Sneak Preview: Born In Crete

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BORN IN CRETE

By: N. Lateef

PROLOGUE

YEAR: 1998

“Who in the hell could be calling me at this time in the morning?” disturbed from my sleep. I even looked to the clock with tired narrowed eyes. Three o’ four, and the phone was at its loudest interrupting my sleep. I aggressively took it off the ringer just so it would stop irritating me. I held the phone off the side of my bed feeling the bliss of sleep again, but I put it to my ear anyway because in my line of work I have to answer every call.

“Hello?’

“You have a collect long distance phone call from, ‘Rod Clemmings’ in Luxor, Egypt. “If you wish to accept and pay for this call dial zero and hold please”

I had to accept this call holding zero as the operator told me. I sat upwards in bed stretching my legs outward.

“Thank you for using Bell Connections. You are being connected, ‘Hello, Matt, hello?’”

“Rod I hear you, can you hear me?” I asked a bit excited wide awake for this person from my past.

“Hey guy what, where you sleeping?” he asked with sarcasm.

“More than sleep Rod I was out of my misery. I’m not going to speak on how long it’s been since we last spoke, but why do archaeologist try to make their careers in Egypt? Besides treasure what are people still looking for?” Wild goose chases and hieroglyphics was my guess. No one wants to discover a new chapter in history.

“This might seem like an early way of getting to the point with you, but I need you out here Matt, no matter how you feel. I’ve been keeping tabs on your finds of the Meso-Americans and in an effort to reach out I mysteriously came by this number.”

“Oh, keeping up with my career is supposed to convince me to fly half way around the world to Egypt?” I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought and he enjoyed that with me.

Coming off his laugh, “No Matt I just wanted you to know that I never forgot the pact we made before the degrees and handshakes.”

Rod was still Rod. He always had an ugly truth to reveal. He’ll send someone on a guilt trip off the ledge. As inspired students becoming archeologist we did make a pact. That if one of us was to discover a part of history that would change our lives forever the significant other should marry that man as his co-founder. My findings of the colossal Olmanec Heads were acclaimed but they were not anything new. All I received at the time was praises in articles, awards and new money. And from the way Rod was putting it, I left him out that dig and it was too early in the morning for this conversation.

“Rod you say you need me out there and you still haven’t given me a reason why. The pact, its touching and all, but what is suppose to be new out in Egypt, its nothing but a waste of time. I got so many offers on my table right now I’m not pressed for sand tools and ornaments.”

“Look, as of this instance I am beyond the foundation our pact was built on. I’m keeping that foolish boy promise with you. Tell you what if you are interested call me at (1-724-900-1563. You won’t regret it.”

He hung up on me saving me money. He sounded kind of serious though. Judging him, I can say he was on to something big. When laying back down the old thoughts and dreams me and Rod used to have as students seven years ago lay next to me in bed like a wanted spouse. Thinking about it now had me reliving the times. It was like the feeling of caffeine I jonesed to have in my system. I will call my booking agent at the top of the month.

I don’t fly coach or first class,. My equipment tagging along my luggage is too excessive and to expensive. This is what makes renting Lear jets are a one of a kind thing for me. Privacy with my seat and I don’t have to smell the liquor on the breath of a bare risk flyer. I kept my sights adjusted out this small rounded window. Fourteen hours and I was ready to get off like I got on. You sit there and just watch yourself running through the clouds. For some odd reason the smell of leather seats heightened my visual through the shallow clouds. To remember the first time I was here, nineteen eighty-nine class studies for the findings of Lower and Upper Egypt was a field trip of historical excavation sites, ancient and modern. Did I know I would be back to see these spaced huts in the dessert on a rise to a compacted city? No, I didn’t. Coming about, the airport in this city stays busy. People from all over the world are always incoming and outgoing. Most of the cities in Egypt are main attractions. And for the same reason it makes them wishes to see. In the direction we were going in, I spotted the isolated runway for the landing. Runway one-seventeen painted in hyper-extended letters with the other numerous intersections of numbers. That was the landing site appointed by the airport officials. The plane dropping altitude from a mile in the sky, there was a Hummer at least it looked like one driving toward the shuttle base. The landing became turbulent when the landing wheels skid the runway. Even though I shouldn’t do this, I unbuckled my seat belt and got up as we were coming to a rocky stop. I grabbed one of the seats in front of me for stability. Sifting from row to row I kept a close eye out the passing windows. Coming, what I thought to be a Hummer was a forest green Landrover which is the same thing just different car makers. I just knew it was Rod on time to pick me up. He better be considering he convinced me to come here. The controlled stop had me gathering my things getting ready to board off. The pilots came out the cockpit as we didn’t have to speak to each other. All they had to do was open the emergency doors so we all may make a scheduled exit.

I pulled the last of my excavation equipment from the compartments above the seats and took all I could grab with me down the aisle. I was out the plane and down the stairs. Touching ground I failed to realize everything troubling my sensations. The sun’s heat prying in the orifices in my skin for a scoop of sweat. The heavy luggage weighing down my scrawny body but I kept my sights on the coming Landrover. A glamorous smile went across my face as I could see Rod smiling through the windshield. If Rod could hop out the car while it was still rolling he would have. He brought the SUV to a screeching stop kicking open the door as if trying to break it.

“Matt Cho, the first Asian American archeologist to get recognition in the United States.” Rod said opening up to greet me with congratulations.

He’s always been a little chunky and has obviously put on the pounds. Carbohydrates must have his face so chunky .He still had patches in his beard that never worked well with his moon-pie face. His clothes weren’t tight as normal but they were pretty retro. These are the awful jokes he plays. In our world a putrid green button up shirt with sleeves rolled up the arm, matching kaki vest with kaki knickerbockers strung
up for calf high laced boot is a antiquarians privileged right. A green kaki hat, the bill set
to the back of his head was coordinating with his wrinkled button up and made everything look so hilarious. The more he furthered away from the vehicle is when I was exacted to the fella in the back seat of the car. He greeted me in no form. Not a wave of the hand, or a smile of comfort. I was sure we didn’t know each other.

“Matt I have been waiting on this day through out the whole weekend,” Rod said.

I sat down all my bags as I didn’t have to squeeze myself in his arms, “I’m happy to see you too man. Ease up on all this hugging and help me put my luggage in the car.”

“Everything is on me today worry for nothing,” Rod said with the biggest of smiles grabbing both of my roller luggage except the heavy duffle bags around my neck.

“Still lazy as hell, I see you’ve been lying in the sun.”

“What!!! Look at my skin I got sunburn everywhere, Look,” he showed me the etched red spots on his forearm and pulled down his collar revealing the spots on his chest.”The sun has been tearing me up out here.”

The funny faces he makes while melodramatic had me laughing. Me laughing as I was, was as bad as me heckling him. I knew then he was going to have me laughing all day.

“I’m glad that this is so funny. You are supposed to be my dude and you’re up here laughing. Everything is fun and games I see. Its okay I know how you bit off me whenever we get together,” he was just kidding with me because we knew each other like that.

On the SUV I did see that the left headlight was sort of cracked under the crash bars. Huh, I wonder what’s the science behind it. The rear driver door opened. The man unknown to me stepped out. His makeup had me immune to the blinking noise of his ajared door. Really, I am the foreign one, and I said that to myself to state this has to be his country, his nation. He sold me the Arabic background. Silk black hair pulled back from his widow peak to a small tail. He was far from the help because he didn’t look cheap in white linen. Couldn’t tell if he practiced Islam his beard low and so freshly cut. I had a manila skin tone and he was a shade darker than me. He bore the sunglasses off his face becoming complete to me when anxious to meet. His eyebrows were thick and tight making his eyes look slanted. The eyes exactly were as brown as mines. He must be the
bank behind Rod that if need be he’ll make government officials see straight. I’ve seen it all before.

“Matt this is Kalik Johar Muhamud, International lawyer here to advocate us.”

Rod introduced him to me. He and I shook hands. To hold a title as an international lawyer showed and proved to me Rod was handling his business. Anywhere that you’re trying to make a find, it is great to have an attorney on your team to revoke all legal jargon when it comes to possession. Thumbs up for he was rubbing shoulders with the right people. To have a lawyer get your excavation site approved also meant he was trying to enjoy the fruits of his labor as well.

“Kalik this is a close friend and who I think is the best archaeologist I could call on hand.”

