Thursday, December 9, 2021
“And you shall know me for I am Sebastian Doe!”
He unclicked the record button having finished another podcast. Screaming out to the airwaves about the madness that could be found in the world just under the surface and wondering at his own. He would not die just a footnote in a story. He would make something of himself.
People would know his name.
One way or another.
Sighing it was only three days before his apprenticeship with Doctor Slade was set to begin. If anyone could understand his quest for the unknown, it would be this archeologist. Digging in the past to harvest its secrets surely had to be its own form of madness.
Sebastian’s classes had nothing to do with history and he was still wondering what had caused the professor to choose his application for the intern position. Hell, he still had no idea why he had been so drawn to apply in the first place.
Packing was easy. Clothes for a warm climate, solar chargers and a multitude of chargers for his phone, and a laptop. Tools for the dig would be provided, not that he even had a clue what that would entail. No matter, he would document the entire thing, maybe even make a mini-series out of it online.
A week later he was standing in the desert, unsure of what state he was even in, and wondering what he had been thinking. What could they even hope to find here?
90 degrees of dry heat and he couldn’t get enough water down. Could you drown from drinking bottled water? And where the Hell was Slade? He and the other interns had shuffled off the plane on a remote landing strip and their new boss hadn’t had the decency to be waiting for them.
The interns and Sebastian are tasked with unearthing a dig in the desert by Slade's assistant, Professor Essex. At first, the team is excited for this opportunity to get their hands dirty and do some real work (which they've been feeling like they're not allowed to do).
Days went by, a week.
Early one morning, Sebastian wanted to give up. However, as he was about to, they unearthed something. Spending the day digging it appears to be a perfectly shaped pyramid, just under 5 feet tall.
It isn’t the pyramid that truly raises their hopes as one of the interns had accidentally broken one of the bricks while trying to unearth it, revealing it was being used as storage. Within it, they find a mysterious glowing tablet that proves to be exactly what the missing Slade had been looking for. Essex immediately runs with them to the dig and descends into the hole and takes measurements of the tablet, before turning back to where he came from and wiping off his gloves. The part of his face that isn't covered by hair looks off-color for a second before he hastily says he should go back in for one more reading - this time with gloves on.
Out of an abundance of caution, Essex plans to send it back to his lab and instructs the interns and Sebastian to take it back by train instead of flying it. The professor plans to stay on and investigate more, never mentioning that the glow could indicate radiation. He drove them to a station and the group boarded an old train and set out for home. At first things seem smooth sailing though it isn’t long before the train came to a stop.
The rails cutting through the desert had been destroyed.
Stuart Conover is an author.