Chapter 1 (Project Eden: Book of Genesis)

Chapter 1 (Project Eden: Book of Genesis)

A Chapter by Fisher
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My first stab at writing fiction...ever! Looking for advice. Trying to get confidence to pursue this whole writing thing. Do I have what it takes?

"

Project Eden: Book of Genesis

Chapter 1

Adorned in a colorful array of Quetzal feathers, the Mayan Priest’s attire would almost be considered beautiful if it weren’t for the blood, which he is splattered with from head to toe. It looks like he submerged his hands up to the elbow in a large can of red paint. Down below, four blue-painted Maya, known as the four Chaacs, grab a bound figure and begin the treacherous ascent up the steep steps leading to the top of the temple. Once on top, they force the sacrificial victim onto a convex stone that juts his chest outward.

While the four Chaacs each secured a limb, the priest raises a blade fashioned out of obsidian and swiftly stabs the knife under the sacrifice’s ribcage, cutting across the abdomen with surgical precision. Within a fraction of a second the priest plunges his hand into the gaping hole. Once he was elbow deep in the chest cavity, he found the rapidly beating object he was looking for.  With a fast and forceful pull, he extracted the heart out of the sacrifice and raised it high enough for the chanting audience below. The procedure was so quick that the heart still beats in his hand and the victim catches a glimpse of his stolen heart before he dies. Obviously, the priest has had a lot of practice.

 

            Times must be dire. Yes, sacrifices did occur, but it was only done out of necessity. The ancient Maya believed that the world is in perpetual jeopardy. The world could end at any moment if the Gods were not satiated with blood. The Gods showed anger in many ways, especially with drought. When times are tough, Maya royalty would practice autosacrifice, which means that they would use a sharp object, most often a stingray spine, and draw blood. Usually through the tongue or genitals. It is a tremendous burden on priests and royals, particularly because stingray spines have backward facing teeth. This means that once inserted the spine must be pulled completely through; there is no backing out. The blood is then dripped onto a piece of fabric and burned so that the bloodthirsty gods in the heavens receive the offering through the smoke. If the drought is severe enough and the bloodletting ritual yields no positive affect on the agriculture, the populace will believe that the leadership has lost favor with the gods. This often ends in revolt. With that said, sacrificing like this is a last resort. The Maya preferred to sacrifice prisoners of war from other neighboring Maya city-states instead of their own. This sacrificial victim must not be one of theirs. He was a warrior by the looks of it.

            Looming high overhead is a large metallic Mayan temple. Like a massive spaceship intently watching the barbaric proceedings. The reflective surface is blinding to look at, which makes me feel like a bug under a magnifying glass. Through squinted eyes, I can vaguely make out a large metallic skeletal being walking up the stepped side of the temple to the throne situated at the pinnacle where another metallic humanoid creature with a long hooked nose sits. The priest diverts his attention from the people below, turns around and raises the heart high towards the sky temple. After that, he reverently places the heart on the Chacmool statue.

The priest kicks the lifeless warrior off the convex altar; the body limply hurdles down the steps toward the attendant priests below. He slowly turns his gaze to Roe. His heart skips a beat, as if it knows what happened to the last heart the priest set his menacing eyes on. He has no recollection as to why he is up here witnessing these atrocities. He wants to run but his muscles are not responding to his body’s constant pleading for them to run. Roe is paralyzed from the neck down, most probably by fear. The priest points in his direction and the four Chaacs obey. They violently drag his helpless body and stretch it over the uncomfortable altar.

Drawing his obsidian knife, he looks down on Roe’s pitiful body and recites Genesis 1:11 in perfect English.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so.”

Roe’s scream drowns out all ambient noise as the knife descends into his body.

 

            He wakes up in a pool of sweat. The confinement of the sleeping bag leads him to panic. As he become more aware of his surroundings, the rapid heart rate begins to slow down ever so gradually. It was just a dream, a nightmare more like it. This felt different though. It did not feel like a run of the mill nightmare. Roe felt like he was really there. He thinks that this must be a sign for a much needed vacation. He is overworked.

 

            A low moan resonates from the naked woman next to him. Candace is the personification of beautiful. Her physical beauty pales in comparison to her brilliant mind. They have been friends since grad school. Roe gravitated towards archaeology while she focused on linguistics. Even though they got tenure-track positions at different universities, they still tend to partner up during the Summer semester field seasons. A gifted linguist is important to have on a dig to decipher artifacts with ancient language scribbling on the surface. Also, the companionship helps. No one likes a cold sleeping bag.

