In December 1958, the BBC produced a popular science fiction serial called Quatermass and the Pit.
In December 1842, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a well known short story, a masterpiece of horror, called The Pit and the Pendulum.
A Tale of the 2012 Apocalypse
Eyeing the pendulum slowly swinging above him, Professor Quaterbolis shuddered. Side to side, swish – swish – swish … a steel blade, sharper than the finest Japanese sword, rhythmically catching the light of the dully glowing lantern that stood in a corner of his small, dark and freezing prison cell … And, as he had realized from several hours of observation – for, in his situation, there was not too much else to do - all the while the pendulum was slowly, so slowly, a microscopic fraction of an inch at a time, descending towards the sandstone slab where he had been tied up, and where he lay completely helpless to do anything to prevent the remorseless descent of the cruelly swinging blade above him.
He wondered how long he had been here, but he had completely lost track of time, for, apart from the lantern, there was no light. His discomfort and wretchedness was made the worse because, all the while, he was dimly conscious of a rhythmic thump, thump, thump, deep in the earth, far below, that seemed to be pounding in time with the hypnotic sweep and swish of the terrible pendulum. Or was it just his imagination?
A sudden scuffle by the side of the sandstone slab made him forget the pounding and the pendulum for a moment. He looked down, and, to his horror, saw numerous evilly glinting eyes and furry bodies … rats! Dozens of them, swarming about the floor of the cell. Desperately, he tugged at the ropes that held him, but it was no good. It seemed that he faced a double threat: unable to escape either the sweeping blade of pendulum or the bared teeth of the snarling rats jostling each other on the floor below the slab. One or two of them seemed to remind him of human faces … although he did not really want to remember to whom the faces might have belonged.
In an effort to forget, if even for a moment, the terrible circumstances in which he found himself, he allowed his thoughts to go back to the events that had led up to his incarceration. His blood ran cold as he remembered the grim faces of the judges who had pronounced sentence upon him after his trial. He recalled how they wore robes that proclaimed them as belonging to a body for whom he had long ago lost respect: Orthodox Academia.
Perhaps the most terrifying one of all was the chief prosecutor, a masked woman with a French accent, wearing a Phrygian cap, the bonnet rouge so popular during the French Revolution. Grimly, she had taken a thick sheaf of papers, and read out a long list of the heinous crimes with which Professor Quaterbolis was charged, crimes that carried the gravest penalties: offence after offence against rationality, science and reason. Dismally, he remembered how he had been forced to listen as the prosecutor described those crimes in detail.
First, said the prosecutor, he had given readers of Internet websites and forums inaccurate information about his professional position, and the support that he claimed that he and his group of like-minded researchers – the SBRG - were receiving from various Italian further education institutions.
Early in February 2011, for example, he had announced that the SBRG research project “combines elements of two Italian Universities, Trieste and Milan”. Numerous attempts at finding any reference to this implied, or alleged, institutional support anywhere on the sites of these institutions (“Milan” in this context turning out to refer to Milan Polytechnic) were singularly unproductive. Fortunately, others were more successful  in pursuing this question, at least in the case of Milan Polytechnic, which, finally alerted to the situation, succeeded in having its logo removed from the SBRG website.
The University of Trieste, however, was less ready to respond to criticism. Professor Quaterbolis had maintained that the university authorities knew of, and fully supported, his activities in Bosnia, and he even went so far as to cite as evidence on one forum the minutes of a Department Meeting. However, as another poster in the same forum went on to observe, the reference to the SBRG at that meeting was little more than an item under “Any Other Business”. Nevertheless, unlike Milan Polytechnic, the University of Trieste, although contacted on several occasions, did not reply for some time – and, when it did, was not helpful.
The prosecutor, shaking her head, now read out more charges, concerning archaeology - where Professor Quaterbolis’ record fell far short of what might have been expected – and collusion in an attempt to rewrite the laws of physics. 
