S e q u e l t o E g y p t ' s S t a t u e s
B y J e a n
A large sign stood at the dock reading WELCOME TO CAIRO. The family stood at attention as Rick fumbled with the luggage and Evie fumbled with the children. Alex was eleven and was at the time pulling on Evie's arm as she tried to situate the diaper bag and the baby bag over her right shoulder as Kirianna was sound asleep on her left shoulder.
"Come on mum!" Alex pulled her through the crowd and the family finally made their way up to their lavish home in Egypt. "Sarah, we're home!" He called and the nanny waddled into the room. Her hair had long since been gray, and she'd packed on weight. She looked like a grandmother as she held Alex to her.
"Good to see you all again, it's been far too long!" She exclaimed, her prim English accent showing as she kissed Evelyn's cheek, letting Alex look around the O'Connell's summer home. "Here, let me have this while you two get your things into your room and unpacked." She lightly took Anna from her mother, which woke the toddler.
She'd been in a no-one-but-mum phase for months now, and was afraid to let Evelyn out of her sigh. Even though she recognized Nanny Sarah, she pushed at her beginning to cry as she reached for Evie.
"I'll just take her with me, she's going through the same phase that Alex did when he was this age." She smiled and handed Nanny Sarah the diaper bag and baby bag as Rick tried to walk in through the door. The luggage hit the doorframe, and he grunted as he dropped all five suitcases on the floor with a thud, making everyone jump.
"Sorry." He grinned and just left them there and laid a hand to his straining back. "Sarah, it's wonderful to see you, as always." He charmed her with his American air as he folded the short fat woman into his arms.
"There's a letter for you two on the table, mostly addressed to Evelyn, but I'm sure you'll both find it interesting." She smiled and helped Rick pile the cases back into his arms and helped him up the stairs. He deposited them in the hallway, and they'd sort it all out later.
"Honey it's a letter from the Bembridge Scholars. They're asking us to go to the city of Thebes and find them a large stone tablet encased in gold. Here's a picture." She saw him pull their luggage into their master bedroom down the hall from the children's room. He flopped into a chair and let his legs and arms go loose. She smiled and set Anna down as she walked over to him. The toddler attached herself to Evie's leg as she stood behind Rick. She began to lightly massage his shoulders and upper back and he lifter his daughter into his arms.
"Daddy." She smiled and laid and hand on his lips. She leaned against him and soon she fell asleep as well as Rick. Evie smiled at the sight and shut the door on the sleeping baby and her father.
"Alex, you need to get unpacked." She knocked on his door and heard him groan. "Now Mister." She knocked once to get her point across and walked down the stairs to the kitchen, where Nanny Sarah had tea and coffee waiting for them.
Evie smiled and sat next to the comforting old woman, and gave her a tired smile.
"What, no Mr. O'Connell?" She wondered and poured Evelyn a hot cup of tea.
"He and his Angel Baby fell asleep. We had a long night, where she didn't feel like sleeping and well when a baby doesn't sleep, either does it's parents." She smiled and leaned forward to prop her elbows on the table as she sipped the warm tan liquid carefully.
"Mum, I can't find my charm." Alex moaned as he walked up to her, and laid his head down on her shoulder.
She wrapped her arm around him and hugged her son tight.
"Did you check in all of the pockets? Maybe you stuck it in your coat pocket to carry with you on the boat ride." She offered her suggestions, and he took off to go look.
"Found it!" Five minutes later the two words echoed down the hallway and she smiled.
"Evie, I never thought I'd see you as a mother." Sarah poured herself a cup of coffee and the two sat in companionable conversation.
"I never thought so either, but then again stranger things have happened." She smiled and Rick's hand carefully rubbed her shoulder.
"Shouldn't have let me fall asleep baby." He grinned and sat next to her with a yawn. He rubbed his large hand over his sore neck and ran his fingers lightly through his hair.
"Well, you needed the rest, I think we all do." She announced as Alex came into the kitchen with a thud, and angry expression on his face as he looked at the floor.
Rick mimicked him, crossing his arms over his chest and sticking his bottom lip out. Alex couldn't help but laugh and huffed as he looked up at Nanny Sarah.
"Dad, can I talk to you?" He asked a moment later and Rick nodded as he pulled Alex into his son's room, and saw clothing stuffed into his dresser drawers, poking out from each end.
Rick laughed at his son and ruffled his hair. "I'll help you unpack." He smiled and Alex nodded.
