INDIANA JONES AND THE CURSE OF THE NILE
By Roy Fitzsimmonds
October 10th 1940
Lord Barker sighed. He leaned back in his heavy, buttoned leather chair, the smooth, shiny surface making odd noises as he moved. He placed the fingertips of his hands together and flexed his joints and looked around his study, his gaze washing over the paneled seventeenth century walls, the valuable paintings, the expensive antique furniture.
Outside the heavily draped windows the sounds of traffic moving in Whitehall could be heard. Big Ben chimed eleven in the distance. Lord barker took his gold half hunter from his breast pocket and checked the time. He sighed again and put the watch back. It showed the correct time. He knew it would but he had checked it anyway. He was bored. He had an important cabinet meeting at noon and he was reasonably up to date with his various papers. His permanent secretary had been in to remind him of an evening dinner appointment and he mentally ticked off the items of clothing he would wear. Not only women worried about their appearance. It was an important dinner. He was hoping to hear,(unofficially of course), about his pending appointment to the Ministry of Defence : The War office, as it was currently being called.
It was a major step up the ladder and he knew his radical ideas about the war was instrumental in his rapid rise. He smiled inwardly. At forty nine, he would be one of the youngest Ministers of defence to have served in His Majesty's Government.
"A parcel for you, sir." A tall thin man said from the doorway. Lord Barker had hardly heard his door open.
"Thank you, Evesham." He replied, taking the small package and placing it on his desk. Evesham closed the door. Lord Barker stared at the nondescript looking parcel. There was no postage.
"Delivered by hand." He thought as he cut the string binding and unwrapped the brown paper. Inside was a smallish card box with a lift off lid, not unlike a shoe box. Lord Barker removed the lid and lifted out an object rolled in oilskin. He hefted the item in his hands. Not particularly heavy. He unrolled the oilskin to reveal a small statuette of a sitting cat. The piece looked waxy, almost damp. He took the object in his hand and put the oilskin in the box as he studied the statuette.
Almost instantly, he dropped the cat to the floor. His hand was burning where he had held the figure. He scratched frantically at the skin but stopped dead in his tracks when a deep, resonant voice said to him,
"You have defiled the Queens rest. For that, you must die."
His head snapped up to see a tall dark figure clad solely in dirty brown strips of rag. Tattered fragments of skin clung to an exposed skull. The eye sockets were empty. Lord Barker began to scream and back away, a look of total terror masking his face. He shielded his eyes from the vision but still he could see the advancing nightmare. The figure looked at him blindly, the skin parched on the face, taught shreds of hair barely attached to the dry, cracked skull.
The heart attack was massive.
Evesham burst into the office to find Lord Barker slumped over a crushed card box on the desk. The small statuette lay on the floor. Otherwise, the room was empty.
Chapter1. Don't touch.
October 24th, 1940
It was 4.30 in the afternoon on a cold, wet day. Leaves rustled loudly on sweeping branches as they showered raindrops on passers by, stooped, huddled into their collars and scarves. The college campus was quiet, save the odd students running, coats held over their heads, toward the museum faculty.
Inside, all was quiet, in a library kind of way. Various college Professors and students stood in groups here and there studying some artefact or relic as the lecturer went about his business of explaining the significance of the particular piece.
One such group stood listening attentively to their Professor as he held up a small squat green jade figure.
He was tall, dark haired and had a weather-beaten kind of rugged handsomeness that the girl students adored, and the boys envied but admired. He wore glasses at times but this only highlighted his look of worldly wisdom.
"So find out about this piece, where it was FIRST discovered and make sure you talk about its' significance over the other pieces. Work to be in next Wednesday." Then, as if remembering something, he added, "Make it Thursday. Morning." Then he smiled and said, "Class over for today. If you want to see me about your dissertations I'll be in my office all day tomorrow."
A gentle murmur of idle chatter broke out among the students as they drifted away in various directions, some passing a much shorter, stocky older man walking toward them.
The Professor looked up from packing papers into a worn, shabby old brief case. The shorter man smiled and said, "Indy, I was looking for you. I didn't know you were taking a lesson in Japanese artefacts." He gestured around at the section of the museum they were standing in.
"Hello Marcus." Indy replied. "Just catching up on some missing work from last semester."
Marcus smiled, recalling Indy's three month absence a short time ago when he was off chasing the past once again.
"Want a coffee?" Indy said, hefting his heavy briefcase and moving toward the main door.
"Actually, there are some men coming to see you. That's why I've been looking for you."
Indy screwed up his nose and said, "Now what. Whenever anyone wants to see me it usually leads to trouble."
Marcus laughed. "Don't be such a pessimist." He said. "They have come all the way from England. The British Museum, in fact." Indy's face brightened. The British Museum was known the world over and anyone from such a distinguished place would surely be worth listening to. It also boosted Indy's ego somewhat to think that people of such eminence would travel so far to see him in particular.
"I wonder what they want to see me about." He said, holding the main door for Marcus, then himself running for the museum office building some fifty yards away, trying desperately to reach the door and shelter and escape the now torrential rain.
Indy reached the door first and burst through, closely followed by Marcus, both yelling childishly and feeling very foolish about their behaviour. Marcus bent forward, leaning on his knees, gasping and laughing at the same time.
"You're getting old." Indy joked, himself breathing deeply and feeling his age. He wasn't twenty one any more.
"Doctor Jones?" Said a dry voice, with a very British accent.
Indy and Marcus were snapped back to reality instantly and Marcus coughed to cover his apparent embarrassment.
Indy wasn't so easily flustered. He stood up straight, some six inches taller than his new visitor, brushed wet hair from his face and said, "And you sir, are who?"
The man was of medium build and wore a dark suit of expensive tailoring. His shoes were so clean and shiny they almost seemed to be impervious to rain and looked completely dry regardless of the fact it had been raining steadily all day. He wore small, steel rimmed glasses which he removed and polished between finger and thumb with his handkerchief.
"My name is Smith. Graham Smith. I am Professor of Egyptology at the British Museum."
"I was told you would be arriving tomorrow." Said Marcus.
Indy gave a sly smile and said, "I know you British are always supposed to be on time, but don't you think this taking things a bit far?"
Professor Smith smiled, taking Indy's proffered hand and shaking it warmly. "I'm afraid this is no laughing matter, Dr. Jones. Serious events are afoot and I need your help. I am afraid I feel that I can't trust anyone else."
Marcus gestured down the corridor to Indy's office and led the way.
"Sit down, Professor Smith." Said Indy as they entered his small, crowded study. Smith looked around at the piles of books and papers and thought how untidy it was compared to the ordered neatness of his own office in London. He sat on the chair Indy indicated as he himself sat on the corner of his desk. Marcus went to a constantly bubbling coffee percolator and poured three cups without asking. He passed one to Indy and one to Professor Smith, then took a long slow sip from his own.
The moments silence was broken by Indy as he said, "And what are these 'serious events' you speak of?"
Smith sipped his coffee and stared at the surface of the liquid in his cup for a moment. Then he looked up, first at Indy, then at Marcus.
"Do you know much about Cleopatra?" He looked at Indy for an answer.
"Sure." He replied.
"Queen of the Nile. Around fifty BC if I recall.
"Sixty eight to thirty BC actually."
Indy and Professor Smith both turned to look at Marcus, who had just spoken.
"Very good, Dr. Brody." Said Professor Smith. Indy nodded, smiling.
Smith continued, saying, "Cleopatra ascended to the throne after the death of her father, Ptolemy XII in fifty one BC. She was famed, as I am sure you will know, for her incredible beauty."
Indy interrupted him, adding, " She became Julius Caesars mistress and gave him a son."
Marcus then added, excitedly, "He was called Caesarius and because he was delivered by cutting into the Queens womb, we have the word Caesarean."
Professor Smith was impressed.
"I can see I have come to the right place. You two obviously know your Egyptology."
Both Indy and Marcus smiled. The Professors tone changed and he said more quietly, "What do you know about the Queens death and burial?"
"Indy shrugged and said, "Much the same as anyone, I guess. She committed suicide by poisoning herself with a snake!"
He closed his eyes and shuddered at the thought. Marcus smiled inwardly, thinking about his friends life long fear of the creatures and added, "She was entombed at Alexandria and the site was raided countless times over the years. There's not much left now. That's about it, I suppose."
"Very good gentlemen. Now, let me fill in a few gaps in your knowledge." The Professor then laid his attaché case on the table and opened it. He drew out a slim card folder of papers and for an instant, Indy glimpsed the shiny barrel of a pistol before the case was closed again.
The Professor laid the folder on the table and took out the papers. He studied them for a moment, then said, "Do you recall a few years ago, someone claiming to have found one of the rooms of the lost library of Alexandria?"
Indy gave a sarcastic laugh and looked at Marcus. "Remember it? I spent two months following the trail. There was nothing apart from a few scrolls of dubious age and even more dubious authenticity. They had turned up at a mixed sale of antiquities at Sotheby's."
The Professor nodded. "Well, it seems that a few more such scrolls have come to light and the authenticity of these is beyond question. They are documented elsewhere and appear to be from the Lost library."
Marcus leaned forward, intensely interested. Old books and writings were of particular interest to him personally. He looked at Indy and said, "If this is true, then the knowledge of the past we could uncover would be of immense value."
Indy nodded but remained more than a little skeptical.
"I should like to see such scrolls myself." He said.
The doctor nodded to him enthusiastically. "There's more." He said. "One of the scrolls indicates that there are detailed records regarding the exact whereabouts of Cleopatra's final resting place."
Indy shook his head, puzzled. "But that's no secret. The location has been known for years. I've been there myself."
The Professor shook his head vigorously. " No, no, no." He said. "There has always been some doubt as to whether the tomb actually contained Cleopatra. The old Pharaohs always went to great lengths to protect the inner chambers from grave robbers and thieves, constructing elaborate traps and false passages. Yet Cleopatra's tomb was not so guarded. In fact, it has always been a puzzle as to WHY it was so easy to rob."
"You mean it was some kind of red herring?" Said Marcus, growing more interested by the minute in the tale.
"That is what we now think." Said the Professor.
"And Cleopatra was actually buried somewhere else." Indy added. The Professor looked at Indy and nodded slowly.
"So you want me to go and find the library, locate the real tomb and find Cleopatra?"
The Professor polished his glasses again. "Not quite, Dr. Jones." He said. "I have no interest in finding the treasures of Cleopatra. I fear someone has already beaten us to it."
Indy looked puzzled.
"Well, what DO you plan to do?"
The Professor looked from the face of Indy, to Marcus, then back to Indy.
"I want to put certain treasures back, and hide the tomb again."
Indy stared, hardly believing what he had heard.
"You mead, the tomb of Cleopatra has actually been found?"
"As I already said, Dr. Jones, we think so."
"And you have evidence?" Marcus said.
Again, the Professor looked from face to face, then, drawing a deep breath, he opened his case again. Both Indy and Marcus clearly saw the gun now and the Professor saw them exchange glances. "A precautionary measure, I am afraid. Many people would dearly like to get hold of the contents of this case."
Indy and Marcus leaned forward, peering at a small lump, wrapped tightly in damp oilskin lying in the bottom of the case.
The Professor took a pair of old leather gloves from his pocket and put them on.
"Do you have a few old sheets of paper?" He asked.
"Uh, sure." Indy replied, pulling some scrap paper from the bottom of a pile of oddments. The Professor took the paper and laid it on the table, then carefully lifted the wrapped bundle from the case, placing it gingerly on the paper.
"Now, gentlemen, please trust me when I tell you not to touch what I am about to show you." Indy was about to say something but the Professor cut him short.
"I do not say this to offend you, or to make you believe that the object is fragile or something. On the contrary. It is extremely robust but also very dangerous to touch. I will explain it all in a moment."
Carefully with his gloved hands, the Professor unrolled the oilskin to show a small wooden carving of a sitting cat. It was almost black but both Indy and Marcus could see that it was slippery, waxy, almost wet and this may have contributed to its dark appearance.
"Late Egyptian carving of a cat. So what?" Indy said. "I've seen dozens of them."
"Not like this one, Dr. Jones." The Professor said. "Look closely at the inscription around the neck."
Indy took a small pair of wire framed spectacles from his breast pocket, perched them on his nose and bent forward.
"Do not touch anything!" The Professor warned sternly.
Indy looked at the small hieroglyphics carved into the figure for a moment, then said, "It's some kind of prayer, a grace, about the possessor of the figure obtaining life everlasting in the next world. Typical kind of blessing found on most Egyptian funerary figures."
The Professor nodded. Exactly what we first surmised." He said. "But, Dr. Jones," He continued. "Could it say anything else?"
Indy and Marcus were both nonplussed.
"How could it say something else?" Marcus said, looking at Indy.
Indy nodded, beginning to grasp what the Professor was getting at. "You mean, could the translation be interpreted in another way?"
The Professor was almost hopping with excitement. "You have a quick mind, Dr. Jones." He said.
Indy scratched his head and turned toward the window. It was still raining heavily and students flitted from shelter to shelter across the campus.
"One problem with hieroglyphics has always been different peoples interpretations of the structure of the sentences. We're not sure how Egyptians put sentences together two or three thousand years ago, so how we read their writing now is based largely on modern grammatical structure." He nodded, turning back to the Professor. "Sure, I get what you mean. The words may mean something different to how we read them."
He looked back at the carving. "You obviously have all this thought through already." He said.
Professor Smith scratched at his ear and said, "When this figure was passed to us, it had already claimed two lives."
Indy laughed and was about to speak but Professor Smith put his hand up. "Hear me out, gentlemen." He said. "My associates and I came to the same conclusion as you when we first translated the inscription. The words offered everlasting life in the next world and a freedom from the pain of this life."
"Seems a fair translation. "Marcus said.
"We thought so too." Smith replied. "However, one of my associates wasn't so sure and worked for a long time using old texts as a basis for translation. He came up with a different version." From the case, the Professor drew a sheet of paper and passed it to Indy who took it and read out the words written on it.
"Whosoever should enter the tomb and behold the Queen shall live in pain and torment in this world and shall be delivered unto the next by one of thirteen."
"One of thirteen. What do you suppose that means." Marcus asked. The Professor opened his mouth to reply but Indy answered for him.
"There are thirteen cats and anyone who touches one of them will die."
"Very good, Dr. Jones." Smith said. Indy smiled and said, "I know of the stories of the thirteen cats. They have always been though an Egyptian myth."
"They are no myth, Dr, Jones." Smith said, taking the paper back and replacing it in his case. Marcus spoke up, more than a little puzzled. "I'm sorry, gentlemen but what are the thirteen cats?"
Indy took a large book from one of his shelves and flicked through the pages. He opened the book wide on an illustration of a cat statue and laid the book on the table. The picture was remarkably similar to the small statuette Professor Smith had. Then Indy continued, "Cleopatra was always very superstitious and when her lover, Julius Caesar was murdered on the thirteenth of march, she began the now famous story of bad luck on that date. She was so afraid, that the number thirteen was all but stricken from the calendar and she would stay in her private chambers all day, each month on the thirteenth. It was she who chose thirteen cats to protect her in the afterlife, believing they would rein bad luck on any who desecrated her final resting place. The cats have always been though to be no more than a tale, mythical, even, as there was never any sign of them when her tomb was opened."
"That is because we were looking in the wrong tomb. "Smith interrupted, excitedly. "Don't you see?"
"So you think this is one of those cats, from Cleopatra's actual tomb. "Indy said, doubtfully. The Professor nodded.
"And you think that touching it will actually kill you?" Marcus added, sceptically.
The Professor smiled, and said, "Gentlemen. Let me tell you a short, but rather important story. A story about a friend of mine. Lord Barker, A member of Parliament. A member of His Majesty's government. Or should I say, he was."
Indy looked at Smith and said, "Was? What happened? Was he fired? Did he leave?" Then, turning to Marcus, he laughed as he said, "Did he steal the Crown jewels?"
Professor Smith continued to stare closely at the ancient writing on the statue as he replied. "No, Dr. Jones." He said.
"He is dead." He looked up Sharply and added, "His only crime was to touch this figure."
Smith then recounted the story of the demise of Lord Barker some two weeks earlier.
"Obviously, I have surmised certain aspects of the tale but we are fairly sure that what I have told you is reasonably accurate."
When he had finished, both Indy and Marcus looked closely at the cat statuette. "And you are sure this little fellow is to blame. "Indy said, poking at the figure with a pencil.
The Professor promptly took the pencil from Indy and carefully dropped it in a bin. Indy raised his eyebrows.
"Believe me, Dr. Jones. It is VERY dangerous. And yes, we believe the cat to be the cause of Lord Barkers' death."
Indy stared closely at the cat again and noting the slick, waxy surface, said, "Then the surface is coated with some kind of toxic venom. That would explain why you don't want anyone to touch it."
"Correct, Dr. Jones." Smith replied. "But the poison has not been recently added. We have tested the figure and have found the strange coating to be impregnated deep into the wood. It is original and we are not sure what the poison is. No one has been able to identify it. What I can tell you is that it is almost instantly absorbed through the skin and acts extremely quickly."
"So the inscription is right." Added Marcus. "Anyone touching the cat would die. A pretty powerful curse."
"Just so." Dr. Brody. Smith replied.
"And you say there are more of them out there somewhere?" Marcus said, realizing the full danger of the statuettes.
"We know of ten of them." Professor Smith said, carefully wrapping the cat in the oilskin again and returning it to the case. "Four have been used to murder high ranking officials in parliament. Three were retrieved from the rooms of a colleague of mine. A certain Dr, Ballard. Sadly, it seems, he is part of some evil plot to use them to overthrow the government. He had escaped before the police could apprehend him but fortunately not before we had recovered the three cats."
"And what of the other three?" Marcus said.
"They turned up near the site of a lesser dig at Alexandria. Again, it was one of my colleagues who found them. A Professor. Professor Benson. We are not sure where he got them from."
"Didn't he say? Why not ask him?" Indy asked, but he thought he knew the answer as soon as he had asked the question. Smith nodded, almost sensing Indy's realisation of the truth. "Yes, he too was dead. He had been dead for some time in his rooms. His absence was noticed at the dig and one of our assistants went to find him."
"Did he..." Marcus began.
"No, Dr. Brody. Fortunately for him, he didn't touch the figures. He simply didn't see them. He came straight to the dig and told us what he had found. It was Dr. Levington, a great friend and worthy scholar who picked up one of the cats when we arrived. They were under the body of Professor Benson. As soon as Dr. Levington picked up the figure, he began raving. Almost immediately, dropping the statuette, screaming at some unseen person or thing to keep away from him. He was clearly terrified. He suffered a massive heart attack on the spot. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. That was the first time I had come across the cats. Ever since then people have been dying. I didn't connect anything at first, not until my friend, Lord Barker died. Then I found out three other prominent members of His Majesty's government had died in similar circumstances. The museum recovered the four cats from the police, who believe it is no more than the work of a maniac, poisoning M.P's. I have a friend at Scotland Yard who said we could take the cats they had in their possession, to make further studies, maybe to help in their enquiries."
Indy stared out of the window for a while.
"Quite a story." He said.
"We need your help Dr. Jones." Smith said, almost pleading.
Indy kept his back turned to both Smith and Marcus. Neither could guess what he was thinking. Then he turned and said, "I'm sorry, Professor. But I can't see what I can do to help. You clearly know more about this particular subject than I do. And anyway, surely it's a matter for the British police, not an American archaeologist, although please, let me say I'm flattered that you think I could help."
Smith was clearly thinking on his feet. He had not expected a refusal from Indy. He almost blurted the words. "Dr. Jones. We think the Nazis' are behind this. If they could get the missing figures, assuming they haven't already got them, and if they passed them to members of the war office, or possibly the American senate, then it could turn the whole tide of events in their favour."
Suddenly, Indy was interested. "What makes you think they are going to start on American Senators?" He said.
"We found a calendar, as well as the three cats, among the things at Ballard's house when the place was searched . There was a date ringed in ink. December the third."
"So?" Indy asked, shrugging his shoulders.
"There is a major meeting of British M.P's and your government on that date." Smith replied quietly. "Your people are coming to England. It will be a gathering of some of the most influential people in the war."
Indy considered for a moment. "So you have ten cats. The four from the murders, the three from this Ballard characters house, and three from the site in Alexandria. That leaves three out there somewhere." He scratched at his chin. "Wait here." He said, and strode out of the study in the direction of his private apartments down the corridor. Professor Smith stared at Marcus, who only shrugged his shoulders. "More coffee?" He ventured.
Five, then ten minutes passed.
"Where has he gone?" Smith asked, more than a little perplexed. At that moment, the door opened and there, standing framed in the doorway was a tall man, dressed in a shabby khaki drill shirt and cavalry trousers. He wore a very worn brown leather jacket and perched jauntily forwards on his head was a weather-beaten fedora. He had a bullwhip hitched to his belt.
"What are we waiting for." He said.
The man with the hat was back.
Chapter 2. London.
October 26th 1940.
The plane touched down at London airport at 11.30 p.m. The landing was smooth and only the faintest of jolts woke Indy from an uncomfortable sleep. His back ached from the hard seats that seemed to be designed with the sole purpose of keeping you awake. Marcus had decided to come at least on the first part of the journey, as he had a great desire to visit the British museum and library and possibly, he hoped, conduct some research of his own if time permitted. He sat with a wide eyed boyish grin, wide awake and all too obviously had enjoyed every moment of the flight. "We're here." He proclaimed rather too loudly, not only informing Indiana and Professor Smith of their arrival but two thirds of the other passengers as well.
Professor Smith peered through the small window to his left and looked at the small terminal building lights in the distance and the sheen of light reflected from the wet concrete of the runway. "It's raining." He said to no one in particular.
"Great." Was Indy's only reply as he sat up, pulling the rim of his fedora up from his eyes and looking out at the cold, wet London nightscape. He had been to England on only a few occasions. It had rained then too.
"Do you guys ever get a suntan?" He asked sarcastically.
"You should see it in the spring." Professor Smith replied. Indy turned up his nose but said nothing. He had agreed to come and look at the Dr. Smiths notes and maybe find out a bit more about the whole affair but his initial gung ho attitude had worn off and he was beginning to get more than a little doubtful about the whole affair.
"Don't forget what I said, Dr. Smith." He said. "I'm willing to look and listen and I want to see the research notes on the cats and the dig in Alexandria. But after that..." He left his words hanging.
Dr. Smith wrung his hands but said nothing. He desperately wanted Indy's help in the affair and hoped he could convince him to help more.
The aircraft taxied to a halt near to one of the larger terminal buildings and a pretty young stewardess proclaimed their arrival at London airport and that the time was now eleven forty-five at night Greenwich mean time and could passengers please adjust their watches. She also informed them it was raining.
From the window, Indy watched a wheeled stairway being pulled into place by a gang of men and a few moments later the clang and creak of a door, followed by a marked drop in temperature told him it was time to get up.
Some ten minutes later the small company found themselves at a passport desk where a very officious young man studied their papers for more time than was necessary. Indy was becoming irate. He was cold, tired, had just suffered a long, tedious flight and was in no mood to be fooled around by a jumped up official. He was on the verge of saying so when the man returned the documents, smiled sickeningly and said, "Enjoy your stay, gentlemen. Next please." Indy shook his head, picked up his holdall and followed Professor Smith from the building. Marcus followed on, looking this way and that, still excited to be in England and afraid of missing anything.
Once outside again, They all pulled up their collars against the rain. Indy puled his hat down over his eyes. "Great." He said. "Now what?"
"One of my assistants is waiting for a telephone call from me. He will bring a car to collect us." Indy nodded and thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, he sat on a low fence and waited as Dr. Smith went and made the call.
