Sunday, September 4, 2016


TWO WEEKS LATER, Paige decided to take some time off and return to a place she forgot about until recently. Paige found this place quite by chance, she was young and adventurous and on one of her hikes up Edge Peak, she came across hidden caves, where she found some bones. Not knowing if they were animal or human the find was quite intriguing. She carefully removed a few fragments and took them back home with her; this discovery triggered her interest in archaeology. Paige tried to get into the caves again a few months later, but when she returned she found authorities had denied access by erecting a six-foot barbwire fence, claiming the caves dangerous, unsafe and trespasses would be persecuted. When a conservation officer found her lurking about the fence she found herself explaining the reason being there to the officer and her parents, she wasn’t about to climb over and trespass, she was just inquisitive. The incident terrified her and so kept the find in a box, until she decided to move back to where she grew up, and came across the fragments a few weeks ago when she finally decided to unpack that last box in her old hometown of Maple Ridge, Canada. Curiosity took the bones into her lab the next morning to start some tests of her own.

Her first stop was a colleague and friend of three years, Dr. Robyn Abraham’s laboratory. They had become good friends the day Robyn started working in the Radiocarbon Laboratory, which happened to be next to Paige’s office. Walking into the lab, Paige was welcomed immediately;

 “Good morning Paige.” Robyn greeted from behind her microscope.

“Morning Robyn, busy?” Paige asked anxiously.

“Not particularly, why, what’s up?” Robyn asked moving away from the scope and monitors to take a closer look at what Paige held in her hands.

“I have some bones here that needs dating, if you have some time?” Paige replied as she handed the box over to her friend, without letting it go. “This is a personal favour to me not the companies.” Page added.

“Very well. When do you need the results back by?” Robyn asked as she took full possession of the box and set it carefully down on one of the tables.

“Yesterday,” Paige grinned hopping to have it back by the end of the day.

Robyn smiled opening the box and looked at the contents, “Well, it looks like you a have very old human metatarsal fragment and a couple of phalanx of the foot here, do you have anything bigger?”

“No, the foot fragments where the only ones I found.” Paige replied, “Once I have them dated, I’ll be able to warrant an application for a dig.”

“Leave them with me and I’ll see what I can do for you today.” Robyn replied lifting the box and its contents and started working on them.

Paige thanked her and returned to her office, finding the day excruciating long. Toward the end, just as Paige was going to give up to her patience, Robyn called her back to her lab.

“The report is inconclusive.” Robyn frowned.

“How can carbon dating be inconclusive?” Paige asked suspiciously.

“Well lets put it this way the carbon 14 dating evidences the bones over forty thousand years old or even later, but some parts of the same bone is less then five years old.”

“How is that possible?” Paige asked confused

“That’s the point, its not. Come take a look at this.” Robyn moved her microscope over toward Paige. Bending over and adjusting the scope to focus, Paige found cells within the bone expanding and contracting as if they were breathing.

“Another oddity, these bones are human, but the cells you are looking at, are not.” 

“What are they then?” 

“Have no clue, that’s inconclusive too.” Robyn sighed and sat back down on her lab chair. “It’s alien.”

“As in out of space alien?” Paige started to panic.

“It could be, as it’s not in our database to relate to be earthbound. May I ask where you found them?” Robyn asked nervously.

“I can only if you promise to keep this between us for now?” Paige asked.

“I promise for now, but you will have to relay this find to Steve,” Robyn whispered.

After long negotiations and keeping her find a secret until she found larger bone fragments, Dr. Stephan Renny used his authority with the corporation to get Paige back into those forgotten caves and revive its hidden secrets. These caves were in her own back yard and for years she watched the sun reflect its pink glow over the snow capped peaks and always wondered what if, now she had her backpack packed with a few days food, gear and on a new secret mission. 

JEN DROPPED PAIGE off at the west canyon parking lot of the Golden Ears Provincial Park that morning and made arrangements to pick her up a few days later. Paige hiked past Alder Flats camp, which was a few kilometres from the parking lot early that first morning and headed to the emergency shelter on the ridge below the peaks. She had to get there before nightfall otherwise she would have to set up camp in the dark, which would not be the best idea being alone with predators lurking about. Paige had packed bear mace, and her favourite hunting knife she obtained when she was camping out on a dig back in Kenya, it was large enough to scare anything away.  Paige knew how to use it in case of any emergency like, chop, cut and even kill, it had come in handy many times before. Excavation of artefacts never seemed to be found in safe places, so she had to learn how to survive and this knife was her best defence.

