Grant and Lydia Alexander had forged an unusual partnership. He worked for an energy exploration company as a geologist looking for new “opportunities” in energy and she tagged along to collect any artifacts that they might stumble upon. It was a win-win for them both as they could work and travel together and seldom failed to find anything of interest.
An earthquake in Alaska had dislodged the ice pack concealing a cavern entrance in the mountainside next to a glacier. The Alexanders had set up an insulated enclosure at the mouth of the cavern that would serve as their base while they explored the new-found cave. A generator provided electricity for the lights and other equipment they had with them. Heavy canvas drapes over the doorways shielded the interior from the outside winds and the cavern’s cold draft. It was warm and cozy inside when the generator was running. Except for the occasional visit by the re-supply helicopter, they were alone.
The main shaft of the cavern was rocky but navigable. The temperature dropped precipitously as they descended into the darkness. The Alexanders were experts at cave exploration and dressed for the drop in temperature. They came equipped with the usual gear necessary for dealing with any steep slopes that they might find.
After-quakes were causing the descent to be unusually treacherous. A small tremor caused Lydia to lose her footing and slide down to the bottom of a side shaft. The surface was relatively smooth and Lydia was well-padded; she arrived at the bottom feeling a bit bruised but unharmed. She stood up and dusted herself off before waving to her husband at the top of the slope. Grant took out his rope and used it to travel down the slope after her. While awaiting her husband’s arrival, she has a look around at the recently dislodged debris at the bottom of the shaft. In the debris was a grayish sphere about the size of a foursquare ball and lighter than expected. She stuffs it into her bag and continues to examine the chamber she is in. One of the walls appeared to have been deliberately scratched up in something resembling cuneiform. The couple carefully climbed out of the side shaft and continued to the bottom of the main shaft.
Grant pulled his sampling kit out of his backpack and set to work looking for interesting strata in the cavern walls and floor. Lydia started to search the hard rock walls for fossils. Ten core samples later he packed everything up and signaled to his wife that he was ready to go back to camp. Lydia had only managed to find a few small fossils from the rock wall and had already packed up her kit. They set off back up the shaft to their base camp to examine them.
Tired and hungry when they arrived back at their camp, they set aside their days work. Grant went about starting the generator and turning on the lights. They emptied their packs while the cabin lights took the chill off the air. Lydia stripped off her heavy parka and began preparing a hot meal. The heat of the stove would add to the cabin’s warmth. After finishing their dinner, they made their diary entries and photographed their finds and samples. When finished with all that work, they tucked themselves in for a good eight hours of sleep.
To be continued…