Marcus continued his excited exploration of the area.
"He's like a kid at Christmas." Indy thought to himself, smiling as his friend minutely examined a nearby road sign, oblivious of the pouring rain. A sudden pang struck him as he realised how much Marcus meant to him. He was as near to a brother as he would ever have and they had both saved each others skin more times than he could remember.
Some five minutes later, the sound of an engine grew out of the quiet to their left and a path of light swung around the corner. A large dark coloured saloon pulled up beside them.
Almost instantly, a tall man in the front passenger seat jumped out and raced around to open the rear door.
"Please, Dr. Jones. Dr. Brody." He said, indicating the rear seat. Indy looked in and instantly felt his hackles rise. In the back of the car sat a huge unshaven man with a bald head. He was no scholar or Professor. He stood to look round for Professor Smith but a sudden heavy blow to his temple sent him spinning into blackness.
How many hours had passed, Indy did not know but he awoke with a stinging pain in the side of his head and found he was bound, hand and foot in what looked like one of the store rooms in his own college. It was no longer dark he realised as he saw light seeping through a small window high up in the wall. The window had not been cleaned in years. A quick look around told him he was alone and that in fact the room probably was a college or museum store but not one he recognised. "Back home again? The British museum?" He wondered. "What the hell's going on. And where's Marcus?" He had no answers.
He wriggled his wrists, tied behind his back and flexed his legs. The ropes were tight and well tied. He looked around and thought. There seemed to be no escape. Inching across the floor on his side, not unlike his favourite creature, the snake, he made his way to a desk and chair next to a few packing crates. He had the sudden idea of piling the items up to reach the window but immediately saw the opening was far too small for him to get through. Exhausted by his efforts, he leaned against the desk. A further look around the room showed little more than more boxes and various Egyptian mummy cases against the far wall. And a door. He looked up again at the window and the vague idea of a plan formed. Struggling against the desk, he raised himself to his feet and turned, to sit on the desk top. He leaned back and swung his legs upward, so that he was sitting on top of the desk. He was puffing and gasping for breath. "I'm getting too old for this." He thought, not for the first time. Then he heard them. Voices. Quickly, he rolled off the desk and wriggled his way back to where he awoke. He lay, eyes closed, feigning unconsciousness as the voices grew closer. He did not recognise them. Any moment the door would open. "What then?" He wondered. But the door didn't open and the voices receded into the distance.
Indy cursed vehemently under his breath as he realised he would have to struggle back to the top of the desk again.
Gasping, panting, puffing, he finally pulled himself back to his previous position where he sat recovering for a moment.
"Jesus, I really AM getting too old for all this." He muttered to himself. Then he looked up. If he could get the chair up on the desk, he might climb onto it. the window would be about level with his face. "Perfect." He thought. He twisted and leaned against the wall, pulling his legs around and underneath, so that he was kneeling on the desk. He inched around so that his fingers could just grip one arm of the wooden chair. Leaning forwards, he pulled the chair up, off the floor and gripping tightly, using his face as a wedge against the wall, he strained his knees to pull himself into a standing position with the chair behind him. "Great." He thought. Too soon. As he carefully pulled the chair onto the table behind him, he misjudged the size of the desk top and as he let go, he felt the chair fall away from him. "NOOOO." He cried through clenched teeth as the chair crashed noisily to the floor again. Indy froze, listening intently for the sounds of approaching people. He was sure someone must have heard the noise. He waited, tense, apprehensive. Nothing. Fully five minutes passed. Then he began to relax. He looked down at the chair. "Jesus, not again." He mumbled, climbing down carefully from the table once more.
Indy was almost exhausted and the pain in the side of his head was turning into a blinding head ache. It took him far longer this time to get the chair back up on the table once again.
Puffing like a steam engine, he turned and sat down, looking like a naughty schoolboy who had been told off and made to sit on his chair on the desk. He rested in this way for a while, then stood, once again looking up at the window. He had to get himself standing on the chair. The seat was quite small and this in itself would present no small problem. He thought for a moment, weighing up various ideas, concerned that the chair did not end up on the floor again. He couldn't face that.
Then he turned his back to the chair and sat as near to one edge of the seat as he could, almost falling off. Carefully, he leaned back against the wall behind and lifted his feet, only just managing to hook his heels on the opposite edge of the seat. He wriggled back, getting more of his feet onto the chair and slowly, gently began to lean forwards, while at the same time 'hopping' backwards, bringing himself into a squatting position in the middle of the chair seat. Indy gathered his breath for a moment then suddenly stood up straight. He looked to his right. The window was level with his face but he couldn't see through the dirt. He listened intently for a while and when he was sure there was no one about, he closed his eyes and with his head turned down, using his hat as protection, he butted the glass.
The window shattered instantly and Indy was showered with broken glass. As the last sounds of the falling glass died away, he listened again. Still there was no sound. Outside the tiny opening he could see a small, high walled courtyard. It was completely empty except for several very large puddles. It was raining heavily. Indy sighed. "England." He said to himself, answering one of his own questions. He turned back to look around his small prison and the precarious drop to the floor.
"Well, I guess it's easier to get down than it was to get up." He said to himself, carefully hopping to the edge of the seat. He looked at the desk top and hopped forward, going into a crouch as he hit the surface to minimise the noise. Carefully, he stood again and repeated his jump to land on the floor amid the broken glass of the window. Still there was silence outside the room.
Indy looked at the door, then the glass on the floor. Carefully he lowered himself to a sitting position, then rolled onto his side. Tentatively, his fingers sought out one of the larger shards of glass and he carefully picked it up. Turning the glass around between bound hands was not easy and Indy felt the warm slick feel of blood on his fingers as he began to saw through the ropes binding him. The broken edge of the glass was sharp but it still took a good five minutes of painful sawing before the ropes parted. Quickly Indy brought his hands round and rubbed his wrists. He was amazed to see that in fact he wasn't badly cut at all. He sucked at his fingers then began untying his bonds. His pulse quickened at the thought of being caught now, so near to escape. Still no one came. The ropes fell away and Indy was on his feet in an instant, listening at the door. Silence. Quickly, he searched the room looking for something he could use as a crowbar on the door. There was nothing. Opening some of the crates revealed only museum plaster replicas of priceless pots, figures and statuettes. He looked at the mummy cases leaning against the far wall and had an idea. Opening them revealed they were empty. He tried to move one and the weight of it reminded him sharply of the weight of the Ark of the Covenant. Gingerly, he stood one of the great coffins upright and carefully walked it on its corners until it stood beside the hinged edge of the door. When the door was opened, he reasoned, the coffin would be behind the door.
He considered pushing the coffin over, letting its weight smash the door down but dismissed the idea as the bulk of the sarcophagus would only block the door, hindering his escape. In his mind, Indy reverted to plan one. He unfurled his whip and tied a loop in the tail end. This he hooked over the head of the coffin. Wrapping the whip around his hands a few times, Indy leaned back, taking up the slack of the whip and taking the strain at the same time. He took a deep breath, put one foot on the sarcophagus and pushed. As the coffin went over, Indy pulled on the whip, easing the fall slightly, marginally reducing the thud as the heavy object hit the wall. He listened again. Still silence. So far so good. Indy could hardly believe his luck. He scooped up a large piece of the broken glass and quickly sliced a rectangle of leather from the surface of the desk. "Criminal." He said to himself as he ripped the piece of skin from the desk top, binding it tightly around the wide end of the blade of glass. He tested his new knife with a few strokes and thrusts in the air. Satisfied, Indy heaved the sarcophagus lid open and stepped inside, closing the lid on himself but keeping it wedged slightly with one of the plaster statuettes. In one hand he held his knife. In the other he held another of the plaster figures as a substantial club. Now all he needed was to get someone to come and open the door. Indy thought for a moment, then yelled. Loudly. No one came. He yelled again. Louder, this time. Silence. Frustrated, he opened the sarcophagus lid and squeezed out again, putting his weapons on the chair, near to hand should he need them suddenly. Opening one of the crates, he lifted out two heavy replica Greek urns. One after the other, in rapid succession, he raised the vases above his head and smashed them to the floor, yelling loudly at the same time. Quickly, he picked up his weapons and hid inside the coffin once more, awaiting someone to burst in to find out the cause of the commotion. He waited. Nothing.
"Christ, are you guys deaf or something?" He mumbled to himself.
Again, he climbed out of the coffin. He was loosing patience and couldn't be bothered to hide anymore. He stood close to the door and listened. He couldn't be sure, but he thought he could hear voices. He stepped back against the wall behind the door and shouted loudly once again, holding his knife and club at the ready.
There was no response. He cursed, and put his weapons down. There was nothing else to do but wait and see if anyone came to see if he was awake yet, and maybe jump them then.
Indy rubbed at his throbbing head and looked at his makeshift club. He dearly wanted to pay someone back for the lump on his skull.
He waited, maybe an hour. No one came. Passing the time by investigating more of the boxes and climbing up to peer out of the window into the courtyard beyond only made him more irritable.
"I'll die of old age at this rate." He thought.
Then, more out of frustration than any real attempt to attract attention, Indy yelled "Come on, anyone. I want to escape!" and hammered hard on the wood of the door.
Gently, it swung open. It wasn't locked.
Indy grinned through clenched teeth and his forced chuckle of quiet laughter turned to "Bastard." as he stared at the passageway beyond. There was no one there.
Quickly he gathered his knife and club and left the room. The corridor ahead was fairly dark as there were no windows. He was at basement level and as such, knew he had to find some stairs. The corridor wound down many passageways, with doors off to the left and right and it took some time to check them all for signs of Marcus, or a way of were antiquities of all descriptions littering the way, stuffed animals, skeletons, pictures, boxes and cases containing all manner of items and dust. Layers of dust. Indy felt a sneeze building and cupped his hand tightly over his mouth to stifle it. "Chwfffff!" He spluttered quietly, Then, looking at the wet palm of his hand he looked around. A large stuffed bear stood beside him. Indy smiled at the bear. " Hi. My names Indiana. What's yours?" He said, deliberately shaking the bears hand. He wiped his hand on the top of the bears head and whispered "Water on the brain. Dangerous." He winked at the bear.
"Who's there?" A voice called from around the corner.
Indy froze. He could hardly believe it.
"All that yelling and breaking things. Then a SNEEZE?. Dammitt."
Next to the bear was a door. Without waiting, Indy gripped the handle and turned. It wasn't locked. He entered and quietly pushed the door to behind him and peered out of the small gap. It was dark in the room and Indy held his breath. He knew that even if he wasn't found here, in a matter of moments his escape would be discovered. He looked at his makeshift knife and club. No one had tried to kill him, yet. He dropped the glass knife to the floor and gripped the club with both hands, raising it over his head to strike if anyone came through the door. Moments passed and Indy realised no one was coming to see what the noise was.
"What the hell is going on here?" He quietly muttered. Then he heard a scuffle behind him and he swung round and tensed himself to bring his club down on whoever was there. Indy froze with disbelief. It was dark but not so dark that he didn't recognize the familiar form of his friend, Marcus. He was crouched behind the door, hands over his head for protection, trying for all the world not to be noticed.
"Marcus." He said, in surprise. Marcus lifted his head slowly and peered at the tall man in front of him.
"Indy?" He said, questioningly. "Indy! Where did you come from?"
"I was going to say the same to you. Have you been here all the time?"
Marcus scratched his ear and said, "I woke up in here a few hours ago. I heard someone approaching, a sneeze, then a voice. Then the door opened and I hid. What about you? Where have you been?"
"Weren't you tied up?" Indy said, seeing that Marcus was free of any bonds.
Marcus chuckled. "Whoever tied my ropes was never a scout. They almost fell off."
Indy was puzzled. "There's something real strange going on here. It's almost as if we're supposed to escape." Then, seeing Marcus' puzzled look, he continued, "My door wasn't even locked."
"Indy, what's going on?" His friend asked, with a concerned tone in his voice.
Indy put his hand on his whip. "I don't know. But I aim to find out."
He opened the door and strode into the corridor. Marcus followed, shadowing Indy closely and looking over his shoulder often.
As they followed the corridor they became increasingly puzzled. There seemed to be no one about at all.
"Indy, look." Said Marcus suddenly, pointing to a small table ahead and to their left.
Indy strode up to it and stared.
There, on the table in front of him, lay his shoulder bag and holdall. He looked around, then quickly opened the holdall. Rummaging inside for a few seconds, he drew out his army issue revolver. It was even still loaded.
"This is crazy!" He exclaimed, jamming the gun into his belt. "Someone is playing games with us, and I aim to find out who. Come on!" He said, striding off, with Marcus following, confused, at his tail.
Chapter 3. Euston Station.
October 27th 1940.
Professor Smith sat in his neat, tidy office on the second floor of the British Museum. He was drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea and dunking biscuits. He sat back on his padded leather chair and surveyed his surroundings, thinking that this is how any gentleman's office SHOULD look. He remembered Indy's untidy, rambling, disordered office in America and smiled to himself. Then he thought of Indy and Marcus and the smile faded. He put down the bone china cup carefully, aligning the cup precisely with it's matching saucer, then stood, straightening his jacket and looked into a small adjoining office. A younger man, with a round, florid expression looked up earnestly at Professor Smith. his expression almost yelling,
"Can I help you, sir?"
Smith smiled, thinking that this lad was learning fast. In another ten or fifteen years he would make a half decent assistant.
"Any news of Dr. Jones yet, Robert?" He asked.
Robert shrugged and said, "I'm afraid not, Professor. I'll let you know the moment I hear anything."
A large clock in another room somewhere struck eleven am loudly.
Smith shook his head. Indy and Marcus had been missing almost twelve hours.
"Did you have breakfast this morning Robert. You were in very early?" He said.
Robert smiled. "Yes sir." He nodded.
"Well, make sure you take a decent lunch."
Professor Smith went back into his office and closed the door. He turned toward his desk and physically jumped back two steps, crying out with surprise. Almost instantly, Robert was in the room beside the Professor.
"My god." He said. "Dr. Jones, I presume?"
Indy was sitting in the Professors seat with his feet on the desk. Marcus was standing behind him. Both Professor Smith and his assistant, Robert were looking at the revolver in Indy's hand, pointed directly at them.
"Nice to see you." Indy said. "Please, sit down." He pointed with the gun toward the chairs by the main door.
Smith stepped forward. "Dr. Jones..." He began, but stopped short as Indy raised the revolver to point at his head.
"Where have you been. Why the gun?" Smith sounded indignant but concerned.
"I was about to ask you the same thing." Indy replied. "Where did you get to last night?"
Smith raised his eyebrows. "ME" He exclaimed. "I went to call Robert here and when I returned, you were gone. Luggage and all."
Indy looked at Robert. "This is your driver?" He said, motioning toward Robert with the barrel of the gun.
"I am Professor Smiths personal assistant." Robert replied, with more than a hint of a superior tone in his voice.
Indy and Marcus looked at each other and nodded, saying simultaneously, "He's his driver."
Indy put the gun into the holster inside his jacket. He stood up, extending his hand. "Nice to meet you, Robert." He said. Cautiously, Robert took the proffered hand and shook it, nodding. "Dr. Jones." He said, then shook Marcus' hand. "Dr. Brody."
Smith repeated his earlier question. "Where have you been. What is going on?"
"Do you have anyone here that weighs about four hundred pounds and smells like a pig farm?"
Smith raised his eyebrows. "Pardon?" He said.
Indy proceeded to explain what had happened to him and Marcus the night before.
"And you say your gun and things were just left on a table?" Robert said, somewhat incredulously.
Indy nodded. "That's right." He said. "If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't believe it myself."
"Did you get a look at the one who hit you?" Robert asked. Indy rubbed the bump on the side of his head and replied, "No. But when I find him..."
"How about you, Dr. Brody?" Smith added. "Didn't you see anything?" Marcus looked somewhat sheepish. "I'm afraid not. I was busy being attacked at the time." Indy smiled at Marcus' dry wit.
"Well, I don't know what to make of it." The Professor said. "But you're here now. If it's all right with you, gentlemen, I'll show you the rest of my notes and everything I brought from the dig in Alexandria." Indy thought for a while, then looked at Marcus. "OK." He said. "If nothing else, my curiosity is sure getting the better of me."
Smith almost jumped at his filing cabinet. "Good. Good. I'll show you what we've learned so far." He said as he removed a slim folder from the top drawer. Indy, Marcus and Robert leaned over the desk as the Professor spread his papers. There were several pages of notes, a few hastily drawn sketches of the cat figure, some papers with hieroglyphics and translations on and what appeared to be a very poorly drawn map. Indy picked up the map.
"Where is this?" He asked. Smith looked over Indy's shoulder at the map and said, "It's a sketch of the dig at Alexandria. I think." He added lamely. Indy and Marcus looked at him. "You think?" They said together. Then they looked at each other.
"We're starting to sound like the Marx Brothers." Indy joked. Smith ignored the comment and said, "I've only been to the site on a few occasions, myself. Parts of the map certainly look how I remember it. It was in Professor Benson's jacket pocket when he was found." Indy pointed to the edge of the sketch and said, "It's drawn right up to the edge of the paper."
Robert shrugged and said, "So? Whoever drew it just wanted it as big as possible, I suppose."
"Then why not use a bigger piece of paper?" Indy replied.
"Or two pieces." Marcus added, innocently, then realizing what he had said.
"Brilliant, Marcus. Well done." Indy exclaimed.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Jones," Smith said, puzzled. I don't follow you."
Indy laid the map on the table, pointing to the edge of the drawing where it seemed to run off the page.
"This is only half the map." He looked up. "Somewhere, there's the other half. We need to find it."
Smith looked at the map, thunderstruck. "Why on earth didn't I see that?" He said quietly. "I've studied that map dozens of times."
"Maybe it explains why you didn't completely recognize it as the Alexandria dig." Robert said, coming to his superiors defence.
Indy shook his head. "I don't think so." He said.
"What do you mean?" Professor Smith asked.
Indy pointed to a wavy band drawn along one side of the map. "Would you say that's meant to be the river, running into the bay?" Smith looked closely. "Well, yes. Of course." He said.
Indy shook his head. "Uh huh." He said. "I know this area well. The river is no way that shape."
"Perhaps the map is just badly drawn." Robert ventured.
Indy shook his head. "No way." He answered. "The drawing may be sketchy but it's carefully laid out. I think the drawing is quite accurate."
"Then what are you thinking, Indy?" Marcus said.
Indy looked up. "We HAVE to find the other part of this. It's not a map of the Alexandria site. It's a map leading to Cleopatra's tomb."
He looked at the Professor. "Where did this other guy, Ballard, or whatever, where did he live?"
"Ballard? Why, not far from here, actually. Why?"
"Just a hunch." Indy answered. "Too many coincidences. Too many people dead. Too many missing pieces and this guy Ballard ups and vanishes? And half the map's missing?"
Marcus nodded. "Ballard's house?" He said, questioningly.
Indy picked up the papers and stuffed them in an inside pocket of his jacket. Smith was about to object, but Indy's expression changed his mind.
"Ballard's house." Indy replied, looking at the Professor to lead the way. Smith nodded, understanding the request. "Let us go, gentlemen." He said. Robert fidgeted uneasily. The Professor noticed and said," Yes, you too, Robert."
Indy smiled. He liked the affable young man and felt sure he would prove useful.
As they left the Museum, Indy noted, not for the last time that it was still raining. Fortunately however, he also noticed that cabs were far easier to hail than back home. Within moments they were ensconced dry in a somewhat cramped and noisy, Indy thought, London taxi, on their way to Ballard's apartments just off the Charing cross road. Marcus was busy once again absorbing as many of the sights and sounds as he could manage in the space of the rather short, expensive journey.
Indy made a somewhat caustic remark about Nazi's already being in England, disguised as taxi drivers.
The roads were not very busy and the driver had dropped them directly outside a long high white building of exquisite architecture before driving off.
"Early nineteenth century?" Marcus ventured.
Smith looked up at the building and somewhat sheepishly said, "To be honest, Dr. Brody, I haven't a clue."
A screech of tyres made them all look round to see a large black saloon rounding the corner at high speed, heading toward them. Some strange, second sense warned Indy and he yelled, "Get down!" as a hail of machine gun bullets riddled the wall behind them seconds later. The car sped into the distance as Indy looked up from his prone position on the ground, holding his hat on his head with one hand, almost as if he were trying to hide under it, as if it would have protected him from the gun fire.
People were running, yelling, in all directions as Indy and the others stood up.
"Damn!" He cursed to himself. He looked around. No one was hurt.
"How did they miss us?" Marcus exclaimed, feeling himself all over just to make sure that in fact he hadn't been shot. Indy looked at the row of bullet holes in the building wall behind them. They had impacted at a height of around eight feet from the ground and as there were no windows in this stretch of the building, the damage was actually fairly minimal.
"They are either a lousy shot, or they didn't want to hit us."
Indy said, dusting himself down with his hat.
"What do you mean?" Asked Robert.
"Look at the holes. Those bullets would have gone over Robert Wadlow's head, let alone Robert..." Indy stopped. "Robert what?" He said. "I don't even know your last name."
Robert coughed, obviously somewhat embarrassed. Professor Smith smiled, but said nothing. Indy saw the look.
"What?" He said, looking from Smith to Robert and back again.
"What?" He repeated, puzzled.
"My name is Robert." The young man said, sheepishly.
"I know that." Said Indy, more than a little baffled.
Robert coughed again. "No, you don't understand." He said. "My name is Robert. Robert Robert."
Indy looked at Marcus, who was grinning, then he himself looked the other way and coughed to cover a snigger.
"Well, Robert, ah, that is, Robert. Our friends in the car obviously don't want us dead." Indy shook his head. Something was not right about the whole affair but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Not yet. But he would. His interest in the whole business was growing all the time and looking at Smith, who was still carefully brushing the dust from his immaculate suit, he said, "Well, where to now?"
Professor Smith looked up at Indy and nodded toward a large portal to the end of the building.
"Apartment 9." He said, continuing to dust himself. Indy shook his head and with another look at the road in each direction, strode off toward the doorway.
There was a short flight of steps leading to a pair of high, ornately decorated gothic topped doors. In the centre of the left hand door was a brass bell pull. Indy tugged it and faintly, in the distance he heard a bell ring. Moments later, the door opened to reveal an old man in a neat dark blue uniform holding a tray. On it were two cups of tea. The man looked Indy up and down, giving him a somewhat disparaging look, and then saw Professor Smith over Indy's shoulder. His face brightened at once.
"Ah. Professor Smith." He said, in a dry, raspy voice that reminded Indy sharply of the Mummies in the museum.
Smith stepped past Indy and said, "Hello Timms. We've just come to have another look around Mr. Benson's rooms."
Indy spotted a quick flash of coins changing hands and Timms coughed. "Thank you, sir." He said, stepping aside and letting the party enter. "You know the way." he said, disappearing once more back into a small, dimly lit room near the entrance and closing his door with a barely audible click.
Indy looked at Marcus and raised his eyebrows.
Smith led the way down a wide, richly carpeted corridor. Expensive drapes hung at windows to one side overlooking an ornate rose garden that would be beautiful in the spring.
Indy looked around. "They must pay better here than at home." He said.
"I never came here before this business started." Professor Smith said, hearing Indy's comment. "If I had, perhaps things wouldn't have gone as far as they have. We certainly don't earn enough at the museum to pay for a place like this." He added, looking around at the expensive decor.
"Perhaps he was earning money in other ways." Marcus said almost to himself, again stating the obvious without realizing it. Indy only nodded.
Smith stopped outside one of the many doors along the passage and drew out a key from his pocket. He winked knowingly to Indy. "The advantages of friends in high places."
