Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

Nightmare In Egypt…Part 24/ Feras Werr

Nigel walked up to the dead body, stepping in the sticky pool of blood and crouched down. He searched Ally's army suite pockets till he retrieved the piece of paper. He hid it in his pocket and took the Russian Kalashnikov from him and filled his pockets with ammunition. He walked up to a glass cabinet that rested silently besides the calendar and opened it. It was full of pump action shotguns similar to the one the soldiers confiscated from him. He loaded his ammunition belts. He then took out a shotgun and wrapped a belt of ammo around his waist. 
He asked Sekhmet, "Don't you want to try and shoot…"
Sekhmet frowned and replied, "No!!! These things scare me." She walked towards the spiral stair case and approached one of the wooden soldiers that rested besides it. She firmly commanded, "I order you to give me your sword." Much to Nigel's surprise the soldier obeyed and handed her a sword with its waist band. She tied the waist band around her waist suspending the sword to her side. She walked back softly towards Nigel. 
"I'm ready."
Suddenly the bright sunshine began to disappear. Nigel and Sekhmet hurried to a nearby window and looked through. Dark grey winter clouds began covering the skies above hiding the warm summer sunshine.
"It has begun Sekhmet. We lost the Holy Cross and it has begun back in 1960. I don't know if its' wise to wait for the creep to come back."
Sekhmet announced, "He isn't going to come back."
Nigel asked bewildered, "What made you so sure."
"The soldiers would have followed him till they found him and killed him for insulting me, like they did with the guards that they slaughtered."  
*****
He looked at the dark grey clouds above in the skies as his car sped along the desolate driveway to Cairo. His heart beats raced wildly with excitement as his power and glory were about to be final returned to him. For four long years he waited for this moment to retrieve what was the cause of his downfall and triumphed at last despite his handicap over his adversary. The taste of victory was splendid and worthwhile waiting for. If it wasn't for the scriptures the Egyptian curator at the Cairo museum had given him, he would never have had the power to regain the Holy Cross and reshape history as he wanted. Despite being a goodwill gesture given from the curator for a handsome donation to the museum and to the curator’s own personal pocket, it was just what was needed to change the path of the world's fate to his favor. 
The road from El Faiyum to Cairo was uninhabited except for its bountiful luscious shrubbery. He clasped the box in his hand and ordered, "Step on it please. We have to reach The Cairo Museum as quickly as possible." 
"Yes sir," Said the short slim figure in the chauffeur uniform as he stepped on the gas pedal of the Rolls Royce. He shot a glance at the figure that was driving in front of him. The voice seemed a bit familiar. It suddenly stirred something that has been buried deep within his memories for a very long time. He asked, "What is your name?"
The luxury car suddenly parked at the side of the road. 
"What are you doing? I didn't ask you to park?"
"My name is Richard Browning!"
The figure turned around with a revolver in his hand, revealing his face that was ravaged with brutal scars. The General shrieked with surprise at Richard's ugly face and menacing weapon. Suddenly the door opened and a lady hopped with another revolver. She pointed her weapon at him. She had a small gas gallon in her other hand.  
The General begged in a panicky voice, "Richard I can explain, please don't kill me."
The lady grabbed the box from him and gave it to Richard saying, "This relic is the least you can give him after what you did to his life you bastard."
"Richard it wasn't me! I swear!"
Richard screamed bitterly at him, "And who would be able to assemble a bomb such as the one you sent me to blow me up in my establishment but you…YOU BASTARD!  Raghda guard him while I drive him to his destiny!"
The General began pleading like a child, "Please, I'm handicapped, can't you see, have mercy on me."
The car drove into a piece of land filled with heavy trees and wild shrubbery. Raghda ordered, "Hug the gallon!"
"NO PLEASE I WILL DO ANYTHING PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON ME!!!"
