Doctor Alan Quatrain’s pick slammed into the rock for what must have been the thousandth time. Sweat poured down his body as he hacked at the wall of the ancient mine.
All his research, translations, clues, everything led to this ancient mine deep in the Chilean jungle.
He pulled back the pick once more and swung with fading strength. The point bit into the rock and then, instead of rebounding as it had a thousand times before the point punched through the surface and the pick sank deep into the stone.
Alan almost impaled himself as the lack of resistance threw him off balance. He wiggled the pick free and shined a light into the hole he had just punched.
It was there, the legends were true, a large space behind this wall that could only be the cavern of the lost temple of Xichulkata.
Alan giggled and attacked the wall with renewed strength. By the time the hole and expanded to a size sufficient for a man to pass he was shaking with exhaustion and could barely lift the pick. It was worth it. It was all worth it. He would be immortalized for this find. His peers, those doubters, would come to him, hat in hand, to beg for his forgiveness and a chance to assist in what would be a historical archeological find.
The pick clattered to the stone, already forgotten and he stepped through the opening. His helmet light sent a dim spear of light, speckled with floating rock dust, into the cavern. The ground in front of him was smooth, almost like concrete. This would be a game changer in the understanding of pre-Columbian construction. Alan reached back through the hole and retrieved his lantern. He adjusted the flow and ignited the quad mantles. Brilliant light, as bright as a search light, erupted from the lantern and chased away the darkness.
The cavern was enormous. His light, for all its brilliance, failed to reach the ceiling or distant walls. The smooth floor continued in every direction. He could just make out a shape at the extreme edge of his light. It must be the temple itself.
Alan walked toward it. The shape emerged from the darkness and revealed itself to be an enormous cube. He staggered to a halt as the cube was revealed. This was nothing like any other pre-Columbian construct. Where were the frescoes? The builders of Xichulkata’s time built step pyramids for their temples. This plain cube was nothing like one of their buildings.
He looked left and right but the cavern appeared empty of any other artifact save the cube. He continued forward. The cube’s size became more evident as he approached. It was at least one hundred feet across and just as tall. It must have been carved from some titanic boulder. There was no way the Xichulkatan civilization could have built a structure this large and have it remain stable.
Alan reached the side of the cube and set his lantern down. The surface of the stone was perfectly smooth. No seams or joints were evident. It must have been carved, he thought.
He reached out and touched the stone. It was strangely warm and he sensed a vibration running through the rock. The vibration increased as he stood staring at the mute surface.
He yelped and yanked his hand away. The vibrations had become so intense that it felt like one of those joy buzzers his older brother had used to zap him with when he was a kid. Alan backed away from the cube.
As he watched, a thin seam appeared in the stone where none had been before. The line ran from floor to the top of the stone structure. The line deepened and began to spread to the sides. The seam flowed as if the rock were being dissolved rather than sliding like a door. A brilliant light erupted through the seam which opened wider than his body.
“Welcome my child, we have been awaiting you,” said an ethereal voice from the light.
Alan felt terror and joy flood his body. This was truly the greatest find of his life.
He stepped into the light.