Quaterbolis recalled how, refusing all offers of counsel, he had spoken forcefully and persuasively (at least, that was how he remembered it) in his own defence. He explained how his involvement in the whole affair had begun when he and some colleagues became deeply impressed by theories to the effect that the tunnels at Ravne were not tunnels as such, but part of an ancient structure built entirely of artificial concrete. The chief prosecutor countered this argument with one of her own, namely, that close examination of the evidence for the use of artificial cement or concrete at Visoko had revealed many problems.
Another prosecutor then asked whether Professor Quaterbolis had ever made use of the crystal skull, said to be of Mayan origin, taken to the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun so that it could provoke an "energy interaction". Had Quaterbolis been inspired by this to procure his own crystal skull, and proceed to use it to generate, or detect, ultrasound on Visocica or in the Ravne tunnels?
Professor Quaterbolis recalled the indignant vigour with which he had rejected this baseless and scurrilous accusation. He and his colleagues had found what they believed to be ultrasound and electro-magnetic radiation, yes … but they had used sophisticated equipment, not a crystal skull. And they believed that the source of that energy was some kind of ancient machinery, perhaps a Tesla turbine or something similar.
And this, enquired the prosecutor, was a more probable scientific hypothesis than the apparently erroneous accusation that the Professor had used a crystal skull?
At this point, Quaterbolis had broken down, and confessed that he had, in fact, been mistaken about the Tesla turbine. Clearly under the impression that they had won the day, the prosecutors began turning to one another and smiling, but the Professor held up a restraining hand. He had been mistaken about the Tesla turbine, yes: but that was because he and his colleagues had finally succeeded in tunnelling their way into the hill of Visocica, where, to their amazement, they had uncovered, not a Tesla machine, but the gleaming hull of a long-buried spacecraft. When they finally broke into its hard metal hull, they found it full of aliens whose hands had only three claws  – aliens who were either Martians or Pleideians, although communication difficulties meant that Quaterbolis and his colleagues had not been able to establish precisely which. But they had managed to establish that the spacecraft had crashed, either 25,000 or 40,000 years previously - again, Professor Quaterbolis wasn’t sure which. Using technology from their home planet (or star), the surviving aliens had succeeded in constructing a vast pyramid of rock over the spaceship to protect it until the energy module that powered their spaceship was able to regenerate, which they knew would take many thousands of Earth-years: so, while they awaited rescue, they went into hibernation. The strange hums and thrums that could now be detected were caused by the aliens’ preparations for departure on 21st December, for they had been aroused from their millennia-long sleep by energy transmitted from the crystal skull during the ceremony on the Pyramid of the Sun, which had also helped complete the regeneration of the energy module inside their spaceship.
By this time, a stunned silence had fallen on the courtroom. Clearing his throat and looking slightly disconcerted, another prosecutor had stepped forward to ask Professor Quaterbolis about the Ravne tunnels. What role had these tunnels played in the aliens’ attempts at survival and return to their extra-terrestrial home?
Quaterbolis recalled describing to the hushed courtroom how, whilst engaged in investigating ultrasound in the Ravne tunnels, he and his colleagues had found a mysterious lozenge-shaped structure. Here, he had been about to launch into a long and detailed description, but the prosecutors interrupted him, pointing out that accounts of this discovery had been published on several websites. One of the prosecutors stated that, having read some of Professor Quaterbolis’ commentaries about the desperate claw-marks left on the walls of the Ravne tunnels by some hapless, imprisoned three-clawed prisoner, he had felt rather puzzled. Were there aliens in the Ravne tunnels, too, as well as under the Pyramid of the Sun?
Patiently, Quaterbolis explained that, though there had been many problems with locating, re-locating and excavating the structure, he had been present at its final discovery and opening. An astonished silence fell over the Court once again as the professor described how the excavators and volunteers had gradually worked down through the water, rock and mud surrounding the lozenge structure, and, after immense efforts, had slowly begun to make out the outlines of the mysterious object that had eluded them for so long. Finally, however, they had succeeded in pulling it free from the fabric of the tunnel.
With infinite care, they prised the strange structure open, and found … nothing. The object, whatever its original purpose, was absolutely empty, and there was no sign of any creature at all, whether a human king or queen, or a three-clawed alien.
