Hits 4275 | Created 2007-05-23 | Modified 2007-05-23
A short story written for a java game I wrote some years ago.
Sinclair Shaw reclined in his desk chair, snoozing happily. The chair wasn't a comfortable one, but he had found that if he tilted it backwards, onto two legs, and supported the back against the wall (whilst at the same time placing his heavily booted feet on top of his rather untidy desk), that it was serviceable enough. The chair, however, had other ideas and constantly squeaked and complained whenever put into this precarious position, and on this particular, fateful day, it was to make its final protest.
The old fashioned telephone, complete with real bells, rang suddenly and made Sinclair wake with a start. This was all the excuse that the chair required, and it promptly disassembled itself into several pieces, and threw Sinclair unceremoniously to the floor.
Sinclair eyed the wilful chair remains warily as his dusted himself off, hauled himself onto his feet and picked up the phone. He rubbed his backside gingerly as he did so.
'Hello, Sinclair Shaw here,' he said to the phone mouthpiece.
There was a crackling noise followed by some muffled whispering, in the background he thought that perhaps he could hear a distant call to prayer, a common sound in some Muslim countries.
'Hello?' Repeated Sinclair, squinting, as if to see better, as he listened intently.
'Meestar Shaw?' Said a thickly accented voice.
'Yeeeeessss.' He said, in a tone implying that it was a rather redundant question.
'Meestar Shaw,' the voice repeated, 'I huv been told zat ewe are a man of some, um, neeewlege in zee areas of archaooloojeee.'
That accent was terrible, thought Sinclair, it sounded false.
'Well, yeeeeessss, I'm an archaeologist, if that's what you're driving at?' Said Sinclair.
The voice ignored, or failed to notice Sinclair's sarcastic tone, it went on: 'Are ewe eeenterested in zee lost ankhs of Ra, meestar Shaw?'
Sinclair's jaw dropped at the mention of the lost ankhs of Ra - the mythical golden ankhs that were said to be hidden in a set of lost southern Egyptian tombs. The legend has it that the Egyptians, at the height of the ancient power, sent these (some say magical) ankhs around the world to the other advanced civilisations of the time as a gift, to show the power and the beauty of the Pharaoh, of Egypt, and of the terrible Sun God, Ra.
Any one of them would be a priceless treasure.
'I'm not interested in chasing fools' legends I'm afraid,' said Sinclair flatly.
There was a silence on the other end of the phone.
'Leesen, meester Shaw, I have not muuch time to play zee games. I know where zee lost tooms of zee golden ankhs are buried und I would bee villing too...'
The voice fell silent.
'Willing to what? Hello?' Sinclair shouted.
'Oh no...' The voice said quietly, filled with dread, 'Mister Shaw, I'm staying at the Golden Pyramid hotel in... Gluragh!'
Sinclair pulled a face, 'Sorry, where was that again?'
But there was only silence, and the line was dead.
Sinclair reviewed the phone call in his mind, standing by his desk. The fact that the stranger's accent had vanished at the end had not escaped him. The voice was Arabic, but with a twang that he couldn't quite place at the moment. The lost golden ankhs of Ra eh? His eyes had settled unconsciously on a large pile of, mostly red, bills on one forgotten corner of his desk. It was true, he could use a few pounds to take care of a few jobs around the estate, he mused. He knew that there was a Pyramid Hotel in Cairo, and that would certainly fit in with the call to prayer that he had heard in the background and the accent.
'Probably a bloody wild goose chase.' He muttered, span on his heel and went to pack his overnight bag.
Sinclair Shaw strode into the lobby of the Pyramid Hotel looking as much like an out of place Englishman as it was possible to look. He wore a pith helmet that was perhaps fifty years old, and looked it, and a kind of kakhi hunting suit, mostly seen in old television movies depicting British adventurers killing lions in Africa. He carried a black wooden cane, which he swung jauntily as he walked, and stuck out his chin as he did so. Some shady looking characters, smoking hookah pipes in the corner of the lobby looked up at his approach.
