It is strange, and yet stranger still, that the letters and numbers would mean such a thing.

We expected exactly anything and yet our expectations were still surpassed.

The Great Pyramid of Giza holds many mysteries, but this was the last frontier.

I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. Most people have.

The Grand Gallery is a labyrinthine maze of tunnels leading to a large “secret room” detected at the back of the pyramid, which we found via radar.

And we tried everything. Everything.

There’s only one possible passage towards the room and it’s six inches by six inches. We tried to cut into the hewn stone, but it breaks our drills, it breaks our pickaxes, and it breaks our resolve. One miner who claimed he’d burrowed through entire mountains gave up after a few swings and left. He never said anything, just left. Wordlessly.

He later joined a monastery. I think he still tends the garden and wins great prizes for his large marrows, which he donates to a community fund.

Good for him, I guess.

We tried flooding the passage. We’ve dumped entire tanks of water and it just bends the corner and vanishes.

We tried a top-of-the-line military drone. It rattled through the tunnel for a while before coming to a dead end. According to the satellite navigation of the robot, the wall wasn’t actually there. We reversed the drone back. It hit up against a new wall. Then suddenly, the ceiling lowered and crushed the drone.

We actually had a rather wonderful camera feed of hundreds of sprockets and gears flying out of the robot before it cut to static. Our team leader put his head in his hands and a guy with glasses and some expensive government laptop screamed in frustration that he wished he’d never pursued robotics and followed his dream of pursuing a liberal arts degree.

Trust me, it was quite the Tuesday.

It does make you wonder what a bunch of backwards wheat farmers, inbred kings, and slave owners kept in the little room. Or how they protected it.

Well, we found out.

Nobody ever found out about this because all extensive documentation was burned, deleted, erased, confiscated, synonym, synonym. You know how it goes.

Massive cover-up, the kind of cover-up that would make the average person believe that Alex Jones is rational.

It was a week later, Monday, and it was just me and the hole. I’d read that we were going to try a new technique of strapping cameras to a defanged asp and putting it down the hole. Maybe some sort of primordial heat sensor squashed the bot, and snakes are cold blooded. Of course, we can’t exactly direct it like we could the robot and so a bunch of boffins were working out the minute details of “How to Make a Snake Go Through a Tunnel in the Way You Want.” Who said science wasn’t interesting?

In the meantime, I’m one of two hole guards. “Hole Boy,” “Hole Keeper,” “Holy Hole Man,” and “Make Sure The Hole Doesn’t Go Anywhere” are names I’m usually called by people above my pay grade who seem to be a little irked that they can’t beat a bunch of ye olde people who didn’t even wipe after pooping with their extensive military and governmental equipment.

Maybe it’s, in part, some long stretch of resentment built up from Vietnam. Lot of these guys are in their sixties.

Craig, the guy who usually switches with me around noon, had just arrived and he was scrolling through a bunch of pictures on his phone. He liked to do that.

His wife, his two ugly kids, a few sand dunes. I honestly don’t know why he thought I cared.

But then he showed me the picture of the camel and I heard a whirring.

The hole got bigger. It went from inches into feet at the blink of an eye, the bricks pulling back. It must have been so intricately complex. I don’t even really have the words to describe what I was witnessing.

It sounds odd, but I remembered that Bible quote. You know, the one where Jesus is all “blah blah blah it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven blah blah, something about making five thousand fish and water into wine and let my people go.” Or that last bit might have been Moses, I’m not exactly a theologian.

So Craig and I step back as this hole widens until I hear some sort of “ka-chunk” noise and we assume it’s safe to stop moving away from this gaping maw in the ground and we peer into the depths of an ancient civilisation that no man or woman has seen for thousands of years. You know, no biggie or anything.

And we see some stairs.

I don’t know why we didn’t call for backup, or we didn’t report it, or even think about what we were doing. I suppose it was curiosity that got the best of us.

We travelled down and noticed, immediately, how the limestone seemed to give way to mossy sandstone and what we believed was basalt. It wasn’t basalt at all. Or the granite that often lined the tomb of the king.

As we got closer and shone our torches onto the walls, we noticed the green tincture running in thin threads across the glossy black wall.

They were printed circuit boards.

So, you know, those shouldn’t have been there.

We got up close to them and noticed the flatness, the smoothness, the perfect soldering, as if by some sort of machine. Several diodes beeped and flitted, illuminating a series of cobwebs and a small family of spiders. There seemed to be no battery or power source; the lights seemed to be powered from the boards themselves.

“Dark panels,” Craig said, suddenly.


“Well, like solar panels, but for the dark.”

I don’t quite know how Craig finished school or got a fairly well-paid job, but it infuriates me every day. He was “creative,” but mostly in the sense that he tended to make stuff up in an attempt to eschew the fact that he lacked any organisation, order, or common sense. At all.

The worst part, perhaps, was that he might not even have been wrong.

Maybe the panels were sucking the dark out of the room and using it as a power source. Who am I to turn ‘round to Craig and tell him he’s an idiot?

We’re both looking at technology that shouldn’t be there for at least the next 4,500 years.

Who am I to tell anyone anything?

So I bit down on my tongue—when I really wanted to call him a damn idiot—and we both continued on.

I tried not to pay attention to the low humming being the walls, the blooping and blatting of lights, diodes, and other various things that shouldn’t be in an ancient pyramid as a rule.

