Into the Jungle of Ghosts
The slave girls picked Vanessa up and led her down a back passage way and up several flights of stairs hewn out of solid rock and finally too a secluded room. There she was chained to the wall and left in the dark for what seemed like hours.
Vanessa sat in the dark and wept. All of this was her fault. She had insisted in coming on the expedition for her own selfish reasons. If she had stayed at the mission station the soldiers would have never gone down into the Necropolis to rescue her and eventually went down into the tomb that led them all too this fate.
After a while the door opened and in stepped one of the slave girls. Even in the dark Vanessa could see she was from the surface world. Her hair was blonde and her skin was flesh tone not the vivid white common to the Atlantians. She carried a small lantern like devise that contained one of the blue crystals that seemed to be used everywhere in this world. She pressed a little lever with her thumb causing three slim legs to drop out of the bottom of the lantern becoming a tripod on which the slave could set the lantern on the floor. In her left hand she carried a bundle of clothing that she lay on a bench next to Vanessa.
“Her Majesty wishes you to put on these clothes. They are clothes worn by the Atlantian Priests and befitting your shamantic heritage.” She said head bowed.
The slave seemed to be close to her in age but her features didn’t look at all Quazistani. They looked as though she was eastern European or even maybe Russian. Her accent was odd and Vanessa couldn’t quiet make out the original language it reflected.
Vanessa looked at the clothing that the girl was laying out in front of her. It seemed familiar for some reason but she couldn’t place where she had seen them before.
The girl undressed Vanessa carefully averting her eyes as best she could and dressed her in the Atlantian garb as quickly as possible to reduce both of their embarrassment.
The girl gathered up Vanessa’s clothing and put them in the bundle the Atlantian clothes had been in and began to leave.
“Please…can you leave the lantern? I’m not used to the darkness here.” Vanessa asked.
“I was going to leave the lantern for you, it will help you during your time here.” The slave replied and left the lantern in the room for her. The girl departed closing the heavy door behind her leaving Vanessa alone once more.
Eventually Vanessa’s eyes grew accustomed to the dim light and she could make out more details in the room. To her surprise the room was quiet nicely furnished. There was a large bed and a chair with a matching table. The walls had been painted with scenes of ships sailing to many lands and being greeted by many races of people. They seemed to depict the legends of the Atlantians as teachers and scholars that taught the other races about science and technology.
More time passed as Vanessa studied the paintings on the wall. The more her eyes grew accustomed to the light the more details she discovered. She saw pictures of the Atlantians fighting amongst themselves and what looked to be a volcano erupting. The pictographs were showing the history of the Atlantians and their fate. Vanessa caught a tiny glint of light from inside the lantern. She leaned closer and saw it was a key. The slave girl must have forgotten it or maybe even left it for her on purpose either way she would have to try it. The key was small and looked as though it might fit her manacles that were fastened too the wall. The key fit perfectly and the manacles fell to the ground.
Vanessa tried the door right away and found it unlocked. She peered into the hall only to see the slave girl standing strangely still as if in a trance. There was a small bluish ball of light like the ones she had seen in the Necropolis floating just in front of the girls face mesmerizing her into inaction.
Could it be true? Had Tera been right? The Queen had said she possessed a special bond to her ancestors. Was it possible this light was a spirit come to save her?
Jack was the last of the men to be thrown into the large cell under the arena. He was able to punch one of the guards before the rest gave him a sound thrashing.
Jack lay on the floor of the cell catching his breath. Captain Harris knelt down next to him and helped him to sit up.
“Are they gone?” Jack asked wiping the blood from his nose.
“Yes they’ve gone.” Harris replied.
“Good… I was afraid I’d have to rough ‘em up some more.” Jack said spitting some blood out from his mouth.
“Good show Yank.” One of the soldiers said.
“That’s a good lad.” Said another.
“Settle down men, we have to try and figure away out of this before we can waist time jibber jabbering.” Corporal Caruthers said.
“It’s all right Corporal, at least Mr. Cooper did something about our incarceration. I believe I’ve failed you all.” Harris said apologetically as he helped Jack to his feet.
