As if in slow motion, Sam and his men made their way to the back of the cave. The yellowish glow of light from the loosely held lanterns swung up and down as it reflected off the tan sandstone walls. Long shadows of men in hats lengthened and shortened, and shakily moved to and fro as they cast themselves over jagged cracks, and deep, inlaid crevices. Flashing glimpses of crudely shaped figures carved into the wall could be seen here and there, now and then. The flickering flames from the lanterns were playing tricks on the eyes of these men. The rank stench remained debilitating, but because they were so intensely focused, they plumb forgot about it.
Sam continued to lead the team in single file. Having seen no signs of danger, he finally put his pistol back in it’s holster. Why the place stunk so bad, he could’t figure out. There were no dead bodies in there, animal or human, as far as Sam could tell. He stopped and turned back to the men. “I think I can see where they had their little fire. Hold your horses for a minute! This could be a trap.” Sam suspiciously moved on forward, keeping an eye out for a wire close to the floor. The ceiling was closing in on him, and he had to crouch down lower and lower as he went. He was within ten feet of the small pile of ashes when he eyed something written on the wall right beside it. It was written in red. Sam’s first thought was ‘paint’, because it looked to have been done with a brush. His second thought was, “Paint? Nobody carries red paint around with them. What the hell?” Without looking back, Sam waved his men towards him and says, “C’mon, and take a look at this.” “Weird,” he thought to himself. He was close enough by then to tell that what he was looking at wasn’t just a little fire some somebody had made just to say warm. This somebody had drawn some kind of picture around the fire by digging out grooves in the dirt. The men gathered into a half circle around the scene. Questioning looks could be seen on the face of every man. Dumbfounded and awestruck, they stood there in silence with their eyes wide open. They didn’t dare gasp for air.
There were four blood-colored symbols painted on the wall — a circle, a square, a triangle, and a five-pointed star. Red drips had ran down the wall under each one of them. Otherwise, the shapes looked perfect. A little too perfect for comfort, as it were. It was the same with the drawings of the symbols and the foreign-looking letters pressed into the dirt around the smallish fire. They were impossibly perfect, and too well done. No doubt, this had been the work of a professional. It was not the remains of some Indian ceremony, nor could it have been done by any ordinary outlaw. Their assumptions pointed directly to the foreign stranger they were chasing. That ruthless murderer had been there! They were sure of it. All in all, it beat the likes of anything any one of them had ever seen. But then again…the whole thing eerily reminded them of something. Every one of these men had an inkling that they had seen something like this before, but not a one of them could remember when, or where they’d seen it. That’s what made this all the more stupefying. Murmured words mumbled forth from their lips, words such as “witchcraft”, and “black magic”. As Sam was standing there, he happened to think of Luke. “I wonder if he told us everything back at the Deputy’s office. There seems to be something I don’t know. But why would he have withheld information in the first place? I didn’t at all expect this. Good Lord! What kind of man are we after anyway? And where did he get all this blood?”
Later on, a few of Sam’s men tried to describe this scene for Matt. All in all, this is what they came up with: A perfectly round circle, about three feet in diameter, enclosed the entire delicately positioned diagram. The groove that made up this circle was one inch wide and one inch deep. A small amount of blood had been carefully poured into the groove all the way around. It had since soaked into the sandy dirt at the bottom of the groove. Inside this circle there was a square. Again, it looked to be perfectly proportioned. It was two and a half feet wide. It was aligned as such so that the corners were pointing exactly north, south, east, and west. Outside of the square, and above every corner was a symbol. These seem to have been pressed into the dirt with some sort of tool, and he must have used a template. They were exquisitely well-formed. At the north point stood a sun with thin, pointed rays. On the east side lay a triangle with an eye across the center of it. At the bottom, or south corner, there were two quarter moons facing each other, almost touching. Outside of the west corner there was a circle with a diamond inside of it. The diamond pointed north and south. It had a line going through it, also pointing north and south. This very straight line extended to and punctured through the circle.
Just under the lines inside the square were descriptive symbolizations that imperceptibly changed form as they rounded the corners. The form was one of four different languages, and four unrecognizable alphabets. They could have been numbers, for all the men knew. They could have been sentences or elaborate equations, or possibly, some type of formula. Whatever they meant, the man had to be a master calligrapher. These, too, were skillfully pressed into the dirt. These intricate inscriptions that flowed from their creator’s intimations revealed connotations of a diabolical intelligence graced with unearthly beauty.
Underneath these lines, and centered in the square were two overlaid triangles, one pointing up and one pointing down. The triangle pointing down was smaller than the other one, so that although it still represented a five-pointed star, it wasn’t your average, normal symmetrical star. What remained of the very small fire lay in the middle of the star, and acted as the center-point of the whole geometric design. The man had used six to eight inch sticks to build his little pile. These sticks hadn’t been completely burnt down. They appeared to have had barely enough time to go up in flames before they were smothered out. There was something else rather odd about it. The ashes on the outer edges were white as snow, and it looked as if they had been crystallized.
Taken all together, the whole structure had an otherworldly feel to it. It was obviously a finely-honed ritual that implied a knowledge of dark, cultish mores. What ever it was…there’d been a definite and exacting method inherent in his madness. After a few minutes of serene bewilderment, Sam stooped down and put his hand over the blackened embers. Then he carefully pushed his finger down into the pile. “It’s still warm, men. Couldn’t have been out for more than a couple of hours. That devil of a man must have taken his sweet time going to all this trouble. Let’s get the hell out of this God forsaken sanctuary. We’ll check the other path that goes up to the top. He had to have come in that way, and we’ll probably be able to tell which direction he’s headed. I hope you boys are up to it. It looks like we done got ourselves an outlaw to chase. Man, I need some air. Let’s go!”