J.J. was less impressed than Ramsden obviously was by the news. Then again Ramsden seemed to understand things others couldn’t about science, mathematics and the mystics of ancient times. It was all above J.J.’s head. He couldn’t talk advanced quantum physics like Ramsden, but he could talk machine. But what kind of machine could have made a cave so perfectly shaped when this was supposedly done by people hundreds or thousands of years ago?
“That’s a confirmation,” Silvia said over the walkies, “Your measurements finished processing up here and the cave opening is a perfect circle. Definitely man made. Can you laser the length of the space to see how far back the cave goes?”
Ramsden pulled the laser measure out again and pointed it down the length of the cave where it penetrated farther than the light from J.J.’s flare. He tilted it so he could read the display.
“It reads forty-seven feet. That’s strange.”
“Why strange?” J.J. asked.
“I’ve been researching putting the pieces of a complex puzzle together for some time now. In every case the measurements of every location has been some factor of seven. But this one is short a couple of feet,” Ramsden said as he withdrew a flashlight from his pack. With a puzzled look on his face he moved deeper into the cave, headless of what may lay ahead.
That guy is one brave son of a gun, thought J.J. All I can think of is Indiana Jones booby traps and he just rushes headlong. It wasn’t like the man was an imposing giant. On the contrary, Ramsden only measured 5’9″, compared to J.J’s six foot. He was fit and had fantastic endurance, but J.J. weight trained and had arms twice the size of Ramsdens. So why was he not as easy able to walk forward into the dark unknown as Ram was? Dropping the flare at his feet so the others could find the opening once they descended, he pulled a helmet light from his pack. Placing it on his head and pointing the beam forward and slightly down, J.J. followed Ramsden.
Within moments they both stood before a solid slap of stone that blocked their advance. The stone was smooth and without markings they could discern.
“Well it’s too smooth to be natural,” J.J. said as he waited with hands on his hips. Ramsden was searching slow and methodical with his hands across the surface of the stone and the seams. He was talking quietly to himself.
“What was that?” J.J. asked
“I know I’ve read about this somewhere before. It’s not complicated, its just a matter of finding. . .” He trailed off as he examined one part of the side wall. There was an audible click from somewhere in the stone and he stood back up smiling at J.J.
“Hmmm. Nothing,” J.J. said. About ten seconds passed and Ramsden’s face started to lose it’s smile when suddenly the wall began to slide out of the way with a groan and a puff of dust and dirt.
“Oh ye of little faith,” said Ramsden as he waited for the dust to settle, allowing the beam of his light to illuminate the room before them.
“Oh my!” explained Ramsden as he stepped forward.
“Hold on there buddy,” J.J. said as he grabbed Ramsden by the arm and pulled him back. He then pulled another flare free from his sack, lit it and tossed it into the room. The red glow of the chemical light filled the small, domed room. Pictographs from floor to the apex of the dome and back down again reflected through the red light. No stone tables with ancient statues sitting on a pressure pad. No obvious poison dart holes inlaid in the wall. It didn’t look dangerous but neither man moved.
“I know I’m going to regret this, but I suspect this is going to help you somehow. Care to explain it in layman’s terms?” J.J. asked.
Ramsden moved slowly into the room and put a reverent hand on the wall. He looked around suddenly, then finding what he was looking for, moved to a bottom corner of the pictograph,before following up and around with his light. From what J.J. could see they children paintings of stick figures, what look like highways, a pyramid or two and some celestial bodies depicted here and there. A noise behind J.J. told him that the others had hooked up the rope ladder and had made their way down to the cave mouth. Soon he was blinded by the approaching flashlights. Turning back to the room, Ramsden was still reading the images and talking softly to himself.
“Ram?” J.J. said forcefully, jolting Ramsden from his task.
“Of course. Sorry. My dear old dad, the ex-Army chaplin, would fill my mind growing up with questions like, Where did Eden go that man cannot find it today? How is it a ghost can be summoned? How can Hell be down and Heaven be up from us? Could it be that these things do share the same space with Earth, but have translated into a different dimension? The Catholic Church started the stories about Limbo, but other cultures talk of this place of nothingness between this life and the afterlife. Could that be a place, a void, that once someone is there, they can access these places that exist in a different dimension?”