Richard gave him a loathsome look of disgust while saying, "You piece of filth. I will destroy you with pain just like you destroyed my life. Do you know that my entire bank accounts were confiscated by the GBI because of you? My wife divorced me because of you and ripped my enterprises apart. Look at my face! Thirteen operations were done to me, and a full year of physiotherapy, just so I can talk again. I will enjoy seeing you burn like you burned my life. Grab the gallon!"
The general grabbed the gallon crying as Richard and Raghda walked away from the car. When at a safe distance Richard aimed his revolver and shot igniting the gallon on fire. The general screeched as the fire engulfed him and scorched him with its’ vicious tongues. Richard closed his eyes with pleasure as he heard the general's spine chilling screeching fill the atmosphere. Within a moments time his voice diminished leaving behind only the sound of the crackling tongues of fire as they burned the interior of the Rolls Royce. Another shot from his revolver towards the vehicle's fuel tank burst it completely into flames. Soon they sped off navigating through the trees and wilderness of Faiyum towards their car that waited silently nearby. "Thank you Raghda. I will give you your share once the buyer pay's me for this expensive relic."
She looked at his scarred face and kissed him on his cheek while saying softly, "I just had mine also. Wasn't he that told your wife of our relationship? He deserved what he got." They hopped in to their car and drove off towards Cairo leaving behind a painful past burn behind.
*****
A sacred white ibis flew in from the door and landed besides Sekhmet gracefully. A warm sensation engulfed her as she looked at it, "Seti!" 
Nigel looked strangely at her saying, "It's only an ibis Sekhmet."
"No it’s not. It’s Seti." Sekhmet patted its slender head and neck as it cuddled nicely besides her, as if reuniting with want after long deprivation.
"He wants me back Nigel."
"You spoke with it?"
"I can feel his warm feelings. He misses me too much."
"Don't leave me alone. I need you for the Scriptures Your majesty."
"You will not be left alone." Angel's body shuddered massively as if caught by an electrical current startling Nigel. He wanted to grab Angel's body but moved back with a jump gasping with surprise as the ghost of a beautiful white ibis rushed out of her body. Both ibis's flew around the spacious living room for a couple of seconds then took off from the door leaving Nigel standing besides Angel's body that rested on the floor. He crouched besides her and picked up her body that was clothed with her shirt and denims again. He called out softly, "Angel…Angel…" within seconds she woke up. Her eyes slowly opened. Nigel smiled with comfort as her warm looks met his eyes again. "Thank the lord your back sweetheart."
"Where Am I, what happened?"  
"It's a long story and we still have a long journey ahead of us. I will tell you on the way."
SATURDAY 13TH OF AUGUST 1960 
AQABA CITY JORDAN
The treasure hunter with his disguised partner traveled from New York by a passenger cruiser through the blue ocean of the Atlantic, to a quick stop in Italy, then continued crossing the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. The Gulf of Suez followed in their route then the turn-around at the Sinai Peninsula which finally lead to the Aqaba Port of peaceful Jordan; a miraculous Sinbad like journey that finally ended with the hooting of the cruiser as it docked at the Jordanian port. The general and David descended the passenger liner welcomed by the bright midday sunlight and rich humidity; typical normal weather for a district neighboring the timeless oceans. They headed with their luggage in the midst of the busy crowds that arrived with them to the passport authorities that were situated in a small two story white building. Within short moments they were freely heading towards their escort that patiently waited in the parking lot by the port. 
A tall man wearing an army suite opened the doors of the army jeep for them. Once seated comfortably the engines started and they were off on their way. The chauffeur warmly welcomed, "General Riyadh was greatly pleased at the news of your arrival. He awaits you personally in his army quarters in Kerak. Your patience is required as it is a three hour drive from here."