Sinclair rang the desk bell loudly.
After a few moments, a dirtily dressed, greasy haired, slimy man slithered out of a back room and made his way to the desk.
'Yesss sir?' He said, unpleasantly.
'A room please, and, um,' he looked the hotelier up and down, 'a clean one eh?'
A few minutes later found Sinclair relaxing on his bed, all five foot two of him, meditating on the thousand dead mosquitoes that haunted the room in the form of small blood splatters on the wall. He leisurely added to their number, despatching two with one blow. A fan lazily rotated above his head and the noisy bustle of the street below was reduced to a blurry background noise. He sat up, took a gulp of water and fell back onto the bed, sweating. It was certainly hot in Cairo at this time of year, he thought.
There was a knock at the door.
'Yes, come in.' Sinclair said.
It was the greasy hotelier, carrying a grubby silver tray. On the tray was a small note, folded once.
'A message for you sir,' said the hotelier, unpleasantly, thrusting the platter towards Sinclair.
'Ah, um, a note eh?' Said Sinclair, taking the bit of paper, unfolding it and reading the following:
Dear Mister Sinclair,
I'm afraid that you have been brought to Cairo under false pretences, and that you are the victim of an elaborate hoax. To save any more of your time and trouble, I would advise that you return to England as soon as is possible.
Sinclair looked up and found that the oily hotelier was still in the room, sidling around on the spot, shuffling his feet. Sinclair took out some coins and put them on the platter, rather than into the man's hands.
A few hours later Sinclair decided to take a walk through the local bazaar to consider the advice offered in the letter. He had no doubt that there was more to this whole thing than some puerile practical joke.
Lost in thought, Sinclair was taken by surprise when a small (perhaps the same height as Sinclair himself), dark man stood in his path, blocking his way.
'This way!' Hissed the stranger, and ran off down a side alley.
Sinclair peered after him, but showed no signs of moving. The stranger stopped, aware that he wasn't being followed and turned. He made desperate signs to Sinclair, 'Come on!' He half shouted, and ran off again, looking anxiously about him as he did so.
Bemused, and thinking of a complex robbery scam, Sinclair clutched his cane a little tighter and followed, slowly (Sinclair was never a man to rush when he didn't see the need) after the manic little man.
He followed the stranger for perhaps ten minutes as the town grew quieter and the few faces less and less friendly. People in doorways were actually starting to snarl and hiss at Sinclair as he passed them by. Finally, the just-in-sight stranger disappeared into a darkened doorway. Sinclair followed on and then peered cautiously inside, when suddenly, everything went black
Sinclair woke up with a start and found himself unable to move. A few moments was all it took to realise why - he was tied, rather tightly, to a chair. As his vision cleared, his head began to throb and he realised that he had been clubbed as he had peered into the doorway.
Standing, nervously, in front of him, was the stranger.
Sinclair inwardly cursed himself for being such a fool and cleared his throat, 'Ahem, I see that you have me at a disadvantage sir, I hope that...'
'Shut up!' Shouted the little stranger, and looked quickly at the door to the little room, 'We haven't got much time, I am sorry My Shaw, I never meant for you to get hurt in any way, a thousand pardons, and may I be forgiven by the almighty above, ooohh...' And began to wail in a pitiful way, looking at the door to the room again as he did so.
'Look,' Said Sinclair, 'no need to cry lad, simply untie me and we'll say no more about it eh?' Something about the constant door checking was making Sinclair uneasy, and he craned his neck around, trying to see it.
The stranger began to babble as he wept, 'My brother found the map and an Englishman in the hotel had mentioned you as being an expert in the area and so he wanted to bring you here and I told him that it was dangerous because they knew about the map and that they would be angry if we didn't bring it to them but my brother wouldn't listen and said that we wouldn't get anything if we took it to them and I begged and pleaded with him because they would kill us I told him I did tell him and now look at what is happening it's all like I said and now they're coming and you'll die and it'll be because of me oh help me why is this happening to me and my brother ooohh...' and started to wail again.
