Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)
TITLE: The Unexpected Tourist
By Dolores Stohler
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“Worthless junk,” she said, rising to gather what remained of the ill-fated book and toss it into the trash. “I need some excitement in my life but I don’t think I’m going to get it vicariously.” Thoughtfully, she picked up the paper she’d been reading earlier that day and opened to the ads for guided tours. Using a magic marker, she had drawn a large circle around an ad for a cruise down the Nile and a tour of the great pyramids of Egypt. With a cry of decision, Wilma picked up her cell phone and dialed the number of the tour company.
“So you’re actually going to Egypt!” breathed her friend Marian, wide-eyed with wonder. “What an exotic choice! I‘ve never been out of the U.S.”
“Well, Africa is the final frontier for me. When Bill and I were missionaries, we lived on several different continents and I enjoyed it. I find it hard to settle down and be a proper little widow.”
“Well, I hope you enjoy yourself. Egypt will be hot and sultry. Better take that big straw hat of yours.”
* * * * * * *
Several weeks later, Wilma found herself in Luxor with a tour group, sweltering under a blistering sun and carrying a straw handbag to match her hat. The hat covered a shock of bright red hair and wrap-around sunglasses hid some of the freckles on her nose. She looked much younger than her 56 years but the group she traveled with were all over 60.
The cruise ship was overcrowded with tourists complaining about the heat. Well, what did they expect, she thought irritably. She personally enjoyed the view of sandstone cliffs bordering the shore and occasionally caught a glimpse of a camel caravan plodding across the desert.
Outside the Temple at Luxor, the view was spoiled by a MacDonald’s that stood directly opposite. Wilma clucked her tongue and hurried towards the temple ahead of her fellow travellers.
Inside, the temple felt cool and inviting. She passed through the pylons of Ramesses II and into the great room where the pharaoh held court. Then, moving to the adjoining mosque, she paused at the entrance. Three men stood within, speaking in hushed tones. One was an American and Wilma‘s ears were sharp, so she picked up what he was saying.
“I delivered the bomb to Ahmad. He leaves for New York tomorrow and I will follow and make sure the explosion takes place.” Shock hit Wilma momentarily. Then she quickly retreated, but not before the speaker had spotted her and she caught a glimpse of his startled eyes.
She was terrified. Without stopping to think, she turned and ran, passing through the colonade and into the Court of Amenhotep. No other tourist was in sight. She could hear the sound of her sandals clicking against the tiles as she ran and something else, too--the beat of six feet in hot pursuit. In her haste, she brushed against something and lost her hat. With heart in throat and breathing hard, she labored on.
She thought she was losing them but on she raced, through the Hypostyle Hall and into the Chapel to Khonsu, passing four very startled tourists.
At last! A place to hide! Dropping behind a very large altar, she crouched there in fear, holding her breath. Much to her relief, her pursuers ran past her into the portico. Wasting no time now, she sprang to her feet and retraced her route through both courts and the colonade until at last she came to rest in front of her startled tour guide.
“Oh, please,” she pleaded, almost falling to her knees in relief. “I heard something dreadful. I need to talk to the authorities.”
At the American Embassy, she related her experience and saw them take her seriously. “Ahmad will be found,” the ambassador reassured her.
On her return trip, she opened a newspaper and read how the CIA had foiled a plot to bomb the White House, taking into custody a man named Ahmad. No mention was made of Wilma. “Ah, well, I’ve had my adventure,” she thought, smiling happily.
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