This is my second novel but the first I have ever posted on FictionPress. I am a new user, and would totally appreciate any reviews.
It had been the first time anyone had shot at me with a real gun. There in the desert of Egypt, I ran, with a mob of police (or people whom I thought were police, looking back now I honestly don't remember) after me and a flurry of bullets whizzing so very close to my ears. And to think that I had once been terrified of lazertag guns. This was the real deal. A real gun with real bullets inside. I was gonna die.
I knew who had sent them, which was why I ran. I was eventually caught and sent back to Houston on the first flight out of Egypt. I'm not an Egyptologist, or an archeologist anyway, and the people who really were …well they were getting mad at me.
I'm an artist, and I was with a team of archeologists, but after they kicked me out of Egypt, I never returned. I forgot all the crazy things I saw and that was only a year ago. Even if I wanted to remember, I couldn't. What was in the dart gun they hit me with? I didn't know at the time, but now, I still remember hearing the soft, dying notes of a saxophone as I got weary. The next thing I knew I was in a Boeing on my way back home.
A fire danced on a pile of twigs in front of me, its glow dimly lighting my small camp among a group of Aleppo pines. It was a small cross-ditch fire my father had once taught me to make, being an Eagle Scout and scout master. I sat there with my knees up against me and my arms around them, staring at the fire, lost in the flame's heathen dance. It seemed as if it had sucked away all my thoughts, leaving nothing but its image.
I sat back and looked up at the stars, hiding behind branches of pine. But I could still see them, twinkling dimly, letting me know that they are there. Alone in the Syrian mountains for a long time, the thoughts in my head failed to arrange themselves in a way I could understand. I had left home in a hurry, leaving many a knot untied. I saw my trip to Syria as an escape from all that, and of course, it will be. It was working all ready, I could not even think of what I had left behind.
Syria was my parents' home. It was the place they had left as young adults; my father left to pursue his dreams in America, the land of opportunity and since he was eighteen he had only come back once. And now, after the revolution, there was nothing to come back to except rubble and memories. And the forest.
Sometimes the forest would echo with the sounds of ghost freedom soldiers, screaming in a language so dripping with passion it would make me shiver. But I did not want to think of the freedom soldiers and their demise. I did not want them there with me. I just wanted to be alone. Alone with my own passions.
As I sat there, sipping pine needle tea under a wool blanket, the thought of my job from last summer floated back to me, but I could not remember exactly what happened. I knew I was not wanted and that was why I was shipped back to Houston, but other than that, it was a mystery. It was as if my mind had created a barrier between me and that memory.
What did it matter though? It was past. And what was past was past and there was no reason to think about it anymore. But it was just too fishy for me to let go of. It was the kind of thing that made me momentarily angry, but it was an anger easy to control.
I don't know what time I fell asleep that night, but I remember having a strange dream about the Egyptian desert. I was falling, and then a woman in ancient cloths and a wig was talking to me in a language I could not understand. Next I was in the musty environment of a tomb, and in the light of a flashlight, I could see a pair of green eyes. There was chanting in that same ancient tongue and I caught an angry remark that I surprisingly understood. A remark that rung with venomous hatred.
"Kamen wati, anok Fero!"
It was hot. Not desert hot where your face stings from the heat, but more like Houston hot multiplied by three, where as soon as you change into a clean shirt you're soaked with sweat again. It couldn't be helped however and all I could really do was stay in the shade of the pines. That did not stop my short dark brown hair from getting wet with sweat however.
I popped open a tube of yellow ochre oil paint for the first time. Ah, the smell of fresh paint is so…so… well it's toxic for one thing; I was thankful that I was painting en plein air and not in a room where I could possibly get loopy.
I took out a bottle of mineral spirits and poured a few drops into a small saucer. Getting ready to do an under painting. I wanted to paint something I remembered from last summer, so that hopefully I could try and remember everything else. It was a tomb, being dug out. It was the kind of temple tomb used in later times and had columns and high windows where the light shone through. I remembered it being dark however. It had a sort of gothic feel, or the feel of a black and white photograph: mysterious.