"Very well," the general announced as the motors of the jeep picked up in speed. The limited houses and neighborhoods of Aqaba soon ended leading into a double sided empty asphalt road. As the trip progressed the only thing that characterized the roads were barren desert sands that were spread all along the sides and as far as the eyes could see. Inhabited Bedouin tents surfaced sporadically with camels and cattle grazing around them. Civilian and army trailers appeared from time to time on the path forcing their fast vehicle to maneuver between them. David gulped hard as their jeep cautiously drove around the long convoys shuffling in and out of the two way lanes as the roads were not separated by any middle barrier. Seeing him distressed the general tapped his hand calming him down then said, "The driver knows these roads like he does the roads of his own home. I was here last year and he was my escort and he is still alive." He gave a loud laugh and continued, "Once we reach the army quarters we will sleep for one night and then the next day we will head towards our destination with what general Riyadh has prepared for us."
"General, organizing our transatlantic cruise and arriving to Jordan never posed a problem to me. What I fear are the coordinates on the map. They seem very general to me. Where the treasure is marked could represent a huge radius of land to dig and check out."
"The ancient Egyptians were no fools. They built their pyramids and civilization with utmost diligence. They conquered the entire known lands and marked their borders really well. Whom achieved what they have achieved will not fail to lead us exactly to where our treasure lies." David studied the general's eyes as they grew wide with want and desire. "Making my calculations was a cinch according to the data on the map. The treasure reaped will compensate us for the extensive digging."
"I believe we should start from a nuclear point then spread outwards widening our circle afterwards. I have thought about it over and over again but this is the best solution I can think of."
"Our radius is not more than a circular span of ten miles. Our English archeologist that awaits us at the head quarters will help us a lot."
"Let's hope he knows the area more than we do. It will save us a lot of problems."
The general giggled saying, "Better than you think. Try to relax as the trip is not a short one. Leave the arrangements to later on when we are more comfortable."
Suddenly patches of grayish clouds began covering the skies above. David looked out the window as the bright lights of the skies began diminishing. His heart got depressed at the gloominess that spread around them. He commented, "This area sure has a strange weather system. We are in the middle of the summer. What is going on?"
"Don't forget the seas with their high humidity are only minutes behind us," answered the general confidently. Despite his logic David felt something irregular happening. It was as if an omen heralding something uncomfortable in the near future had just appeared in the heavens.
Soon a silence prevailed between them interrupted only by the fluctuating sounds of the jeep engine as its gear shifted between its levels. A short nap that captivated David helped him cope with the long road to Kerak, their transit destination. Kerak was a prosperous city with a history rooted deep within an eventful past. Being situated on the path of ancient travel caravans, it was regarded as a stop for travelers to the south. Presently its roads are more equipped for travel as its’rest houses and stores provide buyers with what they need for their travel. It was a cool area in the summer and cold in the winter, with occasional snowfall in bitter depressions.
A halt soon awakened David. He rubbed his eyes as he noticed the general himself awakening from his nap. The jeep was standing at a checkpoint with two armed guards talking to the chauffeur. The premise was at the side of a narrow road faced by groves of olive trees on the opposite side. Soon a big gate opened and the jeep entered into the heavily guarded camp. A small city lied in front of them with cement barracks and vehicles patrolling the asphalt streets. Infantry were dispersed around the premises running various errands and duties. But their trip shortly ended at a small cement complex made up of three adjacent offices. The jeep stopped besides them and the driver opened the door besides the general. He saluted them as they descended and entered into the middle office. General Riyadh greeted them with a gracious smile. He was a tall man at a height of six feet and a half with a muscular body. His heart shaped face and black eyes beamed with the famed Arabian hospitality welcome. He had a tan complexion from extensive exposure to sunlight. The gold colored crown and two swords surrounding it on his shoulders shined under the office lights as they entered to greet their host. General Riyadh welcomed with excellent British accented English.
"General we meet again it seems."
"I'm most pleased with this opportunity as my visit might be prolonged this time."
David followed the general in the handshake as the general introduced him, "And this is my assistant in the trip, David Hansen."
"Pleased to meet you general."
"It’s a pleasure also. Please have a seat. I know it's been a long journey."
"But your drivers' excellent experience made it most comfortable I can assure you."
