9th baktun, 9th katun, 2nd tun (AD 615)
Originally published in “Five Irrational Histories”, Rabid Transit #3: Petting Zoo, Velocity Press, May 2004.
PALENQUE, YUCATAN — Breaking with centuries of tradition, the Mayan emperor Pacal declines to mate with the gray-skinned, inky-eyed consort selected for him by Earth’s alien masters. The emperor instead has her, and all of her people within reach, cast into the cenotes, or sacrificial wells.
Convinced by this incident that humanity is less suitable for their purposes than they had previously supposed, the aliens leave Earth to its own devices and return to the Crab Nebula. The remainder of Pacal’s reign is spent working to eradicate all traces of humanity’s subordination to alien overlords. Statues as far away as Easter Island are pulled down; documents are burned; stone inscriptions, some dating back to the time of the Olmecs of Teotihuacan, are sanded down and recarved. The campaign is largely succesful, and by the middle of the tenth baktun, what folk memory of the alien overlords remains is indistinguishable from the ordinary run of creation-myths, tribal legends, and fables of the gods. To the rationalist philosophers of the fifteenth katun, tales of aliens are mere superstition. A few, the most daring, speculate about conquerors from overseas — Africa, perhaps, or China.
By the eleventh baktun the empire Pacal founded has spread by land and sea: south to the Amazon, north to the Mississippi. Fleets of green-painted Mayan trimarans, their jaguar standards trimmed with the feathres of tropical birds, are a familiar sight from Cadíz to Madagascar, Sulawesi to Hangchow. In the sixteenth katun of the eleventh baktun, an expedition commanded by Ninan Vicaquirao, an Incan in the Mayan service, becomes the first to circumnavigate the globe. Among Vicaquirao’s pilots and navigators are not only Mayans but Polynesians, Chinese, Arabs and Dyaks.
The cold, brutal, impoverished nations of Christian Europe have little to offer the Mayan traders. When, in the third katun of the twelfth baktun, the green trimarans finally enter the Mediterranean, they find a continent depopulated by famine, pestilence and war, where barefoot peasants in low thatched huts toil in the shadow of Gothic cathedrals whose buttresses are stained with the smoke of tallow candles.
The “god-towers,” as they are called, are a continual source of amazement to credulous Mayans, who find it difficult to believe that a people as backward as the Christians could produce such monumental structures, the equal of anything in the Western Hemisphere up to the end of the Stone Age.
In the seventeenth katun of the twelfth baktun, Ekchuah Canul, a hydraulic engineer and part-time historian from Acancéh, visits Paris, Brussels, and Bruges. Canul is particularly fascinated by the god-towers’ painted icons and stained-glass windows, with their images of humanoid figures wearing luminous bubble-helmets. On his return Canul publishes a book outlining his theory of the god-towers’ origin, and gains instant notoriety. The central claim of the book, titled Palanquins of the Gods, is that the images are incontrovertible evidence that the prehistoric Christians had commerce with “ancient astronauts.”¤