"Dad, when am I going to become a man?" He asked casually as he and his father pulled the clothing out of the dresser and sat down on the floor together.
Alex was wearing a light tan shirt with creased pants, and a small tie that had long since been loosened.
"Well son, I don't know. I suppose whenever you decide to grow up." He answered, folding a pair of Alex's shorts and carefully laying them inside an open drawer.
"Lately, I've been…you know…well…" he couldn't quite come out and say it.
"You've what? If you feel sick Alex you need to tell us." Rick laid a hand on Alex's shoulder.
"I've been wetting the bed." He said quietly, looking down as he fidgeted with his hands.
"Alex, its time we had a little talk." Rick grinned and pulled his son up to sit on the bed. "You're not wetting the bed, it's all a part of growing up. You're becoming more and more of a man each day, and that's what happening. They're called wet dreams, and they happened to me when I was your age too. I know you've learned about it in school, but I suppose I should have warned you about it a long time before this happened." Rick explained, and Alex nodded.
"So I'm not wetting the bed?"
"Nope. Its called puberty, and every single person on this planet has gone through it, or will when they're your age." He smiled and pulled him back to the floor. "Come on. Let's get you unpacked, we've already got an assignment, and no doubt your mother will want to leave tomorrow morning to get to Thebes in two days time." He loved the look of adventure in Alex's eyes and they made short work out of the clothes.
"Come on honey, it'll be her first dig, and I'm sure that she'll have fun." Rick begged his wife that night as they lay together later that night.
Evie shook her head, her curls tickling Rick's chest as she did. "I don't know Rick, I still think she's too little to be going on digs with us." She retorted and leaned up on her elbow and looked down at him.
"You think so?" She asked and he nodded, leaning up to kiss her lightly. "Well in that case I guess she can go." She smiled and laid back down as she snuggled into him. Sleep claimed them both before they had a chance to say their good-nights.
"Anna, this is a pick." Alex explained to his little sister as Rick unloaded the camels, finishing setting up the equipment they would need inside the caverns and temples of Thebes.
"Pick." She smiled and pointed to it.
"This is a chisel." He picked it up and showed it to her. "We use it to scrape things with and to make artifacts easier to find." He laughed as she picked it up and threw it.
"Pick." She exclaimed, making him laugh.
"Alex, I think she's a little too young to learn the names of every tool we use." Evelyn smiled as she set up the lanterns they would use underground.
"Well baby, are you ready to look at your very first bit of Egypt outside the city?" Evie questioned and looked up at her daughter and saw the toddler smile and hold her arms up for Evie to carry her.
Deep inside the temple Alex was busy writing down several hieroglyphics, and Rick was digging a deeper tunnel down into the floor.
"Alex how are you doing love?" Evie questioned as she walked through a tunnel and back into the main room.
"It's going to great. I've read this entire wall and I can't find a single clue as to the whereabouts of the stupid slab." He grumbled and sat down heavily on a large stone that had been removed when Rick was digging up the floor for an entrance to a passageway below where they were exploring.
"Don't worry honey. We have two whole weeks before we have to go back to Cairo, and I'm sure well find it before we leave." She reassured and rubbed her hand over his hair, seeing dust fly from it.
"Pwitty joolwee." Anna lifter it up to her mother as she handed over the ornate gold medallion.
"Wow. Did you find this all by yourself?" Evie questioned kneeling down next to her and the toddler nodded.
"Pick." She smiled and showed her mother the tool she had been using.
"Very good Angel Baby." Rick smiled and lifted her into his arms. "Well, I need a break, how about you?" He asked and she nodded.
"Lunch weady?" She asked Evie, turning her head to look at her mother with hungry eyes.
Evie nodded and took her from Rick. "Come on Alex, let's break for some lunch." She called but he shook his head.
"I want to finish this, I'll meet you out there." He answered back and she nodded.
"Exactly like you." Rick rubbed in as they walked out side to a small area where they had pitched two tents, and a small place was built with stones, so they could have a fire at night.
They were eating lunch quietly when they heard a crash and a cry.
"Alex?" Rick jumped up and Evie laid down a sleeping Anna in the tent, zipping it up before she left.
"Alex, are you okay?" Rick called as he ran into the temple.
"I'm okay dad, I fell through the ceiling." He called back up to his father and asked for a light.
"You're sure you're okay?" He asked and got a firm reply that he didn't even have a scratch. Rick handed him a small lantern and Alex whistled.
