*On February 7th 2011, a private cargo plane designated 109 left an unspecified airstrip in Peru bound for Site 03 in Dunwich County. The following information was compiled during an interview with the sole survivor.*
The call that changed my life came at a quarter past three in the afternoon.
“I’m looking to speak to Jacki Taggart.”
I paused as I held my cell phone up and realized it was an untraceable private number. I still wonder why I answered it.
“This is she… who is this?”
“Wonderful, I’m Professor Ethan Paytrol, from the Rossetti University. I’m calling in regards to an opportunity that you applied for recently.”
The name didn’t ring any bells right off hand. But I did recall the application I had sent to the university over near the old Kingsport area.
“Ok Professor….?” I said having already forgotten his name. I was trying not to sound overly excited.
“Paytrol, so sorry. Professor, what is this all about?” I was stumbling around trying to grab a pen and paper to write down crucial information. I was trying to decide in my mind whether or not this was even legit.
“We have stumbled onto a new dig site, south of Cuzco, Peru. We believe it to be an ancient Incan burial site. We would like you and your team to travel down and begin excavation immediately.”
I couldn’t believe this was happening. Just to be sure I confirmed with him that the trip was all expenses paid by his University and then sat there in stunned silence.
I thought it could be my big break.
“I’ll accept, my team and I can be there within a week, provided arrangements are made today.” I told him, trying to keep my composure and sound professional.
“I will see to the arrangements myself. Oh and Ms. Taggart… one more thing. We feel it’s best if we send you with one of our hired security members. Most of the resurgence activity in the area has been in hiding or stamped out altogether, but we still want you to be safe. His name is Carter White, he is already awaiting your arrival.”
I agreed to the terms, not really giving much thought to the addition to the team as I began making calls to my crew and handling my personal preparations. I was simply too excited to think past the big score that had been placed right in front of me. I could almost see my picture in the news, highlighting the find of the century.
My three team members, Franklin, Donnie, and Brook, met me at the airport. Each one of them had the same excited air about them that I had been experiencing.
They had a ton of questions but honestly all that really mattered is that this was really happening.
The flight was long with several layovers. It stormed a few times near the gulf and our pilot had to stop off near to Haiti to refuel before we made it south of the equator.
Once we had finally landed in Peru, and made our way through security, I could see a rather handsome black man holding a sign with my name written on it.
“You must be Carter..”
I have to admit, his rugged frame and square jawline actually made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted to know what he looked like with his shirt completely off. It was a bit of a distraction, but at the time, a welcome one.
“Yep that’s me. We better get a move on, we still have a long drive ahead of us,” he said in a dismissive tone. I think he was Cuban.
We made our way out of the airport to a big cargo van, loading our equipment and preparing for the journey ahead.
I took time to review maps of the area, get a feel of the culture. But mostly I was interested in Carter.
“So… how long have you been with the University?”
“Six years this last spring.”
“Wow. So you started right after high school?”
He gave me a look that told me he was surprised I thought he looked young.
“You ever done one of these digs before?”
“Uh… no. To be honest I want to thank you and the University for giving me this opportunity.”
He didn’t seem to interested in chitchat.
It had been around three hours of driving through mountainous terrain, and now our van was pulling over a steep embankment.
“Once we are near the dig site, you will need to hurry to get all of your tents and equipment set up. I have already made my camp and would like to get into the tomb before nightfall,” Carter said authoritatively.
I didn’t argue as I was in sheer awe of the site and ready to begin as well, but something seemed strange about how he was ordering me around. I was under the impression that he was only here to protect us from any local threat, not here as an active investigator.
I later found out those misgivings were right.
The land itself seemed to give off a strange aura of its own, red stone and dark mud mixed near the mouth of the excavation site. Old machinery and equipment pushed aside to give us room to walk in.
“Why did they leave all this behind?” Donnie asked.
I shrugged and decided to grab a bite to eat since Carter seemed so eager to go in.
It was around seven o’clock, when we finally had everything set up and ready to go. Franklin was checking flashlights and filling up water canteens, while Donnie and Brook had started removing debris from the opening that we would be traveling down to the grave.
“Everyone ready?” I asked unable to restrain myself any longer.
We made our way through the cramped opening that was dug out in the side of a large hill.
Switching on my headlamp, I noticed there were hundreds of little black spiders crawling on the wall, but they made every effort to flee the beam as I passed it back and forth, to see where we were going.
“Oh god, I hate spiders,” Brook whined as we made our descent down the stone stairs that lead into the shadows.
“I have never seen a spider like these,” Franklin said in bewilderment
“They’re solid black and seem to leave some sort of faint black residue where their legs have touched. I need to catch one to add to my collection at home.”
“Do not bring a spider anywhere near me you weirdo or so help me God….” Brook muttered.
We kept moving down the ravine in the ancient passageway.
It felt like it had to have been manmade given the odd structure of the passage, but well over three millennia old.
Carter was waiting for us a few more steps down the trail where a large dark pit seemed to sink into the earth, descending into eternal darkness.
“The locals have a name for this place, you know,” he said as he started to prepare the rope for the spelunking we apparently had to do.
“ *La Kirkiña Cemterio*,” he whispered as he tossed the rope over the side.
