Continued from The Resting Bones, Part One

 

Lara felt a chill in her bones.  Trying his best to comfort her, Brian put his arm around her shoulders and convinced her to go back to the trailer. He gave her the tagged bone to take back with her, which she let him slip into her pack so she wouldn’t have to touch it. A few hours later, both Brian and Dr. Lloyd came in with the few samples that had been excavated.  They laid them on Brian’s desk and Dr. Lloyd expressed to Brian the importance of keeping them away from the village men.  He had caught one of them trying to put it back in the ground, and now they were refusing to stay past dark.  Brian agreed, mostly to get the him out of his trailer.

 

“You don’t think there’s really a monster, do you?” Lara blurted it out before she could help herself.

 

“Not really. It’s more likely that one of the villagers got fed up with the dog and took it out on the both of them,” said Brian, hoping at least to make her laugh a little.  He was scared too, and she could tell.

 

“I should go,” she said, looking over at his desk full of bones.

 

“Lara, I would feel better if you stayed here with me, tonight.” A slight blush washed up his face as he spoke.

 

She wanted to stay, but she knew that she would be up all night — she might as well get some more research finished. She grabbed her pack.  It felt soft in her hands. She had kept the brown back pack since her freshman year of college.  Before leaving for the dig, her sister had given her a blue butterfly patch, because she loved butterflies, to sew onto the front pocket.  Right now, that all seemed a world away.

 

“I can’t, but thank you,” she said as she turned toward the door.  Hesitating for a moment, she turned back to Brian, looking at him as if she were memorizing his face. After an obvious decision of some sort had been reached, Lara walked forward, wrapped her arms around him, and kissed him fully. A moment passed and she broke the embrace.  Outside the trailer, her cheeks feeling hot, she glanced back. She could see Brian standing as if she were still there kissing him, with a silly grin on his face — one that matched hers exactly.

 

 

The police had already come and gone, taking less time than she thought they should have asking questions.  She went back to her reading, and tried not to allow her thoughts to drift.  It was getting dark and the sky, not seeming to care about the carnage that had occurred the night before, set a gorgeous canvas over the camp. The darkness fell.

 

Running. She was running. Fast and hard, she was running.  The thing behind her could smell her, could hear her blood coursing through her body, and could sense the warmth of her skin.  She was being hunted and she was running.  “Go faster,” she told herself.  She could hear a voice in the air, old and ragged.  It spoke a language she had never heard before. No, she had heard it, but this was a different dialect.  Still, she ran.  She ran until the strength in her legs gave out and left her sprawled across the dirt.  Looking upward, she could see the creature, its wrinkled grey skin, thick like an elephant‘s, and its large, black eyes that glistened wetly.  Each paw, if that’s what you could call them, had three large talons, and it had a ridged and bony tail with bones protruding at the end. The true and awful vision, though, was the creature’s face.  It was almost human, but with the mouth of a beast.  Two large fangs jutted past the beast’s chin where dripping of blood added the only color to the monster.  She screamed as the beast lunged at her neck, letting one last word echo into the air, “Soqta”.

 

Lara jolted awake.  She had fallen asleep on her research and the book had left a slight imprint on the side of her cheek. It was the same dream she had been having for the last few nights.  Pushing it from her mind, she grinned at the thought of Brian, wanting to recreate their encounter from the previous day.  She freshened up, taking extra care to look beautiful.  The morning sky was crystal blue and most of the camp had not yet opened their eyes.  “Good,” she thought, “I can surprise him.”

 

She walked over to his trailer and opened the door. When Lara walked in, his back was to her.  He had obviously fallen asleep at his desk again and was still sleeping in his chair. She smiled mischievously as she walked toward him.

 

“Good morning, sleepy head.” She stood behind him, twirling her fingers in his hair.  He didn’t stir.  She decided a much better wake-up call was in order.  She grabbed the corners of the chair to spin him around and wake him with a million little kisses.  As the chair circled, she took a step backwards. Brian lay there, his very pale face staring back at her in wide eyed horror.  He was dead.  Pieces of his chest and throat were scattered down his body, shredded down to his stomach.

 

Her scream could be heard clear across the camp. 

 

Barry was the first to arrive, as he was one of the only students who had decided to stay after the first murder.  Lara was on her knees, frozen, transfixed by the gruesome sight.  She couldn’t move.  Where was the blood? It was only then that she noticed that his trailer had been in complete shambles and there was a large hole torn in the back wall.

 

That day, Barry and the few other students decided to leave.  Dr. Lloyd stayed put, showing his true stubborn tendencies. Lara had yet to decide what she wanted to do.  This was personal now.  She knew there was a bus that came through the main road once every few days.  There would be one the next day if she decided not to leave with Barry.  He came from wealthy stock so he had his own vehicle and would be driving those leaving back to town. 