"You have to see this." He smiled and reached his hand up. "Pull me out, I'm getting hungry." He asked and Rick lifted him out of the hole. Despite Alex reassurances Rick and Evelyn checked him over to make sure he was still in one piece.
"Next time, you're going to leave when we do. That could have been very dangerous Alex." Rick scolded.
"Oh Rick, it wasn't his fault that he fell into a huge hole you made." Evie smiled at him and handed Alex his sandwich. He nearly swallowed it whole and the three watched the sun set.
"Well, I'm really tired and I'm going to get to bed." Alex smiled and kissed Evie's cheek, and then hugged Rick before retreating to his own tent.
"We should probably get to sleep too, seeing how Anna's slept this long I'm guessing that we'll be up all night." Evie smiled and walked into her tent as Rick put out the fire. The baby was still soundly sleeping and Evie laid the blanket over her lightly as she attempted to get undressed in the small confines of the tent.
Once in her sleep clothes she climbed under the covers as Rick walked crawled in. He was already completely undressed, and completely nude. He grabbed a pair of shorts to sleep in and stepped outside for a moment. When he returned he was wearing them and climbed in next to Evelyn.
"It's easier to get dressed before you get into the tent." He laughed as he flicked the tag to Evie's nite-gown. She looked down and realized she'd put it on backwards.
"Ooooh." She grumbled and rolled away from him. She sighed as he laughed and snuggled her back against his chest as he hugged her.
"You are quite incorrigible Mr. O'Connell." She grumbled as he chuckled against her back and fell asleep.
"You okay Angel Baby?" Rick asked as he looked over at his daughter. She was holding her favorite tool, a pick, and methodically doing exactly what her daddy was doing.
"Yep." She smiled up at him, and lifted up her tool "Pick." She explained and Rick nodded, still digging at the floor.
"Yes honey, that's a pick."
She scraped dirt away from the floor and hit something. "I foun it!" She exclaimed and Rick walked over.
"Found what Angel Baby." He asked and began dusting the large slab off. He recognized it instantly and reached into his pocket, pulling out the photo that the scholars had sent them. "Evie! We found it!" He called and Alex was the first on into the room.
"Look mum, it's built into the floor!" He said as he and Rick dusted off the area around the stone, finding it embedded into the floor.
Evelyn nodded and Anna grabbed her pick and began digging at the stones around it. "Pwitty come out?" She asked and they all nodded.
Rick and Alex took turns hammering and hitting stones around it. The floor around them began to crack and Rick pulled them back as the tablet along with the stones around it fell below, into another tunnel. A small hole about two feet in diameter was left and they all looked over at Alex.
"Here you go son." Rick lay on his stomach as he lowered the boy into the hole.
"It's really far down dad, I'm gonna need a light." He called up and Evie reached her hand in holding a lantern. "AAAHHH! Pull me up, pull me up!" He cried, and Rick hauled him out of the hole.
"What?" He checked him over; making sure nothing had scratched him.
"It's full of scorpions!" He announced and shivered. "How are gonna get it out?" He asked and Anna piped up.
"I will!" She smiled but Evie lifted her onto her lap.
"No honey, this is a job for mummy and daddy." She picked her up and led the group outside. "Well, let's eat lunch first, and then we'll decide what to do with the tablet. It's obviously not going to go anywhere."
They agreed and followed their growling stomachs, and ten minutes later they were all eating delicious soup, warmed up by a fire. Anna had fallen asleep like Evie had hoped, and the three went back into temple.
"I've got an idea, lower me down on a rope, and I'll grab it and pull me back out." Alex chirped, and Rick nodded.
"It's a good idea, and unless I make the hole bigger we have no choice."
He grabbed fifteen feet of rope from the supply crate, checking on his daughter, and went back into the temple. He tied the rope around Alex so it was a kind of harness. Alex sat next to the crater and let his legs fall over the side. He let himself go, and dropped about a foot. Rick steadied the rope, and with the light of a lantern, Alex instructed his dad on how far to go.
"More, more, more, a little slower, come on dad. Sometime this year." He joked, and Rick smiled.
"Faced with scorpions and he's still like you." Evie poked at her husband, and he gave her a lopsided grin as the rope just got heavier by about 20 pounds.
"I got it, lift me up." He called out and Rick began the slow job of pulling Alex out of the hole.
