Cut to interior view of cave entrance.
INT – day – in a cave
Helton and Harbin slide down the loose rocks and stuff half-filling the cave mouth, and lay, panting quietly but otherwise motionless, with a look of listening intently for what’s passing outside. The humming sound of a flier gets louder as it approaches, then it Dopplers down and fades away. They are just about to get up and move again when the sound of another flyer is heard approaching, then fading away again. They look at each other, then around the cave.
Helton: Good a place to rest as any. Cool, out of sight.
Harbin grunts agreement, and keeps his eyes on the entrance.
They both lay back a bit and relax in the half-light that comes in the partially blocked doorway, and look around to take stock of their situation. The cave is flat bottomed, with nearly perfectly round walls and ceiling, sort of like a 1/3 filled-with-sand culvert, about 3 meters high, going back as far as they can see straight into the dark. There is some debris and stuff making it look sort of natural, and in the poor light they can’t see it very well.
Helton: Hmmm… This cave isn’t natural.
Harbin looks at him skeptically.
Harbin: Looks natural enough to me.
Helton: (shaking head, examining the wall more closely) No. It’s too symmetrical. Eroded, yes, so it’s been here a while, but its not the sort of tube that would occur naturally in this kind of rock. Wrong geology. Weird.
Harbin: If you say so. Not my field.
Helton rubs the wall, and finds under the covering of stuff it is much smoother than it first looked.
Helton: (almost to himself) A long while.
Helton stands up, brushes himself off a bit, and walks back slowly into the cave, keeping one hand on the wall and sort of tapping and sweeping his foot back and forth in front of himself, gently, as if checking for holes, booby-traps, or other problems. Then he stops, pats his pockets, and digs out one of his tiny flashlights. He clicks it on, and it shines out its dim beam. As he walks back, the tunnel gets dimmer and dimmer, as the dark rock doesn’t reflect much light. He goes back some distance, and can faintly see a low pedestal in the center of the tunnel. He approaches cautiously. On it is something that looks vaguely like a book of about 8”x13”x2”. He picks it up. There are no markings on the cover. It looks like the pages are almost to the edge of the binding, but not quite. He tries to open it up, and it doesn’t want to – no obvious locking mechanism, but it’s shut fast. Helton looks it over, and looks thoughtful for a moment. He examines the pedestal for a moment-a simple cube of rock, no symbols or details. He squints into the darkness, and a short way further on he sees the end of the tunnel. He walks slowly back to the tunnel entrance.
Harbin: (looking out the entrance, talking over his shoulder) Anything?
Helton: Dunno. What do you make of this?
Helton hands to book over to Harbin to look at.
Harbin examines it briefly.
Harbin: (Skeptically) Book?
Helton: (sarcastically) REALLY? Never would have guessed THAT.
Harbin: Old desert hermit’s book?
Helton: Hmmm… Maybe. (he examines it more closely) Lemme see here.
Helton takes off his travelers coat, flips up the cape revealing a large flat pocket between the insulating lining and the tough outside layer. He tucks the the book into it, where it barely fits, so it will fall high on his back, like a pack. Harbin looks on skeptically.
Harbin: (looking on with disapproval) Souvenirs are useless. They kill more people by distracting them from the mission than you’d believe.
Helton: Yeah, maybe so, but something tells me this is worth the risk. (nodding out the entrance) They gone?
Harbin: Seem to be.
Helton: Well, let’s rest a bit longer. Until it cools off, anyway.
Harbin shrugs his assent, and settles back into a more comfortable position, closes his eyes, and looks as if he falls asleep immediately. Helton looks at him in surprise, then settles back himself, and closes his eyes.
INT – day – cave entrance
The reddish light filtering into the cave mouth is dim and at a low angle, like the sun is getting close to setting. Helton gently kicks Harbin’s boot with his. Harbin’s eye open narrowly, then fully.
Harbin: Rocks. Comfy as always.
Helton: Yeah, I hear you, but better than sleeping with knock-out gas.
They both stand up, stretch a moment, adjust their cloths a bit, take a long pull from the water bottles, eye the little remaining, then lean up the slope to the open part of the entryway, listening closely.
Helton: Well, not too much farther… let’s roll, then.
They scramble up the slope and out.
Fade to black.