Sand, just the same as ice, can hide things for many years. But both ice and sand change and shift over time. Ice breaks and melts to rejoin the eternal currents. Sand moves with the winds and the slow breath of the earth. Things that have been hidden move closer to the surface, and nothing stays buried forever.
Ravi knew that, because it was her job to find buried things. When she was a kid, she had been called Gravedigger, because she always had her hands down some hole, unearthing some stone or chunk of rotten wood. It was meant as an insult, but later, when she finished her archaeology degree, it almost reflected the truth. She was digging graves. Literally. She was digging them up.
Goldenrun was not an exciting town. It wasn’t much of a town at all, really. It hadn’t been much of a town in the best of days, but now, with less than hundred people living here, it was resembling a set from a bad western movie.
It was what it’s name suggested – a settlement founded by gold miners. Ravi wasn’t sure what had been here before the gold miners came. There was a river that ran dry half a year, and a lake that shrank to the size of a puddle at the height of summer. There were cliffs, and a few natural caves in them. There were a few twisted trees. At least, that was what met the eye.
Ravi knew that an indigenous tribe lived in this parts, a tribe that either disappeared on its own or, more likely, was destroyed by the appearance of the gold miners. The remains of those people’s lives were the reason why she was here in the first place. She was digging up their graves.
Ravi wasn’t a very superstitious person. You couldn’t afford to be when you dug up and cataloged pieces of human bone for a living. When you basically lived in the middle of nowhere in a tent, surrounded by remains. But somehow she was intrigued when she heard what brought the slow downfall of the settlement. According to the legend, the last survivor of the tribe cursed the valley with his dying breath. The curse seemed to lay dormant for a long time, until a recent mining operation unearthed a burial site.
Everything went downhill from then. Machinery inexplicably broke. Equipment simply disappeared. People got sick and died. It wasn’t long until the operation was shut down, the investors left the field, and all reasonable people moved away. Anyway, that was what the remaining residents of Goldenrun told Ravi and her team.
Ravi didn’t believe the legend, but she collected pieces of it as she collected every evidence of the tribe. As an archaeologist, her specialty were people long dead, but she couldn’t help but be fascinated how far superstition drove living people. How their beliefs shaped their behavioral patterns. So far that a simple superstition, a story someone came up with pretty much destroyed the entire town.
There was still basic infrastructure, and some folks gathered in a communal area nearby, but they never stayed outside after dark. Ravi hadn’t figured out how the angry spirits of the tribesmen would get them, but so far, nobody had gotten her. In fact, she enjoyed being left alone with her research and her ever growing collection of bones, pottery, rotten leather and other things she had found in the desert.
Beyond the research project and the fact that Ravi loved field work, there had been another reason why she came to Goldenrun. Her grandparents grew up just a couple of towns north of here, in a village that didn’t even exist anymore. Her grandfather used to come to Goldenrun for work a couple of times. Even if she saw him only a few times when she was a kid, she always felt drawn to him and his ancestry. His family always lived around these parts, and there was clear evidence that he had direct blood ties to the very people Ravi was digging out. When she allowed herself to pause and think about it, it felt like she belonged here. It was a weird feeling, but one she could live with.