Written by DTYarbrough

A Science Fiction Short Story

Copyright 2010 All rights reserved

Written by DTYarbrough “Are you sure this is the way?” asked Charlie as he rode his bike up beside Rikki's bike. “Of course I'm sure. I've been there several times with Grandpa. It's just farther than I remembered. We were always in his truck and usually engrossed in conversation so it never seemed very far. I stopped because I'm tired, not lost,” said Rikki. “It would have been nice to have a map,” said Charlie. “Maps are an important tool in exploring.” “We're only a couple of miles from town,” said Rikki. “This isn't exactly a wilderness.” “I just don't want to waste the whole day wandering around when we could be exploring skull cave,” said Charlie. “Give her a break Charlie,” said Jeff. “She said she knows where she's going. Give her the benefit of the doubt.” Jeff was a couple of years older than Charlie. Jeff had just joined the Explorer's Club and this was his first time in the field. “I was just familiarizing her with standard procedure,” said Charlie. “What standard procedure? We're learning as we go,” said Jeff. “Did you read that in some book?” “No,” said Charlie. “I found it on the internet. The explorer's handbook. I ordered a copy for the club.” “Let's go guys,” said Rikki. “Remember, I know the way, and you don't have a map.” A few minutes later Rikki turned off the main road onto an old farm road. The road consisted of two parallel paths with weeds in between. About a quarter mile in, they came to a gate. “I'll get it,” said Rikki as she dismounted her bicycle. “Oh no. I think it's locked. Don't worry, I've got it.” Rikki removed a hairpin from her hair and began to probe the lock. Swinging the gate open, she motioned them through. After locking the gate she turned to Charlie. “We'd better leave our bikes here and walk the rest of the way,” she said. “Wow!” said Charlie. “Where did you learn to do that?” “My grandpa. I owe it all to him,” said Rikki. “You'd be amazed at what he's taught me.”

“My grandpa taught me to eat broccoli,” said Charlie. “You're so lucky.” “There's the entrance up ahead,” said Jeff. “There's a gate with another lock.” Rikki reached for her hair. “That's not going to help,” said Jeff. “It's a combination lock.” “Well crap!” said Charlie. “What are we going to do now?” “Let me take a look,” said Rikki as she held the lock to her ear and turned it slowly. “You two should check our inventory.” “I have the list right here,” said Charlie. “Why am I not surprised?” said Jeff. “Okay, read it off to me.” “The gate's open. I'll help you check the inventory. In fact, we can each check our own backpacks,” said Rikki. “Wow again,” said Charlie. “I'm really impressed.” “Just read your darn list,” said Jeff. “Let's get this over and start exploring.” “One flashlight with spare bulb and batteries,” said Charlie. “Check,” said Rikki. “Ditto,” said Jeff. “You're supposed to say check, Jeff,” said Charlie. “What are you? My homeroom teacher?” asked Jeff. “We used the list to pack all of this. Let's just go.” “What's his problem?” Charlie asked Rikki. “Lighten up, Charlie,” said Rikki. “You might just have some fun.” “What good is being president of the Explorer's Club if nobody is going to listen?” Charlie thought to himself. “I hope I don't have to say I told you so.” “Now this is where a map would come in handy,” said Jeff as they entered the cave. “Like this one?” asked Rikki as she pulled a glass globe out of her backpack. “This is a 3D holographic image that Grandpa had made of the cave.” “Look at all the detail,” said Jeff. “Very impressive.” “What does that red X indicate?” asked Charlie.

