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Tomb of the Broken Sands.
Gregory and Kevin walked along the dusty road. Their horse had bolted and disappeared a few miles back, taking the cart with her, and they were both on the verge of collapsing. What's more, Kevin had hurt his leg on a rock about an hour ago, so he was limping and making them both travel much slower.
Greg and Kevin were members of the Secret Society of London. It was called upon if anybody had anything extraordinary to report, like a ghost or werewolf or anything else nasty that might be considered "unreal", for example.
Because of the nature of what they often found, and the fact that humans, as a species, tend to go into mass hysteria, the whole society had to kept quiet. Which is hard when a werewolf is in the basement, trying to rip the cold, steel reinforced door apart, howling and trying to kill the guards.
Gregory wasn't exactly the pride of the society. In fact, if Howard had to describe him in three words, they would probably be "incompetent", "useless" and "dumb". The truth was, he wasn't dumb (He had a PhD in science) or useless, as due to his bulky frame he could lift just about any box, but I am sad to say that heavy lifting was about the extent of his usefulness.
When it came to drawing, or working out equations in his head, he could do it, no problem, he was the master, but tracking a ghost down?
No, he was completely useless at that sort of thing. The only reason they kept him was that he could see the things.
Kevin was the youngest member of the society, at only twenty-one, and he was ambitious, brave and reasonably sarcastic and arrogant. He and Gregory were arch rivals, and when they were assigned each other they both grimaced at the thought of being near one another for more than an hour.
They were in a small part of Mexico where not many people had gone before, and if they had, they wouldn't remember it for too long. It was hot. It was barren. And it was completely unspectacular.
Gregory wiped his forehead. They couldn't be far by now, he was sure of it.
What a dump, he thought, looking out across the vast, barren landscape. The only thing he could see was the skull of what appeared to be an ox. Though I guess that’s what you should expect from a desert.
"Gregory, you lumbering idiot, I could crawl faster than this! I‘m getting pretty close to just trying to find the temple by myself." said Kevin, as he hobbled over next to Greg.
"Ok, then, go! You can just waddle along, with the knowledge that I'm carrying the water, and I'm also carrying the food and, oh, everything else. So go on, if you think you can find the place we're looking for without the map, and then come out of this desert alive with no food or water, I won't stop you going off by yourself." Gregory was in a bad mood. that was what the heat did to him. He was constantly snappy, not his normal self.
From then on, Kevin shut up. That, at least, lifted Greg's spirits a little.
It was a few hours before they reached it.
It was a huge stone temple. Along the sides, there were pictures of snakes and monsters, of angry spirits and ghouls, of people sacrificing animals. At the very top, painted in pure gold, a picture of two skeletons, one gripping a dagger which was raised near the other’s head, surrounded by treasure.
The entrance to the Temple of the Broken Sands was just ten yards in front of them, looming and dark like a great stone shadow.
Gregory felt a lurching motion in his stomach. Everything inside him was screaming not to go any further, his ears were ringing, his stomach was churning and his heart was beating at a mile a minute. His instincts were telling him to run for his life, to leave this place and never return. But, if he was in that much danger, if his instincts were telling him that he was never supposed to go near there, then why did he feel so curious?
Kevin seemed to be immune to the fear. His eyes were wide and Greg could see he was trying to fight back a smile.
"Well, let's go in, shall we?" he said, grinning widely.
Ten years before he had joined the society, Greg lived in a small, quiet fishing town. Nothing much really happened there, apart from the very occasional shipwreck. His father used to own a boat, which they used to take out to catch fish at the weekends. The time he found the mackerel that was almost two feet long, and how his Dad once pulled an eel on board the ship were memories fresh in his mind. He remembered taking his little brother out crabbing on the pier and how every Friday his Mum would cook the best catch of the week and the whole family would sit around the table, spending good family time together.
That was before the accident.
On January 18th, the boat had been knocked over by a wave. His Dad and his brother were never found, and Greg was found on the shore. For a brief moment, the people who found him thought he was dead. He had no pulse and he wasn't breathing. He woke up a few seconds after, but he couldn't remember anything. Apart from the black dog he saw on the pier moments from the crash.
Ever since then, he was able to see ghosts, and ever since then the black dog appeared as a dark omen.
Greg and Kevin walked through the doorway. Kevin reached into his pocket for his torch, and both men gasped in awe. The room they were standing in was full of gold and precious gems. There were mountains of gold coins, treasures, as far as the human eye could see. It all went down a slope underground, gradually getting darker and darker until the emptiness seemed to swallow the hall.
They walked through, taking everything in, savouring each moment. Kevin's eyes lit up as he grabbed handfuls of gold and stuffed them into his pockets greedily.
"Hold on, Kevin, something just doesn't seem right about this. I think you should put the gold back, you never know when-" began Greg, but he stopped when Kevin turned to face him. It was horrific, like something out of a horror film.
Kevin's eyes had turned blood red, and the pupils were dilated. He was baring his teeth and foaming at the mouth, like some sort of rabid dog.
"Never know when what, Greg? Never know when what?" spat Kevin.
"Okay, Kevin. There’s something seriously wrong about this whole place. Please, put the gold back and take deep breaths. Please." said Greg.
Kevin laughed, the sort of laugh that chills you to the bone. He turned back to the piles of gold, shoving more into his pockets and muttering to himself.
A chill ran up Greg's spine. What was this? It couldn't be real, but it didn't feel like a dream and it was too realistic to be an illusion.
Then he remembered; an hour ago he had seen the dog. The black dog! He had pointed it out to Kevin, but he couldn't see it, it was invisible to him. It stayed for longer this time, though, and Greg could sense that maybe this would be the last time he would ever see it. For better or for worse. His heart felt like it would burst out of his chest and his body shook with a single sob. Breathing deeply, he shut his eyes.
It didn't take long for him to open them again, and when he did he saw the dog. It was so close this time. He reached out to touch it, a sort of final goodbye, and it padded over to him. This time, Greg could feel it's soft fur, and this time Kevin could see it, because when he looked in their direction, he bared his teeth and backed away into the wall, reaching for the golden dagger he had picked up seconds before.
They both heard the bang of stone on stone, and turned to see that the door had closed.
They were locked in together, Greg, a maddened Kevin and the shadowy black dog.
The torch flickered and went out.