Apologies for the delay. It's been an eventful last few days.
Here's part three.
They found an old trail, replete with fresh prints no older than a few hours. It was a clear descent, with low-hanging branches and ill-placed bushes shoved cruelly out of the way. Even with their heavy loads, the two had no problem getting down. Suddenly, Owaki bumped into Yoshida, who had frozen. They were at the bottom, and Yoshida stared ahead, mouth open.
“Hey, let me see.” Owaki lightly pushed past Yoshida. He nearly fell.
Beyond the hundreds upon hundreds of people gathered at the fault, there lay massive carvings in the wall. They resembled shadows, cast from nonexistent floating figures, plastered all over the fault. Scattered among adult shapes were the bodies of children, and some which were just blots on the wall from this distance.
“Are those…babies?” Yoshida came to the conclusion simultaneously with Owaki.
“I think so.” Owaki felt a strange sense of revulsion; he was unable to determine why, however. “Let’s move closer.”
As Owaki and Yoshida pushed through the crowd, the occasional flash from a camera or cellphone leaving spots in their eyes, the shapes became clearer. They were cleanly cut into the walls, with no excess cracks or malformations in the shapes. Each figure was a drawing in negative space. Owaki stopped at the edge of the crowd, yet felt a compulsion to keep moving forward, to embrace the wall, to….enter. He clamped his hand on Yoshida’s shoulder, preventing her from advancing further, and rooted himself in place. The gravel of the valley was uncomfortable beneath his feet.
“It’s just like on TV…” Owaki murmured.
“Except so much stronger. I feel…no, I need to…” Yoshida agreed.
“No, stay here.”
The two stood in awed silence for a spell, before Yoshida remarked, “It’s a wonder that these were so cleanly preserved. Underground, for who knows how long.”
“Look at the other face of the fault; there’s not a single marking there.”
“Makes you wonder how anything like this could happen.”
“We could ask them, they look like they might know something.” Owaki pointed to a group of white-clad researchers examining the holes with an array of expensive-looking equipment.
The researchers were feeding optic cable into one of the holes nearer to the ground. Owaki was careful not to disturb any of the equipment as he moved closer for a better view. A small monitor displayed the interior of the hole, lit up by a small light at the end of the cable. The stone surface of the hole was totally smooth, unmarred by loose rocks or dirt, and maintained the same shape until it bled into darkness.
“Sir, that’s the end of the cable.” One researcher reported to the eldest of the group.
“Well, order more, we must find out what lays at the end. The hole seems to curve into Amigara mountain.” He adjusted his thick glasses, looking at the cable in a futile attempt to elongate it.
“Sir, the test results are back!” Another young man ran to the group. “The sample we took says that the hole is thousands of years old!”
“Could it be man-made?” The head researcher voiced his thoughts aloud.
“That seems as impossible as it being a natural formation.”
“I keep telling you! Aliens!” Another researcher piped in.
“Shut it, Suzuki. Those don’t exist.”
“Well then, how were they made?”
“Perhaps they were dug out from the inside…” By now the researchers and some from the crowd were voicing their thoughts as they came. Owaki tensed up at the thought of being trapped in the mountain, forced to dig his way out.
“Well then, where’s the entrance?”
“It’s been a long time, erosion and soil accumulation could easily have sealed it up.”
“Well then, what sort of people could have made these holes? And why? They must have had some sort of purpose.”
“Perhaps as a way to remember the dead? These could be old burial chambers.”
“There would be many more child tombs, then. Infant mortality rates were very high thousands of years back.”
“Yeah, so what do…” The voice trailed off as Owaki hurried to follow Yoshida. She had set off, climbing a mound of fallen rocks, head turning back and forth, scanning the wall. She was searching for something.
“Yoshida, is everything alright?”
“I saw it on TV.”
“What? What do you mean, you saw it? What did you see?”