The events and people described here are completely fictional and any similarity with the real world is entirely accidental
I returned to Iraq ten days ago to begin excavation at a new site, this time in the pay of a shadowy and secretive organisation. A group of strangers, this team of archaeologists has been brought together from around the world for a purpose which remains unclear despite the detailed and exacting instructions we have been provided with for the work. I can only hope that the hidden forces behind our investigations are benign and aimed solely at the advancement of scientific knowledge and not towards some more sinister goal.
Conditions are tough. We live crowded together in a single house, working long hours, sleeping when we can on concrete floors huddled under the ceiling fans. Every morning we are driven to the site as the sun comes up and are set to work. The site remains mysterious so far, revealing little either at the surface or in our first trenches. The ghost of a structure here, signs of disturbance there, but nothing concrete, more questions than answers so far. And what of the bigger questions? What are we really looking for? Who is behind the project and why must it be so secret?
The dogs avoid the site; they prowl around the edges in small packs, never daring to come closer. The ancient walls which ring the site seem to repel them, although they are little more than low ridges in the dry landscape. We find dead dogs sometimes, not by the road where they’re most common, but in the cultivation at the edge of the site. Inside the walls only hurtful things seem to thrive: snakes, scorpions and camel thorn. But these are not our only company; sometimes we see figures in the distance, sometimes lone men and sometimes groups, sometimes working and sometimes appearing to watch us.
Communication with the outside is forbidden, I can only hope that our employers will never find this journal; perhaps the only record of a project intended to be hidden from the world…
I am going to send you a facebook friend request. I urge you to accept, as I am extremely concerned about your safety.
and delete both these comments as soon as you read them.
Back only for this: Dear Doctor S: I was catching up on reading agade posts a few minutes ago, when one without an author’s name began very quickly to reveal a very competent, familiar and I will say with admiration, unique writing style. Someone has transposed your recent article in The Guardian into agade. I am very pleased to see you “breaking out,” and I hope your very real and valuable talents will gain the recognition they have always deserved. And of course I hope my encouragements here and previously will have had some beneficial effect, however small that might be. Wishing you the best, I remain, Jon Pattengill