Jayden's receives a gift from an unexpected acquaintance.
A Gift from the Gods
Consumed with the discoveries and ideas portrayed in a Smithsonian Channel documentary about the ancient Mayan culture, Jayden heard a knock on his dorm room door.
"Dammit! Who is it?"
A distinctive, muffled voice replied on the other side of the door, "Whoa! What's with you, man? Why the hostility? You've got a damn package. Open the door!"
Jayden recognized the accent immediately and smiled. It could be only one person, Srikanth Patel. He left his chair and opened the door. There Srikanth stood with a medium-sized box propped beneath his left arm. The sheen on his spruced black hair melded with his tan skin and large questioning eyes.
"I'm sorry, Srikanth. I was really into his documentary." Jayden motioned for his friend to come inside and pointed toward the small television in the room's corner.
"Ah, now I see. I bet you wish you could have accompanied Professor Mitchell and your other classmates to Chichen Itza? Where's that at again?"
"It's in Mexico. More precisely, the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Yeah, I wish I had the money to go with them. It would really help with my studies of ancient civilizations."
"I understand. The only proper way to know how other civilizations live is to go there." Srikanth's eyes swept to the package under his arm. "Oh, here's your package. I think it's from one of your classmates. The postmark says it's from Mexico." Srikanth handed the box to Jayden with both hands.
"Mexico? Really?" He snagged the box, set it on his desk, and read the mailing label. "It's from Terry...Terry Grantham. Now that's a surprise. We have opposing ideas when it comes to sacrifice among ancient cultures. He believes those who were sacrificed were not volunteers at all. They were destitute souls of the community who were rounded up. I think his belief comes from the fact that his family has money. Personally, I believe that anyone with a strong enough commitment to their deities would volunteer their lives, regardless of their rank or wealth in the community."
"So why do you think he sent you present? You and him have never really seen eye to eye on to many subjects."
"Srikanth, I don't know. He's the last one I thought I would ever get a gift from."
"Open it. I want to see what he sent."
Jayden found a loose piece of packing tape on the side of the package and pulled. The tape's ripping sound filled the room as it cleared the side of the package, across the top, and down the other side. He stuck his fingers underneath one flap on top and lifted. A musty odor struck his nose, and he pulled his head back.
"Boy! That stinks."
Srikanth waved his hand in front of his nose, agreeing, "It sure does. Is there something dead in there?"
"I hope not, but I wouldn't put it past the guy." He pulled on the opposite flap, releasing a second odoriferous wave. "Whew!"
Then he perched his head over the package and removed the tightly packed, crumpled newspapers. A purple pouch sat inside. He removed it and noticed it had some weight to it, and whatever was inside felt solid. He stuck his fingers of both hands inside the pouch and pulled them outward, which released a third smelly wave. He reached in. Whatever it was, it was solid and cold. He grasped one end and pulled it out.
"What is it?" Srikanth asked with a knitted brow.
"I...I think it's a dagger. A dagger made of stone. Look at how it's chipped at to form a blade and its sharp point. It's exquisite!"
"Why would he send you something like that? It must be a valuable artifact from Mexico, right?"
"Nah. It can't be authentic. They probably make replicas of these right by the ruins and sell them really cheap to tourists.'
"I don't know, Jayden. The smell nearly made me sick. It might be real. It looks sharp."
Jayden ran his fingers along the jagged edges. It wasn't sharp at all. In fact, the edge bent if he pressed hard enough. "See, I told you its fake. Here. Take it. See for yourself."
Srikanth hesitated before taking hold of the handle. He brought it closer to his face, then ran his fingers along the edge. "You're right. It is fake. It's not sharp at all"
"See. I told you so. It's probably a gag gift from him. He's probably teasing me because I didn't have the money to make the two-month-long trip with everyone else." Jayden saw something else in the pouch. He reached in and pulled out a small scroll. Upon reading it, he said, "Hey, this is pretty cool."
"What is it? What does it say?" Srikanth said as he dropped his hand holding the fake dagger.
"It's telling the history of the Mayan sacrifice ritual. There's some Spanish at the end." He read it aloud. "Umm...I have no idea what this means. Te ofrezco mi alma."
"What? What does that mean?" Srikanth leaned forward to look over Jayden's shoulder.
"Man, I took Spanish in high school, but I don't remember any of it now."
"Can I see it?" Srikanth asked. Jayden hand it to Srikanth's free hand. "Hmmm. Te of...ofrezco mi alma."
After speaking those words, Jayden saw Srikanth's hand tighten his grip on the handle of the fake dagger, then began to raise it up.
"What are you doing Srikanth?"
"I...I don't know! I can't control it. What's happening?"
Jayden watched as the edges of the fake dagger emitted a bluish glow. Srikanth eyes grew big as he struggled to control his arm.
"Help, Jayden! I can't stop my arm?"
Jayden pulled on his arm, but it kept moving. He went to grab the dagger. "Shit!" He watched as the deep cut on his hand dripped blood to the floor.
"Jayden! Help!" Srikanth's grip shifted. Now the dagger's blade pointed at his heart. "Jayden, I can't stop. Help me!" Jayden gripped Srikanth's arm again trying to stop it from moving forward but it didn't help. The tip of the blade punctured Srikanth's chest! "Ahhh...Jayden, you kept telling me it wasn't real! Oh, God!"
"It wasn't real. You saw it."
The blade sunk deeper into Srikanth's chest, soaking the front of his shirt with blood. His screams of agony pierced Jayden's soul. He kept pulling on Srikanth's arm to halt its movements, but Srikanth dropped to the floor while the knife continued its deadly trajectory.
Jayden opened the door and called out for help. As footsteps approached his room, he fumbled with his phone and got off a call to 911. In the meantime, his good friend lay dying in a pool of blood. As onlookers gathered in his doorway creating a surreal scene, Jayden's mind locked onto one thing; what did those Spanish words mean? His bloody fingers tapped away on his keyboard, while in the background, sirens came closer among the chatter of the onlookers. On his monitor, he saw the translation.
"Te ofrezco mi alma...I offer my soul to you!"
In that moment, he realized the dagger from Terry was meant for him and not Srikanth.