The following record is the only information recovered regarding the sudden and tragic disappearance of world-renowned explorer, Nicholas Burton. Pioneer in the discovery of several rare species, he has helped catalogue an invaluable percentage of the known wildlife in the extremely isolated areas of the world.
Habitually writing every single experience down, he was famously noted to have had several diaries and journals weighing down his bags as he had ‘base books’, books which did not leave camp, and ‘travel journals’, those which he took with him.
These excerpts are the most relevant to Nicholas’ disappearance, taken from his most recent, and regrettably last, ‘travel journal’.
– July 24th 2010, 11:46-
Having left camp several hours ago, I have stumbled across a cave of considerable size and unknown depth. Dropping stones in large caverns, some took over 15 seconds to send back echo of contact, and some didn’t make any echo at all. There are natural tunnels however, hoping to explore once water and torches replenished.
Having potholed briefly, approximately 40 minutes, I have located a larger network of caves deeper down, some intimidating in size with large open spaces to traverse. Intriguingly, however, impressive mounds of animal remains are scattered around the floor of the largest caverns. Potential discovery imminent.
Confirmed UCD, unidentified cave dweller, not sure why I coined the acronym, it amused me at the time. A beast, assuming quite large although hard to identify as I shall explain, crawled around the lower caves unaware of my presence, easy to avoid. On attempting to shine a light on the situation, apologies once again, puns help the isolation, the creature screamed and fled. Only development: scales. A scaled creature, potentially some sort of lizard, dwells in the deeper sections of the natural structures beneath my feet. The caves potentially span miles from the looks of it. Will investigate further tomorrow.
-July 26th 2010,12:11-
Unfortunate to have had no luck yesterday, a brief encounter with creature occurred mere minutes ago, closer to the surface. Still pitch black however, had to dull the torch as photosensitivity is now obvious. Creature seems to sense nearby surroundings through flashing a bioluminescence located on head. In a flash it calculates the current situation and re-evaluates movements based on the primitive picture its painted with its natural light. Never seen anything like this before, must investigate.
Found myself in the range of a flash and the victim to a charge. I’m left to assume this creature preys on the defenceless and disoriented that have stumbled unwittingly into the cave. Running from its gnashing maw, I escaped narrowly while the thing, recoiling from the flashing canopy above, skulked back into its expansive lair.
Having returned to camp after collection of thoughts on the subject, since realised the lack of a travel journal. Must have dropped it in the rush for the surface. Must return to retrieve at first opportunity tomorrow.
-July 27th 2010, 10:29-
Cannot find lost journal. Must have been kicked and moved in the scuffle. Will replenish supplies and search further later today.
Frustrated at loss of valuable research notes, will recommence search tomorrow.
Heartened greatly by descriptive study of creature. Dulling the torch through cloth was able to paint a rough picture of the beast peaking my interest.
Scales protruding from every visible part of its body, seeming to react appropriately to the surroundings as taken in through the flashes, they flare having sensed a threat or a disturbance creating an intimidating coat of spiked barbs, and smoothing when calm for ease of movement. Taking care to evade these sensual sparks of direction from its front end. I was able to study from the side. Rows of sharp, long teeth protrude from its mouth much like the sabretooth’s did in prehistoric times, only less guerish and more frightening. Eyes are non-existent, probably due to adjustments to the environment over time, it’s clear this species has been an inhabitant of those caves for an inconceivable period of time.
-July 29th 2010, 20:58-
These creatures are intelligent, more so than I first thought.
Having found my lost journal in the depths of a cavernous opening in the cave systems, I found myself overcome with a barrage of flashes not so dissimilar to the hounding of paparazzi back in civilisation.
They were all over the walls.
Having been seen, undoubtedly, by at least 15 of these beasts, I ran for the exit where I remembered it to be. Documenting this in fear of it being my last entry, I find myself in a cramped system of caves, previously unexplored, under constant pursu….
-End of journal-
The journal, along with the rest of his belongings were retrieved from the caves by the search team after not hearing from Nicholas for a considerable period of time. Preferring to work alone, the team took several weeks to locate his belongings in the cave through study of tracks left in the dust and animal remains.
The loss is tragic to not only us, his close work colleagues and family, but to the world for the work he has done in identifying countless species previously unseen.
The creatures discussed in his last notes were never located.