The news media is calling it a terrorist attack. My research partner – my best friend – walked into a mine near Mosul, Iraq and detonated a backpack bomb. The morning of the bombing, I awoke to a low rumble at our archaeological camp in the mountains east of Mosul. I looked over at Pete’s cot to see if he had heard it. He was gone. I walked to the other tent to find the rest of the crew awake and listening to the shortwave radio for news about the growing plume of black smoke on the horizon.
I didn’t think much about Pete being gone. We had recently found evidence of a small Babylonian settlement in a cave near our camp. Pete was obsessed with it. He found a section of the cave that had been deliberately collapsed and was convinced the Babylonians hid something valuable from their enemies behind the rubble.
Around noon, a Humvee and two Toyota trucks pulled up to our camp. Seven Iraqi Defense Force soldiers pointed their rifles at us while two US Army captains questioned us about Pete. We were taken to a base in Mosul and questioned further. After three days, once our interrogators were satisfied we knew nothing of Pete’s plan, we were set free.
I went back to the camp to close it down; the crew decided to take a season off to deal with Pete’s actions. While I was clearing our lighting out of Pete’s cave, I found his journal stuffed behind the grating of one of the halogens.
I was wrong. The Babylonians wanted it buried, not hidden. They were right. I’m sorry, love.