Read Maya Mound Mayhem (A Logan Dickerson Cozy Mystery Book 3) Online
Authors: Abby L. Vandiver
Maya Mound Mayhem Copyright
© 2015 Shondra C. Longino
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Maya Mound Mayhem
is a work of fiction.
Any references or similarities to
actual events, organizations, real people - living, or dead, or to real locales
are intended to give the novel a sense of reality. All other events and
characters portrayed are a product of the author’s imagination or are used
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Track Rock Gap
tumbled from its makeshift perch in the dirt wall and onto me. I watched out
the side of my eyes as a jumble of bones, clanking and bouncing, fell to the
ground. There was gooey stuff (not a very scientific word I know, but that is
what it was) everywhere. That made me scream. Rather loudly.
I jumped back,
hands flailing around to keep the slime and bones from hitting me, feet
slightly apart, I didn’t know if I should fight or flee. Up on my toes, I
tiptoed backwards away from it after it all had settled and took in a breath. I
tried to calm myself. I took my handheld flashlight and scanned the area to
make sure nothing else was coming out of the walls, or walking up behind me. I
exhaled and stood flat on my feet. And then I shook off my jitters.
Geesh . . .
I flashed the beam
of light on it and stared at the jumble of calcified matrixes precariously.
Some of the brown colored goo was still dripping off the stone slab area that
it had fell from. I cautiously reached into the pile, careful not to get
slimed. I picked up one of the larger bones. It was a femur.
I dug a small hole
in the dirt wall and propped the back end of my flashlight in it. Twisting the
skull around in my hand, I held it in front of the beam and examined it. Of
course I couldn’t tell too much of anything about it here . . .
this guy – or girl – was definitely dead.
My eyes followed
up the wall that had heaved the skeleton at me. The body appeared to have been on
a chunk of smooth stone barely buried in the wall. When I’d dug into it, the coffee-colored
goo had slid out bringing the bones with it.
What is that stuff?
I ran my hand
along the side of the altar-like deathbed.
Did the person just lie there, die
and now was melting away?
I looked down at
the heap of bones.
The goop just didn’t look like it was part of the
decomposition of the body.
And how would I
scratched my head.
I’ve never seen a decomposed body before. Just old
I adjusted the
flashlight in the wall to shine down to the dirt floor and stooped to study the
rest of the remains.
I wonder how long
it’s has been here.
I gingerly stuck
the tip of my finger into the gunge and smelled it.
Yuck . . .
I glanced at the
area where it had drained, and then straight up to see if it could have fell from
the top of the mound I was in. I couldn’t see a source for it.
the remains of the body.
Flicking it off my
finger, it hit the dirt floor with a
. I scanned the rest of the
pile. The bones didn’t look as dense as they should be, even more brittle than
bones I’d seen on thousand-year-old skeletons. But with mushy, possible fleshy
parts still hanging around, bones that old didn’t add up.
I spotted the
skull and picked it up. Standing, I adjusted the light upward. I studied it.
mandible, flatter rear edge. The nasal aperture long and narrow with a high
bridge and a sharp nasal sill
. I flipped it over and fingered the narrow
and pointed mastoid process – I nodded. In my estimation it consistent with a
person of the Caucasian race.
I cast an eye down
around my feet and located the pelvic bone. Still holding the skull, I squatted
my fingers over the symphyseal surface. It had started to erode and was
somewhat pitted and porous. I stuck my hand through the greater sciatic notch,
and then used it to roughly measure the subpubic angle. Both areas were narrow.
Male, I surmised. Older
than thirty-five but less than fifty.
I glanced back at
the skull still in my hand. The jaw was closed shut. I opened it and looked
inside. One of the molars had something black in it. I swiped my finger across
it and looked at my finger and back at it. Nothing came off and whatever it was,
was still in the tooth. I moved the skull up to one eye and peered in.
It looked like a
filling for a cavity.
Soo, you’re a
pretty recent skeleton, huh?
“Hey are you
alright in there?” I heard a voice coming my way.
I dropped the
skull, stood upright, grabbed my flashlight and shut off the light. Standing
still, I took in a breath. I inched myself closer to the wall in the dark and
hoped to become one with it to stay out of sight. My foot, on the way over, however,
accidently hit a couple of the bones and I nearly tripped face first into the
wall. Catching myself, I held onto the wall to get my balance then turned
around to kick the stray bone out of the way just as a beam of light shined in
“Logan. What were
you screaming about?” It was Riley Sinclair. But before I could answer, Bugs
Reid pushed by her and came over to me.
“Are you alright,
Logan?” he asked. “Is something wrong?”
I ducked out of
the ray of light and flipped on my flashlight shining it down on the ground. “I’m
fine,” I said standing out from the corner I’d tucked myself in. “Everything is
“Were you hiding?”
Riley asked, a smirk on her face.
“No. She wasn’t
hiding,” Bugs said. “Were you?”
“Of course not,” I
said as I side-stepped the bones. “Why would I be hiding?”
Yeah, then what
was I trying to do?
“Well look what
you found.” Bugs said noticing me angling around the pile. He looked at me and
then down. “Bones.” He stooped down and glanced at them and back up at me. “Are
they Maya bones?”
“Are you placing
bones in here?” Riley asked. She aimed her light down at the pile. “Trying to
prove your worth by manufacturing evidence?”
Man, I just want
to wipe that smirk off her face.
“No. I’m not. And
they’re not Maya bones,” I said. “He’s got modern dental work.” I pointed at
the skull and looked back up at Riley. Our eyes locking momentarily. “We need
to go,” I directed my statement to Bugs. “We have to report this to the local
“Report it to the
local authorities?” Bugs turned my statement into a question. “Aren’t we going
to extract it ourselves and send it to the lab?”