My loaded brush worked its way across the canvas, splashing a dark yellowish gold onto the white surface. I closed my eyes, holding the brush still for a moment, trying to remember exactly what the tomb was like. It was dark, that much I could easily dig up… but the details I completely forgot. Like where the pillars stood and such things, it was impossible to remember. Then suddenly an image flashed across my mind. I blinked. What was that? I tried to call it back but it would not come. It was the tomb, exactly as it was, I had remembered it! Now if only I could remember it again…
I sat there on my stool for a long time with my eyes closed, I could feel the heat of the sun trying to get past the branches, dappling across my face and back. It was too hot. I could not think. I could not remember what the temple tomb looked like no matter how hard I tried. I was convinced that someone had blocked this memory on purpose. Probably those Egyptologists that wanted me out of Egypt.
I began to put my things away, greatly disheartened, but maybe it would come back to me later.
My friends and family had been greatly opposed to me coming out here, but I could not be contained. I was the black-eyed wanderer and to be stuck in one place for so long was finally taking its toll on me. I felt I was going crazy. For me, living is adventure and challenge unlike anything else. It is to experience things that make you truly feel alive; to be a part of the world as a whole by connecting to it in a way you can never connect materialistically. For me, that's living. They could not possibly imagine the adventures I had in mind. I've read Robinson Crusoe, and The Count of Monte Cristo, Gulliver's Travels, and Peter Pan, and works by JulesVerne, along with a hundred other fantastic adventures, and I wanted to be just like them, to experience those amazing things. I've learned all about the heroism of Hercules, Robin Hood, Saladin and countless others, and I wanted to be just as heroic as all of them. I felt sorry for my friends and family who could not comprehend that the things that I wanted to happen were possible, and little did I know, but the adventures that I sought were just about to unfold.
As I lay down to nap, I saw the image of the tomb, plain as day in my head.
Running. Tripping. Heat. Intense heat. Couldn't keep up. Couldn't breathe. Being pursued. Gunshots… a mouthful of sand.
"Thaleia get up!" I didn't answer. I could not. I just lay there in the sand and closed my eyes, my body heaved from my troubled breathing.
"Thaleia!" I now felt someone tugging at my arms. It might have been Catherine. It was. She got me to stand up and begin running again, when suddenly I realized I dropped the Pendant.
"Just forget it!" Jesse's voice.
"No!" I struggled to get away from three tight grips as they tried to stop me from going back. I couldn't leave the Pendant. The Pendant was important, it was the key to the past, and it was the key to my future. I got away. I found it, and then a dark shadow fell across my view. I looked up and found myself looking straight into the barrel of a gun. All was black.
I woke to the sound of my heart furiously thumping against the forest floor. I had rolled out of my sleeping bag in the dark. Now the evening light and coolness shone through the branches straight at me. Sighing, I got out of my sweaty sleeping bag and sat on a log by the dead fire, staring at the orange and grey fabric of my gear. Despite that strange dream, I had a surprisingly refreshing sleep. When I was in my Junior year of high school, I had a crazy problem with insomnia and was prescribed Cyproheptadine to help me sleep, but my doctor told me that the secret of a "Good night's sleep" is something called REM sleep, the time in a person's sleep before they wake up where their eyelids move rapidly; that's when dreams are made. So dreams are what give me rest. Dreams are also what give me hope.
I rolled up the sleeping bag and put it in the corner of my tent. I felt just so energized I could go for a ten mile hike, but I also felt taken back by what I had dreamed about. I knew it was something that had happened last year in Egypt. But there was nothing else I could remember. There was nothing I could do but sit there staring at a pile of ashes in a circle of rocks. I stood up and walked around a bit, picking up twigs here and there to start a new fire before the night came on and it became cold again.
I felt empty.
What was the point in coming out here and trying to feel alive if all I kept feeling was empty? Why whenever I tried to enjoy the sound of birds and the feel of the air all I could hear were ghost screams of dying rebels who were already dead?
It was too late now anyway, I was already here. Might as well make the most of it.
After bringing the fire back to life I went into my tent to find my flashlight. I could not remember where I had put it last night before I fell asleep, usually it was in my hiking boots every morning but it had not been when I woke up. I grabbed a small backpack and started rummaging through it, thinking that maybe I had slipped it in there, but I still could not find it.
I noticed a pocket on the inside that I had not opened in a long time. Unzipping it out of desperation I saw something that made me gasp. An old leather journal slipped out from the pocket, and following it was a carnelian and lapis lazuli pendant on a gold chain.
Memories came rushing back.
I saw faces that I thought I would never see again.
I saw the desert.
I saw the tomb of the Thief King.