The paranormally gifted Patricia Vanhelsing tracing a great
In the middle of the jungle there is a mysterious building
called the HOUSE OF THE GODS. Did her great uncle, a famous
explorer, once disappear there?
Alfred Bekker writes fantasy, science fiction, thrillers,
historical novels and books for children and teenagers. His books
about THE REICH OF THE ELVES, the DRACHENERDE-SAGA, the GORIAN
trilogy and his novels about the HALFLINGS OF ATHRANOR made him
known to a large audience. He was co-author of such exciting series
as Jerry Cotton, Commissioner X and Ren Dhark.
The Snake Temple
The jungle steamed humid and hot while the stars sparkled in
the sky. The thin dress I was wearing was stuck to my body and the
heavy air of this proliferating hell of plants, pervaded by all
kinds of scents, numbed my senses.
I felt my heart racing as I saw the gloomy shadow of the ruin
appear before me in the jungle. The pale moonlight fell on
gigantic, cuboid blocks, partly covered by the proliferating
vegetation of the jungle. The fear held my soul clasped like in a
vice. My breath faltered. Carefully I went on and noticed how my
knees trembled. Finally I reached the uncanny ruin. The
cyclope-like building looked massive, the stone was smooth and
seemed undamaged. The aura of unimaginable age hung densely over
this place. And then I heard a voice whispering. It was a
A name that made my blood freeze in my veins...
I had never heard it and I had no idea what it meant. I just
felt an icy shiver running down my back.
A hissing noise penetrated my ear. I drove around and for a
fraction of a second I saw a shadowy something rising against the
But already one look later the shadow had disappeared behind
one of the gigantic cuboid blocks. I felt my pulse beat up to my
neck and pressed my back against the smooth stone wall. I wasn't
alone here, so much was certain. Carefully I felt myself along the
wall. A dark passage opened before me and I hoped that the darkness
had swallowed me ... I heard footsteps. Then again this hissing
that reminded me of something. For a few terribly long seconds I
racked my brain over it, then it occurred to me. It was the sound
of a snake...
I held my breath.
The steps approached. They were slow and dragging, as if the
mysterious figure was looking for something... Me!
I swallowed. The shadow seemed to have noticed me.
I saw a shadowy outline emerge and get bigger. The hissing
became louder. Then the figure stepped into the moonlight. The
first thing I saw was a pair of reptilian facetted eyes that looked
as cold as death.
Then the figure was dark again and I saw nothing but a
nameless black shadow approaching me. As if rooted, I stood there.
Despite the heat, goose bumps had covered my body.
Rama'ymuh... I don't know where the dark voice came from that
whispered this ghostly name. Maybe it came out of my head...
I felt the terrible closeness of this creature. Cold hands
reached for me with an inhuman strength that I could not resist at
all and I felt the breath of death. A woman's shrill death cry cut
the thick air of the jungle like a knife and it took me a moment to
realize that it was me who was screaming...
I sat straight as a die in my bed. Cold sweat stood on my
forehead and I breathed deeply. It took quite a while until I
understood where I was. I looked around. This was my room in Aunt
Elizabeth's villa. I was at home and the terrible pictures that had
just stood before my eyes had been nothing but a dream... A name
went whispering over my lips.
"Rama'ymuh..." I was surprised at myself and for a fraction of
a moment a hunch of the horror I had just felt returned. The door
of my room opened and my great-aunt Elizabeth Vanhelsing stepped
into the room.
"Patricia," she said, "You screamed! What's the matter?
I stroked my hair out of my eyes and breathed deeply.
"I don't know", I mumbled, almost like in a trance.
Aunt Elizabeth sat down with me on the bed and looked at me
seriously. "A dream?" she asked.
I nodded. "Yes, a dream." Elizabeth gave me a thoughtful look
and I knew immediately what was going on inside her. I knew my
great-aunt, whom I had grown up with after the death of my parents,
too well for that.
"Do you want to tell me the dream?" she asked
"Doesn't that have until tomorrow morning?" I asked back,
because I had little sense for bringing the terrible scene back to
"Tomorrow morning you may have forgotten your dream," she
said, and of course she was right.
"You think, it was one of those special dreams, wasn't it,
She nodded. "It could be, couldn't it?"
I looked at her. My aunt Elizabeth had a special interest in
everything supernatural. Her villa was a kind of private museum on
occultism, parapsychology and archaeology. The house was full of
artefacts from obscure cults, archaeological excavations and
contained an archive on this subject that was certainly
unparalleled far and wide. Frederik Vanhelsing, Elizabeth's lost
and presumably deceased husband, had been a well known
archaeologist and Elizabeth's interest in these things certainly
came from this. Anyway, she believed that I had light clairvoyant
abilities, which were expressed mainly in dreams and daydreams.
Since I had foreseen a house fire in my dreams as a child, she had
not been able to dissuade me from this idea - and in the meantime
she had brought me so far that I at least admitted the possibility
that maybe she was right.
"You promised me to take your dreams seriously, my child,"
said Elizabeth very seriously.
"Rama'ymuh," I murmured to myself.
"What?" Aunt Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. Her hands had
embraced my shoulders and she looked at me with an almost evocative
"What are you talking about?"
"Let me sleep, Aunt Elizabeth!"
"No, tell me the dream first! It must have meant something! I
I sighed and rubbed my temples. A leaden feeling of tiredness
had suddenly laid itself over me like a veil. I suppressed a yawn
and then summarized the dream to Aunt Elizabeth in brief words.
