Secret Door

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Chapter 3

3

As Cotter and his three colleagues walked through the tall stone archway they all came to a standstill. From somewhere within the ruins they could hear what sounded like hideous screaming. “My god what the hell was that?” Jenkins cried out, “It sounded like Andrew. In God’s name…” But before Jenkins could finish his sentence, Cotter and Parsons began running across what appeared to be a large courtyard. Jenkins and Davies ran too and soon caught up with them. Arriving at a set of stone steps they saw that they descended down towards a large stone doorway. “Could this be it Cotter, could this be the secret doorway you’re searching for?” Davies said as he pointed down to it.

“I doubt it Phillip as I don’t think it would be that easy to find. Legend has it that it is set in rock but not in this area. I think my parents would have made a point of saying they had found it. In none of their notes did they say they had found it.” Cotter replied as Parsons began walking down the stone stairway. Dropping his rucksack he opened it and pulled out a tin tube. Uncorking it he pulled out a scroll of paper and unfurling it, he placed it on the carved symbols and began rubbing charcoal over the legends. “Look at these will you, it could be the language of the Igons. This is amazing.”

As Parsons finished his charcoal rubbings he replaced the scroll and charcoal into the tin tube and placed it back into his rucksack. Jenkins joined him and looked at the stone doorway. “Strange isn’t it, it’s a lot smaller than the main archway. Could this be the entranceway to wherever the secret door is located?”

Cotter and Davies joined them at the doorway, “Well shall we try and find out gentlemen and see if we can open it and pray to god that Andrew has found his way to this doorway.” Cotter replied, “But we still need to know what that ungodly screaming was, and hope it wasn’t Andrew.” The four scientists leant into the doorway with their right shoulders and tried for five minutes to move the door. Nothing. Not even an inch. It was then that they all felt it, the coldness again. Enveloping them all like a giant’s hand made of ice and a feeling of dread hit them all at the same time.

“I think we need to leave Cotter, right now!” Jenkins said as they all turned to see where the cold was emanating from. “Come on let’s get away from here right now!” All four men ran up the steps and continued to run across the courtyard, through the tall archway and down the stone pathway towards the plateau. They halted at the plateau to gather their wits and to rest. “My god gentlemen, whatever it is in this godforsaken place, it feels like pure evil.” Davies said as they stood in a line looking up towards the place they had just fled from.

*****

An hour later Williams and Drysdale had re-joined the other men on the second plateau telling them that they hadn’t seen or heard anything from Taylor, but had also heard the ungodly screaming and that it seemed to come from high up in the rocks. “We need to go back and find a way in as I think Taylor has found a way in and is somehow trapped and is scared.” Cotter said as he finished quenching his thirst. “There has to be another way of getting inside besides the doorway we found.”

“What if we skirt around the ruins, remember the two paths that lead to the left and right. They could take us to another entranceway?” Parsons said as he stood looking up at the stone pathway. “I for one want to start up there now and find Andrew. He would be thinking the same if he was here and it was one of us lost in there.”

“Yes you may have the answer there Richard. We will split into two teams and skirt around both paths until we are south facing. The secret door could be there, it’s our only hope.” Jenkins replied as they all began donning their rucksacks. The team split into two and taking both pathways continued onward and upward.

Cotter was a worried man; one of his team had already gone missing, which didn’t bode well with any of the men. Had he gone off on his own? Or had he gone off to relieve himself and missed his footing and was lying injured somewhere? As they pushed upwards the two teams kept a look out for any kind of doorway but neither team were successful. It was only when Cotter’s team reached the south side of the rocky outcrop that they came to a halt. There in front of their eyes was what appeared to be another doorway, hidden by years of growth and soil. “Parsons you may have been right. Could this be the secret door?” Cotter said as they stood looking in amazement. It appeared to be taller than the doorway they had seen the day before in the ruined courtyard. Taking out their machetes they began to hack away at the growth of vines and small trees that were protruding out of the rocks. After what seemed like an age they had cleared enough of the growth to see that as with the previous doorways archway this too had strange symbols carved into it. Parsons once again took out a tin tube and unfurling a new piece of paper began rubbing across the symbols with his charcoal.

