Hey all. I would just like to thank you if you have decided to read this. I don't have any experience with ff.net, but I'm hoping this will be a good one. I would love to hear your comments on my story, be they criticisms or compliments. Tell me if you want to see more. ~Thanks^_^

Sasaki's future, Egypt's past

They were finally in Egypt. This was the field trip that they had been anticipating since…since forever, it seemed. The airplane ride from Miami was undeniably one of the most terrible trips ever. No CD players or any other electronic devices were allowed, even though they were flying in a 777. And the turbulence didn't help to make the trip any more enjoyable. The bus ride was even worse. It wasn't even half as lengthy as the plane trip, but the "turbulence" could knock one's teeth out. The bus found the dirt roads hard to handle, as there were zillions of potholes interrupting what passed for pavement. Sasaki, a senior in high school, was rather unpleasantly awakened from her nap as the bus rocked in and out of the dents in the road.

"H..hey,....what's t...the b...b..ig id..dea?" Sasaki protested haltingly as she was jolted up and down in her seat. "I'm..mm trying..ng t..o take a nap..p here."

"This...s b..b..us needs b..etter shocks. G..go back t..to sleep..p."

"And..d how exact..tly do you su..ppose I d..do that, Mandi?" Sasaki managed to get the question out sarcastically.

Mandi was one of Sasaki's many classmates on this trip and had been her friend throughout middle and high school. They almost always spent time together. Mandi was more the responsible type, so she watched out for Sasaki and prodded her to do what she needed to. Not that it was all that often…

Some of Sasaki's other friends were on the trip, too. Chloe was a girl she met freshmen year. About the same height as Sasaki, and just as fun to be around, Chloe seemed to be more popular, buzzing from popular circles to unpopular circles. If anyone asked her anything about anybody in the school, she would know some little tidbit or other. Along with Chloe and Mandi, Ami was another of Sasaki's friends accompanying her on the trip. Sasaki met Ami freshmen year also, although Ami was not in high school herself. She was the history teacher's daughter, merely thirteen.

It was hot in the bus but it was scalding outside; the waves of heat that rippled across the scenery were proof of that. The air conditioner in the bus received no praise from the students who had to sit in the heat and melt slowly, sticking to the leathery seats. The sparkling sun was so bright that it was hard to see what lay ahead. It reflected off the sand, shooting spears of light into the students' eyes, causing them to be in a constant squint and unable to guess where they were going. Most of them gave up, finding it useless to keep track of the scenery since all there was to look at was sand.

There was a man sitting under a tent on the left side of the poorly paved road. He was monitoring the people coming in and out of the pyramid area, consulting his logbook while wiping from his forehead the beads of sweat that resided there. The bus checked in and the monitor told them that their guide would be waiting for them farther along the road. They bumpily made their way to their final destination: the archeological site. It was a wide-open space, rolling with sandy dunes, dotted with only a couple of structures, besides tents, which were for the tourists and other visitors.

"Look at that hottie!" Chloe declared energetically as she jumped out of her seat, pointing straight ahead like a well-trained hound. All of the girls on the bus heard and stood up to get a better view of what was in front of them, ignoring the glare the sun shone off the sand. The guys just sat and steamed. They finally had an opportunity to be alone, unsupervised, no parental units in sight, with more than a few of the attractive girls in their class, and their guide had to be good-looking.

Some of the students were actually interested in the reason they traveled to Egypt: the history of the pyramids. It was, after all, the subject they had been studying for the last semester of school. The information presented was not enough to quench some of the students' interest, so they had suggested a field trip. The Spanish class in their school had gone to Spain. Why shouldn't the history class take a trip, too? The pyramids seemed to be a source of interest even for the most lazy and incompetent of students, whether having an interest in grotesque mummification or the great treasures buried with the ancient kings.

The pyramids were enormous. Sasaki took in the sight in awe of their craftsmanship and immense size. She was extremely interested in ancient Egypt and the mysteries that she knew still remained hidden in undiscovered passages, collecting dust. The archeologists couldn't have found everything; that was what Sasaki was betting on. The only reason she was in Egypt was to steal a chance to explore the halls of the darkened pyramids, to discover a reason for the connection she felt with the past.

"Sheesh! It's awfully stuffy in here! Even hotter outside," Mandi complained. She waved her hand frantically in front of her face.

"Don't I know it," Chloe agreed. "I hope everyone packed enough sun screen. If they didn't, I did!" Chloe smiled as she held eight small bottles of sunscreen between her fingers. "SPF 30: perfect for all skin types." She paused a moment, looking up, and added as an afterthought, "But I guess it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a nice tan since our so called 'guide' is incredibly cute."

