Knock on Maya Door

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Tricky people, the Mayas

Jonathon Boggs cracked a single eyelid and focused blearily on the glowing green numbers of his bedside clock. Failing to decipher the time using just one eye, he forced his other eyelid open against the resistance of the sandpaper glued under it. Muzzily, he made out five-fifteen. The room appeared dark, so his brain made the computational connection and concluded it was early morning.

Oh, God! Please let me die in peace.

His eyelids slammed closed again, causing reverberations that echoed in his pulsing head. His arm reached out, his fingers grasped the covers, and tugged them over his head. His last thought before sleep overtook him again was that his elbow needed grease.

Sunlight! Sunlight hammering its way through the two-inch crack in the curtains and falling across his pillow. Groaning loudly, Jonathon threw back the covers and rolled onto his back. At least the top part did. His hips remained stationary, as did his legs. The snap and crackle of disturbed vertebrae sounded like pistol shots in the quiet room.

He stretched while attempting to keep important parts of his body from falling off – like his head. He made a bad move by sitting up. The room tilted to one side and he compensated by tilting his head in that direction. The room refused to cooperate by reversing its direction. Jonathon wasn’t fast enough to catch it. A wave of disorientation swept through him. He felt sick.

What the hell did we drink last night?

Staggering to his feet after untangling them from the twisted sheets, he lurched towards the bathroom, missing it by two inches. His shoulder hit the doorjamb, which jarred his head hard enough to cause bells to go off – great big, hairy, brass bells of enormous size. Off-balance, Jonathon reached out to the counter surrounding the sink. He hit that, but knocked the soap dish to the floor. Well, nearly the floor. It landed on the little toe of his left foot.

Ah, damn, that hurts!

Limping on one foot, he crossed to the toilet, lifted the lid, and urinated for a very long time. Sighing with relief, he flushed. That was a mistake, as tons of water cascaded from the tank, swirled around for twenty minutes or so, and then gurgled loudly for another five as the whirlpool swirled until the bowl was empty. Another heartfelt sigh as the echoes faded. Purposely avoiding his reflection in the wide mirror above the sink, Jonathon limped back into the bedroom. His glance fell on the clock.

Eight-twelve? What the...? Where was my wake-up call?

He fell backwards to a sitting position on the bed, picked up the phone receiver, and punched four numbers.



“No, Señor. I fear you have made a mistake.”

“Mmmm, sorry.”


Peering intently, he stabbed four numbers again. The phone rang, each ring sounding like one of those old German honk-honk alarms from a World War Two movie to him. After ten honks, he hung up.

Must me at breakfast already. I’ll try Mel.

Same result. No answer.


Feeling a bit more human now that he’d been up for a while, Jonathon rubbed a hand across his chin and decided that hearing the buzz of his electric razor up close wasn’t worth it. Stepping to the chair where he had thrown his clothes earlier this morning, he struggled into his pants, sat to pull his socks and shoes on, then stood and slipped his arms into his shirt.

Then he moved to the small dresser and strapped on his watch. Slapping his back pocked to make sure he had his wallet, he then punched his chest and felt the small digital voice recorder on which he kept the team’s rough notes dig into his rib cage. Picking up his small rucksack, he headed for the door, snatching his room key up as he passed the table. Locking the door behind him, he went down the corridor to the hotel elevator.

I never should have signed on for this job. Ed Richarts might be a big name in Mayan culture, and Mel Thomas a great researcher, but we all stink at drinking. What the hell was that last bottle? It didn’t even have a label.

The doors on the elevator screeched open to an empty lobby. The reception desk across the room was unmanned as well as the concierge station. It figures. Turning to the right, Jonathon entered the dining room and looked around for his two teammates. There was nobody in the room. That figures too. They are probably at the site already, working on the doorway glyph we uncovered two days ago.

Cruising down the sideboard, he snatched up a couple of sticky buns (cold), a cup of coffee (cold), and a bottle of water (warm). He sat for a moment, slowly chewing on the bun, his head pounding. He was a bit surprised that nobody was around, but that had happened before. Finally, a sound: someone in the kitchen dropped a dish. It sounded to him like a car crashing through a plate glass window. I need aspirin!

Lurching to his feet, he returned to his room, fumbling with the door key with his eyes almost closed from the pain. Easing the door shut behind him, he went to his suitcase and pulled out a small tin of Bayer. He went into the bathroom and poured a glass of water and swallowed several of the little white pills. Leaving the bathroom, he noticed the message waiting light on his phone flashing.

Feeling slightly better, he picked up the receiver and punched the code to retrieve the message.

It was Ed. “Jonathon, Mil and I feel like hell but we left you sleeping so you could work on the translation of the door glyph for us. No need to get out into the humidity to do that. We should be through the door and into the chamber around noon. We’ll keep you advised.”

Jonathon cleared the message and hung up. Relieved he didn’t have to endure a wild taxi ride to the site he moved to the table and spread out his materials. Inside the rather thin folder was an enlarged picture of the glyph they’d found on the door to the chamber.

It appeared to be of standard size, but round instead of the more normal square. In the center was a Mayan God, whose role Jonathon hadn’t worked out just yet. Smaller glyphs were arranged around the periphery, but they gave no clue as to where the phrase – he knew it was a phrase - began or ended. He was in the process of deciphering that now.

