Chapter 11: Desert Rose

1994 Words
"Is there really 'a gateway to anywhere'? But that would mean that there existed some kind of time portal in the ancient days…", he kept thinking as he walked towards the excavated mound. He looked around, the entire camp was silent and the security guards were patrolling the perimeter. Hans' tent was dark - "Old fox must be sleeping soundly now that I'm here to do his dirty work…", thought Patrick walking in the darkness towards the excavation site. Far away he could here the howling of a wolf in the barren mountains. He began to feel a strange kind of anxiety as he got closer to the mound. It was left unguarded with a single lightbulb hanging on a pole. He stopped for a brief moment and looked up towards the dark starlit sky. There was no moon that night and the constellations shone brightly. "Hmm.. Orion….Oh! I get it now ..the constellation…. ", whispered Patrick to himself. "Where is it? Ugh… " , he began to scan the night sky with his bare eyes. After a minute of looking, he saw it right above his head. It was shaped like a belt- which is why it was known as Orion's belt.But Patrick had to find out how the constellation would lead him towards the gate. "As in heaven, so on earth… hmm… heaven, earth… follow Orion… maybe I should find the pattern of Orion on land… but how? ", thought Patrick wondering if his assumptions were correct. "Ah!What the hell? White stones!", exclaimed Patrick as he noticed some bizzare stones on the entrance of the mound.He began to run towards the excavation site. "There it is… the stones are the markers on land… ", thought Patrick as he reached the entrance of the mound. Patrick had never seen anything like this ever. Small stones about the size of the human palm were lying perfectly arranged one after the other in a curved line like a road leading straight into the exacavated mound. It was a bizzare sight to witness the stones lighted up dimly on the ground amidst the ruins. Patrick followed them but after five stones the trail ended.He kneeled down and began to remove the dirt with his hand trying to find the rest. Sure enough he found another buried under the layer of sand. He kept doing this until he found another and then another. He kept following the trail until he stood inside the mound. There were no more stones to uncover. After struggling through the dense a****n forest for an hour me and my three local guides and Alicia arrived at the fabled-"city of the dead" built by the ancient aztecs. Huge ruins of pyramids, broken stones, pillars and pathways lay ahead of us in a clearing. Alicia was awestruck, "We did it - we finally found it!", she said,her eyes shining through her glasses. Our Incan friends too seemed relieved at the thought of finally getting the job done and returning home,but I for one was sceptical. 'Was it really supposed to be so-easy?',I thought staring at the vast ruined pyramid which was now covered with algae and wild plants.The lost city of the dead was supposed to be filled with immeasurable treasures and hence most difficult to find.Nevertheless I asked Paco one of our guides to lead the way. We struggled to keep up with him as he climbed up the stairs swiftly. "Slow down!", I shouted, as he kept climbing ahead. He seemed to be in some kind of frenzy as if he were possessed. "Paco! slow down !", I yelled again, fearing we might lose him in the ruins. Paco looked back at me and I could swear I saw his face had gone grey and his eyes were green...a chill ran down my spine as I stared at that little boy running madly to the top of the ruined pyramid. "My friend", said Sergio one of the elder guides, trembling with fear as he placed his hand on my shoulder "the king has finally returned home". A chill ran down my spine and I could feel beads of sweat dripping from my forehead. I froze for a moment as I looked at the sheer madness ahead of me.Paco was relentlessly moving forward towards the top of what was once a pyramid like monument,which during the old days was most probably used for human sacrifices.He raged on like a mad bull, mumbling gibberish, occasionally slipping down,barely able to hold on to the flimsy rocks. The four of us hurried to stop him but the boulders of algae ridden rocks made it very hard for us even to step foot on them. "The King-the lord-of Mictlan-has returned?",I wondered trying to remember the history of the place-which wasn't depicted in any map.It was once used as a temple dedicated to the God of the underworld -Mictlantecuhtli.Human sacrifices were performed by great priests of the temple who wore large skull like hats and painted their faces red as they carried out brutal acts of murder on top of the pyramid platform and hundreds of spectators would watch from below as they hoped that these inhuman acts would somehow please the deity.What a dreadful sight it would have been! Paco had almost reached the top by now and as he laid his feet on the platform he let out a horrific scream and fell into some kind of hole.We could only observe helplessly from below."What on earth!