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The Arizona Pyramid
R. A. Legg
The odd shape drew me in. It was a mountain and I wasn’t a geologist, but still something was just not natural about this… well it was more of a hill, not a mountain.
I saw it on google and just could not help but think that there was something more here. Something that I needed to see. It had filled my imagination for months and now it was just six miles away.
We parked the car at the trailhead and put all that they needed in their backpacks. James, my partner, was just looking forward to a long hike. Sure, we had some equipment to excavate a small dig, but that was just in case we found something that looked interesting. We would stop and see if it merited something more. This was how many of these digs started. An arrowhead. Bit of bone or fossil. And the next thing you knew, hundreds of college interns would be digging in grids. But that was like hitting the lottery and James didn’t think we bought a ticket this day.
I was anxious. There was something there. Something hidden in plain sight. I just didn’t know what it could be.
We checked our water and put our backpacks on. A ranger at the entrance to the trail reminded us to sign our names and record how many days we might be on the trail. James laughed. He was a middle-aged man with about twenty extra pounds. “We wouldn’t last a day out there.”
The park ranger took a longer look at him.
I said, “Just a day trip.”
The ranger asked, “Are you going to the pyramid?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Be careful, there was a lot of rain this spring and now there are slides on the south side. I would not climb there. If you want to scale it, go to the west side.”
“We just want to poke around and see if those slides uncovered anything,” I responded.
“Got it. Are you a geologist?” the ranger asked.
“Nope,” was all James offered, then headed down the path.
“Archaeologist,” I said, and I joined James.
The hike was hot but uneventful. We made good time for two old guys, and we were at the base of the hill that was simply called the pyramid. It did resemble one. It had four sides and it was the right shape, but the top was deformed and there were no stones, just raw rock. Sedimentary by the look of it. This had once been a vast ocean, but now it was the desert of the Southwest.
We dropped our backpacks and started to set up a small shelter. If we found something it would be nice to be able to study it out of the heat of the sun. After some water and rest, we looked at their objective and decided to split up. James would take the east side of the slide and I took the west. Without a word, James grabbed his handbag of tools and headed out. He loved these explorations. They usually didn’t yield anything, but they were fun, and they were away from the university and all its politics.
I started to climb the edge of the slide the ranger had mentioned. It looked normal. Sand, loose shale type rock and indigenous plants that were dried by the sun. I was about halfway up when James yelled. He had found something and wanted me to come see. He was just too far away to yell what it was, but a good whistle carried his request on the wind, and I heard it. I looked at him and he waved frantically at me.
I really didn’t want to climb down and then back up again, but he kept waving for me to come over. I even thought about a more direct route, but we were eight miles from the entrance, and I didn’t want to be hauled out by the rangers. So, I slid down and made my way to James. Whatever it was, it was too big to bring down. As I made my way up the east side, I noticed a fossil. It was of a crustacean. So, this place just might give us something. I immediately identified the creature’s rocky remains and it was quite common, so I did not bother to pick it up. Let some hobbyist have it for his collection. James was just ahead and he was excited. He waved at me to hurry.
I tried, but the slide was making it difficult. Finally, I was about six feet away. James was using a brush to remove sand from a stone. It was rectangular and had a fairly sharp corner protruding from the sand. You could tell, even at this distance, that it had been cut. My adrenaline jumped.
James looked back at me. “It’s a cut stone.” You could hear the excitement in his voice.
I reached out to touch it. It was smooth on the top, rough on the east side. The tool marks were obvious.
James looked at me like he was a kid.
I flung my tool pouch to the ground and pulled out my folding shovel. I needed to know if there was more than one. I went below James and started removing the sand and loose stone. About six shovelfuls in I hit something solid. I changed my digging to a sweeping action and sand kept coming down from above. Finally, I was scraping something hard and unmoving. I stopped using the shovel and started to work with my hands. I didn’t want to damage whatever was under the sand. More sand kept coming from above, but I did see what was solid. Another step. “No!” I told myself. “Just a stone.”
I worked my way up to James and found three more. One had been dislodged and was just to the side. I dug a little more to see what might be underneath it. It was another stone. This one had tool marks on the top. And a groove down the middle. I turned my attention to the dislodged stone. If it had a grove that matched the other stone, then there would be no question. It would be a man-made object.
We could not lift the stone due to its size, but we could dig under one end. Towards the bottom was something cut into the stone. We used our brushes to remove the dirt and it started to look like a letter. Just not our alphabet. Then a second character was found. Could this be a stone number? Like someone had engineered it. The ground was harder here, so I had to get a small pick that I carried in my main backpack. I ran down the hill like a crazy man. Retrieved the pick and was starting back up. There was a slight tremor and then I looked up.
There was a puff of smoke and the deformed part of the top at the hill split. Then the hillside gave way. Tons of rock and sand were heading down at us. There was nowhere to go. I turned to run but dust started to overtake me. I threw the pick as hard as I could with the hope that it would be thrown clear of the slide and that someone would find it. I might not survive, but the pick would tell the story that someone was here when the slide happened.
Something hit the back of my legs and they buckled. I went face down and darkness overcame me. I was still alive and I could breathe, but it was dusty and foul. He tried to move but couldn’t. It was dark. I reached for his phone, but it would not light up. It must have been smashed in the slide. I remembered that I had a small steel flashlight in my pocket. It took almost six minutes to retrieve it. It was slimy and it stunk of blood.
“Funny. As bad as this place smelled, I could still smell my own blood,” I thought to myself.
With the flashlight out, I turned it on. There was just too much dust floating around me and I couldn’t see very far.
I felt strange and knew that darkness was starting to take me. I fought it. I needed to stay conscious. My mind faded and then there was nothing.
I woke again to the same darkness. At first, I tried to move, but pain told me to stay put. I fumbled for my flashlight and found it. I turned it on, and the light shot out like a laser. It found a wall that was about fifteen feet away. On the wall was a picture of what looked like a city. There were roads and buildings and, in the center, a small pyramid. I looked for other walls and then I tried to look up. There had to be something above me, but I didn’t see anything. Looking back at the picture I could see things in the sky. Like flying fish. I kept looking around and on the floor near the picture, I saw my pick. It had not been thrown clear. I knew that from the size of what was coming down the hill that James would have been buried along with our tent. The only thing that would tell anyone that we were here was a small scrap of paper at the trailhead, but even that didn’t mean that anyone would look here for us.
The thought that someone was in the area when the slide happened also flashed on my mind, but a quick look at the park’s ledger only showed two names ahead of ours and they were coming out at a place some fifty miles north of us. So, it was doubtful that they were anywhere near this hill.
I felt the sadness of being so alone. I could not move and felt cold even though it was close to ninety degrees on the surface today. The irony is that James and I only wanted to see if there was anything significant about this hill and we found man-made stone and now a painting of a civilization that had to be thousands of years old and yet had buildings, streets and flying objects. It would have made us famous.
Things got fuzzy and grayness replaced the darkness. As my mind faded, I remembered the Ranger’s words, “Are you going to the pyramid?” We would be found, but most likely not alive. Either way, we would be famous…
R.A. Legg © 2016. All Rights Reserved.
For more writing by R. A. Legg visit his blog: https://ralegg.blogspot.com/