In answer to questions from the Court, Professor Quaterbolis replied that he believed that the explanation for the claw-marks and the empty structure was that some of the aliens must have gone to explore the area when their spaceship first crashed, and had become separated from their fellows, perhaps because some of the tunnel walls had collapsed, trapping the aliens, who, after clawing wildly at the walls, had eventually managed to escape. Making their way back through the tunnels, they had sealed each section behind them as they went along, and finally returned to the spacecraft buried beneath the Pyramid of the Sun.
At this point, pandemonium had broken out in the courtroom, and it was some time before order could be restored. However, when it was, the Orthodox Academics lost no time in returning their verdict. They found Professor Quaterbolis guilty on all charges. He remembered with a shudder how they had cruelly decreed that the structure – which turned out to have been somewhat larger than it had first appeared in the scans and plans - should be turned on its side, and that he should be incarcerated within it (they were ominously vague about exactly how long for).
And that was how he had come to find himself in this terrible prison, unable to get away from the insistent squeaking of the devil-eyed rats that crowded around him, and forced to to watch as the sharpened edge of the steel pendulum descended ever closer to the slab where he lay, the arc formed by its swinging blade bearing an unpleasant resemblance to the deadly shape of a scimitar. But, as he looked at it, it suddenly occurred to him that it also bore a certain resemblance to a Tesla magnifying transmitter. Could the oscillations of the pendulum actually be generating an electromagnetic field? And was this also somehow responsible for the regular thumping coming from somewhere beneath the cell?
As he lay pondering this question, he became uncomfortably aware of yet one more ominous circumstance. For not only was the pendulum approaching ever nearer and nearer as it swung inexorably to and fro, but the walls of his cell, the lozenge-shaped structure excavated from the Ravne tunnel, seemed to be slowly closing in and around him, constricting him until he could hardly breathe. The angles of the two corners of the walls at his head and his feet were becoming ever sharper; in contrast, the angles of the corners of the two walls to his left and right were becoming ever flatter, more oblique. What was happening? With growing horror, he contemplated the ghastly alternatives in front of him: would the walls eventually close in on him completely, or would the pendulum reach him before that happened? Even the rats seemed to have become aware of this alteration in the configuration of the cell, for some of the bolder ones, finding that they had less room, began actually climbing up and running over him.
For some time, he had been vaguely aware of another huge sandstone slab standing against one of the walls, apparently covered in something that might have been ancient runes, or, there again, modern graffiti … But now, as he jerked his head to and fro in a vain attempt to frighten away the rats with their nastily scampering feet and hideous tails, it seemed to him as if the sandstone slab was actually moving. He thought at first that it must be some trick of the flickering candlelight, or perhaps something to do with the walls that were moving so relentlessly towards him. But then, unable to believe his eyes, he watched as the front of the stone, apparently hinged, slowly swung to one side to reveal a shadowy figure within. After a moment or two, the figure emerged from what bore an astonishing resemblance to a giant mussel.
“Caspita!”  gasped the professor. “You were the chief prosecutor at my trial!“
For it was indeed the same masked woman, still dressed in a long dark robe and Phrygian bonnet.
“Bonjour, Professeur Quaterbolis,” said the woman, smiling enigmatically, and shooing away some of the rats that were still swarming about the chamber. “Or should I say – Monsieur le professeur assistant?”
But what with the freezing temperature, the shrieking rats, the scything pendulum and the shrinking walls, Quaterbolis,was long past being able to take part in civil discussions about forms of address.
“Why are you here?” he demanded. “I can tell that you are French, but - who are you? And how did you get here?”
“I am called many names,” said the woman, smiling even more enigmatically. “One of them might be Marianne … another might be Irna … but I don’t much mind how you address me, as what I do and say is much more important than what I am called. I found my way here via a secret passage through the tunnels so that I could come to your rescue - here, let me help you – “
And, advancing to the slab where the unfortunate assistant professor lay helpless beneath the threatening arc of the pendulum, now perilously close, she quickly untied the ropes. At the very last moment, Quaterbolis scrambled free, just in time to avoid what would have been a fatal slash from the swinging blade. But, with a last hiss, as if disappointed at being balked of its prey, the blade suddenly halted in mid-swing, and, to the Professor’s astonishment, was swiftly retracted into the dark roof of the chamber. At almost the same time, the walls of the chamber, which had been moving ever closer and closer to the slab on which he had been lying, also came to a halt, and, after a minute or two, began receding to their former positions, allowing the cell to become quasi-rectangular once more.
