She realized that she couldn't wait until nightfall. She didn't know when the archaeological site closed, and she didn't know where she could hide when they started kicking people out of the park. She considered maybe hiding in the sunken stone maze next to the Palace of the Jaguar, but even that didn't seem quite safe enough. She imagined being pressed against one of the stone walls in a corner of the open maze watching the sky slowly darken and then hearing the security guards of the park coming through to make sure everyone out. Possibly they would try to save time by letting wild dogs loose to run through the maze... She did not want to be trapped, cornered, as a savage dog found her and tried to have her for dinner. Either that or maybe the guards themselves would come through, and of course they would have their machine guns with them. She could pretend that she didn't know what the hours were or what the time was (which was true), but then maybe they would escort her out and there would be no way to get back in. Or maybe they would be like the dogs and have her for dinner because there would be no one to stop them. She realized she was letting her imagination run away with her, but she also realized how scared she was and how helpless she felt in a strange foreign country where she didn't know the rules or even the language. What was she thinking, coming here? And what was she contemplating, trying to break into their Pyramid of the Sun? Surely trespassing was against the law and yet she felt like she had no choice but to do the forbidden in order to satisfy the curiosity that was rotting the fabric of her mind.
So she came out of the part of the park that had the museum and official gift shop and she started down the path that curved around to the non-tourist side of the pyramid, the path that was obviously marked keep out, park employees only. There was almost no one around, the main clumps of people in the area gathering either around the museum or tour group areas or else climbing up and down the steps of the Sun pyramid on the opposite side from where she was headed. The little road she was on was dusty, barely distinguishable from the desert floor on either side. A few low scrawny bushes flanked it, but up ahead it entered the small forest that covered the east part of the park.
She suddenly heard the footsteps of someone running up to her from behind and her heart nearly stopped. She stopped, waiting for the gloved hand of a grumpy security guard or soldier to appear on her shoulder and turn her around to go back to a tourist-approved area. Instead two dogs ran past her, labrador-type mutts racing and chasing each other, completely ignoring her. She looked over her shoulder but there was no one there, so she kept going, walking faster now that she was almost in the trees. The dogs ran past her again the other way, as if they had just realized they had gone in the wrong direction and they were supposed to be somewhere else. Or maybe they sensed some danger ahead, smelled something forbidding and risky that they knew they would be foolish to confront.
Once in the trees, Angela turned left off the path and headed straight into the trees towards the pyramid. She thought maybe there would be a clue on the path as to if there was a known entrance to the pyramid, but she didn't want to risk someone seeing her. When she had gone far enough that she was surrounded by trees and out of sight of the road she was able to relax a little. The ground was a little more rough whereas it had been quite flat before, and though there were trees all around she had to watch her step for all the rocks and uneven patches of earth below her feet.
After what seemed like just a few minutes she saw the eastern edge of the Pyramid of the Sun before her. She could not help but rush up to greet it like an old friend, an ancient ancestor that somehow still had some life in it. She put her hands upon it and rubbed her fingers along its uneven surface, it's black and gray stones stuck together with what looked like cement, some of the stones sticking out like steps that were too far apart to actually climb. She imagined one of the builders hundreds of years earlier when the thing was almost done losing his footing and sliding down, but being able to slow his descent by grabbing onto of the rock spikes as he went, landing safely at the bottom and suffering only embarrassment while his co-workers laughed from the top and motioned for him to make the long trek back up the steps.
Thinking this, her gaze moved from the wall in front of her upwards, and she couldn't help but jump when she noticed that someone at the top was looking straight at her. Luckily it was only a little girl who had wandered away from her parents who were probably on another part of the wide top. Most of the tourists who made it to the top gathered around the very center or else at the northwest corner that overlooked the smaller Pyramid of the Moon. The young eyes watched her intently despite their distance, and her small hand gathered into an accusing fist with forefinger pointing at her. Keeping her hand aimed at Angela, the child turned her head and started calling for her mother. Angela quickly pushed herself backwards off the wall and retreated a few yards into the forest out of sight of the top.
She kept in the trees and followed the pyramid's edge north, past the unused steps in the center that climbed up to the top much like their more worn counterparts on the opposite side. Before she knew it she had reached the northeast corner, and there had been absolutely no sign of any kind of entrance whatsoever, not even a slight discoloration in the stones or cracks that would give away the position of a secret door, a.k.a. Scooby Doo. But other than the steps in the middle, the entire side was smooth in between the stones that made up its bulk. There was no way to get in; it was completely sealed. She lost heart in her task and sat down on the ground dejected. Even if there was something inside of there, she had no way to get to it, no way that she could think of, at least.