Sinclair thought about this for a moment. It looked like that the stranger's brother had called him about the ankhs then. Something else troubled Sinclair and he searched for what it could be. Ah, yes, that was it - 'them'.
'Sorry, but who exactly are they?'
A voice behind him made Sinclair jump in his chair: 'That would be me, I suppose.'
Footsteps walked behind Sinclair and then past him, bringing into sight a tall, pale man, wearing brown, worn trousers, and a light cotton shirt. On his head was a stiff hat and in his hand was a large revolver. He pointed the revolver idly at Sinclair and said, 'Ahmed, you've done well, return to your home and let me see you no more.'
Ahmed needed no further encouragement and scampered out of the room, casting one apologetic glance at Sinclair as he did so.
'I am Henryk Reymont, Mister Shaw, and I am sad to meet you under these circumstances. I would rather,' he paused, thinking, 'that we met under more pleasant environs.'
'Environs?' Said Sinclair, before he thought.
Henryk glared at Sinclair. 'Well, it matters not, soon you will be dead. You should really have taken those hours to arrange to leave town you know.'
'This is about the golden ankhs of Ra then is it?' Sinclair asked, struggling with his tied hands behind his back.
A gleam came into Henryk's eyes at the mention of the ankhs - the madness of gold lust. 'Yes Mister Shaw, the ankhs of Ra. And I'm afraid that even one extra competitor in this area is one too many. The stakes are too high Mister Shaw, and the price of life too low, here in Cairo. Unfortunately for you.'
'Hmm, yes.' Agreed Sinclair.
'Still,' went on Henryk, 'some precautions must be taken, even here, when murdering an archaeologist, even,' here he stopped and with a sly smile looked Sinclair up and down, 'such a small one. Do you know what a common cause of death is, here in Cairo, Mister Shaw?'
'Old age?' Ventured Sinclair, still struggling.
'Oh, the humour of the English, even when you are about to die you still joke. Very good. No, Mister Shaw, life is short in Cairo I'm afraid. Very short for you, in fact. No, Mister Shaw, a good many people are bitten by Cobras - the bite can be quite fatal if left untreated...'
'Cobras? Isn't that a little melodramatic?' Said Sinclair, worried.
'I have enough of our conversation Mister Shaw,' said Henryk abruptly, 'someone will come and untie you in a day or two, then report your accidental death to the authorities. Quite simple you see. Don't bother to shout or scream, you'll just annoy the snakes and there is no-one within a mile that can hear you, or cares. If you manage to escape being bitten for two days Mister Shaw, I'll return and shoot you instead.' And with that, strode to the door of the room.
Henryk opened the door and half stepped outside, leaving only his head and gun arm inside. He aimed at a large clay vase in one corner of the room and slowly pulled the trigger of his gun.
The shot exploded at the same time as the vase, which scattered itself violently into a thousand bits. In the space where the vase had recently been was a mass of black, writhing, incredibly angry forms. The cobras fell to the floor and instantly reared up, perhaps five feet high, puffing out their hoods and hissing furiously.
Henryk slammed the door shut and turned a key. The Little Archaeologist was left alone with his new friends.
One of the cobras immediately rushed up to Sinclair and pushed its face barely a few inches from his. Sinclair watched its tongue flick in and out and stared into its milky, soulless eyes. A minute passed like an eternity, he tried not to breathe, he tried not to blink, lest the small movement would induce the cobra to strike.
Eventually, seemingly years later, the cobra backed down and turned its attention to the rest of the room, wandering off to hiss angrily at boxes and the other snakes. Sinclair let out his breath slowly in a long show of relief. The adrenaline was still pumping through his veins as he tried to focus his mind and think of a plan.
Then he saw it - his cane. It was lying on the floor, just a few feet away. Sinclair looked to check the location of the cobras and tried to shift his chair an inch in the direction of the cane.