Genral Riyadh replied, "A gentleman always even with the little ranks. You just never change William."
"I just can't help but remember that although a long time ago during my youth one day, I was in their place Riyadh."
"We were all there William. Yet luck isn't at anyone's side as it was on ours'"
"You never know, perhaps when they grew aware of what decisions are sometimes required of us and the amount of responsibility on our shoulders, they might change their minds and thank fate that they are still where they are."
"I couldn't agree more William." 
David kept his silence mesmerized at General William's handsome speech. Yet he knew what a dark personality he maintained deep inside of him. Needless to say General Riyadh's disposition and language reflected the high caliber of the Jordanian high ranking officials. Suddenly his ears focused as general Riyadh asked, "Concerning your quest that you seek in our lands, my orders from my leadership were to facilitate you with gear suitable for digging, light shoveling equipment, an electric generator, and a vehicle. Would you be requiring anything else William?"
"I believe this is the hardware we require so far. Isn't this right David?"
"Yes with the equipment mentioned we have everything covered."
"What objective do you plan to achieve here."
"An English friend of mine and archeologist on behalf of The Modern University of Science and Technology in New York wishes to explore the validity of an ancient Egyptian legend and map at her disposal. She asked me to join her in an expedition. As I'm retired and free these days I decided to accept her invitation. It will be truly entertaining joining her on this excursion. The legend has it that there are Egyptian artifacts buried within the grounds of Wadi Rum Desert. Another friend that holds the position of senator in the States legalized all the pertaining clearances with your government for this purpose. We are to meet with our other group at a rendezvous point in Wadi Rum."
"I have arranged everything you need William and please if you need anything else during your trip just use the radios supplied within the vehicle. They are wired to a private frequency established especially for your convenience. Our headquarters' equipment can pick it up and our staff is informed of your presence. They will relay any message to me directly if there need be."
"Your assistance is much appreciated. I only pray that I will have the opportunity to return your gracious hospitality before my days are over and I die."
"Be positive. I see a young man before me William. You can still make the lady's heads' turn."
"Don't overdose me with confidence lest I believe you."
"And now please a luncheon awaits us at my dining quarters just next door. Pleas William, David join me."
David and the general stood up and walked behind Riyadh whom led them to the adjacent room. It was a normal office room but with a handsome table covered with white linen cloth. A huge rounded platter was full of rice and lamb meat in the middle. Roasted pine seeds and almonds covered the rice platter. A big pitcher full of hot white yoghurt rested besides the platter. Three small plates with spoons were dispersed in front of three chairs surrounding the small table.
"Perhaps David isn't familiar with our national dish, Mansaf."
David broke his long silence and politely replied, "It looks very delicious."
"This is regular lamb meat and the pitcher is full of yoghurt made from goat milk. It's actually boiled real well till it reached the required thickness and maturity. So it's safe."
The general commented, "Truthfully speaking this is the most delicious meal I have ever had in my life."
The general poured the thick yoghurt all over the platter soaking the rice really well. He then gracefully served the dishes for his guests.
David seeing the gentlemen handle the meat with their hands released himself of any embarrassment and did the same. Deep inside he was content with his silence as General Riyadh seemed like a shrewd gentleman. He didn't want any mishaps happening leading to his true identity or causing any doubts. He slowly nourished himself at the delicious food listening to the generals negotiate general issues and various diplomatic topics. Amazing how general William easily stated the purpose of his mission in way that general Riyadh accepted. He was truly formidable at creating diplomatic talk with their host and excelled at it. 
Very soon they were finished. A soldier entered, saluted his superior and placed on the table a platter of fruits. But all three sat looking at it unable to have anything as the main meal was heavy on them. The talking and food servings took them to the late afternoon hours and very soon Riyadh showed the gentlemen to their quarters which was the third adjacent room in the complex. It was extremely clean, having two beds nicely furnished with clean white sheets and light covers. A bathroom with shower facilities was available for their convenience. Both the general and David were very soon showered and dozing off from the heavy trip they had.