- cried out Alicia-did you see that- he got swallowed in- he-", words failed to come out- we were all dumbfounded,but we had to reach the top.The old stairs were broken and we were holding on to crumbling rocks as we scaled the hundred metres tall ruin.Our hands and feet got covered in a strange slime like substance which seemed to ooze out from the cracks,and wild grass and climber plants wrapped round the stones made it harder to climb-still we had to move on.Sergio almost fell trying to hold on to a block of stone.Alicia was the one who reached the top first and we all stood there not knowing what to do. A huge hole was in the middle of what was supposed to be a flat platform.We stared down into the dark abyss and shone our torches yelling out Paco's name.Strangely our lights couldn't even reach the bottom and all we saw was a slime and moss covered wall and an endless dark pit below.At this point I vaguely remembered some line I read in an obscure book -"He shall feast upon blood on a moonless night,he shall dance upon the bones of the dead...he shall rise..."I couldn't remember much but I knew it was a prophecy related to this place - Mictlan! It was almost sunset and darkness would soon fall,we had to return to our camps,but we also had to look for the lost boy.Sergio and the other local guide weren't much keen on finding him as they only kneeled down and offered their prayers.I was furious at this behaviour at first but Sergio explained to me that he was taken as a sacrifice by the deity and that we could have done nothing to help him.Their superstitious beliefs saddened me-surely everything had to have a logical explanation, but I thought it would be more reasonable for us to go back to our camps now and look for the boy tomorrow.We all agreed to head back but as I stood there holding my satchel,I looked at the majestic scenery of the jungle.It would be dark soon and the dense forest was eerily getting silent.I could no longer hear the howling monkeys or the occasional roar of the jaguar nor the majestic birds of paradise,who are known to be notoriously loud with their shrilling annoying voices trying to impress their mates.It seemed as though nature was shying away creepily into sleep and the only thing that could be heard was the monotonous shrilling of crickets and cicadas. The sun had now crept behind the mountains as the four of us tried to find a way down this dreaded place.Sergio was the first to climb down,Alicia and I were going next.As he made his way down,Alicia drew a sharp breath and pointed towards the ruins that lay below.A thick fog was engulfing around the pyramid.It was strange and unnatural as winter was months away.The other guide started to tremble in fear and hurried to climb down the slope.I tried to stop him but something must have spooked him,for he wouldn't listen and was determined to leave the place. Suddenly the pyramid began to rumble as though it was hit by an earthquake.The whole thing was falling apart brick by brick.Alicia screamed and grabbed my arm as I called out to Sergio-"Come back up!Its not safe...grab the other guy!".Sergio quickly held out his hand to his friend who was a few feet away from him holding on to a broken piece of boulder which would likely give away at any moment.But before he could reach him the boulder broke away and fell down taking the poor local with it.We could only hear a fading scream and a dull thud as he was quickly swallowed by the strange fog below.Sergio knowing that he couldn't do anything else had now quickly climbed up.The three of us were barely able to hold on to each other as the rumbling continued and the fog was getting thicker.Behind us was the dark abysmal pit and the way back home was engulfed in the ever growing sinister fog.All we could do was to hold on to our dear lives.But then the rumbling stopped. We were shaken with fear and awe.Alicia was still holding on to my arm and Sergio was trying to catch his breath.I for one was trying to get a hold of the bizzare events that had just occurred and I couldn't make any heads or tails of it.We were stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help from the outside world and this horrible place wouldn't let us leave. Somehow my scientific beliefs were completely shadowed by the paranormal. It was completely dark now and we decided we had to make another attempt to leave.I shone my torch at the pit behind us -it was dark,but I noticed that the walls of the pit were now completely covered with slime and it was moving as though it were alive! It moved slowly but steadily-outwards and upwards towards the edges-through the cracks- towards me-my heart began to race and my ears were filled with the screams of our dead companions. Impossible! - I murmured.But then I heard Alicia calling out to me which broke my trance.She and Sergio had found another way down ,through the broken stairs-parts of the stairs that broke off had now piled up below us making a crude platform towards the ground,but we had to jump.We shone our lights and jumped one by one,onto the platform and a few moments later onto the ground which was still surrounded by the fog.We held each other's hand and moved ahead carefully as we could barely see and the light from our torches reflected back from the thick fog.Still we moved on,the ground below us cracked and I felt as if I was stepping on bones and empty skulls.Alicia kept repeating that the place was cursed and once we were out of here we would never come back.
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