Adam and Sarah Hartley cautiously began their descent into the tomb. The illumination from their flashlights revealed the ancient stone steps leading down into the darkness and into history. They also believed they were being led downward into the ultimate enlightenment.
The Hartleys were the world’s most famous married Biblical Archeology team. Well regarded by both other archeologists and Christian researchers, they were credited with several important finds between 2020 and 2045, including the true burial-place of the Apostle Mark. It was long supposed that his body was stolen from Alexandria in a barrel of pork and was put to rest in the city of Venice, but the Hartleys discovered a codex that revealed this to be a ruse. The following year, they located the remains of Mark in his original tomb on the outskirts of the modern Egyptian city of Alexandria.
Now, Adam and Sarah are in Egypt again, this time investigating what could be the most important find of their careers. If the scroll they had discovered and translated last year was right, it would be the most significant discovery of the last two-thousand years: the true final resting place of Jesus Christ.
They couldn’t reveal what they hoped to discover to the world, not yet. If they were right, if the scroll secretly written and hidden by one of Christ’s disciples, supposedly an eye-witness to the event, was correct, it would mean chaos in the Christian world. The Christ had not bodily risen from the tomb and ascended into Heaven, but instead, the corpse had been carried away secretly by Jesus’s closest apostles and transported to Egypt.
The Hartley’s had secured permission from the Egyptian government to excavate a site outside of the village of Dalga in Minya, Upper Egypt, a tomb that supposedly hadn’t been opened to the light of day for over twenty centuries. If it was true, if they found the body of Christ and could prove his identity, then the entire Christian world would be turned upside down.
Adam and Sarah weren’t religious. For them, Biblical Archeology was an investigation into history, not faith. For them, ultimate illumination was whatever the evidence pointed to, not theology and doctrine.
The textual information regarding the tomb and its occupant was vague, but it described a god who was also flesh, who died and rose and awaited a second coming. Who but the Christ could it be describing?
The tomb was a simple affair. Stairs leading down into a tunnel, and the tunnel leading into a single chamber. For a find of this magnitude and controversy, Adam and Sarah had chosen to go down alone, leaving the rest of their team outside.
“The inner chamber is sealed. The scroll of Boaz the Lesser didn’t describe this.”
“Take it easy, Sarah. It’s not sealed.” Adam shined his light over the edges of the stone blocking the entrance. “I can get a pry bar in there and move it.”
In spite of being in his early 50s, Adam was in excellent shape. A lifetime of physical labor as an archeologist, a veteran of dozens of digs, had served him well. He took the pry bar from his back pack and inserted it in the space between the stone block and the wall.
“Shouldn’t we call some of the men from above to help, Adam?” Sarah always had a tendency to worry.
“I’ve got this one. Just give me some time.” Adam grunted with each movement of the block.
It took several minutes for him to move the stone sufficiently for him and Sarah to be able to squeeze through.
“There!” Adam put the bar on the ground and bent forward placing his hands on his thighs. “Just give me a second to catch my breath.”
Sarah picked up the pry bar and replaced it in her husband’s pack. Once he’d recovered, she handed him his flashlight and then she preceded him into the inner tomb.
When Adam followed Sarah in, he saw her shining her light on the only object in the chamber, a rectangular stone container slightly larger than a man. The top was sealed, not ajar like the stone blocking the entrance.
“Damn. No inscription on the outside.” As Sarah circled the plain sarcophagus, she was hoping some markings or labels would identify the occupant.
“The scroll indicated there would be positive identification of the body.”
“Maybe it’s inside. Let’s open it together.” Sarah set her backpack down and retrieved an electric lantern. She activated it and set it to one side, providing better illumination.
The pair each took their pry bars out of their packs and set to work, gently attempting to tease the top off without causing any damage.
As the seal broke, a foul gas hissed and belched from within the sarcophagus, forcing them both to stagger back several feet.
When they recovered and looked again and they saw the stone top continue to move.
“What the…” Adam was stunned and Sarah swallowed a cry.
Something was pushing the stone lid off from within!
“Could Christ be rising again? But that’s impossible.” Nothing in Sarah’s reading of the scroll prepared her or Adam for this.
The lid slid off the back side of the container and crashed to the floor. The light captured something slowly rising from the inside, the most beautiful male face either had ever seen.
“He’s remarkable. I never suspected…” Sarah stopped as the eyes of the Adonis-like visage stared at her. She started to walk toward him without realizing it.
“Wait!” Adam grabbed her shoulder, and suddenly realizing she’d been walking, stopped.
The face rose higher but what supported it wasn’t human. The head was the most perfect human head witnessed by man, but the body was enormous and serpentine. A human head and the body of a snake.
“Thank you for releasing me. Yes, I am knowledgable of your tongue.” The voice was malevolent, arrogant, dangerous.
“Who…who…” Adam and Sarah were both paralyzed with terror. It never even occurred to them to run.
Coil by coil, the ancient serpent emerged from its burial-place.
“I am not the god you were seeking. I am the embodiment of chaos and the nemesis of light. Look upon me in terror, for you have released me on an unsuspecting and unprepared world.”
It didn’t matter to Adam and Sarah Hartley that they were the victims of a hoax, although a very old one. The document they relied upon was written by a thrall of the Lord of Chaos posing as a disciple of Christ. The Egyptian god who had fallen asleep was destined to be awakened in a far, future era. Once that future arrived, those who discovered the document of falsehood fulfilled prophesy and triggered the reawakening.
Adam and Sarah Hartley died in horror and blood and they released the god Apophis to author a new Dark Ages upon the Earth.
I’m trying my hand at horror again. What do you think?