When we found the skeleton we couldn’t believe it. We aren’t scientists, we are archeologists,and our dig wasn’t for skeletons, it was for ancient artefacts. But I guess we found something truly ancient, and truly terrifying amongst the earthenware and stone.
What manner of creature looked like this? All those stories and drawings of demons from our childhood swarmed up to our minds on seeing the remains. Because that’s exactly what it looked like – a demon’s skeleton. Small, rather reptilian in body and winged. With what looked like a powerful jaw and sockets for eyes that might easily be imagined to blaze with hellish glory.
An imp, a familiar, some dark and mysterious thing. But dead now, gone, leaving only the bones, fragile but beautiful in a strangely twisted way.
What does such a discovery do to what you make of life, or what you believe? If there are demons, then perhaps there is a hell indeed, of some sort at least. And then what, a devil, and therefore also a god? Or gods? What do we not know of our history, our true history? Maybe it is all buried in bibles and ancient texts and even fairy stories. Maybe it is all real. It is all true.
I was going to bring the skeleton back, I promise. So scientists could study it and religious people could visit it and wonder and pray. I had every intention of doing so. We were dedicated to discovery and understanding the past. And even if the past now seemed horrifying and mysterious in a manner we could hardly encompass, it was our duty to see it through to some form of understanding, some form of knowledge.
But someone smashed it one night, just before we were due to return. One of us, though none ever admitted it. Not me, even though I understood why it had been done. I understood what the skeleton represented. And I understood why one of us would sacrifice knowledge for the safety of ignorance.
We left the dig the day after. We never spoke of why, but all silently assented. I know why we left. And I know why none of us ever journaled the dig. It was as if it had never been, a brief lacuna in our otherwise full resumes.
I know why. If we’d found one of these we might have found others. A swarm, a hive. And worse still, what if some weren’t dead? What if this was just the burial site from something that still lived, something still part of our world?
Better the remains be lost and it never be spoken of again. We buried our curiosity with our faith and while I am ashamed of us all I understand. I understand.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017