Origin Part II

Some things are better left undiscovered.

The door to the cockpit in the wall opposite from where Charlie stood opened, and the pilot stepped into their cabin.

“Any word on when we can move to the camp?” Albert said.

“Looks like it’s gonna be a few hours yet before they have the central section ready for habitation,” the pilot said. “We have coffee if you’d like some.”

“Brandy would be better,” Robert said. He was an archeologist from Berkley and had spent the entire trip wholly engrossed in a study of a recent fossil bed somewhere in the deserts of Arizona. He had the look of one who had spent much of his time outdoors beneath a blazing sun. A deeply tanned face lined and wrinkled with age. Even though he was only forty, the years of exposure to the sun’s rays had left their mark on his leathery flesh.

“I’m sorry sir,” the pilot said, “but alcoholic beverages are not permitted on a military transport.”

Robert gave him a wink and a thumbs up. “Got ya, skipper.”

“Coffee sounds good, I’ll have mine with cream and sugar. Anyone else?” Albert said as he looked around at the others.

“Sounds good to me,” Sandra said.

“I’ll send a steward,” the pilot said before stepping back into the cockpit.

“They have stewards on this flight?” Jenny asked.

“Probably just an airman who never expected one of his duties would be playing nurse maid to a group of geeks,” Charlie said as he settled into his seat, where he turned his attention to what was happening outside.

The wind, which had been mild when they landed, was starting to pick up and the aircraft rocked under its pressure. It howled as it swirled under the wings, driving a line of ice crystals before it, battering at everything that refused to yield to its relentless assault. The steward stepped out of the cockpit with several steaming mugs of coffee, drawing the attention of the group. Steve, Charlie’s partner in keeping the base running smoothly, plopped down into the seat next to him.

“Have you looked at what we came to explore?” Steve said.

“Not yet, why?”

“You need to take a look,” Steve said as he handed him a pair of binoculars.

Charlie held the binoculars to his eyes and focused on the exposed rock beyond the group of penguins. As he adjusted  the dial, the exposed stone leapt into focus and he concentrated on the details as he slowly panned the area.

“What am I looking for?”

“Next to the hill that comes out like a shoulder, on the right side, there is an exposed section of what looks like a tunnel.”

“I see it,” he said, and then became quiet as the realization of what he was looking at slowly dawned on him. There was a band of writing on the wall running the visible length of the tunnel that terminated in what looked like a vast circular room carved out of the solid stone. Several jagged teeth of solid stone hung over the opening, giving it the appearance of a monstrous mouth.

At this distance it was hard to discern its origin, much less what was written, but just the realization that something intelligent had been involved in the construction of this tunnel set off warnings in his mind. They were looking at something man had never seen before, nor would likely ever see again. It reminded him again of the story he’d read by a writer long dead, and the carvings those fictional characters discovered. It was said that life imitated art. Here they stood upon the threshold of a discovery that had been foretold by a writer almost a hundred years earlier. He just hoped the outcome would follow a different course.

Three seats behind Charlie, Albert and Jerry, one of the scientists who’d volunteered for this expedition, were viewing the structure through their own pair of binoculars.

“How large do you make that to be?” Albert asked Jerry, a geologist whose hobby was ancient construction methods.

“I’d say at least a hundred feet from floor to ceiling, almost twice that across at the widest point,” Jerry said.

“I see a trail we can follow to the top,” Jenny said.

“What about the penguins?” Jerry said.

Sandra Falcon shook her head. “Your guess is as good as mine. I can tell you for a fact that they’ve abandoned their normal migratory routes to gather here. Why, is anybody’s guess.”

“They seem drawn to the structure,” Albert said.

“It could be an instinctive memory,” Sandra said.

“Will they bother us if we go near them?”

“The only time one really needs to be careful is when they’re roosting. They shouldn’t bother us, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Give them a wide berth.”


After a few hours of climbing, they reached a small plateau above a field of shattered stone that was quickly being buried beneath a steady snowfall. They were accompanied by a platoon of soldiers who had been tasked with protecting the seven members of the scientific team. Albert was the leader of the group, but when it came to matters of security second lieutenant Stokes could overrule Albert’s decisions. On the plain below them, another C-130 came in for a landing as a ground crew worked against the elements and time to complete the structure the scientists would live and work in for the next few weeks.

As a group, they stopped when the exposed void came into view. The smooth sides of the passageway vanished into the mountain. It looked like it had been carved from solid stone. The narrow passage led into a vast domed chamber

“You’re the geologist,” Albert said, nodding at Jerry, “do you feel the structure is safe to enter?” 

To be continued!

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