This month's 3 Random Words were: Abandoned, Dark, Dinosaur
“Before you dare to wander inside,
there is one thing you must decide.
Companion or torch; you must choose one.
Bringing two will leave you with none.
The darkness will threaten to swallow you whole.
But the solitude, too, can take its toll.
How you choose to travel its depths,
may result in your untimely death.
Will your torch illuminate the unseen?
Or will two heads be all that you need?
The abandoned tunnels will confuse and fluster,
So gather all the bravery you can muster.
For once you choose to step inside,
There is no escaping the Dinosaur Mines.”
Nikolas read the inscription aloud as he secured the rope to the hooked spike at the mine’s entrance. Wrapping the rope twice around his waist, he meticulously tied the other end to the carabineer fastened to his belt.
Above the translated inscription were the original Aztec symbols, warning others to stay away from the mines. Legend claims that in the late 1400s, a tribe of Aztecs in central Mexico dug deep into the earth and discovered a vast untapped coal deposit. Aware of its heating powers, the Aztec King commissioned a rudimentary mine deep below their Aztec city. For months, the men hauled heaps of coal to the surface, and their city flourished.
As they dug deeper into the soil, the men discovered items never before seen; sharp teeth the length of a human foot, and talons that would slay even the largest eagle. Perplexed by the sheer size of the items, the elders met to debate their origins. Then, two men emerged from the mines carrying a massive bone. Taller than any man and denser than almost any other object, the Aztec elders immediately assumed the bones belonged to a God they named the Tunnel God. Against the elders’ recommendations to return the bones to the earth, the King ordered a search party to bring the rest of the God’s bones to the surface so that he might be resurrected in his original image.
That’s when the disappearances began.
Every day, a group of men entered the mines to harvest the bones, and every day their numbers dwindled.
Fearing that the God was angry with their slow progress, the King ordered more men into the mines to retrieve the bones. More men entered, and more men were lost. As the men continued to disappear, the elders begged the King to put an end to the bone searches. Perhaps, they suggested, the God was angered by this disturbance. Perhaps, if they gave the bones back to the God, he might show the tribe mercy and return their men.
Enraged by the elders’ insolence, the King sent his most feared warrior into the mines. This, he assured them, would ease their concerns and allow the bone harvest to continue. Armed with only a torch, the brave warrior entered the mine the following day, never to return. Furious with the warrior’s failure, the King sent his two youngest sons into the mines the next day, each armed with their own torch and strict orders to remain together. Their job was to find the warrior, bring him to the surface, and report on their findings. That evening, only the youngest son returned to the surface. Tears streaking down his face, he told of a strong wind that ripped through the mines outing their torches and leaving them alone with the darkness. When the younger son stepped away from his older brother to retrieve a rock to relight the torch, a violent force drug him across the floor of the mines. His torch struck the wall, producing enough light for him to see. He spent hours searching for his brother, only to find himself back at the entrance of the mine.
As the young boy finished his story, the elders rushed forward to console and care for his injuries, but the King interceded. He struck his son across the face and ripped the torch from his hands. Without a word, he entered the mines himself, leaving his people without their leader. For days, the elders stood vigil, praying to the God to release their King, their warrior, and their men.
On the tenth day, the warrior, battered and limping, emerged from the darkness of the mines. Coal dust etched ominous symbols on his skin, and his pupils were as white as the clouds in the sky. An unknown language held his tongue hostage, repeating unknown phrases in a hushed whisper. Several days later, the King’s youngest son fell ill, the same mysterious language pouring from his lips in short, jittery bursts.
The next several months saw the emergence of other miners, their minds, however, held captive by whatever evil lurked in the dark tunnels. Then, exactly a year after the warrior emerged, the recoveries ceased. The elders allowed one additional year to pass before closing the mines for good and forbidding anyone from entering its depths. Instead of returning the harvested bones to the earth, the tribe built them into an altar, vowing to honor the life of the Tunnel God whose slumber they had disturbed. Scientists were later able to identify the bones as belonging to the Albertosaurus, a distant relative of the T-Rex, and dubbed the mystical tunnels, the Dinosaur Mines.
It’s said that the Aztecs lost two-hundred men to the mines, and only fifty-two men returned. The King wasn’t one of them.
Since the days of the Aztecs, stories of the Dinosaur Mines have grown in popularity, each one more bizarre than the next. Nikolas has studied each of these stories meticulously, looking for patterns in seemingly successful approaches. Those who have claimed to travel the mines without incident are always later diagnosed with schizophrenia, paranoia, and other forms of psychoses. Others tell stories of lost loved ones, souls imprisoned by a maze beneath the once-thriving Aztec city. One thing remains certain: No one has cracked the code hidden in the mine’s inscription.
Nikolas ties a second rope to Farley’s
harness and secures the headlamp around
Farley’s floppy ears.
“Come on, boy,” Nikolas commands as the pair descends into the Dinosaur Mines.