There were rudimentary symbols on the wall; cuneiform, that early Sumero-Akkadian pre-language. It was pretty lucky that I’m able to decipher it, as there’s only about two hundred translators in the world. But I’m not a computer scientist.

All I knew is that a lot of the carvings marked specific fates, and the diode above seemed to be either red or green. One diode marked a date that was 11.22.63 with “man symbol,” “important symbol,” “spear symbol,” and “bad feeling” symbol. It was green. One date marked 11.09.01 with “bird symbol,” “building symbol,” “spear symbol,” and “bad feeling” symbol.

We’d walked past fleets of green lights, with sprinklings of red lights dotted amongst them, along with corresponding dates and events.

I had a feeling I knew what this was. And it filled me with dread.

The great Hall of Prophecy, which seemed to have even tallied the mistakes and correct predictions.

We were heading towards red lights and I decided to stop looking at the walls. I mean, I glanced occasionally, but my heart was hammering too fast to actually take in what was happening. I just didn’t want to know, man.

Well, okay, I peeked. 2020’s going to be an interesting election year. 2025 is going to be an interesting year for the Mars Rover. In 2031, you’re going to want to perhaps prepare a boat if you’re in the United States. That’s all I saw. I swear to God.

The hallway continued on for some time. How much time between the green lights and the red lights? Thankfully, a good mile or so.

I know you’re thinking that if there wasn’t much of a distance that I wouldn’t tell you. And you’re perfectly allowed to think that if you wish.

We came out in a small room. No more circuit boards, no more inlaid cables that seemed to somehow move across the walls as glowing strands of light slipped and trickled through them. Just a room of stone with a rock in the centre.

It was a small rock, but we couldn’t lift it no matter how hard we tried. It also didn’t feel like a rock. Our eyes told us it was a rock, but it wasn’t. When we touched the surface, it was dry. When we pulled our hands away, we were convinced it was coated in moisture. When we touched it, it was ice cold. When we pulled our hands away, we felt as if we’d been handling a jacket potato that was almost straight out of the oven.

We agreed that it might be radioactive, and so we didn’t touch it again. But it wasn’t a rock.

It was something else I don’t have words for.

Which sucks when you have to write about what happened.

On the front was a series of numbers. Modern numbers. As in one, two three, four numbers. Not tally marks. Not accountancy marks from the Uruk period. Numbers.

Craig shot a picture with his phone. I just stared at them with a strange feeling of growing unease.

We left afterwards, ready to tell our manager, Andy, about our discovery. Craig was glowing about how he was going to be on the news and we’d be credited with the discovery, only he wanted me to defer most of the credit to him because he was the one who “came up with the camel idea” as if he’d actually been meaning to open the secret passageway.

I don’t think, at any point, he actually thought about what we’d uncovered.

He didn’t know.

It was later that night when I was writing up my field notes when he called me in floods of tears. I checked my watch. 11:34 pm.

He kept yelling about a movie and the number on the stone. I could barely get any sense out of him, but he said that he decided to type the number in on his Netflix search engine.

Why? I’ll never know that. Craig was gifted with creativity, not sense or reason. I saw him accidentally stick his hands together with Gorilla Glue. He just poured some on his palm and told me he was “trying to see how many times he could clap before the glue stuck.” I’ve seen him fall down potholes from leaning too far in. That just seemed to be his lot in life.

But it was the sheer volume of his weeping which prompted concern. I joked that it can’t have been that bad of a movie, listing off that time we’d watched Plan 9 from Outer Space and Alvin and the Chipmunks, but it did nothing to cheer him up and return him into his usual sense of jollity.

And that’s when he told me about the movie from the future.

Less of a movie, more of a documentary.

About things that are going to happen.

I was unable to make out most of what he said, but he seemed to say that it was a documentary about everyone and everything. And the ultimate questions. Where we were from. Where we’re going. What happens when we go.

I don’t have any reason to think he liked any of the answers he received.

Most of his ranting was nonsensical ramblings about names and figures I didn’t know, dates that hadn’t happened, and things that couldn’t exist in your wildest dreams or nightmares. Then the phone line cut out.

I tried to call him back, but all I got was static from the other end.

He didn’t come into work the next day, or the day after.

I got a new assistant, Jim, and we now work together. Slowly and surely, things were erased.

In the morning, I wasn’t allowed to go back to the chamber. It was cordoned off.

That afternoon, I asked about Craig and they told me he was on an extended leave of absence.

Over the following days, the entire pyramid was shut off to both the scientific team and any and all tourists. I was told by Andy that Craig had never been suitable for the work, had suffered an acute mental breakdown, was rude and horrible to others anyway, and I should forget about him.

I felt sad. Craig had always been a bit of a tit, but I’d always loved his company, I suppose. Secretly, we all like being around an idiot to make us feel that little bit more smart and confident in ourselves.

The next week, there was no Craig. Never had been nor never was.

The next month, we were moved to another excavation, pooled in with another team that didn’t particularly need another entire archeological team joining in.

I don’t know what the future will bring.

I’ve no doubt that in time, they’ll hide the very pyramid itself.

You may snort at me and say that’s impossible, but I’ve seen the way Andy looks these days. I’ve seen the admonishments whenever someone mentions Craig or tries to insist that they knew who he was.

It’s the face of a man who knows about the guys in the big league. His boss and the boss above.

And in the desert, you’ve got enough sand to hide anything.