The chair shifted and inch and also made a large noise, at which all the snakes span around, hissed angry and puffed up their hoods. Sinclair froze and waited, eventually the snakes calmed down again and unpuffed. He moved the chair again and the snakes once again reared up, and again, he froze.
In this manner he managed to cover the few feet to the cane in a couple of hours. It was a nerve-wracking business and more than once an angry snake had rushed over in his direction to hiss angrily in his face for a while. When this happened he would freeze for perhaps five minutes before moving again.
Now that he was at his cane he was momentarily at a loss as to how to get it into his hands. The only way possible, it seemed, was to topple the chair over, leaving his hands next to, and within reach of, the cane. It took some calculating, and a bit of guess work. He spent the next half hour rotating the chair and shuffling backwards and forwards until he was content. Now for the difficult part.
Now Sinclair Shaw was not a coward, and even the bravest of people could be forgiven for what he did next. He began to rock his chair from side to side, slowly gaining momentum, and the attention of the snakes. For a horrible moment he thought that he would fall in the wrong direction, and he seemed to totter on the edge for an age before falling back the other way and over onto his side. There was a terrible, loud, earth shattering, snake ire-inducing crash as he fell, and Sinclair Shaw closed his eyes and waited for the first bite.
There was hissing and slithering all around - the snakes had been sent into a panic by the noise. They even slithered over his body in their panic, and he had to stifle his reflex to jump and scream as they did so.
After perhaps half an hour, the snakes again settled down and Sinclair ventured to open his eyes. He couldn't see anything, or, rather, he could see only the black scales of a cobra, as it rested in front of his face.
Barely even breathing, Sinclair stretched out his fingers, expecting at any moment to touch the scaly flesh of another cobra, but he didn't, and instead his fingers curled around his trusty old wooden cane. Not an ordinary cane mind (and technically illegal in some countries), his cane concealed a thin sword inside. He delicately began to slide the blade out of the sheaf, inch by inch, it was a slow job. Finally it was out and he very carefully pressed the blade against his bonds and started to rub.
At one point he slipped and cut into his hand. Stifling a yell he managed to remain still and move the blade back to its position. It was a long time in cutting the ropes - he had such little pressure to apply through his fingers alone, but finally the bonds simply fell off and his hands and arms were free.
The Bazaar, Again
After rapidly despatching several snakes with his thin sword, Sinclair escaped through a window and made his way back to the bazaar. He looked less like a green tourist now and more like an experienced one - one that had been robbed, beaten and rolled in the dirt perhaps.
Across the bazaar he spotted Ahmed almost instantly, and crept around behind him, sliding his sword once again out of its resting place.
'Hello Ahmed old chap,' said Sinclair cheerfully as he dragged Ahmed off the main square and into a darkened alley, sword to his throat.
'Eaarghk!' Said Ahmed.
'Yes indeed, I should say so. Anyway, now perhaps you and I could come to some kind of arrangement, yes?'
Ahmed nodded vigorously, for once disinclined to haggle of the details of the bargain.
The next morning Ahmed and Sinclair, now armed with a revolver (and dressed in less conspicuous clothing after Ahmed's pleas), mounted camels just before dawn and crept out of the city and into the quiet, harsh desert. In the distance, just within sight was another camel train, this one containing Henryk, his band of merry desperados and Ahmed's brother, Abdullah.
The day before Ahmed had told Sinclair the story of how his brother had stumbled across the ancient manuscript revealing the location of the the lost tombs of Ra in an old sealed vase at the back of a cave out in the desert. His brother had a big mouth however, and soon many dangerous people in Cairo knew of his discovery, the worst of them being Henryk - a notorious tomb thief and murderer to boot. Before long, and shortly after Abdullah had made the mysterious call to Sinclair (he was trying to sound like an Englishman, explained Ahmed when asked about the accent), Henryk had kidnapped Abdullah and was now taking him and the map to the site of the tombs. Abdullah was being taken along, apparently, so that Ahmed told no-one of what had happened, and also to be killed, horribly, if the map turned out to be false.
