Eteva sat staring at the ancient piece of stone, her dark hand caressing the edges. The stone was unlike any she had ever come across, it was beautiful. All grays and blues, and yet it seemed oddly familiar.
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She turned the stone in her hands; three candles were lit against the darkness of night. A brazier set to guard her against the chill. Eteva turned the stone, attempting to cast a shadow or illuminate a nook that would release the secret hidden within.
The site they were digging at was old, very old. She had never seen anything like it before in her entire career. It was hidden. It seemed to be hidden at great cost, considering the amount of bodies they had found inside. What was most disturbing about the find though, was that the bodies weren’t quite human. They were proto-human. This find alone had made her famous, funding had poured forth from all areas of the globe. Despite this though, Eteva was not satisfied. There was a mystery about. And she intended to find out exactly what it was.
Eteva felt the fine covering of body hair sway with the rise of a breeze, the candle light flickered, and a chill crept up her spine. She turned in her chair to see the lumpy shape of a man standing with the tip of her tent flap raised. He was a silhouette against the backdrop of an ample moon.
“May I come in?” The man asked dropping the tent flap and stepping in.
Eteva half closed her eyes, squinting; trying to make out a face. “Looks as though you have already.”
“Yes. It looks like.” The man said covering the distance of entrance to chair in a moment.
Eteva could make out his features now; moderately slopped forehead, bushy brows, and something of a sneer. “Have we met before?” she asked standing. Whether to defend herself or not she could not say.
“No. Well at least not in person. We have met though in other correspondences. Mainly those of currency. I think you may recall a generous sum of money being recently donated by an eccentric old man.”
Eteva quickly searched her mind; something like that should stick out, and indeed it did. “Dr. Malbus?” She extended her hand; he had been more then generous. Actually one of the few that had funded her from the beginning.
He her hand in his, she was far from petit, but this man made her feel that way. “So good to finally meet you. You are quite brilliant you know.” He said shaking vigorously.
She laughed lightly at the complement. His grip was stronger than she thought he intended and she broke it off quickly. “Not brilliant. Lucky.”
Dr. Malbus laughed at her joke, “Yes well. Better that than skill any day.”
She smiled an axiom if she had ever heard one. “Please doctor, sit.” She searched the room for a chair, finding none she curled her feet underneath her, offering her own to him.
“Thank you.” He said sitting, the chair creaked under his ample weight.
Dr. Malbus’s features were somewhat off, Eteva noticed in the full light. Dr. Malbus must have noticed her looking at him because he turned ever so slightly from the candles glare.
“Yes, not quite like you I am afraid.” He extended hairy fingers and brushed them against his features. “Birth defect of course.”
Eteva coughed and nodded, she was embarrassed at being caught at it. “Well, what do you think of our dig doctor?” She asked attempting to change the subject.
Dr. Malbus smiled, “Brilliant, just brilliant. Had to see it for myself of course. That’s why I am here. Don’t get out much you know.”
He was talking fast, he must have been just as embarrassed as she was. “So glad to hear it. It is a very interesting site. Thank you so much for the opportunity.” She said that to everyone, but this time she meant it. It was always nice to meet a person that actually made a difference.
“Interesting? Brilliant choice of words. Have you found anything that is interesting?” Dr. Malbus asked turning his face once more to the candle light.
Eteva was taken aback at just how primitive he looked for a moment. “You mean aside from the proto-humans in the cave?” She asked intending to be ironic.
Dr. Malbus waved his massive hands in the air as if to swipe away the thought. “Bah. Nothing there but bones. I mean interesting like puzzling.”
Eteva felt a rise of temper, but pushed it away quickly. “Well,” she said thinking “before you came in I was examineing something we found just today.” She extended a toe to point towards the blue rock on her desk.
Malbus turned quickly in the chair, his were alight with the candle flame. A smile quickly blossomed on his face as he took the blue rock into his hands. The fingers were entirely too long, she thought.
