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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)

TITLE: Grave Robbers
By Peter Stone


Neferet shrieked and flung herself backwards in the semi-darkness.

Teman caught her and slammed her bodily against the upward slopping passageway wall. “Keep it together woman!” he snapped at her.

Neferet frantically wiped her hands on her long, dishevelled robe. “It was a scorpion! It could have stung me!”

“I care because...?” Teman snarled as he thrust his face into hers.

Burly Gatam grabbed Teman by the locks of his hair and yanked him roughly away from the woman. “We need her, you idiot, she can read the hieroglyphs.”

Teman’s right hand wandered to the bronze knife strapped to his kilt, rebellious emotions playing over his scarred face.

Gatam’s face, looking eerie in the flickering light from the torches, smiled widely. “You want to take me now, Teman? I’ve lead our band for fifteen years, and we’ve robbed two pyramids under my expert leadership. And here we are, finally in the heart of the greatest one of them all, and now you want me? Come on then!”

But as aggressive as he was, Teman was also not stupid. His hand moved away from his knife. But he could not resist grabbing Neferet by the hand and propelling her up the passage in front of him.

The grave robbers and Egyptian woman they had forced to come with them continued to ascend the gently sloping passage. They had studied this pyramid carefully for a month before finding the secret entrance that allowed them access to its interior.

The greatest thrill had been stumbling across this upward sloping passageway, something they had never heard mentioned before. The other smaller pyramids they had raided certainly did not contain such a passage.

Holding their flickering torches high they continued to ascend until the passage reached a large chamber, about ten cubits wide and twenty long.

“Spread out and hold up your torches.” Gatam shouted.

The torch bearers spread themselves around the stark walled room, and the fire light revealed a large but plain, rectangular red granite sarcophagus filling the centre of the room, its lid sitting firmly in place.

“This one is not like the others,” Neferet said quietly as she walked respectfully over to the large stone coffer.

“Explain yourself woman. Why must you always speak in stupid riddles!” Gatam growled as he and Teman also walked over to the coffer. He ran his hands over the smooth red stone.

“This sarcophagus, in fact, this whole room,” began Neferet carefully, “contains none of my people’s hieroglyphs.”

“Humph,” snorted Gatam, “I really don’t care. Let’s just get this lid off the coffer and see what loot the mummy has got with him.”

Gatan, Teman, and two of the torch bearers grunted as they carefully lifted the stone lid off the
sarcophagus and lay it on the floor.

Gatan swore, Teman just stood there stupified. The sarcophagus was empty.

No mummy, no gold, no jewels, completely empty except for one stone tablet.

Neferet overcame her fear of the grave robbers, grabbed a burning torch from one of them, and clambered into the coffer to pick up the stone tablet. She ran her hand along the simple hieroglyphs and read it quietly to herself.

The hairs on the back of Gatan’s neck stood up and he took a step back, suddenly terrified beyond words as an awesome, strange Presence filled the chamber. A glance at Teman and the porters showed them all to be unnerved as well. They all felt unworthy, unclean, as though their sinful, violent lives were being laid bare before them.

“What does the tablet say, damn you woman!” Gatam snarled at her while glancing over his shoulder, expecting ghosts to appear to strike him down.

Neferet rose her head high and smiled. The grave robbers all took another step back in fear. “Its hieroglyphs are very simple, more so than my peoples. But I can read it. It is all about a man, the man who built this pyramid. I can’t read his name symbol, so I’ll just call him ‘the man’. It reads like this, “The man walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away.”

The Presence of God in the chamber magnified tenfold and all the grave robbers ran screaming from the room, leaving Neferet by herself, kneeling in the sarcophagus and clutching the stone tablet to her breast. She rose her eyes heavenward, “Yahweh, God of Israel, provider of the Israeli Sacred Scrolls, Your Word is true. Enoch is not here…”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/03/07
Wow, I sure wasn't expecting that ending!

This reads like a movie--well done.
Jacquelyn Horne06/04/07
This is very well written. I'm not into enjoying such, but that doesn't take away from the craftmanship here.
Marty Wellington 06/05/07
Loved the action and suspense here and surprise ending. One suggestion: the phrase "I care, because . . ." has a very modern day ring to it. Not sure when you're wanting this to take place, but when the characters spoke I got a feeling of present day slang, which might not be appropriate if this happened long ago. Just a thought for you. Otherwise, this was a very enjoyable read. I loved it.
Joanne Sher 06/06/07
Great sense of place. Fascinating, and I loved your ending.
David Butler06/07/07
What an awesome story foreshadowing the empty tomb of the Greatest One of all! Well thought through. So well written!
Val Clark06/09/07
An enjoyable read. Good sense of place and characterisation with convincing dialogue. Just one comment on dialogue tags: 'he snapped at her.' You don't need to write 'at her' because the reader knows who is being addressed. Well done in placing second in Level 2.
yeggy from Darwin.