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Dr. Adam Wilson and Dr. Emily Morgan, both archeologists, sat at a sidewalk café in Belem, the entrance to the Amazon River from the Atlantic.  “We have to travel 200 miles or so up the Amazon and then about 100 miles up a tributary to get here,” Adam said pointing to a spot on a map.

“Adam, I’m as anxious as you are to find the lost city, but we’re putting all our hopes on this map. How can we be certain that the map is legitimate?”

“Look, Arian has been my guide for years, and I trust him. He knows who to trust.”

“Alright. Are we ready to go?”

“Yes. We have the boat, two months’ worth of supplies, gasoline, four bearers, rifles and pistols, machetes, and rain gear. We’re all set.”

The next morning, the boat was loaded and the bearers, Arian, Adam, and Emily boarded. Arian started the engine, pulled away from the dock, and headed up river. The bearers huddled together at the front of the boat and mumbled to each other. Unable to understand their language, Adam went to Arian. “Arian, the bearers seem to be bothered. Do you know what they’re talking about?”

“Yes. They are superstitious. They believe there are evil spirits in the jungle waiting to eat them. Pay no attention to them,” he said, and Adam went to sit with Emily.

“What did he say about the bearers,” she asked.

“He said they believe there are evil spirits in the forest waiting to eat them, and not to pay any attention to them. Maybe I should offer them more money.”

“Ask Arian,” she said and he went to Arian.

“Arian, would more money ease their fears. I know they didn’t want to come, but money persuaded them.”

“I’ll ask them,” he said and went to the bearers and made the offer. After a short while, Arian returned to Adam. “Money won’t do it. They said they’re sorry they agreed to come and want to go back. I told them going back was not going to happen. I’m sure they’ll live.”

They traveled up the Amazon for five days without incident. People ate and slept. When Arian needed a break, Adam steered the boat. Periodically, when Arian steered the boat, he checked the map.  “Adam, come look,” he said and Adam went to him. “We are approaching the tributary. I would say we will reach it in an hour or so.”

“Okay, Arian,” he said and he went back to Emily. “We’ll be approaching the tributary in an hour or so. Soon we’ll be where the lost city is supposed to be.”

After an hour, Arian arrived at the tributary and steered the boat slowly up the narrow river. The bearers stood at the rail and stared into the dense jungle.  They spoke excitedly and pointed. Then, they rushed to Arian, complained to him, and pointed wildly to the jungle. Seeing the activity, Adam and Emily went to Arian. “What’s going on? Why all the excitement?” Adam asked.

“It’s fear, Adam. They claim they saw a monster in the jungle and they want me to turn back.”

“Well, can’t you calm them down,” Emily asked. “After coming this far, we can’t turn around and go back.”

“I don’t know what to say to four, very frightened men. As you can see, their glued to the rail and won’t stop babbling about the monster in the jungle.”

“Are we going to have trouble, Arian?” Adam asked.

“I hope not,” Arian said sounding concerned. “Why don’t you take the binoculars and see what they might have seen.”

Adam looked through the binoculars at the thick jungle. “I don’t see anything that looks like a monster,” Adam said. “Here, Emily, you look,” he said, gave her the binoculars, and she looked for a few minutes.

“Nope, just a lot of trees and vines, a regular jungle. I don’t know what the men saw.”

“Superstition and imagination go together,” Arian said.

After sailing up the river for two hours, Arian stopped the boat. “Adam, Emily, look over there,” he said pointing. It’s a clearing, and I think I see a vine-covered building. It’s probably a temple.”

Armed with rifles and pistols, Adam, Emily, and Arian followed by jittery bearers went toward the building. The bearers stayed close together and looked everywhere as the others approached the building. Adam and Emily and Arian chopped vines away so they could see the building. After studying symbols that covered a wall, they stood back. “This building was a temple,” Adam said. “Judging from the symbols, I’d say the temple is about 4000 years old.”

“Some of the symbols are warnings,” Emily said. “There is death waiting for desecrators.”

“More superstition,” Arian said. “Well, what do you want to do, now?”

“I’d like to find a door and see what’s inside,” Adam said. “Let’s walk around and see if we can find a door under these vines,” he said, and they walked around chopping vines away from the structure. After an hour, they gave up.

Adam stepped back and looked up at the building. “Look at those figures carved into the wall. There are only three. I wonder why just three? I wish we could get up there to get a close look at them.”

“What do you want to do now, Adam?” Emily asked.

“Let’s get the men and unload our gear. Maybe with our technical equipment, we’ll be able to see what’s in the building,” he said and they found two of them huddled together on the ground near the boat. “Arian, I only see two men. Please ask them where the two men went,” he asked, and Arian went to the two men and talked to them. Then he went back to Adam.

“Adam, they said he just disappeared, and they’re terrified.”

“Do you think they ran away?”

“No, Adam,” Arial answered. “They’re terrified of the jungle, and there’s nowhere else to run.”

“We can get our stuff off the boat,” Emily said, and they got their equipment and unloaded everything in front of the building.

As they unloaded, they heard a low moaning, and they looked around. “Jeez, that sounds like someone in pain,” Adam said and they looked everywhere. “The moaning is coming from the building. “I really wish we could… “he said and looked up. “Oh, my God. Look. Now there are five figures up there.”

“Something’s very strange,” Arian said. “I don’t mind admitting that I’m scared.”

As they looked up, the remaining two bearers disappeared. “The men. What happened to the men?” Emily asked, as the moaning grew in intensity. Adam looked up. “Jeez. Now there are seven figures,” Adam said. “Okay, that’s it. We gotta get out of here,” and Adam and Arian raced for the boat. “Emily, where’s Emily?” he yelled, stopped running and looked back. She was looking up at the figures and Adam ran to her. “Come on, Emily.”

“Adam, the figures are the men. They’re squirming. They’re encased in something and they’re trying to get out.”

“Emily, come on,” he said, pulled her, and, as they ran to the boat, Emily fell.

“Adam, help me,” she yelled, and Adam ran back to her. As he reached for her hand, she and Adam disappeared.

Arian started the boat and looked back to see where Emily and Adam were. “Adam, Emily,” he yelled, and he disappeared.

And then there were ten.

The End


Bio: While teaching communication skills and English at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays, one of which won a reading at Smith College. Since retiring in 2000, he has written short stories and novellas.




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