Suddenly they heard a loud click and slowly but surely the ancient stone door opened. A cold breeze blew out from the doorway but this time Cotter and his team were determined to enter whatever the cost. They needed to find Andrew Taylor first, but they also needed to find out what was inside. They could see an ornate high ceilinged hallway full of decorative symbols similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics. Cotter turned to his fellow scientists and asked them, “Are you all prepared to go into this dark place, this place that could hold the answers that man has been searching for? We could find the key to what the Igons were really like and why they vanished without trace.” All nodded in the affirmative, but Jenkins wasn’t so sure, he didn’t like the place. As amazing as it looked, he still had that feeling of dread.

“I say we just find Andrew and leave this godforsaken place for good.” Everyone looked at Cotter and then at Jenkins. “How was it that the doorway opened so easily for us gentlemen, when the one we found yesterday did not?”

“Maybe it was something you did Parsons when you were doing the charcoal rubbings over the symbols on the archway.” Cotter replied as he looked around the long dark hallway after lighting a paraffin lamp. “This is a sight to behold gentlemen, look at the intricate carvings and the colours are still vibrant as if only done recently.”

“They seem to be very old, and in a language that I’ve never seen.” Parsons said as he guided his lamp along the walls. He had spent many years at university and in Egypt studying the ancient language of the Egyptians and could read hieroglyphics. But he was at a loss to know what the Igon symbols related to. “As far as I can tell, they seem to be telling a story of some kind, but what kind I don’t know. Williams, do you have many flashbulbs left for your camera, as I’ve only a few left for mine.” Williams nodded, “Good as we need to get as much photographic evidence of all this as…” Parsons stopped speaking as his lamp light cast its yellow glow onto something so strange and odd that he could not comprehend what he was seeing. “My god, what is that gentlemen? It looks like a…”

“It looks like a type of rail system but none that we know of in our world.” Williams replied. A look of disbelief came across everyone’s face as they all now looked at what appeared to be a type of transportation system. “I think we need to block the doorway open with a heavy stone as I for one don’t wish to be trapped in here with no means of escape.” As he ventured outside to look for a suitably sized rock to pin the door open Williams let out a loud shout. Cotter and Jenkins rushed outside while the others continued to scan the symbols on the walls and ceilings and the strange looking system they had happened upon.

Williams was pointing upwards at the outcrop unable to take in what he was seeing. “My god man will you take a look at this.” He cried still pointing upwards. Above the three explorer’s heads, some thirty feet up appeared to be a huge structure built into the rock. The whole structure appeared to be made solely of solid glass and extended upwards for another thirty feet. “What the hell is it, and who has the technology in this day and age to build a super structure like that?” Williams asked as he fished into his rucksack for his Kodak camera. Snapping photographs one after the other with each of the flash bulbs blue gasses exploding as he did so.

“One can only guess that the Igon civilisation was far more advanced than we thought.” Cotter replied as he took in the might of the glass building. Breaking his concentration he remembered that they needed a good sized rock to wedge open the stone doorway. “What the heck is that down there? It looks like some kind of tramcar but without its wheels.” Down below the pathway was what appeared to be a vehicle lying on its side, the likes of which had never been seen before by anyone let alone the three men that now looked at it in wonder. It appeared to be some type of futuristic vehicle and alongside it appeared more of the track system that they had found in the great hallway. The track and tramcar like vehicle appeared to have been badly damaged by a huge block of masonry that had smashed part of the track and upended the vehicle.

The three men stood motionless as if all time had stopped. What were they seeing here? Had they stumbled upon the ruins of a race from the future? Williams began taking photographs of the damaged track and vehicle. He then heard Cotter and Jenkins struggling with a large rock that they had found. Safely packing his camera away he helped his colleagues to lift and place the rock in front of the ancient stone door. Back inside the large hallway Cotter told the other men what they had found outside. “Gentlemen, I feel that we have stumbled upon something quite fantastic and out of this world. All the answers lay here in this vast chamber and outside. I believe that the Igons were not of this earth but from another world.”

