Saturday, 27 October 2012
The Testimony of Morton Anderson (1942)
The Testimony of Morton Anderson (1942)
I stood with my torch light quivering in the thick evening air. I was exhausted; we’d been out in the jungle since the early morning you see, searching for the tomb.
It was said the tomb of Zian is located deep within the centre of the Amazon jungle and is, according to our sources, filled with treasures no man could ever imagine, thus the cause for our laboured efforts.
No one believed we’d find it, they told us back in Cambridge that we were insane for even trying. They were wrong of course, they always are, but my god do I wish we’d listened to them.
That night we found the tomb, at the base of a small unnatural-looking hill, just where Reynolds said it would be.
“Morton, hold the torch up high.” He said to me as he wiped the sweat from his brow with his shirt and continued hacking at the layer of vines criss-crossing over the stone slab that was, he assured me, the entrance to the damned place.
I did as he said and held the torch up. In its light I could see the slab sat raised from the ground and did appear to be a doorway. But there was no temple, no temple above ground at least. This doorway led beneath the earth.
“Morton! Light!” Reynolds shouted at me over his shoulder when my attention faltered and I snapped to attention, raising the torch again.
There was something about this door you see, something hypnotic. I can’t quite place the sensation that came over me, as though it lulled me into a trance. Or perhaps it was just the heat getting under my skin. Either way, Reynolds seemed unaffected by the sensation and continued slashing through the undergrowth until the slab was revealed in its entirety.
We both stood back in awe of the thing. It was made of fine marble and intricately carved with swirls and knots of the very vines which had concealed it, with the fabled deity himself, Zian, sat amidst the jumble, his body wrapped in the vines and his face wide eyed with mouth open in a silent ‘O’. It was unsettling to say the least.
“We did it lad!” Reynolds slapped me hard across the back and his teeth flashed a pearly grin. “Grab your spade boy, help me lift the stone.”
“Are you certain this is a good idea?” I replied, aware that the hypnotic effect now felt stronger than before. “We don’t know what we’ll find down there.”
He snorted in response, ignored my hesitations, and wedged the end of his spade against the side of the slab. I slapped a mosquito from my arm (they seemed to multiply thrice for each one I killed) and reached to grab my spade. But before I could lean to help, Reynolds had already shifted the stone with ease, as though it willed itself into movement for him.
“Well, that was easy.” He beamed and lowered onto his haunches to take a look in the dark hole in the ground. “Morton, shine the torch in will you lad?”
In the light we could see the sheer depth of the entrance, a long tunnel which seemed to extend through the hill and down into the core of the earth. The dusty air tickled my nose and I stifled a sneeze, fearing disturbing the quiet which seemed to descend on us from the moment we uncovered the stone.
“Right,” Reynolds stood back up and dusted the loose soil from his palms and knees. “On you go then lad.”
“Excuse me?” I said with, I’m sure, my jaw at my ankles. “You want me to go inside?”
“Of course. What do you think I’m paying you for?” He replied with a frown.
I couldn’t argue with the man, not in that heat and with fatigue hanging over me, so I did as he said and crouched to crawl into the hole.
“Take this.” Reynolds handed me an end of rope and tied the other end round the nearest tree. “I’ll keep the torch here and shine it in after you. When you get to the tomb, call out to me.”
I nodded and began my crawl into the dark, rope held tightly in one hand. I don’t know what possessed me to agree to this insanity in the first place, perhaps adventure, perhaps the promise of riches, but I can tell you, in that moment there was no good reason in my mind to be crawling into that place. It stank of damp earth and the musky decay of rotting vegetation.
“Get moving!” Reynolds shouted from behind me. “We don’t have much time.”
I grumbled to myself and continued my shuffle through the tunnel until I hit a block in my way; a thick veil of moss or a spider’s web or some other sticky substance that clung to my face and clogged my nostrils. I let out a yell but there was no response from behind. I presumed I was too far into the earth at this point for Reynolds to hear me and continued forward.
As I crawled the tunnel appeared to narrow and shrink in around me the further I went. I kept my breathing steady and quickened my pace but the faster I moved the tighter the earth seemed to close in and the wetter the soil felt under my palms.
I could feel the panic of claustrophobia flutter in my chest (I’ve never been comfortable with confined spaces), let out a gasp and struggled to contort myself into a position that would allow me to retreat. But as I turned myself round in this small space, the earth shook and suddenly collapsed around me in a haze of soil and vines. A blast of air gushed by, not from the outside but from behind, from the core of the tomb. The air seemed to moan, and I swear now, I am certain I heard a voice boom from the depths.
I began crawling back to the point I had entered but the further back I went, the tighter the tunnel closed, until I was scrambling through on my stomach with grit scrapping at the skin on my face and arms. Vines twisted and wrapped round my ankles and legs, pulling me back into the dark but I fought against them, gripping my rope against their tug. I could see the light of the torch ahead of me and called out to Reynolds but he didn’t reply.
My heart thudded in my chest and the air continued to howl through the narrow passageway as I scrambled towards freedom, each movement more sluggish than the last. Until eventually, I laid a hand out into the open air, pushing through a final thick knot of vine to haul myself from the tunnel.
I lay gasping on the jungle floor for some time before I found the energy to sit up. And when I looked to see the passageway I had escaped from, it was entirely covered in vines, branches and leaves of all kinds, right the way through. I shuddered at what could have been my own tomb and stood up.
It was then I saw Reynolds - what was left of Reynolds.
The air was so still around the pieces as they hung suspended by vines, twisting in the dark air like dripping ornaments for all to admire. I couldn't tear my eyes from the sight, until a rustle from the howling tunnel behind snapped me from my stare and at last sent my feet into motion through the jungle. I ran for some distance until I reached the edge of a nearby village. Only then did I stop to vomit.
The villagers found me a few hours later, or so I am told, slick with blood across my face and hands and all down my front. When I explained what happened they said we were fools, that we broke an ancient curse and freed the deity from his prison. I brushed off their tales at first, but soon came to realise the truth. It was several days later those villagers began to disappear. And each one who disappeared was discovered as Reynolds had been, hanging in pieces by the vines of the jungle.
Being arrested and brought back to England, came as a blessing to me in that nightmare. I dread to think how many have died since I left.
Perhaps I am responsible in my own way for these crimes, but I tell you now, I am no murderer. What I saw in the jungle is what I know to be the truth. We unleashed something into the world that night, something we could never have imagined, and now there is no way for me to stop it.