Sinclair had used a range of logic on Ahmed, including violence, the police and the love of his brother. It was enough to gain his co-operation, and secure two camels and adequate supplies for a trip into the desert.
Two Weeks from Cairo
After two weeks Sinclair was burned to a shade similar to dried red chilli peppers and tired to death. The group ahead had obviously noticed that they were being followed, but Henryk only appeared to have one other figure with him (as well as Abdullah), and could not spare any men for a trap or ambush, or so it seemed. Once he had set up camp and not moved for two days, seeing if Sinclair and Ahmed would approach, but they didn't. He then rode in their direction for half a day, but Sinclair and Ahmed simply rode back, keeping their distance.
In the end, Henryk seemed resigned to deal with the two followers, whoever they might be, at the tombs themselves.
The slow chase continued for another three days.
On the seventeenth day out of Cairo a large rocky outcrop loomed into view, jutting out of the sand like an enormous claw. They slowly rode towards it.
From a safe distance Sinclair watched Henryk and his companion unpack and set up camp at the base of the outcrop. Abdullah could be seen, tied, looking miserable on the floor. After this Henryk took a roll of paper out of a leather tube and examined it closely, looking up at the rocky outcrop as he did so. After some discussion with his companion and a swift kick and question to Abdullah, their gazes settled on a slight depression in the rock face, some fifty feet up.
Henryk busied himself in a bag and then reappeared with a large length of rope, one end of which he tied around his waist. He then took a moment and began to climb. He took his time, choosing his hand holds carefully, resting on small ledges when he could, testing his footholds before putting his full weight on them. He moved cautiously, but steadily up the face. The ascent took perhaps an hour, Henryk taking a long break half way up.
Eventually he reached the depression, took a quick look inside and then shouted to his companion below. Henryk tied the end of the rope that had been around his waist to a stout rock and then tested it by tugging several times on it. Below, the other man had untied Abdullah and was gesturing upwards. Abdullah shook his head violently and dropped to his knees, pleading with the man. The man took out a revolver and pointed it at Abdullah, which made him jump up quickly and scamper up the rope. The other man followed behind and soon enough all three of them had vanished into the shadowy depression.
Inside the Lost Tomb of Ra
Sinclair and Ahmed waited all day for the trio to return, and then they waited all night too. At dawn the next day they rode down to the camp and stared up at the rope, waving in the gentle morning breeze.
'Righty-ho, you go first lad,' said Sinclair, fixing Ahmed with a glassy stare.
Ahmed wanted to argue but didn't bother, knowing that Sinclair would merely point his revolver at his head, much as the other man had done yesterday with his brother. He clutched the rope and climbed towards his fate.
The depression vanished into the rock face as it became a passageway. It was very dark. Sinclair strained his ears, listening for any sign of Henryk or the others, but it was deathly silent. Then there was a sound, like a low moaning, and then a scratching, like claws on rock.
'Did you hear that?' Asked Ahmed?
'Probably the wind.' Replied Sinclair and, lighting his lamp, walked slowly into the tomb.
The walls of the tomb eerily showed their ancient hieroglyphics to the pair of adventurers, as they walked along the passageway. The passage was low, but Sinclair only had to stoop ever so slightly, due to his stature. Eventually they came to a drop where the passage opened out into a large shadowy cavern. Below them, huge steps led down to the floor of the room - steps built for giants or gods, it seemed.
As they stood at the top of the stairs, a low sound caught their ears. A wooshing noise that was getting closer. Sinclair raised the lamp and squinted into the darkness. Suddenly, out of the gloom appeared a giant bat, red eyed and crazed, mouth open and fangs bared. It flew straight towards them.
'Aaaaaaaaaagh!' Screamed Ahmed as the bat hit him, gashing his head with its fangs.
Sinclair ducked as the bat turned and flew back the same way it had come.