My introduction was kind of late but the tension of the unknown uncertainty dissolved in me like aspirin. He really became cool when he relieved me of the heavy duffle bags around my neck loading it in the car for me. By him doing this showed me he wasn’t a prestigious snob, he’ll get his hand dirty.

Riding through the City of Luxor looked no different than from what it was years ago. When idle I got this habit of drawing. Since I was in Egypt I drew hieroglyphs of what I saw out my window just to brush up on what I thought I knew. This is considered the Islamic north of Africa from Morocco to Egypt. Sure of the consensus, Islam is predominately the religion hands down. The turbans, kuffes, and beards defined the street. It was like recess the masses hanging outside the stone housing units. The sense of the peaceful spirit was among us riding through these streets. I’m not worried about them pillaging my possessions from the holding bars atop the vehicle. I brought a fear on myself that was more than the thought of being robbed. For the most part, Rod and I were tourist. My arrival here in large part was highly doubtful. Thanks to the high powered publicity of the media. People still haven’t recovered from terrorist killing fifty-eight tourists and wounding several dozen more in Luxor. The attack put the city under heavy scrutiny and extreme investigation. I forgot the name of the country’s head leading terrorist group but they claimed not to have done it. I may have forgotten their name but I remember the date, November seventeenth nineteen ninety seven. Not too long after the massacre investigator’s found out the attack was carried out by ex-members of their organization. The chaotic scar put a lot of blood on this country and it only happened nine months ago. Even so, we have a native son with us, terrorist don’t care who they strike. All the while I wrote the events in hieroglyphs as I saw the streets. The
demographics had started to change. The buildings grew taller than the ancient
undersized forefront. We are on our way to downtown Luxor headed to the Embassy to speak with the Ambassador. We needed clearance, meaning official documents to cross guard checkpoints. Show my excavation license to get my papers and that would be it. We travel where we need be.

Traffic was starting to back us up and slow us down. I stopped drawing on my pad. I hate to feel like this, be it me being in the red zone of the city. A pedestrian straight from the sidewalk was looking all in the car. So nosy with his peeping he drew a crowd of eyes toward our company. It struck an unrest nerve that I tucked my pad in a seal in my coat once he began walking up to the car. I didn’t know whether to get out and defuse the situation or what. I wanted to hope my worrisome fears were in my head. I held tight to the only weapon I had at the time, the sharpened pencil in my hand. I hoped he wasn’t planning on jacking me out the car without a weapon and being defenseless.

My strong complex stare wasn’t going unnoticed either when approached. He walked up to my window to get his best look at me. I almost looked to Rod to see what was about to be done if he got hostile. But I didn’t want to show the stranger there was going to be any complications. The Arab looked down in the car pass my lap inspecting which made me further tuck the pencil which I think he saw. The sound of the electric motor in the door rolled Kalik’s window down. The man stepped back away from my window and looked to my possessions strapped above the roof of the car particularly oddly.

“How are you brother?’ Kalik with enough courage to ask the man his disposition as he was still visualizing my luggage. The man approached the front passenger window. “I am a special agent.”

He turned out his brass badge clipped on his pants beneath his T-shirt. Special he was, a badge like his was issued from the governor himself. A plain clothed agent undercover.

“Special agent, am I or either person you see in the vehicle under investigation?” Kalik persistent with legal quarrel!

“No neither of you is under investigation, but to see three of a kind together is a rarity to see in the inner city. So I came over here to inspect and see if these immigrants are safe from coercion of violence.”

“Nothing of the sort. We are friends here officer.” Rod had to stick his neck out there and say something spoken so softly he might have this officer believe him.

“You and the guy in the back seat are not the press so who will you claim to be?

“Rod, Matt do not answer him. Let me give you my card first.” Kalik had no problem dishing out his card.

Obviously the man could read well. His eyes lit up realizing who he was talking to. “There will be no further questions. You all may pass on.”

The door motor rolled Kalik’s window back up, and Rod blurted out, “Matt did you see his face buck when Kalik gave him his card?”

The undercover went back to the sidewalk he came from back on the trail to protect his city.

I watched Kalik as he smiled, as he was not up for many words. To me that really made him cool. He didn’t boast in what he did. It’s what makes the people of the east different from us in the west. That’s respect anyone could love. I pulled my pad from my jacket to catch my thoughts. Really what just happened dried me out. Now all I wished is to get to the Embassy, get that over, with and fall back in a hotel suite for a while. The first day off a plane is always jet lag, seeing how I spent the whole day getting here. Yawning I could just crash on the back seat.

“Come on, some get out the way,” Rod beeped the horn yelling as though these people heard him or understood him.

“Hey Rod, why are you screaming so loud I know you see me back here asleep.” I said woozy and loud in return because he snapped me out of the only contentment I get out of a day.

“Man shut up,” he replied lacking concern.

Back with reality the first thing I noticed was my scratchy throat. The air conditioning must have got me. At least we were downtown. I’ve been here before it is all too familiar. Man it’s changed somewhat but not really. The city keeps it downtown area up to modern standards compared to the inner city. New things being built I see. Of course in the country where architecture produced one of the ninth wonders of the world.
High praises to the Kings of engineering! Their building blocks set a precedent for cities throughout the world. To look at it now, people in their suits with their briefcases. Café goers sit outside enjoying their coffee and conversation. There was busy movement everywhere. People had places to be along with things to do. Rod so disrespectful barked at unveiled women crossing the street. Thank God the Embassy addressed itself three blocks down. I went for the gum in my pants pocket. if anything, got to freshen the breath after a good rest. We seemed to be on time for the day coming to the Embassy gates. So American Rod u-turned in to the coming intersection putting on the hazard lights basically illegally parking in front of the joint. Crazy when all he had to do was pull further down the block to the underground parking lot.

“Both yall out,” sounded as Rod was rushing us out.

Kalik got out no questions asked with his briefcase.

“Hold on, aren’t you coming in with us?” I gave him a fishy look, as he had on his security pass around his neck.

“I’m a find us a parking space, I’m not beginning to park down there. Its okay Matt I’ll be in there in a minute behind both yall. Look Kalik’s going straight for it.”

He wasn’t wasting anytime checking his security pass in with the guards post either. “Where’s the info so we can be done with this already?”

He grabbed the binder off the dash board and threw it at me in the back seat. This had everything we need to confer to the Ambassador. Destination, locations and sites we planned on excavating. All of the important stuff that needed to be said.

“Throwing stuff at me you pushing it Rod. Hurry up park and get in here, you know about this more than I do.”

“Whatever get out,” the last thing Rod said.

I just got out the car. The faster I moved the faster I get in and out. I spun pass the guards post as if they didn’t exist hanging my security pass high so they could see it clearly. It’s much respected to have one of these. I charted up the stairs and into the Embassy built lie a court house. I see that heavy fleecing was about to start. More guards ran a stable around the metal detectors. I was seized immediately by a big one in surgical gloves. I’ve seen the procedure done a million and one times in real life and television. I performed the procedure by lifting up my arms and spreading my legs and let him have his way with me. He dogged me with his grips. The closest thing to being violated. When he came up he looked at my security pass closely. Feeling my notepad on me he pulled it out my jacket.

“You know you are supposed to have everything in your hand,” he brought attention to the other guards.

“Yes I do understand the issue.” I broadcasted loud enough so the other guards would know he was doing his job. He looked to them to see they weren’t sweating it. The guard gave me my pad back and let me pass on. I ended up dropping it all in the wooden box passing through the metal detectors without any error. I then saw Kalik sitting on what seemed to be guest furniture in a lobby far corner from the main desk with clerks behind it looking like bank tellers. They pushed the box at me with my stuff. I had been cleared. I needed no courage to approach the most beautiful clerk to my hindsight. I rarely do it cause of my fright of rejection but as of now I could proffer my attention and receive her duties.

“What is it can I help you with?” she asked.

Semi-polite the accent of her English I was fond of, “I have not one appointment but wish to see the Ambassador.”

“There is one person ahead of you, he just walked in like you. Sign in behind him.”

“Kalik Johar Muhammud,” I spoke of him before she could get the sheet.

“That is exactly what it says here.”

“Actually we are here to see the Ambassador together.”

“Is there anyone else?”

And where was he now that she brought it up. I turned back and he hadn’t showed his face. More than disappointing I couldn’t even rationalize what he was doing. It sort of riled me up the stuff he was pulling.

“I guess not,” it slipped out.

“I’m sorry did you say something?”

“No there is no one breaking down the doors.” I got her to smile opening up to me a little.

“Are you and his affairs the same?”

“Very similar.”