Davies looked astounded, “Cotter, have you lost your marbles old boy? The structure on top of the hill is no more than a ruined citadel, nothing more nothing less. I saw it myself yesterday, it’s manmade for goodness sake!”

“I’m not talking about the ruins we ventured into yesterday Phillip. I am talking about the structure made of glass perched on the rocky outcrop thirty feet up in the air. Also, there appears to be some kind of tramcar without wheels outside, down in the crevasse below us.”

Phillip Davies was just about to break into fits of laughter but stopped when he heard Parsons’ voice further down the hallway. Turning they could see that he was studying part of the wall intensely. “I believe you Cotter, I believe what you say is true.”

The team lead by Cotter slowly walked down the hallway to where Parsons now stood, “Why what have you found Parsons?”

“Take a look for yourselves.” Parsons replied standing back from the wall but keeping the lamp’s yellow light shining on the wall ahead. All of the men gasped as one as they took in what they could perceive on the wall in front of them. Carved in fine detail and finished off in rich colours similar to the other symbols and carvings was a sight to behold. The centre piece was of a cityscape that reminded them of the New York skyline. In the air appeared to be strange shaped flying machines. On the ground a trackway supporting tram like vehicles like the one they had found outside stretching from one end of the cityscape to the other. There also appeared to be junctions leading off the trackway.

“Is this what you have found outside Cotter?” Davies said pointing to the tram like vehicle. Cotter nodded and the six men walked as one back along the corridor until they were outside. Looking up at the glass structure Jenkins said that it was probably all that was left of the huge cityscape drawing inside. Williams told the other men to take a look at the vehicle down in the crevasse. “What have we stumbled upon Cotter? New York has buildings made of concrete, steel and glass, not just pure glass. How is it staying together?” Looking at the smashed vehicle he could not take in what he was seeing. “This is incredible, amazingly so. The Igon race was believed to have died out over a thousand years ago, yet we find futuristic structures. They wouldn’t have had that technology surely?”

Cotter looked up at the glass structure shimmering in the light of the golden sun, “Who said they died out? All we scientists and explorers know is that they simply vanished. Maybe, just maybe the carvings might tell us more about their race.” Walking back to the doorway Cotter was deep in thought, and once back inside we turned to his team, “Gentlemen, we need to split up again. Three of us need to search for Andrew, the other three will need to record and log as much evidence of the Igon race that we can.” Cotter aimed his lamp down the vast hallway as he continued to walk along it. “As I suspected, the hallway appears to go downwards. We need to follow it down and hope that it leads us to Andrew.”

*****

Cotter took Roger Jenkins and Rupert Drysdale with him, asking that David Williams and Phillip Davies stay with Richard Parsons to gather as much evidence as they could while they were away. Cotter’s team made their way slowly down the hallway, and as they ventured further so the scenery began to change. Gone now were the rich carvings to be replaced by stone pillars and beams perfectly shaped and cut from the rocky cavern they now stood in. They took in all the splendour of the shaped pillars as they moved forward, “What kind of tools would the Igons use to cut such intricate stonework from pure rock?” Drysdale asked as he touched one of the pillars of stone, “My god, they are warm to the touch. It should be cold like all stone is.”

Cotter and Jenkins stopped in their tracks upon hearing this. “This is amazing I wonder what is keeping them warm.” Jenkins said as he too began touching the stone pillars. Cotter crouched to the ground and touching the flat smooth surface found that this too was warm to the touch. “There must be some kind of heating below us. Let’s keep going as we need to find Andrew before our lamps fail.” To prevent all lamps failing they decided to use one until it ran out of fuel. They could then preserve the other two until needed. Progressing further on they came to a type of landing with a set of stone steps that took them upwards. Arriving at the top of the stone steps Cotter swung his lamp to and fro. The three men could not believe what they were seeing. In front of them was a huge cavern topped off with a beautiful ornate dome that looked like it was carved from pure crystal. The three men gasped at the sight that beheld them, there in front of them lay four separate platforms each intertwined with stone steps leading to and from each platform, and what appeared to be buildings on each level. Above each building appeared to be similar strange symbols to those on the previous doorways they had seen.

