Amara’s cell phone buzzed. At first she thought it was her alarm, so she rolled over in bed and tried to hit the snooze button. But the phone kept persisting. Groggy, Amara sat up and looked at the screen. The number was from Mexico.
She coughed a couple times to clear her throat and answered. “Hello?”
“Amara, so sorry. I forgot how early it is where you are. Two hours can make a big difference in the morning.”
The voice sounded familiar, but Amara wasn’t awake enough yet to place it. “Sorry, who is this?”
“Jorge. From Puerto Morelos?”
“Oh yes. Hi, sorry.” Amara had forgotten she had given Jorge her phone number, in case he found anything new. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “What’s up?”
“I found something that might be of interest to you. It’s a map, and I think it leads to the site your grandfather visited in Calakmul. You might want to come down again and look at it.”
Amara was suddenly wide-awake. Her fingertips tingled with excitement. “A map? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“You can’t go. Finals are next week.” As Amara packed, Cayden took out her clothes.
“I have to. Please, just let me finish packing!” Amara threw her clothes back into her suitcase.
“But it’s probably really dangerous. Your grandfather died after he went to that site, remember? Remember how you told me you didn’t think he committed suicide? What if that crazy group that’s stalking you killed him? What if they kill you?”
“Relax.” Amara brushed some hair from her eyes. “I have to go. I need to find out more about my grandpa.” She smiled. “I’ll be fine. I know self-defense now, mostly.”
Cayden slammed the suitcase shut. “I won’t let you go.” He took a deep breath. “At least, not alone.”
Amara stopped picking up clothes and looked at Cayden. She realized again how attractive he was, with his smiling brown eyes, scruffy facial hair, and dark, messy locks. Blushing, she covered her face with her pile of clothes. “You’d go with me?”
Cayden shrugged. “I can’t talk you out of going, and I’m not letting you go alone.”
Amara’s heart fluttered for a moment, but she tried to push it aside. She felt awkward, unsure of her feelings. Cayden had never been more than a friend.
“Besides,” he said. “It’s just dead week, so it’s not like I have a lot going on anyway.”
“All right, fine.” She dumped more clothes into her suitcase. “But you better be ready soon. I want to leave in ten minutes.”
While waiting for Cayden, Amara decided to update her vlog. She posted a quick video, telling her followers she had a new, important lead and she would update with more details later.
When she was done, Cayden was standing in her doorway. “Let’s go,” he said.
They had used most of the rent money they had set aside for December to buy plane tickets, but Amara was too focused on her story to worry about it. She could figure out how to pay the rent later.
When they landed in Mexico, they headed straight for Alma Libre in Puerto Morelos. Amara had called ahead, so Jorge was expecting them.
“So glad you made it.” Jorge smiled in greeting. “Come, come, I have much to show you.”
Inside the bookstore, Jorge had laid out a couple maps and several rubbings of glyphs. He pointed to them, beaming.
Amara walked over to where he stood. “These are great, Jorge. Thank you.” She leaned over and studied them. “What exactly are we looking at?”
“The map is of Calakmul, and the Maya ruins around there. I think you may be able to use it once you read the glyphs.”
Cayden cleared his throat. “Let me take a look.” He studied the glyphs, trying to recall everything he had gleaned from the Internet. “It looks like it’s a story about…900 A.D.? That’s all I’ve got for now.”
“Allow me to explain.” Jorge gestured towards the rubbings. “These are from the ruins. Your grandfather made these rubbings.” He nodded at Amara. “I dug them up after you left. It’s a rare find, really, I don’t think many other people know about it, and it tells the story of three friends: two men and one woman. Their city had been taken over by King Jasaw, a well-known warrior from the end of the classic Maya period who conquered many cities and became one of the most notorious leaders. If the stories are true, he was a brutal man, who robbed the people he conquered of all their resources in order to pursue his campaign, until eventually most of them starved to death. He may be one reason the classic Maya civilization started to crumble—he was one of the first to start sacrificing humans to the gods.”
“That’s crazy,” Amara said, suppressing a shudder. “Why would someone do that?”
Jorge shrugged. “No one knows for sure, but many scholars believe Jasaw thought he needed to sacrifice people in order to keep the peace. He actually thought the gods would protect him and his kingdom in exchange for blood.”
“So what happened to the three friends?” Cayden asked.
Jorge pointed to the glyphs as he spoke. “Well, it seems they had a plan to overthrow Jasaw. But there are not too many details here. I suspect there is more to this story, but it is hidden somewhere in the ruins of Calakmul.”
“It’s an interesting story, I’m sure, but what does that have to do with the 2012 predictions?” Amara said. According to her research, Calakmul was a seven-hour drive away, and she was skeptical.
“Well, there’s something about a calendar, though I can’t make out the details. But, look right here.” Jorge tapped a rubbing.
Cayden and Amara studied it for a minute. Not used to reading glyphs, Amara looked away first, unable to see anything useful.
Cayden inhaled sharply. “The arrowhead.” He turned to Amara. “Your arrowhead. I think they may have had it.”
“What?” Amara took the arrowhead out of her backpack. “You mean, this thing could be over a thousand years old?”
Jorge nodded enthusiastically. “May I?” Amara nodded, and Jorge gingerly took the arrowhead. “Yes, it could very well be the same arrowhead. Other than in the drawing from your grandfather’s journal, I have never seen another arrowhead with that shape.”
Amara’s heart started beating faster. Suddenly her story felt much bigger, and she was glad she could be a part of it. “That settles it then.” She turned to Cayden. “We’re renting a car and going to Calakmul.”