“It ain’t your fault Captain. There’s no way you could have known we’d be attacked by a pack of mythological warriors.” Jack said smiling. He stuck out his hand to Captain Harris in a gesture of letting bygones be bygones. Harris smiled and wiped his brow with his forearm and shook Jack’s hand in unity.
“Quiet good of you to say so old man but I’m the one in charge so it is my responsibility.” Captain Harris said down hearted.
“Responsibility be damned man what we need is a plan to escape this place and as soon as possible.” Jack said.
Hours passed as the men discussed several plans. They all agreed that they needed to make a brake for it and try to find a way out. Even if only one or two of them made it back they had to warn the British colony about the Atlantians.
Suddenly the door to the cell was opened and in stepped the dark officer followed by two guards.
“You there, the man without the uniform. You will come with me. The Queen wishes to speak with you at once.” He ordered pointing his sword at Jack.
“What does she want to talk about?” Jack said mockingly.
The dark officer fired a quick bolt of the blue energy at Jack knocking him to the ground.
Jack stood back up and walked out of the cell with the dark officer.
“One day me and you are going to have a little talk without your lttle lightening sword and then we’ll see what’s what.” Jack said straightening his hat.
He was led down a long dark hallway and through a secret door that was constructed to resemble the wall. They went up a long twisting stairway until they came to a well-lit entry room. The dark officer opened a door and held it open as Jack went in. The dark officer followed in behind him and closed the door.
“If you try anything overworlder I’ll kill you where you stand.” The dark officer whispered into Jack’s ear.
Two slave girls came out from behind a large curtain that separated the room across the middle and tied it back to reveal the other half of the room.
There at the other end was the Queen laying on a huge pile of pillows of varied color and pattern. She was even more intriguing to behold now that Jack was closer. The tiny chain and plate harness she wore barely covered here magnificent figure as she lay relaxed and reclined on the pillows.
“What is your name overworlder?” she asked looking Jack up and down with similar interest.
“Name’s Jack, Jack Cooper ma’am.” Jack replied grinning at the sight before him.
The dark officer struck Jack across the back of his legs causing him to fall to one knee.
“You will address her as “your Majesty” you insolent kur!” the officer snarled.
“Asmund! There is no need for such barbarity, Mr. Cooper is our guest and you should treat him as such.” The Queen said correcting the officer’s behavior.
“My apologies your Majesty.” He said bowing.
“Leave us Asmund, wait outside the door. I will call you if I need you.” She said staring at Jack.
The dark officer bowed once again and left the room noticeably angry.
The queen looked Jack up and down noticing his cuts and bruises obviously inflicted by her soldiers.
“Have my men mistreated you.” She asked feigning concern.
“You mean these bruises? Heck we was just playing around a bit. It seems they wanted me to sleep inside the cell and I wanted to sleep somewhere else.” Jack said smiling.
“And where was it that you wanted to sleep Mr. Cooper?” she asked.
“Virginia.” Jack said.
“Ah yes, Virginia. Eastern coast of the United States of America as I recall. We helped to set up the first successful colony in Jamestown.”
“Funny, I was under the impression the English did that.” Jack said.
“Everything that changes in your world is caused by us Mr. Cooper. We have controlled human kind for five thousand years now. We pull the strings and you hop and jump like any good puppet would.” She said with a tone of arrogance in her voice.
“Sooo when we came down here that was your idea?” Jack countered.
The Queen looked angry at first and then smiled.
“You have a quick wit Mr. Cooper. It shows you have a quick mind…we might be able to use you.” She smiled.
“No thanks your highness, I’m self employed.” Jack replied.
“Why are you being so foolish? We need people in the United States and that means wealth Mr. Cooper, wealth beyond your wildest dreams.” She explained.
“And all I would have to do is be a traitor to my own country. Once again your highness…no thanks.” Jack said crossing his arms.
“If not you then we’ll find someone else. You see Mr. Cooper you’re not as valuable as you may think.” The Queen said sitting up.
