Michelle always wondered if the legends were true. Did that legendary place exist in the caverns beneath the long-abandoned ruins of a village high in the mountains? A passway known as the corridor of terror leads to a sacrificial temple, a place of pain and blood where they brutally sacrificed women to appease the ancient pagan gods that predated Christianity in this part of Eastern Europe. The legends say that any woman unlucky enough to be chosen by the temple priests vanished without a trace, their lifeless body cast into the pit of sorrows.

It had taken her months of research in the local church records before Michelle found a reference to this darkly obscene place, just a brief note in the journal of an early tenth-century monk describing the location of the cavern’s entrance. Tonight, she’ll finally discover if those ancient legends were true.

Knowing what to look for, I quickly located the cavern entrance on the mountain overlooking the village ruins. It looked like it had once been a mining tunnel. The first hundred feet or so was roughly hewn rock but all that ended with an ornately carved archway that began the corridor of terror. Stepping through the entrance onto the corridor’s dusty tile floor, I realized this was a solemn moment. I was likely the first woman to enter this place in over a thousand years.

I knew from that monk’s journal that the women sacrificed in the temple entered this corridor naked and in chains, and while I wasn’t willing to go quite that far, I at least wanted to honor those who died here. Setting aside my backpack, I took off my hiking boots and socks, and my jeans and sweatshirt quickly followed. Opening the pack, I slipped on the high heels that I’d brought and lit the candle. Then, switching off the flashlight, I set it on the floor next to my abandoned clothing and proceeded down the corridor wearing just my underwear and high heels, with a single flickering candle to light my way.

The corridor was longer than I imagined. I’d walked for several minutes before finally reaching a second archway, the temple’s entrance. The flickering candlelight revealed a large stone altar at the chamber’s center.

Approaching the altar, I noticed open bronze restraints, tarnished by the long centuries, positioned at the corners of its intricately carved surface. Stepping closer, I felt a sudden sensation of fear, the carving on the top surface of the altar, while intricate, wasn’t decorative. They were channels designed to drain the victim’s blood into a large bronze chalice still standing in a shallow depression carved into the front side of the temple’s altar.

Staring at those ominously still open restraints, I tried to imagine what it had been like to be helplessly secured on that altar, knowing the temple priests intended to torture you to death to appease their long-forgotten gods. Taking a deep, hopefully calming breath, I turned away from that disturbing altar to examine the rest of the temple.

Surprisingly, unlike the intricately carved altar, the temple’s walls were unadorned. The only decorations were four massive sand-filled bronze urns on low stone pedestals standing in the chamber’s corners with long chains that vanished into the darkness above. There were also several bronze candle holders with partially burned candles along the walls. Suddenly noticing how much of my candle had already burned, I lit those ancient candles, extinguishing mine to save it for the long walk back to where I’d left the flashlight and my clothes.

With the temple’s candles lit, I turned back to that ominously looking altar, still intrigued by thoughts of what it had been like to be one of the temple’s doomed victims. I could feel my heartbeat quicken as I climbed onto that altar, positioning my wrists and ankles within those open bronze restraints and laying back with my head resting upon its slightly raised headrest. It was then that it happened. All four restraint cuffs suddenly snapped closed, locking me helplessly spread-eagle upon that altar.

I tried to free my wrists and ankles, but those restraints remained locked tight. I was trapped and suddenly realized no one in town knew where I was heading this morning. Even the dirt road leading up to the village ruins was severely overgrown, and I doubted anyone had ventured up to the ruins in years. If I couldn’t get free and no one found me, I’d end up dying of thirst in just a few days. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I heard a loud thump followed by the sound of sand pouring onto the temple’s floor.

Raising my head, I looked around and noticed the low stone pedestals under those large sand-filled urns had sunk into the temple floor, and that sand was pouring out of previously concealed openings in the bottoms of those four urns. Then, to my horror, all four of those urns began to slowly rise toward the temple’s darkness-shrouded ceiling as I heard the rattling of chains high above me.

As the terrifying minutes passed, the urns slowly rose as the rattling sounds above me continued. Suddenly I sensed movement in the darkness above me, and a moment later, something utterly terrifying gradually appeared out of the darkness. A large stone block, suspended at its corners by four chains diabolically linked to those steadily rising urns of sand, slowly descended toward me. Its underside covered with rows of horrifyingly sharp-looking bronze spikes.

Thirty minutes later, the ancient pagan temple’s death trap claimed its first victim in over a thousand years as Michelle’s blood slowly filled that altar’s ceremonial bronze chalice...