 

She found it hard to believe, even in the beginning, that it could have been one of the villagers.  She found it even less likely, seeing the faces of her fellow students, that it could have been one of them.  Between students and baggage, Barry had run out of room in his jeep.  “I can run to town and come back.  Are you sure you want to wait?”

 

“It’s OK.  I’ll take the bus tomorrow, Barry.  Thank you and be careful.”  They bid their farewells. The dust from their departure swirled upwards in the wind.

 

Lara stood there, alone for a moment, as she remembered her dream.  Having a flaky sister who was considered a bit of a New Age freak by the rest of her family, she had always paid very close attention to her dreams.  She had usually been able to remember details that most people would lose as soon as they woke, and as much as she didn’t want to, she remembered Brian’s wounds. Through all the scattered flesh, basically what she had seen was a mutilated neck and three gashes across his chest.  This was a message.  Lara’s dream came flooding to her mind.  The creature in her dream had tried to tell her something.  She didn’t quite understand what he wanted, but she knew someone who would.

 

Lara almost ran into the man she had interviewed.  He and the interpreter were coming from Dr. Lloyd’s trailer.  After Brian’s death, and after the police had finished with their report, Dr. Lloyd had called the two men into his trailer to dismiss all of the village workers.  It was too dangerous, and none of them were working anyway.  They were scared, refusing to go anywhere near the remains and certainly refusing to stay on site when evening approached.

 

“I need to ask you a question.” Her eyes, still red with tears, gave away her urgency.

 

The interpreter did not need to explain to the man what she had said.  Both men nodded their consent as the villager handed her a dirty rag from his pocket for her tears. As best as she could, she recounted her dream and parts of the message that had been given to her by the beast. “He kept saying ‘soqta’.”

 

The villager spoke first, and the interpreter, in turn, translated. “He said it means, ‘six.’   I don’t know if that will help you, but that is what ‘soquta’ means.  Please, for your own safety, leave this place before it is too late” He placed a hand on her shoulder.  She thanked them both, and they went to tell the other village workers they could leave.

 

“Six? What the hell does that mean,” she thought. “Six.”

 

Then, the thought hit her like a bold of lightning. She thought back to the day of excavation.  Only six items were tagged so far, six bones, and it wanted them back. She knew what she had to do.  Lara ran to the trailer, grabbed all of the bone fragments from Brian’s desk and counters that she could find, took one last look at the chair that his body had occupied that very morning, and ran towards the marked quadrants.  Dr. Lloyd intercepted her.

 

“What in the world do you think you’re doing with those, Ms. Berk,” he demanded. He still did not believe the story of the beast.  She didn’t care to stop and make a believer out of him.

 

“I’m taking them back to site to bury them where they belong.”

 

“Like hell you are! They will be going with me tomorrow to the Peruvian I.N.C.  They are to be entered into research along with the other findings.  As soon as a new team is built we will be excavating the rest of Sheldon. This find will make us famous.  Now, give me those!”

 

Dr. Lloyd was a lot stronger than he appeared.  He grabbed at her, and as she stepped back, her foot slipped on a loose rock.  She landed hard and everything went black.

 

Lara woke with a splitting headache, which seemed to be a trend these days. “I’ve got to stop waking up like this.”  She saw that the sun had set and pulled herself off the ground. “That jack ass didn’t even try to move me. Rat bastard.” She muttered under breath as she noticed that she was still bleeding from the fall.  Her hand came away from her head a little sticky and red. The entire side of her face felt tacky with drying blood.

 

In the corner of her eye, something moved quickly in the shadow.  She froze.  Turning around to face what was certain to be her doom, she saw that the only thing doomed was her career.  Dr. Lloyd was loading his truck with his bags and the case of samples. 

 

“Doctor, I need those samples,” she said as she approached slowly, hoping that she could talk him out of leaving.

 

“You, Ms. Berk, have been nothing but a nuisance since your arrival here. You already have my answer,” he spat as he continued loading equipment.

 

As he walked back inside the trailer, she seized the opportunity to grab the container.  She didn’t realize that the doctor had simply turned to lock the door. He lunged at her from the step of the trailer. Grabbing hold of her arm, he threw her small frame up over his shoulder, and dumped her inside, locking her in.

 

“No! Let me out! You can’t leave me here!”

 

“The interpreter is coming back in the morning. I will leave him a note to let you out then.  I have a few more things to grab from the main tent, and then I will be on my way. Good night, Ms. Berk.” He took off across the way to the main tent.