“Mille grazie, Dame Marianne … or Irna, as you please!” gasped the professor, rubbing his arms to restore circulation.
“Don’t mention it,” said Marianne (or Irna). “But look out!”
For the professor, in his haste to climb down from the slab to escape from the pendulum, had almost failed to notice a new peril. A yawning gap had suddenly appeared in the floor of the cell, and, but for Marianne’s warning, he would have fallen into it; certainly, some of the rats were not so fortunate, and their wailing shrieks echoed around the cell as they disappeared from view. Staggering back from the edge, Quaterbolis peered cautiously down … and found himself gazing into a pit whose depths were lost in coiled darkness somewhere far, far below. However, the thumping was much louder now, and Quaterbolis realized that it was actually coming from the pit itself.
“What is that noise?” he exclaimed.
“Who knows?” replied Marianne, with a shrug. “Some mysterious form of pulsing radiant energy, I have no doubt … In any case, I don’t think we should stand here chatting. Come.”
And, picking up the lamp, she ushered him out through the sandstone slab where she herself had appeared a few minutes before. Following her, the professor soon saw that a tunnel lay behind the open slab.
As they made their way along the tunnel, Marianne continued speaking.
“I don’t think you are altogether beyond hope, so I suggest that you do me the honour of accompanying me to the Temple of Reason – I’m sure that you remember the part played by such temples during the French Revolution - in order that you may atone for your crimes against Reason and Science.”
At these ominous words, however, Professor Quaterbolis felt a certain dampening of his spirits, quite swamping his joy at being rescued.
“The Temple of Reason? I don’t think so.”
Marianne shrugged once more.
“Very well! It’s up to you. So where are you going to go?”
“There is no doubt in my mind!” exclaimed the Professor. “I must return to the Pyramid of the Sun at once!”
“Visocica!” said Marianne. “But what will you do there?”
“You’ll see!” said the Professor, striding purposefully off up the tunnel.
Curious, Marianne followed him. Perhaps not much to her surprise, he seemed to be making for the Pyramid of the Sun, where she had no doubt that he was about to try and join the aliens who were about to make their escape to the Pleiades – or possibly Mars - in the spacecraft hidden for so many millennia by the stranded three-clawed space travellers.
Post-scriptum, 24 December 2012
I see that my Christmas 2012 extravaganza has not met with approval in some quarters.
In this post on the Nibiru forum, Professor Debertolis states:
Solitamente non rispondo ai malintenzionati che per portare avanti le loro tesi sono pronti ad inventare strane informazioni sul mio conto.” (Trans.: I’m not in the habit of replying to ill-intentioned people who, in order to promote their own arguments, are prepared to invent bizarre information about me.)
“Ill-intentioned”? Why are we “ill-intentioned”? Because we don’t agree with the extraordinary theories and activities of the SBRG, and in their apparent consent in the existence of many of the “Bosnian Pyramid” theories? And because we believe that there should be a wider knowledge of, and comment on, those activities?
Professor Debertolis also refers to :
“ ... uno proveniente da una Università inglese, sedicente Abacus alias Romulus (con un’ottima conoscenza della lingua italiana) ... “ (Trans: one of them with connections to an English university, posting under the name of Abacus or Romulus (with a very good knowledge of Italian)).