It was then that she heard a sound where previously it had been completely quiet. The sound she heard was a low growling, animal-like, and getting louder as if it was coming through the forest straight at her. Before she could even comprehend what it possibly could be (giant mutant alligator was the only image that flitted through her scattered mind), she realized that it was not an animal at all, but rather something mechanical, a motor, on a car or truck perhaps. The road! It must be nearby.
She slowly edged through the forest towards the sound, which was still growing in intensity, though she as yet could not make out the vehicle or the road upon which it was surely traveling. Then, up ahead of her, she could see a break in the trees and coming down the same path that she had been on just a little while before there was a green jeep with two men inside who seemed to be wearing tan and beige camouflage uniforms as if they were on AWOL from Desert Storm. The car bounced along on the rough ground, and she looked ahead of them to see where they might be going and she noticed that the road they were on seemed to go...nowhere. The truck had seemed to sink into ground even as she watched it go by, and ahead of it the break in the trees seemed to be completely closed. What had happened, was she really losing her mind? She could no longer hear the jeep but, wait a minute, no she could hear the engine still, but just barely, and if the vehicle had parked nearby somewhere, invisible. She could also hear the two men talking to each other in low voices, but it was a strange sound that didn't resemble the spanish gibberish that she had become accustomed to in the past two days. Had they seen her? Were they some kind of alien creatures that could turn themselves and their vehicles invisible at will?
She came closer to the road, and soon understood what had happened, sighing with visible relief that there was a logical explanation. Well, logical only in the sense that it followed the known laws of physics, though she still only barely comprehended the sight in front of her.
Just past her the road upon which the jeep was traveling suddenly dropped at a forty-five degree angle downwards, actually becoming a ramp that had taken the jeep down below ground level into a kind of concrete half pipe. Up ahead she could see the jeep stopped in front of some kind of stone gate, and the men seemed to be saying something into a walkie talkie type of thing. Suddenly they looked around as if they had heard something behind them. She thought she saw one of them look directly at her, but she must have been wrong because he slowly turned back towards his friend and shook his head.
Just then there was a loud creaking noise and the doors of the gate started to recede into the rock on either side. the driver of the jeep gunned the gas impatiently and zoomed inside even as the opening became just barely wide enough for the vehicle to slip through. As the jeeps disappeared into the darkness within the tunnel past the gate, the doors slowed to a stop and with her next rapid breath the creaking sound began again and the hole began to close. There was no one in sight on this side, but she knew there could very well be a whole squadron of soldiers waiting on the other side for some twenty year old fool to coming running inside to their secret camp. But as the doors came closer and closer to closing, she knew that there was nothing left for her to do but run forward towards whatever fate was waiting for her within. She had gotten this far and she did not know how long it would be before the gate opened again.
So she dashed down the ramp and just in front of the doors she flinched, hesitating in fear that she would not be small enough to get through, and she could almost feel herself getting stuck, the stone gate slowly crushing her to death in its unawareness that a soul had become caught between its heavy jaws. But she only hesitated for a second and then, as if her momentum had only needed a second to catch up to her, she threw herself forward, leaping into the dark gap on the other side.
Just inside the closing doors she fell to the ground and suddenly they were completely shut and she was blind in what seemed to be total darkness. After a few moments of only black and her breath she realized that there was light in the tunnel that seemed to be a continuation of the ramp that had led up to the gate. She only needed some time for her eyes to adjust to the change from bright daylight to whatever subterranean fortress she had stumbled into, lit only at long intervals by what seemed to be electric torches on the stony walls. She felt that she had to find a safer area to be in, somewhere other than right next to the entrance where a truck from either direction could run right over her without even realizing that she was there.
She walked quickly forward through the rather wide, dark tunnel, and saw that it forked ahead of her. She turned left and raced ahead, scanning the walls as she went for some kind of alcove or side tunnel where she could rest for a minute without too much danger of someone discovering her. She came to a four way intersection, but the tunnels all seemed to be the same size and there were no signs of any kind, nothing distinguishing one tunnel from another. She turned right without even stopping, assuming that the maze she was in would continue on like this for some time. Her feet lost the ground and she nearly pitched all the way forward into a hole in the floor. Somehow she was able to twist herself sideways even as she fell and was now holding on with one arm for dear life to the side of some kind of giant pit, with no way of know how far down the bottom was from her dangling feet.
Chapter 30 was first written November 30, 2001
It was last edited December 30, 2001