(Leave me your thoughts)
Modern Day Iraq
Professor Carson pulled hard on the heavy cement door. Sweat cascaded down his sandy face and rolled into his eyes. Wiping at his brow he looked around and sighed.
He pushed the circular door to the side and gazed down the cramped shaft. A gust of foul of wind swirled past him. It smelled like damp clothes and moth balls.
Swiping at cob webs he slowly crawled through the narrow tunnel and stood up. Douglas followed close behind him, mindful of every move he made.
The dimly lit cavern was known to be treacherous and many archeologists had paid the ultimate price for their studies. For decades before him, students and scholars had come only to find that death was lurking in the shadows.
A small tunnel in a clay hut led to the underground palace. It had been unearthed over fifty years ago, but now Professor Carson was on the brink of an even greater discovery. A secret chamber, that he believed hadn’t been seen in over ten thousand years.
“Douglas, bring me the reading lamp.” He yelled.
Carson sat down on a rock and took off his hat. He rubbed is graying beard and dabbed at his face with a dirty hand towel.
“This is really something else.” Douglas said.
He spun around looking at the underground structure in awe. The spanning columns and looming archways had been preserved in a near perfect state. The walls still bore the mark of an ancient time, covered with paintings and mystic writings.
The room they were sitting in was enormous. It was believed to be the last standing remnant of the Kingship of Eridug. A long forgotten civilization that mysteriously vanished overnight. Some even thought that the secret tomb of Alulim, Sumerian’s first king was hidden within the underground dome.
Carson took the light and shined it over a decaying piece of parchment. He sighed and bit his bottom lip.
“It’s that way.” He stood and suddenly pointed.
Douglas followed Carson as he walked off into the shadows, his torch glowing in the dark. He moved silently straining his ears, for it was well known that this place was riddled with booby traps. Warnings, illegible to most were stamped across every wall.
The ground was probably made of slate, but now more than five inches of sand covered the floor. Skeletons lay partially covered in the dirt, a warning to all who dared to go further.
Professor Carson edged on slowly, compelled by curiosity to uncover the secrets buried in the depths. He’d studied the Sumerian culture for more than forty years and was considered by many the foremost authority. It was only right that he had deciphered the message hidden in an ancient artifact, which revealed the location of the hidden tomb.
They stopped at a hole in the ground that was surrounded by a small row of bricks with more writing etched into it. A rope ladder dangled into the depths, disappearing after a few feet into the darkness.
Professor Carson looked back at Douglas and examined his face. “You don’t have to go down there. You can wait for me here.”
Douglas smirked then rolled his eyes. “Hold the torch overhead so I can see where I’m going.”
Douglas stepped over the row of bricks and carefully placed his foot on the first step of the ladder. It swung wildly and he almost fell, but Carson reached out and grabbed his arm.
“Careful son, these places are not known to be forgiving.”
Douglas grinned and righted himself. He grabbed the sides of the ladder and gradually began to climb down. Professor Carson held the torch over the hole lighting the way.
Each step took him deeper and deeper into the Earth. After five minutes he could no longer see the top or even the torch above him.
“Have you reached the bottom yet?” Professor Carson called down.
“No, no I still can’t see it.”
Douglas methodically placed each foot, step after step. He purposefully stared straight ahead, terrified to look down into the abyss beneath him. The ladder twisted and turned with the slightest movement, making each step harder than the last.
He slid down another level, planting his foot firmly on the wooden plank. Suddenly it snapped and he tumbled backwards and lost his grip. He reached for the rope, but only grasped air.
He fell in slow motion. His legs and arms were sprawling helplessly in the dark. Plummeting downward he let out a yelp and then landed with a thud onto the rocky floor.
“Douglas are you okay?” Carson screamed.
“Found the bottom.” Douglas responded in a whimper.
Rubbing his lower back he slowly got to his feet. He looked around, barely able to see past his nose.
“Throw the torch down.” Douglas yelled.
He stared towards the top, but he couldn’t see a thing. It was as if he was trying to open his eyes while his hands were covering his face. He stepped to the side just as a flame erupted out of nowhere and fell to the floor.
The torch barely missed him as it smashed to the ground. He bent over and picked it up. Holding it over his head he swept back and forth he looking around. In every direction the ground seemed to disappear into the dark.
The ladder swung about, brushing against him as Professor Carson started to make his way down.