I should like to take this opportunity of making it absolutely clear that I have no formal connection with any English university, and have never at any time said or implied, publicly or privately, that I did, so I’m not quite sure where that idea came from. (Nevertheless, I should like to thank Professor Debertolis for his kind compliment about my Italian – although, sadly, I fear that that is not true, either … )
Professor Debertolis then goes on to say:
... la loro tesi è che il mio gruppo di ricerca non abbia mai avuto mai nulla a che fare con il Politecnico di Milano ed anzi abbia abusivamente posizionato il logo dello stesso sul sito SBRG, come d’altra parte sostengono che nella mia Università non siano a conoscenza del fatto che abbia portato avanti delle ricerche in Bosnia nella Valle di Visoko con un mio gruppo di ricerca (SBRG) per due anni. (Trans.: ... their argument is that my research group has never had anything to do with Milan Polytechnic, and was therefore not entitled to place the Milan Polytechnic logo on the SBRG website. They also claim elsewhere that my University [the University of Trieste] are not aware of the fact that I was carrying out research in Bosnia in the Valley of Visoko with my research group (the SBRG) for two years … )
He cites two letters reproduced in three PDFs, one consisting of two pages (here, and here) dated 14 February 2011 from Professor Lucia Krasovec Lucas (one of the principal members of the SRG) to Professor Patrizia Gabellini, of Milan Polytechnic; and Professor Patrizia Gabellini’s one-page reply, dated 16 February 2011. Briefly, Professor Lucia Krasovec Lucas is asking the Architectural Department if it will agree to participate in the activities of the SBRG in Bosnia; and she also requests permission to display the Milan Polytechnic logo on the SBRG site (pg 2, q. 5).
To these various requests, Professor Gabellini agrees in her letter of 16 February 2011.
Professor Debertolis’ position, therefore, is that no one is entitled to complain about the use of the Milan Polytechnic logo on the SBRG site, as permission had been given for this in February 2011. And, according to Professor Debertolis, the removal of the Milan Polytechnic logo followed a change of personnel and policy at Milan Polytechnic.
This affair is discussed on the Eclisse Forum blog, where the lack of resemblance between the proposed SBRG activities described in Professor Krasovec Lucas’ letter of 14 February 2011, and the way in which those activities were actually conducted, is considered in detail.
Certainly, if Professor Debertolis’ claim is accurate – and we have seen the copies of the February 2011 correspondence that he has kindly placed online - then it follows that what I wrote in my article must be incorrect, namely:
Numerous attempts at finding any reference to this implied, or alleged, institutional support anywhere on the sites of these institutions (“Milan” in this context turning out to refer to Milan Polytechnic) were singularly unproductive.
Readers of this site might recall that I wrote about the SBRG on 20th March 2011, in this article, and also in another article, on 11th April 2011. Both of these articles (although I did not know it at the time) post-date the Milan Polytechnic correspondence.
At about the same time, this article by Irna explained how she had found the following statements on the SBRG site was carrying:
"’SB Research Group’ is an inter-university and inter-disciplinary team established by Universities of Trieste and Milan"; "SB Research Group is a multidisciplinary university project" and "This research project combines elements of two Italian universities, Trieste and Milan".
But Irna’s article was published on the same day that Professor Lucia Krasovec Lucas’ wrote to Professor Gabellini. In other words, the SBRG had only just initiated the process of obtaining the agreement of Milan Polytechnic to the latter’s involvement in the SBRG. And that granting of permission, and that involvement, did not officially commence until 16 February 2011.
So how could the statements: "’SB Research Group’ is an inter-university and inter-disciplinary team established by Universities of Trieste and Milan” and "This research project combines elements of two Italian universities, Trieste and Milan" have already appeared on the SBRG site on 14 February 2011? (Obviously, Irna had begun writing her article some days before this date anyway).
Indeed, I myself had also written an earlier article still, my first on the subject of the SBRG. There is no mention of the Milan Polytechnic logo in this article, but I explain how, on the SBRG website, I had already found the statement:
“‘SB Research Group’ is an inter-university and inter-disciplinary team established by Universities of Trieste and Milan.”
That article was dated 5 February 2011.
And there is yet more. This article on the Foundation website contains precisely the same statement, i.e.:
“SB Research Group” is an inter-university and inter-disciplinary team established by Universities of Trieste and Milan.”
And that article is dated 21 January 2011: some three weeks before Professor Lucia Krasovec Lucas’ letter …