I will not bore you with the details of my life. They are both ordinary and trivial. Aside from that, these events could happen to any man. And it is of them I wish to focus.
What follows is the complete reversal. Extraordinary and utterly fantastic. And terrifying. Which is why this must be told. For it is a matter of survival. There is little chance you will believe me, as it seems complete madness. And if I were in your place, I would not believe it either.
Yet every word of this is true, I assure you.
Some men are foolish in their desire for riches. Others for glory. My own vice is one of curiousity. I have gone to great lengths to find the most obscure and destitute of curiousities. There are those who say I have squandered my family's fortune on my many archaeological digs or other such explorations.
But I argue that the pursuit of knowledge is the greatest task a man can set himself upon.
It was on one of these digs that the story begins, deep in Mesoamerica.
We had been there for months and it seemed as if we had naught to show for it. A few bits of metal. Broken pots. Artifacts of civilizations long past, but nothing new. Nothing that would pique my interest.
It was early afternoon and I had retired to my tent to read. The men would work as long as I had coin to pay them. I had brought more than enough books on the history of this region to keep me occupied. But with nothing to show for the two months of this excavation, I was near the quitting point.
As I was debating that very point, the bell outside my tent rang. I looked up from my book and in walked one of the young men working for me. Elbanco. He was my translator. While I pride myself on knowledge, these people spoke a dialect I had yet to master. Elbanco was my link to the workers.
"Señor. They say they have found something you must see. A tunnel of some sort." His English was excellent. A lucky find for a man like myself.
It took me a moment to comprehend what he said. When I did, I left everything in my tent and rushed to the main site.
Indeed there was a tunnel. And as I had gotten there, the diggers had uncovered a stone wall in the tunnel. On it were words in a language that I could not read. Elbanco looked at the writing and shivered.
"Señor, I believe I can translate this. But... I do not understand it's meaning. Yet I know enough to be frightened. Perhaps these things are best left alone." His voice was unsteady, but he knew I would not be deterred, "as you wish. Here rest that which no man must uncover. For once opened no man shall know himself."
I have never been a superstitious man. But the words did invoke a powerful urge to flee. I gave myself a moment to calm myself before giving instructions.
"We shall go in and discover what it is we have unearthed." But it was best to err on the side of caution in these circumstances. As such, we would go down as a small group. Four of us. That way, if the foundations were weak or if we became trapped, the others would be able to find a way to help us out.
Elbanco, two of the other diggers, and myself had worked our way through an opening that had been formed over the years. With torches as our only light we began to trek down the rest of the tunnel. The only noises around were those of our party. Unsteady, nervous breathing. The tap of our feet on the stone floor. The crackle of flames from our lights.
The minutes turned into hours. Entire chambers were marked off for further study. Each time we discovered something fantastic, something else was just around the next corner. This underground temple, as I had decided it must be, was filled with amazing information and stunning history. But there was one room we kept returning to.
The chamber was rather large with writings and pictures all along the walls. From my first few glances I decided that it wasn't just one language, but many. Dozens of ancient writings over these walls. And yet the real find was in the centre of the room.
A shining metallic box sat in the middle of the chamber. Gems of every colour imaginable adorned it. The top of this box was a heavy golden lid. My own attempts to remove it were unsuccessful, but that was hardly surprising. So I enlisted the help of the other three men. Together we managed to slide it halfway off. One of the men picked up the torch which we had set aside and held it over the opening.
We all peered in and saw a man-sized figure curled up in the box. Sharp elongated nails marked it's hands and feet. It's skin matched the pitch black darkness around the rest of the room. As the light shone in, it's head turned towards us and eyes of complete black met our own.
"Demon! El diablo!" Elbanco's voice cried out and the creature it jumped towards us. The blood-red teeth glimmered in the torchlight and then disappeared they bit into my leg. Pain flew through my body and I could not hold back a scream. One of the other men, thinking quickly, stabbed at my leg with the torch. Flames danced along the monster's body and it leapt away from me.
Elbanco fell towards the ground as his legs were slashed. Before we could help him, the demon had attacked him and was slashing through his torso. The man died before his screams could escape his throat.
We ran. My leg screamed in pain with every step, but I ignored it and ran harder. With every random turn we made, I grew more frightened. These tunnels were a maze. To find our way back would be all but impossible. And yet we kept running. Survive this first. Escape whatever demon this is.
Without warning, we ran straight into an empty chamber. Instead of being another hallway we had run ourselves into a dead end. The fierce growl from the hall behind us told that we were not to be alone for long. One man, upon realizing this, turned around to run back the way we came.
His body was split in two as the beast forced itself into the room. The torch-bearer threw his light at the creature. It ignored the hit and leapt towards the shadows. Screams began and were instantly silenced. Replaced by the sound of flesh being torn. And then then nothing.
The only thing now moving was one of the younger workers. He grabbed the torch and lifted it. The room was bathed in the flickering light of the fire. Two body lay on the floor, but there was nothing else for me to see.
The boy looked towards me in horror. I realized that the creature must be right behind me. Out of sheer instinct, I fell to the ground. As I dropped I felt a wind over my head. The creature had jumped and I had barely gotten out of it's way. Unfortunately, this meant the boy was right in the demon's path.
His blood was splattered over the walls of the chamber. I will remember his screams until the end of eternity. Had I not been paralyzed with fear, this would have been the opportunity to attempt escape. But I knew I could not outrun this beast. Perhaps if my leg had not already been wounded. Perhaps if I was not deep in this cave of tunnels.
The demon's ears twitched and then it's head turned from the few remains left of the boy. Those dark pits of eyes stared straight at me. Beyond my flesh and into my soul.
I look up from my hands into your eyes. I can read the question on your lips. You must be wondering how, if this is all true, I managed to survive and escape the beast.
My lips part into a smile and reveal my teeth. A dark crimson has stained the sharpened fangs and my nails start to lengthen into claws.
How, you ask, did I survive?
Quite simple, really.
Fear grows in darkness; if you think there's a bogeyman around, turn on the light.