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Authors: David Meyer

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense, #Action, #Adventure

Torrent

BOOK: Torrent
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Torrent

By David Meyer

 

Torrent Copyright © 2014 by David Meyer

Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

Cover Design Copyright © 2014 by Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

Cover Art Copyrights:

1) Pyramid: Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

2) Canyon: Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

3) Sky: Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

4) Author: Guerrilla Explorer Publishing

Publishers Note:

This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, scanning, uploading, recording, or by information storage and retrieval system, or the Internet without prior written permission of the Publisher or copyright owner except where permitted by law. Your support of the author’s rights is greatly appreciated.

 

First Edition – March 2014

 

Manufactured/Printed in the United States of America

 

Dedication

To Julie, Bruce, and Haley

Thanks for your loving encouragement, the wonderful memories, and all that is to come.

 

T
ABLE OF
C
ONTENTS

Prologue: The Undertaking

Part I: The Tomb

Part II: Ball Lightning

Part III: The Pyramid

Part IV: The Library of the Mayas

Part V: The River

Epilogue: Simplification

Don't Leave Just Yet!

Ice Storm: Cy Reed Adventure (Sample)

About the Author

 

P
ROLOGUE

The Undertaking

10.0.0.0.0

In life, they'd carried a fearsome reputation as scavengers, thieves, and murderers. But as Hunahpu laid eyes on their corpses, he was astonished to see they were far shorter than the average Maya warrior. And that wasn't the only odd thing about them. Their eyes were bright red. Dry flakes covered their cheeks. And their skulls were elongated in a way that made his blood run cold.

Hunahpu lifted his chin. The jungle lacked sunlight, thanks to the strangely persistent cloud cover. Gnats pricked his arms. The air stank of blood and sweat. The sweltering heat made his head hurt. Indeed, the conditions were downright miserable.

And yet he felt elated.

Some two-dozen men, their olive bodies plastered in blue paint, glided silently past him. Some carried carved pieces of wood, capable of launching
atlatls
at long-distance targets. Others held short knives constructed from chert. But most of the warriors wielded long spears topped with sharp-looking obsidian points.

Hunahpu's bare feet padded against the earth, passing over stones and clumps of dirt. He walked to the edge of a clearing. It was shaped like a bowl, with its sides sloping gently toward a depressed center.

It was the end of the tenth
b'ak'tun
and thus, a major cause for celebration. Like his fellow Mayas, he'd eagerly anticipated the rare change in b'ak'tuns. So, it was especially jarring when Wak Kimi Janahb' Pakal, the divine
ajaw
of Palenque, had ordered him to skip the festivities and instead, accompany the military expedition to the city in which he now stood.

But he hadn't resented the order. This was, after all, no ordinary job. It was the most important job of his life. The building that would one day fill the clearing would seal his reputation as the greatest architect in the history of the Maya civilization. Nobles, scholars, priests, and other elites would come from as far away as Óoxmáal to study, reflect, and bask in the glory of his creation. The very thought made him shiver with delight.

He stared out at the clearing, at the sturdy yet pitifully simple limestone buildings left by its former inhabitants. His imagination kicked into high gear as he began to envision a structure that would be remembered and revered far into the future.

Loud thrashing noises rang out from the surrounding jungle. An ear-splitting scream pierced the air. Hunahpu nervously edged into the clearing as warriors dropped into crouches and veered toward the trees.

Four warriors darted out of the jungle, carrying something between them. A small crowd surged in their direction.

"Hunahpu." Xbalanque, a scribe of considerable fame, ran across the clearing. "You need to see this."

"What happened?" Hunahpu asked.

"It's one of the warriors. Something attacked him."

Hunahpu hustled to the crowd. As he pushed through it, he drew a deep breath. The warrior's head had nearly been ripped clean off his body. His chest had been torn open, exposing his bloody organs. "What did this?"

No one answered.

Leaves rustled as a soft gust passed overhead. Hunahpu licked his lips, tasting the salt. The clouds thickened, casting more darkness upon the clearing. He sensed evil in the air.

A strangled shout erupted from the middle of the clearing. Startled, Hunahpu spun toward it. He saw a man crawling across the dry earth. The man tried to shout again, but only managed a hoarse whisper before collapsing to the ground.

"It's Xmucane." Xbalanque's eyes widened. "He was leading the expedition."

"How long has he been gone?" Hunahpu asked.

"Nearly a full
k'in
."

Hunahpu hurried forward. Cautiously, he felt Xmucane's forehead. It was hotter than fire. "What happened to you?"

Xmucane licked his chapped lips. Dried vomit was plastered across his chest. Blotches and other marks covered large portions of his bare arms. "We're …" He licked his lips again and tried to control his quivering mouth. "We're not alone."

His whisper sent a wave of murmurs through the crowd.

"I don't understand. Where's the rest of your expedition?"

"They're dead." Xmucane grabbed Hunahpu's arm and pulled him close. "You have to stop them. They're real. They're …"

His voice drifted away. His head sagged to the ground. His breathing ceased.

