South by Southwaste
“Raiders again,” Amoz said as he put down the long-range monocular and quickly slid back down his dual-layered prosthetic eyelids to shield from the wind and sand that had joined forces to become a storm of stinging nettles. “Fifth one today – probably a big storm coming soon.”
Jeth nodded from his seat inside the mobile bunker. He’d been with Amoz’s team in the Southern part of the Great Southwaste for the better part of a week as they excavated the Peachtree Oasis sites number 5, 6 and 8. Desert storms and occasional raids by local nomadic tribesmen had slowed the team’s progress, but they were getting closer, layer by layer, to uncovering something that would be big news. An earlier team at a nearby site had recently uncovered skeletal remains of extinct animals including giraffes and elephants, none of which had ever been known to be indigenous to the region, so experts were speculating that these creatures had been imported from elsewhere.
“Could you make out which tribe?” Jeth asked as he scratched at what he hoped was just a badly sunburned patch on his elbow.
“Yallkumbak, maybe,” Amoz said. “Hard to tell them apart under the radiation suits. As long as they keep their distance from the supplies I can’t say that I really care.”
Two days ago they had uncovered some encrypted materials from a band of Neo Mormons or recolonists who had discovered only too late that what the heavens were showering them with was something far more malign than manna.
The news came in towards the end of the sixth afternoon as they all gathered around the most promising excavation site. A rusted metal sign was being hoisted from the depths – below almost 80 feet of sand. The wind and elements had faded most of the paint but the impression of some of the letters were still clear.
“ATL N A Z O”
“Welcome,” Amoz said as a triumphant smile spread across his face, “to the lost city of Atlanta.”