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The Hollow Earth


The Hollow Earth (2023)

After researching a mysterious article regarding her estranged father's disappearance, the young journalist Joanna Faye travels to the south of Chile to unravel not only her own personal history but revealing the truth hidden beneath us since the dawn of time that may end us all.

Meanwhile, a team of archaeologists led by Oliver de Rio race against the clock to prevent his old rival, Wilfred, from 

discovering the secret of what lies at the heart of the Hollow Earth.



9 minute read

Oliver leaned down over the hieroglyph’s pebbles in the greyish, brown cavern. Bright streaks of light from the cracks above sliced down rays that contrasted the dark lines like half-opened curtains. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘what does it say?’ He passed an amulet to Rose, standing behind him.

              She analysed it with her torch in hand. Her glasses fogged up, and she let out a gentle smile. ‘Protection. Protection from the divine thoughts.’

              Rose looked so beautiful, Oliver thought, looking up at her. He found himself tilting his head as she wriggled around, hiding her face from him in the dark. Oliver caught a diminished twinkle in her eye, filled with sorrow or regret.


              What had changed? He questioned himself in the dark. This should have been the happiest day of their lives, but he couldn’t help but sense she was a thousand miles from him, standing on the other leaving ship, getting further and further away.

              Rose tapped his shoulder. Oliver felt cold, ‘are you okay, sweetheart?’

‘I’m fine,’ she said. She sprayed her torchlight across the ruins buried under the Richat structure. Oliver followed her as she climbed over the rubble of broken tablets. A pillar reached up into the high cavern beyond the reach of their beams. A static echo rippled through the abyss, with only tiny dust particles appearing to dance from the little light that pierced the cavern. 

              Rose muttered in a strange language, reading the hieroglyphs in a rough tone as if her vocal cords were like sandpaper. Ever since we stepped off the plane in Mauritania, Oliver thought, staring at Rose and biting his inner cheek. She’s changed, we’ve changed. Oliver swallowed the weight in his chest that tightened and reassured himself of her words only a few days after she told him how she couldn’t live without him in Timgad.

              ‘Do you believe this was destiny?’ Oliver said. His words echoed in the cavern; distant bats or other dark-dwelling creatures scuttled away.

‘What’s that?’ she asked.

              ‘You know?’ A lost smirk in the dark lightened his voice as if quietened by the movements in the dark. ‘You’re the one who found this cavern, it was an accident, but you found it… how many people do you think –’

              ‘Oh my lord,’ Rose gasped. She pointed the torch at a broken statue. ‘That’s an Egyptian structure. Look at the symbol of Osiris.’

              Oliver held his breath and rushed up beside her. ‘At least that coincides with the theory the Egyptians were here,’ he confirmed.


              ‘Or that they stole it from them,’ she said. A flash from her camera blinded Oliver.

              ‘What the hell – what’s going on with you these days, Rose?’ he hissed as he rubbed his eyes.

              Rose ignored him and walked around the statue, stroking a hand across the rough surface.

              ‘What have you found?’ A voice came from the entrance. Rose jumped around in the shadows. Oliver caught her gleaming teeth as she grinned at the sound of Wilfred’s voice. ‘Oh my god!’ his voice was closer.

              ‘Absolutely, right?’ The light from her torch bounced as she raced towards the others lighting up the cavern like stars. ‘I found an Egyptian monument over there. It was brought over here. Might mean the Egyptians were here once too.’

              Oliver noted the change in her enthusiasm. ‘That’s what I was saying.’ Oliver whispered, following her down towards them.

              ‘This is it, you guys,’ Wilfred said. ‘We’ve found the lost city of Atlantis.’

A sense of bitterness came over Oliver. ‘Well, actually, this could just be a settlement for pirates, like a hideout where–’

              ‘No, no, no,’ Rose interrupted. She pointed out the different markings on the wall. ‘These all match the same ruins found in Tingrad, Crete, and Egypt. This definitely predates the findings of the ancient world. All of this.’ She turned to Wilfred, and her face lit up. ‘This may very well be the findings of Atlantis.’

