'Timor: Volume IV' story 'Qurapi Mach’aqway' sneak peek

'Timor: Volume IV' story 'Qurapi Mach’aqway' sneak peek

A Story by Sarah J Dhue

A sneak peek from one of my stories featured in 'Timor: Volume IV'


Dr. Truman Drummond had once been a respected archaeologist before he’d ended up at Blumhausen Mental Hospital.  He’d left the US to go on a dig in Peru to investigate rumors of a tomb in a region of dense jungle, which, according to legend, belonged to an ancient royal family and should be full of treasures.  He had compiled a small crew and ventured into the wilderness.  Weeks later, he had emerged from the jungle, penniless and without his crew, babbling nonsense about the tomb being infested with ghosts.  He had been picked up by the US Embassy and shipped back to the States, where he had undergone psychoanalysis and ultimately been committed.  After his hospitalization, his ramblings went mostly ignored by those working on his case.  They’d tried to make progress with him and have some form of intelligible conversation, but it always ended in him having to be sedated and put back in his room.

Andrew Carlson, newly working at Blumhausen as a janitor who was sometimes asked to help with other duties, was barely making ends meet.  He’d taken this job because it was better than nothing, but the pay was lousy and the position was not very illustrious.  Through listening to the orderlies’ gossip, he learned about Dr. Drummond and his supposed tomb full of treasure.  So, this was how Andrew Carlson found himself outside of Dr. Truman Drummond’s cell late one night.

Andrew tried to peek through the bars set in the small square window of the cell door, but he could not see anything in the dark room.  “Dr. Drummond?”

“Yes,” a voice replied from the right side of the room, causing Andrew to jump.  “Who’s there?  What do you want?”

Andrew thought back to what he’d heard the orderlies saying about the mad archaeologist, about how it took very little to send him spiraling into a rambling fit.  “My name is Andrew Carlson.  I’m a janitor here, but I wanted to hear the story about your time in Peru.”

There was silence on the other side of the door, and Andrew inwardly cussed himself for not leading with a more suave approach when Drummond cleared his throat, speaking in a low tone, “A janitor, hm?  You’re not another doctor, sent here to pick my brain, then not listen to a damn word I have to say?”  He raised his voice on the last few words and then fell silent again.

“N-No, I’m not a doctor.  Just a janitor.  I’ve heard some rumors about your story, but I wanted to hear it from you.”

Drummond approached the door, and Andrew could see him through the grate, his grey hair wild around his head, his beard unkempt and scraggly.  Drummond studied the young, blonde man on the other side of his door, his dark eyes filled with suspicion.  After what seemed like forever, he spoke again, “All right, Andrew Carlson.  What do you want to know?”

Andrew shrugged, scratching the back of his head, “Er, uh…  Everything?  Did you ever even find the tomb, or was there nothing there?”

Drummond chuckled raspily, “Oh, it was there, all right.  Hidden amongst the trees and mire, it was there, waiting to be found.  Its walls were covered in plants and crumbling apart, as if the jungle had been trying to reclaim it for centuries, but yet, there it stood… waiting.  Waiting for us…”

As Drummond’s voice trailed off, Andrew decided to take a bold chance, since the old archaeologist was being so forthright, “And the treasure - was it there, like the legends said it would be?”

Drummond laughed again; Andrew hated the grating sound, but knew that he had to remain agreeable if he was going to learn more about the tomb.  “The treasure was there, more than I could ever have hoped to carry out in my pockets and bags, as real as you and me.  But so were the ghosts that guard the place,” he shuddered, and Andrew fought the urge to smirk.  “They ended the lives of the few crew I had…  The treasure gleamed and beckoned, but I fled, running for my life.  But for what little good it did me to live,” he looked around the interior of his cell, his face taking on the guise of a caged animal.

“So, the treasure, it’s still there?” Andrew asked eagerly.

“Surely it must be; no one else would dare to go there.  Even if not for the spirits - the ghosts - it is along the unbeaten path.”

Andrew thought carefully about how to phrase what he was going to say next.  The promise of more gold than he could carry had whet his appetite; the notion that perhaps he could leave the janitorial trade behind for greener pastures.  To pay off his debts and then start over, without having to work just any job that would hire him.  But he also knew that he would have no hope of finding the tomb on his own, even if he found the means to get to Peru.  “While I believe most of your story, I must say that I don’t believe in ghosts.  There’s always some kind of explanation,” Andrew said, making sure to sound matter-of-fact but not condescending.  “If I could get you out of here, could you take me there?  We could take the treasure, as much as we could carry, and split it fifty-fifty.”  Of course, he would have much-preferred a cut more like seventy-thirty, but he was trying to be agreeable, and there was no need to be too greedy.

Drummond turned to look at him, his eyes wild, “What?  No!  I would never go back to that place, not for all the gold in the world!  I was lucky to escape the first time!”

“Well, surely this time you would know what to prepare for, so you would be better-equipped to deal with the obstacles,” Andrew tried to reason with him.

“‘Better-equipped’?  Bah-ha!  You cannot be equipped to deal with ghosts, young man!”  Drummond pressed his face up against the bars, studying Andrew’s face.  “You do not fear ghosts…”  Andrew shook his head, smirking slightly in spite of himself.  Drummond sneered, “Then you’re a fool!  A damn fool!”  He slammed his fist against the door, then retreated out of sight.

Andrew stood at the door for a moment, then walked down the hall back to his area, his mind racing.  Despite the fact that the man was clearly mad, Andrew believed him about the treasure - all of that gold.  He wanted it, but seeing as everyone else who had been there was dead, he would have to have the mad archaeologist’s help.  He would have to be clever, to avoid exciting him.  He would also have to come up with a plan for getting him out, but even then, he’d have to be a willing participant in Andrew’s plan.  As Andrew passed the various storage rooms and treatment rooms, his keys jingling on his hip, he got an idea.

© 2023 Sarah J Dhue

Author's Note

Sarah J Dhue
To be continued in 'Timor: Volume IV'

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Added on October 27, 2023
Last Updated on October 27, 2023
Tags: Sarah J Dhue, Dhue, Timor, Volume 4, Volume IV, short story, sneak peek, Qurapi Mach’aqway


Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL

I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..