Chapter 54


Kitty was beginning to worry about Bartimaeus. He was too silent for his usual self...Usually you couldn't get the djinni to shut up. But no, on the plane he was about as talkative as a doorknob. She desperately wanted to hear the sound of his voice–through force of habit–although she didn't try to get him to speak. She understood that his essence was under more strain than usual under the confines of the metal aircraft.

Ptolemy, on the other hand, was quite the talker. Kitty smiled politely and tried to answer all his questions, but some were just too erratic. When this happened, she just tried to answer it to her best knowledge. He was an adorable boy (for some reason, she could never get man to stick,) but he asked too many questions for his own good.

After a while, Bartimaeus nodded off. This surprised Kitty, since djinn weren't supposed to need sleep. She tried to act as though it hadn't bothered her. While Bartimaeus was still sleeping, Ptolemy insisted on talking about personalities. He was very polite, but didn't actually know when silence was due. Kitty reasoned her presence was unnerving him, or the thought of being up in the sky so high. This was his first piece of twenty-first century technology, and Kitty could tell he didn't like it.

Time took its toll, though, weighing on Ptolemy's eyelids until he finally closed them and drifted off into a heavy sleep. Kitty sighed after she was sure he had left consciousness, leaned back, stretched her legs a little. Ptolemy's questions eventually took their toll on her–she was a solitary creature, used to living alone instead of entertaining company. She honestly had no idea how Ptolemy was able to talk to much.

Slowly, her thought processes came to a lull, and her head suddenly began to feel very heavy. Allowing her head to roll back onto her chair, Kitty stifled a yawn and closed her eyes.

As soon as beautiful REM sleep had opened its door to greet her, Ptolemy awoke and shook her a little. "Kitty," he asked softly, whispering in her ear.

"Mm? Wha? ...Go away!" She tried to bat his hand away, but he was persistent.

"It's Bartimaeus," Ptolemy hissed, pointing to her left. "Look!"

Kitty looked over and almost gasped when she realized Bartimaeus was–sleeping?–and allowing his form to change. "Bartimaeus!" She hissed, not daring to touch the djinni. From the waist down, his form had milted into a smoky fog, so much so that she could only barely make out the female's shape. "Bartimaeus!" She repeated, a little louder this time. The djinni snorted and rolled a little. "Barty?" Kitty attempted a goad, though her jeer fell on deaf ears. "Bartimaeus!" The minute she placed a hand on his arm, his eyes shot open.

"Hmm? Kitty, if I were human, I'd count this as sexual harassment."

Kitty rolled her eyes. "Bartimaeus, please! You fell asleep, and you're letting your form slip."

Bartimaeus looked down to his lap, following her gaze. "Oh." He sounded uncomfortable as he solidified his form. "Oops." He shifted under her stare.

"I thought djinn don't need sleep?" Kitty asked, completely oblivious to his embarrassment.

"We don't need sleep," the djinni corrected, "but we can sleep."

"If you don't need it, why'd you fall like a rock?" She folded her arms, unsatisfied with his answer.

"I was...comfortable." The woman frowned deeply, analyzing. "Sleep's good every now and again." There was a long pause before he asked, "How long was I out?"

Kitty checked her watch. "About twenty-four hours." At that exact moment, the piolet announced on his intercom that they'd be landing momentarily. He asked that they fasten their seatbelts for safety, and thanked them for choosing that airline. Kitty helped Ptolemy buckle his seatbelt, moved to her own.

Then a thought hit her. "Listen, Ptolemy, Bartimaeus...don't expect things to be exactly the same as they were when you last saw them." She bit her lower lip in anxiety.

"I know," Bartimaeus responded glumly as he changed his form into that of a flea. "More than half of me doesn't want to see it at all."

"This is the only option we have," Kitty reminded him, her voice a whisper.

The plane landed, came to a halt. The piolet gave the okay for them to depart, and the attendant guided passengers to the exit. Before they reached it, Bartimaeus cast a small Glamor on Ptolemy, making it seem as though he were wearing typical English clothing. Then they took their leave.

All around them, people moved; some buying tickets out of the country, tourists coming in, commuters running to their flights before it left without them. The noise level around them was nearly unendurable. Kitty held onto Ptolemy's hand tightly as she fought her way through the crowd, searching for their benefactor, Gohar Younas.

The lines were longer than any Kitty had ever seen before; it seemed the entire country, and its visitors, were cramming themselves into this one area. The noises and sheer amount of people pushed a claustrophobic wave over Kitty, and nearly gained control had it not been for the sound of Bartimaeus' voice in her ear. "Thirty-seven degrees behind us is a man holding up a sign with your name on it. Our dear benefactor."

Kitty turned to look and, exactly as Bartimaeus had said, noticed a young man holding up a sign with her false identity, Clara Bell. She debated with herself for the briefest of moments, then set off in his direction.

He saw them coming and smiled. It might have been her imagination, but Kitty thought his teeth looked too white to be natural, the canines too sharp. And was that a tint of yellow in his irises?

Kitty pushed down those suspicions, for now, and put on a cheesy smile for the benefactor. He was of a muscular build, but only a few inches taller than she. His skin was as ash white, a hue that unnerved Kitty somehow.

Immediately, she didn't trust hi.

He spoke first. "Welcome to Egypt, Ms. Bell. I've been awaiting your arrival." He lowered his head respectfully, then turned to Ptolemy. "And who, praytell, is this? I'm certain we have never met before, but your semblance is uncanny..." He bowed his head again.

"My name is...Nathaniel," Ptolemy whispered, bowing his head as well. "And no, I have not had the pleasure of meeting you prior to this day."

The benefactor nodded, the two of them raised their heads. "I must tell you, friends, that Gohar Younas is not my real name. I am Hector Bartholomeu. Come, let us discuss the issues at present elsewhere." He moved away, and Kitty followed, her grip on Ptolemy's hand stronger than ever.


This is the first chapter where my most recent writing style becomes incorporated with the older style, the older chapters. I hope this flows well. Please tell me what you think, and let me know if there's anything I should consider revising.