Indy grinned back, slightly irritated by the man's cock-sure attitude. They entered Ballard's apartments and stared around. Everything was neat and orderly, typically 'English', Indy thought and very much a larger version of Professor Smiths office. There was no sign that the police had thoroughly searched and examined the place several times recently.
Indy, Smith, Marcus and Robert began a systematic search of the room, carefully removing drawers and even looking underneath them to see if anything was stuck there. They pulled back the carpets, searched in the folds of the drapes at the windows, down the backs of chairs, behind cupboards, between pages of books in the bookcase, in fact, everywhere they could think of. After perhaps an hour they stopped. "Do you think there's any chance we'll find anything?" Robert asked, almost nervously. He had never been to the room before and he stared around wide eyed, almost smelling the death in the air. He wanted to leave quickly.
"If there's another piece to the map here, we'll find it." Indy said, a note of dogged determination in his voice. Smith smiled inwardly, pleased that Indy's doubts were being overcome by his curiosity.
"But the police have already searched everywhere. We're only repeating what they must surely have already done." Robert continued, almost as if Indy hadn't spoken.
Marcus spoke up. "Mr. Robert, er, that is, Robert. Archaeologists are a funny breed. Nothing is ever straight forward. I think it has something to do with constantly having to search for hidden pieces of a puzzle. They tend to treat their own lives in the same way. Everything they do themselves becomes a puzzle. The piece of map will be hidden, or at least the trail to it will be." Marcus' words struck a note in the back of Indy's mind. And he thought deeply for a moment before turning and staring wide eyed at the book case against the wall. He strode over to the books, scanning the titles, using his index finger as a pointer.
"You've hit it again, Marcus." He said, almost triumphantly, pulling a book from the shelf. The others crowded around immediately. "What is it, Dr. Jones?" Smith asked urgently, excited. Indy turned the spine of the book so that they could all read it. "Caring for your cat." He read out. "What's this doing among a load of books on ancient history." He added, turning the book over and slowly flicking through the pages. He stopped, noting one page was starred in the top right corner in ink. It showed a poorly printed black and white photograph of a skinny, almost hairless cat sitting proudly upright. The similarity of the cat with the small figurines was uncanny.
"An Egyptian short hair." Indy said, sensing everyone's surprise. "Been around in Egypt for thousands of years. That's where their artists got their models."
Marcus leaned over Indy's shoulder to look more closely at the page. "What's that?" He asked, pointing to a faint pencil ring around the pictures sub heading. Smith read out the words.
"The authors cat, Euston." Indy turned the book over to read the authors name. "James Tobbin." He looked at the others. "Mean anything to you guys?" He asked. They all nodded no. Indy looked back at the picture. "Perhaps it's the cats name that's important." He ventured, shaking his head, although the name 'Euston' meant nothing to him either.
"Er, well," Began Robert, nervously.
"Go on son, speak up if you have an idea." Said Indy, encouragingly.
Robert looked at the others, then coughed before continuing. "Well, it's just that there's a railway station not far from here called Euston." He ventured. Indy was interested but could see no useful connection. Then Robert added, "There's a left luggage office there. Maybe the map's hidden there."
Indy's face brightened, then fell again. "Surely there must be a key." Then a look of curiosity came over his face, followed by a smile. Gently, he bent the book spine back on itself and shook the book. Silently, a small key slid out, falling onto the carpet. Indy bent and picked it up, studying a number on the shank.
"One fifty five." He said, turning to the picture in the book gain, underlining the page number with his thumb.
"One hundred and fifty five." Marcus whispered.
"Indy snapped the book shut, stuffed it in his shoulder bag and jammed the key into his pocket.
"Well done, Robert." He said. "Lets go."
"Where?" Asked Professor Smith, who was having difficulty keeping up with the speed of events.
Indy, Marcus and Robert all answered at the same time.
"Euston station." Within minutes, they had hailed a taxi and were on their way.
Chapter 4. Euston station
The journey to the station was completed without incident but as Indy was becoming more and more curious about the whole affair and wanted to get to the station as quickly as possible, even a few minutes seemed an eternity.
"Can't these guys drive any faster?" He said.
"You're not in America now Doctor Jones." Smith replied. "Screeching tyres and hanging out of car windows won't make a lot of difference here. Anyway, were here now."
A long low building of Victorian design stretched many hundreds of yards before them. It was large and very ornate, covering two streets, with the main entrance on a corner. Indy had always admired English architecture and was very impressed by the station although he didn't say anything. The taxi drew up outside the main door and the party got out without speaking. Smith paid the cab driver and gave him a nod.
"Well where to now?" Said Indy. Marcus was staring about in his usual inquisitive way and was not really paying much attention.
"I think the left luggage office is inside on the left, just past the managers office." Said Smith.
"Are you really sure?" Asked Robert, with a puzzled looked on his face.
Smith coughed and stammered, and gave Robert a reproachful look.
"This way Dr Jones." Said Smith, leading the way into the station. Indy looked at Marcus, shrugged his shoulders, and followed. Marcus still stared around like a little boy on holiday.
It was still fairly early in the day and station was busy. People wandered to and Fro going about their Daily lives unaware of the adventure-taking place around them. Smith was right. The left luggage office was just past the manager office. Indy made a mental note of the fact.
"Let me to the talking." Said Smith. "I know how these people work. They will want some form of identification."
"But you haven't got anything." Said Marcus. Smith smiled.
There was an old gentleman in a smart black uniform standing behind a small window which seemed to be the only way to communicate with him. Indy was becoming impatient.
"Just get the map and let's go." He said, giving the small key to Smith.
Smith coughed loudly to gain the attention of the old man, who looked up; peering over the top of a small pair of wire framed glasses. "Can I help you sir?" He said, opening the window slightly. Smith held up the key and the old man opened the window further. He took the key and stared at the number on it. "Just moment sirs." He said, disappearing into his office. Smith turned and looked at Indy.
"Now we wait and see." He said: wringing his hands nervously.
"Stick a gun in his face. That will get some action." Said Indy quietly, turning around and leaning against the wall.
"That's not the way we do things here, Dr. Jones." Smith said with a rather superior tone in his voice. "It may work in America but here it will only get you arrested." Indy looked upwards. "I just hope this is worth it." He said. Moments later, the old man came back carrying a small grey metal box with their key inserted in a small hole in the front. He also had a small piece of paper, which he was staring at. "Have you some form of identification?" He asked looking at them. Smith looked at Indy and the others quickly and then turned on a large sickly smile. He turned to the old man. "Will this do?" He asked, passing a folded ten-shilling note to him. The old man stared for a moment and Indy thought for a second that there was going to be trouble. Then the man took the money and placed the box on the window cill saying, "I'll be back in a moment, gentlemen." He turned and disappeared into his office again. Indy snatched up the box, turned the key and almost ripped off the lid. Inside were an envelope and a thick wad of five-pound notes. Smith drew in his breath sharply.
"I've never seen so much money." He murmured. "There must be five hundred pounds!" Robert gasped, reaching involuntarily to touch it, then realizing what he was doing; he dropped his hand suddenly. It was more than he would earn in two years.
"Obviously did something to earn it." Indy said sardonically. He put the box down and took out the envelope, all but ignoring the money. He looked at Marcus, then opened it. Inside was a folded sheet of paper. Indy drew in a breath, then unfolded it. It was a drawing of part of a map. Quickly, Indy drew the other piece from his shoulder bag and held them side by side. They were a perfect match. He smiled, looking at the others. Suddenly, there was a gunshot and at the same instant, a chunk of masonry and a rain of dust came down on him. Indy looked up, holding his hat and stared at the hole in the wall a foot above his head. "Jesus. Not again." He said, jamming the papers into his bag. "C'mon. Run!" He yelled, diving toward the platform entrance as another shot sounded behind him. People were screaming and yelling, running in all directions. Somewhere behind them, a police whistle sounded. Indy glanced back for a second as he ran but in the confusion, he couldn't tell who was simply running with him, or after him. Out on the platform passengers were running both ways as a train slowly started to pull away. Without hesitating, Indy grabbed a carriage door handle and yanked. The door flew open and Indy dived inside. He rolled across the floor of the carriage, allowing Marcus and the others room to follow. As the train gained speed, the shouts of panic and confusion at the station receded into the distance, until all that could be heard was the rhythmic metal clatter of the train. Indy sighed and stood up.
"How the hell is it that everywhere we go, someone knows we're there?" He asked. The question was almost aimed at Professor Smith but Indy suddenly realised that Smith was not with them.
"Where the hell is he?" He said, opening the train door against the force of the wind, holding onto his hat and looking back the way they had come. The station was no longer even in sight. Robert looked panic stricken. "They must have got him. Shot him. He's dead."
Indy pulled back into the carriage and heaved the door closed. The noise of rushing wind and the train's wheels subsided instantly. He leaned against the wall, panting, almost oblivious to Roberts' words. "Why trains?" He mumbled, pushing his hair back with one hand and replacing his hat with the other. Then, as if taking command of the situation once more, he turned to Marcus.
"There's something pretty strange going on here." He said. "We're being tailed, and I don't like it." He looked at Robert, who was still muttering incoherently about murder, abduction and the general demise of Professor Smith. Indy shook his head in disbelief. "Robert. Snap out of it son. Smith isn't dead." He said. Robert stared at him, almost with unrecognising eyes, as if he was trying to remember whom this strange man in the scruffy clothes and hat really was. "Eh? What?" Was all he said. "He's not dead." Indy repeated. "Someone else is after the map pieces. They will want him alive" He added. "Come on. Listen." Indy shook Robert by the shoulders. "Hell, he's worse than dad." He said to no one in particular. "Robert. Think. Look at the shots aimed at us today. They were trying to miss us. They want us scared, not dead. And what about me? Prisoner in a room that wasn't even locked? My bag and gun on the table down the hallway? If these guys wanted to raise my curiosity they're sure as hell doing a good job. But kill us? I don't think so somehow. I just can't figure out why. C'mon, Robert. Help me out here. Who else was involved at the museum? Who else knew about the things taken from Ballard's' room?" Robert seemed to be struggling with his own inner fears for a moment, weighing up what Indy had said. Then he straightened up and made a conscious internal effort to be more like this large, brash American, who seemed to be so in control of his emotions. "Um, let me think." He said, going over recent events in his mind. Indy looked hopefully at the young man. "Yes? Yes?" He prompted.
"No, no one." Robert replied lamely. Indy sagged visibly.
"Are you sure?" Marcus said gently, straightening his clothes and hair after recovering his breath from his running leap onto the moving train. He could never quite get used to the way that his life as a quiet college Professor was always turned on it's head whenever he got into any kind of adventure with Indy.
"Well," Robert said, after a moments thought. "There was this chap that Professor Smith spoke to occasionally on the telephone. I never spoke to him myself. He had a strange, foreign name. I'm afraid I can't remember what it was. He only called once or twice."
Indy looked at Marcus. "Then it's probably him, or Ballard himself that's chasing us. It has to be. Probably Ballard. He knows we have both pieces of the map and he wants them back."
"But why tear the map in half in the first place when he had it to himself. Why not just go straight to the dig site and recover whatever treasures he wanted?" Marcus said, puzzled by the apparent absurdity of it. Indy thought, then the answer to the riddle hit him like a thunderbolt.
"Marcus. Don't you see? He was like Smith. He thought the map was of the site dig at Alexandria. He DID go there, but he couldn't find anything. He just assumed it was the map that was badly drawn. It never occurred to him that the map was of a different site. He was digging in the wrong place." Then Robert put the last piece of puzzle into place.
"What was so special that he was looking for? I mean, how did he know it was the wrong site if he wasn't looking for something in particular? What was missing? What was he actually searching for?"
"Robert, you're a genius." Indy said, slapping him on the shoulder. "Him and his Nazi pals, they're not looking for Cleopatra. They're looking for the other cats. No one has found them yet."
"I'm not sure I follow you, Indy." Marcus said, confused. "I thought Professor Smith said the cats were all accounted for." Indy shook his head. "No, not all. He ASSUMED they were. Three were found at the site on the map by one of his men, four were used for murder and three turned up somewhere in Alexandria." Indy stared out of the carriage window, watching the last of the houses disappear into the surrounding English countryside. "What about the other three?" He continued. "That's what our friends with the guns are after. They want the map. They've discovered their mistake and want the last of the cats. They still think the British police have all the other cats that have been found. I guess they don't know about the one the Professor borrowed back from the police to show us. We have to find the missing library room at Alexandria." Robert was having trouble keeping up with the story. "But why?" He asked. "What has the lost library of Alexandria got to do with all this?" He said. Indy pulled the pieces of map from his shoulder bag and held them together against the carriage wall. "Look." He said. "The map shows the layout of the tomb. It even shows us it's near a river. But that's all. We have no real clue to its' actual location. We need the scrolls from the library for that. With that information and this map, we can find the tomb and the missing cats."
"Very astute of you, Doctor Jones."
Indy spun round to see a short, stocky balding man grinning slyly at him. In his hand was an automatic machine gun. It was aimed at Indy.
"My name is Black. I have been following you, as you have probably noticed. I can assure you, I am actually an excellent shot, though you probably think otherwise." Indy nodded, lowering his hands. "Keep them up please. All of you." Black pointed upwards with the gun. Indy and the others raised their hands. "You didn't want us dead." Indy said. "You wanted us to find the map and work out the puzzle for you." Black smiled. "You have been most useful, Doctor Jones. Your reputation is accurate. My employer has been trying to solve the riddle of the tomb for some time now. Then he had the bright idea of getting the great Indiana Jones to work it out for him." "Glad to oblige." Indy sneered. Black nodded sarcastically and waving the gun at Marcus and Robert, said, "In there, gentlemen, please." He nodded at a door marked 'GUARD' on one side of the corridor. Marcus looked at Indy and moved to the door. Robert followed. Keeping the gun on Indy with one hand, Black opened the door with the other and motioned Marcus and Robert to enter. Silently, they complied. When they were inside, he pulled the door shut and called out, "Lock the door and push the key underneath." Moments later the lock clicked and the key slid out on the floor. Keeping his eyes fixed firmly on Indy, Black retrieved the key and said, "Now, if you would just be so kind as to pass me the pieces of the map..." He got no further. The train entered a second tunnel, plunging them into semi darkness once again, throwing him off guard for a mere second. It was all that Indy needed. His foot came up instantly, catching Black sharply on the trigger hand. Gunfire exploded around them in the confines of the carriage and the roof was instantly riddled with holes. Indy lunged forwards, grabbing the gun barrel and heaving it upwards, towards Blacks' face. "I hope it doesn't rain." He said, smiling at Black and looking up at the holes in the ceiling but surprisingly, Black was extremely strong and only smiled back at Indy, whose face was mere inches from his own. Slowly, the gun turned back toward Indy and his smile turned to a look of panic. The gun was pointing at the side of his head and Indy could see the trigger being squeezed. Beads of sweat trickled down his face. Suddenly, he gave Black a quick wink and lunged forwards, biting him hard on the nose. Black screamed out in pain, dropping the gun and grabbing his nose. Indy spat to one side and said, "Wet nose, healthy dog." His fist came up, slamming into Blacks already bleeding face, snapping his head backwards. Black dropped to the floor like a sack of flour. Indy shook his fist and rubbed his knuckles. "Hard headed son of a bitch." He mumbled "Indy. Indy. What's going on? Are you alright? Indy.." The voice was Marcus'. He was banging on the door with his fist and in the background, Robert was yelling, "Let us out."
Indy bent to retrieve the gun and the key to the small office door and at that instant there was the sound of gunfire and a loud crack as a bullet hit the wall level with where only seconds before his head had been. Indy's head jerked up to see two more men in black raincoats coming down the far end of the train carriage toward him. Various passengers and railway officials had begun to appear, attracted by the noise of gunfire but a wave of the weapons of the two newcomers was sufficient to send them all scurrying back to where they had come from. A second bullet in Indy's direction told him to run. He looked around and saw there was only really one way to go. He lunged at the outside door and flung it open as a third and a fourth bullet missed him by inches. He jammed his hat hard onto his head and said, "Helluva day for a train ride." Then he took his whip and with a long practised flick of the wrist, the whip snaked out with a crack, wrapping itself firmly around the nearer rail of a small ladder leading to the carriage roof, some ten feet away from him. Another bullet shot past him, this time so close that he felt it pass through his jacket, wildly snapping in the wind. He took a breath and jumped outwards, away from the train and his momentum, coupled with the rush of wind against his body took him in a graceful arc, back and downwards, to curve up and onto the roof of the carriage. He could almost hear the music of triumph in his ears. He flicked the whip loose and pulled, then wrapped it, keeping in one hand for safe measure. Crouching down, holding onto his hat, Indy quickly appraised the situation. The only way to get Marcus and Robert free was to go back into the carriage. He turned to look at the rear of the train. He counted four coaches. Placing each step carefully in the buffeting wind, Indy began the treacherous task of walking the roof to the end carriage. "I hate trains." He murmured. Hardly had he gone ten paces onto the next coach when a bullet whistled past him and a voice carried on the wind cried to him, "Give us the map, Jones."
Indy lifted his head and saw one of the two men coming up between the two carriages in front of him.
"You won't shoot me." He yelled. "If I fall off the train you won't get the map." "Hah!" Indy said to himself, smiling, pleased with his unswayable reasoning. A gunshot took the smile off his face. "Nice guy." He said to himself, then called out, "OK, Don't shoot. I'm coming." Carefully, Indy made his way toward the man. Trees were rushing by near the coach as they passed through a small wood and as Indy noticed them, he had a sudden idea. Quick as a flash, he loosed his whip and with lightning reflexes, struck out at a passing tree. The whip end snaked around a thicker branch and Indy gripped the handle tightly with both hands and ran toward the rapidly disappearing tree and to the thugs' astonishment, he leaped off the side of the train. The thug could only gape in open-mouthed disbelief as Indy's momentum carried him out in a wide arc around the tree and back onto the train roof. He had judged the distance well and as Indy approached the train like a missile, he drew his legs up into a crouch and struck out with them as he flew directly into the thug like a sledgehammer. The speed and violence of the impact took the thug completely off his feet and off the train roof, whilst also serving to break Indy's speed and trajectory, bringing him to a stop exactly where moments before, the villain had stood. Again, with a deft flick of the wrist, the whip was back in his sole possession once more.
Indy smiled to himself. Marcus would never believe that one.
Again, Indy crouched down and headed for the rear of the train.
"Very good, Jones. Very good." A voice shouted faintly in the rushing wind.
Indy looked up to see the other thug peering over the end of the roof of the last coach some thirty feet in front of him. He was pointing a gun. Indy sighed deeply. "Jesus. Don't you guys ever give up?" he said to himself but to his amazement, the crook lowered the gun and called, "Goodbye, Doctor Jones." He tilted his head to one side, and pointed past Indy.
A sudden pang of doubt struck him and Indy spun round to see the sheer solid brick wall of a tunnel mouth speeding towards him, only feet away.
Chapter 5. Something fishy.
The last thing Indy saw before blackness engulfed him was the tunnel wall racing toward him. There wasn't even time to duck. Almost instinctively, he grabbed his hat and held tight. The whack of wind hit him full on and he was pushed back by the force of it. Suddenly, there was darkness and a few moments went by before Indy realised he was still all right, standing on top of the railway carriage. He was only mere inches shorter than the roof of the tunnel but it had missed him! He stared into the smoke and wind and crouched down, trying to shield his eyes from the streaming soot and grit from the engine funnel. Far ahead he could see a faint spot of light which he realised must be the end of the tunnel and daylight. He remembered that there was a gap between carriages only feet in front of him and carefully, feeling with one hand, he groped his way toward the space as he rubbed the filth and tears from his eyes with his hat. Moments later he found free space and realised he was nearer the carriage end than he thought. Quickly, he laid on his stomach, still fighting the rushing wind and smoke threatening to push him backwards off the train. He had difficulty breathing and began to choke and cough on the acrid engine fumes. His free hand felt over the end of the car and groped blindly until he felt the access ladder top rail. Gasping, fighting, Indy dragged himself over the roof edge and almost fell down the narrow gap between the carriages, clinging on fiercely to the ladder rail with one hand. Seconds later, a sudden drop in air pressure as the train left the tunnel almost made him lose his hold but he clung on, drawing deep lungfulls of clean air into his body, retching and coughing violently between breaths.
Slowly, his breathing settled down and Indy rubbed at his face once again. Then, with a sudden resolve, he jammed his hat back onto his head and swung down the ladder and heaved himself to the side of the train.
Still holding his hat to his head, Indy peered round the side. There was a door right beside him. He smiled grimly and forcing his hat down tight once again, he swung round and grabbed the door handle, giving it a sudden twist and tug at the same time. The result as the wind got under the open edge of the door took him by surprise and Indy was almost yanked off the train as the door was ripped from his hand to slam back against the side of the carriage.
Stretching round, Indy gripped the side of the door way and swung his left foot onto the step. Pulling hard as he did a kind of sideways skip, he was propelled with the wind behind him almost across the carriage floor to land inside at the feet of a very startled female passenger. Indy stood, blinking through a comic mask of black soot and white eyes and said, "Don't use the outside toilets." The lady turned and fled.
At the rear of the train, the remaining thugs were smiling at the death of Indy but were concerned about the loss of the map.
Suddenly, the taller of the two exclaimed, "Fool!" and yanked hard on the trains communication chord. Moments later, the train lurched forwards, throwing the passengers to the floor as the emergency brakes took effect. The smaller thug clung on to his seat, yelling, "What the hell are you doing?"
The train came to a stop and all about could be heard the yells and cries of passengers and the shrill whistles of the guards and engineers.
The tall thug let go of the window frame and casually opened the carriage door. "Shall we go?" He said, indicating out of the train. "Jones can't be too far back." He jumped down from the train and his colleague followed, still slightly bemused. "The mess will be unpleasant but no more than Jones deserved and still, it will make it easy to find him." He bent down at the side of the track and plucked a small flower, then stood and threaded it into his lapel buttonhole. "I just love the autumn blooms, don't you?" He continued, strolling back the way the train had come. His small friend followed on wordlessly.
Back on the train, Indy picked himself up and ducked into a washroom, locking the door. He didn't want to get the blame for whatever had happened to the train and anyway, he had no ticket and in his current filthy state he would soon be spotted and certainly questioned. He stared in the mirror and almost laughed himself at the sight that greeted him. Quickly, he soaked the hand towel in the sink and rubbed his face frantically, wiping away most, if not all, of the soot and dirt. He decided that he looked better but had looked better.
A few minutes later there came the sound of several whistles and the train began to move again. Indy waited until he was sure that all was clear again and then cautiously opened the door and peered down the corridor. All was quiet, save the frantic chatter of the mystified and angry passengers. It was only a few cars back to Marcus and Robert and Indy covered the distance in moments only to find a crowd of angry passengers and guards surrounding a babbling Marcus and silent Robert. Thinking on his feet, he pushed himself to the front of the crowd and yelled, "OK, OK, Let me by!" The onlookers moved aside at the sight and smell of this tall dirty American, dressed in scruffy cowboy style clothes.
"And who might you be sir?" Enquired one of the guards who was not so easily intimidated by Indy's appearance.
"Indy..." Marcus began but he was cut of as Indy called out dramatically, "Well, Capone, I've got you at last!"
At this, virtually all the passengers and guards vanished. Indy drew his museum I.D. from his inside pocket and quickly flashed the 'U.S. Government' heading, carefully covering the 'Department of Education' part with his thumb.
"Special agent Jones. F.B.I." He snapped, stuffing his I.D. back into his pocket as the guard was still trying to read it. "I've chased these two half way round the world and thanks to you brave guys, I've got them at last. " He gripped the two guards hands in turn and pumped them furiously. "'I'll make sure your government gets to hear about how you helped capture All Capone."
