Origin Pt IV

Some things are better left undiscovered!

Part IV

She shined her flashlight down the hole and was disappointed when the beam failed to reveal anything. She activated a chemical light stick and dropped it down the opening. The glowing stick dwindled as it fell through the shadowy eons of the past. Becoming but a small pin-prick of light, an exclamation point in the crowding darkness.

Turning her attention back to the table, she inspected it as the first glimmer of an idea began to form in the back of her mind. The outer edge of the table was raised, creating a concave depression in the center that fluids could be contained within. Glancing at the bottom of the table, she noted that the raised lip was broken at that point, a means to drain the fluids she imagined as the image of a modern embalming table filled her mind. Inspecting the surface of the table, she discovered several long scars in the stone. As if a sharp object had been drawn across it surface with enough force to create a line. She thought of her uncle’s butcher shop, the massive wooden butcher’s block that dominated the center of the room. Every few years it had to be sanded down and refinished to remove the nicks and gashes from its daily use. That feeling of despair deepened as she realized that what she was looking at could very well have been an ancient meat packing operation similar to the modern meat packaging plants of today.

As she moved through the rows of tables, she came to a wall with another archway leading to a different room. What she saw inside made her heart skip several beats. Lying in stacks along the back wall were the mummified remains of an ape-like creature. Approaching the stack, she knelt down to examine the remains.

The cold and the salt they had been packed in perfectly preserved the bodies. They were no more than five feet tall with sloping shoulders and arms that seemed much too long for their height. Bipedal, they reminded her of large chimpanzees, but the face carried a more human look. A sloping forehead with a small face on the front of a tiny skull. From the size of the cranial cavity there appeared to be little room for more than a brain stem to control basic functions.

Gazing into the sunken eye sockets, she imagined the eyes that once inhabited the skull as being over large and dull, with the same expression one would find on a cow in the field. Troubled not by the future, the past, or the impending doom that was swiftly approaching. Concerned only with the basic needs of food, water, and propagation.

Nothing more than cattle in the field. The thought repeated itself and she shuddered. She saw that each one of them had been eviscerated, sliced open from throat to groin. That was when it all dropped neatly into place and her stomach performed several lazy somersaults as she struggled to come to terms with her discovery.

That was the reason for the tables in the next room. She had convinced herself when she first discovered them that they were nothing more sinister than a means to prepare the dead for their final journey. But after her most recent revelation their true purpose solidified in her mind as the realization dawned.

They were nothing more than meat.

They were not the builders of this structure. A creature far more advanced had built these rooms. Her earlier romantic notion of man’s ancestors being descendants of an alien race sickened her enough that she had to leave the room.

Charlie had kept out of her way as she explored the room. When she abruptly stepped back into the corridor he followed.

“Are you all right?”

Sandra shook her head silently as she struggled with her emotions.

“What’s wrong? What did you see?”

Sandra turned to face him and when she did he saw how drawn her face had become. Her eyes carried a haunted expression that chilled him to the bone.

“What is it?”

“This is not a good place,” she whispered, her words carried on the vaporous clouds of her breath.

“But you said this was...”

“I know what I said,” she cut him off in mid sentence, “but I was wrong.”

“What did you see in there?”

“The truth. When I first got into archeology I had all these romantic notions of discovering man’s true origins. I believed then, and I still believe it to this day, that man’s true past lies beyond the stars. That we are not of this planet.”

“What did you see?” Charlie said as he approached the opening.

“Please,” Sandra said, holding out her hand to stop him, “please, don’t go in there.”

Charlie pushed past her and vanished into that claustrophobic room. She waited for him, keeping the beam of her flashlight pointed at her feet. Her desire to explore the structure had been squashed by her discovery.

Charlie stepped out of the room. “What does it mean?” he said.

“It means we came from the stars, but not as masters of our own destiny. Our ancestors did not build this place. Something far more savage than man could ever hope to be built this structure.” She lifted her flashlight and gazed into the crowding darkness that swallowed the beam less than a hundred feet away. “What if they’re still waiting for us? What if they’re not dead like I thought.”

“Do you want to go back?”

“No. I can’t. I have to see this through.”

“Will you be all right?”

“I have to be,” she said, trying hard to convince herself that it was the right choice. She had to know for sure, she had to find absolute truth to back up the theory that was formulating in her mind.

With that she plunged into the unknown, the beam of her flashlight pushing back the emptiness as Charlie followed. In time they came to another doorway, this one much wider than the first. Sandra approached the threshold and stopped.

This room was different, much larger than the last one, and she sensed its immensity on an instinctive, primitive level. From somewhere a soft breeze stirred, ruffling the fur-lined collar of her hood, whisking away the vaporous clouds of exhaled breath that issued from her mouth. There was a faint ozone-like scent that tickled her nose with its familiarity. Though she was shielded from the restless winds, the cold still penetrated to her flesh deep beneath multiple layers. Her fingertips were becoming numb and she knew she would have to return to the group soon. But first she wanted to check out this new room. 

To be continued!

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