Shelley and I found the ruins, a mile south of our Caracol dig, exactly where you thought. I’m at the temple now, by the easternmost feathered-serpent carving. Something is very wrong here.
The carving seemed unremarkable: typical open-mouthed serpent, long stone throat. Shelley put her arm into the mouth up to her shoulder, holding her phone to take a picture.
We were laughing, excited that we’d be the first people since the Maya to see the room inside.
I thought she was joking when she screamed. But she said something cold had grabbed her hand, and wouldn't let go.
We pulled until her arm was bloody.
I wanted to find help, but Shelley begged me to stay. For hours, I held her other hand. When she was too tired to stand, I held her up.
Then her eyes opened wide and her head smashed against the wall. I heard her arm break.
“Cut it off,” she whispered. “Kill me.”
I couldn't. When she finally, mercifully, lost consciousness, I went for help.
This jungle is a labyrinth. I hiked in endless circles. I needed the phone. No hope of cell service, but for GPS. When I got back, Professor, oh Jesus.
Shelley was gone. I found drag marks, leading from the temple to the cenote. I can’t think about what that might mean.
It’s dark now. I can see the glow from Shelley’s phone, deep inside that hole. I’m scared to reach in, scared not to. I think I hear whispering in the jungle.
Tell our parents we loved them. And find the phone. Maybe Shelley got a picture.