              The ruins growled as the team shuffled around them, setting up spotlights. ‘Well done, Rose. You have made an amazing discovery,’ Wilfred told her. The clatter of a generator pounded into the air shaking the dust off the walls. The hired help spoke Arabic, and a burst of light exploded the night to day. ‘After a lifetime of searching, we’ve finally found it. What do you think, Oliver?’

              Oliver saw it. That look of admiration and desire of Rose looking at Wilfred. He clenched his fist and grimaced. ‘Yeh, yeah… this is incredible.’

              ‘More than incredible.’ Rose chirped and rushed across towards the assistants, removing large equipment cases. ‘This will change history,’ she went on. She shouted in Arabic where to set up their base.

              ‘So,’ Wilfred began, a spotlight brightening his sunburnt face as he raised his hand. ‘We did it. Was this what you expected, Oliver?’

              Oliver shifted his glare from Rose to Wilfred with a gentle hum. ‘Huh-uh. What? Oh yeah, –’ he pulled the amulet out from his pocket, then rubbed the runes and leaned into Wilfred. ‘–What do you think of this? Rose just translated it as saying: ‘Protection against divine thoughts.’

              ‘Looks fascinating,’ the older man pressed on Oliver’s arm and spun him around, ‘You see, Oliver. When I financed your expedition for Atlantis, all those months ago, digging through all these stones and bones, I was looking for –’

              A gunshot from outside pierced the cavern, freezing everyone with a look of dread, captured instantaneously like a photograph. ‘What the hell was that?’ A rally of machine-gun chattered, causing everyone to scatter. Oliver and Wilfred ducked as the lights set up exploded, leaving the room in darkness.

              ‘Rose!’ Oliver shouted, crouched down and running towards her. The image of her dying ripped at his gut, and he found her screaming behind a steel crate. She covered their ears as the glasses slid off her nose.

              The ensuing gunfire sliced through the Arabic assistants as Oliver ducked with her. The sound of his breathing and heartbeat resonated louder than the world around him. All the lights were shot out, and flashes revealed the terrified look on everyone. Oliver took in a breath of hot air that smelled of ash.

              ‘Come on.’ Oliver grabbed Rose by the hand. He pulled her from one crate to another. They fell beside a turned-over table and then sprinted to an Egyptian pillar when two bullet holes punched into the stone beside them. Words and pleas in Arabic flew around between the piercing rings.

              Armed mercenaries charged through the cavern entrance wearing night vision headsets. A spurt of fire shot a man with his hands up. Another armoured man waved his fingers at the others behind to overtake him. Rose and Oliver pinned to the wall and rolled around the pillar. Ears ringing, Oliver couldn’t hear his panting breath anymore as he squeezed around in the dark into a narrow crevasse he didn’t notice earlier.

              Oliver’s hand tightly squeezed on Rose as he dragged her into the slit in the wall and pulled her through the other end into another cavern with dotted lights from above. Another chamber full of fallen rocks and artefacts.

              They slid down a slight decline and bumped into Wilfred, who stood alone in shock. Rose pulled her hand away from Oliver and stood alongside Wilfred.

              ‘Who the hell are those guys?’ Oliver muttered but was silenced by a slap on the back of the head from Rose. She held her index finger up to her mouth.


              Wilfred nodded towards the far end of the cavern. They stumbled over the rubble and climbed over a fallen statue. ‘Go.’ Wilfred pulled out a gun and passed it to Rose. ‘Go over there. There’s a helicopter on the way.’ Another shot echoed from behind, followed by a long wail immediately silenced by another gunshot.


              ‘What about you?’ Rose whispered as Oliver tugged her arm. ‘How do you know–’

              ‘Rose. Come on.’ Oliver’s arm flung up as she tugged away from him. The voices in the other chamber echoed louder.

              ‘I’ll be right behind you,’ Wilfred whispered. He turned his back and faced the entrance they snuck in from. ‘Get to the top side, and we can –’ a foreign voice echoed in the chamber.

              Oliver grabbed Rose again, and Wilfred pushed her away.

