The Door Beneath the Desert

“Mars, help me. Help me, Mars.”

Betty Garimonde wasn’t dead. Mars could see the slight rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Her body was so frail that when he lifted it, it felt as if all her substance were gone, and he was only lifting her skin and her bones. The light, not just sunlight, but even the light of the torches, seared her skin, so that Mars had to keep her covered from head to toe with a cloth. She looked even more so like a corpse when he did. Maybe she was close to being one. So there was nothing to lose now.

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“If we hadn’t gotten there in time, who knows what kind of ‘big fish’ tabloid tale this might have turned into,” Director Galingale said as she scanned her card for the secure lower level elevator.

Dietrich followed the Director into the elevator, still encumbered with his carry-on. An hour before, he had come out of the airport with no clue why he’d been summoned back to headquarters with such urgency. He had been on a research trip to Europe, where he’d gone to procure more primary texts for their general research division. Now he felt the familiar excitement and nervousness at the prospect of encountering a new being or entity.

“How did you find it–him?” he asked.

“One of our special assets was used, and that’s all I was told,” the Director said. “That and the fact that you were specifically requested.”


Before Dietrich could ask why, the elevator doors opened and the Director rushed him down a well-lit corridor at the end of which was an airlock style door guarded by two agents in maroon uniforms. And though the Director had described what he would be seeing beyond those doors, the sight still took Dietrich’s breath away.

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