Once upon a time, I was a married woman.  That lasted quite a few years.  I gave Matt everything.  I loved him and looked after him and worked my arse off at two jobs so he could finish off his studies and become a high- powered, highly- paid lawyer.  Unfortunately, when he achieved his goal, he decided that I was bad for his image, so he ditched me for a younger, prettier, less brainy version.  Bit of a bad move on his part, really, since one of his rivals had developed a soft spot for me.

I did quite well in the divorce.

Since the settlement and maintenance were most satisfactory, and since I’d been working at two jobs for the best part of the last ten years, I decided that I owed myself a good long holiday somewhere warm and interesting.  My friends all agreed emphatically that this was a very good idea.  They were mostly somewhat surprised, however, when the long sunny holiday that I chose to take was rather a busman’s holiday on an archaeological dig in Egypt.  It was a corporately funded dig which civilians could pay to join, but one was required to have some sort of academic qualification that at least went somewhere close to digging for ancient artefacts.  This way, the company paying for the dig had to pay for less expensive academics.  They just paid a few very well, and they got the job of herding around the enthusiastic amateurs who generally got to do the donkey work.  And pay for the privilege.  It was a win- win situation for the company, really, whoever they were.  If I’m honest, I didn’t really care.  Before I ended up paying my darling ex’s way through uni, I had managed to get a first class degree in Egyptology, so they were very pleased to welcome me aboard.

Oddly enough, despite studying Egyptology, I had never actually visited Egypt, nor had I ever really considered what I would do with my degree once I had finished it.  I studied it because going to university was still regarded as the pinnacle of achievement in our family, and that was what I was interested in.  I had been applying for jobs in museums when matt had decided that he needed a spousal upgrade, so I thought it was about time that I went to the place I had studied for so long.

I met Evan Johnson on the dig.  He was tall and tanned and strong and dusty and funny and clever.  The first time I opened my mouth to speak to him, I squeaked, blushed, cleared my throat and blamed the dust and the heat.  He didn’t bat an eyelid.

It took less than a week of flirting to persuade me that going for a moonlight walk a little way into the desert was the absolutely most perfect thing that I could possibly do at that moment, especially if it was with him.  We made it as far as the first outcrop of rocks before we were tearing each others’ clothes off.  I was an easy mark; I knew and I didn’t care.  As a matter of fact, I embraced my easy mark- ness with a whole and joyful heart.

God, the dig was exciting!  We were in a secluded valley far from the nearest town, but we had supplies brought in regularly, and we were near to an oasis.  It was gorgeous.  Floating in the water at night looking up at the stars made me feel like I was floating through the universe.  By day we would sift through the rocky soil to find artefacts from the settlement that was here in ancient times.  By night we would eat, drink and be merry, and Evan and I would sneak off and have sex in different places in the surrounding desert.  We weren’t the only ones doing that either, I might add.  It wasn’t jackals making those shrieking noises, let me tell you.

There was only one fly in the ointment, and that was the tomb.  It had been discovered a couple of weeks before my arrival, and everyone was on fire with curiosity about it.  Unfortunately Brian, the head archaeologist, wouldn’t let anyone near it.  Apparently, they’d gone in when they’d uncovered it and found that it was unusual in some way, though no- one would say in what way, and now they were waiting for some particular expert or other to finish their current project so they can come over and have a look at it.  It was rumoured that it would be upwards of a month before they would be available.  In the mean time, Brian had had a sturdy wooden door fixed over the entrance and added an even sturdier padlock to make sure that no enthusiastic amateurs went nosing around in there for “just a little look”.  I was as desperate to get inside as anyone else, and one evening, bemoaned my frustration to Evan.  The following evening, we snuck off into the desert when everyone else was busily engaged in a game of charades.  I was surprised when he began leading me toward the rock face where the tomb entrance was.  When I asked him where we were going, since there wasn’t much cover on this side of the camp, he grinned at me and slipped something from his pocket.  It gleamed dully in the starlight, and it took me a moment to work out that he had the key to the door covering the tomb entrance.

I asked him where he got it.  I was excited and horrified in equal measure – I didn’t want to get thrown off the dig, after all.

He chuckled and told me that Brian is a heavy sleeper.

We made our way to the tomb door, and just like that, we were in.

Shutting the door behind us, Evan pulled out his torch and shone it down the passage carved directly into the rock.  It was long and square, and sloped down very gently into the earth.  Carnal thoughts forgotten now, I followed him, and we made our slow way down.  I was utterly thrilled.  I was in an ancient Egyptian tomb and, judging by the decorations on the walls, it was definitely the tomb of some rich bugger.  It seemed to take us a long time to reach the end of the passage, passing several sealed up side chambers as we did so.  The passage turned several corners, and it sort of felt like we were spiralling down into the bowels of the earth.  When we finally did reach the end, I was disappointed.  There was just a blank wall in front of us.  I must have showed it on my face, as Evan chuckled again and told me to press one of the stones in the wall of the passage.  Dubious, I gave it a half- hearted push and, to my surprise and delight, it sank into the wall and the blank rock in front of us moved aside to reveal a chamber.  I think I may have made a noise like ‘squee’ when that happened.  I was so eager, I rushed in like a fool, and Evan strolled in behind me.

The decorations were amazing, mesmerising.  Hieroglyphs everywhere, exquisite representations of Anubis and Osiris decorated each wall.  It was as I was busily looking at these that the torchlight flickered and swung crazily and then the world went black.

 ###

The world is still black.  The only reason that I can see to write in this journal at all is because I’m using the light of my phone’s screen.  It’s quite bright in the absolute dark of this tomb.  I also used my phone’s light to read the hieroglyphs on the walls.  My understanding is shaky at best, but as far as I can decipher, it’s not a burial chamber, it’s a space for ritual sacrifice.  According to what I can make out, the sacrificing of life in this chamber will bestow… something on the person providing the sacrifice.  I can’t work out quite what it means, but it’s something like great power or eternal life, or some other such bullshit.  But the intended recipient of the …gift or whatever it is… cannot have blood on their hands.  So the sacrifice either has to starve to death, or take their own life.

He left a knife in the corner.

Advertisements