One of the guards frowned and scratched his head.
"I thought he was only just released from prison." He said. "And he don't look like the pictures of Capone I've seen." He added.
Indy nodded frantically. "New charges." He whispered, conspiratorially. "And surgery." He added, seeing the guard was still non too convinced.
Indy gripped Marcus by the chin and pulled his face from side to side. "Look at those eyes." He said. "You can't hide them. Eyes of a KILLER." He said this so vehemently that the guards almost jumped back a pace. Marcus tried to look menacing but only succeeded in looking even more unconvincing than Indy.
"And who's he?" The other guard asked, pointing at Robert.
"Him?" Indy replied. "That's ah, that's Robert, ah, Robert, er, ROBERT THE BRUCE." He blurted.
The guards' eyebrows shot up.
"Aw, hell!" Indy exclaimed, punching the first guard unconscious with one hit. The second guard threw up his hands to ward off Indy's second punch but lowered them again when Indy dropped his fist and said, "Into the washroom." The man obeyed without question and dragged his companion into the small room. Indy pulled the door shut and locked it with the key the guards had used to open the door and release Marcus and Robert.
"Now what?" Indy said, looking around for the crooks. "We have to get off this train." He added.
Robert spoke up for the first time since being let out of the washroom. "There's a small village coming up but I don't think the train stops there."
"It does now." Said Indy grimly, looking out of the open window at the approaching buildings.
"Oh no, not again..." Marcus cried, gripping the window frame as Indy pulled on the communications chord.
Up in the engine cab, the alarm bell rang once again and the driver and stoker both exclaimed in unison, "Oh no, not again..." as they held onto the cab window frames and applied the emergency brakes once more...
The train screeched to a halt almost level with the village platform which was far too short for it. Locals and passengers stared with disbelief as Indy, Marcus and Robert stepped off the train and Indy walked straight up to a short fat man standing on the platform and asked, "Can you tell me when the next train to Euston is?"
For the second time recently, Professor Smith sat quietly in his office, studying the furnishings and trappings his job as Supervisor of the British Museum had brought him. He smiled to himself, thinking that things could only get better.
A faint sound from the next room made him snap back to reality. He called out, "Who's there?"
There was no answer. Smith furrowed his brow and stood, then walked over to the connecting door and bent his ear to the wood.
Instantly, the door swung open and Smith almost fell into the room. He jumped back, startled, and was stunned to see Indy framed in the doorway. Marcus and Robert were standing behind him.
"You!" He exclaimed. "But how... I mean, er, what happened..."
He got no further. Indy grabbed him by his jacket lapels and almost lifted him off the floor.
"Exactly!" He scowled. "But how what?. How did we escape? Is that what you were going to say?, you son of a bitch!"
Indy almost threw the Professor back into his room and advanced on him menacingly. The Professor backed around his desk, straightening his jacket and stammering, "N, N, No... You've got it all wrong. I mean..." He tripped back into his own chair and sat down on it with a thump. Indy gripped the chair arms, trapping Smith in his seat and pushed his face close up to the frightened Professors.
"You've led me a helluva dance halfway round the world and around London. I've been hit, taken hostage, shot at and almost thrown off a train!"
Smith began to speak but Indy cut him short.
"I'm in no mood for bullshit. What's going on and how do you fit in to it?"
Smith began to stammer again. "It wasn't me. I'm innocent. All I want is to find the cats."
"Every time we went anywhere, we were attacked. How did anyone know where we were?" Indy said in a quiet, menacing tone.
"I, I, I don't know...Really. It, It must have been Robert. Yes, that's it. Robert." Smith pointed a finger excitedly at the young man behind Indy.
Indy was about to speak, when the phone on Smiths desk rang. They all stared at it.
"Aren't you going to answer it?" Said Indy, picking up the phone and shoving into Smiths face.
The Professor took the phone and mumbled, "Hello? Smith here?"
A few words were spoken to Smith and Indy could tell by the colour of the Professors face that he was very frightened.
He snatched the phone from him and listened.
"...and he was gone. Got off the train somehow. We searched and..." Indy took the phone away from his ear and held it back to Smiths. Smith closed his eyes and gulped as he listened to the words pronouncing his guilt. Then, suddenly, his expression changed and he blurted out, "Jones! Jones is here! He knows everything!..."
Indy raised the receiver and cracked Smith hard on the skull with it, knocking him cold. He listened to the phone again. The line was dead.
"Great!" He scowled. Now we don't know what's going on, and everyone else does!" He put the receiver back on the phone and jumped as almost instantly it rang again.
Indy picked up the phone again and listened a moment before saying cautiously, "Who is this?"
Indy's expression immediately told Marcus something was wrong.
"Indy, what is it? What's the matter?" He said.
Indy stared vacantly as he listened to the voice on the phone.
"Well it's nice to hear from you after all these years, Indiana. But I really must go now. You know how it is. Things to do, people to see..."
"But you're dead." Indy murmured. You were killed on the island..."
"Do I sound dead? Really, Indiana, you should try to pay more attention to what is happening around you, instead of burying you head in the sand. But I suppose that comes with the job, eh?. Now, as I say, I have to be going, but don't worry. We will meet again soon. Real soon, my friend. Au Revoir."
The line went dead but Indy remained holding the phone to his ear for some time.
"Indy. Indy. What was it?" Marcus repeated nervously.
Indy gently replaced the receiver and turned to stare with almost unseeing eyes at his friend.
Again, Marcus asked, "Who was it?"
Indy blinked once then said the one word guaranteed to send a shiver up Marcus' spine.
Chapter 6. A change for the worse.
"Belloq!...Rene Belloq?" Marcus exclaimed. Indy nodded dumbly. "But how can that be?"
Indy seemed to snap back to reality but still only shrugged his shoulders.
" Who's Rene Belloq?" Asked Robert in a puzzled tone of voice. The name meant nothing to him but clearly it was important to Indy and Marcus. Smith stirred, then interrupted before Indy could answer.
"You are wrong." He said. "That was Doctor Ballard. Not Belloq, or whatever you called him."
Indy turned on Smith, more angry now than Marcus had seen him in years.
"I want the whole story, Smith. The truth. Belloq wouldn't be interested in a few poisonous cats. What's he really after? How long has he been involved in all this."
Smith looked indignant again for a moment and was about to protest his innocence once more when the look on Indy's face warned him against such an idea. He slumped back into his chair and put his face in his hands.
"I don't know how I ever got involved in this." He muttered. He looked up at Indy.
"You must believe me, Doctor Jones, I never meant anyone to get hurt. I found out about the cats in exactly the way I told you. I don't know who this 'Belloq' person is. He's always been Ballard to me. He came to work for the Museum about two years ago. His knowledge of Egyptian artefacts was immense. He was a great benefit to the Museum. It was Ballard, or Belloq, or whatever, who actually did most of the translation of the scripts and documents. I swear, if there's more to it than just recovering the cats, then I don't know what it is. Anyway, what can he hope to gain? He's trying to prevent the Nazi's from finding the cats and poisoning the government officials."
Indy shook his head vigorously as Smith spoke these last words.
"No, No, No!...You fool! Belloq WORKS for the Nazi's! He's probably the one who SENT the cat to you friend, Lord whatsisname!"
"Barker." Smith said quietly, realizing the full impact of Indy's words. "How can I have been so stupid." He added after a further moments thought. Everything Indy said made sense and answered several unexplained questions.
A sudden thought struck Indy.
"We are gonna have to watch our backs." He said.
"Belloq doesn't seem too bothered that we're OK, or that we've found out he's involved."
"Surely, that's a good thing." Said Robert, still struggling to keep up with the turn of events.
"I mean, if he's being friendly,...he doesn't seem all that dangerous..."
Indy looked at Marcus and shook his head.
"That's what scares me." He said.
Indy sat on the corner of Smiths desk.
"OK., " He said. "Seems you've been had, the same as us."
"I could help you.." Smith jabbered excitedly, turning sides.
Indy shook his head. "Rene's too smart for that. that's exactly what he'll expect you to do. We've got to out think him."
Suddenly, he stood up again and passed the telephone to Smith.
"How do you get a hold of him?" He asked.
"Er, well, I have an emergency number but Ballard,...I mean, Belloq told me not to use it unless I had to."
"Perfect. Give him a call. Tell him you've tricked us into thinking you're helping us but really, you're still working for him. Tell him you can get the map pieces for him."
"But he'll never believe that!" Wailed Smith.
Indy nodded. "I know. In fact, I'm counting on it!"
Realisation slowly crept over Marcus. "Well done, Indy." He said. "You're going to play him at his own game."
Indy nodded and smiled.
"He's smart. He'll know we're trying to trap him, and he knows that WE'LL know he knows!"
Smith was instantly confused.
"Are you saying, that he'll know that you know what HE knows?"
"Exactly!" Exclaimed Indy. "And because of that, he'll expect us to think that he WILL go along with us, because we'll expect him NOT to!"
Robert was totally at a loss.
"Er, so what WILL he do?" He said.
Indy grinned. "That's the clever part." He said. "I haven't a clue!"
Robert's' eyes bulged with surprise. "What do you mean?" He asked, totally baffled by it all.
"Look," Indy began. "Rene's smart. Very smart. But he knows I'm smart too. He'll KNOW we haven't a clue what he'll do next, but in the same way, he'll be worried, because HE won't have a clue what WE'RE doing! That will put him on his guard and maybe, just maybe he'll make a mistake, trying to double guess us all the time." Indy turned to Smith.
"Make that call!" He said.
Smith looked at Indy, then Marcus and Robert. Gingerly, he lifted the phone receiver and dialled the number. A few pounding heartbeats later the call was answered. Smith stared at Indy as he said, "Put me through to Bell...Ballard please. " There was a moments pause as something was said, then Smith replied, "Black cat six."
A few moments later, Smiths expression told the others he was through to Belloq again.
"Hello? Mr. Ballard? It's Smith. Professor Smith...Yes, yes, they've gone...What?...Yes. I convinced them I would help them. They left a few moments ago."
There was a long pause as Belloq answered Smith.
Smith was nodding even though Belloq could not actually see him.
"Certainly." He said. "Yes, yes. I can do that. The fools trust me."
He looked again at Indy.
"Where?...What, here?...Well, if you think so... Yes. I'll set it up...OK...Fine...OK...Goodbye,...Yes,...Goodbye."
Smith quietly replaced the receiver.
There was silence in the room for a moment, then Indy said, "Well?"
Smith coughed and rubbed his eyes. "He says he wants to see you. He wants to discuss the map."
"And you trust him?" Exclaimed Robert.
Both Indy and Marcus laughed and it was Marcus who replied.
"Trust him? We wouldn't trust him to tell us his own real name!...Of course we don't TRUST him!"
Indy slapped Robert on the shoulder.
"As I've already said, we don't know what he's up to, but he sure as hell doesn't know what WE'RE up to either!"
"Are you going to meet with him?" Smith asked nervously.
Indy rubbed his chin and walked over to the window. It was still drizzling with a fine, penetrating rain. People were scurrying about with collars turned up and umbrellas held high. They reminded Indy of ants. He turned back to look at the others.
"Sure I'm gonna meet with him. We're old friends. What is there to be afraid of?" He laughed at his own little joke, even though neither Robert nor Smith understood it.
"Anyhow," He continued, "We might find out what he's up to and WHY he wants the map so badly."
He stroked his chin the added, "You can bet as sure as hell it's not the cats he's after."
Indy and Marcus slept at the museum that night and Robert went home. There was no real need to keep an eye on Professor Smith as there was nowhere he could go that would cause Indy any further trouble and whatever he said now, Belloq still wouldn't trust him, or be sure what Indy was really up to.
There was also a chance that Belloq might consider Smith to be more of a liability than a help and so dispose of him and it was this thought that kept Smith at the museum, near to Indy and Marcus. Indy was well aware of Smiths fears and smiled inwardly at how the tables had turned on him. It was this fear and reliance on Indy that made the Professor a fairly trustworthy asset for the moment.
The sound of passing traffic woke Indy and he was surprised to find he had slept right through the night. Marcus was snoring soundly on his makeshift bed of old curtains and collected cushions. Indy stood and stretched, scratched his trademark stubbly chin and straightened his clothes.
He took out his half hunter watch and checked the time.
"Nine thirty." He said quietly.
"C'Mon, sleepy!" He called to his friend. "Smith's gone, and Belloq's due at ten, so move your ass!"
He pushed Marcus playfully with his foot.
Smith had made the arrangements with Belloq the night before and Indy was actually looking forward with excitement to seeing his old adversary and finding out exactly what had actually happened all those years ago, when Indy thought that Belloq had been killed on the Island after opening the Ark of the Covenant and looking inside.
"MMMMM." Mumbled Marcus, stirring and scratching his head, making his already dishevelled hair even worse. He sat up and his look of confusion spoke reams as he tried to remember where he was and what he was doing here.
Suddenly the door opened and Smith came in backwards carrying a tray of tea and slices of hot, buttered toast.
The smell woke Marcus fully instantly. He was starved as none of them had eaten anything much for over twenty four hours.
Seeing Indy's puzzled look, Smith said, "We have quite a good canteen here and as most of the staff start work at six, it's been open for some time." He put the tray on the desk and added, "If you want any more I can easily get it. Oh, by the way, I did try to get coffee. I know how you Americans prefer it but it's not too popular here in England and the kitchen doesn't keep it as a rule."
"Tea will be fine." Said Indy, lifting a slice of toast appreciatively, taking a large, slow bite and savouring the taste and texture. Marcus almost leaped to his feet and ran to the tray. He lifted a cup of tea and asked, "Sugar?"
Smith shook his head and said, "No. It's in the dish." He nodded toward a small silver lidded dish with a spoon sticking out of one side.
Marcus shook his head in the negative. "No, no, it's fine." He said, taking a sip. "English Breakfast?" He asked.
Smith was impressed. "You know tea?" He said.
Marcus smiled. "You forget, I'm English. I just WORK in America."
"OK, OK. "Indy interrupted. "Lovely breakfast, and thanks. But Belloq will be here any minute and I don't wanna get caught unawares."
"Relax, Doctor Jones." Smith replied smoothly. "Your 'Belloq' will still have to come in through the main entrance and they will phone when he arrives."
Almost as if on cue, the phone rang. Smith looked tentatively at Indy then answered it.
"Hello? Professor Smith here?" He said.
"Yes. Send him up. He knows the way." He put the phone down again.
No one spoke for a moment. There was nothing to say.
A minute later the door handle creaked and the door slowly opened. Indy felt his heart rate increase and he took a deep breath, his hand firmly on his pistol at his side.
The door swung back and there stood...
Indy, Marcus and Smith let out an explosive breath of relief.
Robert opened his mouth to speak but then said nothing. He was staring fixedly over Indy's shoulder.
They all spun round to see what he was looking at.
There, framed in the opposite door was a tall handsome man in a white linen suit. He wore a Fedora, much like Indy's, only his was white. In fact, he reminded Robert of a cleaner version of Indy himself.
The man held out his hand in greeting and after a moment Indy stepped forward and cautiously took it, giving it a tentative but strangely friendly shake.
"Hello Rene." He said.
"Hello Indiana. It's been a long time."
Chapter 7. To trust, or not to trust. That is the question.
"You look just the same, Rene." Indy said, almost envying Belloq's virtually unchanged good looks.
"And you look...Older." Belloq replied. He gripped Indy warmly in a hug and said, "You don't know how much I have missed you, Jones."
Indy cautiously returned the hug and in a strange way, he had to admit to himself he too had missed his old adversary, once his friend and several years, Indy had often pondered what might have happened if he had had the chance to kill Belloq during the Ark escapade. Many times, he had wanted to wipe the smarmy grin from his face with his fist. It could still come to that, he thought. He could bide his time, and find out what was underlying Belloqs apparent warmth.
He pulled back and said, "What's all this about, Rene, and don't bullshit me. You don't want the cats and don't tell me you're trying to find Cleopatra for the good of archaeology. You never did anything unless it was for the good of yourself."
"You don't change, Indiana. Always suspicious." He shook his head and walked to the table, eyeing the breakfast tray.
"Tea?" He asked.
"Help yourself." Marcus replied.
Belloq nodded toward Marcus and said, "Hello Doctor Brody. Long time." Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh, and by the way. I really enjoyed your version of events surrounding the Ark. My congratulations. You would make an excellent storyteller."
Smith fidgeted uncomfortably in the background until Belloq noticed him.
"Oh, sorry, Professor Smith," Rene said, pouring himself a cup of tea."I didn't see you there." He nodded to Smith and smiled, adding, "And my apologies about the name. But I didn't want Doctor Jones here to find out about me before he had found the map pieces for us."
Belloq smiled at Indy and stirred his tea before taking a sip.
"You can't beat England for a good cup of real tea." He said.
Indy sat on the corner of the desk and motioned for Belloq to sit down on Smiths chair. Rene nodded and obliged.
There was silence for a moment, then Indy said, "What happened on the Island, Rene. I thought you were dead."
Rene smiled and replied, "As I already said, I enjoyed your report, Marcus. It was quite an exciting tale." He shrugged in a guilty fashion then continued. "Far more exciting than the real events."
"I don't understand..." Indy began.
"Indiana, Indiana," Belloq laughed. "Think about it. You told Marcus your story after the 'adventure' had finished. It was he who, shall we say, 'embellished' the tale and wrote the confidential report."
"That's right!" Marcus exclaimed. "The report was confidential. How did you get to see it?"
Belloq waived the question aside. "I have my contacts." He said nonchalantly.
"The point is," He continued, "You wrote your report based on what Indiana told you."
Marcus shook his head questioningly. "So?" He said.
Rene smiled. "Then how do you explain my graphic death, if Indiana and Miss Ravenwood were the only ones to escape the island and they stated quite clearly that they kept their eyes closed the whole time the Ark was being opened? Where did you get such a wonderful description of the events that took place, when no one actually saw what was happening?"
Marcus looked sheepishly at Indy.
"Well, I admit I embroidered Indy's report a little, but just in the interests of filling in the empty spaces.
Indy nodded in agreement and said, "Anyway. After everything quietened down, the Island was deserted. You were all dead. Well, We thought you were."
Rene stood. "Exactly. You thought we were dead. Did you look? Did you check?" He shook his head. "You always did assume too much, my friend." He turned to Marcus and said, "However, the truth is much more the stuff of real adventures, Doctor Brody. I realised as soon as I looked into the Ark that things were not all well. Some of your account is quite accurate though and when some of the soldiers began to die, I too heeded Indianas words and closed my eyes. I turned my back to the Ark and ran, quite blindly out of the arena. I could hear the noise and the screams as I ran. I didn't stop till I reached the sea. It was quite a while before I opened my eyes. About an hour later I heard you and Miss Ravenwood talking as you went to the submarine to radio for help. When you went back to the Ark, I took a life raft from the submarine and escaped the island. I was adrift for three days before a freighter picked me up. So, now you know the truth."
Rene laughed again. "I must admit, though, I still prefer your version, Doctor Brody. I even heard someone say that one day it would make a good movie! I can see it now. 'Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark'."
Indy scowled. "At least we weren't Raiders like you. We were only after the truth."
Belloq laughed, annoying Indy. "We were both after the same thing, Indiana but you refuse to admit it. You weren't so honourable. You had the American government behind you."
"Yeah, and you had the Nazi's." Indy added darkly.
Belloq dismissed the remark with a wave of his hand.
"A difference of politics my friend, not archaeology." He said, slapping Indy on the arm.
"Imerely needed them for funds. I have no dealings with them now. And as I said, I truly am pleased to see you. I would like to hope the matter of the Ark is behind us?" He held out his hand to Indy, to shake.
Indy did not reciprocate.
"When I'm convinced your not up to no good again." He said.
"Any way, your thugs just tried to kill me." He added.
"A regrettable mistake." Belloq answered.
"That was never my intention. You were attacked, yes. Several times. But never once was your life in danger. I just wanted to arouse your curiosity enough to get you working for me. You always were a formidable detective when you were curious, or angry. That business on the train was not my doing. I didn't expect you to go running around on the top of railway carriages!" Rene chuckled to himself. "I would dearly liked to have seen that."
"Why should we trust you now?" Marcus asked.
Rene nodded in agreement. "You are right. Why should you? All I can say is that if you help me now, then I will tell you what became of the Ark."
Indy stared at Belloq. "What do you mean? How do you know..."
Belloq cut him short.
"I told you. I have connections. All I will say for now, is that after this is finished, then maybe you would like to go and retrieve the Ark once again. Believe me, Indiana, when I say that between us, we could do it."
Indy thought for a moment, then smiled, throwing a friendly punch at Rene.
"I never could resist a challenge." He said. "Now, Rene, as I already said, what's going on? And why do you want these cats?"
Belloq laughed loudly. "Excellent! What a team!"
He drew a notebook from his pocket and opened it to one of the pages, laying it on the table so they could all see.
Even Robert, who had said nothing so far and had been lost by most of the conversation was curious to see the book.
"This is a copy of some ancient writings from the lost library of Alexandria. Obviously I cannot verify the authenticity but I can vouch for the source and the translation ties in with many other findings regarding Cleopatra and her superstitions."
Indy turned the page toward himself and studied the markings.
"Is this an accurate copy?" He asked after a moment.
Rene could sense Indy's rising curiosity.
"Exact." Was all he said.
"What is it, Indy?" Marcus asked. Heiroglyphic translation was never one of his best areas of knowlege.
Indy looked at Rene questioningly and Rene nodded, smiling back at him.
"Well? Marcus asked. Indy scratched his unshaven chin.
"It's a variation on the markings around the cats necks." He said. "According to this, the words don't actually say anyone touching the cats will die." He paused, thinking about the full implication of this new piece of evidence.
"Well, go on." Marcus said, slightly exasperated.
"It says that anyone taking all thirteen cats to a place called 'The Library of the dead' will find..." Indy looked at the text again before continuing, "Life will become meaningless, as will the eternity of death." He looked up at Rene.
"You know what this means..." Belloq said.
"Abners old note books." They said in unison.
"Who's Abner?" Robert asked.
Indy waved the question away, saying, "An old friend of ours."
Marcus was having difficulty keeping up with the tale but was with them instantly at the mention of the notebooks.
"But they have never been found." He said. "And anyway, what have they got to do with the cats, or Cleopatra?"
Indy sat down.
"Years ago, when Rene and me were with Abner, he found some old manuscripts supposed to have come from a lost place in Alexandria. Funny, we never thought about the fabled lost library. Anyway, they told of some place that if you took certain funerary artifacts, and performed some kind of ritual, you would be granted everlasting life. Immortality, I guess."
"The cats?" Smith asked.
Rene shrugged and continued, "The manuscripts never said. It was only recently, when I was first asked, by pure chance, to look at one of the Cleopatra cats that I recognised the inscription and remembered Abners notes all those years ago." He smiled and said, "I knew after joining Smith here at the British museum and getting their support to find the rest of the cats that the only person who could help solve the map riddle was Indiana Jones."
Indy chuckled. "Helluva lot of trouble you went to to get my interest."
Then suddenly he was serious. "Why poison theose people?"
Rene looked genuinely concerned.
"You must believe me, Indiana, that is nothing to do with me. I admit, that foolishly I contacted my old allies in Germany when I first went after the cats. I needed money to conduct the neccessary research and work. Stupidly, I believed they were interested in the archeaological importance of the find."
Indy laughed sarcastically. "You expect me to believe that you didn't think they might be intersted in everlasting life? The master race, living for ever?"
Rene stared at the window. "Yes, it's true, I knew that that was their motive but I thought...maybe..."
