Flash Fiction: Sentinels

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Sentinels

The rotor blades cut through the thin air, disturbing flocks of birds roosting in the jungle’s canopy. Doctor Shane Everett took a deep breath and gripped the edge of his seat, flying treetop high at dizzying speed was not on his bucket list. Regardless, twenty-four hours before, he was standing in a classroom, lecturing bored freshmen taking Archeology 101, and now he was in the skies over Brazil.

His stomach dropped as the pilot rapidly dove for the canopy, the belly of the helicopter skimming the treetops. They were close and he exchanged looks with Erik Lundstrum, astrophysicist, and xenobiologist Lauren Swift. All ceremoniously plucked from their lives, given an unsatisfactory briefing, and hustled aboard a US Air Force helicopter.

Dr. David Malone of NASA shouted over the din, barely audible through the headphones. “The pilot is going to circle the anomaly before he lands.” The NASA scientist pointed at the port side of the chopper.

Everett gasped as the enormous structure came into view. According to the briefing, the ancient stone building appeared three days ago, rising high above the trees. A two-mile radius of the jungle vanished, and in its place, a fortress capped by two imposing faces, not unlike those on temples scattered across the globe. No one spoke. Everett realized he was holding his breath. He glanced at Swift, who was leaning across him, and noted her eyes wide in astonishment. He imagined his was as well.

The helicopter landed on the perimeter of the clearing along with three additional Air Force helicopters. Joint-forces units deployed, securing the area before the scientists received clearance to disembark. Once outside, Dr. Malone spoke with a military officer before he joined them.

The structure towered above them, its scope overwhelming. Everett felt drawn toward it and walked to the foundation. The horizontal layers of stone reminded him of stacked limestone fences. The flat stones and chiseled blocks forming the walls fit seamlessly together. He traced the stone with his fingertips, finding the surface cool to the touch despite the hot humid climate.

The commanding faces were Mongoloid and oriented toward the east. Everett felt the hairs rise on the nape of his neck. The statues’ eyes appeared alive as they gazed into the distance, but he was certain someone was watching them.

Malone said, “A military satellite picked up an intense flash of light, and this structure appeared. It could have been here all along, hidden from view or transported somehow. We don’t know. This area is far from any village and not on commercial air routes or satellite surveillance tracks.”

Before anyone could comment, a rumbling sounded, and they watched in astonishment as stones began to move forming steps, leading to the plateau where a doorway appeared. The military deployed up the steps and Everett followed. Sensing the others remained still, Everett turned and beckoned to Lundstrum and Swift.

“Come on, this is why we’re here. Time to see who wants to say hello.”

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Written for Writingeekery writing exercise… 500-word minimum, based on photo prompt.

(Photo:  The busts of emperor’s Yan and Huang at the Yellow River Park. Public domain photos.)

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