A Man And His Nephew Go Looking For An Ancient Lost Civilization...
A loud clap of thunder abruptly brought Jacob out of his reverie. He realized he’d been staring blindly out of the mouth of the cave for some time now as he wallowed in his self-pity.
“How’s your ankle feeling, uncle Jake?” Chris asked.
Jacob tried to move his foot, but then thought better of it. He knew it was useless; the swelling around the ankle was only getting worse. It was either broken or severely sprained.
“It’s not too bad,” he lied, trying not to worry the kid. “If I just let it rest tonight, maybe in the morning it’ll be better and you can help me hobble down the mountain.” He almost asked Chris if he could find a stick or something to use as a crutch, but then he remembered they were above the tree line, so the question was moot. “But if I can’t make it, you’ll have to go down by yourself to get help.”
“I can do that,” Chris said with a big smile, his 10 year-old optimism showing just how blissfully ignorant he was of their situation. He could get lost. Or worse, because there was still large patches of snow and a few melting glaciers at this height, he could easily slip and fall into a crevice, never to be heard from again.
Chris pulled out a bag of trail mix from his backpack, and for the next hour or so they shared it as they watched the lightning flash across the Shasta valley 7,000 feet below.
~ ~ ~
This wasn’t Jacob’s first time on Mt. Shasta. In fact, he’d been to the 14,162 foot summit three times in his 28 years, but those trips were for fun and adventure. This time he wasn’t up here to climb to the top, but to try to prove something to the world.
Located in northern California, 70 miles south of the Oregon border, Mt. Shasta was one of many dormant volcanoes in the Cascade Range. In terms of land mass, it was the biggest volcano on the North American continent. Many considered it to be a sacred mountain, and people from all over the world traveled here to enjoy its majestic beauty and pray to whatever gods they worshiped. And as a sacred mountain, it carried with it a legend passed down for centuries from generations of local Indians.
It was rumored that an ancient race of ‘little people’ called Lemurians lived inside the mountain. Most believers thought the origin of their existence was extraterrestrial, but wherever they came from, all agreed that they were there for one reason and one reason alone: to protect a city made entirely of solid gold. Hundreds of caves, which were actually lava tubes formed from previous eruptions, dotted the mountain. The majority of them were only a few hundred yards long before cave-ins made their passage impossible, but the true believers thought that if the right cave was found it would lead them to the great city of Lemuria.
Jacob was one of those true believers, which is how he and his nephew came to be stranded in this cave ¾ of the way up the mountain.
Earlier in the day, after he and Chris intentionally strayed far off the main hiking trail to search for some caves he hadn’t explored yet, Jacob stepped on a loose rock, rolling his ankle at an awkward angle. He knew right away how bad it was, and unfortunately, when he fell he landed on his butt, smashing the cell phone he carried in his hip pocket and ruining any chance of calling for rescue.
Chris tried as best he could to help him back to the main trail—their safest bet—but with the boy’s small stature and Jacob’s injury seeming to get worse, it wasn’t happening. As luck would have it though, there was a cave close by, and with dark storm clouds approaching from the west, they decided to take refuge in it for the night.
~ ~ ~
Sometime in the middle of the night Jacob heard a noise coming from the back of the cave. It didn’t wake him because his throbbing ankle wouldn't allow him the gratification of sleep. At first he thought it might be a rat, but rats couldn’t survive at this elevation. Then he heard it again, a scuffling noise, larger than a rat and sounding like it was coming closer.
“Chris. Chris, wake up,” he whispered.
“Hmm? Whuh?” Chris sat up and rubbed his eyes. “What’s going on, uncle Jake?”
“There’s something back there.”
Another noise, this one much louder than the first two. And much closer.
“Uncle Jake? I’m scared.”
That’s when they saw it. Or them. The darkness of the cave prevented them seeing anything clearly, but they could make out shadows moving around deeper in the cave.
And green eyes.
“Jesus!” Jacob yelled. “Get out of here, Chris! Now!”
“But Uncle Jake—”
“Just go, damnit!”
Chris immediately jumped up and ran as fast as he could. He was 20 feet out of the cave when he suddenly stopped and turned around to look back at his uncle. He could see the shadows starting to surround Jacob.
“Go! Run boy, run! Don’t worry about me! Save yourself!”
That was the last time Chris ever saw his uncle, and the last time Jacob ever saw his nephew.
~ ~ ~
It’s been eight years now since Jacob took his nephew up on Mt. Shasta to search for the mythical city of Lemuria, and still nobody knows exactly what happened to him.
But I know Chris managed to safely make it down the mountain early the next morning.
How do I know this?
Because I’m Chris.
I was on the front page of a lot of newspapers telling my story about my uncle, but of course nobody believed the irrational claims of a 10 year-old whose memories had been influenced by the mind of a nutcase who thought ‘little people’ lived inside of Mt. Shasta protecting their city of gold.
I might not know what happened to my uncle, but I know what I saw. I was there.
A good number of hikers try to climb Mt. Shasta every year, and some never come back. Some of their bodies are eventually found, usually by other hikers years later after an unseasonably warm summer melts enough snow and ice to reveal their remains.
The ones who haven’t been found are presumed dead, which makes sense. However, without a body, I’ll never presume my uncle is dead. I’m positive he didn’t get lost on the mountain or fall into a crevice of a glacier. Nor did I see those shadows kill him.
I’m a somebody who believes he’s still alive, living out his days in a great city made of solid gold, maybe being held there against his will to protect their secret.
I like to believe that my uncle Jake proved Lemuria really does exist.
If not to the world, then at least to himself.
Mt. Shasta ▼