We finally arrived at the temple and Dr. Day gave us an excavation briefing.
“Isn’t this amazing?” Susan asked me, grinning.
And yeah, the surroundings were beautiful but it wasn’t like this was a real temple. It was a tourist trap like Simsneyland. I mean, come ON! We were going to be archaeologists. How come we couldn’t dig in a real temple?
I had to admit I liked seeing this side of Dr. Day. He was so happy–almost beaming. It made him even more handsome to me. You could really tell he was at home here in the jungle.
But I just wasn’t enthused. I didn’t want to play archeaologist. I wanted to DISCOVER!
“Okay, everyone. There’s two dig spots and some discovery tables. Once you find an object, use the techniques we’ve gone over to figure out when your object was created and from what culture it is. You will be graded on this, so do your best.”
All my classmates went straight to work. I just couldn’t force myself to dig in something that had been prepared in advanced. It was like we were cheating.
“Come on, Charlie,” Susan said, rifling through the dirt. “Start digging! This is for our grade, you know.”
I sighed. God, this was sooooo annoying. Now I knew how it felt to die of boredom. It was a real thing.
“Hey, look. There’s a Charlie spot right next to me. Come on!” Susan patted the ground near her.
I shook my head and instead, decided to plead my case to Dr. Deathday. “Honestly, Dr. Day, do you see what a real lame waste of time this is? We could be discovering the secret passage of the Spiritual Transformation archway, but no. You have us digging in the dirt like a bunch of kids on a science field trip.”
Never glancing up, he said, “First of all, that passage doesn’t exist. It’s been proven. And secondly, you’ve got to walk before you can run, Miss Darby. Learn the techniques first THEN use them in a field situation.”
Ugh. He wouldn’t listen. I guessed I was doomed to do menial tasks instead of real exploration.
Dr. Day’s warning came true. We worked our asses off all day and into the night. My back ached but he said we couldn’t stop until all the artifacts were found. It was a monotonous cycle of digging, finding an item, then taking it to the table.
Eli picked out the most interesting artifact–a wooden llama sun god. Dang it. I wanted to find something cool like that. All I got were a few totem dolls and a coin.
Stretching my legs, I spied a weird glow off in the distance. My heart skipped as a twinge rippled through me. “What is that?” I whispered.
The twinkle grew bigger and bigger, hovering over the jungle. Could this be the celestial sign of enlightenment that aliensrreal.com was talking about? It happened once in fifty years but if you were lucky enough to see it, the glow would lead you directly to the archway.
I had no time to lose. Bolting to the outside, my heart beat so hard, it hurt.
But as I ran ahead, the glow seemed to sprint away from me. Damn!
And then it petered out the more I chased it. But I wasn’t going to give up. It’d showed itself! That part I knew was real. And I observed about where it had been or at least the area to search.
Meandering through the forest, the jungle took on a creepy dark tone which made the hair on my arms tighten. But I wouldn’t be disuaded by fear. Sure there were deadly things living in the dark at night. I just needed to focus on my quest.
And then I gasped as my heart lurched into my throat.
“It IS real,” I whispered.
“Okay, folks, it’s time to go back to our villa for the night.” I searched around, counting heads. I noticed one student missing. “Has anyone seen Charlene?”
Zane waved his arms. “The only thing I’ve been seeing are these freaking mosquitos!”
Walking over to her best friend, I asked, “Susan, have you seen Charlene?”
Wincing, she said, “Um…er…I thought she had to go to the bathroom really bad because I saw her run to the front but she hasn’t come back. Maybe she had to take a dump?”
I crossed my arms. She’d been blabbing about that fabled archway all day. I couldn’t understand how a smart, science minded girl like her could believe in fairytales like the Spiritual Transformation archway. It purportedly transported you to an ancient temple full of artifacts. But where was the evidence? Blurry pictures that looked faked were the only supposed “facts” the lunatics who talked about it could produce. The morons even purported there was a genie living in the depths. I mean, really? That was kid’s stuff like in the story of Simladdin. And now she’s probably gotten herself lost in the dark jungle. There were poisonous snakes and alligators out there. “Damn it,” I cursed. “I’ll go find her.”
My students insisted on accompanying me. I didn’t mind. It was best we stayed together.
Just as we were about to leave, I spied Charlene blasting toward us.
I stopped her, throwing my hands on my hips, I was so angry. “Where the hell have you been? Do you realize it’s dangerous in the jungle at night?”
Breathing hard, she said, “You’ve got to come with me, Dr. Day. I found it. The archway! It’s real!”
I folded my arms. This was unbelievable. “The archway is not real. And I’d appreciate it if you would follow the rules, Miss Darby. I’m responsible for your well being and until we leave at the end of the week, you will ask me if you can go somewhere. Understand?”
She lifted her hands. “Okay, I get it, Dr. Day. I screwed up but I saw a huge light and then I had to discover it for myself. Honest to God, I’m not joking. Come with me! It’s amazing!”
I pointed. “The only place you’re going is to the villa. Now march. And I better not hear anything more about this ridiculous archway or I’m going to send you home and you will fail my class. Is that understood?”
Her nostrils flared. “Oh my God, you’re impossible! Fine. Fail me! See if I care! But I’m going through the archway with or without you, asshole!”
Before I could stop her, she bolted toward one of our jungle carts. I chased after her, hoping I could beat her to it.
But she was too quick.
“Be careful, Dr. Day!” I heard one of my students shouting after me.
In a moment of insanity, I flung my body onto the cart, hoping to stop her, but she floored it. “Stop, Charlene!” I cried. “This is dangerous!”
“Go to hell!” she yelled back.
And so I was stuck on the top of that cart, clinging for my life and hoping she wouldn’t crash.