“You have to mind me asking, if you want me to call concerned for a meeting.”

“I am a archeologist and he is my lawyer and we want to be here on official business. And to do that it is important we see the Ambassador.”

She leaned in over the massive desk, “I hope you are not here to rob my heritage and my country.”

Her remark sounded prankish even though there was this desire in her eyes to hear an answer. There was nothing new about what she has asked me. But what she asked I refused to participate in. The black market has all the riches one could want. No matter how easy it is the ends don’t justify the means of robbing history of the facts.

“I have a history absent of all wrongdoing.”

“We will see if you make the background check while in the Ambassador’s office. You might want to wait over there in the lobby with your lawyer and let me get him on the hard line.” She said coldly with her soft accent.

“Will do,” I was happy to do because our pleasant conversation switched gears.
.
They kind of play hardball in Luxor’s Embassy. With all the frisking and over the edge secretary’s, my state of thoughts had to be pinned up by my modesty to stay undisturbed for the meeting with the Ambassador. I lacked being intrigued by the institution’s architectural art. The art was the gift of the mason when he created all of this. I was looking at the more common styles of the eighteen hundreds. How chandeliers put light to dome ceiling with depictions of historical art. This was the era that copied Michelangelo’s Vatican painting in the sixteenth century. Quietly I sat next to Kalik. We both were admiring the same thing above us. A war of the Ottoman period where Muslims who deemed themselves soldiers to conquer the Byzantine rulers! A time of war well before enjoying the advantage of guns! I know history very well and this was a tribute to the Mamelukes. They started the brute and fierce war tactics that would shape a feared name for the last rulers of Egypt for their time in the Ottoman Empire.

I heard the thick steps of heels clapping, coming down the stairs to the lower lobby. Off the wall art, the feeling of high heels talking to me called my recognition. The desk clerk who turned me on, then turned me off, was nearing with something to tell us. I stood up for the conclusion. Kalik unmoved by her scented fragrance stared waiting in abeyance.

“He will see you two now,” she never stopped for interaction. Her high heels kept their beat on the marble floor.

I couldn’t move over, Kalik was up on her heels so quickly. Walking the halls following the chime trail of heels with my ears as I continued to watch the artist’s ongoing war painted everywhere. Very graphic as well! To whom the artist was, the mural in this place symbolized his greatness. Turning into a right hall brought new articles of war to life. Horses riding their master’s to victory. One side divided by their
armor. Their enemies recognized by their turbans. I did follow the story as doors with plated numbers caught the bottom of my sight breezing the hall. Partly ahead and a couple doors down was the Ambassador’s office. I knew once she directed us specifically to the last room there would be more capacity space for the length of the room. She barged in without any conscious of interrupting. It was the same egg shell white room in capitol buildings nearly around the world.

Kalik’s brown skin darkened the room. I was highly noticed since I followed him. The Ambassador sat in a chair behind a large desk. Quite what I assumed, quite not what I thought! A specific suit and tie was basic for the job. Instead he showed his pride of how well he served his country. All his medals of honor were pinned dormant on his chest. His service clothes stiff and fresh like after the cleaners. Many medals and pendants I couldn’t begin to explain his rank because I lacked the knowledge. He made a beard out of his thick goattee, no sideburns. Old face wrinkles, deep dents and holes. The worst facial conditions a person can have. The man still had some part of his youth left. His hair’s black hue didn’t fade with coming years. Neither was he crippled, his back was straight. He must of maintained his health as well. Picture frames on the wall of considered great men in Egypt’s recent times. General, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who formed the United Arab Republic in nineteen fifty eight. Egypt’s next historical face better phrased the President, Anwar El-Sadat, who in fact was later assassinated. Well recognized after Sadat, President Hosni Mibarak. Every great leader came with their good and bad aspects. I don’t comment on them even when it’s hard for me not to judge. A lot of these pictures are recommended by the designers to other people to provoke a certain environment with guest. My best guess was power. The Ambassador surrounded himself with people he could visualize him becoming. I can agree they were above fair idols to mold a future after.

Kalik stood in front of the chair like I stood in front of mines. We waited for our host to ask us to be generously seated. My mind everywhere, our secretary quietly slipped out the room right from under us. Her true colors were absolutely rude. She left without bothering to introduce us.

“Ambassador may we be seated?” Kalik asked.

“No,” an expression taken most seriously, “Someone needs to be explaining to me why if they want permission to excavate my province no one believes in prior arrangements. My office is never open for walk ins”

Man he seemed upset. I did not come here for nothing. Regret follows complications. I hate being put in a catch twenty-two. I’ve wasted time, money and
resources on this whole trip. Rod, Rod, Rod, kept popping up in my head like the force of a migraine making me sick. I’m in here taking the jib jab and he’s nowhere to be accounted for. My hand clinched tight and there was the binder I forgot about.

“Um, um” in need of supporting words, I opened the binder and saw my presentation on a map and turned it up at the Ambassador.” In the southern point we want to excavate. As you can see the star here, hopefully we can dig near the Temple of Hatshepsut. The area is boundlessly rich in its contributions to history. Maybe there is more since there is so much unsolved today.”

“Say there is a substantial finding. It belongs to my country, not me, and not America,” preached the Ambassador.

“This is why the lawyer is present to discuss our concerns.” I fed it to him.

“I don’t care for his specialties I only care for ones bond,” the Ambassador stated.

“You will get nothing out of me but me being a true discoverer of civilization. There are many who want to take the truth from your country’s origins. All I can ask you is let me help preserve a past so written as fictitious? The early historians have convicted your forefathers of paganism. I need you to understand that times have changed for the historians of today to give the world a better understanding of Egypt and its commitments to modern times.”

The Ambassador sat behind the desk like nothing I said touched him. He stared at me instead. Was I being taken seriously or thought to be seen through? Kalik was getting no attention at all. He did right standing there and keeping to himself. Lawyers are usually all talk. This wasn’t a court, Kalik had no power. When the Ambassador’s eyes narrowed with slight fidget I didn’t sigh or try to speak. For real I was fed up already in my first twenty-four hours of being here. This instance I wanted to get up and walk out, pull away from the entire thing. Never have I gone anywhere and the level of respect was under fifty-fifty. Usually there is a high level of respect for people in my field of work. The Egyptians do hold their past sacred. Perhaps it is too sanctified that they can’t afford an archeologist to praise them. Whatever he was going to say it best be about the research I’m campaigning for, if not I might just walk out the door. And that’s just for the respect of me as well as the dignity of my career accomplishments.

“I believe in you young man. You both may be seated.” He said with no apologies. “I will now view your license. Pull your paperwork so that I may pull mine.”

Okay now he was talking more of what I was waiting to hear. The first thing I could think of was getting into my back pocket and fishing out my wallet before I sat down. Kalik opened the briefcase on his lap then sat down. The Ambassador went in whatever drawers on the desk to pullout his needed material. A ball pen, inkpad with the stamped seal of the State jointed his signature, the rest mostly paperwork.

“Once you sign this document we will be in agreement that the discovered artifacts as, memorabilia, shall be studied at your choice museum or institute. Discoveries of great significance legally will be turned in to the State after the archeologist‘s first study. Five years is the suspected time line for excavation and which will be funded by a private beneficiary. After unearthing something significant it will be drawn to the country to provide funding. Monetary gain will go to that of Matt Cho.”

As the Ambassador stamped the inked seal in a convenient box on my license, it struck me as Kalik kept talking about the contract agreement and why was I on the only one that would be paid out. Things just got really fishy. Legally I’m’ set up to make a
fortune if we find valuables. In hindsight while watching the signature sign off for the protection of legal battles, I still signed everything passed back and forth our triangular liaison insanely knowing that this was not part of my commitment to the find.

Me and Malik held a conversation as we exited the Embassy. Rod didn’t lie.He was parked up the street talking to a woman through the passenger seat window loving it at that. Our conversation hadn’t been disturbed as we continued to talk exiting the gates to the Embassy estate. I had to keep Kalilk on this side of the street with me. Keep him with the current subject never drifting the sidewalk as if crossing. In less than a couple of minutes from across the street we walked up to Rod laughing loud with the temptress. That seemed like the moment Kalik and I exchange of words ended crossing the street. He didn’t see us coming so caught in trying to find a companion. The woman was not half bad up close, dressed for what seemed a board meeting. As quick as Rod tried to say something to keep her laughing she must have felt we were his awaited company because she left him smiling and waving bye. I threw the binder in his lap before he could lean back in the driver seat.