The backpack was heavy and very uncomfortable, so by the time Paige got to her first overnight stop she was drenched in sweat and too tied to eat. She through out her bedroll and made a fire to keep the night creatures at bay. Fire logs where provided by the B.C. Provincial Park, but knew her next stop, she would not be so lucky. Hitting the sleeping bag early she was up before the sun the next morning. Making up good time, she ate energy bars as she walked.  Finding the trail she was on thinning out, as not many hikers came this way, the trail up to the peak veered left. However, the caves she was looking for took her off the beaten track, so taking a deer path turning her toward the caves came with many unwanted obstacles, this gave her the opportunity to use her big ass knife. Slamming through overgrown bush up a very steep embankment Paige broke through onto a clearing. Shrugging off her backpack and leaning it against her leg she took out a water bottle and her state of the art satellite phone. Taking a sip of the water, she was able to get her co-ordinates, to the left was the caves and right was the parks warden shelter, both less than a half a day’s hike. Wasting no time she made her way toward overgrown forest, which sheltered the cliff face, hiding the caves from sight. Picking up her backpack and hoisting it up onto her shoulders again she stopped to listen. Voices, of men arguing. Not sure which direction it was coming from she decided to move along and make her way to her destination. Hoping not to come across the men, she had no time to find out why men would be up so high, hunting season was over, so if it wasn’t park officials or other hikers then she would be in trouble, making them poachers. Taking out her mace and hunting knife that hung off her hip, she made her way back into the forest following her GPS reading on her phone toward the caves. Unexpectedly walking straight into a group of five large men dressed in unidentifiable black camouflage uniforms, hunched over their GPS unit.

“Are you lost?” Paige asked startled at the discovery in finding military men up in this part of the forest. Each man had an emblem and rank marked on their sleeves.

The man closest to her had his back to her; he stood up and turned around.

“You!” they exclaimed in unison, recognising each other from the club, but this time the man was dressed in a uniform, a crossbow hanging over his shoulder and surrounded by four other large scary looking men with knives strapped onto their legs and crossbows in their hands.  Paige was drenched in sweat, dirty, carrying mace in one hand and a large hunting knife in the other, staring back at them.

“Commander, you know this lovely lady,” a man from the left asked as he passed, the commander, and made his way toward Paige. Backing up a little and raising her knife for protection, Paige cursed.

“Major, I think you safer back here.” The commander said sarcastically shaking his head not believing what was standing in front of him.

Taking a deep breath Paige sidestepped, keeping her eyes on the men as she tied to move back onto the path she was taking.

“To answer your question Ma’am, yes, we may be lost.” The major replied trying to cut the tension between the beautiful woman and his superior officer.

Paige started to giggle then moved to a laugh, then finally not holding back, dropped her backpack off her shoulders and held her stomach, as she laughed so hard it hurt. Looking back at the five men through tearing eyes she noticed everyone except the Commander laughing with her.

Trying to settle down she asked what they were after; the major explained they were looking for caves not marked on their map or GPS.

“No bloody way,” Paige gasped not finding the situation funny anymore. They wanting to go to the same place she was heading and there was no way these military men would tread their large unskilled feet onto “her” historical site.

“What are you doing out here, alone?” the major asked.

“That’s my business,” Paige replied putting her backpack back on and adjusting it as she clipped it securely around her hips.

“Well I think it has to do with these caves we looking for.” the commander challenged.

“You need permission to enter those caves, do you have that?” Paige asked slyly watching the men gathering closer to her. There was the Commander, the Major and three other large men now all standing getting a good look at this young, sassy lady being a bit rebellious and arrogant.

“We don’t need permission.” The commander announced irritated with her presence. She was the last person to see out here, although he did plan to eventually see her again, but not in these circumstances. He and his unit were on a mission that did not involve a fiery red head that will be in grave danger if she stayed up in these mountains. “You being alone out here is dangerous and suggest you go back the way you came,” the commander added.

“Why would you think I couldn’t look after myself?” Paige asked.

The men laughed. “Well, look at you” the commander replied.

Paige swallowed back the insult and swung her knife, striking down a branch that blocked her path and moved along. She wasn’t wasting any more time on insulting, chauvinistic men.

“Hold on, where do you think you’re going?” The major asked, surprised at the young woman’s boldness. 

“I’m on a schedule and need to get to the shelter before that storm hits these mountains.” Paige replied pointing west toward the large dark grey clouds building up and blowing toward them. “And by the way your caves, they’re that way.” She added pointing the opposite direction to where she was going.

“Thanks,” the major replied and turned to join his unit.

