Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase

Part Twenty-Four-

Ahmed grinned. “I’ve had sort of the same thing happen to me. I got lost hiking in Peru. Must have stepped off the trail I was supposed to be following, ended up wandering deeper into the jungle. Found a faint path leading in the direction I knew I had to be taking.”

Jamil watched Ahmed’s face as he recounted his tale and noticed how his gaze seemed to turn in as though he were seeing the jungle around him. Hutchinson didn’t say a word, but he looked as fascinated as Jamil felt. Has he never heard this story before? I thought they were friends.

“The whole time I walked, it was dark and cool under the canopy. I could only see glimpses of the sun through the leaves. It was as though the entire forest watched me while I wandered through their world.” Ahmed shrugged. “I mean I know I was being watched by the monkeys and other animals that live in there, but this was a different feeling. There was a weight behind those eyes.”

“A weight?” Hutchinson asked.

Jamil wanted to punch him for speaking. He was afraid it would drag Ahmed out of his memories and Jamil wanted to hear the whole experience.

Ahmed met Hutchinson’s gaze and something passed between them. “Yes, a weight of centuries as if the person watching me had been in the jungle for longer than I had been alive. As though it had been around at the birth of the world.”

“A god,” Hutchinson whispered, drawing a nod from Ahmed.

As much as Jamil wanted to scoff at the idea of there being hidden gods, he couldn’t. While he wasn’t sure he believed in any gods, he had seen how strong the belief in one could be. Hell, people were dying in the name of their god all over the world right now.

Ahmed exhaled like he’d been holding his breath. “The path led to a temple. It should’ve been abandoned, out there in the middle of nowhere, but there was no dirt anywhere as though a monk—or worshiper—had just swept it out minutes before I arrived. None of the vines had invaded the stones. No animals had made nests in the walls or on the altar. It was pristine.”

“That’s unusual. If it hadn’t been discovered yet, the rainforest should have been reclaiming it after all the centuries.” Jamil had seen quite a few temples like that in Thailand and India. Also, Mexico and South America, where they were still discovering ancient cities under the cover of the foliage.

“You’re right. It wasn’t on any tourist map for the hiking trails and I’m pretty sure no guide would’ve ever taken anyone there. The path was worn but faint. There weren’t any footprints besides mine that day. I suppose they could’ve come in from a different direction, but I looked around before I left and didn’t see any signs of someone else being there.” Ahmed stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I went in to pray and leave an offering on the altar. As I left, a cool breeze brushed by my cheek, which was unusual because it had been hot and humid the entire day with no real wind to speak of.”

Both Jamil and Hutchinson nodded. Jamil had had experiences like that before and in his deepest soul, he believed it was a spirit letting him know they were around. Whether that spirit was a god or not, he didn’t know.

“The god was saying thank you for me acknowledging its presence. It was thanking me for taking a few minutes out of my day to pray to it. After I left, it was almost as if a trail appeared that hadn’t been there a moment ago. I took it and within thirty minutes was back on the path I was supposed to have been on all along.” Ahmed shot them a shy smile. “It’s something I’ve never forgotten.”

Jamil couldn’t resist. He laid his hand on Ahmed’s arm. “You shouldn’t. Every time you relive that moment, you’re ensuring the spirit—or god—isn’t forgotten and as long as there’s one person in the world who still thinks about them, they’ll never disappear.”

Ahmed nodded. “That’s why, no matter where I am, if there is a temple, church, or just a simple altar somewhere, I take a minute to say a prayer to the universe. It builds karma points and I never know when I might need those.”

Hutchinson laughed. “We all need those from time to time.”

“Right. Now we need to get moving,” Ahmed said, shaking off the spell of his memories. “Jamil, talk to the others and decide where else you’re going to dig today. I think we should leave the anteroom alone until tomorrow. Allow the negative energy to dissipate before you do any more.”

It was a good idea. “I might have Sandy and Eesha go back to the city with me. I want to get a start on sorting and cataloging the artifacts we’ve already found. The rest can take the day off. They’ve been working hard and deserve it.”

He watched as Hutchinson started to walk off. Ahmed bent to brush a kiss over Jamil’s cheek.

“I’ll get a ride back to the city with Thomas. Call me to check in before you leave though. I’d like to know where you are. Then when I return, I’ll find you.” Ahmed motioned toward the caves. “If we find anything, I’ll let you know and you can decide what to do with it.”

“Thank you. Be safe, both of you,” he raised his voice to make sure Hutchinson heard him.

The other man raised his hand in acknowledgement but didn’t turn back. Jamil chuckled. “He is an ass, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but he has his usefulness and his good points.” Ahmed squeezed Jamil’s hand before he left.

“What the hell happened, Jamil?” Sandy didn’t even wait to get close before she asked.

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Let me give everyone else the day off then we can talk,” he promised his best friend.

2 Responses “Anubis”

  1. Clarissa Johnston says:

    loving this one!..Will we ever see this one on e-books to purhcase? Would love to add it to my collection!

  2. josexpressions says:

    loved it – thanks, T.A. 🙂

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