“Rod I don’t know, what’s, what but I don’t want to talk. Get me to a hotel.” He must know how I felt because he didn’t even try to give me no excuses. He knows it was something he was going to have to justify with me later.

Slept first and when alone I take baths not showers. Ate last and was satisfied for the rest of my night. All this occurred before Rod called the phone in my hotel room.

Told me to get up and be ready in two hours we were going for drinks. I didn’t argue, I didn’t complain, I was all for it. Blame it on the long day. Rod was waiting for me downstairs as I just got off the phone with him. Dressed proper I grabbed my key card and was out the door. Down in a jiffy walking out the hotel’s luxurious sliding doors I jumped in the Landrover with Rod and he sped it off.

We went back to the middle town. The cities whole drafting looked a hundred years old but it was as live as a night in Los.Angeles. As much as I tried not to I couldn’t hold back, Rod unconsciously overpowered a somewhat laugh from me. We are riding about listening to techno music.

“Is this local?” it had a spazzing vibe.

“Hell yeah!” The name of the group is Starsha.” He was excited about the song because his fist beat the steering wheel impersonating the beat.

“How long is it going to be before I can get a drink?” I asked.

“We’re right around the corner from where we need to be.”

“Is it a nice place to be?” I wise cracked though I am concerned.

“The place is decent man.”

Rod didn’t speak of it thereafter but from what I saw I think that was the spot up the street. That ain’t no bar that’s a club. The door is crowded with an flock of provocatively dressed attractive women. I could decipher who were bodyguards and who were party goers. These huge red light Arabic letters hung over the entrance. The red lights said Dajuan in Arabic. The word means crazy. I became enticed to have fun tonight, it was the type of energy it gave me. A little ways from the door, Rod slid into the perfect parking spot. His parallel parking a bit crooked but who was going to give us a ticket for it. We got out like it didn’t matter. When Rod tightened up, he tightened up. He took off all the silly stuff he had on earlier. He traded it all in for silk, loafers, leather and jewelry. I knew I looked better than him physically, but I did feel a little timid of the attention he was going to get. Fooled to think we were going to be at the end of the waiting line, he stepped pass them walking straight to the door making a statement to the people waiting and watching enviously that we are very important people. Straight to the doorman with his clipboard of everybody he will have to let in. He hid on the stairs elevated behind two beefy bodyguards.

“Rod Clemming,” he said to the doormen.

Patiently I looked around while he checked his list. Rod’s name registered because he tapped the guards to part, and they made room for us to get in the double doors. Immediately we had entered another world. There were so many lights and the music was loud. Standing right here looking at it the place is jammed packed. I hung on to Rod’s heels when he busted a diagonal right through the crowd. In all these different shades of colorful lights I matched up with an abundance of female eyes. Beautiful women at that, that groped me appropriately. I stopped for neither one of them. I couldn’t lose my tail and get lost in the mob of people just yet. Up the stairs of a leveled deck was the bar surrounded by guest tables where Rod picked a seat.

Sitting across from him, “You sure know how to pick em.”

“You gotta know your way around,” Rod screamed over the noise.

“All right man, I’m here, you got me where you want me, so let me know something,” I would say no more.

He pulled his chair around the table in the middle of the lane to get more close to my side.

“I have discovered what may be one of the most unknown pieces of civilization. Not far off from the Temple of Hatshepsut, I fell hard in some sand traveling with some friends of mine. It was hard enough for me to roll on it and it made me think, what is this? When everybody tried to help me up I refused and I told them to back away I was cool. I put my foot on it as I got up, and played it close dusting myself off watching the people I was with move on without me. I unfastened my watch and turned on the indiglo light before I dropped it under my foot. It was all I could think about when I went to the hospital. The doctor said whatever it was, it busted my ribs. I went back myself that night. New batteries kept that indiglo bright cause I came running. Wasn’t much digging to do it was right there on the surface. Seeing the brick I saw I knew what it was. I dug deeper to make sure. It’s a pyramid down in the cavity. I covered it back up in sand and made sure I was the only one who knew how to get to it.”

What I would do to Rod right now if he wasn’t telling the truth. He had me wide open, open on to what could be one of the greatest finds of today’s modern times. He just made my whole day earlier worth it. Who could top that during this generation? I couldn’t imagine the monetary gain but I didn’t want to think about that right now. Better yet I couldn’t because I could imagine what would be found inside the pyramid.

“You sure you’re the only one who knows?”

“Listen I came through for us. All I did was talk some people into investing and contacted Kalik for legal representation. Now can we drink to that?”

“Hell yea we can drink to that,” in the same sentence is when I saw a man coming it seemed directly at us in the shadow of my glimpse.

“For real its still unbelievable to me how the early’s have walked right over this find, Hey bartender get…” when Rod fixed himself around in the chair he bumped into company, “Julius Mazeo.”

I watched Rod get up and bear his arms on this man like he’s known him for a lifetime. The man’s eyes were behind the tent of Versace shades looking every bit of real. From what I can tell he must be someone of some importance.

His casual wear was exclusive and at that expensive. Crocodiles on his feet! The slacks he was wearing looked like they were being pinned up by its creases. A gold belt buckle fastened to crocodilian leather. The clean white buttoned shirt tucked neatly in his pants became luxurious with the diamond cufflinks. The cufflinks resembled small scarabs.

“Sharon give these two drinks on the house as long as they’re here,” the man told the bartender.

Italian accent, Italian features, roman name and club owner. I wonder where Rod knows this guy from cause they didn’t look like they revolved around the same circle.

“Come upstairs with me where, you and, I can talk privately,” said just as a foreigner who speaks in syllables.

Probably no one I cared to meet anyway. Back to the scenery of the club when off they went. I thought maybe now was the time for me to get lost in this place seeing I was sitting here alone. My next thought was hitting the dance floor with a drink. I got up and approached the bar and it was at the same time I saw old Julius and my buddy Rod going up the stairs to an office with open blinds in its windows.

“Sharon isn’t it?” I caught her cleaning the bar glasses.

“What will it be sir?” same Italian accent combing her hand through her red Irish hair.

“Double of Scotch please.” I held some money.

“I remember my boss said on the house.”

“I thought maybe you might have forgotten.”

Pouring my drink, “How could I forget a face?”

That right there got me to tip her as she walked away with it smiling showing me how thankful she was. As I turned away from the bar putting the glass to my lips the smell of alcohol raw on my nostrils, I looked to the office up above and through the abundance of blinds was a sight that made me lower the glass from drinking it. Julius had his hands around Rod’s neck. He jerked Rod as he talked to him. He didn’t strike me as a threatening man given his generosity. I took a seat back at the table to see what else this may turn into. The music and everyone moving around me started to irritate me. I wanted to leave but I wasn’t going to leave without Rod. I’m just a harmless man with no heart to confront physical altercations. But I would not look away silently praying. He unhanded Rod and mugged him towards the door. Rod just might be too well known around these parts. I knew that people changed and there was this new character developing around Rod. It didn’t fit him because it seemed to be a bit scandalous. I couldn’t drink seeing these thoughts and watching Rod come sit back at the table. His collar wrinkled around his neck. A sigh of bitter worriment he brought back with him from upstairs.

“What’s going on Rod? What are you into out here?”

He heard me and chose to go for my glass of scotch drinking it in one shot. “Nothing I can’t handle.”

“I’m going back home first thing in the morning.” I exclaimed with no explanations. I got up headed for the door. I presumed he was going to start a begging pleading state with me, asking me to wait and hold on. He wasn’t giving me enough about him which seemed too risky for me. I didn’t want to hear it anyway.

Out of the club I did see the car. I’d rather catch a cab back to where I’m staying. I trailed the sidewalk down the street bumping into people who were outside still waiting to get in the club. I walked pass the car looking for a cab. The streets seemed empty of them, I guess it was too far from late to catch one. The back end looked deserted away from the club.

“Matt come get in the car,” Rod had already pulled the car around in the right lane.

A conspicuous stare of some men standing in a alley looking like they were waiting on someone to cross their path. Rod had a warning look from him to me that constantly asked me to get in. In one take the strange men came out from in between the
buildings. Out of the five of them I barely saw a face. My natural ability to save myself was without a tune to move to. Rod opened the door and I jumped right in as he and I was focused on them. But they never came after us as we pulled off.

“I’m going to admit to you because I should of been truthful I owe some people. I’m talking debts that have kind of got out of hand.”

“You better tell me how much Rod or I swear to God I will board a plane tomorrow,” I had to threaten him.

