Prompt: You are an amateur archeologist. You like to roam unexplored forests in hopes of discovering the ancient and undiscovered. One day your metal detector goes of and 1 hour into digging your worldview is changed forever.
“The site’s three feet in diameter, seven feet deep,” I huff into the tape recorder. “Can’t remember the coordinates—have to check the map later—but it’s in the Vorago Forest in São Paulo, Brazil.”
“Cloudy sky, broken by soft blue. No sun.” Raise my hand, glancing at the wristwatch. I have to use the opposite forearm to wipe away the grit. “Time is, ah, 14:06:32 hours on… Damn, what’s the date? November something… The 11th! Yes, November 11th, 1992.
“Something dark and metal—maybe burnt tin?—covers the center of the site. Attempting to pry it up with my fingers have proved futile and I’m hesitant to use the spade, lest I damage it. It could be early signs of iron smelting in the prehistoric era, perhaps Neolithic or older.”
Squat, using my free hand to keep me from falling forward by plunging it into the rich soil. “No markings or symbology. No indication of what created it, no disturbances either. It’s been here, alone, for quite some time.” Slide the recorder into my front pocket, keeping the speaker up, and spread my legs as I kneel over the metal. Talk louder: “I’m going to attempt to remove it again! With my fingers again, then if that fails, I will be forced to use a hand spade and some other tool back at camp.”
Wriggle my fingers through the dirt surrounding the plate, then curl them around what feels to be its edge. Slowly, carefully, maneuver one side up, which surprisingly gives easily now, then the other, and the last two also raise from the earth. “The artifact is now free, in my hands. I don’t have a ruler, but I’d estimate two feet in length, four feet in height, maybe five pounds in weight? It’s light yet solid.”
Move it aside to see be—”Jesus! What is this?”
A reflective puddle. Metallic liquid of some sort, a collection of Mercury? How’s that possible? And… “There’s no reflection.” I hover over it, looking directly into it but I don’t see myself in it. “Strange…”
An image forms. A person—man or woman, I have no clue—on the opposite end, like it’s a window. Bald, blue-gray skin, two eyes opaque with cataract. No mouth, nor nose, from what I can tell. I lean in and they do the same.
Arms or appendages emerge from the pool, latch onto my shoulders. Blades slide through my clothes, pierce and hook flesh. Screaming gibberish. Hissing with pain. I pull away but it’s too strong. I can’t budge. I’m moving down, down. Sweet Jesus, please! I drop the artifact and dig my hands into the earth to keep me from moving but it still keeps pulling. Dirt’s up to my elbows.
“Help! Someone please help me! I’m being pulled below!” Crying. Throat burning. Heart hammering and lungs aflame. The dirt’s to my shoulders, my face so close to the blue-gray person’s if it were not for the puddle my tears would hit them. The tape recorder falls from my pocket, lands by my sinking arms. There’s hope. Little. Someone will find it, surely. Someone will hear this and save me.
My nose touches the pool. It’s frigid, shooting subzero lances through my skull and down my back. My arms go numb, legs, too. My bladder loosens and I can’t feel my face anymore. Vision’s glossy and I taste nickels, a handful of coins shoved down my throat. I go to scream again, as though I had ever stopped, but the mercury bubbles into my mouth, floods and pushes what clogs my esophagus down, down, down and I can’t breath or speak or cry and beyond the mirror pool is nothing but cloudy, white mist. No person, not one at all, and above…. Above is… Mother of God—
Read the previous prompt, “Embracing Beasts”
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