by Mama Dee
Disclaimer: Love 'em and leave 'em 'cause they don't belong to me. That honour belongs to the WB.
Summary: The kids take off for Mexico to continue their adventure.
Category: After Hours
Authors Note: This is the final installment of the trilogy.......please see Fantasies (part 1) and Realities ( part 2). I had to move the geological location of some sites for literary purposes.
|Liz and Max awoke the next morning to their alarm. They grumbled at its incessant ringing, and Max reached over to the night table to slam his hand down on the button. The next thing they heard was a loud banging on their door. Max jumped out of bed, stubbing his toe on the rail, cursing as he threw on his robe and hobbled to the door.
Michael stood with his fist poised to knock on the door again.
"Hey, what happened to you?" he asked in amazement. "Rough night?"
"Yeah, sure," Max agreed with him, not knowing in the least what he was talking about.
"Well you better get your butts down stairs soon. Brody's on the warpath and wants to get going."
"Oh, man, we slept in! Give us a few minutes to get dressed, okay?"
"Yeah, no probs," he shrugged. "Good Morning Liz," he called passed Max.
The covers shifted and he heard what could have been mistaken for some pretty colourful language emanating from their depths. Michael laughed and shook his head, as he headed downstairs. Max shut the door in his face and stumbled back to the bed. He sat down, holding his head in his hands, and rubbing his eyes vigorously.
"C'mon.Babe, time to get up,' he yawned, as he shook the covers.
"I can't, Max! I feel awful!"
He left her for the moment and went into the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face.As he looked at his reflection, he gasped in shock. His eyes were all swollen and bruised and he had a big gash on his lip. His knuckles were also scraped and his left hand ached. He hobbled back into the bedroom and threw the covers off Liz. She lay on her stomach and the backs of her legs were badly bruised.She had cuts on her arms and a bruise on her cheek.
"Liz, hon, look at me, are you alright?" he asked, his voice shaking.
She shook her head in denial. "I feel like I've been run over by a truck," she moaned.
"Here, can you turn over? I want to check you over," Max asked worried.
She painfully did as she was told, wincing as she grabbed her knee.
"Ow," she cried out. "It hurts," she said, indicating her right knee.
Max laid his hand gently on her knee and she felt the warm tingle as he removed the injury. He then swept his hands over her legs and arms and cheeks to remove the bruising and cuts. When she looked up in relief, she gasped.
"Max, what happened to your face?" she cried out.
"I guess the same thing that happened to you," he shrugged. "I have no idea what's going on here."
"Do you think it might have something to do with our dream visit last night?" she asked, puzzled.
"I don't know," he admitted."Look, I'm gonna call downstairs and have the guys come up. We need to tell them about this, and I need Tess to heal my cuts. We're never gonna be ready on time anyway."
He made the call and their friends were at their door within a couple of minutes. He explained briefly what had happened, and while he spoke, Tess healed his wounds.
"Okay, Max, you guys get ready and we'll tell Brody you slept in and that you'll catch the tourist bus to the site. It leaves in about an hour, so get your butts in gear, and we'll see you later, alright?"
Max thanked her and he and Liz started rushing around, showering and getting dressed. They met the other tourists in the lobby as they waited patiently for their transportation. In a few minutes, an old yellow school bus arrived. The people climbed aboard the rickety heap and sat down gingerly in the seats.
The bus started up and for the next twenty minutes, it jostled its poor unsuspecting passengers over badly rutted rainwashed roads as it made its slow winding progress to the ruins. Liz and Max were so grateful that they'd skipped breakfast. They arrived in a pretty shaken up condition and immediately went to look for their friends.
They found them over by the wall at the Temple of Inscriptions. Isabel ran up to them excitedly.
"Hey you guys, you'll never guess what just happened?" and she went on to explain that they'd been standing near where they were now, just busying themselves with more searching until Max and Liz arrived, when a howler monkey jumped from the temple wall and started chasing them around the quad.
It ran over to Alex and grabbed his camera and started banging it on the ground. Michael gave it a mild blast which sent it off scampering away as he chattered angrily at them.
"Are you alright Alex?" Liz asked with concern.
"Yeah, better now, thanks," he admitted.
The camera hadn't been damaged, either. They puzzled over this but there was nothing much they could do about it now, anyway, so they decided to continue with their exploring, wisely deciding to stick together. Since Tess and Alex had had so much success with Temple XX, they decided that would be a good place to start. They climbed the hill, and were just in time to see a group of tourists leaving Temple XX-A, the lower temple and heading towards Temple XX.
They thought they'd wait until the other tourists left before continuing with their investigations, so they set about exploring the lower temple to wile away the time. Temple XX-A sat about 25 feet below Temple XX. The upper temple had its short side facing the quad while the lower temple had its longer length in full view. From below, the two temples looked as though they were joined like an upside down letter T, but in fact, they were separated by a distance of 100 feet. The angle of the slope created the illusion.
Temple XX-A was actually more beautiful, facing north towards the quad. Its long front elevation was lined with beautifully carved columns, similar in placement to Greek columns, but that is where the resemblance ended. Whereas Greek columns are tall and slender, these were shorter and more rounded and were imbedded with a multiude of animal carvings. The kids marvelled at the intricate details and began studying them with interest.