"Rama'ymuh, that was the name I had on my lips," I finally ended.
"Do you know what that word means, Aunt Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth made a thoughtful face and then shook her head
vigorously. "No," she whispered, "I have no idea what that word
I slept the rest of the night dreamless and like a stone. In
the morning everything seemed so unreal to me and the memory of the
nightmare had faded. I was late and still quite tired. Even Aunt
Elizabeth's strong coffee didn't seem to be able to make me feel as
cheerful today. When I boarded my red, somewhat old-fashioned
Mercedes a little later, I knew that I wouldn't reach the London
Express News building in time.
I was a reporter for this tabloid and had just managed to
convince my boss Michael T. Swann that I could do more than he
originally thought I could do. But what Swann couldn't stand to die
was unpunctuality. I was already preparing myself for the expected
thunderstorm. And then there was this dream of the past night and a
mysterious name, which I simply did not want out of mind against.
Rama'ymuh... maybe Aunt Elizabeth was right and it was indeed one
of those special dreams that told me something about the future. I
was shivering at the thought alone and hoped for nothing so much at
that moment as my great-aunt was wrong this time.
She always spoke of a gift. But I am not sure if this is
really the right word for it. Curse - that could just as well be
said of it.
I had some trouble finding a gap for my Mercedes in the
parking lot belonging to the publishing house. When I entered the
open-plan office where the News editorial team worked and where my
desk was also located, Jim Field, the photographer, met me.
He was wearing tattered jeans and the two cameras hanging
around his neck were completely disfiguring the worn jacket. The
fact that the collar could probably no longer be saved hardly
seemed to bother him. He shook the blond out of his face and smiled
"He shouted, "Hello, Patti!
"Swann has you wanted everywhere. I said you were in the
archives for a search."
"You're a treasure!"
Jim grinned. "You like to hear something like that. But now we
shouldn't lose any time. Mr Swann is expecting us in his
I breathed deeply. "Do you have any idea what this is about?"
Jim grinned from ear to ear and that meant he knew exactly what was
"Let him surprise you," he said, mischievously flashing his
"Not a little tip? I hope Mister Swann doesn't want to impose
something as exciting as a bribe scandal on the pigeon
"A little tip, huh?"
"All right, because you are. Did you already know that I have
I had to smile involuntarily. "You too?" I replied and he
seemed to think that was a joke.
Jim Field came a little closer and whispered in my ear: "I
predict you're going to make a long journey..."
"Into the jungle..." Jim looked me in the face and suddenly
the serenity disappeared from his features. "Hey, Patti! What's
going on? You've turned all pale!"
"Is the name Allan Porter familiar to you, Patricia?" asked
Michael T. Swann, without looking up from his records. His desk was
covered over and over with manuscripts and a large pile of files
threatened to tip over at any moment. Of course, Professor Dr.
Allan Porter was familiar to me. He had written the greatest
popular science bestsellers of recent years and was mentioned in
the same breath as Erich von Däniken. Jim Field spoke before I
could say anything.
"Isn't that the archaeologist who claims that there was
another intelligent race on earth before man?"
"Very true. A race of intelligent reptiles. According to
Professor Porter, the remains of their civilization have been
present up to historical times... Anyway, Porter now believes to
have found the final proof for his theories in the Brazilian
"A final proof", I asked hesitantly and with clear scepticism
in the tone of voice.
The name Allan Porter was well enough known to me to know that
his theories were totally rejected by the rest of the
archaeological community. The fact that Porter was able to market
his theories very skilfully in books and film documentaries and was
therefore regarded as untrustworthy had certainly contributed in
part to this.
Michael Swann looked at me and then nodded after briefly
rubbing his nose root. "Yes, a mysterious and probably ancient
building has been found in the Brazilian rainforest that Porter
associates with his theories..."
"...as well as a few dozen other archaeological sites all over
the world," Jim added not without sarcasm.
"But this time there really seems to be something to it. Even
if one day Porter's theories prove to be wrong, this jungle
building is a sensation. In short, you, Patti and Jim, should
accompany Porter on his next expedition to Brazil..."
For a moment I had to think of the dream. The steaming jungle
and the building I had seen, made of large blocks... And the cold
facet eyes in which death had lurked... I swallowed. You were
right, Aunt Elizabeth, I had to admit. It had been one of those
special dreams in which my clairvoyant abilities showed themselves.
There could no longer be any doubt for me in this question.
"What is it, Patti?" asked Michael T. Swann with a slightly
worried undertone in his voice. "I thought you liked this theme!
After all, you have an interest in such - how can I say? -
"Yes, you're right."
"Okay. Then bring me a good report."
I looked up. "When does it start?"
"You fly tomorrow to Rio de Janeiro. There you will meet
Porter, who will take you to the Amazon region, where he has
chartered a riverboat. You both get the rest of the day off so that
you can prepare yourself for the trip". Jim and I changed a pretty
surprised look. None of us needed to say a word to read each
other's minds at that moment and that really had nothing to do with
psychic powers. Look, it went through my head. Even Michael T.
Swann could be generous now and then. Who would have thought
"To Brazil?" Elizabeth asked me when I got home. "And so
"Yes', I nodded.
"You should think about your dream, child."
She looked at me very seriously. "Yes, I really mean that!
Can't they from the News send a colleague to Brazil? I would be
"Aunt Elizabeth! So far dreams have always helped me to escape
the dangers. Why should I be afraid? Do you remember when I went to
the South of France to investigate this ominous Templar cult? There
too I had a nightmare before, which even came true, but..."