Meanwhile, Anna had woken up from her nap early and was busy getting into everything she wasn't supposed to. Me pwitty like momma." She smiled and grabbed Evie's blush. She took the brush and rubbed it into the red makeup, smearing it over her face. Next she grabbed the locket necklace, which had
the pictures of Evie's parents, and slid it over her head.
Lifting up the lid to the trunk, which held all of Evie's extra items that would be needed, tissues, toilet paper and paper towels, along with extra sets of clothing for both children, Anna smiled.
"Momma outfit." She grinned and got into the large carrying case to pick out some of her mothers clothing. She brought her hand down to examine the buttons on the shirt, which had been used as a prop to hold the lid up. It slammed shut and latched, leaving the toddler trapped inside.
"We did it Alex, we found the slab. In record timing I might add." Evelyn smiled and they walked out into the open area in front of the temple as Alex attempted to read the symbols.
"It looks like an incantation of how Thebes was built." He explained, handing it over to Evelyn whom confirmed her son's words.
"It is. I can see now why it was so important. Thebes was this city of the living. Crown jewel of Pharaoh Seti the First, and was home to the high priest Imhotep, whom we all know." She recited and looked over at Alex.
"Right. And that's where Anck-Sunamun was born, and this is only another piece of the puzzle. It says of the men who built it, and how long it took. Wow." He grinned and rubbed his hand over it, in awe about the whole thing.
"Where's Anna?" Rick asked, walking back over to the two Egyptologists. "She's not in the tent."
"Out." She mumbled, becoming afraid of the darkness around her. She pushed at the lid, but it refused to open. She began to cry, hoping that one of her parents would hear her. "OUT!" She screamed and pounded on the lid with her hands.
"Dad! She's stuck in the chest!" Alex called and Rick and Evie came running. "It's latched, I can't get it open." He grunted trying to lift the heavy lid. They could all hear the baby screaming inside, and it made their hearts beat faster.
"Evie, give me the key." Rick knelt down and stuck his hand up to accept the object.
"I don't have a key for it, we just made sure it didn't latch and put something in between the hole and the lock." She rubbed her hand over the box as if her daughter could feel it through the heavy wood.
"Get her to calm down, she doesn't have much air." Rick ordered and took off toward the temple, Alex on his heels.
"How can I help dad, I want to help." He called and Rick shook his head.
"I don't know son, give me a minute." He ran into the room they'd been working in, and looked around. The sledgehammer that had been used to break up the floor was leaning against the far wall, and Rick grabbed it. The two headed back for the tents.
Evelyn had her almost calmed down, but saw what Rick was planning.
"Rick, you can't hit it with that, it could go through and crush her." She stopped him in mid swing, but he firmly held her back.
"Evie, I need to get the latch to open, or she'll suffocate." He growled and rose it above the small metal lock. He slammed the blunt end into the side of the chest, making it tip back. Alex grabbed it and held it still while she screamed.
"Angel Baby, I need you to stop crying. Daddy's trying to get you out okay?"
"Out." She cried pitifully, yet stopped crying as he hit the box again. He turned it so it was sideways and swung it square on the crack where lid met box and the hinges broke, sending the led flying. He immediately grabbed his daughter and hauled her from the open chest, kissing her head. She pushed away from him, reaching for Evelyn.
"Momma." She cried, and Evelyn took her from Rick as they sat on the floor, the sobs of the toddler becoming quieter and quieter.
"Wanna go home." She murmured and Evelyn nodded.
"Yes baby, we can go home." She rubbed her daughter's hair and she was soon asleep on Evie's shoulder.
Later that night after dinner, Rick and Evie lay in their tent while Anna was snoring lightly next to them.
"We could have lost her. I should have put the chest away, but I didn't. I let my work come before my children, and I feel awful." Evie sadly commented, and Rick folded her into his arms.
"It wasn't anyone's fault hon. it was an accident, pure and simple." He reassured, and sniffled into his chest. "I don't blame you, and Alex doesn't, and even Anna doesn't. What was important is that we were here to help her. If it had been too much longer…" he didn't finish and just held her. Evie fell into a fitful sleep as Rick eased away from her. He walked to the other side of the tent, and looked down at his sleeping angel. He smiled and rubbed his large callused hand over her cheek. She heaved a shuddering sigh, but didn't wake up. He climbed back into bed, glad that the day was over, and even happier about leaving tomorrow morning.
"So much for her first dig." he said to himself, and looked over at his sleeping wife. "You were right. She was too young." He always admitted his wrongs when she was asleep, for he'd never live it down if he'd told her face to face.
Pride was a funny thing.