sweat

In order to quell any doubts that may in future arise, I hereby attest to the painstaking research and investigation that has gone into verifying the accuracy of all information that is part of the historical or archaeological, record. These facts then, like all such information, should be taken with a grain of salt and thoroughly questioned by the reader.

On the other hand, all matters of plot, story line, and characters are completely the product of my imagination and therefore to be believed implicitly.

The Author

Prologue

Even jade is shattered,

Even gold is crushed,

Even quetzal plumes are torn. . .

One does not live forever on this earth:

We endure only for an instant!

Netzahualcoyotl (Fasting Coyote)

The great poet-king of Texcoco

The boy pulled a dart from his puma hide pouch, without taking his eyes off the target. Carefully, he wound a puff of white down feather around the back end of the long, thin, wood projectile. The tip had earlier been prepared with curari. Even so, four of six missiles that had been fired found their mark, and the prey was not yet dead. In fact, the boy’s naked, golden brown body glistened with sweat from a chase several hours old already.

Persistence was the boy’s greatest weapon. This Howler monkey was a big one. If he could catch it, his family would eat well tonight. He aimed the blowgun at the vague shadow, high in the trees. With a short, powerful breath, he launched the dart. It flew through the tangle of branches and vines that separated the jungle’s canopy from the earth by more than one hundred fee.

The ape pulled the painful splinter from its thigh and screamed with rage. It was too late. The poison had found a vein. The monkey leaped from the branch but missed the limb he was aiming for. Grasping at every twig, he fell through the layers of green foliage. Just when he should have landed on the ground, he seemed to disappear.

Walking to where the monkey had fallen, the boy realized he was on the edge of a sheer cliff. Before him lay a lush green valley, several miles wide. The mountains that composed the opposite walls were the snow peaked Andes. This was new terrain for the inexperienced, young hunter. In fact, it was far beyond his people’s traditional hunting ground. Fear ran through him, but he paid it no attention, thinking only of the pride he had felt earlier in the day when his father had given him the new blowgun. It was his first “real man’s weapon.” He had watched as his father carefully and expertly crafted it for him. Now, he couldn’t find the prize that would prove he was ready to take his place at the council fire with the other men.

Leaning over the edge, he looked straight down the side of the cliff. There was his monkey, still alive, although barely breathing, lying on a projecting ledge forty feet below. Cutting a sturdy vine, he carefully lowered himself to the ledge. He finished the monkey’s life with one quick blow to the head, then said a prayer, hoping the monkey’s spirit would forgive him and understand his family was hungry and praising the animal’s courage and strength.

Slinging the forty pound carcass over his shoulder, the boy grabbed the fine to begin his ascent. He looked to the cliff’s siding to gain a foothold for his climb and noticed that his toes had entered a carving in solid rock. He examined the design closely, brushing away vegetation and the debris of time. The design began to reveal itself. The boy saw a huge sun with a strained and sweating face, over a quarter moon, with tears dripping from its eyes. For a reason he did not understand, the boy was filled with emotion.

As a young child, he had seen stone carvings and masonry ruins in the jungle near his home. Occasionally, he had found some small object that he would carry home and give to his father to sell to the “outsiders.” Nothing in his experience could compare with the beauty and feeling in this work of art.

Standing back to view the entire composition at once, he noticed that the slab was a huge door into the mountain itself. This ledge was an entrance, and the design, a guardian of a secret cave chamber. He sought a means to open the panel, but could not. He picked up his trophy, again grabbed the vine, and made his way back home.

*****

Diane

Looking into the room, it was difficult to differentiate one woman from another. All were dressed with the same crazy mixed combination of Western accessories over basic native garb.

One woman was more assertive and asking questions of the others. Though her skin was almost as dark as the rest, her features were slightly different, and her eyes were green. Not a light, clear green, but dark, like the deep-hued emeralds of South America.

A young boy was called into the room. Maybe, not so young. He already carried a man’s blowgun and knife. One of the women was obviously his mother, but even she stepped out of Chaco’s way after introducing him to Green Eyes.