“In U.S. currency about a quarter of a million dollars.”

When he said it he looked at me. It wasn’t like it was out of pocket coming from him. It was just another problem for me. That just told it all. He wasn’t making much out his career. If I had to I could pitch up half now just to keep a club owner off his back.

“Why is everything in my name?”

“I don’t know what might happen to me before or after tomorrow. This is everything I got , and its all yours.”

A priceless discovery merged in a deplorable state of living. I could turn my back on it. The fact that apprehended me was that it was not my responsibility either. Why Rod put his life in my hands I could say I don’t understand but I would be a liar. It was leveraged by wealth and notoriety and I wanted this here more than anything. The best part is it wasn’t like we were going to be doing anything illegal. All had been sorted out as far as on paper. Several years out in a desert to correct a friend’s life was just a minor sacrifice I would have done willingly. Motivated thoughts of success began to intersect the problems over his head. Unsettled by the conditions, quiet for my peace of mind, I weighted my options. I pulled my car seat all the way back maybe I could think more relaxed. What a day when it’s over, said and done with.

I’ve done a lot of traveling but there’s nothing like being in the actual free world. The air feels fresher and the earth is revealing its private regions to you. As it is in all the sand in the desert none of it is as loud as public streets. No expressways with bumper to bumper traffic. When I‘m back to work forget appointments I am on my own time. Riding with Rod through the desert to this one location he had me believe existed, Kalik was in the backseat and there was what’s called the handmaids following us in six utility
trucks. Paid natives Rod rounded up with experience in our field of digging and preserving trying to make enough money to go to school. Can’t say I hate calling them hand maids because I prefer not to. I think it is discriminating so I never let the words come out of my mouth. So I like to call them students. I love their company we learn from each other. They have a good basis of knowledge of history with no academic sponsorship and most of them have their own specifically made tools on many occasions that I have bought. What gets me is how they don’t know the ancient language. Many cultures don’t know their ancestral language. Being Japanese as a child it was my first nature to speak Japanese. Then American public schools made me adopt more to my second language English. Now my Japanese is frequent to which I could imagine thousands of years of new languages breaking in to the language barrier.

With the lawyer coming with us I asked Kalik about his interest in coming. The first thing he said was he could afford it. Really the conversation simmered down to the chance had come to do something that few will ever see or do, so you best hold on to the moment. Rod hadn’t talked much. One thing I saw there remained a lot on his conscious. He seemed done with the party, party, party attitude and that is good for work. it’s the type of professionalism I want to work with. I’ve laid off him in light of that so he could stay functioning in that manner.

Right at this second I have confined myself in the one moment of privacy I could get to start studying one of many reference books I borrowed from the University of Southern California with recorded hieroglyphics and there duplex meanings. The only way to master the hieroglyphs was to make sentences out of them so it’s like reading. Back on my pen and pad drawing these small images. The ones I drew yesterday are not consistent with the book. From the book I first created short simple sentences better for the symbols to be remembered doing so. The easiest part of it was there remained no hieroglyphics for words like ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘if’ so I don’t have to keep those in mind.
Their purposes in doing that is they didn’t believe in words of doubt when speaking of their events. That would make the language based upon what could only be done, consequently pushing out the impossible concepts of the world. Rod poked me.

“Give me your pass,” he said

I saw the auxiliary post shortly ahead. There is a checkpoint around all historical landmarks to keep thieves from imposing their nature to steal. I took the embassy identification card from around my neck and gave it to him. Rod pulled up to the sub-station and just one man came out. Rod gave him the card and the binder which he will keep that has the seal and signature of the Ambassador approving the excavation and
disclosing our coordinates for when they want to patrol the area. We watched him in the sub-station get on the phone reading all the documents. He was doing his job making sure it wasn’t a forgery. Approval slim to none once I heard it was okay and all-right.

“How many people are working with you?” he came out the booth asking me since it is under my license.

“Thirteen,” I answered because he needed a count. He shook his head went inside and lifted the guard rail.

We stay on this road and we’ll be there in no time. Over a couple hills there, miles away I could see the Temple of Hatshepsut. I straightened my back.These are the points when I get excited because I feel like I’m playing my part in the world. I put the books and my papers away, I was so ready. Grabbed the binder, pulled out the map and started trying to get an accurate look at the destination.

“Where we are going your not going to find it on the map you are looking at. I told you nobody knows but me.” Rod said.

“Well then we’re all in your hands.”

“I can’t wait to get there myself. I just want to see all that is great as Rod spoke it,” Kalik added.

“We’re here now Rod. Don’t try to act like it is still a secret because there isn’t anybody here but us. Now show us.” I held up the map for him to do just that. At the same time we were passing by the temple of Hatshepsut.

“I don’t know exactly where,” Rod first pointed then skimmed his finger in one direction, “I believe its somewhere between there. What I had to do was mark the area so I would know when I’m standing in it.”

“That is fair enough,” I said because he gave me a good idea where. He pointed in the direction of two temples.

Getting around the canyon we distant into a right turn on the road. I am familiar with the two temples on the map. The Temple of Luxor and the Temple Karnak, they are very popular. Thinking of them they appeared stretched beyond mass acres of sand. I looked at a desecration of what they used to be. Both temples would make one have
respect for the engineering ideas of the visionary or visionaries who though of its construction. The vehicle came off the road into four-wheel drive up a mountain of sand. Not straying off the temples it was my second time seeing this since I was in college and it still took me. Going up I can see the section where Abu El-Hagger built a mosque atop the rubble of the Luxor Temple. In the twelfth century After.Common.Era, Abu El-Hagger desired to take a big step to consolidate his Islamic nation. What he did was take one of the ancient temples which at that time was buried under sand and debris and decided to build a Mosque on top of the temples’ foundation. It looks unusual the former entrance is several yards above the ground level of the temple. Egyptologist have requested for its removal so that the temple can be fully restored. Leaders of Islam fought against it stating the Mosque has as much right to this sacred site as the temple. My sight of it faded once the car came to a stop with it long in the distance. Rod cut the car off and hopped out. Getting out myself there were still cars pulling in airing themselves from their vehicles.

I jumped on the hood of the car and watched Rod because I didn’t see anything from over here. Ways ahead from us and his crowd, he lapped over and picked a stick up from the surface of the sand. I noticed it was painted orange which is a significant color. It made it easy for him to identify and blended good with the lay of the land. He told us to come over and give him a hand. We were all ready for that. Whatever position people held while confined in the comforts of their vehicle became insignificant as that man or woman came forth with compact duffle bags that contained tools. I saw more orange tipped sticks deep down in the sand. Made me think the sticks that Rod pulled up he put there solely for him to remember the location. The other sticks he placed in the sand formed a circle. The middle one must stand for X marks the spot. He got down on his hands and knees and neither one of us attempted to invade the perimeter of sticks around him. He began digging with his bare hands, and in a wink I did see something. The more Rod dug I gravitated toward trying to see it, it was brick for sure. One big swipe and he was done. Clean and cut in the middle of the circle we stood in is a limestone monolithic brick. I took my glasses off stepping inside what felt like another life so seized by the moment. I kneeled over to touch the brick quickly. I had to make sure this was still real. I started scooping sand out with my hand from around one of the edges. I dug fast, and dug hard till I felt another brick under this one and then I looked up at Rod all smiles.

“It’s real. I told you,” is what Rod said.

“Let’s get started,” I laughed about it when the words came out.

Who knew Rod Clemmings would have discovered something like this ten years ago, him of all people. People these days never find new sites. I can tell why most people would have thought this was a mountain of sand. The Pyramid was inside a clamshell. What happens is over time when things are exposed to the elements for thousands of years, nature finds some way to preserve it. In this case a lot of rain makes the sand hard due to wind glade and a lot of sun forming an exterior coating. It was Rod’s good fortune he fell on an actual brick. Ever since I was young I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I dreamed about discovering something that is a mystery to the world and introduce it to them. Rod has brought that chance into my life. I feel like I made the right decision sticking by his side to help him.

“People, people it’s still early. The sun is going to be awhile before it sets, lets do what we came to do,” Rod was running this train.