Next day’s morning sunlight wasn't at its potential as the dark grey clouds remained governing the skies above them. Both were awakened by general Riyadh personally informing them of the readiness of their breakfast in the dining room. Within a short period of time all three were finished with their meal and standing awaiting their vehicles and tools.
Soon a diesel army truck came down the small roads of the quarters and parked in front of them. The driver which was in civilian clothes, wearing blue denims and a white shirt, stepped down the two mini stairs from its’ elevated passenger compartment and saluted general Riyadh. 
Riyadh asked, "Mahmood is the truck maintained and the equipment all available."
"Yes sir all is well."
Riyadh looked at the general and commented, "Mahmood will be your guide throughout the trip. His orders are to remain with you till you have achieved the target of your trip. He was chosen specifically due to his good English."
David almost giggled at his five foot and a half height as it contrasted with the huge oily colored army truck he was driving. It seemed to him that his new companion was a fine friendly man from his smile that formed on his oval shaped face. He had a white complexion, thick eye brows and black eyes that were full of sincerity and friendliness. 
The general calmly stated, "Riyadh thank you again for this nice gift. We were truly in need of a guide through the deserts to help us."
"Don't mention it."
"It's best to hasten as we have a long day ahead of us."
Within seconds all were in the passenger compartments heading for Wadi Rum Desert. The driver asked with a broken accented but understandable English, "Where is our next destination please?"
The general announced, "Petra please, the rose red city of the Middle East."
***** 
Stacy Hamilton was a professional treasure hunter. She was a very attractive lady at forty five years of age. She was six feet tall with long black hair, black eyes and a white complexion. A feminine fit figure that was necessary for her work characterized her appearance. Renowned in the offices of Interpol and GBI as the ghost, she had four major theft hits in her portfolio that included hacking the sophisticated alarm systems of four major museums in the US, UK and Italy, and stealthily stealing original paintings and ancient golden Egyptian artifacts. The total value of her thefts were at an enormous fifty million in market value which also included paintings for Rembrandt in the New York National Painting Center, for Luca Signorelli and Titan in the Galleria Nazionale Museum in Italy, and last but not least breathtaking collections of artifacts found in the tomb of Tutankhamen displayed in the London Museum. She successfully maneuvered between the countries by forged passports, holding different names and smartly altering her appearances for the passport photographs. One strategic partner, much wanted like herself, helped her out on her adventures and the profits were a fifty percent split between them. At the end of every operation he would walk away from her for a while and sever any contact with her till one of them came up with something worthwhile to hunt for. 
Stacy Hamilton's parents were unknown. She was found at the door of an orphanage in 1915 in Brooklyn New York with an anonymous letter containing her first and surname only and asking the management to take care of the infant. Every since then she was schooled and nourished at the hands of the keepers of the orphanage up until she was eighteen of age, where her high marks at school qualified her for college. She majored in English literature and graduated with honors in 1933. Shortly afterwards she was teaching at a school close to a small apartment she financed through her job in Brooklyn. However on a cold December night, and while the skies unleashed the furies of a storm, she was due to clash with something that would change her whole life around. He dashed up the steel fire escape on the outside of the building at midnight and opened the window of her apartment while the police sirens wailed madly through the peaceful neighborhood she lived in. Hearing the sirens and the racketing of the window she got up in bed and slowly headed towards her small living room, shivering with freight. She lit the lights and the man in full black clothes came into view, standing besides the window with a long rolled up object hanging by a shoulder strap from his shoulder. Her body petrified with fear as she stood their eyeing him with a gun in his hand. He ran up to her before she could release her screams and grabbed her covering her mouth with his hand, threatening her that if she stayed quiet he wouldn't hurt her. Shortly the police that were knocking on all the apartments of the building searching for the intruder arrived to her door step. Afraid of his threatening she was miraculously able to convince them that nothing was out of the usual in her home. In five minutes they both sat silent still in the living room without a word till the sirens died away. He slowly left her apartment afterwards leaving her rocking with fear and panic.
