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14th July
2012
posted by amber

This is one of my favourite stories to read to an audience. It’s a lot of fun, and has a gun or two.
The Scroll of Jacareacanga

Imagine a circular chamber hewn from ancient rock, without a door. A thin shaft of light dimly illuminates the chamber. Bones of monkeys, lizards and large cats lie in a pile in the middle of the room. Carved heiroglyphs march around the walls.

From above, glowing in the narrow beam of light, a rope appears. It descends, puddles on the floor among the bones, flexes back and forth accompanied by a voice.

The voice says, “I can see the bottom! Eeeu, there’s bones down there. And spiderwebs! Huge spiderwebs!”

The rope jerks more vigorously, then feet appear overhead. Feet in pink flowered gum boots. Feet attached to shapely legs that go on forever. Until they stop at the cuffs of the woman’s shorts.

She’s wearing a climbing harness, descending the rope easily with a simple brake rack. Her waist is thin, her bosom large and generous, her hair a golden blonde mane. When she reaches the bottom, she carefully steps past the pile of bones, batting at skeins of webs crisscrossing the chamber.

“The rope’s all yours,” she shouts into the void above.

After a few moments, a man comes down the rope. His legs are encased in camouflage hip waders. He wears a white short-sleeved shirt with a pocket protector. The thick lenses of his eye glasses magnify his eyes to the size of large eggs, old fashioned large eggs, not the small ones we find in supermarkets now. A garish bicycle helmet is perched atop his unusually large head.

The woman is wriggling in the grip of the webs; she is moaning.

“Come here,” he says, pulling her toward him as he shrugs out of his backpack and removes a futuristic-looking weapon. He shoots flames around the room, incinerating all the spiderwebs.

“Thank you, Evan,” she says, then screams.

From a crack in the chamber’s wall, a spider emerges. A very very large spider.

Evan incinerates it too. “That was regrettable. A wonderful specimen of Araneae Peixoto.  But anything to keep you happy, my dear Mandy.”

She smoothes her hair. “You bet your britches. I’m the one paying for this little expedition. But I don’t see why you forced me to buy these stupid ugly gum boots, and why you’re wearing that fisherman’s condom. It’s dry as a bone in here.”

“This is just the first chamber. We’re going downward from here, along the booby-trapped passage then through an underground river, and last of all we have to figure out the secret code for the final door. Our fun has just begun.”

“And when do we get to the emerald?”

“Oh, that’s in here somewhere. We’ll need it to insert in the door to the booby-trapped passage. According to my notes-” Evan fishes a plastic-wrapped document from his pack and examines it, “-there should be bas-relief carvings of panther-gods on the walls, and the emerald will be hidden behind the testicles of one of them.”

As Mandy begins to dig away at the organs of the ancient sculptures, Evan looks upward, a puzzled expression on his face.

“There’s got to be at least twenty of these stupid cat drawings, and they’re all slimy!” Mandy complains.

“Shhh! I think someone’s coming!”

The rope begins to twitch.

Mandy stamps her feet. “Crap! It must be Faulkland Peary, I didn’t think he’d discover that we snuck out of Manaus last night. What should we do?”

“We’ve got to find that emerald, otherwise this is a dead end trip for us. Literally.”

He steps to the wall, finds the nether region of every cat already excavated. “Mandy, do you have the emerald?”

She hides one hand behind her back, brandishing a small shiny revolver in the other. “Evan, I don’t care about the scrolls of Jaguarkangaroo-”

“Jacareacanga,”

“Whatever. All I want is the emerald.”

He smiles. “Well, you won’t be going up that rope with it, my dear.”

She aims her tiny gun upwards. “You think not? They can only come down one man at a time.”

Evan grabs her by the waist and pulls her against the wall, seconds in advance of a burst of machine gun fire blasting into the chamber. “I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for a while yet. I promise you, Mandy, you can keep the emerald when we’re done. It’s minor. But now we have to get into the booby-trapped passage. Without my notes, Faulkland and his men will perish there.”

Evan scuffs with his feet at the centuries of dust on the chamber floor to reveal a trap door. He grasps the corroded metal handle and opens it to reveal a rock-hewn staircase into deepest darkness. He hands Mandy a flashlight. As she descends, he says “After you, my dear. The door to the booby-trapped passage is at the bottom. Insert your emerald into the mouth of the golden snake. It works by light refracted from the surface, so it needs to be perfectly clean.”

She stops descending and looks up at him, apologetically, as another burst of machine gun fire sprays around the room, puffs of dirt flying up very near to Evan’s feet.

He says, “And I suppose you left fingerprints all over it.”

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