Sure enough, the wooshing noise was returning. This time, however, Sinclair had his revolver out and as soon as the bat loomed into view he pulled the trigger, pointing straight at it. A deafening bang and a blinding flash, and the bat was tumbling out of the air, shrieking. The pair watched in amazement as the bat seemed to turn into dust as it fell, so by the time it hit the floor below it was nothing but sand.
'Aaaa...' Began Ahmed, but stopped himself as Sinclair pointed the revolver at him.
'Be quiet, please.' He said, firmly.
Then they heard another sound, low, and distant - 'Heeeeeeeeelp!' someone cried.
'Abdullah!' Exclaimed Ahmed and ran down the stairs.
'No, wait!' Shouted Sinclair, but it was too late.
As Ahmed jumped onto the next step a clicking noise could clearly be heard somewhere above, Sinclair leapt forward and there was an almighty crash as a huge stone block fell from the ceiling above, landing where he had just been standing, and effectively blocking their route out.
Sinclair picked himself up off the ground and shouted angrily, 'You bloody fool! Look where you're standing!' He pointed to the block that Ahmed stood upon. On one edge there were three faint marks.
Then again, 'Heeeeeeeeelp!', from the distance.
They followed the sound, careful this time of the blocks that they stood upon.
They passed through the room and into another passageway, there were several crossroads and each time they followed in the direction of the cry. Eventually they emerged into another room, larger this time. They were high up at one side of the room. In the centre of the room was another platform, and then further along was a platform further down with a lone figure upon it. When it saw them it leapt up and shouted, 'For heaven's sake, help me get out of here.'
It was then that they noticed the figures at the bottom of the room - two stationary and one moving.
'Abdullah!' Cried Ahmed and leapt forward, mindless of the recent lesson he had been taught.
Sinclair watched him leap to the middle platform of the room and then walk to the edge, peering over, 'Abdullah! Can you hear me Abdullah? It's Ahmed!'
There was no sound. The figure of Abdullah did not move. Another figure, however, did.
With a bellow of rage and anger the tattered and stinking mummy leapt up at Ahmed, slicing at his ankle, drawing blood. The mummy's eyes blazed red as it sank back down to the floor of the room. It immediately leapt back up, but Ahmed had shrunk away from the edge by now.
Ahmed was too frightened to scream, he simply rolled himself up into a ball and gibbered to himself.
The other figure on the floor, Sinclair could see now, was Henryk's companion. It seemed that Henryk had survived the mummy's attack, but was now stranded on a platform at the far end of the room.
Sinclair reviewed the situation and then leapt off his platform and down to the bottom of the room.
The mummy turned instantly and ran towards Sinclair as he picked himself up off the floor. He levelled his revolver and fired. The shot hit the mummy and it froze on the spot, but did not fall over. A couple of seconds later it began to move again. Taken aback, Sinclair took a moment to fire again, the shot tore into the mummy's chest, again freezing it momentarily, but not stopping it. Sinclair began to walk backwards as he fired again - Click! Out of bullets. He had forgotten to check that he had a full chamber.
The mummy screamed as it rushed towards Sinclair, who stumbled backwards, his mind numb. Then Sinclair heard a pinging noise as he stepped onto a rock behind him. Suddenly he was rushing up into the air, as the rock he had been on rocketed up towards the ceiling of the room. Sinclair watched the frustrated mummy below wander backwards and forwards, jumping uselessly.
The smile on his face began to fade as the platform reached the top of the room and then began to descend once again towards the waiting mummy. Sinclair looked around helplessly for a moment and then his eyes settled on a blue bottle fixed into the wall just below him. As the platform fell past he reached out and grabbed for the bottle. He got his fingers to it, but it was slippery and fell from his grasp, tumbling downwards towards the waiting mummy, and quite possibly, Sinclair's doom.
The bottle reached the earth almost at the same time as Sinclair. The mummy was already upon him, tearing at his clothes and flesh as the bottle hit the floor and smashed into a thousand tiny pieces. There was a flash and a strange noise as the mummy screamed, in agony this time, and turned into sand, falling gently to the floor.
