The pedestals by yomero
The dry air felt like having your face four inches from a bonfire. The desert had a strong salty aroma. The orange rocky rift valley was surrounded completely by mountains, just as like being inside a humongous hole. Only a large green lake at the lowest part of the valley contrasted with the reddish rocks.
In silence, a group of four marched inside the dry bed of a creek. Behind them could be seen the Dead Sea about five miles down in the valley. Two of them were tanned skin young men wearing T shirts, jeans and headgear made of white cloth. They were carrying large and heavy backpacks. The other two were a Caucasian man and woman with modern summer clothing and sunglasses.
“We should wait at least a couple of months. This place is above a hundred and five degrees!” The brown hair tall man complains while wiping the sweat from his forehead.
“Shut up Chris, we only have walk a hundred feet from the truck.” The blonde woman responds while looking at her notes. “What do you expected finding here in summer at the Judean Desert, six inches of snow?”
The two men helping them carrying the equipment suddenly stop at the ten feet wide small canyon craved in the rock. One of them turns back and talks with the American man in Hebrew. After listening him for a minute, he faces the woman. “Yasser says we arrived, Lana. This is the Armon creek’s west bifurcation.” Chris informs the woman.
“Good, tell them to lay down my stuff and give twenty dollars to each of them.” The woman responds while examining the place. “We don’t need them any more.”
“A ‘thank you for your help’ would be a nice touch.” Chris murmurs while reaching his pocket.
After dismissing the men, the explorers camp there. The man prepares the tents while the woman reads her notebook using her bifocal thick glasses. She continues like this until nightfall.
After hours of silence, Chris finally speaks to his partner. “You really think we will find the salt statue?” “If I was convinced it was salt, we wouldn’t be here in this furnace.” Lana replies pausing from her reading. “What are you talking about?” Chris responds surprised. “I would appreciate a little enlighten here. After all, I’m your partner in this quest.”
“The reasons I invited you here are, you speak Hebrew fluidly and you are too righteous to betray me.” Lana responds chuckling and then turns her notebook for him to see it. “According to the two thousand year-old manuscript, I found at Professor Ford’s files, it corrects the bible scriptures. The document states, Eidis' was turned into a hard crystal statue which looked like salt.”
“Eidis… you mean Lot’s wife.” Chris asks after thinking for a moment and Lana nods once in silence. “I thought you didn’t care about the bible.”
“The bible is the oldest and longest fairy tale book made by man, but if there is the possibility it leads me to a diamond mine, I’ll give it a chance.” Lana replied coldly.
“Hmm… the manuscript translation is incomplete.” Chris says while reading Lana’s notes. “You pretend finding the statue with only this?”
“I translated the most important parts. Where the statue was hidden from the Romans, information about the cave sanctuary, and how they protected the statue.” Lana says retrieving her notebook. “Besides I didn’t want the teachers suspecting about this.”
“Now I understand why you told everyone we were going to France.” Chris replies nodding. “That’s right. I don’t want sharing this with some lazy opportunist teachers. I found it and it’s mine.” Lana tells Chris while placing her right palm on her chest.
“Yours?” Chris asks while narrowing his eyes.
“You’ll receive your share as I promised, Chris.” Lana responds closing her notebook. “Now let’s have some sleep and we will explore the creek in the morning. ________________________________________
Very early next morning, before the sunrays started to heating up the cold rocks, the explorers search the dry creek. Using an OhmMapper device, they find a cavity in a wall of the canyon. An hour later, Chris manages removing the rocks blocking the entrance. Using flashlights, the college fortune-hunters adventure inside the cave. After five minutes travelling inside the dark tunnel, they find a large chamber deep inside the rock.
The temperature was about 70 degrees inside. Chris uses his metal lighter in a large bowl filled with tar, lighting up the caved hall. Soon they are able seeing the chamber’s details. It’s a round cavity of about fifty feet of diameter with an eight feet tall ceiling. The place was decorated as an old Hebrew temple from about the same period when Christ lived.
All these details soon were ignored by the college students when they admired the central part of the chamber. The center was an oval dip about nine feet width and three steps deep. The dip was crowded with a dozen of four inch tall pyramidal stones with the top truncated and thick rusted chain links on each one.