“No problem.” Paige replied smiling slyly to herself as she chopped a path toward the caves.   An hour later she arrived at the barbwire fence. Unclipping and dropping the backpack off her shoulders again she found the key for the padlock that was given to her to open the gate, when she noticed a big gaping hole in the fence a few meters away. On closer inspection she realized the fence was not cut as the edges where jagged, it was as if something or someone ripped it open.  Retrieving her backpack she made her way through the opening and climbed up the steep embankment towards the cliffs where the caves where.  No fresh prints or disturbance were found on her way up, which was a relief.  The wind was blowing harder and bringing the rain in a little faster than first anticipated. Feeling a drop here and there Paige hassled as she prepared to climb up the steep ten-foot cliff face to get to the caves. She picked, chipped and pulled herself up slowly and meticulously as the rain fell down harder making the last few meters very slippery to climb.  Concentrating not to fall she finally reached the caves ledge, then began hoisting her backpack up by the rope she tied it onto. Soaked to the bone she finally made her way to the caves entrance, finding it dry and breezy. The wind gusted through it, whipping up dead leaves and sand as it howled threw the crevasse.

Walking in deeper, Paige found a small circle of rocks, in one sheltered corner of the cave. It had no charcoal or debris left in it evidencing it not been in use for a very long time.  It looked like the way she remembered it except for the small circle of rocks, which must have been put together by some trespasser to make a sheltered fire pit between then and now.  Putting her backpack down, untied and twisting the rope up between her hand and elbow and neatly putting it back in the bag she stored it in, all the while looking around her new surroundings. Deciding to start a fire before she got out of her wet clothing and shoes.

Gathering old tree twigs and leaves lying around in the cave she neatly stacked it into a starter pile in the fire pit. Then venturing out the cave, back into the rain, where she found larger branches and pine cones. Adding them to the pile she finally got the fire started and added larger branches until it became quite a large and warming fire.

Shivering with cold Paige took out her bedroll and zip lock plastic bags containing various pieces of dry clothing, she started to undress.  First taking her hiking boots and socks off and lay them close to the fire to dry, then replaced her wet pants and underwear with dry and clean ones. Finally she pulled her T-shirt and sports bra off over her head when she heard rocks grinding under someone’s feet at the entrance of the cave.  She turned around to find five drenched men staring back at her with a not too happy look on their faces. Paige yelped as she hugged the wet T-shirt closer to her bare breasts.

“Oh my god, what the hell are you doing here?” Paige asked nervously.

“Deception does not sit very well with me, Miss Thornton.” The commander sneered, finding himself very irritated, yet drawn to the beauty of the woman standing half naked in front of him.

“Oh please.” Paige scorned “you trained for all sorts of weather and circumstances, I’m sure.” She replied, shivering as she tucked the T-shirt under her armpits to make sure nothing stuck out.

“Hold on a minute, how well do you know each other?” the major interrupted realising his commander knew the young ladies last name.

“Not at all,” Paige replied immediately, “Although I’m curious how your commander knew my last name?” she added.  The commander just shook his head not believing the situation he found himself in. They stared at each other for a bit, realizing the commander wasn’t going to reply to her questions.

“Do you mind turning around so that I can finish dressing here?” Paige asked.

“Go ahead, don’t mind us as we get out of these wet clothes.” The commander said and walked further into the cave and dropped his backpack and crossbow onto the ground, followed by his men. Without warning started to strip off their wet uniforms, starting with their shirts revealing black tank tops and tattoos, many interesting tattoos. Paige stared in disbelieve at their gesture and then gapped as she did not recognised any of the symbols on the commander’s arms, she thought to be some kind of ancient hieroglyphics but could not be sure. These may have meaning that disturbed, but yet fascinated her. Taken back by the way she stared at him, the commander decided to take his undressing a bit further to see how far he would get before she turned away. 

“Wow” she moaned as he pulled off his tank top revealing the most wonderful symbols she had never seen before. Not realizing she had made her way over to him and was about to touch his skin when the commander abruptly grabbed her wrist to stop her. Paige gasped not realizing she had made her way to the other side of the cave, in some kind of trance. An unexpected current ran down her arm into her gut, jolting her brain back to the moment.

There was confusion in his eyes, “Don’t.” He said angrily.

Paige swallowed hard before she had the courage to ask, “Where did you get these?” she asked, finding her voice soft yet rattled. Unexpectedly she was quite absorbed by them, they seemed to glisten in the dark as if the tattoos where drawn with incandescent ink.

“I think you need to get to know the commander first, Ma’am,” The major laughed.

Paige looked back at the major sitting on a rock taking his boots off, and the rest of the men in various stages of undress. Embarrassed by her rudeness in starring at all the men’s naked muscular chests all ripped into different immensity and hardness, she made her way back to her corner of the cave.

The men that surrounded her did not care or acknowledge her half naked presence so she, decided to finish dressing. Picking up the plastic bag with a clean bra and T-shirt, she ripped it open with her teeth keeping the wet T-shirt in place until she got the bra out, turned her back to the men she clipped the bra in place and then snuggled into her clean T-shirt. Turning around she found the men not minding her at all, relieved she sat on a rock closest to the fire and dragged her backpack closer to find something to eat and rearrange the content, still a bit rattled not sure if it was their presence or the commanders touch.