First you had to set your living quarters out of what you brought. Then we worked together to set up a shed where we put the tools for them to be open for everyone. Before the sun could go down we made sure the first piece of work had to be done. A graph was put around the brick. To construct a graph you must get under the surface of your find. A lot of digging is done until another layer is conceded. Strings which go across each other create blocks across the four poles at its corners. From there, tomorrow we dig down. Afterwards we turned in for the night. We started a little fire we could sit around because it will get cold at night. For all who didn’t know each other, we met after a days work. Everyone sat in the circle except the nuclei that brought us together. Rod sat in his tent facing us with the door flap up able to see us. When I looked at everybody else they seemed happy, laughing with eyes full of gold. Not to say Rod expressed some sort of unhappiness, but he sat there a daze to himself. I got up to see where he was at.

“What you go to drink in here?” I asked crawling in his tent.

“He went in his miniature refrigerator hooked up to the portable generator outside the tents. “What do you want? I got beer, orange juice, club soda.”

“Orange juice,” I replied just because I had a taste for it.

“You see all these beers, and you want to drink up the few morning orange juices I do have, here.”

“You offered it to me.” I took it from him. “Surprised your not having a drink celebrating?”

“I celebrated time and time again, its how I jumped in the financial hole.”

“That’s what’s been on your mind, got you stressing over here in the tent away from everybody?”

“Stressed, huh, it’s how you perceive me?”

“I mean I’m just telling you what I see ain’t no big thing. If someone owed me but I had to wait for this sure thing, then time is on your side and I have to look at something like this, as a long-term investment you see what I’m saying. Plus look at where you’re at, whose going to find you out here. They can’t get pass without the right authorities so you know just make peace with the fact that today you saw their money and a truck load of interest if they want it.”

“Sounds good Matt, the reason it sounds good is because you are a reasonable person. It’s who I have gotten myself in debt to. Depending on how long you make these people wait they will receive theirs, then there is no telling how they want their late fees. Could I be more concerned about the worst then I should be. I can’t see myself enjoying the greatest part in my life.

“Isn’t that why you made the right moves? You put all of this in my name and I won’t give them anything, unless you are guaranteed safety. We’ll be just two dead historians but that will be his quarter of a million dollar lost.”

He’d dealt with gangsters. And when they squeeze they leave no juice for their victims to drink. Yet I had Rod smiling providing that safety net for him to feel he had someone that will help him see his way through.

Work, work, work is all we do. Our first three months we comprise ourselves on going down one side of the pyramid. This type of pyramid is called the step pyramid. Each layer of its build is mastabas, which means benches. Six box-like steps were built, one on top of the other. Out of six, five mastabas were smaller than the one beneath it. This created a tiered monument that meant to everyone in the past, a stairway to heaven.

Very old this one here, older than the other temples around. I‘ve seen the type of pyramids in the old ancient city of Saqqara, the largest stone complex ever built under the rulership of one leader. Already we have made a mistake. The side we’ve gotten the sand off of had no entrance at its base. Either Rod or I could have saved the group months and months of work if we had stopped to think the entrance faces the rising sun. We should been done with the first side considering our students worked so lousy. On hand we had to light weight teach how to properly use some of our equipment and tools. I understood Kalik was just a lawyer coming along as a helping hand. But on memorable occasions I showed a few of them to correctly use the high-powered blowers. We already had to relocate our equipment on another portion of the sand at the pyramid twice. We came up with a system of two trucks taking turn driving out to the closest supermarket to pick up the requested items for us to live on.

Another three months in put us at six months invested in the project. A pyramid and sand was it for now, we had to keep digging. I continued my studies on the finished side. I studied the duration of the bricks to be able to put this pyramid in a certain class of era. Which is pretty boring until one day I heard one of our students screaming Arabic without a break between his words on the new developing side. I lost everything in my hands to the ground. Up high on the second mastabas I came running around a corner. It looked as though others had dropped everything they were doing coming from everywhere to see what the fuss was over. The student’s flow of speech remained constant as he dug out a doorway. I stood on a corner of an edge oscillating in the peak of his emotions as he kept saying ‘come quickly, come quickly, I’ve found it, I found it.’ In his aid others came climbing the mound of sand he stood on digging it out with him from the top. I even saw Kalik get in there. I searched for my co-worker and when I saw Rod at the next mastabas below me. He saw me and naturally we began laughing. Chubby wanted to face off with me by running down his mastabas. I started climbing down right where I stood so quick it was never in me to stop laughing because of the excitement netted with the fact Rod was so funny for this. No matter how hard I was trying there is no way I could catch him he was too persistent in the lead he had. He beat me there and handed me a shovel and together we went at this pile. Digging I started seeing hieroglyphs on the sides of the wall.

“Aey, everyone be careful on the walls,” Rod was talking to everyone with a shovel and pointed why, ‘We need not damage the hieroglyphs.”

There were enough shovels for all bodies but one of our students was digging sand out with his hands. He must have not had enough time and effort to get to a shovel. Every person here made an oath on the day we find the entrance. No matter how far the sand is backed to the door we’ll go until the sand is cleared. That meant if it took all night we would be right here until we are done. Even if many suns had to rise and set, and the stars had to come and go, we had plenty of coffee. And if it came down to the nitty gritty people would have to choose a shift.

In three days we had at least got the sand down to content ground level. We did flush the sand all the way out its cavity though. Luckily the door wasn’t too deep in the rear of sand. I stood inside this small hall looking at the hieroglyphs on the ceiling and wall. So much history I will have to decipher. Years of research right here. I haven’t even got inside yet. I touched the imprints of the hieroglyphs’. The inscriptions were in vertical strips on the ceiling, and horizontal on the walls. Each strip has a story to tell about its bit in history. The thing I want most is through this door. This door is the only thing keeping me from the other side. Inside was untouched, it had to be. The pyramid was under tons and tons of sand. Everything in there waiting on me to discover it .I walked out the passage way of the entrance.

“Rod, call the cordon at the post and to tell him to bring us a jackhammer,” for heavy-duty tools like that you had to be provided for. Rod walked to the car, got in and used the car phone.

“Hello?” the man at the post picked up the phone. “I will do that sir.”

The man hung up the phone. He took a long drag on the cigarette he was smoking. Smoke spread like the natural cancer it was wandering lively into every direction. When the man moved forward the smoke released him and the ashes fell to the material of his clothing. Walking out the shack he threw down the cigarette he smoked to the butt to the real guard lying dead on the ground. He picked the keys out his pockets and went out of sight back to a shed. Coming back he pulled the jackhammer up from somewhere, a door
opened and then slammed. He came back and pulled the dead guard back toward the shed.

“What did he say?” I asked Rod.

“He said he’s coming. He sounded funny must be some new guy.”

“He should be pulling up any minute so we should be getting ready,” said as though I was reminding him.

Two minutes after that I’d seen something I hadn’t seen before. One of our students had a cell phone and was actually talking on it. When he saw I caught him he didn’t even hide it, he just walked into his tent. There wasn’t anyone here who didn’t know we didn’t allow phones on the site. There is no telling who a person might call between the media and thieves. I thought I should tell him about it when I started walking to his tent. Coming out into the sights beyond the pyramid, I saw a truck coming down the road followed by a black Mercedes Benz and I stopped proceeding forth. None of the workers were in sight. What happened to everybody, why did it just seem like me and Rod? At that exact moment, the student with the cell phone came out his tent armed with an assault rifle. He cocked it pointing it at Rod and me. Not knowing what to think I threw up my hands scared for my life. He held the gun up on his shoulder backing us up. When he started talking Arabic, for once I couldn’t understand him he had me so misplaced on what was going on. His gun pointed at my head. The closer he got to me the more I got tunnel vision looking down the barrel of his gun. The copper head on the bullet had a gloomy shine to it. What averted me to look elsewhere is every single last one of our students that worked for us approached what was now a scene with military issued weapons and handguns. It didn’t appear neither one was going to bail out me or Rod. The woman came from nowhere with a hand full of Kalik’s collar and her gun to his head escorting him to where me and Rod stood.

“Turn and face the pyramid,” repeated by the gunmen in English.

Too late to run I turned and faced the wall instead, the barrel being pressed to my head. Urine almost came trickling down my pants leg, but I held onto them needing me to read the hieroglyphs once inside. There was no use in acting like I didn’t know what was going on anymore. The students being on a job so long and learning the ends and outs must have started developing ulterior motives of greed over time. Planning how they could take it and get away with it. One of them must have had the thought then shared it with another that would be attracted to the idea of a scheme that they would have to brush on the rest. Usually most local students come from nothing and this is their chance to
become wealthy off numerous black markets seeing that nothing has been pillaged from the find. The stimulus to my nervousness is what is common of people who think out these situations. Once they have what they want they kill you.