“That's where he found the skull,” said Rikki. “I thought we'd go directly there to begin our search.” “Sounds good to me,” said Charlie. “Fine with me,” said Jeff. “Why don't you lead the way. It's your map.” “Okay guys, follow me,” said Rikki. “Watch your heads. Flashlights on.” As they followed Rikki, she never once looked at the map. She had been here with Grandpa so many times that she knew the route by heart. “Are there any crystal formations in the cave?” asked Charlie. “Just rock and dirt,” said Rikki. “At least that's all I've ever seen.” “So where do you suppose that crystal skull came from?” asked Charlie. “Grandpa has been looking for secret passages for the last forty years,” said Rikki, “to answer that very same question.” “Let's stop here for a moment,” said Rikki as she sat down. “I want to show you something. Okay, flashlights off.” “That's really dark,” said Charlie. “Except for your backpack.” “What do you mean?” asked Rikki as she removed her backpack. “There. What's that?” asked Jeff. “It's the skull, but I never saw it do that before,” she said as she removed it from the backpack. “It stopped glowing. You saw it. It was glowing, wasn't it?” “Put it back in the backpack,” said Jeff. “What's causing it to glow?” asked Rikki. “Pour everything out on the ground,” said Charlie. “It's the metal,” said Jeff. “It glows when it's close to metal.” “Why has no one noticed this before?” asked Rikki. “If it wasn't completely dark in here, we probably wouldn't have noticed either,” said Jeff. “How about that? It's a metal detector.” “That could be useful,” said Charlie. “Maybe we can find some old coins or something.”

“Let's continue,” said Rikki as she placed everything including the skull back in her backpack. Turning on her flashlight, she continued through the tunnel. “The room where the skull was found is just ahead,” “Was it a secret room?” asked Charlie. “How did they find it?” “Grandpa said that he saw a pinhole of light coming through a hole in the wall. The rock was so hard that he had to use dynamite to get through. That's when he found the skull lying on the ground in the room, but no light,” said Rikki. “The skull must have been creating the light,” said Charlie. “But how? Why did it stop?” “It must have been near some metal and the dynamite somehow moved it away from the metal,” said Jeff. “Maybe we can use it to locate the metal?” “Well, here we are,” said Rikki. “That's the room where the skull was discovered.” “Wow,” said Charlie as he entered the room. “The room is shaped like a pyramid. Look at how smooth the walls are.” “There are some strange symbols on the walls,” said Jeff. “What language is that?” “Grandpa never found anyone who could decipher the symbols,” said Rikki. “They must simply be for decoration.” “The skull has something to do with all of this,” said Jeff. “Didn't you say you could make beams of light come out of its eyes?” “Stand in the middle of the room,” said Charlie. “Direct the beams toward one of the symbols.” “There are a lot of symbols,” said Rikki. “Which one?” “I don't know,” said Charlie. “Try them one at a time.” “This could take all day,” said Rikki as the beams reflected off of each symbol. “Whoa! Look at that.” The two beams reflected off the symbol, each going in different directions and in turn reflecting off of other symbols. The ground began to shake beneath their feet as a slab of floor began to move. A black marble obelisk rose up from beneath the floor. “Wow. Look at that,” said Charlie. “What do you suppose that does?” “Are you sure we want to know?” asked Rikki. “There's another skull,” said Jeff as he pointed at a red crystal skull setting in a hollowed alcove in one side of the obelisk.

“Here's a blue one on this side,” said Charlie. “And a green one over here,” said Rikki, “but this alcove is empty.” “Place our skull in there,” said Charlie. Rikki carefully placed the skull into the alcove. The upper half of the obelisk began to rotate, gaining speed slowly. Beams of red, green, blue and white began to emanate from the skull, creating an image on the walls, an image of a much larger cave. The room was filled with light. “What are all these dials for?” asked Charlie. “Some sort of controls, I'll bet.” “Don't touch anything,” said Jeff. “There are more symbols by each dial,” said Rikki. “They look different than the others. Maybe they can be deciphered. I'm going to get some pictures of the symbols with my cell phone,” said Charlie. “Speaking of pictures,” said Rikki. “We should get some pictures of the images on the walls.” “There's a button here,” said Charlie. “Should I press it?” “No!” they both yelled. “You don't have to yell at me,” said Charlie. “It a red button. Red means stop. I was just thinking that we will have to stop it in order to retrieve your skull.” “Let study it some before we touch anything,” said Rikki. “Jeff, see if the wall is still there.” Jeff began walking toward where the wall had been. “It's still here, solid as ever,” he said. “I don't get it. What good is a movie projector and why hide it down here?” “There has to be more to it than that,” said Rikki. “Do you mind if I try something.” “Just be careful,” said Jeff. “Go ahead,” said Charlie. “After the way you opened that combination lock, there's nobody I'd trust more with those dials.” “I'm going to make fine adjustments,” said Rikki. “Watch for any changes.” “That's a zoom adjustment,” said Jeff. “Everything is moving away. Now it's getting closer.”