Sipping the cold coffee, along with several more aspirin, he worked, consulting several of his notebooks and other cribs. An hour passed, then another. He scratched the partially decoded sentence on his pad as each glyph fell into place.

Leaping to his feet, he exclaimed to the room: “I have it! I cracked the code. Damn, I’m good.”

His elation was rather short-lived as he made the translation between Mayan and English. It came out rather stilted, but he puzzled through it using a phrasebook. Sounding out each word as he wrote it down on his pad under the glyphs, he suddenly turned pale. He swept his entire working notes into his rucksack and clipped it closed as he ran out of his room.

Heading for the emergency exit, he slammed the security bar on the door open and sped down the stairs, taking them two and three at a time. Fourth floor, third floor, second floor, then, finally, the ground floor. He dashed across the lobby, narrowly missing a couple and their kid, jumped down the three stairs to the curb, and yanked the door open on the first cab he found.

“The Xylotlan dig! Hurry,” he shouted to the startled cabbie. “For God’s sake, hurry!”

He looked at his watch, ten to ten. Maybe I’ll make it!

Ahead, traffic slowed for a stoplight. The cabbie dodged to the side and found an open lane. When the light changed, he zipped across the street and blazed down another. They reached open country very quickly as the town only consisted of a few paved streets. Dust filled the cab through open windows, making both of them cough.

He looked at his watch, almost ten. Maybe I won’t make it.

They rounded a curve on the wrong side of the road. An oncoming truck tried vainly to dodge the speeding taxi. A glancing blow sent the cab into the guard rail, rolling up on its side but mercifully dropping back to four wheels. The front end was damaged and the motor stalled. Knowing that he was only minutes from the dig, Jonathon threw a wad of pesos at the driver, hopped out, and began running. Papers flew everywhere from his rucksack which had torn open on the door handle. He didn’t stop to gather them up, it was imperative he reach Ed and Mel before…



Jonathon ceased to exit. Him, along with everyone in sight ceased to exist. Unknown to him, everyone on the surface of the Earth ceased to exist. The only clue, written on a piece of paper, fluttered to the ground. It was his loose translation of the phrase circling the Mayan glyph on the door:




Crypt of Celestial Reorganization

Don’t push this button


Submitted: April 29, 2015

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Whiskey Charlie

Well, you sure pushed my "Wow!" button with that story, Tom. This is the best I've read in quite a while (including my own by the way).

Wed, April 29th, 2015 7:21am


Many thanks, Charlie. This was in response to a challenge over on The Next Big Writer. The final sentence "Don't push this button" had to be in the story somewhere. Took me two and a half hours to write it. happy you liked it. ~Tom

Wed, April 29th, 2015 7:05am

Vance Currie

This story held my interest all the way through. I could almost feel Jonathon’s pain and discomfort as he struggled with his hangover. Of course, when it got to the part where he cracked the code and translated the message, a sense of urgency took over and I could hardly wait to find out what it said. When I got to the end of the story and read the translated phrase, I disappeared! Well, not really, but for a moment, I almost thought I had. This is a really good story Tom. ~ Joe

Thu, April 30th, 2015 3:36am


Thanks, Joe. It has some flaws, but I'm working on them. ~Tom

Thu, April 30th, 2015 6:10am

Chris Green

Excellent story here, Tom. You crank the tension and intrigue up brilliantly leading to the mother of all resolutions. Highly original. Great work.

Thu, April 30th, 2015 10:21am


Thanks, Chris. It was fun to write. ~Tom

Thu, April 30th, 2015 6:11am

Mr Watson

This had everything, Originality, suspense, drama, and the pace hotted up as the story unfolded, right until the last sentence, a well condensed and perfectly written tale Tom. I'm still not getting notifications, sorry about the late comment.

Sun, May 3rd, 2015 4:24pm


Thanks, MW. I am still getting blank notifications. It appears that Booksie isn't going to fix them, so we'll just have to keep nagging. Sol, the guy at the top of the site pyramid, is hard at work fixing bugs on the Next Big Writer site, so he's not likely to spend a lot of time here. ~Tom

Sun, May 3rd, 2015 9:28am

Adrian Hunt

Tom, this story is really top-notch stuff. I felt the hangover with Jonathon, the suspense was built to perfection, the tension and then panic was outstanding. It was the quality of the writing that did this as much as the concept itself. Really, really enjoyed this.

Mon, May 25th, 2015 6:44pm


Thanks very much, Adrian. I've thought of a few enhancements, but haven't incorporated them as of yet. ~Tom

Mon, May 25th, 2015 11:49am


Tom, I may be a little late to reading this, but it is truly fantastic. The suspense you built up was phenomenal, and the ending was perfect. Wonderful work, and I cannot wait to read what else you have.

Sun, June 7th, 2015 2:31am


Thanks very much, Berkley. I always appreciate reviews like this. Read away. ~Tom

Sat, June 6th, 2015 8:09pm

Jason Crager

This is incredible, Tom! Kept me locked in from start to finish. The suspense and originality is unlike anything I've read in a long time. Clearly I have made a mistake by not reading more of your work sooner. I will have to remedy that. I thought it was a great story.

Thu, March 31st, 2016 11:33pm


Thanks, Ronin. It was originally written for the group "Don't Push That Button" as a short story. I'm happy you liked it so well.


Thu, March 31st, 2016 6:20pm

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