Here is a bit of my NaNoWriMo work in progress. At this point I have eleven chapters in the first draft.
I hope you enjoy!
It was several days before Jeffers and Westcott were again able to walk among the ruins of their camp site. In all about forty bodies had been recovered.
Jeffers looked at the stern face of the Police Colonel, “In all we have recovered about thirty bodies.”
Westcott looked ashen, “What happened to them?”
The Colonel stopped and looked at the two beside, “They had their throats slit. But some were torn apart by wild animals.”
Jeffers stared at him in amazement, “Wild animals? What wild animals could do this?”
“Some of the victims were partially eaten, it had to be animals. We don’t know what else could have done this much damage and violence.”
“Eaten? What kind of animal could do this?” Jeffers asked.
“We have no idea yet. Did you have any animals on the site with you? Dogs or large cats perhaps?” The Police Colonel stared at the two.
“Not even a domestic cat. Nothing.” Westcott shook her head.
“Maybe the robbers brought some wild dogs with them. We don’t know.”
Jeffers looked around, “Were there paw prints in the sand.”
The police man shook his head and veered the group toward a ruined tent still fluttering in the wind. He pointed near the entrance of the disheveled canvas structure, “Some feet and those odd tracks.”
The three stared at the winding, curved rut twisting around the opening.
“What made that kind of a track?” Westcott gasped.
“It looks like a sidewinder’s trail, but that is way too big for that.”
The Police man nodded his head at Jeffers’ observation, “It does look like a snake, but I’ve never seen a snake that big in our country.”
“An anaconda or boa constrictor maybe, but neither are anywhere near here nor do they move like a side winder.” Jeffers continued to shake his head, “This makes no sense.”
Westcott looked at her partner, “I didn’t know you knew so much about snakes?”
Jeffers gave a brief grin, “You forget my brother Thomas.”
Westcott returned his smile, “That’s right. He works in the reptile lab at the Columbus Zoo doesn’t he?”
Jeffers nodded his head.
The Police Colonel looked at the two, “Shall we continue to the dig entrance?”
The two archeologists looked sheepish for a moment before continuing on with the policeman toward the dark opening in the cliff. Soon the three stood before the two armed guards on either side of the entrance. Again the Police Colonel looked at the pair, “Since our arrival once we secured the site no one has entered or left this opening without us knowing about it.”
Jeffers nodded his head and waited for the Colonel to enter the opening. He was surprised when the man turned and waved his hand before the opening, “After you good Doctor. I want your impressions on what you find.”
Jeffers swallowed and looked from the man to the opening, “I’ve been waiting over three years to be able to enter this door.”
Colonel looked in surprise at the man, “I thought you have only been here for just short of a year.”
Westcott answered, “Doctor Jeffers first uncovered the existence of this site when doing research on an ancient manuscript three years ago. He has thought of nothing else until he got the dig approved by your country and has been working since to get this uncovered to verify his findings.”
The Colonel nodded his head and watched as the archeologist stepped toward the opening looking first down at the ground and those mysterious tracks again. He stepped forward and stopped in shock at the sight of the lifelike statue standing several feet within the entrance of the doorway.
Westcott stared at the statue illuminated by the halogens spaced out throughout the large chamber.
Jeffers was frozen in place. The Colonel turned to look at the stunned man, “What is it Doctor Jeffers?”
Westcott turned to stare at him as he swallowed loudly, “That’s Abdul-Hadi of our dig team.”
“What?” cried both the Colonel and Westcott as they three stared at the lifeless statue before them.
“My God, you’re right, but how?” Westcott gasped.
The Colonel shook his head, “That cannot be.”
Jeffers looked at the staring man, “Until these thieves breached this wall no one has been in this room since before the Ancient Greek times. Look at his garb, those are not the clothing of an ancient Greek. That is modern clothing.”
Westcott ran her hands down the side of the statue. “How can this be? This is solid stone.”
Again the Colonel waved his hand, “There are many more statues throughout this room. Can you tell me if you recognize any more, Doctors?”
The three stepped forward around the still statue to again come to a halt at the sight of all the ancient skulls strewn about the floor.
“What is this place?” Westcott gasped looking around the large pillared chamber.”
Gingerly the trio stepped around all the skulls lying about and came upon various groupings of statues. Some clearly where of the ancient times but many others where not, Some even wielded modern weaponry such as pistols. All the statues were in dynamic action poses, none where still lifes.
Jeffers shook his head, “I have never seen anything like this. I know the works of all the major ancient Greek sculptors and I don’t recognize the work of any of them beside we have more modern men here who look like members of our dig crew, but I honestly cannot be sure. But look at those guns, these are new and that is not possible. I don’t understand this.”
Westcott looked from the grouping of the newer statues to the more traditional statues, “They all look like they are in a battle.”
Jeffers slowly turned around in place scanning the entire well light room, “This doesn’t make any sense at all. I don’t understand. How could these men have been calcified? And are the other statues real ancient Greeks who suffered the same fate or are they really statues? We need to get samples from these and analyze them.
Westcott pointed back at the tiled floor behind them, “Why do you think they left all those skulls? A warning?”
Jeffers looked back at the skulls, “It might be a warning. Where are the bodies? I only see skulls?”
The Colonel pointed over toward the side wall and then again at the opposite side wall at two large piles of ashes. “We believe those are the burned remains of many. For that many ashes to last that long in this buried chamber it had to come from many, many bodies.”
Jeffers walked over to one of the piles. “Look, Amy.”
He pointed to the skeletal remains of five men lying on the ground. Wide knives could still be seen protruding from their exposed ribcages. “These men killed themselves probably the last to die once everything was done, but what were they doing?”
