Behind the Door: May, Internship

“Leave that alone, it’s not worth your time,” Professor Brandon snapped, and Kalie looked up from the broken statue on the floor of the temple they were in.

“But it’s still partially intact.”

“There are intact statues all around. Leave that one there.”

Kalie frowned, but followed the professor’s instructions. It didn’t make any sense. Everyone expected to find broken artifacts. They were part of the work, when you were digging up history from hundreds of years ago. Leaving one should have been unthinkable, would have been unthinkable on any other site, but Professor Brandon was insistent.

Though she had to leave the statue and work on collecting others on the other side of the room, she tried to take every opportunity to study it. From what she could tell, the statue on the ground was just like the ones still intact on the pedestals. That wasn’t a reason to leave it behind, but it was odd that it was being treated as different. Even broken, it was one artifact among many.

The day passed, one collected item at a time, until Professor Brandon called an end to the workday. Later that night, as Kalie was getting ready for bed, she heard someone walk past her tent, toward the site. She unzipped the door as quietly as she could and peeked out just in time to see Professor Brandon heading back into the site. Though she knew she should just go to bed, she left her tent and followed him.

At night, the warm air of the day turned frigid, and she was shivering by the time they reached the statue room. She wasn’t really surprised to find this was his target, nor to find he was collecting the broken statue from the corner.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

Professor Brandon startled, but didn’t drop the statue piece he was putting into a collection box. “Kalie, what are you doing here?”

“Are you stealing that?” she asked. “Is that why you wanted me to leave it alone?”

“What? No!” His offense seemed genuine.

“Then what are you doing? Why couldn’t we collect it earlier?” she stepped forward, close enough to see the collection box in the light of his lantern. Symbols decorated the outside, pictographs she didn’t know. “What are those?”

“Please, Kalie,” Professor Brandon said. “Just go back to bed. You don’t need to be involved in this. You shouldn’t be.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know. I know you don’t, and it’s best that you don’t. You have a bright career ahead. That shouldn’t be sidetracked by things that aren’t for everyone.”

Kalie knew she should listen to him. She knew she should let whatever this was go and listen to her instructor. But she couldn’t. “You don’t get to decide what I should and shouldn’t know. You don’t get to decide that for anyone.”

His shoulders slumped, his head hung, and he sighed. “I should have known you’d be brought into this. You’re a lot like me, too much.”

She couldn’t help but be pleased by that. While she didn’t want to be exactly like him, she’d sought this internship for a reason. She couldn’t understand why he sounded so disappointed by this.

“Alright. I’ll explain, but you cannot tell anyone else.”

Patreon Teaser

My Patreons voted for this snippet, from four options, to be turned into a full-length story.

If you’d like to vote for the monthly snippet and read the resulting stories, join my Patreon!



by | May 6, 2024