Psst…You can download the printable version of this story, with definitions, here!
Two other things:
- I wrote this story while studying abroad in Egypt, but it’ very much a work of fiction.
- There is a curse word in it, so if you don’t want to hear it, maybe skip this episode!
“Bat shi*t,” repeated Salima Ikram, the queen of Egyptology, in her posh British accent to her hyperventilating students.
We were stuck in the close, dark quarters of a burial chamber, breathing in heavy, oxygen-deprived air and panting from perilous descent into the bowels of Khufu’s pyramid, but I’d never been more excited in my life. The air reeked of bat guano and sweat, but to me, exploring the pyramids was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
“Erm – how are we going to get out?” one of my classmates interrupted.
The electricity had failed, taking with it every ounce of light, but Professor Ikram remained calm. She pulled a miniature flashlight out of her bag and continued her lecture, unperturbed.
“Someone will come for us,” she replied. “In the meantime, I want you all to think about how this would have appeared in ancient times. The workers didn’t have electricity, you know. Even during the day, much of the light in here came from torches. All the more incredible, that they were able to create such reliefs…”
I stopped listening. Was I actually trapped in a burial chamber? The closet romantic in me repressed the urge to smile at the adventure of it all. But my wiser half told me to quickly and quietly make my way to the back of the group – away from where I’d been standing when the lights went out.
All these accidents don’t just happen, I told myself. Certainly, some could be blamed on extraneous factors, like faulty wiring. But after finding an antique dagger in your wardrobe, it’s sensible to assume there’s is a target specifically on your back.
Was it possible that the entrance to the pyramid was blocked and the lighting shot in an effort to grab me while the rest of the group was focused on their own survival? Impossible – there’s no way out, and why engineer such theater? Lord knew there were easier ways to kidnap me.
Or was it just an attempt to spook me, or spook my family into forcing me to return to the States? Because aside from the ornamental knife, the rest of the “accidents” could be written off as just that.
A hand on my posterior jolted me back to awareness. I gritted my teeth, internal dialogue transforming into a diatribe of denunciations against the male population of Cairo.
But just then the lights came back on with a suddenness that nearly blinded me and saved my arm from a serious scrape.
I’d been about to administer an elbow into the gut of the pervert standing behind me, but — as I peered at my classmates, some sheepishly wiping away tears and blowing their noses — I found that there was no one behind me. Just an ancient wall.
Yet, on instinct, my hand went to my back pocket.
“Stay away from tomb 20-A!” a crumpled message read.
Now I was really intrigued.