“I’ve done some things in my life that I’m not proud of your highness but I draw the line at selling out the human race.” Jack said with resolve.
The Queen became suddenly angry.
“Asmund! Come in here and take this impudent overworlder back to the arena and throw him with a few of our pets. We’ll see just how quick witted he is when they sink their teeth into his flesh.” she said standing.
Asmund rushed into the room followed by two guards. They grabbed Jack roughly and dragged him all the way back to the arena.
Vanessa followed the light for a long time. Several times it went dim just before an Atlantian walked towards Vanessa giving her enough warning to duck under cover. Eventually she found herself standing at the entranceway of the arena. She remembered the Queen had ordered her men to take Jack and the soldiers here to be imprisoned.
Now she would have a chance at redeeming herself. She would rescue the soldiers and then they could all escape.
The tiny light seemed to understand what she wanted to do or perhaps it had led her here to aid the men. Either way it had led her beneath the arena and to the holding area where the cells were.
Most of the cells looked empty but the light darted ahead and stopped in front of one of the large cells meant to hold numerous prisoners. She ran up to the cell somehow knowing what she would find.
At first Captain Harris didn’t recognize Vanessa dressed the way she was when she appeared at the cell bars.
“Miss Downe, is that you?” he asked surprised.
Vanessa had completely forgotten the fact that she was wearing the shaman clothing that she had been given. She was suddenly embarrassed at the lack of coverage and did her awkward best to shield as much exposed flesh with her hands as she could.
“Where’s the key Captain? I’ve come to rescue you and your men.” She said nervously. She knew at any second an Atlantian guard could come around the corner and find them.
To her surprise she heard sounds from above. There was something happening in the arena above.
“It’s Jack Vanessa, they’ve sent him to die in the arena!” Harris said.
Jack stood in the arena. They had stripped off his shirt and given him a bronze tipped spear. The Atlantians all cheered as the Queen stepped into her personal viewing box and sat in her chair.
With an unhesitating gesture she signaled the guards to begin.
Jack watched as two large doors opened at the opposite end of the arena and a creature emerged from each one.
They looked to be some sort of dinosaur about as tall as his waist at their hips. The skin, link all subterranean creatures, had lost it’s pigment and appeared semi transparent and pale. The eyes were noticeably blind denoting these beasts had changed over the ions to survive in a world of darkness.
The creatures smelled the air and tried to climb the walls at first as they caught the sent of the Atlantians. They then turned in Jack’s direction. At first they moved slowly towards him but they strode faster and faster across the arena the stronger his smell got.
Jack backed up cautiously trying to figure out a strategy. If he attacked one beast the second could attack him freely. He continued backing up in an effort to place one in the way of the other. This way he would have a few seconds more before the second one could strike. It may be just enough time to pull the spear out and attack the second one if he was very lucky.
The first dinosaur lunged at him. He stepped forward and planted the spear shaft in the ground bracing it against the animals own weight.
The creature howled in pain as it pushed the spear deep into it’s chest. Jack was surprised how easily he tricked the beast until he remembered it was blind and couldn’t detect where the spear was.
Jack flew backwards as the second one butted him with its head knocking him on his back. He kicked and pulled at the first beast until the spear slid out and jammed it long ways in the dinosaurs mouth at the rear of its jaw keeping it from being able to bite him as he lay on his back on the ground.
Jack held on with all his might as the creature tried to twist and turn its head and pull the spear from his grasp. Jack was exhausted and he knew he would loose this battle unless something happened soon to change his odds.
Suddenly the creature released its jaws and screamed in pain. It staggered back and fell over dead. Jack looked up dazed to see Captain Harris stabbing the creature with a spear. The soldiers and Vanessa had all somehow appeared in the arena from out of nowhere armed with spears and circling Jack to protect him.
“How…What…” Jack stammered.
“No time for that sir, we’ve got more nasty beasties on the way I’m afraid.” Corporal Caruthers said pulling Jack to his feet.
It was true. The Atlantians had released at least a dozen more of these dinosaurs into the arena.
Captain Harris looked at his men and stood erect saluting them all.
“Too the end!” he shouted.
