Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Two-

Jamil shot a quick look over at Ahmed as they drove up to the parking lot where he’d leave his truck. Ahmed hadn’t said a word once they got on the highway to head to Petra, and that worried Jamil. Why wasn’t he talking? Did he think Jamil should be removed from the dig? They climbed out of the vehicle and there were two police officers there to greet them.

“Dr. Ahlid, I must admit I don’t like meeting like this,” The older of the officers said as they approached.

“I know.” Jamil shook hands with him. “Officer Kahsa, this is Doctor Ahmed Al Hazzan. He’s a consulant with UNESCO who arrived two days ago to check on our progress, plus look at some of the artifacts we’ve discovered.”

“Doctor.” Kahsa shook hands with Ahmed. He didn’t bother introducing the young man with him. “We’ve cordoned off the room and left the ‘offering’ there until you could look at it. Our technicians have already taken all the photos we need.”

“Is it the same as last time?” Jamil grabbed his backpack out of the truck then locked it before he motioned for Kahsa to lead the way. He rubbed his suddenly sweaty palms on his jeans. Why was he nervous? Or was it worry?

“Yes. Also exactly except there is more blood.” Kahsa frowned. “I’m not sure if it is animal—or human—blood yet. Our labs will be able to let us know. I told them to rush it since we need to know just how dangerous this person is.”

Ahmed cleared his throat. “Oh, I can almost guarantee that it’s going to be human.”

Both Jamil and Kahsa shot him questioning glances and Ahmed shrugged.

“If they are worshipping the people who used to live here before the Nabataeans, then they will wish to continue their practices of human sacrifice.” Ahmed wrinkled his nose. “At one time, humans believed spilling their own blood would bring favor from the gods. Little did they realize the gods don’t care about humans. They only see them as their playthings.”

Jamil tucked the information away in his brain to bring out when they were alone again. How did Ahmed know these things? Just how much did Ahmed’s tribe know about the people who lived at Petra before the Nabataeans? And why hadn’t they ever talked about the society to anyone? It would be a huge discover, just like the canopic jars Jamil had found.

Kahsa made a subtle gesture as though he were warding himself against something. “You shouldn’t speak with such disrespect for the gods.”

“Do you still believe in the old ones? I thought you would be a convert to Allah or the Christian god.” Ahmed studied Kahsa as though he were an interesting bug he’d uncovered.

“I believe in taking no chances. I worship at my mosque, but I also don’t talk ill of any god. You never know who is listening.” Kahsa waved his hand in a vague motion to encompass the canyons around them. “The old gods might not be visible, but I don’t think they disappeared when the new ones moved in.”

Ahmed grunted, looking pained for a moment, and reached up to rub his temple. “You could be right about that, Officer. I’ll try to temper my speech when I’m with you. I wouldn’t want to get you in trouble with any god.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” Kahsa inclined his head slightly.

“Hey, wait up.”

They whirled around and Jamil was shocked to see Thomas Hutchinson come jogging up to them. He shared a look with Ahmed whose expression could only be called resigned.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” Kahsa confronted Hutchinson.

Hutchinson stopped next to them, leaning over to catch his breath. Once he could talk, he said, “I’m Dr. Thomas Hutchinson. I’m a consultant for UNESCO. I came to help with translating some of the objects found here. Ahmed text me about the violation and I thought I’d come out to see it for myself. I might be able to help out.”

Jamil turned to Ahmed. “You text him?”

Shrugging, Ahmed said, “I thought it might be wise to have another set of eyes when we looked at the scene. For all his arrogance, Thomas is very observant and he might see something we would miss.”

“Are there any more coming to join us, Dr. Ahlid?” Kahsa didn’t sound happy, but he obviously wasn’t going to keep Hutchinson from going with them.

“Not that I know of. Let’s go. The sooner we get there and check it out, the sooner we can clean it up and get back to work.” Jamil scrubbed his hand over his face. “I’m already two days behind schedule from the first time. Now this one is going to put me even further behind.”

“You have two more sets of hands,” Hutchinson pointed out, slapping Jamil’s back. “Ahmed might not like grubbing in the dirt anymore, but I’m more than happy to help out. Maybe with us, we can get you back on schedule.”

Ahmed moved to put himself between Jamil and Hutchinson, forcing the other man to take his hand from Jamil’s shoulder. “I never said I didn’t like digging, Thomas. I simply haven’t had any opportunity to do it lately. I think you need to keep quiet. We are here on sufferance from Jamil and Officer Kahsa. If they wish, they can deny us access to the site.”

Like Jamil was going to keep either one of them from it. Ahmed knew more than he was saying about the jars and the forgotten society who once ruled Petra. Jamil wanted that knowledge, along with finding out how Ahmed knew it. The other reason he wouldn’t kick them out was because both worked for UNESCO and if they wanted to, they could go to the board and tell them to revoke permission for Jamil’s dig. He didn’t want that. Digging at Petra was a once in a lifetime chance for him. One he wasn’t about to lose, even if it meant he had to deal with Hutchinson.

One Response “Anubis”

  1. great excerpt…thanks, T.A.! have a nice weekend.

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