers at the police headquarters.”
“All right Chief, but don’t press charges. We will use them.”
The Police Commissioner nodded. He understood.
“We will need them in our operations,” continued the Attorney General. “Hand them over to immigration for documentation. We have got good hands for our job.”

“I will, sir; sounds nice,” replied the Police Chief, and left.
And the Attorney General had immediately delivered the sealed document to the president.

Cheung and the other Chinese’ agents had moved to the Chinese’ Consulate in New York—disappointed. They never dreamt the twins could be so disloyal after all they have done for them. They have defected to America for sure. They just hoped the duo would not reveal their identity to the American authority. That would be devastating. The only safe place now is the Consulate where they can hide and watch events.
Weeks had passed. Nothing had happened to Cheung and his secret operatives. So they presumed the twins spared them. They might have incriminated North Korea. That was why they were chosen for the job in the first place. Playing safe is the game.
Cheung and the Chinese’ spies got information that the White House had mandated a professor to interpret the poem. It must be a difficult poem needing to be interpreted. It was good after all that they didn’t get the un-interpreted copy. There can be no better time than now to get the poem. So the team went to the three universities where the professor was supposed to have taught, in search of the interpreter and the poem.

Time flies. It had taken one year to track and find the poem. Only the nine sisters could tell how long it will take Professor Muse: UCLA, Emory, Harvard, and Nobel laureate to interpret it and say where Eden is. His first meeting with the two American secret agents didn’t produce results.
But he can’t disappoint. Professors of the top world universities don’t fail. Nobel laureates are Nobel laureates. He is still pouring over poetry books and comparing notes.
Suddenly, he got a hunch. Yes, a bright idea. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? He wondered. What a shame! Sometimes the human brain can play games. He will compose an ode to the brain after this, and call it Cerebral Song. Each stanza of the poem will be devoted to eulogizing each part of the brain. Now many parts are in the human brain? Thirty-two or what? He can’t remember now, nor can he name five. The lyric poem promises to be a long one. He could make it an epic—narrate the evolutionary journey of the different parts of the human brain since Charles Darwin knows when. He laughed cynically.
But there is time for everything under the sun, says Mother Muse, and the time right now is not for brain biology but to unravel this poetic puzzle. He had forgotten that answers to knotty questions are not always in far away Timbuktu. It could be close home—at one’s finger tips.
The darkest hour, they say, is nearest the dawn. He has seen the umbra, he is about to witness light. Sweet success, interesting times! He smiled and started dialing a telephone number. He was getting close to the answer…

Excerpted from THE HUNT FOR THE TREE OF LIFE by Arthur Zulu, available on and Click below for more details:



Copyright © 2011 Arthur Zulu
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