Westcott looked back at the multitude of skulls, “These five beheaded all those men? Why did they let them do it? Why were they sealed in here? I don’t understand.”
Jeffers looked at his baffled assistant, “I have never seen anything like this. In Ancient Egypt they often killed the burial crews to keep them from telling others were the pharaohs and their treasures were buried. I’ve never seen this in Greece though. What did they bury here?”
Westcott looked at him, “Could it be who was buried here?”
Jeffers shook his head, “I don’t know of any great Greek who was buried anywhere near here. My manuscripts only talked of a scourge on the land at the times this was all built. It sounded like some kind of plague.”
The Colonel looked startled at this thought, “Could this scourge cause men to turn into statues?”
Jeffers shook his head, “I don’t think so. These five killed themselves, not turned to statues nor any of those skulls came from statues. Look at those statues; they were fighting something, not getting sick. I don’t know what could have done this or what any of this means.”
The three stood in silence for a moment and looked around the room listening to the hum of the generators powering the bright halogens. Way above them was the rough rock of the cliff held in place by all the columns spaced out evenly throughout the grand chamber in four rows. Jeffers moved forward and again headed toward the largest groupings of statues. The other two followed him silently as all three took in everything around them as they tried to peirce of the darkness of the mystery surrounding all that they saw.
The trio again stopped and studied the statues occasionally running hands over the smooth stone or to grasp at some of the pistols extended.
“Oh my God, Look at this, his handgun” Westcott called pointing at one of the more modern statue. The three leaned in and carefully at the small handgun. Even the Colonel gasped at the sight of the small cylindrical head of the bullet appearing out of the edge of the firing hole, delicate whiffs of stone smoke coiled from the edges.”
“What on Earth could freeze a bullet just as it is being fired?” Jeffers gasped in amazement The Police Colonel could only nod his head in speechless amazement.
Shaking himself, the Colonel reached out a carefully touched the point of the gun, half expecting to feel the bullet shoot out into his hand. Only cold, still stone met his caress. His hand continued up to the smoke strand. All three jumped at the brittle snap sound as the edge broke off into his hand.
The Colonel held it up to inspect it closely. “I have never seen such thin stone.”
“These men were definitely fighting something when they froze. Just like their ancient counterparts.” Jeffers pointed at a nearby statue, The Greek warrior wore the skirt around his midsection that peeked out from the armored torso. A cape swirled out from his body as if swirling as he turned. An arm reached out with a short spear held strongly in his hand. Only his piercing eyes and pursed lips could be seen from beneath the plumed helmet on his head. His body was half bent and twisted as if in a lunge with the arm and spear leading his body clearing stabbing at an unseen enemy.
“These are not the victims of some disease. These men died fighting.” Jeffers continued to shake his head in disbelief.
“But fighting what?” The Colonel asked.
He was answered only by Jeffers’ silently shaking head. Jeffers again looked down at the coiled waves that created a rut just like the tracks outside amongst the tents.
Jeffers jerked, startling both Westcott and the Police Colonel.
Westcott reached out to touch her companion, “What is it Steven?”
Jeffers slowly shook his head, “No, it cannot be. No, no, no. Snake tracks, stone statues, ancient Greece, scourge on the land. No, impossible.”
The Colonel stared at him waiting, “What is impossible.”
Jeffers answered him with one word, “Medusa.”
Westcott gasped, “Medusa? That’s an ancient myth, just like all the Greek Gods.”
Jeffers nodded, “I know, but look at this. These men were real living breathing beings that somehow were turned to stone. Look at the snake like tracks on the ground.”
The Colonel looked from statue to tracks as Jeffers pointed at them, “Do you really mean to say you think the ancient Myth of Medusa is real and this is all her work, then and now? That’s impossible.”
Jeffers shook his head, “Not an ancient women with the body of a serpent and the hair of snakes, but something reptilian that is very much real that gave way to that myth. “
Westcott looked at the two men, “Often myths have a basis in some truth. It’s often how the ancients explained the unknown before science can give the real explanation.”
The Colonel looked at the two, “So some giant snake that can turn people to stone was trapped all these centuries in this tomb and is now somewhere out there?”
“I don’t know,” Jeffers explained. “Something turned these men to stone and made those tracks. It doesn’t seem possible to me but these statues are very much real and so are those tracks.”
All three looked back at the distant doorway to the outside world.
Jeffers turned back toward the other doorway recessed in the back wall. “I want to look inside that chamber first.”
The three again moved forward but much more timidly now. Soon they stood before the ancient open doorway.
Jeffers pointed at the ground, “Look how clean that tile is in front of the door, like something blasted all the sand back when it was opened.”
The Colonel looked at the tile and door, “Could it have been a gas explosion released when the door was opened? Maybe it was some kind of poison that froze these men.”
Westcott shook her head, “These men would have been in the act of reacting to the explosion not firing their weapons.” She pointed back to the nearby statues.
As Westcott was explaining her theory to the detective, Jeffers bent to inspect the broken seals and metal pegs.
He looked back up at the two now staring at him. He pointed to the door. “They sealed this door so that it was never meant to be opened again.” He got back up brushing his slacks. The three looked into the space exposed behind the door.
Finally Jeffers broke the silence, “Well, we might as well see what’s inside that room. I’ve waited most of my life for such a discovery.” He looked back at the statues, “I just never expected it to be like this at all.”
The three stepped forward totally missing the writing embedded on the other side of the open door.
Several more steps and the three were beyond the threshold and in the inner chamber of the ancient ruins.