The utility truck pulled up, the bowling ball Benz stopping behind it. The man in the truck wasted no haste getting out the truck calling on the gunmen to come give him a hand as he smoked the cigarette.

Straight to the back of the truck expending its doors putting the jackhammer on a dolly and lifting it out the truck the gunmen began wheeling it through the sand. The driver’s door on the Benz opened. A pair of Italian leather loafers planted a man’s presence in the sand. The upper half to these loafers closed the car door walking out from the car to join a corrupt circle.

“Make the three of them turnaround,” quoted by this man.

Through all the arsenal Julius Mazao asserted his face as the Master in the mist of taking what one will soon call the biggest robbery in the deserts of Egypt.

“Julius what are you doing?” Rod asked with an inquiring mind.

“I told you, I would have your money.”

Me listening to Rod sound as if we are going to die, I have to say something, “As, of right now, you are in control. But you need us. Everything in that pyramid is in my name whatever you want I’ll give it to you in cash, I am very wealthy.”

I was checked numerous times by Rod and Kalik’s eyes from both sides for mustering up my words of demands. Julius looked at me as though I insulted him. From the back of the crowd he excelled smooth through the gunmen with his infamous character dressed in a casual black funeral suit. He took a gun from the hands of one of the workers.

“I have never heard a small man talk so strong. All I want is what is in there.” He pointed the gun at the pyramid then laid it at Kalik’s head and pulled the trigger.

The sound of the gun blast put me and Rod down on rivers of sand. He proved to me the gangster he really is when I saw Kalik sprawled flat in his death. I grabbed the pants leg of Rod’s pants to get him to stop yelling and cowering as Julius strapped over us.

“Please, please don’t kill us. The two of us can read the hieroglyphs and get you around to all you want in the pyramid, just don’t kill us please,” spoken off my weeping, whimpering lips. Anything came off them to stay alive.

“Rod shut up,” Julius demanded sympathetically, “Nobody wants to hear that, you sorry man! You need to be telling him why you got him in this mess.”

“What?” I asked looking up at Julius for what he meant.

Rod struck up in prayer, “Don’t do this Julius, and please don’t tell him!”

“He lost his license along time ago. When I met him he wasn’t innocent. He was running little petty artifacts through the black market banking for higher yields. After he was arrested they ran him out of Giza revoking his practice. He came to me to be apart of something. I put this simple man down with a team. I fronted him money until he was in debt with me. Then he turned around and tried to steal from me, tucking finds as if I’m not connected to the underworld market, and people won’t let me know this fat slithering slime ball was selling me short.”

Rod looked at me apologetic. The truth was out. And it sound like the end of the opera to my ears realizing the hole Rod put me in. Everything I had questioned him about explained. The reason why he called me was I was his only way he could get to the desert without having to be chased off. Why he couldn’t come into the Embassy because he was red tagged. It was the same reason why I had to inherit the discovery. Now Rods was dragging me to the grave with him. I rejected his looks for apologies because it was badly stained by his distrustfulness to save his own life.

“I spared him only because, he said, he discovered the find of the century in his thieving. I believed him and I backed him with more money but he had to bring men with him whom I trusted,” Julius said displaying with hand making it clear of his hired guns. “Now I want what is mine. Both of you go get that jackhammer.

Broad daylight Rod and I seized the jackhammer and towed it going the way we were told too. Passing Kalik he still looked like he never saw it coming. Bullet hole in his forehead it swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Truly an honest man lost his life in the mix of Rod’s sham. I blamed Rod with my looks and groaning. I groaned because I was but so big to even be helping pull this heavy thing.

“Why did you do this to me Rod?” I whispered.

“I didn’t mean any of this to happen how it has, but we have to think of something. Julius is going to kill us,” Rod snuck that in under their surveillance.

I was down with that. “It’s going to have to come quick.”

By the time we’d gotten to the door we were well tired and not ready to go on. It didn’t look as though they were having that. They gave us the small generator all of us had been using. They also slid us two sledge hammers. I held the jackhammer up while Rod uncoiled the cord and plugged it in the generator. Before turning it on we put the chisel on the jackhammer to the right lower corner of the door. I stepped back and Rod cut in. I didn’t want to do it because Rod was bigger, stronger and he would be able to keep it steadier. When it was turned on I covered my ears to the drilling of loud machinery. Debris came up in mist and when he stopped to replace the chisel the debris was like sprints of rain. All he was doing was making a big enough hole to where he could see the other side. That had been done within ten minutes. Rod cut the thing off and dragged it to the side. He put a covering down near the area and I picked up one of the sledgehammers to knock in the rest. Soon as he went to get his hammer I went in and I could see the other side. It was real dark and dusty inside. I had to get a good grip because the hammer was so heavy. Life on the line, I got it up and struck the rat sized hole. The door was not that thick it crumbled and cracked easily. When Rod came and joined me the job was like poking holes through paper. He hit it from over the top as I came with the hammer over my head The intent was to make a hole big enough to where everyone could at least duck their head in through.

“I need a flashlight.” Rod belched at our captors. Julius had no problem throwing us one from the rear, “Matt we are going to have to run inside and take our chances on losing them inside.”

Everything was whispers, “You’re going to have to go first. Just be quick to snatch me through,” a verbal agreement Rod nodded.

“Let me see if it’s safe first everyone.” All part of Rod’s creative plan of deceiving them. He even aimed the flashlight inside the pyramid. “It’s a bit dusty here guys. Hold on, what’s this, looks like another door up ahead.”

I looked in with every purpose on selling Rod’s lie because I saw a dark straight shot, “That’s what I see another door.”

“How thick do you think it is?” Julius asked.

Rod had him sold on it, “I don’t know let me and Matt see.”

“No! One at a time! One goes in and the other will give him the jackhammer,” Julius ordered.

We almost had him convinced. But this still could be perfect for us. I watched Rod climb in. I tried to keep my cool, didn’t want to look like I was up to anything. For a second I faked it like it was too heavy to pick up, so I started pushing the jackhammer building up sand in such a short distance. Right up to the hole I parked it, and at that moment I was stuck in the thought of escaping. I messed up when I started picturing what if we get caught while kneeled over the hole. Rod looked at me like what was I waiting for and in a frenzy he waved his hands for me to hurry up. I didn’t want to turn my head and look back, I believe I would have given myself up doing that .Still I couldn’t do without rolling my eyes back speculating if they knew what I was doing.

“Hey why you keep looking back. What is he doing? “asked Julius aiming his gun at my back.

I jumped through the hole, nothing to think about anymore. Quite strong, Rod snatched the rest of my body inside the pyramid. He snatched me right up to my feet then he picked up the flashlight. We didn’t care, light on, light off, we ran before they could get in. Pitch black, the path we ran led our running feet. To where, only God knows. So much dust collected inside our lungs making us cough. Rod turned the flashlight on and that’s when the shots rang, and bullets skid off the walls. I covered my head with my arms trying to keep it out of range. Rod grabbed me, yanking me into a side doorway of a passage that led to somewhere else. I peaked around the bend pass floating dust in the beams of lights and saw Julius and his gang hurrying inside the pyramid. I’d seen enough and turned into Rod to keep it moving, him realizing through me they’re coming. The passage we ran down was like a close sided slope with walls. Our flashlights bounced off the walls until light hit something endless. The endless space turned out to be a room. Sobbing because we are tired and scared, I prayed for this room to provide us a way of escape. It was like coming out a tunnel when he and I ran in the room. Looking for directions, Rod was quick to ram-sack the room with light. Nothing but Doric pillars that whirled the room and a short stone stage a tomb belonged on top of against the back of the room. No exit, nowhere to run. Rod already tense got all shaky dropping tears. Lights scratched the walls gaining density coming down the ramp. Our only way to stay alive was to hide. Behind the pillars got no recognition. Instead we chose to hide behind the obvious divider in the room cutting across the room floor. We hid as sitting ducks as Rod turned off the flashlight to be draped in darkness. I looked over the divider to see how close they were and I saw the wall move on the left wing of the room, but one of the gunmen’s light had flashed just pass my head before Rod snatched my collar back behind the divider. Maybe I didn’t see what I thought I saw.

Why did they think they could run? Was a popular question in the man’s head! Julius was not going to let up until both of them were dead. It was easy for him and everyone in his party to see. Fourteen flashlights equipped on their firepower will make sure they don’t miss anything. Walking inside his fortune he didn’t need either one of the two archeologists. Same reason why he aimed to kill when he caught them cutting loose on him. Had it not been pitch dark and they didn’t turn in the corner to get down here, he knows he would have got one with the bullet.

