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Exploring the Great Pyramids of Egypt: Barely a Day
The man in Richard’s arms took one last, shuddering breath before his body went limp. Richard blinked several times, unable to react. They had barely known each other a day and yet he was the last person the poor man had seen. What a terrible final thing to see. Out of all the beautiful things this great world possessed (the solemn gold statue standing in the corner of the tomb, for instance), the man had to see the mournful face of Richard Bitton Bonn, Englishman, disappointing son, and man who had lost his American fiancé to the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1927 in West Africa when they had traveled there, Katie had always loved adventures. Richard was only 28, and yet, in the past year, two people had died in his arms.
Richard blinked again and came back to reality; he quickly pushed away the corpse and looked down at himself. His shirt had turned scarlet; he was drenched in the still warm blood of Asim. The small Egyptian man had done nothing wrong by simply taking Richard to one of the monstrous pyramids that lay, forgotten in the sands of Egypt. Or that were seemingly forgotten. As the two men had walked through the dark, stony passages (surprisingly cool when compared to the blistering heat of the desert outside) of one of the great pyramids, they had seen a flickering light ahead of them.
“What do you suppose it is?” Richard had whispered in his clipped, English accent.
“I am thinking it is something we not wants to encounter,” Asim replied with broken English. He waved his arm, beckoning for Richard to retreat back from where they had come.
Richard nodded solemnly, but as he took a step back he felt himself fall. He had forgotten of the steps they had ascended moments before. He yelped as he tumbled down them and hit the floor forcefully. He sat up but the fall had disoriented him and he closed his eyes for a moment, trying to control the wave of nausea that had just come over him. Slowly, very slowly, he got to his feet and climbed up the stairs one step at a time.
The sight that greeted him was not one he would expect to see outside of a Sherlock Holmes story. Two men stood in the middle of the poorly lit passageway, one with a revolver in his hand, the other a heavy-looking sac whose contents made a loud clattering noise as it was dropped. The men looked at Richard in shock, their mouths hung open and their eyes widened. Richard furrowed his brow as he looked at his old University friends.
“George? Matthew?” he said slowly, still discombobulated by the fall. “What are you doing here? It’s wonderful to see you again but-,” he stopped and waved his arm around him as if to say ‘How is it that after 5 years we would meet in a tomb that smells of death and dung?’ But as he lowered his arm he looked at his friends once more. Why was Matthew armed? And what was in the sack George was carrying? Now it was his turn to widen his eyes. Grave robbers. His friends had been reduced to grave robbers. A look of disgust crossed his face.
Now he remembered, as he had flown down the stairs he had heard a gunshot. He looked around quickly and saw Asim, lying on the floor, in a pool of what looked like blood, in a pool of his own blood. The man was gasping for air and a hand was clinging to his chest. Richard gasped and rushed over as fast as his spinning head would allow, still stumbling slightly.
“Oh my God,” he said, leaning down beside the near-complete stranger and picking up his head, placing it gingerly into his lap.
Asim’s face was chalk white and his eyes wide. He looked at Richard, fear etched in every feature of his foreign face. Richard found the wound in the man’s chest and pressed a hand to it, though he knew there was nothing that could be done.
Richard spun around to his old friends. “What have you done?” he yelled.
The two thieves had been trying their hardest to leave the passage without being spotted. They jumped as his question bounced off the walls of the cramped area. They turned to him with matching expressions of shock.
“What have you done?” Richard asked again, quieter this time.
The men looked at each other. George shrugged. “You can’t honestly say you were close to this foreigner, were you, Richard?”
“Why would you associate yourself with someone of his…position?” Matthew asked.
Richard gaped at them. “No, I wasn’t close to him, I only met him today. What the hell do you mean his ‘position’? He’s a human being, Matthew! How can you be so heartless? Why on earth would you shoot the poor man? There was absolutely no reason to do such a thing. All he was doing was helping me visit one of the great pyramids. I’d have been completely lost without him!”
They looked sheepish for a minute but, after a nod from George, Matthew lifted his revolver and aimed it at Richard. “Well we couldn’t have him telling the local police that it was us robbing the tombs of the great pharaohs. And now you know too so, I’m afraid we won’t be seeing you again, Richard.” The man smiled coldly but before he could pull the trigger Richard whipped out the revolver he always kept on him and, with barely a blink and still from position on the stone floor, shot his old friend dead. The other thief cried out from the loud gunshot and leapt back from the collapsing figure of his comrade. George stumbled and tripped over a stone that lay behind him.
“Get out,” Richard hissed at him, aiming the revolver at him in turn.
George nodded and hastily picked himself up. With a last look back he ran down a passage and out of sight.
Richard looked back to the man he was holding. And felt his face fall. The man’s lips had turned blue and his eyes were beginning to go blank. “I’m sorry,” Richard whispered, truly meaning it, “I’m so sorry.” A tear rolled down his cheek and fell onto Asim’s hand.
The man in Richard’s arms took one last, shuddering breath before his body went limp. Richard blinked several times, unable to react. They had barely known each other a day.