“Be careful professor. Some of the steps are broken.” Douglas yelled.
A few minutes later Professor Carson stepped off the ladder onto the ground.
“Let me see the torch.”
Carson lifted it towards the roof and examined the rocky surface. A series of dots were marked on the stone that ran off into the darkness.
“It’s that way.” Carson pointed and began to walk.
Douglas scurried along trying to keep up. The torch didn’t provide much light and if the professor was more than five feet ahead of him he’d disappear.
Douglas huffed as they marched across the endless sand. It was strange that while there was a strong smell of musk in the other room this part of the tunnel was odorless. He couldn’t recognize any scent at all.
The glow of the fire burned feebly as the sand crunched beneath each step. The professor would stop from time to time and stare up at the ceiling to make sure they were on track.
They walked for a while and then the room suddenly opened up. The rocky ceiling had only been a meter above them, but now it rose to more than thirty feet. The torch grew brighter as the darkness thinned. It glowed, illuminating the staggering dome structure.
There was no sand any longer. The floor was made of pristine marble, like it had never been walked on. Their footsteps echoed loudly with each step.
Carson stopped right at the edge of a long ramp way that slanted even further underground. It dropped down another twenty feet and then disappeared into another room. He looked back at Douglas who was still staring up at the expansive ceiling. He tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow.
“Almost there.” Carson mumbled as he stepped down the declining ramp. “Be careful Douglas, it’s quite slippery.”
Douglas cautiously placed his feet onto the ramp and slid down. Once he reached the bottom he sighed and took a deep breath. The marble floor had ended and he was standing in thick sand once again.
Suddenly there was a loud hiss and the dome began to shake. The opening they’d just slid down slammed shut as an enormous rock fell onto the other side of the ramp.
“So much for their booby traps.” Professor Carson smirked.
He walked forward a few steps to a large door that was etched in the rock in front of him. He ran his hand across it, tracing the ancient symbols with his finger.
“This is it! This has to be it.” Carson smiled.
Douglas slowly inched towards him. He was cautious, but also intrigued by what could be the discovery of the century.
“How…How do we open it?” Douglas stuttered.
Professor Carson stared at the door, beaming with joy. “The code. The code was hidden in that old shield. Right there for anyone to see.” He seemed to be talking to himself.
“There was nothing to it really. Just a simple mathematical pattern.” He slowly touched different symbols along the rock.
“And of course it all ends with the sun.” Professor Carson brought his finger to rest on the oblong circle with flames surrounding it.
For a moment nothing happened. Professor Carson stepped back and looked up and down the wall. Douglas eyed him pessimistically.
Then suddenly the ground began to shake. The rocks raked against each other making a loud shriek. The door slowly creeped open, shuffling sand to the side. Carson breathed heavily in anticipation, his eyes wide with wonder.
“All my years, I never dreamed.” Carson said in awe.
Douglas moved closer as the door stopped. They both gazed inside. It was pitch black except a luminous blue light that seemed to be floating in the distance.
The room was like nothing they’d ever seen before. It was the embodiment of emptiness. It was like staring into nothing. There was no floor no roof just blackness and that eerie light.
Carson and Douglas seemed to be hypnotized by it. Minutes passed and they didn’t move. Their mouths hung open, they didn’t even blink. After a long time Carson took a step forward and spoke.
“I’m going inside.”
“Yes, we must go inside.” Douglas said in staccato.
They deliberately moved forward throwing caution to the wind. As they crossed the threshold time seemed to stop. A serene feeling overwhelmed the Professor and he suddenly felt connected to everything.
He could feel the blood coursing through Douglas’s veins. He could sense the irregular rhythm of his heartbeat. The room was alive with activity. He watched as atoms bombarded with one another. He finally had a sense of his place in the world.
“The light. Professor the light.” Douglas stuttered.
Carson hadn’t noticed that the blue light was slowly itching towards them. At the sound of Douglas’s voice he seemed to snap out of his trance.
He tried to move, but he couldn’t. They were suspended in the nothingness of the room. Caron began to panic as Douglas squirmed and screamed.
The light was growing brighter and brighter. Then it suddenly zipped towards them in a flash.
“No! No… no!” Carson’s voice flooded the room, echoing into the darkness.
The light exploded, filling the emptiness with a harsh blue light. As quickly as it had flashed it vanished and the room was empty again.