“Lucky indeed. Lucky indeed.” He said caressing the stone.
A spark rose in her mind, and curiosity brought it too life. “Do you know what it is doctor?” She asked, sure that he did.
The doctor turned his head, clutching the stone possessively to his chest. “I do. I do, and I must inform you that I am taking it with me.”
Eteva felt the temper rise once more. “You can’t take it. We don’t even know what it is.”
“Might I remind you of the contribution?” He asked, a stab in his voice.
“You might, but I would have to remind you of the legal measures one can take against such an act as stealing from a government sanctioned dig.”
“Are you threatening me with grave robbing?” He asked, but before she could ansewer he cut in once more. “What if I could tell you that possessing this stone was detrimental to your health?”
“Are you threatening me doctor?”
He paused a moment, as if to consider whether he was or not, but shook his head. “No. I am trying to save you.”
“How would you be doing that?”
The doctors toe tapped on the dirt floor lightly, “If certain people found out you had one of these in your possession. They would kill you without a moments hesitation and take it,” he said; the rhythm of his toe increasing ever so slightly.
“People like you?” she asked.
“No not people like me. Listen. I am trying to save your life. You can do whatever you like here after I leave. I will fund your expeditions for the rest of your life if you would like, but I must have this stone.”
Eteva paused a heartbeat at the thought. Never having to beg for money ever again; she shook her head. “No doctor I can not do it. Whatever that stone is, is important. I am going to find out why.” She said with steel in her voice.
The doctor looked her dead in the eye, he must have been looking to see how determined she was because when he found it he gave a quick nod, stood, and made his way for the tent flap once more; the stone clutched to his chest.
Eteva howled as she stood up, she ran to jump on the doctors back, but before she got there he had turned. Grabbing her by the throat with a swift motion, he raised he into the air with strength that no one should posses. She let out a cough, half rage half surprise. The hair all over her body was fluffed in anger, she noticed that his was as well; and there was much, much more of it.
Then in an instant he had tossed her against the back of the tent. When she looked up he was gone. She ran to the flap, the light from the moon illuminating the lush jungles foliage, but she couldn’t make out where he had gone. She was turning to grab a latern when she heard the rustle of bushes. Thinking it was Dr. Malbus she rushed to the source of the noise. She could feel her muscles contract and her body convulse. She dropped to the ground writhing in pain. When she looked up she saw two shapes. Men? No not men, they were hairless, like a lizard, but there features were that of men. Their foreheads were flat, and the bones around the eyes were all wrong. They looked frail.
One of them looked down at her, his features were unmistakable despite the frailty of them: disgust. He kicked her in the side and she howled with pain.
“Go see if its in the tent.” He said in a light oddly melodious voice. Like that of a child.
She watched as the other thing went into her tent, she could hear banging and cracking as it went through her things. They were looking for something.
After a few minutes it came out of her tent shaking its head. “Nothing.”
“I knew this was a waste of time. They wouldn’t have hidden it here anyhow; this was just a minor village according to the records.” The one with the child’s voice said.
“What do we do now?” the other asked.
“What about her?”
They both looked down at her.
“Kill it,” Said the second.
The one with the child’s voice shrugged and reached behind him pulling out a stick like object. There was a quick flash and Eteva felt a searing pain in the left side of her body. She felt like crying out, but couldn’t. The edges around her vision darkened, and the two things began to fade from her site. For a moment she wondered what was happening, but then she knew.
Dr. Malbus watched from the safety of a nearby tree as the second drug Etevas’ body into the tent. The one that had shot her stood outside talking into a transmitter. He strained his ears to try to make out what was being said, but couldn’t. It was only a minute before the second ran out of the tent to join the first.
Dr. Malbus watched as the orange glow that had once been the brazier began to grow. He could already smell charred flesh. Shaking his head, he moved from the branch and jumped onto the next. It would be slow going, but the safety of the trees would be worth it.
"It is considered rude to silence a fool, but cruel to let him go on."