We waited for a long moment as it hit the bottom somewhere deep below and then he explained. “literally translated it means ‘the singing cemetery’ or ‘the screaming tombs’.”
“How inviting,” Donnie said dryly.
“The cavern gets tighter and more difficult to traverse down below. We’ll have to go one at a time,” Carter said.
It seemed like we descended for miles. Once below we set up stakes and markers to light the dangerous underground passage.
The stones here looked even older than the ones above, as though hidden away from the world by time itself.
Franklin checked the area for any sort of weak spots that could lead us deeper, and Carter decided we could set up a base camp right there in that unforgiving gravesite.
Over the course of the night we brought several loads of dynamite to blast the hole open.
What we found on the other side went above and beyond my expectations.
Gold. Silver. Inca relics thought long forgotten by wars and time.
We dug and brushed for two solid weeks as we finally started to uncover more and more bones, and shriveled remains.
There had to be be at least thirty bodies buried down in three separate tombs there.
But as we progressed Carter insisted we needed to go further.
As though what we discovered wasn’t enough.
Finally, after getting at least five miles under the surface of the tomb, we came to what I was guessing had to be the royal burial chamber.
“Hey, hey guys come look at this. What in the world is this stuff? I’ve never seen anything like it.” Brook said as he moved toward one of the caskets.
Making my way around the site to where She stood, I could see a dark black goo, oozing out of a broken canister that had not yet been fully excavated. She reached out and touched the stuff and it almost seemed like it moved of its own free will.
As she looked at it in the palm of her hand, it swirled about a bit and Carter cast a light on it.
“I don’t know, but get a good sample and maybe we can send it to a lab and find out.” I said a little creeped out at the way the slime followed the curves of Brook’s hand.
She turned her hand over, palm down, but the slime didn’t slide off, it moved to the backside instead.
“Freaky,” she muttered trying not to sound scared.
She was finally able to scrape it off into a clear bowl and put a lid on it to send off later.
Carter never showed any signs of curiosity, he just stood watching. Almost as if he had seen something like this before.
Maybe he had?
We decided to stop the dig for the evening, head out and have a celebratory drink from the whiskey, I had brought.
As we climbed the long ravine again, I could see the black spiders, as they fled the flashlight beam.
Seemed like there were more of them down here, like this was their natural habitat.
“Aha I got you now you little devil.” Franklin cheered as he managed to scoop one of the spiders up into another plastic dish.
Upon closer inspection of the spider Donnie scratched his head and muttered, “Weird. I think these things evolved without eyes.”
“Just keep that thing away from me.” Brook replied, quickening her pace toward the mouth of the tomb.
We had a great night, sang songs, drank our fill of whiskey, and talked about how famous we were going to be.
Carter didn’t participate in the festivities, just watched us all.
“Hey, what do you know about that black goo we found today?” I asked a little drunk.
“Not sure what you mean, why would I know anything about it?”
“Just curious is all. You didn’t seem interested in it.”
“My job is to protect you three. I investigated the tombs before you entered, checking for possible dangers, that’s how I found the ledge. As for the goo, that’s not in my job description. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be getting some sleep now.” and then he crawled in his tent leaving me behind.
I thought at first that he just a little disappointed we didn’t find something else. Maybe there was another discovery that the University was hoping to find out there?
The next morning as we were all preparing to descend back into the dark tomb once more, and I noticed that Brook was acting strange. She was holding her head, swaying a little as she walked.
“You ok?” I asked concerned.
“Yeah, I think it was too much whiskey.”
Thing is I know she only drank one shot that night, she was too busy studying the statues we had found.
Then Franklin woke up in a panic and muttered, “That spider is gone. He snuck out or chewed his way out of the container!”
“Relax big time. You can catch another spider down below,” Donnie growled.
Brook was holding her head and swaying from side to side as she approached the cave entrance.
“Maybe you should take today off,” I told her.
“No boss. I’m ok,” she muttered as she entered the tomb again.
Carter was waiting for us and seemed to have a different attitude then before.
“Morning,” I said trying to keep the atmosphere light.
“Got a call from HQ this morning, we need to move all those canisters from the burial chamber out pronto,” he explained.
“Wait you mean… we’re leaving?” Franklin asked.
“Afraid so. Wasted enough time in this junk heap already.”
I looked down the dark shaft in confusion wondering what their interest in the dark slime might be when I heard an ear piercing scream.
I turned and saw Brook scratching at her face.
“Snakes!! They’re fucking everywhere!!! Get them off me!!!” she screamed again as she stumbled about frantically.
Donnie turned to try and calm her down as I watched in confusion.
“What the hell?? You’ve had too much to drink!!” Franklin muttered as Brook kept trying to wave away at what she perceived was in front of her.
She took a step backward and we all held our breath as her foot slipped and she tumbled down the ravine.
Her body broke with a loud thud on the bottom of the tunnel.
“What the hell,” Donnie said breaking the silence as we all looked down at her shattered body.
I scrambled down the tunnel to get to her and confirmed she had died, sobbing as I touched her forehead; trying to make sense of what just happened.
I felt something wet and oozing slide out of her ear and I looked at the mix of blood and slime that was dripping from her skull trying to understand.
It looked like the slime was coming from within her body.