I took in a
breath, but before I could answer Riley brought the stream of light back up to
“That body doesn’t
belong here, does it?” she said, speaking slowly, seemingly understanding what
I didn’t want to say out loud. “You really were hiding in here, weren’t you?”
she said. “Were you going to try and cover this up?” She narrowed her eyes and
looked at me.
“Cover what up?”
“A murder.” Riley
said, that stupid smirk growing into a mile-wide grin. “She thinks our skeleton
here belonged to someone who was murdered.”
It was my professional
opinion, paying no heed to my negligible worth as a novice archaeologist, that there
were Maya ruins along the steep mountainside inside Track Rock Gap in
Maya in the United
States was a big deal. And it was something that most scientific people that
had expertise in that area thought was likely improbable. I was one of those
few people that thought it possible. And the U.S. Forest Service, an agency
within the Department of Agriculture, had given me that opportunity to prove
the majority wrong.
But now with me
finding a corpse inside my archaeological excavation site, I wasn’t so sure I
would ever be able to prove my theory.
Geesh . . .
It seemed to
follow me everywhere I went.
It couldn’t be
anything else but murder, I thought as I moved around my trailer one hundred yards
out from where I had just three weeks earlier set up grid lines to map out the
This was really
just too much.
In the last year I
had been up close and personal with three dead bodies. Two of them in the last
This made the
I peeked through
the blinds in the living area of the trailer where I had taken refuge after I
reported the body. I turned and walked over to the kitchenette to grab a bottle
of water. Screwing the top off, I thought about those bones I’d unearthed and
just couldn’t figure any other reason for them – especially with it housing modern
dental work – to be tucked away inside a mound unless someone was trying to
hide them there.
I opened up the
trailer door and went outside.
It was midday, the
sun was beating down as if I was in the middle of the desert instead of in northern
Georgia. I had gotten up early, before six a.m. and gone into the mound to
work. Still early, this day was not looking like it was going to turn out well.
I pulled up the
awning on the front of the trailer and sat in a folding chair. Waiting. All my
excavating at a standstill until my “discovery” was dealt with.
I watched men in
dark jackets with FBI written on the back walk through my site. My
archaeological camp consisted of a mess tent, a lab for immediate analysis and
sampling packaging to send off to a larger lab, and three sleeper campers. I
had a shed for equipment, a budget for incidentals, and 24-hour protection -
Track Rock Gap had the full protection of the USDA Forest Service Law
the Forest Service officers weren’t enough.
FBI agents marched
across my grid lines with no regard of the sanctity for a dig or the history
that laid beneath it. They brought out a black bag filled with the bones, and
small plastic containers filled with the goo that had surrounded the body.
I took a swig of
I had left the
excavation on Stallings Island in Central Georgia at the invitation of the
Forest Service – Director Steven McHutchinson’s request to be exact – to come
to Track Rock Gap.
Stallings Island was
the home of Native Indians that built shell mounds instead of dirt ones, and
produced pottery woven with fiber. Something very unusual for a people that
lived more than four thousand years ago. And it was right next to Yasamee. A
quaint little town of not even six hundred people that had now become almost
like my second home. But the first thing I ran into when I got there was Gemma
Burke. Dead in her bowl of bouillabaisse.
That had been
death number two.
But things weren’t
all bad. The Archaeological Conservancy, who was in charge of it, allowed me to
be the first to excavate there in more than twenty years. So that was good. They
gave me money and help. I believed I was making a name for myself. I even got
recognition because I found a fish that had been previously thought to be
extinct. I was moving up in the world. All without the help of my eminent archaeologist
Okay, so she did
get me permission to dig on the island. But all the other stuff I did myself.
That was before
Oliver was killed.
It seemed like
death was following me around.
I swear. My life
could be a weekly installment of Murder She Wrote.
Still bitter with
the sweet, I came full circle. Got to go to Track Rock Gap. It was an American
ruin that carbon dating put at being last inhabited nearly a thousand years ago.
It was comprised of more than a hundred and fifty stone masonry walls with – my
favorite part – Mayan-like inscriptions. Early excavations had found evidence
of agricultural terraces, and the remains of a potential sophisticated
irrigation system. It was nearly identical to Maya sites excavated in the
jungles of Mesoamerica.
I had been chosen
to come and check out those ruins. Given, again, an archaeological team,
equipment, campers and volunteer amateur archaeologists. That was the reason I
was on the other side of one of those stone masonry walls when I discovered the
I had been very
lucky to get the assignment to dig at the site. And it was a dream come true
for me. I had found my niche in Belize – Maya archaeology – when I’d worked in the
canopied jungles there. I had studied hard to become an expert in the field. I
knew the history. The culture. And spoke the language. (Well, okay. Maybe not
. Or know it as well as I knew Maya history and culture.
But I could read Maya glyphs without too much difficulty and a little help from
a couple of books.)
And it was so
surprising to me when the call came for the offer to come and excavate the
ruins at Track Rock Gap because in recent years the United States government
had been very tight with people getting in to do any studies, even forbidding
the History Channel and the National Geography Channel access.
I had trumped the
History Channel. Go figure.
But that advantage
was quickly eroding away.
I closed my eyes
and shook my head.
How was I going to prove my Maya invasion theory now?
I took in a breath and when I opened my eyes I saw a uniform clad man standing
in front of me. Tilting my head and squinting my eyes, I tried to get a better
look at him.
“Are you the one
who was trying to hide bones?” he asked.