            Creeping out of the cramped sleeping bag and slowly, and as quietly as possible, Roe unzips the front of the tent, stretches, and lets out an almost inaudible yawn in the entrance. His nude body relishes the cool breeze coming off of the coast, unconcerned of possible voyeurs. Roe and Candance strategically pitched their tent far away from the main camp as to avoid stirring up gossip. The tent is situated on the precipice of a large cenote, which is a local term for a sinkhole. Cenotes are common on the Yucatan Peninsula, since the Peninsula itself is essentially an expansive limestone shelf, and limestone being a porous rock, are subject to collapse. This makes cenote’s a common site in this region. The crystal clear water below is too tantalizing to pass up this early in the morning. Giving into the temptation, Roe closes his eyes and makes the leap of faith. Faith is a strong word; he has seen locals jump off this cliff face into the well below several times before. Confidant in knowing that the fresh water is at a safe depth and he didn’t see any “no diving” signs posted. He closes his eyes and allows the cool water to engulf him.

            Clarity of the water amazes Roe and reaffirms his research proposition. For years he has been trying to connect these coastal cenotes with the Mayan Collapse. At the height of its florescence, the greatest Mayan cities were abandoned within a short period of less than one hundred years. Later cities were built closer to the coast and many of these were constructed within close proximity to cenotes. Roe believes that these earlier cities failed because of a severe drought, which caused the jungle-dwelling Maya to close up shop and head towards the coast, most notably the cenotes. Many scholars scoff at this theory. They find it hard to believe that civilizations located in a dense rainforest can suffer from lack of water. Ironic isn’t it? Truth is, geologic tests show signs of drought coinciding with that one hundred year span. No fresh water well access like a cenote can be found in these jungle areas. The ancient Maya in the jungle survived off of water catchment systems, especially during the rainy season. What happens when the rainy season isn’t so rainy? What happens when ritual and sacrifice doesn’t help the situation? If you read Roe’s academic journal articles, it would cause civil unrest and revolt.

            Roe notices a shadow and looks up to see Candace and is amazed with her confidence, as she stands fully exposed at the edge above.

“Is it a heated pool?” Candace questions in a flirtatious manner.

“Jump on in, the water is fine!”

Without hesitation, she swan dives off the edge. Roe can’t believe how brave she is. She gracefully enters the water. Without coming up for air, she swims towards him and emerges in front of him whipping her hair back.

“Crazy idea. Let’s extend the dig. We still have a few weeks before the Fall semester starts.” Roe suggests. Although hopeful, he already knew what the answer would be.

She lets out a low moan and wraps her legs around his torso.

“You know the rules. No feelings. I don’t do long-distance. Let’s just enjoy our last day together and have something to look forward to for next field season. I want to stay…fresh on your mind” She says and then starts kissing his neck.

The moment is suddenly broken.

“Sorry to interrupt you guys, but you are going to want to see this.” 

Squinting against the bright sun, Roe looks up and can barely make out the silhouette of his friend Diego. He is the only person that knows the secret whereabouts of Candace and Roe’s clandestine rendezvous. Ever the gentleman, Diego looks cringingly uncomfortable standing there holding his hand in front of his eyes. A mildly shorter than average fellow, Diego has all of the trademark signs of being a local. Obviously Spanish, he is actually considered a “mestizo.” A mestizo is someone of Spanish and mixed descent. In Diego’s case, he is half Spaniard and half Mayan. He is well known by archaeologists in this area as he is the preferred local tour guide for several ruins and is always contracted by visiting archaeologists as a guide and liaison to the modern indigenous Mayan communities.

            Candace giggles and says,  “No worries, give us a minute to collect ourselves.”

            She squeezes her legs around Roe’s waste and Whispers in his ear. “Raincheck?”

 “Down payment first?” Roe quips.

He struggles under the strain of Candace’s vise-like grip of her thighs. He returns fire by wrapping his arms around grasping her butt and pulling her even closer.

“Hold your horses cowboy. Save that energy for the tent tonight.”

 

 

The rugged Jeep Wrangler bumps down the beaten path at a high speed. Roe’s mind cycles through the endless possibilities of what would cause Diego to come and get him so abruptly. It must be important considering that Roe made him promise that he wouldn’t bother them unless it was imperative.  Candace must be thinking the same thing because he can see the excitement on her face. The dig site is just a few miles up from their love nest at the cenote. A farmer discovered the site when he was plowing a new field. Much like their ancient ancestors, the modern Maya practice swidden agriculture. Swidden, also know as “slash and burn,” is a farming technique where fields are cleared for cultivation. When a field becomes barren, it is burned down which would take several years for the soil nutrients in the area to return. The farmer would simply move into a new area to plant and cycle back to earlier cleared plots when they are ready again. It is a birth and rebirth method. Archaeologists speculate that slash and burn agriculture dramatically altered the landscape.  This new spot has not been revisited in a long time and when the plow ran into a large underground limestone structure, the farmer told his farmhand. The farmhand told his drinking buddy at the bar. The drinking buddy told his girlfriend. His girlfriend told Diego late that night. Diego is quite the ladies man. Diego contacted Roe about the find as soon as he could.

 

 

 

 

 



© 2018 Fisher


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My first stab at writing fiction...ever! Looking for advice. Trying to get the confidence to pursue this whole writing thing. Do I have what it takes? Please give me an honest review.

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Added on April 24, 2018
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Fisher
Fisher

New Orleans, LA



Writing