"You thought you could outsmart them." Indy concluded.
Rene said nothing.
"Why the hell didn't you just ask me to help?" Indy said.
Rene looked at him.
"The last time we met, I tried to entomb you in the well of souls. I didn't think you would be particularly friendly. Or helpfull." He added.
Indy thought back to the time Belloq had helped the Nazi's push him into the pit of snakes. Snakes, he hated snakes!
He stood and squared up to Belloq, who instinctively backed away.
But the feeling of anger had passed and Indy slapped Rene on the arm.
"You should have known," he said, " I never could resist a challenge. What do we do now?"
CHAPTER 8 OLD ACQUAINTANCES
There had been many places Indiana Jones would have liked to revisit in his life. Equally, there were many places Indy would never wish to return to and a few he would never even consider. His heart beat faster at the thought of the place he was going to now.
It wasn't particularly frightening, it certainly wasn't dangerous but nevertheless, Indy was terrified. Not the kind of fear from a dangerous encounter and not the kind of fear borne of the unknown, or supernatural. Far from it. Indy was going to see an old friend. Someone he hadn't seen in more years than should have been. He swallowed hard as the cab he, Marcus and Rene were in drew up outside a small bar in New York. The flight from England had been straightforward, without any fuss and they had promised Robert they would send for him if needed. Robert was more than a little disappointed at not being included in the next stage of the adventure, as he called it but Indy insisted he stay in London to 'keep an eye on Smith' and report to them any further interference from the Nazis. Robert grudgingly agreed.
It was cold in New York at this time of year but still Indy managed a wry smile. It wasn't raining.
Then his thoughts returned to the current situation and his stomach turned again. They paid the cab driver and walked into the bar. Rene led, then Marcus, with Indy dragging reluctantly at the rear.
The bar was smoky and a tinny radio played forgettable tunes loudly in one corner. There was the unintelligible babble of mixed conversations but Indy could instantly pick out the one voice he was dreading to hear.
The trio moved nearer to the bar. Standing in front of them was a slender, dark haired woman, talking to a group of unshaven men. She had her back to Indy.
The trio never spoke but almost as if by telepathy, the woman sensed their presence. She was silent for a moment and the group of untidy men looked past her at Indy and the others, almost sensing trouble.
Still with her back to Indy, Marcus and Rene, she spoke.
"Hello, Jones. I knew you'd be back."
Then she turned to face Indy.
"Hello Marion." He said, ducking instinctively from a long awaited punch. It never came. Marion laughed quietly.
"Your not that important anymore." She said, her words hurting Indy more than any punch could ever have done.
"I never promised..."
"Skip it." She said, cutting Indy's sentence short. "I'm not that interes..." Her own words trailed off as she noticed Belloq standing in the dim light.
"Well I'll be..." She started.
"Hello Marion." Rene said quietly. "Long time no see."
"How the hell..." Marion murmured, stunned by the sight of a virtual ghost.
"You are as beautiful as ever." Belloq said, looking her up and down.
"Let's cut the bullshit." Indy exclaimed, sounding a little more jealous than he would have liked.
"Marion, you have some notes we need." Then, seeing that she wanted some kind of explanation as to the very existence of Belloq, he added, "And there's no time for explanations. Rene's back and we're working together. I'll tell you about it later. Are you going to help? It's your dads notebooks. We need them."
Marion stared at Belloq, dumbstruck for a while, before looking at Indy, then Marcus.
"Always good with words."
Marcus smiled but said nothing. Marion turned to Indy.
"Small books? Brownish covers? Lots of drawings and maps?"
Indy nodded enthusiastically.
"Don't know anything about them." Marion said annoyingly.
Indy stared skyward then Marion laughed.
"Yes, I know where they are. What's so important? You've seen them before. Both of you."
"Where are they?" Indy, Marcus and Belloq all said at once.
Marion almost stepped back in surprise.
"Keen, aren't we?" She said.
"Just get the books." Indy scowled.
Marion shook her head and pulled a pile of papers and oddments from a shelf under the bar.
The three men almost dived on them as she placed the heap on the counter but she kept her hands firmly on top.
"Just a minute." She said.
Indy was sure he could anticipate her next words.
"Not partners again?" He sighed.
Marion shook her head much to the surprise of the three men.
"All I want is for you to leave me alone. Take the books or whatever and don't come back. Promise."
Indy looked regretfully at her, remembering how they had once been together. Times and people change, he realised.
"I'll leave you alone." He said quietly.
Rene was sensitive enough to realise that there were times to speak, and times to be silent. He said nothing.
Marion raised her hands from the pile and turned to serve a waiting customer. When she looked back moments later the pile of papers and books were gone. So was Indiana Jones.
She wiped a small tear, coughed, then went back to her crowd of untidy men. Almost instantly, there was aloud smack from outside the building and Indy was propelled backwards through the door to collide with some large, irate customers who immediately shoved him beck toward the door. As the door was in the process of opening again, it caught Indy full in the face, throwing him back once again. The irate men were about to throw him out once again, when Indy suddenly stood up straight yelling,
"Hang on! I can do it myself!"
He lunged at the opening door and slammed it back on the person entering. A yell went up from outside.
"What the hell..." Exclaimed Marion, ducking behind the bar but she was almost instantly lifted unceremoniously by the scruff of the neck by a large, balding Japanese man in a black Mac.
He turned her and sat her on the bar facing him.
"Where are the note books, Miss Ravenwood?" He said in a deep, slobbering voice, as his eyes looked at every part of her except her face.
Marion never answered as at that instant, a large, dirty side window burst inwards, demolished by the unconscious form of another of the black coated men. Indy climbed through the gap after him, dusting himself down with his fedora as Rene shouldered his way in through the main door, dragging another of the thugs behind him. Marcus followed, carrying a gun in one hand and the stack of papers in the other.
Marion turned back to her captor with a self satisfied grin only to hear a click and come face to face with the barrel of a luger.
"The books." The man repeated. He looked over Marions shoulder at Indy and said slightly louder, "Stalemate, Doctor Jones." Then, in a slightly sad tone added, "Sorry to see you have gone over to the other side, Mr. Ballard, or is it Belloq? No matter. You will be missed, though."
"Let the girl go." Rene said quietly "She is of no use to you."
Marion smiled at a vague feeling of Deja Vu.
The thug nodded toward Marcus who still held the gun and the papers.
"Put everything on the bar here, next to me and back off. I assure you I will kill Miss Ravenwood if you don't." As if to emphasise the point, the thug pushed the gun harder into the side of Marions head. Marcus lowered the gun and at a nod from Indy, walked to the bar and put the pile of papers and books next to Marion. The silence in the bar was almost tangible and the assortment of customers stared, hardly daring to move, wondering what would happen next. They didn't have long to wait. The thug glanced down at the papers and in that instant, Marion grabbed a full bottle of Bourbon from the shelf next to her and brought it with all the force she could summon into the thugs temple, smashing the bottle and covering herself and the man in liquor. The gasps of surprise turned once more to astonished silence as the thug shook his head lightly, raised a finger to lift a drip from his chin and put it on his outstretched tongue without even batting an eye.
"I prefer Saki." He muttered, pushing Marion backwards off the bar. She fell with a clatter among the tables and chairs behind her but didn't actually hurt herself any more than a slightly bruised ego.
Both Rene and Indy moved but the thug waved the gun again. They both moved back. A groan came from the man at Indy's feet as he moved feebly among the wreckage of the broken window. He was bleeding badly from a deep cut on the side of his neck.
"Get up!" The balding thug growled. "Help that other fool."
The dazed men staggered to their feet and moved over to the bar, picking up the papers.
"Thank you, gentlemen. You have been most helpful. Now, I won't be needing you any more." Then, to the astonishment and horror of everyone in the bar, the thug fired on his accomplices, killing them both. They slumped to the floor, pulling the pile of documents all over themselves as they fell.
"And now the real books Miss Ravenwood, if you value your friends lives..." He continued as he levelled the gun at Indy.
Then, to Indy's surprise, Marion slowly put her hand in the old cash box and drew out two battered old notebooks. She passed them to the man with the mumbled words, "Sorry, Jones."
Indy was about to speak but the thug interrupted him.
"Nice to be trusted by your friends, Doctor Jones. Now, goodbye."
He raised the gun to point at Indy's head and squeezed the trigger.
CHAPTER 9. AN ANIMATED DISCUSSION.
Indy breathed the biggest sigh of relief in his life when the thugs gun clicked, once, twice, three times. It was empty. He grinned and in an almost swaggering fashion, went for his own revolver. A strange feeling of Deja-vu passed over him as he drew his gun almost cockily from it's holster. His self assured grin turned to a look of concern, however, when the thug made it clear he was not through yet. From a scabbard concealed at his back inside his jacket he stretched back and drew out a wicked looking Japanese broadsword. He passed it from hand to hand a few times, climbed over the bar to stand no more than five feet from Indy and took up a typical Samurai fighting stance. He gave Indy an evil smile. Indy shrugged as he gave Marcus a quick glance, then looked at the thug and fired.
In an instant, almost faster than sight, the thug flicked the sword blade and a sharp screech, like fingernails on a chalkboard was instantly followed by the sound of breaking glass as a window shattered to one side from the impact of the deflected bullet. The thug stood and stared at Indy with an even larger grin.
"Jesus, Marcus!" Indy exclaimed. "Did you see that?"
The thug had deflected Indy's bullet with almost lightning reflexes but his sword blade was now two feet shorter. Indy looked at the remains of the sword. It was still more than capable of killing him.
The thug passed the sword to his other hand and took a tentative step forward.
"Second time lucky?" Indy said grimly as he fired again.
Again, with lightning reflexes, the thug threw up his empty hand and drew it sharply back towards his chest, his hand clenched as a fist.
Indy stared, dumbfounded as the thug held out his hand and opened it, palm up. There in his open hand was Indy's bullet.
Indy's jaw dropped open.
Marcus leaned on Rene for support.
The thug moved in toward Indy.
Suddenly, a young, higher pitched voice from the shadows said, "Er, Excuse me."
The thug looked to his right, caught unawares. Instantly, Indy pistol-whipped him across the side of his head and the man dropped to the floor like a stone.
"Catch that, you son of a bitch." Said Indy, through gritted teeth. Then he looked up as the owner of the strange but familiar voice moved from the shadows into view.
"Robert!" Indy, Marcus and Rene all exclaimed at once.
Rene bent over and retrieved the notebooks, cramming them inside his shirt as Indy strode over to the sheepish looking Robert.
"You're supposed to be in London." Indy exclaimed, embracing the young man gratefully. He had just possibly saved his life. Then he added, "But I sure am glad you're here." He looked down at the unconscious Japanese thug. He grasped Robert's hand and shook it vigorously.
"Anyway, what the hell are you doing here. You're supposed to be watching Smith."
Robert shrugged and said simply, "He's gone. Disappeared."
Indy frowned and looked at Rene.
"I don't like the sound of that. Any ideas where he could have gone?"
Both Marcus and Rene walked over to Indy and Robert.
"Isn't anyone gonna help me up?" A thin voice wailed from behind them. They all turned to see Marion struggling to her feet. She was shaken but obviously unhurt from her flight off the bar top and her fainting spell.
Indy looked at her and turned back to Belloq.
"Well? Any clues?" He repeated, giving Rene a sly wink. Belloq grinned at him and deliberately ignored Marion.
"There were various people involved from the German side as well as the Japanese." He said.
"That's what I call gentlemanly!" Marion exclaimed.
"The Jap's working with the Nazi's? That's unheard of." Indy murmured.
"Well, that's fine. Just ignore me!" Marion called, struggling to her feet.
"They seemed to have some kind of agreement from higher up. I think Hitler wants the cats badly. He's willing to make almost any kind of a deal with anyone to get them." Rene said thoughtfully.
Indy scratched at his chin, also thinking.
"Men!" Marion moaned.
Indy, Marcus and Rene all turned at once and in unison called, "Shut up, will you?" Marion's eyes grew wide in surprise,...But she shut up.
Well, the Nazi's think the cats have some kind of hypnotic, deadly power over anyone who touches them. I'm not surprised they will do anything to get them." Marcus said, joining in the discussion.
"You don't suppose they know the real story of the cats, do you?" Robert said. "I mean, if they thought they could actually give some kind of immortality or something..." He left the statement hanging.
Indy looked questioningly at Belloq. "Well? What do you think?" He said.
"I suppose they could." Rene said after a moments though. "I mean, anything we could discover, they could find out as well. Abner wasn't the only one who saw those original hieroglyphs. Someone else could have copied them down. They could have gotten information somewhere else."
"Great!" Indy exclaimed. "So they could know what we do, or even more."
Marcus looked confused. "But why murder those Lords and politicians if there wasn't really any purpose? What about the threat to the American summit meeting?"
Indy smacked his forehead.
"What an idiot! A blind!" He cursed vehemently.
"A what?" Robert said.
"A blind. a red herring. They knew it would come to my attention and it would get me interested."
He turned and grinned at Belloq.
"They've been playing you for a fool, Rene. You thought it was your idea to get me involved. The Nazi's and the Jap's planned this all along."
Rene looked slightly confused. "But why?" He said.
Marcus gave the answer that Indy thought to himself but wouldn't voice.
"Because with the two greatest archaeologists in the world working for them they are sure to find all the cats and solve the greatest riddle of all."
"And what might that be?" Marion asked, coming to stand next to Rene. She looked up at him and grinned, seemingly embarrassed. He smiled at her and she kicked him hard in the shin, causing him to cry out in pain. Her fist drew back to land a punch on his jaw but Indy caught her wrist.
"Forget it, Marion." He said, sternly.
"That bastard tried to kill us!" She shouted.
"It's a long story, Marion but like I said, for now, forget it."
She shook her wrist free from Indy's grip and stood, fuming with anger. "Later!" She hissed. Then she turned to Marcus.
"Like I said, What mystery."
Marcus looked at her then at Indy.
"The mystery of life after death."
There was silence for a moment, then Marion burst out laughing.
"Jones, you sure do come up with some real crap."
Then, seeing no one else was laughing, her grin faltered.
"You don't really mean it? I mean, life after death, as in, immortality? Come on, you must be..." She looked at the three men in turn. "I'm interested." She said.
Indy groaned inside. Suddenly, Marion was all business.
"Okay you guys." She called out to her regular customers that were still remaining. Most had fled as soon as the fighting had started. "Closing time. Shows over." She clapped her hands and ushered the remaining men to the door like a schoolmarm dismissing her class. As the last of them left, Marion closed the door and locked it. Indy chuckled at this last action, considering there was no window to one side of the door. She pulled several chairs around one of the larger tables as Rene and Indy went off in separate directions to find some rope to tie up their captive before he came round again.
Classes clinked and a couple of bottles of bourbon were put on the table. The Japanese thug was locked, still comatose, in a store room then they all sat down.
"Now, Jones, what's going on?" Marion said as she poured five generous glasses of liquor.
Indy sighed and interspersed with comments from the others, he filled Marion in on as much, or as little, as he thought she needed to know.
"So that's why you want Abner's notebooks. To work out the rest of the translation properly." She said after Indy finally stopped talking.
"And we are hoping the books will give us a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing cats." Marcus added.
"Possibly even tell us where Cleopatra's resting place actually is." Rene put in. Marion scowled at him. She still had a score to settle with this man who had feigned so much affection, only to allow her to be thrown to the snakes in the Well of Souls.
Rene shrugged at her, almost reading her mind.
Marion looked at Indy and said, "I thought Cleopatra was cremated on the Nile, on a big ship, or something."
It was Marcus who answered. "There has always been disputes about that. The Egyptians didn't go in for cremation as a rule. They thought that if you burned the body, the person couldn't go on to the next life. Also, Cleopatra was incredibly superstitious. She wouldn't have done anything to jeopardise her chances of immortality. No one is really certain what actually happened to her body. If we were to find her, well..."
"We'd be rich as hell." Marion finished.
"That's not the idea, Marion." Indy said sternly.
"You have your ideas, Jones, I'll have mine. You need dads notes. You need me. Anyway, where are the notebooks?"
Rene pulled the books from his jacket and passed them to Indy, deliberately evading her sudden grasp at them.
Indy laid the books on the table and pulled out the notes they had so far amassed. Heads were bent over the writings and a full two hours of study and discussion passed. The two bottles of Bourbon were drunk.
"There must be more to it than this!" Exclaimed Indy, frustrated at their seeming lack of progress. "Hours. And were no further ahead. The books don't tell us anything we don't already know."
Marcus frowned. "Abners notes do hint at something more than just eternal life though. I mean, the part about life being a circle or a wheel that goes round.." He flicked through a few pages of one of the books. "Here. " He coughed and read out from the page.
"Time is a circle. Like a wheel and we are on the rim." He looked up at the others. "What do you suppose that means?"
Indy shrugged. "Beats me." He said, stretching his aching arms.
"Well, what about this piece?" Marcus said, reading again from the page. "From a single light shall light dawn. Strength in one, weakness in many." He shook his head, uncomprehending. Marion yawned and stood.
"I'll get another bottle." She said, going off into another room.
Rene turned the notebook to face himself and leafed through the pages randomly. "What about these strange markings?" He said, pointing to the odd squiggles and lines on the top corner of each page.
"I saw those." Indy commented. "They don't look like any glyphs I've ever seen before." The corner of each page in the notebook had different markings on. Some were small horizontal lines, some were vertical, others were curved but all were different. Indy shook his head and grinned. "Abner always did like cryptic clues and codes." He said. Marion backed through a swinging door carrying a tray laden with bread, cheeses and fruit, as well as more bottles.
"Hungry?" She said. The notes and books were gratefully left and they all tucked in to the simple but satisfying meal. After a while, Marion said, "So what now?"
Indy put down an apple and pointed to the page that was open in front of him. "Marcus was commenting on the bit about life being a wheel but we still have no idea what it means, or where to look for the library or tomb."
Marcus swallowed a large piece of cheese and added, "And we can't work out how to decipher the code." Marion looked puzzled. "What code?" She asked.
Marcus tapped the markings on the page.
Marion chuckled and lifting the note book, she turned it to face them and slowly fanned the pages from start to finish of the notebook.
Indy's jaw dropped as before his eyes, the flickering image of a columned building, with the picture of a book above the door appeared on the pages.
"How the hell did you do that?" He gasped.
"Haven't you ever seen Mickey Mouse?" Marion asked. Indy shook his head dumbly, his eyes wide with amazement.
"It's animation!" Marcus exclaimed. "I've seen it. That's how animated films are made." Marcus took the book from Marion and repeatedly flicked the pages to stare at the image.
"It's brilliant!" He exclaimed.
Suddenly, Indy pulled through the other papers to find their two halves of their map. He placed the halves together and tracing the image with his finger, he found an identical copy of the building near the drawing of the river. The only difference was the building on the map had no book drawn above the door.
"A building with four columns at the front." He said. They all looked at the map, then , as Marcus fanned the pages once more, they exclaimed in unison, "The library. We've found it! It's at the side of the river!"
Marion laughed out loud but Indy silenced her by saying, "Why the hell didn't you show us that two hours ago?"
Marion stared back, startled by Indy's manner. "Look, buster, if you told ME half the truth, maybe I'd know what your really looking for! Any way, I never even thought about it. Dad used to show me lots of funny little flick books like that."
The import of what she had just said hit her like a thunderbolt.
"LOTS OF THEM?" Indy cried. "Where are they?"
Marion was already heading up the stairs behind the bar as he said it. Moments later, she returned carrying three more small notebooks. "There's nothing else in them, except his little moving pictures. I never thought they meant anything." She passed the books to Indy and he took one as Marcus and Rene lifted the others.
The books, when fanned in the same way, showed a circle containing twelve different sized lines in a ring and a large letter 'C' at the centre, A large rectangle divided vertically in the centre with what looked like the letter 'S' mirrored on each side of the centre line, And a picture of pieces of a cat, which moved to form a whole cat as the pages were flicked. The cat finally had a circle appear around it.
"I wonder what they all mean?" Marcus said, voicing everyone's thoughts.
"Maybe we'll find out in Alexandria." Rene said quietly.
"I can't understand the lack of information on the hieroglyphs." Said Marcus. "I felt sure we would find out more about the translation of the markings on the actual cats and maybe even where the others are."
"Maybe Abner kept that in his head." Rene said quietly.
"Abner? Never." Indy said. "He wrote down everything. We must be missing a book."
He turned to Marion. "Is there anything else? Any more books, or notes? Anything?"
She shook her head. "No. Everything he left in that scruffy little case of his was in that pile. These are the only books."
Indy sighed. "Well, Alexandria first. We can work on the Hieroglyphs when we find the other cats."
"If we find them." Robert added quietly. He hadn't said much so far but was intensely interested in the whole puzzle.
"Things are certainly more interesting around you people than at the museum." He added.
Suddenly, there was a sound of breaking glass and Indy jumped to his feet.
"The Jap!" He exclaimed, running to the store cupboard. Marion unlocked the door and they burst in to find the thug gone. On the floor lay the ropes, still knotted and in coils as if the man had simply vanished from within them. A side window was broken and moments later the sound of a car starting, then racing away came in to them.
"Shit." Indy cried, punching his own open hand.
"Do you think he heard anything?" Marcus asked, already knowing the answer.
"C'mon. Alexandria!" Indy said through gritted teeth.
CHAPTER 10. THE LIBRARY.
The sun was hot. Incredibly hot A strong breeze blew over the Sahara, increasing in temperature as it passed over the scorching sand. It touched Indy's face like the heat from an opened oven door. He smiled. He was a contented man, doing what he knew and liked best, in one of his favourite countries.
Robert had never been to North Africa although he had heard much about it. It was far hotter and more inhospitable than he had ever imagined. Even Marcus was finding the heat a bit much, he noted.
"How do you stand this heat, Doctor Jones?" The young man asked, for the tenth time.
Indy smiled. "Indy. I keep telling you. Indy. Anyway, it's not hot. You should be here in July. That's hot!" He lifted his fedora, scratched his head and pulled the hat down over his eyes again.
"Did we have to walk the last two miles though?" Robert asked. They had left their truck some time ago and he was beginning to think the British Museum wasn't so bad after all.
"You can hear an engine for over a mile in the desert." Rene said. "We don't want to announce our arrival to..." He left the sentence unfinished.
"To who?" Asked Marion. She had insisted on coming as without her books, they 'would still be floundering about at home' as she put it and she was also very interested in the whole affair now. No one could complain, as she was right and anyway, she was standing up to the conditions as well as any of them.
"Who knows?" Indy answered, looking ahead. "The Jap's; The Nazi's; Smith and his thugs; All of them?" He shrugged his shoulders. They climbed another large, soft, foot-trapping dune and peered over the top. There, below was the largest archaeological site Robert had ever seen. He whistled quietly. "It, It's as big as...as..." He murmured.
"A city?" Indy said, finishing Roberts' sentence. He pulled them all down into the shelter of the dune, out of sight of anyone looking their way and drew out the map.
"We're on the Eastern side, fairly near the river mouth but we have to get across, to the library building." He tapped the map with his finger.
"Couldn't we have come at the site from that side?" Marion asked. Whenever she was with Indy it seemed to involve getting cooked, frozen, or wet and she had no desire to ask how they would cross the river. She was certain she already knew.
"No access." Indy replied. "There are mountains on that side. Unless, of course you fancy mountaineering in this heat?"
Marion scowled but said no more.
"We'll wait till dark before we move. Maybe we'll get lucky. Who knows. Maybe we'll find a boat or something."
Marion looked skyward. "Yeah, sure.." She grumbled.