Cotter, Jenkins and Drysdale couldn’t believe what they were seeing, “Gentlemen, you may think me crazy, I would myself, but if I didn’t know any better I would say this is some kind of complex from the future.” Jenkins said as he tried to take in what he saw. “But look at the height of the doorways in each building. They are vast, just like the outer door, our secret door.”

“I think you were right Cotter when you said earlier that the Igons could have been from the future. How could they build something like this? It’s mind boggling to say the least. They died out as we have learnt over a thousand years ago.” Drysdale spoke as he began taking photographs of the vast area. Once he finished he placed the camera back into his rucksack.

“But how do we find Andrew, he could be anywhere in this vast chamber.” Jenkins said as he continued to gaze around the vast cavern of buildings with its amazing dome.

Cotter placed his rucksack onto the ground and could still feel the heat emanating from the floor. Lifting out a flask he unscrewed it and took a few mouthfuls of water. The other two followed his lead as they too were beginning to feel thirsty and hot. It felt as if the cavern was getting warmer by the minute. “I say Cotter, you don’t think that the island is an old volcano and the larva is still flowing below do you?” Drysdale said as he mopped his brow with a handkerchief.

Cotter looked around the area and decided that it was best to retrace their tracks and re-join the other members of the team in the hallway. As they were taking in a final view of the domed structure and were about to leave, they all saw movement on the lower level. Thinking it was Andrew Taylor, Jenkins shouted out his name. They saw movement again, it had to be Taylor. They shouted his name again and as they did, the movement ceased abruptly. But then something came from out of the shadows, something not quite right. Something immense now moved into their view. All they could see was a tall black seething mass that seemed to look up at the men with what appeared to be a large eye. And from the black intangible mass there appeared to be what looked like a long spindly arm with a clawed hand reaching upwards towards them as if to grab them all one by one.

The three men turned as one and fled. They ran for their lives, fear and horror gripping their whole being. They continued to run down the stone steps, through the lower cavern making their way back to the hallway. Sweat beaded their faces and sweat began to stain their clothes as they continued running. They could see the entranceway to the hallway ahead and began to shout to the others to run. Now the temperature changed, coldness began to envelope them as they hit the hallway running. Ahead they could see the light from a lamp and continued to shout to their colleagues to get the hell out.

But the lamp ahead was still, the coldness was diminishing and they no longer felt threatened. But where were Parsons, Williams and Davies. Cotter and the other two only stopped running when they got outside of the hallway and as one they lifted the rock from the stone doorway and it slammed shut behind them. The three men rested against the rock face gasping for breath, trying to slow their hearts down, each taking a drink from their flasks while trying their best to keep control of their minds. Cotter revived first and was recovered sufficiently enough to stand up and look around for the other three men. Looking down into the crevasse he hoped to see his friends hiding, but he didn’t. He then gazed upwards towards the glass structure and there within the structure hanging by their arms were Williams, Davies and Taylor. Cotter reeled around in shock and screamed out “Noooooo!”

*****

Alerted and shocked by Cotter’s scream, Jenkins and Drysdale jumped up and looked skywards and themselves screamed in union. They stood wide eyed not believing what they were seeing. How and why had their friends ended up inside the glass structure hanging by their arms half naked? “How do we help them Cotter? Cotter, Cotter.” Jenkins shook his friend by the arms and slowly Cotter’s eye began to focus on Jenkins’ face. “We need to get back to the ship,” Jenkins said slowly, “We need to get back and get help, Cotter do you understand what I’m saying?” Cotter nodded slowly, he appeared to be in shock, “Come on David, we can’t do anything without the help of the captain and his crew.”

Jenkins continued to talk to Cotter, as Drysdale continued looking upwards at the scene playing out before his eyes. Suddenly they heard a voice shouting them from below, it was Parsons “Get down here now, all of you quickly.” Jenkins and Drysdale helped Cotter down to the abandoned tramcar type vehicle and joined their friend. “What’s happened up there, and what’s wrong with Cotter?” Parsons asked as they joined him under the shelter of the overturned vehicle.

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