|Fic: In the Eyes of an Observer (G, Humor, part 1/2, WIP)
||[Nov. 6th, 2007|09:02 pm]
The DC Day in the Life Challenge
TITLE: In the Eyes of an Observer
SUMMARY: Archaeology is even *more* hazardous in the DC universe. Which is a scary thought, to be honest.
DISCLAIMER: Most of these characters belong to me. Except one. Which one should be obvious.
CONTINUITY: None whatsoever.
NOTES: I've wanted to write this story *forever*.
* * * * *
Well yeah, I was doing archaeology in Gotham, but it's not like I expected to meet Batman walking down the street or something. I mean, just because you live in Metropolis doesn't mean you hang out with Superman, right?
Maybe if I'd been excavating something cat-related or something that came in twos, I would have expected trouble, but I was doing a mitigation for a new sewer line. How boring is that? (Trust me: It's very very boring.)
Gotham isn't what you'd think of as an archaeological mecca, but since the earthquake, there's been a lot of digging and rebuilding, and where there's federal or state money, there's some poor shmo like me putting in shovel test pits to make sure there isn't a fabulous archaeological site hiding there.
This particular sewer line didn't look like it was going through anything important or exciting. Sure, I'd found a few random projectile points (different eras, definitely disturbed soil) and a lot of Coke cans and bits of brick, as well as the occasional condom or needle.
Well, there was *one* thing unique about the site...
"The soil," I said, waving a hand dramatically, "is blue." I nearly knocked the Parks Canada Glass Glossary off the top of a pile of reference materials.
"Very funny," my friend Lynn said, not looking up from her computer, where she was typing up her own excavation report from a potential district court building. "I *am* paying attention to you, y'know."
"I'm not kidding. Instead of recording the Munsell soil color, I snagged some paint chips from Home Depot. I had to decide between Behr and Laura Ashley."
Lynn finally looked up. "What are you talking about?"
"Blue!" Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I stomped back and forth in front of her desk. "The soil has some bizarre chemical in it, although nobody can tell me what. I'm excavating in a bloody hazmat suit! For all I know, I'm about to sprout a second head."
Sitting back, she blinked a few times. "That's gross."
I slumped down into a chair, hands folded across my stomach. "You're telling me. In three years of excavating in this town, this is the absolute pits. Things could not *possibly* get worse."
"I can't *believe* you just said that," Lynn said, turning back to the computer.
"Oh, don't be ridiculous. I'm not superstitious."
"Uh-huh," Lynn said, glancing at me over her shoulder. "I'm sure the approaching bad luck will be happy to hear that."
* * * * *
Seriously, I'm *not* superstitious...but I changed my mind less than 48 hours later, hunched over a nearly complete three foot deep shovel test pit, sweating like a marathoner. Something shined at the bottom, clinking as my shovel dinged it.
I was so exhausted from the heat, it took me at least a minute to realize that nothing should be shining like that three feet down with the sun angling entirely the wrong direction. I put down the shovel and squinted, reaching for the camera. At least this would make a change from the almost sterile dirt I'd been seeing all day. I took several pictures, but when I squinted at the digital camera's small screen, each one seemed to be blurry in a new and interesting fashion.
I shrugged, scribbling onto my notes where the artifact had turned up, and stuck the shovel in to try and pry it out. It made the oddest squeaking sound as my shovel scraped around it. I tried to pry it out a few times, but it seemed welded to the soil.
Scowling, I pulled the shovel out and lay down so I could peer into the hole. The object looked brighter and I started to wonder if maybe I should leave it alone. Who knew what this weird soil might be doing to things, or even to *me*?
But I didn't become an archaeologist because I'm easily bored. Nope, I became an archaeologist because I'm *insatiably* curious, so I figured I'd try to get the darn thing out one more time.
Shovel test pits aren't very wide, so I had to wedge my head at a particularly bad angle in order to stretch my arm down. I couldn't see anything, so I groped around with my glove, figuring I could probably find the object by touch.
And sure enough, even through the glove, the object was obvious because it was freezing cold. I yelped at the feel of it, but the cold spread up my arm before I could move.
I saw stars and then everything went black.
* * * * *
When I opened my eyes, an ominous shape was looming over me. So I did what any red-blooded American woman would do at a moment like that:
I shrieked like a little girl faced with a stolen lollipop.
As my eyes cleared, I realized the shape was Batman and I shut my mouth abruptly. My face felt so warm, you could probably have cooked an egg on it. "Uh...sorry?"
For just a second, his lip twitched like he was about to laugh at me, but fortunately for my self-esteem, he restrained himself. "Are you all right?" he asked, voice deep and gravelly.
"I think so." I did a quick mental assessment. "Assuming it's still 2007 and I'm still on Earth, at least."
He gave me a *look*. "What is this thing?"
I blinked a few times as I stared over his shoulder at what appeared to be an Egyptian pyramid about twenty feet tall. "A pyramid?"
"Funny." He sounded unamused.
"I'm not trying to be funny." I sat up slowly, head trying to do a hora, and pulled off my mask and a glove so I could rub my face. "I have no idea what that is. It sure as hell wasn't here when I started."
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm an archaeologist--"
"Good, then you can figure out what it says." He stood, turning to stride toward the pyramid.
He turned back, scowling at me. "I need a translation."
I waved both hands. "No way. Those are hieroglyphs. I'm an expert in American archaeology. If you want to know about colonial tea-drinking, I'm your gal."
Batman scowled harder and muttered something. I thought about asking what he'd said, but decided I'd been in enough danger for the day. So instead I sat *right* where I was while he circled the pyramid. He was either talking to himself (which was a thought I didn't want to pursue) or to someone on the other end of a radio signal. I inched away, hoping it was the latter.
He definitely didn't like the answers he was getting. "Fine," he said. "I'll take Zatanna if that's all you've got." Pause. "I know. Just get her here before something bad happens." He tapped a communicator in his ear.
I couldn't help it, it had to be said. "You mean something worse than a giant pyramid sprouting in the middle of Gotham?"
He just looked at me for a moment. "I mean something that involves people dying."
I swallowed hard. "Ah. I see."
--end, part 1--
A/N: Yes, I'm a trained archaeologist, although I haven't been out in the field in about ten years. I happen to also be a sucky excavator, but let's not worry about that part just now ;) Oh, and the blue soil...is a true story. It didn't happen to me, but a former boss told me about it.