              Holding her arm was like gripping the tentacle of a jellyfish. It wriggled and slid as Oliver dragged her away past a giant statue into a streak of light that opened up like the light at the end of a tunnel. The sun blinded him as he shunned the outside desert.

              ‘We have to go back for Wil,’ Rose cried. She ripped away from Oliver and fell on the golden sand. ‘We have to go back.’ The sound of spattering gunfire followed by another and a scream turned them both pale.

              ‘Rose!’ Oliver shook her by the shoulders. ‘Wilfred’s gone. They all are. We’ve got to get you –’ She pulled him to the ground and rolled herself up.

Rose pulled out, held the pistol Wilfred passed her at him and clocked the hammer. ‘What are you doing?’ Oliver asked with both his hands up.

              As Oliver adjusted to the sunlight, he could see down the barrel of the gun at the bullet that glinted like a tiny dagger. ‘We’re not going anywhere without Wilfred.’ Her raspy voice told him calmly.

              ‘Now, Rose.’ Oliver pleaded, ‘Don’t do anything crazy. Put the gu-gun down. Please.’ Another shot came from behind. Rose turned her head as Wilfred leapt out of the crevasse.

              ‘What are you two doing?’ Wilfred dragged a wounded leg.

              ‘Oh, Wil, thank God.’ Rose dropped her gun and wrapped her arms around him. He winced as she squeezed a wound in his shoulder. ‘I thought you were, were –’

              ‘Dead? We will be if we don’t get the hell out of here.’ Wilfred pushed Rose and held his good hand out to Oliver.

              Oliver’s body froze, and his eyes welled up at the picture of Rose staring at Wilfred with the same love and passion she once did him. He grabbed Wilfred’s hand and then pulled himself up. ‘Thanks,’ Oliver spat out. He waved away the vast flies that hung around his face.

              Wilfred put the gun away and checked his compass, pointing northeast. ‘Helicopter’s that way, over the ridge.’

              The wind carried a number of voices and the sound of heavy trucks from not too far behind. The greyish ruins burrowed themselves into the sands as if hiding from predators. ‘Who are all those people?’ Oliver finally asked.

              ‘The kind of people that had kept this place nice and safe since… who knows when,’ Wilfred answered, running ahead while studying a sat nav device.

              ‘How do you know that?’ Oliver paused.

              ‘The chopper should be –’ A strong gale pulled a tidal wave of sand against the three. Covering their faces with their forearms, the sand appeared to shield them from a barrage of gunfire that cut through the stale midmorning air. An outline of their shapes faded as the roaring sound of helicopter engines hovered overhead, unveiling the three in a pressing vacuum.

              Machine gun fire rattled behind as the helicopter landed. ‘Get on,’ a masked pilot yelled.

              Wilfred jumped on first and pulled up Rose. The gunfire intensified, and the pilot shouted something. Oliver rushed up behind and grabbed the handle of the helicopter to pull himself on board.

              ‘I’m sorry,’ Rose mouthed. Her loose hair flailed in the wind before Oliver could look down at the pistol in her hand; a shot already pierced his chest. He released his grip and touched the blood leaking from his heart.

The helicopter pulled away abruptly. Oliver fell back into the sand. He coughed and stared at its underbelly like the underside of a vulnerable bird flinging itself away from danger.

              Rose shot me; he thought and repeated it again. His life did not flash before his eyes, but the last morning the two shared in Tingrad filled his mind. The scent of jasmine in the orange room with purpled drapes. She sat up on the bed with her bare back to Oliver, holding the silk sheet to her breast. He traced his finger up her spine. She pulled her long hair back over her naked shoulder and then turned to him with a smile in the morning light. The warmth that radiated from her that morning illuminated every fabric of his being, and in a flash, that memory was replaced by the sight of a stranger who once resembled that woman with a gun in her hand. The razor-sharp piece of metal passed straight through him, but the look, those last words buried themselves into his heart.

              The helicopter vanished as Oliver heard his heart pound louder. He spat up blood and then looked around at the surrounding mercenaries that encircled him with their guns poised on him.

To be Continued...

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