“Too the end!” they replied loudly and with one more shout they all formed a line and braced for the beasts attack.
Suddenly a shot rang out. The bullet hit one of the poles that held the support to an awning over the Queens podium. A second shot severed the other causing the supports and the awning to fall across the wall and down into the arena. Several of the beasts sniffed and touched the heavy awning and began to sink their long claws into it and climb up using the downed awning as a ladder.
Huge shouts of panic erupted from the crowd as they realized they too were now on the menu.
The Queen and her guard fled the podium through a secret door causing the rest of the Atlantians to flee as well. Pandemonium in the stands ensued as they ran for their lives. The sounds of their screams further aroused the creatures causing them to all climb into the stands for their meal.
The soldiers couldn’t believe their luck and stood amazed at their good fortune. Captain Harris looked around the arena for where the shot had come feverishly.
“Bisby!!!” he shouted happily.
They all turned and looked behind them to see the second squad that was led by Lieutenant Bisby along with Tera Chase standing behind them in the stands still armed with their rifles and gear.
“Captain Harris! Thank the Lord we arrived when we did. Quickly sir, come over here and we’ll pull you to freedom.” Bisby shouted.
“Come on men it seems our glorious and heroic deaths have been postponed by the good Lieutenant today!” Harris shouted and waved his men in the Lieutenant’s direction.
The soldiers, Jack, and Vanessa all ran to the far end of the arena. Several of Bisby’s men lowered their kit belts to the others in the arena and started pulling them up as the rest fired at any of the creatures that headed in their direction. Soon all of them were reunited on the floor of the upper arena.
“Now all we have to do is find our way to the surface.” Jack said jokingly as if it would be an easy task.
“Follow us, we have a guide.” Tera said smiling.
They all looked to see one of the Queen’s slave girls standing in the hallway. Vanessa immediately recognized her as the one who helped her too escape.
“You!” Vanessa said shocked to see her again.
“No time for that now. We have too hurry before they come to their senses and start looking for us.” The girl said as if she was used to giving orders. This girl had been someone of importance at one time Vanessa thought to herself.
Vanessa simply nodded in agreement. The girl began to run down through the halls as quickly as a gazelle. Occasionally having to stop so the rest could catch up. They ran for what seemed like an hour upwards ever upwards until they had to rest. They were all at the limits of their endurance.
“Just who are you?” Captain Harris asked the slave girl trying to catch her breath. She looked at him standing proudly with her hands on her hips barely breathing heavily at all. She was in tip top physical condition and held herself as though she was royalty as indeed she was.
“I am Asseti, rightful heir to the throne of the Amazons. We have been the guardians of all Humanity for centuries. We alone have known of the Atlantians and their webs of deceit they weave from deep in their underground lairs.
We have kept them from becoming too powerful for centuries but they have finally beaten us as well. The Atlantians fueled a rebellion that overthrew my mother and sent the rest of us into captivity. As is their depraved sense of humor I was made to serve the Queen as one of her slaves on the threat of her killing my mother.” Asseti said.
“But why have you helped us now? Won’t the Queen kill your mother when they figure out it was you that helped us?” Vanessa asked.
Asseti paused and took a breath.
“Once my mother found out you all had been taken prisoner she ordered me to help you to escape and go with you. To make sure I followed her orders and not stay for her sake she took her own life so I would leave with you.” Asseti said proud but tearful.
“She did that for us? She didn’t even know us.” Jack said shocked.
“Not for you but for the world. I must return to Amazonia and rally my sisters to rise up against the false Queen and her traitorous followers. We have the weapons that can defeat the Atlantians in our temple. It is time we share these with you and any allies we may recruit.” Asseti said.
“First things first. Our immediate goal is still finding a way out of this nightmarish place and back into the light of the sun.” Vanessa said.
Captain Harris stood up and straitened his jacket and pants.
“Right you are Miss Downe. Everybody up and back to it lads. We have a new assignment. We have to make our way back to civilization and warn the world about the Atlantian menace!”
If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at Amazon.com. The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.
Once again thank you for your support.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 01:38)