Lester was an urban adventurer that thrived in the underbelly of great cities worldwide.
In some ways he was the “Banksy” of modern exploration. Like the artist, he hid his identity, only leaving behind clues that he’d been there. He was a small man, barely five feet-three inches tall, and a 110 pounds soaking wet.
His travels were legendary among explorers worldwide.
He’d explored so far into the depths of the catacombs beneath the Eternal City of Rome, it would take decades before archeologists ran across his mark.
He was the first modern man to explore the hidden underground tunnels and chambers beneath the Giza Plateau. His mark is written on the underground walls of Cappadocia, in Turkey. According to people who have made him an urban legend, he explored all seven levels in one week.
It’s also rumored that he discovered an enormous underground labyrinth in Egypt full of hieroglyphs on endless stone walls. It was said the hieroglyphs contained all of the knowledge of ancient Egypt.
But Lester’s greatest, and most unheralded, achievement was saving the earth.
He was on one of his usual one-man expeditions looking for a secret 5,000-years-old city hidden somewhere beneath Death Valley, when he discovered an underground tunnel in a cave not far from Scotty’s Castle.
The first cave he looked into turned out to be an old mine. There was still a pickax, some drill bits, and a wooden box that looked fairly modern, containing sticks of dynamite. He made a mental note to tell the rangers on his way home.
He didn’t think the second tunnel he went into was very big, but it was 120 degrees outside and the shade in the cave felt good, just stuffy. But as he went further inside he came upon a hole in the ground at a dead-end.
Shinning his flashlight down he could see there was once a wooden rope ladder, but it was badly deteriorated. Undeterred, he pulled out his rope and climbing equipment. It didn’t look like he would have to repel down too far down as he could see the bottom.
Once he was down on the dirt floor he unhooked his harness. The rope and tackle were secured by a steel spike in the floor above. He shined his flashlight down a long dark tunnel and slowly walked into the darkness.
After two hours he was starting to think he was wasting his time, but he knew knowledge never came easily and kept walking. When he saw the first sign on the wall he stopped and studied it with growing excitement.
It looked like a ball with rings around it and was carved into the Borax crystals on the walls. To him it looked like a planet. Excited, he moved on looking for more signs on the walls.
He walked for two more hours before deciding to stop and take a break and eat something. His excitement had worn off and he was hungry. As he bit into his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he thought about the marking he saw. Was it a planet?
Feeling refreshed, Lester resumed his search. Twenty minutes later he found another hole. As he stopped and flashed his light down it he saw something metallic. There was a rope ladder which was in much better condition than the first.
He had to make a decision. He didn’t have enough rope to repel down. It was still hanging from where he anchored it. He’d have to climb back up, leave the cave and hike back to his Volkswagen bus for more rope.
Or, he could take a chance and use the hanging ladder. It didn’t take him long to decide. Adventure was in his DNA. He cautiously climbed down the rope until he came to the bottom and saw he was in a large open cavern with a metallic floor!
It’s shiny floor gleamed in the twilight created by his flashlight. He followed it to another open area where there were rows of metal tubes as far as he could see. He went up to one and saw that it had a little porthole that displayed a yellowish light inside. Then he saw a pale face, and it blinked!
He fell back in surprise and horror!
He’d always explored the secrets of past civilizations with gusto, never dreaming that he might actually run across a civilization that was still viable, and unknown to mankind. He looked in the port-hole again just to see if it was his imagination playing tricks on him.
No such luck. The face was still there and now both eyes were open and staring at him!
Then he felt a tug at his brain and a voice inside his head said, “Let me out. The button is below the glass you’re looking through.”
Lester broke the spell and got the courage to ask, “Do you mean to harm me, or others above us?”
The thing in the tube narrowed its bulging eyes and loudly commanded Lester to let it out!
“It’s our time now! You pitiful earthlings will only be kept alive as slaves to serve us when we take control of this planet!”
He grabbed his head in pain as the thing tried to get a foothold in his brain. He staggered backwards, and dropped his flashlight which spun around on the metallic floor sending tiny beams of light throughout the cavern.
It took every bit of Lester’s intestinal fortitude to fight the creature trying to take over his body. Then he broke free, and ran out of the cavern! His mind was fuzzy but he managed to reach the rope ladder.
About half way up it started tearing loose! In sheer panic, Lester scuttled up the rest of the way and laid down on the dirt floor exhausted. He hoped he was far enough away that the creature couldn’t attack him again.
After a few gulps of air to steady himself, he climbed up his rope and reached the top floor of the cave safely. Only adrenaline kept him going as he went back to the first cave and retrieved the box of dynamite.
He knew it was a risky and stupid thing to try, but he had to do something about the creatures in those tubes. He took out two sticks and carefully tucked them into his leather belt before repelling back down to the next floor.
He went to the last hole with the good ladder, and lit both sticks and tossed them down the hole! The explosion filled the cave with dust and the concussion made his ear bleed. Somehow he was still alive.
He crawled back to his rope and used the last of his strength to climb back up. He lay there in the darkness for a while coughing and trying to get his breath. Minutes passed and the dust began settling down enough to see his way out of the cave.
He picked up the wooden box outside and brought it back into the cave. He set it down and pulled out his lighter. He lit one of the sticks and laid it next to the box and staggered out of the cave as fast as he could.
He was surprised that the explosion wasn’t bigger than it was. It still made an impressive tower of dirt and blanked out the sun for a moment. He felt confident that no one else would ever stumble upon the creatures beneath the desert floor.
His only regret was that he forgot to leave his mark down there. Then he smiled, and told himself this was one adventure that wouldn’t contribute to his legend…and that was okay.
As It Stands, this story is for free spirits.