Without a word, Jude hunched over, stepped into the room and began taking pictures of the walls. Silvia set up a laptop and a laser beam device which she pointed at different parts of the walls, taking measurements. Ramsden continued talking.
“As you can imagine, as much as I hated him always lecturing me about being a good churchgoer, it was these types of questions that got me really wondering about our world, our universe and what existed beyond. So I started my search at an early age to find out everything I could about Limbo, or as I like to call it The Void. What I’ve been finding over the years is a remarkable amount of clues from different mystical and mysterious locations around the world. I believe with the final pieces of information in this room, I’ll have unlocked a long lost lore only practices by holy men and mystics of ancient times.”
“What type of lore?” J.J. asked.
“A portal into the Void man,” Jude said without taking his face away from the camera. The flash came in staccato bursts like a dance club strobe light.
“One more time?”
Ramsden turned away from the wall and looked at J.J. in the eye. I admire this man. His passion. His focus for what he believes, thought J.J.
“The short story is there is power in our words. Our spoken words. When spoken they can interact with the quantum theory of string energy that makes up the entire universe. Combine that with some advanced mathematics — which I have no idea how the mystics could have known about, but obviously they did in order to get fifty ton blocks of stone moved to remote Machu Picchu — and I believe I can open a portal into the Void and thus access other dimensions.”
“I barely understand that means, but it seems like a big deal,” J.J. said as he looked around the room with a new found respect. “You can tell all this from these drawings?”
“Mr. Jainukul said this place should give me the final piece I need for the formula to open the portal.” Ramsden turned back to the wall and began reading to himself again.
“That guy still creeps me out,” Silvia said in the light of the monitor screen. “I mean this isn’t the first time he’s put you on the trail of something that has been hidden from mankind for centuries, only to be right again. Something’s not right Ram.”
“You may be right Silvia, but for now I don’t care. . .and he pays for our bills. This is it!!” Ram declared as he focused on a patchwork of symbols and lines that looked like an airfield map. The other’s crowded around the area, while J.J. stayed at his spot near the entrance. J.J. began to look around, noticing something was missing.
“Where is Marion?” No response from the trio. “Guys, where is Marion?” J.J. asked louder.
“She didn’t want to come down the ladder. She and the guide are up top waiting for us,’ Jude said then restarted taking pictures from different angles of the spot Ramsden had identified. Good old Marion. She was the only one who would take him in when no one else would trust a teenage black boy in their house. But she had believed in him and had made sure he had grown up with some skills Now he owed Ramsden for giving him work doing what he loved, but it was Marion who he called mom.
J.J. was starting to feel like a fifth wheel as the brainiacs were hard at work on their pictures and formulas. A distant shouting caught his attention. It seemed to be coming from the cave mouth. J.J. moved back down the tunnel to where he found the rope ladder and the two lines he and Ramsden had come down on. Tugging on the rope ladder to test it’s sturdiness, J.J. leaned into the open air to look up. All he saw was the lip of the outcropping, but he could hear Paco yelling something. What could the man be upset about? Marion not willing to share a Twinkie with him? I better let the others know.
J.J. made his way back down the tunnel to the room. He had thought to work a rock free from the surface of the outcropping and wedged it next to where the stone door had slid out of sight. A sense of relief at this small action made him feel safer about the whole thing.
“Guys, I’m heading up. Paco is yelling about something.” No response from the others.
“I need to try this,” Ramsden said as he left the wall to the move into the center of the room.
“Uh, you sure about this Ram?” Silvia asked hesitantly.
“Ram, that might not be a good idea and something may be happening topside,” J.J. said.
“You go ahead, That is what this room is designed for. That is why there is no tables, no nothing in this room because it was used as a travel station to the Void.”
Should I go up and check or stay here? J.J. thought. Knowing Ram, he’ll need help.
‘Hurry and make it quick,” J.J. said with resignation.