 

All of the windows in the front of the trailer were stuck.  She couldn’t open them and, because of the material they were made from, she couldn’t even break them if she wanted to.  It was then that something landed on top of the trailer.  Whatever it was had now walked from one side to the other, as if it were stalking.  She heard the truck door open, she heard a loud crash, and then, she heard a noise that she will never forget. Lara heard the acclaimed Dr. Gregory Lloyd screaming for his life.

 

She hid herself in the back of the trailer until the silence had lasted for a long while.  She knew she couldn’t stay there forever.  Searching toward the back of the trailer, Lara discovered a small window in the bathroom. To her luck and surprise, the window opened.  Moving as quietly as possible, she stood on the toilet and shoved the front part of her body through.  Because of her size, she fit through easily, though her landing left a mark. Frightened, Lara moved in silence around to the front of the trailer where the truck waited.  There he was. Dr. Lloyd had been attacked as he tried to climb in the truck. The front tire was ripped off and a large dent where the hood had been crushed it into the engine.  The doctor’s blood had been drained, his throat agape, chest slashed, and part of his arm had been shredded.

 

It was then that Lara realized that she didn’t know if the creature was still here. There was no time to stop and check.  If that bastard wanted his bones back, he was getting them right now. She grabbed the box of samples and ran as fast as she could to the excavation site.

 

Lara jumped into the deep hole where the remains had been found, slid to her knees and emptied the bones from the box.  The sun was about to come up when she heard the movement behind her.  To her left, a shadow stalked to the top of the hill, it seemed almost curious, but she knew the emotion was far more sinister.  She moved as much dirt as she could over them.  She spun to face him.  The beast braced itself to lunge at her, its eyes wide and black, and blood dripping from its chin.  His wrinkled grey skin framed his black eyes, making them look even darker.

 

She ran to the other side of the quadrant she had been standing in and jumped high enough to land on the soft dirt that had been removed from the area. She clawed her way up as the creature, as Ujyay Sangra, jumped toward her, landing in the bottom of the pit.  The sun had begun to rise as she tumbled down the other side of the mound of dirt, slicing her arm open on a sharp rock jutting out of the ground.  Landing another jump at the top of the mound, the half man-half creature stared at Lara lying on the ground. As the first rays of the sun made it over the hills, he lunged at her.  She braced herself, screaming, as what seemed like a small dust storm hit her. 

 

She felt the warm sun on her skin as she opened her eyes.  She was covered in dirt that was grey like soot and blood covered her arm and head.  Lara still didn’t understand. Maybe it was because she gave back the bones, or maybe something else, that had saved her. She stood and tried to knock off as much of the dust as she could. 

 

After she had gone back and completely buried the bones, she gathered her things and had her last conversation with the police, over the phone.  They, of course, acted as if she were crazy.  She planned to be gone by the time they reached the dig site.  It was almost noon and she still had to make it down to the main road.

 

Like clockwork, the bus came to a very dusty halt where she stood.  The doors swung open, and the driver eyed her closely as she stepped in.  She realized that she had yet to take the time to clean herself up.  She just wanted to go home and she could clean up in town.  She gave the driver some money to ride and shoved her wallet back in her pocket. Lara settled down on the last row of the bus, covered in dirt and blood, and looked out of the bus window as the sun was setting with an array of vivid reds. An unsavory little man three rows up, that had grabbed her ass on the way to her seat, continued to turn and stare, making lewd gestures at her until she ever so lovingly gave him the universal sign language for “fuck off”.  She could smell his blue-plaid jacket reeking of body odor all the way from his seat.  She thought of Brian and of home while absent-mindedly reaching into her back pack for the remnants of a tube of Chap Stick she had been nursing for two months now.  As she slid her hand underneath the clothes, her delicate fingers wrapped around the tagged object resting at the bottom of her pack.  Lara screamed, scaring the bus driver who lost control of the bus, and ran towards the exit, tripping into the nasty little man in the plaid jacket.

 

***

 

The bus had run into the mud of the massive ditch.  While the driver and a very irate woman were arguing about her ruined bag that was partially stuck in the mud, a small group of passengers had finished cleaning out the luggage from the interior of the wreck.  They had been stuck there for hours and no one was happy about it.

 

Everyone seemed to be fine and all bags were given back to their owners except for one brown back pack with a small blue butterfly on the front pocket.  Since it obviously had belonged to the woman who caused the wreck to begin with, no one was too worried about getting it back to her.  The night chill, causing their breaths to puff like smoke from their lips, wrapped them as they began speculating as to the wild exodus of the woman from the back of the bus. The man in the plaid jacket volunteered to keep the pack, for reasons no one really wanted to know, unaware that its former owner had  already given him a gift.  He barely felt the bulge in his front jacket pocket as he began walking with the rest of the passengers to the next town.