Forty feet below them Nigel lay spread eagle on his back, the wind knocked out of him, precariously teetering between reality and a dream. He could hear Sydney screaming down after him, and Aaron yelling at her to stop, but it was all such a blur... Lying compacted in the snow like a Christmas cookie cutter, he thought he was dead. But then, dead men feel no pain! He couldnít move in the first few minutes after that hellacious fall, his limbs would not respond to what his brain was telling them at first, and for a moment thought he might have a broken back or neck. Oh great...not that...turning his head to the side to test his theory, he gasped. Partly from pain and party from what he was seeing. To his left only inches from where he lay was the edge of a secondary cliff that opened up into a blackening, seemingly bottomless ravine.
Sydney was lowered slowly into the ice cave inch by inch. She could clearly see Nigel lying on his back motionless, so close the edge of that cliff it gave her more chills than the air did. Jumping the last ten feet, Sydney tumbled down onto the frozen ice and snow only a few feet from Nigelís body. The first thing she did was check him for a pulse. Placing her two fingers on his neck she waited... Come on, come on, come on, why was this taking so long! Faint at first, she noticed as it steadily it grew stronger and more pronounced...the rhythm of his heart was as infallible as ever, if not beating just a little too fast! Abated, Sydney sighed and went about the business of getting him out of this place. The cavern echoed every little sound, threatening to release the ton of snow and ice still embedded above them. They had to move fast.
"Nigel, Nigel can you hear me?" She whispered, lightly tapping his face. He was slow to respond, but at least he did so eventually. Groaning and moving ever so stiffly, bending at the knee he dragged one leg up and brought his arm over his face as if the light was hurting his eyes. "Nigel, say something..."
"Yes, yes I can hear you mum..." He answered her with a childish giggle.
"Nigel... Itís me, Sydney, come on, we have to get out of here!"
He blinked a couple of times to allow her voice to register in his foggy mind. "Syd..." Glancing obliquely up at her he remembered where he was and immediately tried to sit up. "Syd!"
"Whoa fella...take it easy ok? I cannot believe you didnít break anything, or worse." She commented, giving him a quick surface examination. She quickly ran her hands over his legs and arms, the over his head and across his chest.
"What are you, a cop?" He absentmindedly asked in that typically offended English clip of his. As her hands briefly crossed over some rather personal territory, he smiled and changed his tune. "Oh Sydney, f-frisk me again!"
Sydney ignored his addle minded comments, and helping him to rise slowly, she dragged his one arm over her shoulder and looped her arm around his waist, lastly grabbing his belt to help her hold him up straight. From the staggering in his step she was sure he must have suffered some sort of concussion. "Can you walk this off? Weíve got forty feet to cover in very little time Nige..." God, when did he get so damned heavy?
She started to help him to her lifeline, ready to tie him in when he suddenly pushed away from her and began to stumble in the other direction. "Wait...Syd..." Abruptly alert and to her utter amazement, in complete control of his senses, Nigel shuffled into a darker area of the cave. "Look!"
She hadnít noticed it before in her haste to help Nigel, but he had. There in the frozen shadows of time was something massive, of titanic proportions. It loomed in the backdrop like an ancient guardian to the gates of heaven. She did not want to believe what she was seeing.
"The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above. And the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof , with lower, second and third stories shalt thou make it..." After reciting the words he shook himself. How did he know all that?
"This...this is it! Nigel, itís Noahís Ark!"
Unlike anything Sydney had ever witnessed in her life, this thing brought her to her knees, out of respect, out of fear, out of the act of being humbled. They could both hear Aaron calling out to them, but they werenít listening anymore. They were on a different plane of existence and not sure they would be able to go back. Her partner walked right up to it, and placed his hand upon the petrified walls of gopher wood. What a peculiar texture it had, and colour too... as if it had been stained bright red. The entire ship was entombed in ice and snow, but the door at the side had remained open, and conveniently, free of debris. It was as if God himself had given the relic hunters His personal invitation.
"Letís go in..." Nigel suggested, and started towards the opening. "Did you bring down a flash light?"
She had, and clicking it on she rose to her feet, eagerly following her collegue right on his heels.
Go to Part Twenty Six.