Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)
TITLE: A Little Religion
By mick dawson
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“Do you see that Lizzy?”
His exploration assistant, also in protective suit, nodded.
She looked up at the winch operator. Receiving a nod from the bearded man in hard hat, he pulled a lever activating the ancient diesel powered machine. A cable sling slowly creaked its way laterally, stopping in front of Dexter. One foot hooked in the loop and the winch lowered him into the underground cavern. Once ascended, he looked up to briefly see Lizzy’s head peer over the edge. She signalled, and the cable rose again.
Dexter picked up the fluoro tube and took a step forward. A scratchy sound emanated through the fabric of his suit as he rubbed the surface of a stone wall. No mortar appeared between the stones, yet the symmetry of the barrier seemed faultless. Green flared behind him alerting him to the arrival of Lizzy holding a fluoro tube of her own.
“We’re in a city,” she said.
A glance at Dexter’s feet confirmed her words. He currently stood on a path paved with stone. They advanced, negotiating the wall. Lizzy gasped at the sight of a skeleton, sprawled on the path holding a spear and the remnants of some ancient armour. The Geiger counter began to click in her hands once pointed in the bone’s direction.
“It’s coming from the bones themselves. The poor man died of radiation poisoning and never knew what killed him.”
Dexter nodded and motioned for Lizzy to keep scanning. A sweep of the device yielded louder crackling up the path. More skeletons lay in haphazard repose on the path which broadened. Some of women holding children’s hands, others of a dog and tables with baskets on them. In the gloom Dexter swore he saw the remains of a donkey. They cautiously made their way up broad steps and found the edge of a fountain. More skeletons draped the edge; the bones wore ornate bands of gold on the wrists, with tiaras and necklaces adorned with large gems.
“Some sort of priests Dexter?”
“I assume so.”
The green haze revealed a ten feet tall statue, standing at the centre of the fountain. Dexter held his tube up to get a better look at the robed figure. Nothing looked familiar about the deity. Lizzy scanned the stone idol, incurring hysterical crackling.
“It’s made of uranium ore. They worshipped an idol of uranium.”
Dexter peered closer at the belt of the figure. The buckle looked oddly pronounced. His fingers pressed, and the buckle yielded easily to his touch. Lights flickered on. The entire cavern suddenly illuminated itself perfectly. Ancient stone buildings arose for a mile in three directions. Stone streets lay littered with the bones of its one time residents. Lights shone in the buildings and water began to flow in the man made channels of the dead city. One of the statue’s arms rhythmically dipped in the water to help the channel flow. A scratchy voice sounded overhead, emanating from a foot square hole in the wall of the nearest building.
“All hail Kaleegra, the giver of life to the fair city of Amnus!”
Dexter covered his eyes in his hands.
“Oh dear Lord, no.”
“What is it?”
He pulled away his hands to look at the statue once more. Nausea filled him as he spoke.
“These people were the first to use uranium to power their city. How ironic that the god they owed their lives to did this. And they say a little religion can’t kill you.”
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