It was fairly cool as the sun sank beneath the horizon and Robert, and the others, were glad. Marion was just beginning to feel relaxed and more than a little sleepy when Indy disturbed the calm.
"Right. Let's go."
Marion jerked fully awake, only to realise she had nodded off with her head resting on Rene's shoulder. He was gently supporting her with one arm. She pulled back sharply from him. "Hands off bud!" She exclaimed, sounding more angry than she actually felt. She was more than a little surprised at the realisation that her hatred was turning to mere distrust. Rene held his hands up and said, "I was only stopping you from falling over, my Cherie."
"Don't 'SHERRY' me ANYTHING." She growled, scrambling to her feet.
Indy, Marcus and Robert were already heading down the slope to the site below. Marion stumbled in the soft sand and Belloq took her elbow to stop her falling. She pulled back once, then let him hold her arm as she tripped a second time.
"Just don't try anything, buster." She said, leaning more than a little on him for support. Rene struggled to keep a straight face.
"Are you two gonna romance all night?" Indy called back to them.
Marion jerked her arm away from Rene and stamped off after the others.
"Watch your mouth, Jones!" She exclaimed, furiously. She was, however, glad it was dark enough to cover the flush she felt rising in her face.
As they headed toward the dig, Indy mused on his strange relationship now with Marion and Rene. He knew that years ago, he would have been intensely jealous of the obviously decreasing mistrust that Marion held for Belloq. He would also have been extremely unhappy at the feelings Rene still blatantly showed toward her, even after all that had passed. Rene had been an unwitting pawn in a game too big for him back then and whatever Marion might shout, Belloq had genuinely been very fond of her at the time. He obviously still was. Indy smiled. He was older now. Too old? He wondered. Marion was a lover once, then a good friend and accomplice. Now she was just a part of his life. Even when they were apart, they were together he realised. She was like the sister he had never had. He would always care about her but anything more? He wasn't sure anymore. And Rene. Sure, they had been archaeological enemies in the past but Indy dimly realised it had all been part of the fun. Part of the game. Rene had somehow always been a friend. A close friend. Even when they had been on opposite sides. Even during the business with the Ark. Rene hadn't actually done him any harm. Not himself. Not deliberately. He was just on the wrong team at the wrong time. Indy looked back at him bringing up the rear, holding a rifle at the ready, watching their backs. He smiled. He looked at Marcus, puffing along at his side. Never complaining, always like a schoolboy on a new adventure. He looked at Robert, this new 'member of the gang' and realised he was much like himself when he was younger. Would there ever be any 'Adventures of Robert Robert', he wondered? Also, he realised, there was someone missing from 'the gang'. Dad.
Suddenly, a strange feeling came over him and he knew he loved all these people and that somehow, something was going to change. He didn't know how he knew, but his well trusted inner sight told him to cherish this moment, as it would never be the same again.
"There's the gate." Indy snapped back to reality. Marcus had spoken and in the gloom ahead, he saw the jagged, broken pillars of the old City's Eastern gate.
"Quiet." He hissed to them all, now fully in command again.
"Wait here." The others stopped without question and Indy crept ahead to the gate and vanished into the city. Moments later, his voice came quietly but clearly through the darkness.
"OK, You guys. C'mon."
The company filed between the pillars and saw Indy standing with someone else. They all tensed instantly. Then the stranger began to quietly sing.
"A British soul is a soaring soul, as free as a mountain bird..."
"Sallah!" Marcus and Marion called together.
Sallah came forwards, embracing them all in turn, even Robert, even Rene. He looked at the Frenchman and said, "You look well, my friend, for a dead man."
He laughed and slapped Belloq on the shoulder who stared for a moment, then laughed himself, slapping Sallah even harder on the arm.
"Indy wired me before you left." He said in answer to the unspoken question.
"Now, we must move. I have everything you asked for, but you are not the first at the new dig. A group of German and Japanese archaeologists and soldiers arrived yesterday and they have been looking all along this side of the river for a tall building with four columns."
Indy looked at Rene. "The Jap. He heard us."
"But this side of the river?" Why this side? We never said anything about which side of the river the library was on. And anyway, it's on the other side." Rene said, puzzled.
Then the proverbial penny dropped and Indy laughed. "Don't you see? They only ever had one half of the map. They never saw our piece. It only shows one side of the river on each piece."
Then Indy turned to Sallah and in another strange repeat of time, they said in unison,
"They're digging in the wrong place!" Then they both burst out laughing, much to the confusion of Rene and the others.
"The Jap must have heard our description of the building; large, with a four columned facade. Only the foundations will be there now, so they're digging, hoping to find the bases of the four columns."
Then Robert spoke excitedly. "But they're not there!"
"They're on the other side of the river." Marion finished, also getting caught up in the excitement of it all.
"We can't afford to waste time." Indy said. "It won't be long before they discover their mistake and start digging on the other side. We have to move quickly."
"But how will we find the building? How can we work without being seen?" Robert asked. Indy turned and stared across the moonlight dappled water.
"We get help and we dig at night."
No more was said and the company followed Sallah to a boat at the rivers edge, where they crossed, dry, much to Marions pleasure and were taken to a safe house away from the site of the digging where they were greeted by an attractive but older lady who Sallah claimed, in a slightly embarrassed tone, was an 'old friend'. They were well fed and tucked up for the remainder of the night and Indy slept as soundly as he had ever done.
It was well into the next day when he awoke to find Sallah was gone and the woman, whose name was Celicia, was packing seemingly enormous amounts of food for their first nights work.
Some hours later Sallah returned with the news that he had secured the services of an excellent group of diggers at minimal cost. Indy shook his head at the seeming ingenuity of the man.
"What the hell did I ever do without you?" He laughed.
"You let him win all the time." Sallah replied, nodding toward Belloq. They were all silent for a second before they burst out laughing.
The sun set was glorious over the line of hills and Marion stared at the sight dreamily, only vaguely aware that someone was at her shoulder watching her. She was thinking of this odd group of people and how strange it was that she should be in another adventure with them all. It was like time repeating itself.
"You know, Indy," She said, without turning, "I kinda missed all this, you know? The adventure, the fights, even Rene. I guess I knew it wasn't really his fault, you know, the well of souls and all that. But still, you gotta blame someone. Don't tell him, but I kinda liked him really. You know. Boyish charm and all that. You don't mind do you. It's not like us, we're sorta, well, different. But Rene, well, he's kinda...different..." She finished lamely. She turned to look at Indy but received a jolt to see it wasn't Indy standing behind her.
It was Rene.
Instantly, she went scarlet and drew up a fist to hit him. Rene caught her wrist and for a moment, their faces were only inches apart. There was a stilted but gentle silence that seemed to last an eternity. Marion moved slightly toward him and stretched up on her toes and closed her eyes. She felt Rene let go of her wrist and seconds later she opened her eyes.
Rene had gone.
Her mind flashed back several years and the words," How come we never get the breaks?" flashed through her head.
A while later, she heard Indy say, "Time to go." and she vaguely wondered if he had seen what had happened but neither she nor Indy ever spoke of it.
Two days of uneventful searching passed and Indy and the others began to wonder if indeed they were on the right trail.
There was little left of the ancient city and most of the ruins were almost impossible to decipher without a lot of patient study. Time they could ill afford.
Late into the third night, Indy was in the middle of a heated argument with Rene about the next area to try, when Robert burst into the room.
"We've found it!" He blurted.
"We've found the library!"
CHAPTER 11. IS A STAIRWELL A WELL WITHOUT WATER?.
Indy and Rene ceased arguing at once and headed for the door at a dead run. As they were leaving they passed Marion and Marcus coming in.
"What's the rush?" Marcus asked.
"The library!" Indy yelled, not breaking stride. The moonlight was casting a bright blue glow across the dig site and Indy could see a great deal of activity on the hillside to his right.
"They've got those damn lamps again." He cursed, running toward the recent dig. "Put them out, damn you." he hissed as he ran past each man with a light. The Egyptian workers were good at their job but now that they had found their goal they could see no need for secrecy. "Christ, the Nazi's will be all over us!" He cursed as the last light was finally extinguished. He couldn't believe the stupidity of these men.
Marcus and Marion had found Sallah and joined Indy, Rene and Robert at a clear patch of stone some ten metres by six, cleared of all sand and loose stone. Spaced evenly along the slab were the remains of four thick columns. Indy stood with his hands on his hips, pleased with the discovery.
"Now to find a way down." He said.
"What do you mean, down?" Marion asked. "I thought there would be a building. How can this be a library? There's nothing left."
Rene smiled. "That is not important. The main rooms were always lower down. It was cooler to work. The important books and scrolls would be in the lower chambers."
"That's right. And we have to find the way in." Indy added.
"Already done." Sallah answered from behind. Indy turned to see the man standing on a raised stone area surrounded by sand. Indy grinned and shook his head. "You guys deserve double pay." He said.
"It is just as well these men do not speak your language, my friend. They would hold you to that." Sallah chuckled. "Now, look." He pointed to a long, dark stairwell leading into the blackness below. The stone block that had been covering it was propped precariously on some smaller pieces of stone.
"When do you suppose anyone last went down there?" Marion asked nervously.
"We know tomb robbers found this place a few centuries ago," Indy replied. "They brought out the first writings describing the cats and the tomb of Cleopatra. Luckily for us, the robbers had the sense to hide the place again, or it would have been looted years ago and its whereabouts common knowledge."
"How do you know it isn't empty anyway?" Robert asked. Indy passed the young man a wooden torch, as yet unlit. "Now's when we find out." He said. "After you?"
Robert looked from Indy, to Marcus, then Rene and Marion. "No, Doctor Jones," He laughed nervously. "After you."
Indy grinned and descended the first twenty or so steps before lighting his torch. The others followed, all except Sallah, who magnanimously said he would wait outside and keep watch!
The stairwell was surprisingly sand free further down and the air had a dry, dusty smell to it. It was a long way to the bottom and Indy calculated they were well below the river level when they reached a level floor. He waited for the others to join him. They all stared around at what was a surprisingly small chamber with a few alcoves in each wall. All were empty.
"This can't be right." Marion cried. "There's nothing here!"
Indy lifted his hat and mopped his brow with it.
"Wait a minute. Think." He said, looking around the small room. "They wouldn't make a room this small, so far underground, without good reason."
Indy looked around, staring at the alcoves in turn. Something wasn't right.
"Indiana." Rene said, breaking his thought. "I have an idea. Bring all of the torches over here, to the bottom of the stairwell." Indy shrugged and motioned for the others to do it. They assembled in a group around Rene.
"Hold the torches close together, above the bottom step." He said. Again, Indy shrugged and they all did as Belloq asked.
Rene strained his eyes into the gloom, studying the flickering shadows. Then Indy saw what Rene was looking for. There, a few steps up from the bottom, was the faint outline of a hidden door on the stairway. The light, now all concentrated in one place, was casting a single, clear shadow in the fine gap between the door and the wall.
"Brilliant, Rene." Indy said, striding over to the doorway. "With the lights all scattered around, there was no shadow cast. No one would see the doorway if more than one light was brought down here."
"From one light, shall light dawn." Marcus suddenly said. "Remember? Abner's notes." Indy nodded. "Yeah. Strength in one, weakness in many." He added. "C'mon. Let's get that door open." He passed his torch to Marion who also took Robert's and Marcus'. She struggled to hold all five aloft and stepped back, giving them room. The five men put their shoulders to the door and pushed. There was a faint creak but nothing more. "Again!" Grunted Indy and they all pushed again, harder than before. For some time they pushed, heaved and grunted until they were all sweating in the cramped, smoky confined space. Marcus felt a tickle, as sweat ran down his arm. He turned his hand over absently, to mop the wet patch. There, disappearing up his sleeve, was a large black spider. He yelled in panic, flicking his arm, sending the spider flying across the chamber. Robert was on it in an instant, grinding it into the floor with his heel.
"Sorry, Indy." Marcus mumbled. They all turned back to the doorway and stared. "It shouldn't be this difficult. Not with so many of us." He said.
Then Marion grinned, suddenly understanding. "Here. Take these." She said, thrusting the torches toward Indy who took them, puzzled. Marion stepped forward and with a dramatic flourish, extended her forefinger and placed the tip in the middle of the door. She gave a gentle push. There was a barely audible 'click' and the door moved in a fraction, then sprang outwards a foot or so.
"Voila!" She exclaimed, looking at Rene, then Indy.
"Well I'll be..." Indy said, stunned. "A simple spring lock, opening outwards. And we were pushing hard against it. No wonder it wouldn't open! What gave you the idea?" He said, impressed with Marion's work.
"You did." She said simply. "You said it shouldn't be difficult, not with so many. What did dad's notes say? Strength in one, weakness in many." Indy smacked his forehead. "He wasn't talking about the light. He meant the door! Good old Abner."
Quickly, the torches were passed back to each of them and Indy pulled the door wide open. As they passed through, Indy placed a piece of loose rock in the opening to stop the door closing. "It may open easy from that side but who says it will from in here." He said.
There was a short flat area then more steps led downward to another, much larger chamber below. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Robert pointed up at the ceiling in the passage leading up behind them. At regularly spaced intervals were round, domed protrusions hanging downwards, like thick, squat stalactites. "What are they?" He said, as he stepped off the last stair to stand beside the others. Indy looked up at the shapes and yelled "Shit!" At the same time as there came a faint 'click' from the bottom step.
"Up the stairs! NOW!" He yelled, leaping up the steps, four at a time. The others, panicked by his words and actions, followed close behind, not sure what was wrong. They had hardly gone half way up the stairs when Indy came to a dead stop and hissed, "QUIET!"
Faintly at first, then growing louder, there came a deep rumbling sound which they could feel through their feet.
Indy turned and pushed them all back.
"Down the stairs! NOW!"
Frantically, they all scrambled down the stairs as the rumble became a deafening crescendo of noise in the confined space. They all fled into the open chamber at the bottom of the stairs and Robert stopped and turned just as Indy literally flew past him, grabbing his arm and virtually yanking him off his feet. Mere seconds later a five ton block of granite exploded from the stair way and landed exactly where Robert had been standing. He hardly had time to grab his breath, when Indy raced back past the block onto the stairs, yelling,
"Up the stairs! NOW!"
Still too confused to speak, and stunned by the turn of events, they all followed him, gasping, back onto the stairs. They didn't get far. Water. Water like they couldn't believe, was flooding down the stairs in an increasing torrent, pouring in waterfalls from holes in the ceiling where the clay domes had once been.
They struggled on, slower and slower, almost wading, now thigh deep in the fast moving flood. Then, a gunshot echoed in the stairwell above. "SALLAH!" Indy yelled above the noise of the floodwater. He took a split second decision, turned in the spray filled, choking stairwell and yelled,
"Down the stairs! NOW!"
Scrambling, falling over each other in almost blind panic, they made their way back into the chamber, past the block which was thankfully impeding the flow of water.
"What the hell has happened?" Marion yelled, as they all stood, coughing and gasping in the chamber, treading water as the amount increased inexorably around their legs. It was a losing battle.
"An old Egyptian trick..." Indy began.
"Yes, quite interesting, really." Marcus added. "It was usually sand. First noted in the tomb of..."
"Shut up, Marcus! We don't want a history lesson!" Indy yelled. "It's simple. Robert, you got off the last step after us. There must have been some kind of pressure operated lever that tripped when there was no one else on the stairs. That released the granite block down the stairway, breaking all those clay cones on the ceiling, releasing all the water.
"You mean were trapped?" Marion cried.
Indy looked grimly at Marcus.
"Worse?" Marion whispered.
"Someone up there fired a gun." Indy replied.
" Who? You mean we're stuck down here with all this water coming in!" Marion yelled, the panic obvious in her voice. She grabbed Rene's arm without thinking.
"How much will come down here?" Robert said, nervously, half afraid of the answer. Indy looked at him squarely.
"How much water is in the Mediterranean?" He said through clenched teeth.
The icy cold water was up to chest level and was rising fast.
"Do something, Indy, dammit!" Marion screamed as her torch died in the rising flood.
CHAPTER 12. A WATERY GRAVE.
Indy quickly appraised the situation and thrust his torch into Marcus' hand.
"Rene! Get over here!" He yelled. Belloq waded over to Indy and passed his torch to Robert.
"Give me a leg up!" Indy yelled, pointing at the granite block which was almost covered in water. Rene cupped his hands, locking his fingers together and heaved upwards when Indy put his foot in his palms. Indy almost sailed over the block completely, such was the force with which Belloq propelled him.
"Thanks!" He yelled, dryly, scrambling to his feet on top of the stone. "Pass me a torch!" A torch was thrown up to him and he caught it by the base. Quickly, he turned and jammed the narrow wooden pole into a crack in the masonry above the door, near to the ceiling above his head..
"Indy! Do something!" Marion yelled as the water crept up around her chin. She was already standing on tip toes and Marcus was now also having difficulty keeping his head above the rapidly rising water.
"Er, Yes, Indiana. Now would be a good time to do something." He said in his usual understated way.
"Tread water!" Indy yelled. "Great!" Marion shouted back. "And what happens when our heads hit the roof? Deep breaths?" She shouted sarcastically. Indy pointed up at the ceiling. "Look!" He yelled above the churning noise of the water. "The holes in the roof. They must be the air vents. If we block them, the water might stop coming in!"
"MIGHT?" Marion shouted. "Is that it? MIGHT?"
"YOU GOT ANY BETTER IDEAS?" Indy yelled back.
"What about the block? Could we all stand on it?" She shouted.
"Too low." Indy replied. "When the waters up to the roof, it won't be high enough."
"What do we fill the holes with?" Rene shouted, going back to Indy's idea. They were all now treading water or swimming for their lives and the roof was only feet above their heads. The top of the stairwell arch was completely submerged.
"Use your clothes!" Indy shouted, struggling out of his shirt. "If we block the vents, we might cause an air trap up here. At least it will buy us some time! Now do it!"
Frantically they all wriggled out of their shirts, a task made doubly difficult as it made swimming or treading the water almost impossible and they kept going under, only to have to kick off the bottom to raise to the surface again to gasp more of the valuable disappearing air.
"YOU STRIP OFF, JONES!" Marion yelled. "I'VE GOT NOTHING ON UNDER THIS SHIRT!"
"Indy gulped in a mouthful of water and spat it out. "THEN DROWN!" He shouted, ripping his shirt in half and cramming a piece into two separate holes. He drove the wet material into the three inch diameter holes with his fist, splitting his knuckles but wedging the hole tight. The others did the same and Marcus yelled,
"I THINK IT'S WORKING. THE WATER HAS SLOWED DOWN. I CAN FEEL THE INCREASED PRESSURE IN MY EARS." Indy struggled round and looked over to Marion who was still clothed beneath the last two open air vents.
"MARION! FOR CHRIST'S SAKE GET YOU CLOTHES OFF!" He yelled. Marion cursed and shouted, "WELL DON'T ANY OF YOU CREEPS PEEK!" Indy closed his eyes as his head touched the roof but he was closing them in frustration. He heard someone behind him cough and choke. He wasn't sure if it was Robert or Marcus.
"MARION!" He yelled one more time. The water was up to his mouth and he had to tilt his head back to get any air. The torch wedged in the wall was beginning to spit and grow dark.
Marion pulled her shirt over her head and ripped it up the middle. She was gasping and choking for air now which made her movements doubly difficult. Slowly, she crammed the first piece of fabric into one of the two remaining holes. As she did so, the final hole became the only outlet for the remaining air and the pressure of the water turned it into a suction pipe.
The last piece of Marion's shirt was jammed into the hole and almost instantly disappeared into the pipe as if it was sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner.
"IT'S NOT WORKING!" She cried. "THE PIPES TOO BIG!"
"USE YOUR SKIRT!" Indy yelled and before Marion could object, he added, "DO IT, NOW!"
Again, Marion wriggled out of her clothing and jammed the wet fabric into the hole. It worked but even the skirt was slowly being drawn into the hole.
"IT'S GOING UP THE PIPE!" She yelled, gasping and gurgling, struggling to stay afloat on her back. All around her were the sounds of the others choking, spluttering, drowning.
Then, as before, Indy had a strange sensation of having been there before, as if time were somehow echoing passed events.
"PUT YOU HAND IN THE HOLE. DO IT NOW" He heard himself say angrily. Marion put her hand into the wet, slimy hole. A piece of dripping material flapped and touched her outstretched fingers and she instinctively pulled back.
"YOU DO IT, BUSTER!" She screamed.
In the gloom, Indy clenched a fist and through gritted teeth he enunciated slowly the words,
"WE - ARE - GOING - TO - DIE!"
Marion put her hand slowly in the hole and grabbed the skirt, pulling it back, partly out of the hole. Then her own senses took over and in a flash of inspiration she pulled off a shoe and jammed into the hole, trapping the wet skirt against the outer rim of the vent.
Silence fell. The water was not moving. Then Marcus mumbled, "Indy, now what?" Indy was paddling on his back as were the others but he knew they wouldn't be able to keep it up for long.
"Everyone OK?" He asked, trying to sound as calm as possible. Various grunts and murmurs told him all was well. At the moment.
"We've got to take deep breaths. We've got some swimming to do." He said.
"Are you crazy!" Marion cried. "You said someone's up there with a gun! It'll be like...like..."
"Like shooting fish in a barrel?" Robert finished.
"Thanks!" Indy grumbled. "But I wasn't planning on being a dead 'Sole' in a lonely 'Plaice'." Marcus groaned at the puns.
"I'm sure we've just about 'Haddock'". Robert said quietly. Indy chuckled. "Oh, my 'Cod'". He replied, gaining a laugh from the others. Even in their current predicament, they could still all find a sense of humour. Marion, however, could see nothing to laugh about.
"We're all going to drown and you make stupid jokes?" She said, angrily. Rene spoke up. "She is right. I must admit I can't see the 'Porpoise' of it." They all burst out into fits of laughter, mingled with gasps and choking sounds. Even Marion finally succumbed to the absurdity of the situation and laughed.
"Oh 'whale'. Now what?" She said, gaining another round of laughter. "OK, OK, No more," Indy cried. "Look. We take a breath and swim up the stairs, but down into the small chamber on the right that we first found."
"But that will be flooded as well, surely." Robert gasped. He was growing weak and knew he wouldn't last much longer.
"No, No!" Marcus hissed, floundering in the gloom. "That chamber had a high ceiling. The air trap should be quite large." "Right!" Indy answered. "And we can stand in the empty alcoves which will keep our heads above water. All we do then is wait. The guys with the guns won't stand guard for ever. They must think we've drowned by now anyway. We give it an hour or so, then I'll swim up and take a look."
"But if the guards are still there, you'll get shot!" Robert exclaimed.
"If I don't, we'll suffocate anyway." Indy replied grimly.
They all mumbled agreement and practised taking deep breaths, forcing as much air into their bodies as they could. Then Indy said, "OK, Follow me!" And he disappeared beneath the water. One at a time, the others followed.
It was not a long swim underwater and going up the stairwell was made easier by the buoyancy of their bodies carrying them upwards but they were all exhausted by their efforts in the lower chamber and as each of them finally broke the surface in the alcove room, they were gasping, with lungs exploding from the exertion.
Marcus did not appear.
After calling all their names repeatedly to check they were present both Rene and Indy took deep breaths and dove beneath the surface once again to find him.
Some moments later they were both back in the lower chamber at the roof level, gasping for air.
"Did you see him?" Indy cried desperately. "No. Nowhere!" Rene gasped. Instantly, they both dived again and searched the chamber. Again and again they came up for air until finally, broken and exhausted, they made their way once more back to the alcove chamber to break the news to their friends.
Marcus had drowned in the dark.
CHAPTER 13. WET AND DRY.
