Some things are better left undiscovered.
Albert turned to each member and asked, “Should we push on, or turn back?”
Everyone agreed that pushing on was the preferable choice. They were scientists devoted to the discovery of new information. The appearance of the obviously man-made passageway was one of the greatest discoveries of all time. To have their names attached to such an expedition would secure their careers for the rest of their lives.
So it was with high expectations they pushed on. Into the unknown to shed the light of the present into the shadows of the past. Once inside the structure, away from the constant wind, their exploration began in earnest. ?They found themselves in a narrow hallway that vanished into an impenetrable night
The first thing they noticed was the relative warmth of the interior. It was warm enough for them to discard the bulky parkas and insulated coveralls they had worn for the trek from the aircraft.
Establishing a base camp within the mouth of the opening, Albert radioed for more supplies to be brought up. He remained at the radio while the others spread out to probe the shadowy corners. Always in pairs, they had been reminded, and Sandra made it a point to make herself available to Charlie. What he had told her about that story written so long again intrigued her. Not to mention he was pretty pleasing to the eye.
Together they approached the opposite wall of the narrow hallway and as they got closer the intricate writing that covered every available surface became clear. Strange swirls and vortexes formed lines of type that could only have been created by an intelligent mind. The floor, she noted, while covered by a fine layer of dust, was devoid of any skeletal remains that might have provided a clue as to the age of the structure. Using a sheet of paper, she transferred a line of the type by taking a rub using the side of a pencil.
“What do you think it means?” Charlie said.
“I don’t know, I’m not a linguist. We’ll have to wait until we can get some photos back to civilization before they can even attempt to decipher what it says.”
The writing disturbed her on a level she’d never experienced before. She’d been present at the opening of tombs in the past, and each time she had been filled with a sense of great expectation. Imagining that she was on the verge of an enormous discovery. She felt that way now, that she was standing upon the threshold of an immense breakthrough, but the feeling was tinged with the fear that what she was about to discover held no joy for the human race in general. There was an alien feel to the writing that awakened primitive sensations of dread that made her hesitate as she explored the cavernous space.
Following the wall, Charlie silently snapped photographs behind her as she explored with her flashlight. The corner the wall on her right turned away from her to vanish into a vast emptiness. She stopped for a moment, shining her light into the shadows, trying to locate anything she could use as a landmark. She felt like she was poised on the lip of an immense chamber containing secrets that were better left undiscovered.
To her left, several of the other members of the group were following the outer wall of the chamber. From her vantage point it was obvious the wall curved in to create a domed ceiling. Keeping her hand in contact with the wall, she crossed the threshold from the passageway into the domed room proper. Glancing back at the others, she saw the narrow beams of their flashlight ineffectually piercing the darkness.
“What do you think this room is?” Charlie said.
“I have no idea. Could be a gathering place. We’ll need to set up some work lights so we can get an ideal what the room looks like,” she said as she took several more steps into the shadows. She couldn’t shake the feeling that they did not belong here. That she should turn back before it was too late. But her curiosity drove her forward. She didn’t know how far she had gone before she reached another corner. This one framed an opening to another passageway, carved into the solid stone, that measured approximately twelve feet across and vanished into the mountain itself. From the opening she detected a slight breeze that brushed against the exposed flesh of her face.
She glanced back at the others. Several work lights had been set up, but their comforting glow did little to push back the heavy darkness that shrouded the room.
She turned back to the opening and shined the beam of her flashlight into the corridor. “What do you think?” she said.
Charlie shrugged as he gazed down that narrow corridor. “After you.”
With Charlie close on her heels, she stepped into the corridor. Here the curious writing was replaced by bas-reliefs of strange creatures in a narrow band about eighteen inches high, running the length of the corridor, two feet above eye level. The rest of the stone was as smooth as glass; its black surface weakly reflecting the beam of her flashlight.
Charlie snapped several photos, the flashes momentarily blinding her, and she squeezed her eyes shut to get her eyes readjusted to the dark. When she did, the images on the wall came to life in her mind. Moving in a hideous manner that deepened her feelings of unease. Opening her eyes with a shudder, she moved down the corridor, ignoring the images chiseled into the walls around her, drawn by curiosity as she followed the beam of her flashlight into the unexplored depths.
Charlie had grown silent as he kept pace with her, and she sensed that he too was disturbed by the images. Coming to a junction, she stopped. Looking first one way, then the next, she peered into the black depths, at the dust covered floor that vanished into the shadows.
Which way? she wondered.
Straight was the most logical course. She crossed the corridor and continued her trek into the never-ending night that swirled before her. On her left a curved archway materialized out of the shadows. It led to another room and the beam of her flashlight picked out a rectangular stone table, its surface tilted towards one narrow end. Several feet to the left stood another, its surface tilted as well, and beyond it there were more.
She was struck by an odd sensation of despair as she crossed the threshold into the room. The beam of her flashlight picked out rows of stone tables vanishing into the emptiness beyond the shadowy edge of her flashlight beam. At the foot of the table to her left was a circular hole in the floor. It was a good two feet across, the floor around it sloping down as if it were a drain.
To be continued!
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