Henryk had watched the drama intently and chosen his moment well. As soon as the mummy was dead he leapt down from his platform and ran into a passageway that lead out of the room.
'Ahmed, quick! He's getting away!' Shouted Sinclair, as he ran after him.
Sinclair didn't get very far. He found that the passageway was blocked by a very large boulder, obviously pushed in by Henryk and then secured on the other side. It looked like they were trapped.
Ahmed had recovered now and was peering down at Sinclair. 'I'll come down,' he said.
'No! Wait!' Said Sinclair, 'Where's that moving platform that I was on earlier?'
Sinclair walked over to the spot and looked up. He could see the platform in the shadows at the top of the room, but it wasn't moving anymore.
'Ahmed, can you climb up and reach the platform up there?' Asked Sinclair.
Ahmed shrugged and began to climb upwards. As he gained just a few metres there was a rumble and the platform began to descend towards Sinclair. 'Well I'll be...' he muttered, and jumped onto the platform as it hit the bottom and began to rise again.
As the platform rose past Ahmed, he also jumped on and they rode up and down in this fashion for some minutes, peering around them as they rose and fell. They began to feel a little sick.
'Ahmed, do you think you can jump onto that platform when we're at the top of the room?' Asked Sinclair. Ahmed eyed the distance warily, and agreed that he possibly could. On the next cycle, at the top, he sprang from the moving platform and landed safely onto a new platform, supported by pillars, high in the left hand side of the room.
Ahmed walked carefully along the platform and there was an all too familiar pinging noise. He froze and looked up, but nothing was above him. However, in front of him, where there had been a solid rock wall, there was now a gap - the rock had swung aside. Sinclair jumped across and joined him and they walked into the new passageway...
Lost and Found
They wandered for hours through the maze of the tomb. Pressing walls, trying to find traps, pushing boulders, shooting bats and other foul creatures (Sinclair had reloaded by now), and collecting the curious blue potions, as well as many others that they found along the way.
Eventually they found themselves entering a low, and small room. In one corner was a figure, hunched and crushed under the terrible weight of the enormous boulder that had fallen on him from the roof. It was Henryk.
In Henryk's hands they found, clutched tightly, a golden ankh - one of the lost golden ankhs of Ra. Sinclair prised it from his grip and marvelled at the treasure that so many men had died for. There was a raised dais in the middle of the room that had housed the ankh, by the looks of things, and on the floor around it was a large rock with the now tell-tale three marks upon it.
'I'll not mourn for him,' said Sinclair, looking at Henryk.
'Yes, but I will mourn for my brother,' said Ahmed sadly, 'and he will lie in here, forever, in this terrible tomb.'
Sinclair stood for a moment and then noticed something over Ahmed's shoulder - a chink of light, natural light. They moved over to it and saw a rocky outline, with a hole in the middle. Through the hole they could see the beautiful blue sky.
The pushed at the rock fruitlessly for a while, and then Sinclair even shot some precious bullets at it, but to no avail. Then Sinclair had an idea, looking at the shape of the hole in the rock reminded him of something - the ankh! He took it out of his pack and pushed it into the hole, it fit perfectly. He turned it and, sprang! The rock swung open as if on hinges. The ankh was a key out!
They were free.
As Ahmed and Sinclair Shaw rode back to Cairo, they chatted together as brothers, or good friends would do - sharing death and terror together, and overcoming it, had created a new bond between them.
'You know, partner...' began Ahmed.
At the word 'partner', Sinclair raised an eyebrow.
'...there are a lot of other tombs on the map of my brother...' He left the rest unsaid.
'Ah, but the map is lost in the tomb my friend, and I for one do not feel like returning to look for it.' Said Sinclair.
Ahmed smiled, 'Ah, we will see Sinclair, we will see...', and fingered the leather tube under his shirt, the leather tube that he had taken from Henryk as he lay under his, rather heavy, tombstone.