The Curse of King Khaba
Nighttime cast long shadows over the Pyramids of Giza. Panya and Ramla stood in the shelter of the smallest structure. Pressing her hands to the cool stone, Ramla shook her head. “No. This is the wrong place.”
Panya kicked the ground and a puff of red sand sprayed his sister. “It was a long shot,” he said. “Professor Naguib told us not to waste our time.”
“Hey,” said Ramla, nudging her brother’s shoulder, “Khaba may not be buried here, but he isn’t far. I saw it in my dreams, remember? And my dreams are always right.”
When Panya smiled, his teeth shone white in the moonlight. He brushed his dark hair from his eyes and made eye contact. “I know, Ramla. I just really need this, you know? I’m tired of being the mouse of the family. I’m an archeologist. I have to discover something.”
“And you will, brother. I predict it.” Taking his hand, she said, “Come. The Layer Pyramid is about eight miles southwest of here. The sun has only just set, so we can get there in time to investigate.”
The heater in Panya’s car had stopped working a few months ago, and his lack of significant discoveries meant he didn’t have the money to repair it. Shivering, Ramla grabbed her jumper from the back seat.
The eight mile journey didn’t take long. They had to park the car about a five minute walk from the pyramid. As soon as it came into sight, Ramla shouted, “This is it!” Turning to her brother, she continued, “He’s here, Panya. It’s exactly like it was in my dream.”
Panya’s dark eyes widened. “Really? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. We need to get to the east side. There will be a hidden entrance there.”
Running ahead, leaving a trail of footprints in the compacted sand, Panya made it to the east side of the pyramid. “Okay, so where do I need to look?”
Standing with her hand on her chin, she surveyed the mound of rubble that she was told used to be a pyramid. She walked around, trailing her hand on the stone. Panya tutted and muttered under his breath.
“Here!” she exclaimed. “We need to moved these rocks away. There will be a small hole, just large enough for you to climb into. But you must be careful. No one has entered this part of the pyramid. The structure could be unsafe.”
“Yeah yeah. I hear you. Now, come on, let’s clear the way.”
Quickly, they tore the stones away from the groundwork. When a small hole revealed itself, they both took a step back, lost for words.
After a minute, Panya said, “Okay. Well, I guess this is it. Wish me luck.” As he knelt and prepared to climb into the tomb, he turned to his sister and said, “Ramla, if I’m not out in an hour, maybe you should get help.”
Nodding, she said, “Oh, you’ll be out. Don’t fear. I will see your face again.”
As Panya disappeared inside the Layer Pyramid, Ramla sat on the desert floor and leaned against the rough stonework. Closing her eyes, pictures from her dream danced in front of her. She hadn’t lied to Panya. He would resurface from this pyramid, and his discovery would be hailed the greatest of the new millennium. It was only the tiniest detail she had left out: the price her brother would pay.
Inside the tomb, sounds of screaming, then two voices, fading to one. A shuffling from the entrance forced Ramla to her feet. When Panya’s head emerged first, she smiled and breathed out her relief. There were no signs of a struggle about his person. His dark eyes were still the ones she knew and loved. “Panya,” she said and rushed to help him stand.
“He’s there, Ramla. I found him. Look, I took photos on my phone. I shall be world-famous.”
As he spoke, his eyes shone with excitement. Slowly, their dark chocolate melted into yellow, then green. A sharp intake of breath, and Ramla stumbled backwards. “No.” Taking the phone from her brother, her mouth fell open as she studied the photos of the great Pharaoh.
The first showed the sarcophagus, still in tact. But the following photos terrified her. At first, it looked like a blur; like her brother had moved as he took the photo. But the blur quickly morphed into the face of a man she didn’t recognise. Finally, the selfie. Panya had turned the phone on himself. Only, it wasn’t his face. It belonged to another, older man with long, raven hair.
“Panya,” she said, looking up at her brother. Her mouth fell open, and she shook her head. “The curse,” she whispered.
When he spoke, his voice was too low. “Ramla, you have been most helpful in achieving my goal. I knew all I had to do was wait for you to unlock my body from this dark tomb. You were always my destiny.”
He moved toward her, with outstretched arms. The red dust pounded under her feet as she ran back to the car. Once inside, she locked the doors and turned the ignition key. She knew how the curse ended, and it wasn’t well for her beloved Egypt. I should never have led my brother to this place, she thought as she revved the engine. When the figure who was no longer her brother came into sight, she reversed, then accelerated forwards as fast as she could.
The thud when she hit him jolted her backward, and pain shot through her neck. Peering over the bonnet, she saw the lifeless body of her brother. There was no sign of King Khaba. Her brother’s olive skin, tainted with red, forced her to let out a cry.
The curse had been broken. King Khaba remained dead. Egypt is safe. Cradling her brother’s limp body, she wept. But my heart is broken.