He hung tight behind his mercenaries, the whole crew readily about to cross the doorway seal into the chamber room. The very first gunman got everyone’s attention before he entered the room. He made them tentative that there was no way out fingering the divider. When the majority shook their heads agreeing with him he stepped forward in to the room. A large blade came across the doorway and thrashed him into two. They all leaped back from the sudden attack and opened up fire on whatever was inside in the room. Bullets peeled and ruined the designs on pillars, streaked and bounced the floor.

Holding up on the shooting, Julius men started crying of booby traps and how they didn’t want to go forth seeing the bloody mess created for them at the seal of the doorway. Julius reloaded his gun listening to all his people possessed of how haunted the place is. The woman speaking Arabic of becoming destined to turn back and everyone should turn back with her. Julius would not have it, he shot her four times in the back once she turned to walk back drying up all movement.

“I’m not leaving without that treasure.” He turned on everyone, “We cannot forget what we came for. We must have it one way or the other.”

Me and Rod sat hunched together on our side of the divider. His hand was cuffed tight on my mouth and my hand covered his mouth too scared one another would make a pee;. We heard everything and were blindly confused as to the booby traps. When they started shooting it was just as being shot at because I felt the bullets on my back. I had twitched every time the divider was hit. It sounded like Julius killed one of his own about his greed.

“Are they about to turn back?” I asked Rod no vocals just pronouncing words with my lips. Rod looked like he was about to see.

He carefully got up on both knees his head down beneath the top of the divider slowly egging his body to look over. His eyes sneaked above the stone surface in the whole of darkness. On the ground Rod saw a man’s legs with his boots pointed outward like a dead man. All lights at rest with Julius persuading his men. That was when in the mirrors of his perception Rod saw something different, a portion, if not a door was open right next to the entry way of how they came in the room. Not to figure out how him and Matt missed it. Something or someone moved on the side of the entrance hall Julius stood in. It looked like whoever was standing there was hiding. But Rod couldn’t make out really who it was. Rod shifted to the side of the divider with the flashlight. He had it pointed at the mysterious person and clicked the flashlight on. If things didn’t get more horrifying he could say what it was, it looked so dead. Its skin looked like a bruised apple with what seemed like a dry hard texture eroded with heavily cut wrinkles. A picture so creepy when he reeled the flashlight to its fac, the mummy-like man looked at Rod with hardened solid white eyes then stared coming at him running around the pillars.

Rod screamed and I went to shut him up and he wrestled me off him standing to his feet.

“Something is in here,” he said loud like a warning to everyone running to get from behind the divider.

I watched Julius and his men gun Rod down. Watching it, it expelled a loud cry out of me. I didn’t want to die like that. Face down motionless was it, not a gasp or vital in him. Over this wall I know they are now coming for me. I jumped up kneeled behind the divider. If they are coming to kill me I won’t be lying here in the haze of my fear.

Killing Rod only meant they should move forward. Julius moved in after his guns went first stepping over their own while attempting to duck the blade he caught. They all moved to the center of the columns. Julius gave no thought to what Rod said, it was only his crew and him and the archeologist in here. He wouldn’t be tricked by the liar Rod was. He just didn’t understand why he broke his cover over that stupid performance. But just like the energy he felt from his men it was spine-tingling and now the hairs on his body were like they were crawling. He heard something move behind him and he turned his gun and fired. Nothing, the bullet went in the column. He shifted every gun in the room at his back. Could it be something is in here he thought and became drawn in by it.

“Asiatic man, come from behind that wall and tell us who is it with you?” Julius was in an uproar with everyone aiming at the divider.

The archeologist came running from behind his hiding place and every gun in the building sought to take him out in the hail of gunfire. But he made it behind a pillar for safe keeping. They emptied the clips on the pillar witlessly as if one bullet was going to penetrate the girth of stone. Reloading their guns, from a pillar crosswise their backs the unusual being came with a sword that was enormous in breadth and reach. Quietly without effort he slid the sword in the back of one of the gunmen. The blade came out his stomach and the man gagged for the whole room to hear him. Others turned and when they saw it standing, there were men who screeched their vocals and cursed involuntarily. He kicked the man off his sword into their crowd weighting them down with the dead weight. He stumped on a tile on the floor near Rod’s body and the entrance way and the side door was being shut by hidden doors locking them inside the chamber.

I looked pass the column when they stopped shooting at me and stopped the profanity and shouting mixed with a harsh grinding sound. The sight of the thing folded my stomach it looked hideously unreal in the quarrels of light. The first man I saw it go after was cocking his gun and the thing hit him with a giant blade putting a split in him. He quickly advanced in the shaking lights cutting another one’s leg then grabbing him and lifting him from the severed leg and slinging him into a pillar. He was so strong. In this dark entrapped room the sparks exploded off the gun barrels when they started shooting at it. The blade on the sword was wide enough that it held it flatly on its shoulder like a shield rushing in on them. Bullets sparked off the sword ricocheting back which got them to stop shooting when one of them was slugged in the head by one. And when he did come from behind his sword he snapped it up at a man who put his assault rifle up to block it. The sword snapped the gun in two hacking into the man’s head scooping out a portion of his skull. He winged the sword’s blade in the shoulder of another gunman tearing the sword down his center. The thing moved like an engine, so many moves all at once relentless around the clock. What stood out most which assisted him was that it was busting their flashlights. As he killed them off one by one, I ran from behind the pillar and there was a gunshot that flinched and stopped me. Julius shot the thing nearly point blank range. But with long legs the thing kicked Julius chest like a door hurling him cross the room. After a bullet could do nothing to it at all the other men stopped fighting it, and was begging for mercy, but this thing was a killing machine not willing to hear their plea agreements executing them who were hollering raw with agony. I had to find my own light because it got darker with lights seeming like they were being blown out. In the hand of Rod there was the flashlight I needed. Immediately I was in a race with myself to get it. Once on it I struggled prying it from the stiffness of a dead hand.

And Julius who had to be near death, blood rimmed over his lips, he crawled towards me weakly with his elbows. His legs were not functioning. Moving like a caterpillar he still had the gun in his hand. I fell back over Rod unto the wall seeing he hadn’t given up on trying to kill me. I couldn’t even move because if he had enough strength to crawl to me then aiming and pulling the trigger would be painless for him.The room fell silent and Julius looked like he knew he wasn’t going to get the priceless treasure he came for. He turned the gun handle to me and tossed it, the light on it directly in his face. When the sword man walked out of the trenches I didn’t think about touching Julius gun. He crushed the bulb on the gun with his foot. Back within a pitch black atmosphere I heard the sword meet the flesh of Julius. Terrified I snatched the light from Rod’s hand. I could have broken a baby’s neck with my grip. I didn’t want to turn on the flashlight because I didn’t want to see it, appalled because I felt him in front of me.

“Why have you come?”

It talked to me in broken English. I turned on the light bulb in my hands and he stared at me. His sword stood upward in the back of Julius. Taller than me and probably every dead man in the room, he wore no clothing except a triangular sporran that was unlike the kilts worn by a Scottish Highlander. He looked dead, no hair, nothing on him but deeply carved crinkles all through his body and his face. At a museum he would be compared to someone in a tomb his flesh was so rotted yet preserved. He had me with his eyes in which I feared him, but I didn’t feel threatened because he hadn’t murdered me. Bizarre as it was I felt like he was protecting me. He came down to me on his knees and I saw the wound in his rib cage but there was no blood.

“Turn off you fire,” he said.

I knew what he meant so I clicked the flashlight off. Whatever type of bond he was trying to form with me I didn’t like it in the dark where it brought the fear back out of me of him. At that moment I saw his hands cupped together, a red lining tracing the closed seals of both hands. The red light in his hands started to bloom on his entire being. His light was brighter than my flashlight after it had magnified his portion and my portion of the room. What he held in his hand he looked at it as it were his soul. I became calm as he seemed to me. Consciously I was sedated by his powers wanting to answer his first question of why I’ve come.

“Who are you” How have you survived here?” though I haven’t answered his questions first, I asked just as curious of him as he was of me.

He looked away from the red light in his hands to me. He moved the light toward me. In his hand it lit like the sun, a red precious stone. The way he shoved his hands he wanted me to take it .A nice size jewel I took it transfixed by the phenomenon. Once fully in my palms, its light started dimming bringing the darkness back.

“It will tell you who I am.”

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