Indy gasped for air once more as he burst above the water surface in the small alcove chamber. Seconds later, Rene almost launched himself clear of the water as he arrived. The two of them scrambled for alcove shelves to stand on and regain their breath as they drew in deep lungfulls of air for what seemed to be an eternity.
"We...we...could...couldn't...there was nothing..." He gasped senselessly through heaving breath and tears. Marcus had been like a father to him in many ways over the years as well as his best friend and his words trailed off as he didn't know what to say.
Then a familiar voice said quietly, "Er, Indy..."
Indy's head snapped up instantly. "MARCUS?" He cried, diving into the water in the direction of the voice in the dark.
His hands found skin. Bare skin. A soft, round mound with a hard peak on top.
"WATCH IT BUSTER!" Marion's voice cried as his head broke the surface. His hand was instantly knocked aside and another hand caught him hard on the side of the head.
"OK, OK, I'm sorry! Marcus. Where are you? How...?"
Robert spoke up. "He arrived a few seconds after you and Rene went to find him."
"Yes, Sorry Indy." Marcus added, hauling his friend out of the water onto the ledge beside him. "I seemed to have lost my sense of direction in the water. When I reached the top of the stairwell, I turned left, up the remaining stairs and not right, down here. I knew I'd gone wrong when I reached the surface of the Library dig. I took a deep breath and came down here again." Indy didn't know whether to be furious or overjoyed. He hugged the embarrassed man closely, then suddenly pushed him back as he realised what it all meant.
"You went to the surface? Wasn't there anyone there? What about the guys with the gun? What about Sallah?"
"Like I said." Marcus answered. "There was no one there." Indy thought for a second, then said, "Right. We get out while we can."
"Just hang on, you guys!" Marion exclaimed. "Jones has just proved to me what he's exploring for! If you think I'm going up to the surface with only a pair of wet pants on, you're wrong!"
Indy grinned in the dark, remembering the warm mound that neatly filled his hand. "Jesus Marion, it was a mistake. I thought you were Marcus."
"DID IT FEEL LIKE MARCUS?" She yelled.
"Well, now you mention it..." Indy said playfully. "JONES!" Marion stormed. "OK, OK, He conceded. I'm sorry. Look, None of us have got anything to cover you with. How about if we roll you in the sand when we get out?"
"INDY!" Marion said through clenched teeth.
"Well, you'll be wet, and it would stick and..." He got no further as a handful of water covered his head and he choked on a mouthful of the dirty, salty liquid.
The others laughed and Rene added, "We will not look, Marion. I will see to that."
"Thank you, Rene." She replied. "At least there's ONE gentleman here." Indy shook his head in the dark and said, "If we're all through here, how about thinking about escape now?"
One by one, with Indy in the lead, they took deep breaths again and made their way to the surface. As promised, Rene made them all turn their backs before Marion climbed out of the water into the first faint pink light of dawn, the water running from her bare skin in brilliant coloured rivulets as she moved. No one looked and so could not appreciate the sight.
An empty workers tent stood nearby and Rene ripped it to a reasonable size before turning his head to one side and offering it to Marion.
"An old sheet?" She wailed. Rene, the charmer as ever, said, "You will still look lovely in it, my little dove." Indy looked skyward and groaned. "Jesus." He murmured.
Suddenly, voices came from one side over a dune.
"Move! Now! Sallah's place!" Indy hissed, and they disappeared silently into the half light as three Nazi soldiers and two Japanese officers approached the stairwell. There was another man with them. Tallish, fairly stout, English.
"Find the water inlet. It must be just below the surface at the river bank. Block it and pump out the Library. I want their bodies." It was Smith.
One of the Germans spoke. "What use are their corpses to you. Surely you don't think that even the great Indiana Jones can hold his breath that long?" The other soldiers laughed.
Smith waited patiently for them to fall silent.
"Do you know where the tomb is? No? Do you know who helped them find this place? No? Do you perhaps know where Ravenwood's notes and diaries are? Perhaps not." The soldiers shifted about uneasily.
"You fools will never win the war. You don't think." Smith tapped the side of his head with one finger to emphasise the point.
"Perhaps there is some clue on the bodies as to where they have been hiding these last few days. Maybe there is even a chance the notes or books are with them. Now go and find that water inlet."
The soldiers turned and made their way, grudgingly toward the river bank. Smith stared at the stairwell for a moment and was about to turn and leave when he noticed the wet patches and puddles on the stone near the entrance. He turned and scanned the horizon for a few moments then said quietly to himself, "Jones!"
"I'll check first." Indy said as they all pressed flat against the wall of Sallah's house. "If he's been captured, he may have been made to talk."
"Sallah? Never." Marcus whispered. Indy nodded in agreement but added, "We can't take that chance. Wait here." Quietly, he crept to the rear of the house and looked up. There was a faint light coming from an open window above. Carefully he tried the door handle but he knew the door would be locked even as he turned the knob. With a faint creak, the door opened. He tutted and smiled. Either everything was safe here, or it was a trap. Useless, he thought. A voice at his ear made him jump.
"Any luck?" It was Rene. Indy nodded his head. "Doors open." He whispered. Rene shrugged and said, "After you?" Quickly and in silence, they entered the house. A scanty survey told them the ground floor was clear and Indy moved over to their supplies and spare clothes. "Everything's still here." He hissed, drawing his revolver from his bag and checking it was loaded. He knew it should be, it always was. He nodded to himself in satisfaction. Rene collected his own gun and pointed to the ceiling with it, indicating upstairs. Indy nodded.
Silently save the odd creak of the stairs, they made their way to the upper floor. Along the landing they could see several doors, one of which had a thin ribbon of light framing it.
They crept, hearts pounding, toward the door and bending, with ears pressed to the wood they stood, only inches apart, facing each other and listening.
There was a faint sound, like an engine or generator running. They made puzzled expressions at each other, indicating that they had no idea what kind of machine it could be. The noise was accompanied by a kind of wheezing sound, like bellows, or some kind of air pump. Indy's face grew stern, as if in realisation and he quietly opened the door. The 'engine' or 'generator' was large, rounded and covered in sheets in bed! It heaved up and down in time with the sounds.
Indy strode over to the bed and yanked the covers back.
"Sallah!" He exclaimed as the large man sat up suddenly in bed, blinking and rubbing one eye.
"Indy!" The man said in surprise. Then a lump in the bed, the other side of Sallah moved and a quiet voice mumbled,
"What is it my little stallion?" It was Cilicia! She sat up, pulling the covers about her bare shoulders, surprised at the intrusion. "Doctor Jones? Is that you?"
Indy and Rene both stumbled backwards. "Ah, well, Sallah? I mean, Cilicia, Er, we,..." They got no further. Sallah leaped up and grabbed Indy's hand, pumping it furiously.
"You escaped, my friend. I knew you would." Then, realizing he was standing naked before both Indy and Rene, he grabbed a dressing gown and covered himself.
Indy began to mumble. "Ah, We'll go downstairs and wait for you to get dressed. Er, goodnight, Ah, Mrs. Sallah, Ah, Celi..." Rene grabbed Indy by the arm and yanked him sideways out of the room, cutting him of in mid stutter. They both giggled like children as they went downstairs and ushered the others in.
"What the hell's so funny?" Marion asked as Indy lit an oil lamp and hung it on hook on a ceiling rafter.
He looked at Rene who was trying unsuccessfully to cover his mirth. It only made him worse. "No...no...nothing. Nothing at alllllll." He burst into peals of laughter and Rene joined in. Marcus, Robert and Marion stared at each other, shaking their heads. Just then, Sallah arrived and Indy and Rene looked at each other, and burst out laughing again.
"Sallah! You're all right!" Marcus said. "But tell us, what's wrong with those two?" He nodded at the two hysterical men.
He looked at Indy and Rene. Rene looked back and said, "Stall...stallll...STALLION!" He collapsed to the floor, shrieking with hilarity, pulling on Indy's trousers as he went down, dragging Indy into an uncontrollable heap with him.
"I have absolutely no idea!" Sallah exclaimed stiffly, banging a kettle of water onto the cooker.
The following morning saw them all sitting at a table, staring at Abners note books. Indy had spotted where several pages relating to the translation of the sacred prayer of life had been removed.
"This could cause us a few problems." He said, as they began working out how to drain the library and get back inside. Sallah was acting strangely, Marion noted, and Indy and Rene still had the odd fit of the giggles but she let it pass. At least, whatever it was they found so funny, it distracted them from thoughts of her flight through the dark dressed only in a piece of tent, or Indy's supposed 'accident' with her in the dark chamber. She couldn't help smiling at that.
They were on the fourth or fifth idea as to how to distract the soldiers and empty the lower chambers when there came a knock at the door. Three short knocks, a space then two more. The tense moment passed as Sallah declared,
"It's all right." He opened the door to admit a young Arab worker. Indy still drew his gun, nevertheless.
Words were spoken quickly in Arabic and the young man left.
"The soldiers have drained the water and are preparing to go down to the inner chamber." Sallah spoke the words in a kind of triumph, as if he were pleased with himself. Then the others found out why.
"The soldiers used my men to drain the water and they have told them they will not go down the stairs until the water dries out, due to the poison in the library walls and floor. The water will have made it particularly virulent. Of course, the soldiers agreed at once."
Indy frowned. "I didn't know the place was poisoned." Then he looked up, surprised." Hey, wait a minute! We swam in there and swallowed..." He said no more, but gripped his throat. Sallah laughed, getting his own back on Indy.
"There is no poison! My men said that to keep the soldiers away for a while."
Indy stood and slammed his fist on the table.
"Now's our chance!" He growled.
CHAPTER 14. THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE.
Covering themselves as best as they could manage using sheets and spare clothes from Sallah's wardrobe, Indy and the others left the house and meandered through the town on a seemingly haphazard, wandering route toward the Library. The old part of the city they were in was scruffy and derelict, belying the fact that thousands of people lived and worked there. The houses had been limewashed white once but now were faded and patchy, with crumbling rendering and broken walling. There was litter and waste everywhere and this, combined with the baking heat of the sun made the city stink. Indy looked at the locals, scurrying to and fro, going about their everyday business and he wondered what they would make of him and what he had gotten involved in. He looked at his companions and smiled. Their disguises wouldn't bear close inspection but they would suffice to help them blend in with the general populace as there was much activity and no one was paying them any heed. They hadn't been out in the day time before but it was necessary. They all agreed with Rene when he said it wouldn't take long for the water to dry out in the chambers in the heat of the noonday sun. There was every chance the soldiers would be back in the Library before the end of the day.
Indy was working on a plan as they headed toward the dig site but he knew his idea would not be popular. He decided to wait until later before explaining what he had in mind.
"Quite a place." Marcus said quietly. It was a long time since he had been to Alexandria. "You never know quite what you will find around the corner."
"I wish we could find the missing cats and just get rid of them." Mumbled Robert.
"You know that would do no good." Marcus replied.
"I know. It just makes me feel better to say it." Robert answered. "Anyway, How do we know the last of the cats are in the library, or the tomb, or whatever?"
"We don't." Indy replied. "The other ten cats turned up in all kinds of places over the past few years. I'm just betting on a hunch that the other three weren't in the same place as the others."
"What makes you say that?" Marion asked as they entered a busy shopping street. Doors were open and all kinds of unusual wares were on sale and she couldn't help being distracted by the colour and difference of culture.
Indy looked at her and looked upwards in resignation. Women will window shop anywhere, he thought, but he answered her question saying, "The cats have been around for quite a while as known pieces. Abner noted them briefly, though not as much as we had hoped, in his books. Some turned up years ago on the black market and some have been used for murder. So where are the other three? I don't think anyone's found them yet."
"But what if the Nazi's or the Japanese already have them but haven't used them?" Robert asked.
Indy nodded but Rene answered for him.
"Then why send me looking for them, or why get Indiana interested enough to join in the search? And why are they chasing after them now?" Robert and Indy both nodded but Robert still was not satisfied.
"But the cats could still be out there somewhere, found years ago but lost again, maybe passing through a different set of hands. Anyone could have them."
Indy frowned. "Robert?, Don't be such a defeatist. Anyway, we're hardly likely to look in some junk shop window and find one standing there."
"Indy..." Marion said, pulling on his robe. "What?" He said, irritably pulling away from her grasp. He turned to see her staring intently through a grimy shop window. He followed her gaze and his jaw dropped open. The others followed the line of site until they all stood, open mouthed, staring in the window. There was junk and trinkets of all shapes and sizes for sale. Old jars and jugs, bottles and pictures, pieces of fabric, scrolls of dubious age and even more dubious history but there, over in one corner was a tatty card box containing some pieces of broken stone. Black stone. It was the largest piece, at the top of the small pile that they all stared at. It was a carving of a head. A cats head.
Indy was through the door before the others had time to move. A young boy of about nine was sweeping the floor but apart from him the shop was empty.
"Where's the owner." Indy said in fluent Arabic. The boy only stared. "The Owner!" He said in a more commanding voice. The boy dropped the broom and ran out through a curtain hiding a passageway to the rear of the building. Moments later a small thin slimy looking Arab with horrendous teeth came out, grinning and wringing his hands as if already smelling money. Indy spoke to the man in fluent Arabic.
"The cat pieces. Where did you get them?" He asked. The shopkeeper put on his oiliest expression and replied, "Ah. A man of discernment. You obviously know a good piece when you see it." "Cut the crap!" Indy exclaimed, surprising the shopkeeper. "I just want to know where it came from and what you want for it." The shopkeeper dropped his act and was suddenly all business. "I do not know where it came from. I paid a great deal for the pieces some years ago, realizing that they would be even more valuable..." "Yeah, sure!" Indy interrupted. "You mean you got them with a load of other junk and didn't know what the hell it was. How much?"
The Arab frowned. He was not used to being dealt with in this way as usually he was in control of any selling but here, he felt, the tables were turned. This American seemed to be telling HIM what to do and he didn't like it! His expression changed and he spat "Five hundred American dollars!"
"Indy burst out laughing, crying, "WHAT?", which enraged the shopkeeper even more.
"Six hundred!" He scowled at Indy. Indy grinned at the man who was momentarily caught off guard and he grinned back. Quick as a flash, Indy grabbed the man by his tunic and yanked him off his feet, over the counter and jammed the barrel of his Webley up his nose. "I don't like being taken for a ride." He hissed menacingly. "If you had said fifty bucks, I would have thought it expensive, but I would have paid." He left his words hanging. The Arab gulped, then said, "I, I meant Fifty. Did I say five hundred?" He laughed dramatically nervously and added, "My understanding of your money. Not so good. Fifty. I meant fifty."
"Thirty!" Indy bartered. The Arabs eyes went wide with annoyance "You're fiddling me!" He exclaimed. Indy pulled him closer to his own face and stared. The Arab gulped once again. "You got a throat problem?" Indy asked, putting the Webley down and lifting a wicked knife to the mans face. "I can fix that!"
The Arab frantically nodded the negative and said, "Take the cat. A gift. Please good sir..." Indy dropped the man and passed the box of pieces to Marcus, then stuffed thirty dollars into the Arabs shirt front. "I always pay fairly." He said, as the company left the shop.
Outside the building, they all crowded round as Marcus fitted the pieces of the cat together in the box. "It's all here!" He said, incredulously. Robert lifted the head piece of the figure and studied it for a moment. "It's bigger than the others." He said. The others looked at the pieces for a moment then nodded in agreement. Rene scratched his head thoughtfully then said slowly, "I would guess this is the centrepiece. The main figure." Indy nodded his acceptance of Belloq's statement and added, "Eleven down, two to go." He took the head piece from Robert and hefted it in his hand. "We need some glue." He said, matter of factly, replacing the piece in the box. Marcus tucked the package inside his robes and the company moved on, ecstatic with the chance find. For a further ten minutes they meandered along the increasingly active streets, trying to mingle with the locals. Then, as they rounded the remains of a tall building, Marcus said quietly, "Over there."
They all looked in the direction he was indicating to see a couple of Japanese soldiers heading toward them. Bringing up the rear was a hefty, balding man in a black coat.
"The escape artist!" Indy hissed. He put his hand on his gun, under his robes wanting to shoot the man dead where he stood. He felt a hand on his and looked up to see Rene next to him. "Not yet, my friend." He said, smiling.
Moments later, a group of Nazi stormtroopers came over the hill. "God. How many of them are there!" Robert said, pressing back against the crumbling masonry.
"Too damn many!" Marion answered, a note of concern in her voice.
"We need to get rid of as many of them as we can." Indy said. "And I've got an idea how to do it."
They gathered round, expecting some simple, foolproof plan. They got neither.
"Marcus," Indy began. "Have you ever heard of that tomb trap being used to protect books, or scrolls before?"
Marcus screwed his face up thoughtfully. "Well, no, actually. It was always used on important funeral sites. It was colossally difficult to construct and..." His words trailed off as he realised where Indy's thoughts were leading. "You don't..." "I do!" Indy replied.
The others looked at him and each other, sure they had missed something in the exchange.
"What?" Said Marion. "What?" Echoed Robert. Rene smiled, catching on. "Brilliant, Indiana! Of course! It all makes sense!" "What makes sense?" Marion questioned, confused. Even Sallah was at a total loss.
Indy pulled them all down to crouch on the sand. "Look. For centuries, scholars have debated the whereabouts of Cleopatra's tomb. The cremation is so well documented, scholars now believe it's a false trail. It's TOO well documented. There's no other evidence though. Except the cats. They have been proved to have come from the tomb. They are the only things documented in relationship to the funeral." Marion scratched her head, still not catching on. "So? What does that prove?" She said.
Rene carried on. "Look. If the cats were such an important part of Cleopatra's funeral, and IF she were cremated,..."
Marion's eyes went wide with realisation. "Then why weren't they burned as well!"
Indy nodded with excitement. "Exactly! It's because she WASN'T cremated." Marcus thought again and slowly said, "And if the cats were so important to the funeral of the queen, they must have been buried with her."
Marion looked puzzled. "But most of the cats have been recovered." She said, not sure where the conversation was leading.
"Right!" Indy said. "And there's only a few of them with known histories, right?." He turned to Robert, who nodded in agreement. "And where were they found Robert?" He said, almost fitting the last piece of the puzzle in place for them all.
Robert's eyes went wide with amazement as they all said in unison, "THE LIBRARY!"
"Of course!" Robert exclaimed. "That explains the water trap. It wasn't put there to protect any scrolls, or texts. It was put there to protect the tomb of Cleopatra!"
"But Indy," Marcus began, quelling the excitement. "There's nothing in there. We all saw that. The library has been raided at some time in the past. Several times, I would guess."
Indy shook his head. "No There would be more than one trap to the tomb, and not only one doorway."
"You mean.." Sallah began. "I mean there must be an inner chamber beyond the one we found. And we have to get back in to find it!" Indy finished.
"You said you had a plan to get rid of the Soldiers." Marcus said. Indy smiled. "Sure do." He said with a grin. Then, amidst the ruins, amidst a chorus of objections and complaints, he outlined his plan. After half an hour or so of arguing, they all agreed it was a good plan, but a very dangerous one.
"When do we move?" Rene said. Indy looked round at them all. "You know what to do?" They all nodded. "Right. Move!" He said, getting to his feet. Sallah moved off to the river bank, collecting his workers as he went. He took Marion and Marcus, much to their objections with him. Indy, Rene and Robert set off toward the Library. As they expected, there were Nazi and Japanese soldiers at the entrance. Six or seven stormtroopers were sitting nearby, leaning on the pump and generator they had used to empty the lower chambers. "You can smell them from here!" Indy spat.
He looked at his watch. "Another ten minutes." He said. Rene nodded, patting Indy on the shoulder and moving off among the ruins. Indy thought he heard the words, "Good luck, my old friend."
Minutes passed and exactly on cue, away to the right, a large explosion bloomed over the ruins. The Stormtroopers were on their feet and started running toward the commotion. At that moment, Rene stepped out of the shadows and whistled to the remaining guards. Words were yelled in both Japanese and German and the soldiers gave chase. Indy knew he would only have seconds before they came back. He and Robert sprinted across the clearing and almost leaped down the slick stairway. They turned in to the lower chamber and stood, panting as Indy lit a torch he had carried with him.
"We've only got minutes." He said, scrutinising the walls, pushing gently, not sure quite what he was looking for.
"What would the door be like?" Robert asked. "Surely they wouldn't be stupid enough to have the same kind of..." There came a faint click from beneath his fingers and a section of wall popped open an inch or so. The small opening was only about six inches square.
Indy was there instantly. "Well done, son. "He said, gently opening the panel and peering inside.
The cavity was empty, except for a drawing of two doors split by a letter 'S' on the back wall.
"The same as in Abners notes!" Robert exclaimed, standing. He frowned, then brightened, as if struck by a sudden thought. "If at first..." He began, putting his hand in the hole, to push gently on the back wall.
"WAIT!" Indy yelled, yanking Robert's arm back as his fingers just brushed the cavity wall. "But there's nothing..." The young man started.
"That's what scares me." Indy interrupted. He turned the torch on its side and gingerly pushed on the back of the cavity with the stick. In a flash, almost quicker than sight, a razor sharp steel blade thudded down from the top of the opening chopping the torch in half.
"Your hand." Indy muttered, withdrawing the dramatically shortened torch. Robert trembled. "My god." He whispered.
Gently, Indy pushed on the blade. There came a faint 'click' and the sound of grating stone from behind them.
Indy spun round to see the stair well sliding upwards leaving a solid wall in its place. "Oh, Jeez." He muttered. There was no way out.
"Now what?" Robert cried, throwing his hands up.
There was a faint, trickling sound, growing louder. Indy looked down. They were standing ankle deep in water, and it was getting deeper.
"Jesus, Not again!" Indy said, shaking his head in disbelief, almost resigned to the inevitable.
CHAPTER 15. WET AND DRY.
Indy raced about, splashing in the deepening water, pushing and probing the walls. Robert stood and stared, dumbfounded, not sure what to do. "Snap out of it!" Indy yelled. "Look for a panel. A release. Anything!" Robert galvanised into action and began prodding and kicking at the masonry. The water was already up to their knees and wading around quickly was becoming difficult. Indy looked up to see if the vent holes were still blocked. He could see far enough into the black shafts to know the Germans had cleared them. "Damn!" He cursed. The water was rising fast and was at chest height and the two of them were swimming now rather than wading. Still there seemed to be no release lever or way out.
"Is your life always this busy?" Robert asked, floundering in his robes. "Pretty much." Indy muttered. Then he had an idea.
"Too simple. It can't be." He said, then he disappeared beneath the water for a few moments. Even before he surfaced again Robert could feel the water level begin to rapidly drop. Indy came up like a dolphin, blowing water and shaking his head. "What did you do?" Robert shouted in amazement.
"The blade in the wall. I pushed it again. I figured if pushing it once sprang the trap, maybe pushing it again would stop it." Robert began to laugh. "I don't believe I'm here, doing this!" He said. Indy slapped his shoulder and said, "Neither do I, kid. Neither do I!" The water was down to feet level, rapidly draining away through the vents in the floor it had come in when the stairway began to rise again allowing them to escape.
"Are we getting out?" Robert asked, moving toward the stairs. "Are you kidding!" Indy replied. "We only just got in here!" He pulled at his sopping wet robes and went back to the blade switch. "What are you doing!" Cried Robert nervously as Indy began wiggling the blade from side to side, rather than back and forth. "Just an..." CLICK. "Idea..." Indy said, as a different switch was tripped. A grating sound to their left made them spin round to see an opening appearing in the wall some three feet away from them. It was small, barely large enough for them to pass through crouched down. Indy pulled a lighter from his pocket and clicked the flame into life. He peered into the opening, his dim light springing from wall to wall as he moved. He let out a low whistle. "What is it!" Robert whispered from behind as Indy made his way through the opening. "Come and see!" He replied, a note of awe in his voice as he stood up in the next chamber. Robert crawled through to stand beside him.