Diane made a small deferential bow to show her respect for this hunter man. He held up a parchment scroll and very carefully unwrapped it. It was a charcoal stone rubbing of the sweating sun and crying moon from the cave door.

Diane tried her best not to show the excitement rising within her. Then she asked Chaco if he had told anyone else of this. Chaco said he remembered that whenever any of the men found something old that looked important, they always told the women to notify Green Eyes.

Diane questioned the boy-man for over an hour. Chaco said he himself would help her and lead the way. The people of his village would be proud to help Green Eyes catalog and record their ancestor’s works, and they could use the money.

*****

Itzan

Inside the dark, dry, and airless chamber, a crack of light split the blackness like a knife. Lying on a stone slab carved with all the major gods of the late Maya/Toltec period of the Yucatan, was a resplendent figure. Half-bird, half-man, half-reptile, the three halves made sense. The eyes, closed with the ages, opened.

Itzan looked at the movement coming from the light. They were men, but unlike any he had ever seen. He looked below and there was the chamber carved especially for him. There was also his body as it had been prepared by the priest of embalming.

He was dead. Not scared. Not in pain. Not any feeling known to man, just the vague and persistent annoyance of the disturbance of his peace. That is all he recalled: Sublime and complete peace.

Now he was back, and yet he wasn’t. The humans moved with no regard for his presence. They dealt with his body as with just one more item in the room.

A woman entered. Beautiful, but with an air of authority he had never known in a female. She gave orders and began cataloguing and removing all of the items that had accompanied Itzan for all these years.

Why? Why were these people committing the most unpardonable sin? Don’t they know there is no rest for those who disturb the endless sleep of others? What tribe are they?

*****

A week later Diane stood in front of the cave entrance watching as the workers moved the crates onto her lorry. It was the sixth truck loaded, and they were almost ready to leave.

In the surrounding jungle a nervous Indian pointed out Green Eyes to General Torres. Torres whispered orders in Spanish to his Major and paid his informer with a small sack of coins. The Judas bowed his thanks as he left.

Torres watched as his men moved into their pre-planned positions. The Major shouted to Diane and her workers to freeze and not move. They were under arrest by the army.

One of the truck drivers made a move for his nine-millimeter pistol, but a soldier had the bead on him. A short burst from his M-16 automatic rifle put an end to the driver and all his future moves. There was a small amount of confusion but the troops efficiently and quickly restored order and control.

The Major had Green Eyes segregated and under guard. General Torres walked up to her and spoke in heavily accented English.

“Diane Hunter. It is time we met. My anti-terrorist team has had you under surveillance for some time.”

Diane looked at him directly, not letting her stare waiver. “Then it must have been long enough to know I don’t have shit to do with terrorists. This is a legal archaeological expedition and I protest this violent interruption and harassment.”

“Please, Miss or Misses...? Ms. Hunter, don’t take me for a fool. I know you have no permits and no export license, yet these crates are on trucks heading for port and a trip to London. Simply put, you are looting my nations’ hegemony.”

“No, there is a . . .”

“Shut up! You will be escorted to the capital but will be leaving the country without any of this.” Torres waved at the trucks. His men pulled the dead driver from his seat. The others got down with their hands up and were marched away. Diane was put, very roughly, into the back of a Jeep. General Torres smiled and continued supervising the looting.

*****

Itzan

Somehow the peace had ended. Itzan was conscious again, but he was not alive. With this reawakening came a whole new reality. There were not the limits of a mortal body, but neither were there the advantages. Without having seen anymore than what was happening in front of him, Itzan knew and understood the vast changes that had taken place since his life. He acknowledged man’s progress and recognized the many costs. He remembered his books and knew the treasure to be in danger. He had been allowed back to the world of men to finish the acts that would complete his destiny. Through the ages he had waited without knowing why, and now the time had come. He must find a man that could help. He would fulfill an old promise.

F I R S T - P R E V I O U S - N E X T

Jose Rosa

Jose Rosa

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