"While getting skin cancer, you mean," Ami added matter-of-factly just to spoil Chloe's idea. "Not to mention wrinkles. You'll look like this by the end of the trip." She pulled the skin under her eyes down to illustrate her point. Ami was the youngest on the trip of course, being only thirteen. Ami had gotten to know Sasaki, Mandi, and Chloe after school while her mother explained certain concepts that they hadn't understood during class. Usually Ami had talked with Sasaki or Chloe because it was Mandi who ended up asking the questions. Sasaki had exhausted her history teacher's knowledge of Ancient Egypt long before the field trip and Sasaki wasn't interested in anything else.

The bus pulled to a jerky halt and everyone unloaded their things. They were dead tired from the long ride, constantly bumping up and down and cramped in those small seats. The solid, unmoving ground was a relief. The teacher did a mental tally and was satisfied that all of her thirty students were there. Thirty students were not all she taught, of course. She taught different types and levels of history, and these were the few who signed up for the trip and were willing to pay the money involved for the excursion.

The guide was very young, but not much older than the students. He looked positively exasperated. Why had he chosen to work when he had known that there was a school excursion on the way? What a handful! He walked to the students, looking slightly pained, and prepared to introduce himself.

"Excuse me… Could have your attention for only a couple minutes?" Tired faces turned, waiting for the thread of babble and meaningless words they would only pretend to hear. "Welcome to Egypt. I'm Eric. I'll only be watching you and making sure none of you get into trouble. The Professor isn't here. He seems to have…disappeared," he said tapping his fingertips together. He caught the worried expression on the teacher's face and added quickly, "But I'm sure he'll be back. I learned everything I know from him, so you can ask me all the questions you want." He stopped, staring back at the glazed over orbs, motionless with fatigue. Oh boy, Eric thought, jet lag. "Well! Let's get you settled."

* * *

By the time the students were all organized and relatively comfortable in their rooms it was already dark, the stars welcoming the young visitors. The posse of students had arrived in the late afternoon and unpacked in the remaining daylight. They had rented a building near the pyramids for sleeping, but during the day they would use the tents. Sasaki, Mandi, Chloe, and Ami shared one of the small rooms down the hall. They weren't much: two beds in each and some windows, a desk and a closet. Four to a room was almost a squeeze. All of the students, except for a few rambunctious ones, were asleep as soon as they hit the sheets, literally.

Sasaki couldn't sleep: she was too excited. All she could do was stare at the ceiling and wonder what she could do the next day to satisfy her ravenous curiosity. She lay back with her hands cradling her head, making connect-the-dot pictures out of the dimly lit popcorn ceiling. She had the same thing on her ceiling at home. Home. She couldn't say she missed it much. There was nothing she really cared for back home, except her father . . . but he didn't seem to care about her anymore. Ever since the day they died.

Her love for Egypt had a significant impact on the pictures that formed on the ceiling. Most of the pictures that she put together at home were of hieroglyphics: the system of ancient Egyptian writing. Forming them out of the popcorn ceiling had helped her learn each symbol so that now she knew all of them as well as she knew her ABC's or her seemingly useless Spanish vocabulary. Her eagerness and anticipation were keeping her awake, and making her mind run off with her. The dot-pictures on the ceiling were actually starting to come together as whole sentences and sounding coherent. "Go to the pyramids," one would say. "Come behold the unseen mysteries," another read. "For you are kin to the Pharaoh of Egypt." That was a new one to Sasaki. The hieroglyphs appeared and disappeared as if they had never been there. It was definitely unusual. Sasaki frowned. What's going on? It had to be her imagination. Or was it? Sasaki watched as the ceiling started to spell more, but she heard a hollow thud and started. She looked in the direction of the sound. Ami had just knocked over one of Chloe's many bottles of sunscreen with her foot. Chloe and her obsession with a good complexion, Sasaki mused. She turned back to the ceiling. The messages were gone. Probably heat stroke already, Sasaki thought. She turned over, wondering, and managed to fall asleep.

* * *

Sasaki dreamt. She dreamt of ancient Egypt and of herself in its customary clothes and culture. She dreamt of her grandfather who also had a love for Egypt, but who had vanished without a trace some years before. Other peculiar scenes joined these but they were so quick in materializing one after the other that Sasaki barely remembered them. She flashed back and forth between times. One minute: a car crash. The next: herself in Egyptian silks. The following: the hospital. They went so swiftly as to startle Sasaki awake when they suddenly stopped with a bright flash.