Alex stood in front of the centre column and as he rounded it, he let out a loud exclamation. The others came running as he pointed excitedly to two symbols carved prominently on its front surface. The Nasedo symbol was clearly carved in exact detail, and below it was the symbol for the number 8, that Liz had discovered. They gathered around it and their excited babble drowned out the sound of scraping that came from above them.
Max turned just in time to see a huge rock slab sailing down the slope headed in their direction. He pushed his friends out of the way as he jumped aside just in time to avoid being crushed. The slab slammed into the centre column, smashing it to pieces, successfully destroying the one important clue they had missed, in doing so. The noise drew the attention of the other group of tourists and they all came running out of the upper temple concerned for their safety.
The teens quickly withdrew from the scene to avert attention from themselves. They stumbled down the slope to the level quad below. Kyle had gone off by himself, shaken and pale and fell to the ground as his legs gave out from under him. They rushed over to see what the problem was. Tess reached him first. He looked up into her face as she held him by the shoulders.
"I remember," he whispered shakily.
"What do your remember, Kyle?" she asked with concern.
"I remember what happened yesterday afternoon at the temple. I was standing near the back edge of the temple and Iz had just turned to walk away. I caught a blur over to my left side.......it looked like a big spotted cat, and then it bumped into me hard. It pushed me over the edge! I didn't fall.....I was pushed! Someone's trying to kill us, guys," his voice shook.
They walked away from the location where Kyle had fallen down and sat on the grass in front of the Temple of Inscriptions. They had to agree that there was something fishy going on here. The large spotted cat that Kyle had mentioned sounded like a jaguar, but if that were the case, surely it would have attacked him. It didn't make any sense at all.
"Okay, guys, let's try to put this into perspective," Max spoke up. "Obviously, we've peaked someone's interest in what we're doing here. I mean, we've had two attempts on our lives, now. When that slab came down the hill today, I caught a glimpse of a man running away. He's probably the one who pushed it towards us. I don't know if he was trying to hurt us or to destroy the column......it could be both.....who knows."
"Anyway, it looks like we're onto something, and I think the sooner we start examining the clues we already have, the better. Now Alex, I know you haven't had a chance to download those pictures yet, but you said that you and Tess had made some sketches too. Maybe we should have a look at them, now," Max suggested.
Alex retrieved the sketches from his backpack, and handed them to Max. Max in turn spread them out on the grass in front of him, so that they could all see.They looked at them carefully, trying to recognize similarities to the alien symbols.
"Okay, let's start with this one," Max offered as he held up a sketch in front of him. It was a picture of four turtles surrounding a tree. "Anybody got any ideas?" Max asked hopefully.
Isabel spoke up. "It could be a stylized symbol for the *four square symbol*," she hesitated. "I don't know......it's just a guess, she shrugged.
"I think you may be right, Iz," Maria added enthusiastically. "Look, remember how we're always saying that the symbols may have changed over time, right? Maybe 5000 years ago it started out as the four square that we're familiar with, but over time, it changed to something they were more familiar with."
"Okay, okay, just gimmee a second here." she held up her hands as she tried to make her point. "The turtles symbolize the flat earth surrounded by water, right? And the tree symbolizes the centre of the universe. So what if, we let the turtles represent the four worlds of your star system and the tree represents your home planet, which is the main one in the group?"
They looked at her skeptically, but Liz backed her up.
"I think Maria has a point. Granted, maybe that's not the exact explanation for the symbol, but we have no other one right now, so why don't we take a wild stab at all the symbols, and come up with as many guesses as possible. Let's face it, guys, what other options do we have right now?"
It did make sense, so they started guessing at all the pictures that Max held up, some pretty preposterous, but it didn't matter, because at this point, anything was possible.
"I'm starving you guys," Alex grumbled. "I can't look at another picture until I have something to eat."
"Oh my poor baby," Isabel crooned, as she rubbed his belly. "I'm a little hungry too. Maybe we should take a break. It is almost lunch time," she added.
They all felt that they'd put in a good morning's work and went to get their packed lunches from their bags. Max and Liz had rushed into the dining room to pick up their lunches that Brody had already ordered for them, before they hopped on the bus. They hadn't eaten any breakfast and had had no snack, so they were both really hungry.
As they sat down to eat, Brody came up with Carmen. Liz and Max glanced at Isabel with curiousity, and she just winked and mouthed that she would tell them later.
"So what have my little people been up to this morning?" he grinned.
"Not much," Michael grinned. "How about you?" he asked sarcastically.
Brody blushed slightly at the remark, feeling a twinge of guilt at having neglected his charges.
"Well," he continued, "I have a great idea for this afternoon. Pakal told us about a beautiful inland waterfall about two miles into the jungle.I think it would be a great chance to spend some time together and to take a break from these wretched ruins. I don't know about you guys, but I just can't look at another piece of rock."
They all agreed that it sounded like fun. Ahmok was going to act as their guide for their afternoon hike.
Max and the others ate their lunch self-consciously as Carmen fussed with Brody, popping food into his mouth and playing with his hair. Max suspected her intentions and hoped that Brody hadn't been indiscreet with any information concerning their real reason for the trip. They finished eating and waited patiently for Ahmok to appear.
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