At the very center was a glittering statue of a woman. The statue was standing over two of these stones. The stones tops were big enough for the soles of the statue to fit over them. It had her arms down to its sides, extended and separated from the statue torso about four inches from it. It also had the chains from the stones wrapped around the legs and up its thighs. The statue shined like cut glass.
“WE FOUND IT!” Chris shouts excited. “It must be worth millions!”
“Around twenty three millions, if my figures are correct.” Lana adds while smirking and fixing her glasses with the middle finger.
Chris drops his flashlight and runs toward the center of the chamber. He tries taking the gem statue down from the stones, but he can’t. Soon he realizes the soles of the diamond statue are fused to the stones. “No Chris! Get the hell out of there!” Lana shouts worried.
Chris tries breaking the statue’s legs, but the chamber starts shaking. The roof of the cave opens slowly as a red intense light fills the underground room. Chris’ eyes open wide as he looks upward and then he covers his face using his arms.
Fire balls fall from the opening down at the center of the hall. The half foot diameter incandescent projectiles hit the man lighting up his cloths as he falls down the floor. After dozens of these igneous rocks cover the completely the floor around the statue, Lana shakes her head unimpressed.
“Fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all, just as it says at the Bible.” Lana states coldly. “At least now I don’t have to share my fortune with this dumb.”
Lana takes out her translation notes and studies them for a while. She then approaches the incandescent floor and stares at the statue for a moment. The woman then climbs over a pyramidal stone around the statue and approaches while carrying her notes. She stops over two stones before the diamond statue imitating the old illustration she copied from her mentor’s manuscript.
“There must be a part in this manuscript telling how to deactivate the trap.” Lana mumbles while reading. Lana then sees a shine and turns toward the statue. The eyes of the diamond figure start shining. Lana gasps while she realizes she can’t turn away.
Slowly, the chains on the stones she is stepping on start moving and wrap around each one of her legs. The female explorer grunts trying regaining control over her controlled body. Only her fingers and eyes can move at her will, showing the intense desperation her mind is going through.
She stars feeling a raising tingling going slowly upward her body. Upfront her, she notice the statue tip of the head starts turning brown color and it goes downward.
As the itching reaches Lana’s waist, she can see the statue is changing. Now it’s the body of a woman on her early thirties with her eyes closed. The transformation of the statue continues under the chains wrapped around the legs. At this moment, Lana can’t no longer move her fingers as she notices, with the rim of her eyes, they shine as crystal. Lana opens wider her surprised eyes when the woman in front of her, starts coughing and moving. During few seconds, she starts breathing irregularly as she takes her hands to her chest. Then she calms down and finally opens her eyes. “LIBERTY AT LAST!” The transformed statue cries in joy while looking up.
The woman then looks down and notices her calves and feet are still diamond and the chains also are still trapping her legs. The woman raises her right leg and manages to take a step with the pedestal still fused to her sole. “Blast, I haven’t morphed back completely.” The woman exclaims with an old English accent. The woman then looks at Lana. From below her upper lip, she is transformed into shinny crystal. Lana looks at the freed woman looking desperate for help.
“Greetings stranger, I am Agnes, descendent of Berethor the great, part of Queen Eleanor’s Amazons. We followed Milady here to the Holy Land back in the good year of the Lamb: 1147.” The sword maiden says while bowing respectfully at Lana. “I made the same mistake as you. I tried stealing Eidis’ statue interrupting her holy punishment and I ended up occupying her place for the last thousand years, but instead of finding Lot’s wife, I freed a roman maiden.”
Lana starts mumbling in panic. She is sweating cold and expresses a terrified look. Agnes stars walking slowly from the center of the chamber lifting the stones aiding herself with her arms. “Someone will eventually take your place and when the Lord starts talking to you, listen to him carefully.” Agnes tells Lana while leaving the underground chamber. “Good luck, stranger.” Lana started weeping as Agnes steps fade. The woman realized none of her friends would come to aid her. She regretted her selfishness standing over the pedestals chose by herself.