Karl Davis remembered Jackson Elias from two years ago. He had been working in New York and had taken a job. He went down to Mexico to find the author, who had gone missing. Upon reaching Campeche, he hired two locals to act as guides and translators: Carmen Dominguez and Ruby Blanco.
The last message from Elias had been from Campeche, saying he was going to look into a “cult” near the town of Ebano Aleros, so they headed there in Ruby’s truck. The town was a blasted shell of a town, slowly dying as the younger generation moved away to the cities. The people seemed nervous, and uncertain about the strangers. They heard talk of a cult in the jungle, reviving the sacrificial practices of the old Mayan god of sacrifice, El Corazon de Fumar.
The town priest, Padre Carerras, gave them little. He denied knowledge of Elias, but Davis felt like he was lying. So they snuck back at night. They found that he was making some sort of deal with an armed man, dressed like one of the guerrillas that plagued the entire region. Carmen was spotted, and got into a brief firefight before being grabbed ino a jeep heading for the jungle. Quick thinking by Ruby freed Carmen, but the jeep sped away.
The three pressed the priest for information, and he told them Elias had headed into the jungle, but that they should stay away from there. Ignoring that advice, they took the truck and headed out. They made it to a bridge over a river they had to cross on foot. Ruby got across first, but was met by a strange being dressed in Mayan regalia and warning them away. Davis ran across, but fell into the river. Carmen headed across, and by the time she got over there, Ruby had put a bullet firmly into the chest of the creature, who they were fairly sure was just a man.
They went looking for Davis, and found him being taken away by three more guerrillas. They followed, the shadows closing in on them as the sun set. Davis was taken to the temple complex, where the jungle had been beaten back and large bonfires and floodlights lit the area. He was taken to a man who seemed to lead the smugglers-a British man who identified himself as Henry. He explained that he was simply ensuring privacy for his research, and that Elias (and now Davis) would be free to go when he was done.
Meanwhile, Carmen and Ruby’s attempt to infiltrate the smugglers met with no success, and they too were captured and met Henry. Ruby, able to parse out some of the glyphs on the wall, found a hidden area of the temple, and Henry took her to explore. Henry explained some things to Ruby-he was trying to translate a ritual, but things in the darkness trying to stop him but kept at bay by the lights. Within the bowels of the temple, they could hear a storm rolling in….
Carmen joined Elias and Davis in their cage. Doing the classic “pretend illness” bit, they managed to escape. Eventually they all met up, but seemed to be pursued by something just inside the shadows. The meager flashlights and Karl’s lucky lighter kept them at bay….
Henry led them towards the exit, but then went a different way himself. Carmen and Ruby went after him, and Davis, seeing the exit, told Elias to wait while he went after them. Carmen and Ruby came on Henry in a room intoning something, when a shape lumbered at them through the shadows. Ruby fired, only to realize it was Karl, who slipped into unconsciousness. Carmen ran to him, and when Ruby tried, she found a soft lavender light seemed to keep her there. Turning to see Henry, she saw the room fill with iridescent bubbles, expanding and popping. Henry looked at her, wished her luck, and stepped into a large one. Ruby tried to follow, but the bubble popped. Dark shadows gathering at the door encouraged her, and she jumped at another bubble, falling…..
Elias, having heard the gunshot, found Carmen trying to bandage Karl. They carried him out to a jeep, the shadows pushing in at the edges of their feeble light. Karl regained consciousness as they drove through the jungle. When they made it back to civilization, he got the bullet taken out, and he and Carmen spent the night together. He awoke groggy with sleep and pain, to see Carmen slipping out the window. His money was gone, and in place was a note. Elias was able to get money wired to them in Campeche, and they caught a steamer back to New York.