Sasaki sat up suddenly, panting while sweat trickled down the side of her face. She let out a breath to calm herself, holding her hand over her heart as if to hold it in her chest. It was still dark outside. The stars winked at Sasaki, teasing her with the knowledge that they possessed. Now doubtful of her own sanity, she had to admit that she had imagined herself in Egyptian clothes before, but the flashes with her grandfather came out of nowhere. And the car crash? Where did that fit in?

She decided she needed to get some air. Sasaki got up and put on some pants since it was supposed to be cool in the desert at night. She reluctantly went out the window. Knowing her teacher, she probably had installed an alarm on the front door.

The moon was full and giving off a bright glow, plenty for Sasaki to stroll by. She wandered near the area the archaeologists were staying and past that into the immediate region around the pyramids. Sasaki only stood there, gazing past the pyramid tips out into the starry night. The high school girl recognized some of the major constellations, though there were so many sparkling stars out it was hard to find them. She sat down on the sand and leaned back on her hands as she contemplated the celestial bodies of light, twinkling and blinking at her as if saying that they knew something that she didn't.

Since she was regarding the sky with such a deep and philosophical air, Sasaki was not aware of the scorpion crawling silently and swiftly like a shadow toward her supporting hands. She closed her eyes and took in a sense of the atmosphere surrounding the Great Pyramids. A faint crunch jolted her out of her contemplation. She turned, a bit startled, to confront Eric, the class' guide. He lifted the staff he was holding and shoved the end of it in front of her face. On it was the scorpion, pierced through the middle, still wriggling.

"This is why the teacher is supposed to keep her students in for the night," Eric stated forcefully. After viewing the look on Sasaki's face for what he deemed an adequate amount of time, he placed the staff to the ground and used his foot to remove the insect, careful not to squash it. It went scurrying painfully into the night.

"Don't you sleep?" Sasaki asked, slightly annoyed.

"Don't you?" Eric replied, examining the tip of his staff absently.

Sasaki only stared at him. She had already realized what he had done for her, though she did not want to admit it. Some of the more poisonous scorpions lived in the deserts of Egypt. That thing could have been deadly for all she knew. Down and out in a matter of minutes: all it took was a droplet of the potent venom in the stinger.

Eric sighed, putting his staff back to the ground. "What are you doing out here at this hour? Looking to have your death catch you?"

"No. Looking at the stars... and wondering," Sasaki answered, turning back to the sky. There really was more to it than that. She had a feeling she was there for a reason.

"Can't you see them from your window?" Eric asked sarcastically, raising an eyebrow.

Sasaki shook her head. "Not the same," she said simply, letting out a sigh and resting her chin on her knees. She gazed meaningfully at the ancient monuments. "Looking at the stars has to include the fresh air and the natural silence. No droning of air conditioners." She paused a moment and furrowed her eyebrows in thought as if trying to find words for the feelings she had. "There's something here, in the Pyramids. I feel it in the air. Something they haven't found yet."

Eric hesitated to ask her how she knew. She was strangely sure of herself. But he had sensed something like that before: the feeling that something was calling to be found.

"What are you doing up so late?" Sasaki asked, looking up at him.

He nodded back to the bundle of tents. "They put me on patrol. With good reason, I guess. Not much to do here at night, and I am not a morning person."

"I know what you mean." She paused. "Well, Eric, you can just patrol yourself back over there and let my death catch me if it can." With that she turned back to the pyramids. Sasaki obviously wanted the conversation to wind to an end.

"Hey--" Eric was at a loss. No one just brushed him off like that. He tried to exert what authority he had over Sasaki. He tried to sound serious. "What's your name?"

"Sasaki." She didn't even bother to turn around.

"Well Sasaki, I think it would be best if you went back to your room."

Sasaki turned and looked him in the eye, judging if he would actually blow the whistle on her. She decided he would. In the process of getting up, she stumbled. Sasaki flailed a bit, trying to regain her balance when Eric caught her.

"Are you okay?" he asked, when a wave of recognition swept over both of them. He helped her get her balance again using him as a stabilizer. Sasaki stared into the young man's eyes, searching to find something that she was sure she'd remember if she only examined them hard enough. Sasaki pulled away, looking at him strangely as though she were looking for a picture of him in her mind.

"I'd better go," she said. That was too weird for her.

Eric watched her leave, a bit surprised at the recent occurrence. He suspected that she had felt what he had. Add that to the list of things he wanted to tell the Professor. He had disappeared over a month ago, although Eric had told the teacher accompanying the field trip otherwise. She would have probably gone into cardiac arrest if he had revealed her how long the Prof. had actually been gone.

Eric sighed. He'd figure it out sooner or later. He retired to his own tent, suspecting, oddly enough, that he wouldn't have anyone else to catch out in the darkness. The rest of the night wore on, and soon it was a new day.