Although it took her a while to recover from the incident she learned how important security was in her apartment. She brought a strong lock to bolt her door with and secured the windows of her apartment extremely well with their locks. Feeling satisfied that she had ample security she was able to savor some comfort for a while afterwards. However, she never knew that locks and security weren't an effective repellent for her assailant and his types. After a month's time, during a cold snowy night in January, he showed up again. He softly woke her up while hovering over her bed in the bedroom. She awoke with a wave of panic thundering through her body. She sat in her bed speechless and shivering till he removed his black mask that covered his face revealing his grey hair and handsome but wrinkled face. He calmly placed on her lap a golden bracelet, thanking her for keeping silent about him. Stacy can still remember his exact words, "Don't sell it. The police will be on your case in no time. It's four thousand years old and worth a fortune. Keep it as a thank you."
He left towards the apartment door and slowly opened the locks to leave. Nevertheless something sparked within her immediately at his words. It was a feeling of trust that she never knew before towards anybody, not even the orphanage mother she grew up with. She jumped out of bed with the bracelet in her hands and ran up to the apartment door before he left calling, "Wait, I never offered you any hot coffee. I don't even know your name."
He calmly answered with a smile, "Anthony Lewis."
Fate had it afterwards that the cup of coffee was the beginning of a long relationship that unveiled upon her a perilous road of adventure soaked with powerful riches. Swirling around the States and Europe, studying the security of the museums and their contents, they soon chose New York with a Rembrandt as their starting point. Succeeding, the next stop was Italy for the pictures of Luca and Titan, and the UK followed immediately with King Tutt's treasures as their ultimate target. Pretty soon the police and Interpol that investigated the crimes discovered that the thief left no traces behind leading to even the slightest clue about his identity. Four swift clean crimes left them swirling in circles around themselves unable to solve any of the crimes. She was soon referred to as the ghost. 
Stacy was introduced to the general by Anthony Lewis when they were attempting to sell the Rembrandt she stole in the black markets. A cup of coffee in his mansion following the handover and cash transaction paved the way for several deals through the course of a full year. However, even with their fruitful deals, the general had no intension on widening his circle of partners in the excursion. But soon his careful calculations proved that the presence of a strong alibi for the excursion was necessary to deeply camouflage its true purposes. He contacted her shortly before his trip to Jordan explaining his plans. Finding the offer up to her adventurous taste, she agreed. The documents proving her fake identity as an archeologist at the university were easily arranged and soon they were traveling, due to meet at Petra in Jordan. 
They left New York as total strangers. She was to take the plane routes and he was to take the passenger cruisers. They were not to contact each other at all on the way to Jordan under any circumstances to divert any suspicions to their joint venture. All went well as the hands of the clock of time progressed bringing them closer together in Jordan where they knew was buried a treasure half as old as time, suitable for their insatiable appetites.    
Stacy Hamilton halted her jeep and raised her hand high signaling the other vehicles accompanying her to stop behind her. Four vehicles and a truck with two large mobile water tanks tailored to it slowly came to a full stop as a huge herd of sheep crossed in front of her across the narrow sandy path. Their had to be at least one hundred sheep in the herd as they moved surrounded by a number of shepherds with sticks directing them across the road to an adjacent green field. The air about her filled with bleating and bell ringing as the herd headed towards the pastures. Three big German Shepherds suddenly moved amongst the cattle guarding them, panting from the long distances they were traveling. As the cattle moved around the vehicles she extended her hand and touched the fur of a couple of them, enjoying the soft rich feel it provided to her senses. She smiled as she was in reality deprived of such experiences, being a city girl her entire life. Never before had she scene such extensive cattle and came this close to them. The dazzling unique procession of the beige furry animals soon ended and they were off on their travel again. (to be continued)

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