Thursday, April 15, 2021

Discovery by David Darling

 Once she stood, professor Catherine Taylor brushed the dirt off her work pants and stretched, then tucked her dark hair behind her left ear. The forty-year-old woman remained physically fit from the manual labor required for her job and the constant work at the dig site. Sixteen months previous, the archeological team from Cambridge had discovered a pyramid buried in the Valley of the Kings.

 Permission from the Egyptian government had finally been granted, with provisions. Unable to turn down the opportunity, Catherine moved into the canvas tent on location and enjoyed the challenge as the weeks flew by.

 Since she was eight years old, Catherine had always played in the dirt and loved the thrill of discovery.

 Thirty-two years later, she still had the same feeling of joy. 

 After she adjusted the LED light, she removed a wide brush from her back pocket and once again, knelt to remove a layer of compacted sand. A ring of stones, three feet across, began to emerge. The larger stone at one end had a pattern chiseled on top. 

 The design had five lines that connected and showed the Egyptian symbol for stars. Other references found within the sunken pyramid had to do with astrology. When she saw the symbol, she was not surprised. 

 A fine layer of dust rose, and Catherine closed her eyes and sneezed into her left elbow. 

The movement caused her to shift, just enough, that she dropped her weight on top of the star-stone. The round stone was the same size as her palm and with a click, it sunk half an inch.

 At this, she held her breath and looked around the small chamber. Her colleagues had long since retired for the night and she alone bore witness. Significant discoveries were supposed to be documented; however, all the recording equipment was back at camp, being charged up for the next day.

Catherine grabbed her backpack, pulled out her cell phone, and snapped a few pictures. 

Once the phone was replaced, she knelt once more and began to clear away more of the loose dirt beside the stone.

 A crack in the floor emerged between two flat stones. It resembled a broken dinner plate with sand that trickled down into the dark cavity below. She leaned forward and tried to see into the void, to no success. Using the handle of the brush, she gently levered the tip into the crack and gave it a gentle pull. The one stone slid to the side and she could see a small stone box that resembled a ten-inch sarcophagus.

 Catherine couldn’t help but grin at her discovery. A glance at her watch showed it to be almost midnight, she should have been asleep long ago. 

 Five more minutes, then I will head out.

 She had said that same phrase several times already this evening. After she adjusted the light, Catherine used the brush to remove the dust from the top of the small stone sarcophagus.

 Enough of the dirt fell off the side and it caused her to sit back and groan at the discovery. 

Scratched across the top was OPEN ME in English.

 “Seriously?” 

 Usually, pranks were not this elaborate and only done on the new interns. She let out a large sigh, reached down and removed the two stones, then placed them off to the side. 

The small stone container weighed less than five pounds and the lid was easily removed. 

 Inside was a cell phone. It rested on top of some dried-out reeds that were folded into a small mat. It was the same new model that she had bought before she had flown to the dig, however, it had no battery life.

 Catherine wasn’t too sure who had set her up, but she would get even. She pulled out her power cord and a power supply and plugged in the phone to charge. It took a few minutes before the light turned on. 

 A text warning showed on screen: Memory Card Full.

 Curious, she opened up the gallery folder and looked at the images and video clips that filled the phone’s memory. 

 The last picture showed a vast area filled with lush vegetation and large patches of sand. 

She turned to the first video and pressed play.

 A woman’s voice sounded in the small chamber and Catherine was startled at the sound of her own voice.

 I am standing outside the A537 Pyramid and the wildlife is incredible. The air is clean and pure. Just amazing.

 The video panned around and the pyramid came into view. It didn’t resemble anything where Catherine currently sat. It was eighty-feet above ground with lush vines that grew along the base. The cap was covered in sheets of gold. It looked like the tip of a spear as it gleamed in the bright sun.

 I don’t think anyone will ever believe this, but here it is. 

 Catherine let out a gasp and almost dropped the phone. The video had spun around and it showed herself as she smiled and waved. She wore the same shirt and the backpack was slung over one shoulder.

 “What the hell …”

 Her fingers navigated the screen and scrolled to the last video and pressed play. The alternate Catherine sat at a table, her hair down. She wore a white robe with a thick metal bracelet on one wrist. She smiled into the camera and folded her hands in front. The battery charge is finally running out, I don’t have much time. This video is for my past self. I am currently in Egypt, approximately 3,000 BC, and the pyramid was just constructed. 

It wasn’t built to view and track the stars but as a gateway. I have met someone here and I am happy, and I’ve decided to remain. Not sure how time works, but if you want this experience and adventure, take the Star Stone and place it in the north wall. I hope you decide to step through. Delete this video and bring both phones. Enjoy your adventure Cat. The video ended. Catherine sat on the dirt floor and closed her eyes. The scientist and  logical side of her brain dismissed the video and pictures as a prank. The emotional side of  her, that longed for her to be happy and loved embraced the possibility. At forty-years-old, the only joy she had found was when she threw herself into work and discovered old relics.

 To find someone that you would give up civilization for and a career…

 Catherine wiped tears off her face and unplugged the second phone. She deleted the last video and placed the phone in the side pocket. Once everything was packed, she slipped her arms through the straps. The possibility of what could happen astounded her … but the one ​half of her brain remained skeptical.

 The north wall of the chamber was half-cleared. It showed a mosaic of tiles and a crude rendering of the sun. Her colleagues were to resume work on the area tomorrow. She tilted the light to shine on the wall and promptly disregarded everything she knew about archeology. Catherine used her fingers to pull large sections of compacted dirt off the wall.

 Just below the stylized pictograph of the sun was a perfect circle and below that a smaller circle was carved into the stone. 

 The moon and planet Earth?

 The remainder of the wall was blank.

 It took a few seconds to remove the stone from the floor and clean it off. The top had the symbol and the bottom was perfectly flat.

 Catherine was firm in her belief that she had stepped off into the deep end, but …

 She placed the stone against the larger circle and waited. Nothing happened. The stone was too large to cover the small circle. However, the image of the star made her smile when she figured it out. The sun is a star.

 When she moved the stone and rested it on the sun, she heard a click, and then her world 

changed.

 A clear blue light shone from the star stone, bright enough that Catherine could see the bones of her fingers through her skin. A warm sensation ran up and down her spine and instinctually, she rotated the stone to the right.

 On the east wall, an outline of a doorway appeared. It was barely five-feet tall and it sounded like an electrical discharge as light danced around the black frame.

 Catherine let out a brief chuckle at the absurdity of what she could see. Up until now, she had thought it was a practical joke, but this was real. All her life she loved to explore and the thrill of discovery guided her into archeology. 

 The video that she watched made the final decision for her. The ability to discover the unknown and have happiness was too hard to turn down.

 As she ducked through the door, Catherine couldn’t help but smile at what awaited.


© David Darling

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