The Staff of Moses – Chapter 22


“…it mean?” The voice was strangely familiar, but Oliver couldn’t place it.

“I don’t know. You’re looking at the ravings of a dead man. It might not mean anything.” Diana’s voice. She sounded afraid.

Oliver’s head felt heavy. What the hell happened? He was laying face down on a hard surface covered in sand.

Another voice. This one also strangely familiar. “Let us give her some incentive.”

A pause.

Oliver heard the sound of feet crunching on sand coming close to him. A sharp pain bloomed in his side and he jerked sideways, letting out an involuntary shout. Oliver’s eyes popped open and he found himself looking at Diana.

She was sitting with her back against the wall, her feet bound with white plastic zip ties, her arms pulled behind her. He assumed that they were bound as well. The side of her head was bloodied and the blush of a bruise was already developing just below her hairline, but she didn’t appear to have been severely injured.

Turning his head slowly back and forth, Oliver saw a familiar man dressed in bloodied desert camouflage sitting against the opposite wall while a similarly dressed man finished applying a bandage to his right shoulder. A set of booted feet stood beside Oliver and, as he watched, one drew back and swung forward sharply to kick him in the side again.

He coughed and groaned.

“What about it Ms. Jordan? Does this bring any thoughts to mind?”

Oliver recognized the voice now. He looked up past the booted foot that had kicked him, along the thick leg, and past the protruding belly to the face of Rais Karim.

“How the hell did you get out here?” Oliver croaked.

Rais looked down at Oliver and grinned. Despite his clean-shaven face and white teeth, the curve of his lips and glint in his eye made it an unpleasant sight. “So our little tomb robber decided to wake up at last. Looks like I’m still a bit more than a deposed bureaucrat after all.”

Oliver blinked and tried to clear his head. How did Rais Karim get here? And what happened to Frank’s shoulder? 

Frank. That name brought it together for Oliver.

The wounded man on the floor was named Frank. He was a mercenary who had been part of the scheme to sell relics captured from a secret vault in the Cairo museum. Frank and his cohorts had double crossed whoever paid them to retrieve the relics and attempted to sell them on the black market instead. All of this came back to Oliver in a rush, but it still didn’t explain how they had known to come here.

Another voice spoke. Oliver turned his head and recognized Frank’s partner in crime and business, Kyle. “What about it, Ms. Jordan. Still having trouble translating that text?”

Diana twisted in her restraints and looked pleadingly at Oliver. He did his best to smile and give her a little nod. “There’s no point hiding anything, Diana,” he said. “If they plan on killing us, there’s nothing we can do to stop them. Make yourself useful, and you might get out of this alive.”