Hunahpu's chest cinched tight. He could scarcely believe it. And yet, he knew it was true all the same.

"No, it's impossible." Xbalanque's face turned red. "He must've been mistaken."

"Their existence would explain many things," Hunahpu replied quietly.

"But they're just legends."

"Are they?"

Hunahpu peered again at the clearing. A vision formed in his brain. But it was different than the previous one.

His building would require a massive undertaking, far more ambitious than any project ever attempted throughout the Maya kingdom. It would be, without a doubt, his greatest achievement. And yet he no longer felt excited about it. Instead, he felt overwhelming sadness as his dreams collapsed around him.

He would receive no glory or fame for his efforts. Indeed, no one outside of him, Xbalanque, the workers, and Pakal could ever know about the undertaking.

The survival of his people, even the very world, depended on it.

 

P
ART
I

The Tomb

 

Chapter 1

"That's him?" The hushed whisper oozed contempt. "Wow. He even looks like a grave robber."

I gritted my teeth. Inhaled through my nose. Exhaled through my mouth. I'd heard those words before, many times, in a dozen different variations. They all boiled down to the same thing.

Who the hell is this guy? And why are we letting him near our dig site?

Beverly Ginger sat in the passenger seat of the old truck, leaning casually against the windowsill. I couldn't help but stare at her. Even after several months together, she still managed to take my breath away. "Well, this should be fun."

"Don't get me wrong," she said quietly. "I'm glad we're here. But why'd you pick this job? What's so special about it?"

I shrugged.

She turned to face me. A pair of large sunglasses hid her eyes. "It's not even close to the rate we used to get."

"We've been paid less."

She lifted her shades, propping them high on her forehead. Her violet eyes sparked with intense curiosity.

I exhaled. "We should get to work."

"Fine." Beverly flung open her door and stepped lightly out of the truck. "But we're going to talk about this later."

I watched her saunter away. She possessed endless curves and long, shapely legs. Her face was perfectly tanned. Her chestnut brown hair had more waves than the ocean. Her violet eyes shone brighter than a pair of lighthouses. But it wasn't just her looks that captivated me. She also possessed something unique, something intangible. She had that rare ability to leave men and women tongue-tied in her wake.

Shielding my eyes from the hot sun, I climbed out of the truck. Dutch Graham, who'd exited a few moments earlier, stood near the cargo bed. A large object, covered by a tarp and held in place by over two-dozen steel cables and multiple heavy-duty blue straps, sat inside it. He gave me a nod as he started to work on the cables.

Three other people, two women and a man, stood a short distance away. One woman held a small black Chihuahua. Its loud bark grated on my ears.

I strode over to them, my boots pressing against the dry earth. "Which one of you is Dr. May?" I asked even though I already knew the answer.

A woman stepped forward to greet me. She was short, maybe a hair over five feet tall. Her body was wiry and dark-skinned. Her hair, black as tar, was tied back in a ponytail. She emitted a prickly, snobbish vibe and I was nearly certain she'd been the one to lob the grave robber insult.

"Call me Miranda," she replied. "I'm leading this dig."

"Cy Reed." My heart raced as I shook her hand. "I've read your books on the Classic Maya Collapse."

"Really?"

Despite my best efforts, she awed the hell out of me. I'd read her name hundreds of times over the last several years. She'd been interviewed on television and praised in newspapers. Countless media outlets had cited her work as gospel. She was famous, as close to a celebrity as one could find in the archaeological world.

"You make an excellent case for the mega-drought theory."

A confident smile formed on her lips. "Thank you."

My brain churned as I tried to think of an appropriate response. I wasn't an expert. But I knew the Classic Maya society had sprung up around 200 AD. It quickly became one of the most advanced civilizations in the world, showing renowned expertise in architecture, sculpture, painting, pottery, and astronomy.

Sometime after 800 AD, the Classic Maya mysteriously vanished from the southern Maya lowlands, abandoning great cities in the process. Close to one hundred theories had been proposed to explain the Classic Maya Collapse, including war, revolts, and disease. But Miranda's extensive work on the subject had convinced most people that human-induced climate change was the primary culprit.

Still, I didn't want to just parrot her opinions. I wanted her to know I could think for myself. "I'm not convinced though," I replied. "If mega-droughts caused the collapse, why didn't the Mayas abandon their northern cities too?"

"Most of those cities were close to the coast and had access to seafood. So, they weren't as dependent on agriculture as their southern counterparts."

"I guess that makes sense. But the mega-drought theory is still hard to imagine. The southern lowlands get so much more rain than the northern ones."

"That's because you're looking at it through modern lenses. The climate was very different back then." She gave me a superior look. "It's very simple. My work proves that one of the most severe droughts of all time plagued the southern lowlands for roughly two hundred years beginning around 800 AD. At the same time, the Mayas were cutting down the jungle to make room for buildings and crops. Deforestation meant less water was transferred back into the atmosphere. This exacerbated the drought and crop yields decreased. The Mayas tore down more trees to plant more crops. And a vicious cycle commenced."

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