“What about this one?” said Rikki. “I think that stalagmite is growing. They're all growing,” said Charlie. “This must be some sort of teaching tool for geologists,” said Jeff. “It's a computer simulation. That dial changes the time frame.” “Let's try this one,” said Rikki. “It's like we're moving through the cave,” said Charlie. “Forward and back. Try the knob next to it. That's side to side. This is fun.” “I'm going to stop it now,” said Rikki as she prepared to push the button. “Just wait till I tell Grandpa that we found three more skulls.” Suddenly the room was pitch dark. “Flashlights on,” said Rikki. “Where's the obelisk. The cave images are still here.” “I don't think those are images. Feel the air. It's moist and it smells different,” said Jeff. “We're not in that room anymore.” “Where the hell are we?” asked Charlie. “How do we get home?” “Calm down, Charlie,” said Rikki. “It could be a lot worse,” “Tell that to the saber tooth tiger over there,” said Jeff. “Quiet!” “That's not possible,” said Charlie. “They became extinct a million years ago.” “Actually this species died off about 10,000 years ago,” said Rikki. “Notice the bob tail. Scientist believe it doesn't run down its prey since it doesn't have a long tail for balance while running. It most likely attacks from ambush.” “So it's the ones we don't see that we should worry about?” asked Charlie. “Well, it's an untested theory,” said Rikki. “Do you want to test it?” “I just want to get out of here,” said Charlie. “Aren't you afraid?” “Of course I'm scared,” said Rikki. “But we can't panic. They can probably sense fear.” “He's charging. Panic!” yelled Charlie. Suddenly the lights were back on and Charlie smacked into the wall. “We're back in the room,” said Jeff. “Oh, my head,” said Charlie. “Where's the tiger?”

“Back in the cave, I guess,” said Rikki. “Are you all right.” “I've got quite a knot on my forehead,” said Charlie. “But I'm not bleeding.” “We'd better get you home,” said Rikki. “Grandpa is going to be so excited when he hears what we've discovered.” “I've had enough excitement for one day,” said Jeff. “But we should come back and explore more before we tell anyone.” “Yeah,” said Charlie. “The grownups will spoil everything.” “Okay. A couple more trips,” said Rikki, “but then I'm telling Grandpa.” “Let's go home,” said Charlie. …................................. “Charlie, why don't you unlock the gate?” said Rikki as she reached for a hairpin. “I'm not sure I can,” said Charlie. “Oh, give it a try,” said Rikki as she placed the hairpin into his hand, along with a key.” “You're right,” said Charlie. “I bet I can do it. Okay, it's open.” “Nice job, Charlie,” said Jeff. “I'll get your bike.” “It was nothing,” said Charlie. “Thanks.” “Are you finished with my hairpin?” asked Rikki. “How did you do the combination lock?” Charlie whispered. “I knew the combination,” whispered Rikki. “This is Grandpa's property.” “Hey,” said Jeff. “Isn't it a little cold for the beginning of August.” “Gosh, you're right,” said Charlie. “I'd gotten so used to the cave temperature.” “The leaves are turning. It's late fall. But what year?” said Rikki. “The gate's here, so it can't be over 40 years ago. The obelisk must have changed time out here too.” “What are we going to do?” asked Charlie. “We should have reset the controls,” said Rikki. “Let's go back.” “How are you going to remember where all of the dials were set?” asked Jeff.

“I've got pictures,” said Charlie. “Let's go.” …............................ “Well, at least the temperature seems right,” said Jeff. “I think we did it.” “How did you guys enjoy your first adventure as an Explorer?” asked Charlie. “Not bad, Charlie,” said Rikki. “How about you?” “Best ever,” said Charlie. “What are you guys doing tomorrow?”


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