"No one has seen this for centuries." Indy murmured.
The chamber was not large but the walls were covered in hieroglyphics and paintings, richly accented in gold. Statues and figures stood around a raised central dais, with an archway at the centre leading nowhere. There were two small steps within the arch and on the top step was carved a small circle. The statue that had obviously once been there was missing. On each side of the arch was a white marble pedestal and on the pedestals, raised on ornate golden stems stood a small figurine. The figure of a cat.
"The other two!" Robert exclaimed, moving toward them. Indy put his arm protectively across the young mans chest, barring further progress. He looked at the platform, noting that there were raised golden stands at equal intervals around its circumference. There were ten stands. He nodded in understanding but looking quickly about, he became puzzled. Where was the tomb? Where was Cleopatra's resting place?
"My god, You've found it!" Indy and Robert spun round to see Rene entering the chamber the way they had come. Marcus and Marion followed, then Sallah squeezed through the small doorway as well. No one said anything further for a while as they all moved around the chamber examining the artefacts in a stunned silence, lighting ancient, dry torches hanging in golden sconces on the walls. Light sprang from place to place, illuminating the most wondrous artefacts Indy had ever seen. Then a familiar voice spoke, sending a cold chill up Indy's spine.
"Well done, Doctor Jones. I knew you wouldn't let me down."
The voice belonged to Smith. The company turned to see the man standing by the doorway with several German soldiers coming in behind. Indy went for his gun but stopped as Smith said, "Now, now, Doctor Jones..." And waved a sub machine gun at them. "What the hell do you want, Smith!" Indy growled, feeling like a lamb that had been led to the slaughter. Smith laughed. "Don't be so naive, Jones! You know what I want. Fortune and glory. The same as yourself. I will be rich beyond your dreams from this discovery. You know that."
"And the Nazi's and Jap's?" Indy hissed. Smith stepped forward, looking around the chamber. "Magnificent!" He murmured, shaking his head. Then he turned to answer Indy's question. "Hitler believes there is eternal life to be had in this chamber." Indy interrupted him. "So the cats go back on the pedestals and you stand on the top step and place the final cat on its stand, completing the circle and presto! You live forever." Smith raised his eyebrows and nodded appreciatively. "Well done, Doctor Jones. You are every bit as bright as I was led to believe."
"You forgot something." Indy added. "I've read the stories too. The prayer needed to invoke the gods. The translation was missing from Abner's notes. Now, if you happen to know where the pages are?..." Indy smiled smugly, leaving his words hanging but his grin was soon wiped from his face as Smith turned his gun on Rene and said, "The pages, Ballard, or Belloq. Whichever you prefer." Indy stared in disbelief as Rene looked at him and shrugged, then pulled some folded pieces of paper from inside his robes and passed them to Smith.
"At Marion's bar! While we were looking for ropes. You had the notebooks. You took the pages out!" Indy lunged at Belloq but was clubbed down by the butt of a German soldiers rifle. Belloq ran to him and pushed the soldier aside. "You don't understand, my friend." He said, helping Indy to his knees. Indy pushed him away. "I have been studying the riddle of the cats for over a year. If you knew what they could do, you would have destroyed this place the moment you found it. I couldn't let you do that." Indy glared at Belloq. "I never trusted you. I knew you couldn't change." He shook himself free of Rene's touch. Rene looked genuinely crestfallen at Indy's reaction. "You must believe me, Indiana," He said, "I did what I did for the best." Indy wasn't convinced and turned away from the Frenchman with a sneer of distrust.
"Dissension in the ranks. I like that." Smith said with a laugh. Then his tone changed to one of authority. "Get over there, Jones." He said, waving toward Marion, Marcus and Robert with the gun, then opened the folded notes, studying them. He frowned, realizing the form of Hieroglyphics was one he could not decipher. "Where is the translation?" He snarled at Belloq, pointing the machine gun at him threateningly.
Rene tried to look innocent. "There wasn't one." He said. "Just a copy of the inscription from the body of the thirteenth cat." "Which, of course, you now have." Smith said, now pointing the gun at Marcus although he didn't entirely believe Belloq.
"How did..." Indy began. "Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones." Smith said, patronisingly. "You may be a master archaeologist and detective, but at disguise, well, you look about as convincing as Groucho Marx's moustache!" The fat Japanese thug laughed and Smith joined in. "We were trailing you all morning. We LET you in here so that you could uncover the tomb for us. You see, I too realised some time ago that Cleopatra's resting place had to be within the library. You have kindly saved me a great deal of trouble." Then he turned to Belloq again. "Now, My 'old friend', the translation, if you please." Rene was about to deny the knowledge once again when Smith barked an order in Japanese and the huge thug moved over to stand threateningly behind Marion. She smiled impishly at the huge man but he scowled back, ignoring her show of mock friendship.
"Now, 'Rene'," Smith continued. "The translation please, unless you really wish to see my colleague here dismember Miss Ravenwood with his bare hands, Samurai style..." The huge Japanese thug grinned, cracking his knuckles loudly. Marion no longer looked so happy and Rene shrugged and glanced briefly at Indy as he walked over to Smith and took the proffered notes from him.
"The words date from long before the time of Cleopatra." He said. "It seems that Ra, the Sun God and King of the Gods was depicted by the symbol of the Hawk for good reason. The modern notion that the Hawk symbolised his ability to span great distances easily and safely was only partially correct. Apparently, the Egyptians believed that he could also travel through the lives of others and not only with them."
"What do you mean by 'through'?" Indy asked, becoming interested in what Belloq was saying. Rene looked at Indy and made a face indicating that he was not really sure. "Ra was a God. Gods live for ever, only so long as there is someone who believes in them. Maybe 'through' means along with them, mixed with them. Who knows. Maybe it even means 'part' of them..." Smith looked at Belloq and laughed.
"Still trying to conceal the truth? Why not tell your friends what you REALLY think?" Smith was obviously in command of far more than Indy realised.
"What do you mean?" he said to Smith but staring at Belloq. Smith put his gun down, safe in the knowledge that there were now ten soldiers covering Indy and the others; then he sat unceremoniously on the head of a small statue.
"Look, Jones. Ra was more than a God. He travelled with his people all right. But don't you see? He was a god! He could go backwards and forwards in their lives as easily as you and I go backwards and forwards up the street!" Indy screwed up his face. "You mean he was a time traveller?" He sneered. His tone irritated Smith. "You are a fool, Jones. You don't understand, so you dismiss. Do you really think that the Gods are limited to the same puny astral plane as mere mortals? Look around you, you poor simpleton. Look at the pictures, the statues. The figures. Cleopatra was more than a Queen. She was special to Ra. Favoured. Not as a lover, but like a child. Don't you get it yet?" Indy stared around looking at the artefacts. There was a myriad of work depicting a hawk with the Queen.
"So? The priests believed she was favoured by the Gods. I've heard that plenty of times before. It's nothing new!" Smith was becoming exasperated, as if trying to point out the most elementary facts to an unreceptive school child."
Jones! Look! Where do you think we are standing? Exactly what have we ALL been trying to find?" He waved his hand about expansively, emphasising his point. Indy shrugged. "Cleopatra's tomb?" He said, trying to get ahead of Smith's reasoning. Smith breathed out loudly in satisfaction.
"EXACTLY!" He almost shouted. "And don't you think there just MIGHT be something MISSING?" Indy looked around, suddenly realizing what Smith was driving at. "Jesus!" He murmured. "The Queen herself!" Smith was almost jumping up and down with excitement. "Yes! Yes! The Queen! She's not here!" Indy had lost the trail once again and said, "So? What does that prove, other than we're in the wrong place?" Smith looked at Belloq and said, "Will you explain, or shall I?" Indy and the others looked at Rene for an answer. Belloq sighed and began.
"Indiana. Indy. Do you recall the drawings? The words in Abner's notes? Travelling a wheel, and we are on the rim?" Indy nodded and Rene continued. "Life. Time. It's all the same. Haven't you noticed a certain repetitiveness in events as we have moved closer to this point? A constant sense of Deja Vu?" Indy nodded again. Indeed, he had noticed the similarity of many events to past occasions in the last few days. "Go on..." He said, now intrigued. Rene smiled and nodded, noting Indy's interest. "We are on that wheel. Continually travelling, until..." "Until we get back to where we started!" Marion exclaimed, catching on. Rene and Smith both nodded. "Exactly, Miss Ravenwood." Smith answered, taking over from where Rene had left off. "We are completing a circle. The Queen is not here. She never was. She is still in her own time, As much alive as you and I." Indy shook his head. "Well, I'm sure that's gonna do you a lot of good." He said. "What you gonna do? Go back and shake hands?" As he said the words he looked at Smith and realised how accurate his joking words were. "Aw, C'mon. You gotta be kidding!" He said in disbelief. Smith shook his head. "Not quite, Doctor Jones. But close. The cats are an important part of a gateway. A portal. With them, in this place, and with the translation our mutual friend Mister Belloq will provide, I fully intend to shake the hand of the Queen of the Nile. But not in her time, in this one! Think of it, Jones!" Smith was almost raving now. "A living, breathing, relic from the past! And not just any relic, but Cleopatra herself!" Indy stared for a moment, then threw up his hands and burst out laughing.
"Smith, you mentioned Groucho Marx a minute ago. You should join them. You're as big a clown!" Smith remained calm. "Don't worry, Doctor Jones. You will see that I am right. In fact, I intend to prove it. You will be the first to test the gateway to the past!"
CHAPTER 16.. THE GATEWAY OPENS.
Smith smiled insidiously at Indy. "Now, gentlemen, the cats if you please." Indy looked innocently at his friends, then at Smith. "We haven't got them!" He exclaimed. Smith grinned, nodding at the large Japanese thug. The mountain of muscle grabbed Marion's arm and drew it up her back, causing her to cry out in pain. Both Indy and Rene started forwards but a bullet ricocheted off the floor near their feet and Indy's heads snapped round to see one of the German soldiers pointing a smoking barrel at his head.
"No heroics, Doctor Jones." Smith said. "Now. The cats." He held out an open hand. Indy looked at Smith with contempt then turned his head and nodded at Sallah. They all turned and watched as the large man lifted his robes to reveal a rucksack strapped to his stomach. He opened the bag and began drawing out the ten, tightly wrapped cats which he passed to waiting soldiers who began unwrapping them. Indy noticed with disappointment that the soldiers were wearing gloves to protect themselves against the poison. Smith noted the look and said, "We're not so foolish, Doctor Jones." Then he motioned to the soldiers and gave an order in German. The troops began placing the cats on the pedestals around the circular dais until all ten were in their rightful place. Indy looked at the pattern and recalled the drawing in Abner's notes of twelve marks in a circle, with a letter 'C' at the centre. There were now twelve cats on the platform, where they had not stood for many centuries. The thirteenth was in pieces in the box in Marcus' possession. The centrepiece. The final cat. Smith smiled at Marcus and said, "Doctor Brody?" Marcus looked at Indy and passed the pieces to Smith who took them without a word or change of expression. He walked to the archway and set the pieces within the carved circle, carefully assembling them until the figurine stood tenuously in one piece at the centre of the dais. Smith stood back, contemplating his handiwork and smiled.
"Just think, gentlemen. We are the first, since Cleopatra's time to see the cats all back where they belong."
"What makes you so sure?" Indy asked, although he too was excited by the possibility. Smith looked very smug.
"I'm sure, Doctor Jones, I'm sure. Am I not right?, Mister Belloq?" Smith turned to Rene for confirmation. Rene said nothing but nodded affirmatively. Smiths face grew suddenly stern and he barked an order at the German soldiers. Four of them shouldered their rifles and pulled Marcus, Robert, Marion and Sallah to one side, binding their wrists, then finally tying them to a huge carved marble statue of what looked like a Roman Centurion, which looked somehow disquietingly out of place. Lengths of ripped cloth were stuffed roughly into their mouths and bound in place with further strips of cloth. Indy looked at Rene. They were obviously both thinking the same thing. Whatever Smith had in mind, they were to be part of it and Indy didn't like the thought. The situation was made worse by the realisation that Rene seemed to be well aware of what was going to happen next.
A cold breeze began to blow through the chamber, almost as if the Gods knew what was happening and were not happy about it. 'The stuff of Movies' Indy told himself. He was feeling distinctly nervous. There was something wrong with all of this, Smiths plan, the translation of the hieroglyphics, even where he himself fitted into the tale. Then there was the Roman statue. For some reason, Indy felt that this was an important part of the riddle but he just couldn't figure it out. Not yet. He stared at the statue, trying desperately to see what it was that was troubling him. A movement at the centre of the dais drew his attention back to the moment and he was amused and surprised to see Smith dressed in ancient Egyptian style high priests robes, lighting black candles and placing them in small holders beside each of the thirteen cats. The German soldiers were looking uneasy and began pacing about the chamber until Smith ordered them to stand still, one behind each of the cats around the dais perimeter. Marcus seemed to notice the slight change in the air first. Then, one by one they all realised that the temperature in the chamber was rising steadily. Then came the sound. Faint, barely perceptible at first, a gentle murmur of voices. Like a conversation that cannot quite be heard. Only there were many voices.
They all instinctively looked around but there was no one else there. Smith moved to the centre of the dais and stood directly in front of the arch. He raised his arms high and called forth in an ancient tongue. "He might not be much good at translation," Indy whispered to Belloq, "But he sure as hell can speak the language." He looked about and saw that there were still five or six guns trained on him. No chance of escape yet, he thought.
Smith continued to half speak, half chant the words and the temperature and the sounds continued to increase. Indy closed his eyes for a second and shook his head. His eyes were playing tricks on him, surely. The archway was growing. Increasing in size, inch by inch as Smith spoke the words of prayer. The tomb walls beyond the arch began to shimmer and change. The dark stone of the walls was turning blue. A pale, almost luminescent colour that looked like, "The Sky!" Indy exclaimed, putting into words what the others had all been thinking. The wall wasn't changing colour, it was somehow disappearing to show the landscape outside. Indy and the others stared incredulously at what was unfolding before them. Still Smith continued. Even the Japanese thug had begun to walk round behind the arch to study the walls. Then, to both Indy and Rene's utter astonishment, as the thug moved behind the arch, he disappeared! Where they should have been able to see him through the archway, outlined against the growing blue of the sky, there was nothing. Moments later he miraculously reappeared the other side of the arch, totally unaware of what the others had seen.
Smith chanted on. The sky through the arch began to move quickly with rolling clouds. They could even feel the hot breeze of the wind. Sand dunes began to appear and in the distance, the gates of a great City. Indy recognised them instantly. It was the same gates as the ones they had all seen several times in the past few days. The gates of Alexandria. But whereas the gates were old, worn and almost obliterated with age now, these gates were new. Brightly painted and well wrought. Even Smith was troubled by what he was seeing. He continued with his prayers but stepped back somewhat from the arch. For a moment his voice caught, getting everyone's instant attention as the cause of his brief pause became apparent. There, gaining in solidity, forming out of the very clouds themselves was a woman. Not just any woman. She was stunningly beautiful, with long raven black hair. She was dressed in white with a gold and topaz neck piece and a fine golden circlet on her brow. the centrepiece of the circlet was fashioned in the likeness of the head of a snake. An Asp.
The woman was Cleopatra.
She seemed to float toward the archway and as she did so she held out her hand, as if beckoning someone forward. Indy felt a dead chill run up his spine. It was plainly obvious that she could see them all.
Smith stopped his chanting and stared, half mesmerised, half afraid of the Queen who was now just the other side of the arch, as solid and as real as any of them. "Why doesn't she come through?" Indy hissed to Belloq. Rene did not answer. He, like Smith, seemed to be in some kind of a daze, almost transfixed by The woman.
Smith spoke again but was shouldered to one side by the huge Japanese thug who seemed to march almost mechanically toward the arch. He held out a hand, as if to help the Queen step through the arch but as he did so, an entire sequence of events unfolded in a matter of seconds that was beyond their control. The Queen looked almost disgustedly at the thug and clapped her hands, looking up above the arch, as if she were seeing something none of them could see from where they were. Instantly, a thin black tendril grew from the centre of the arch, somewhere between Cleopatra and the thug, and snaked out to touch the Japanese crook. He screamed in fear as the tendril grew in thickness at his body, almost trumpet shaped, and somehow attached to him with an irremovable grip. He cried out in terror again, clawing at the tendril but his hands went through it as if it were not there. It was like a black void. A nothingness that was somehow not there and yet attached to him, slowly, inexorably drawing him inside. The thugs screams grew more intense as he seemed to both shrink and turn inside out on himself at the same time. He was being sucked into some kind of invisible vortex, a tunnel, leading to who knew where. Smith, the soldiers, Indy, Rene, all of them; they stood, transfixed in horror at what was happening.
Suddenly, one of the German soldiers lurched forwards, and Indy was not quite sure whether he did so to try and help the thug, or whether he was drawn by some force he had no control over. The screams trailed off into a distant echo, as if the Japanese were a long way away, or even as if the sound was nothing more than an echo from the past. A long dead and distant past. The German soldier cried once, as his hand touched the remnants of the fading black vortex and as if renewed by some surge of energy, the dark mass grew outward once more and sucked the man inside. He was gone in an instant, far faster than the thug had disappeared. Smith stared, transfixed, his mouth hanging, agape. The black tendril closed back in on itself and the archway was a window into the past once more, a view of the desert, the sky and the Queen. Only now, standing behind her, screaming silently at her back, were the thug and the soldier. The Queen looked absently at them and half a dozen Egyptian soldiers seemed to appear from nowhere. The two men were taken, bound and dragged away by the soldiers, their mute screams still echoing in the minds of Indy and the others as they looked on, horrified by what was happening.
Suddenly, four more of The German soldiers ran forwards, two of them firing point blank into the figure of the Queen. Smith leaped at the nearest soldier, hitting him across the side of the head, screaming "NO!" at their actions. The Queen turned a blank, vacant almost unconcerned stare upon them and instantly, like a whip, the black tendril snaked out and pulled the soldiers back into her time. They too were taken fighting and calling silently for help from people who would not even exist for them for nearly two thousand years.
Smith began to back away from the portal, terrified of what he had unleashed. The remaining soldiers raced forwards, firing blindly into the arch as Indy cried, "You're wasting your time. You're shooting at something that happened two thousand years ago!" But even as he voiced the words, the black snake of death leaped out, gathered in the soldiers and pulled them into the arch. With each person who went back over the threshold, the Queen came closer. She was now standing at the very edge of the archway, almost waiting for the final sacrifices that would permit here to cross the centuries into this time. Instinctively, Indy knew that this must not happen.
A kind of eerie silence filled the chamber. Only Indy, Rene, Robert, Marcus, Marion, Sallah and Smith remained. The Japanese thug and the ten soldiers had all gone. Then Marcus whispered from where he, Robert, Marion and Sallah were tied.
"Indy! Look! The cats!" Indy glanced round and saw that the twelve cats were missing. What did it mean? He was puzzled but the vaguest idea of a plan was forming in his mind. The gateway had to be closed and he thought he knew what to do.
Rene turned to look at him. Indy shivered at the look in Belloq's eyes.
"Indiana. Do not do anything. I have prepared for this for longer than you can possibly imagine. Please, I ask you, even after everything that has passed between us. Trust me now."
Indy never had a chance to answer. Rene stepped forward and stretched out a hand toward one of the cats. Smith, anticipating Belloq's action cried, "NOOO!", and barged him sideways, grabbing at the twelfth cat. "IT IS MINE...THE RIGHT...THE HONOUR..." The words trailed off as Smith was sucked into the void and was gone.
Indy stared at the opening and heard Marion yell,
"Indy! Rene...Stop him!" Indy snapped round to look at Marion, nodding frantically toward Belloq who was staggering toward the thirteenth cat. Quick as a flash, Indy's bullwhip snaked out, cracking in the silence, and he yanked the cat out of Rene's fingers at the instant the black void opened to receive the Frenchman. Rene cried out, "NO, INDIANA, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!..." But it was too late. A sudden streak of black vapour travelled from the void to the cat, up Indy's whip to his hand and amidst the cries of the others, Indiana Jones disappeared into the vortex.
CHAPTER 17. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.
For the merest second there was a stunned silence. Indy had vanished, back into a time almost two thousand years ago. Then, as the trail of black nothingness receded toward the arch, there came the faint echo of the crack of a whip. A braided leather thong thrashed out of the void and wrapped itself firmly around the leg of the Roman statue. The black vapour seemed to shudder as if it were alive. The vortex was trying to close but something was hanging on to the present time, forging a link with the past. The portal was still open, if only for a time.
"RENE!" Marion cried. "For gods sake do something! Help Indy! Untie us!" She tugged at the ropes binding her and Rene looked at her, then the end of Indy's whip, a lifeline that would only hold for so long and in a split seconds decision, he ran and gripped the leather of Indy's whip.
From inside the vortex Indy was only vaguely aware of where he was but he had an incredible sense of youth flooding through him. He could feel his body being drawn backwards, sucked, pulled, like a thousand pairs of hands dragging him into the past but he was also aware of a faint light in front of himself. One hand gripped firmly onto his bullwhip handle and the whip stretched away in front, seeming to cut off at the tiny pinpoint of light. In the other he held the thirteenth cat. Somehow, it was in one piece, as if entering the time portal had somehow restored it to its original state. Indy knew that somehow he had to get back through that tiny space, or be lost forever in a time two thousand years before he was born. Even in this strange and terrifying situation he thought about the possible paradoxes of it all. If he were in the past, then would he ever be born in the future? Would his sudden arrival in the past change the course of future events? Was he, in fact, his own long distant relative? A kind of great, great, great grandfather, many times removed?
Then he felt it. A pulling forwards. Gently at first, then more and more strongly. He gripped the thirteenth cat in his free hand and hung on, depending upon what or who was pulling him back to the tiny speck of light. He was unable to help, for fear of letting go of the cat and somehow he knew he must not do that. If he did, he would be lost forever. There would be no way back. The sound of the vortex was like a million voices over the centuries, whispering and talking to him. It was as if he could hear every person who had ever lived in those intervening centuries. Then there was a different voice. Slightly louder and more familiar. He caught the word 'cat' several times.
It was Rene! He was urging Indy to do something. But what? Something to do with the final cat in his hand! He looked back toward the figure but could see nothing of himself or the statue in the impenetrable blackness that surrounded him. Again, he felt himself pulled forwards slightly. The speck of light seemed so far away and yet at the same time it seemed only just in front of his face. The pulling on his body from the past was inexorable, though. There was no escape. Indy could feel his grip weakening. He knew he was about to let go. Suddenly, in a sheer act of desperation, Indy brought the cat up and over arm, like a cricket bowler, he threw the cat with all his might at the light.
Rene hung on to the whip like a tug of war team captain. the whip seemed to be anchored into the black funnel in front but even though he was slowly pulling the whip free, he could sense the void growing smaller, further away with every second and he knew that Indy would not be able to hold on much longer.
"INDIANA!" Rene yelled. "THE CAT! THROW THE CAT BACK AGAIN!" There was no response. Marcus, Robert, Marion, Sallah, they were all screaming and yelling, urging Rene to pull harder whilst at the same time struggling to break free of their bonds. It was no good. The Germans knew how to tie knots.
"INDY! THE CAT! THROW IT TO US!" It was Robert who called this time. Again, Rene yelled the same instruction. Then, suddenly, in a small white flare around the end if the black tendril the figure of the cat burst out like a missile, and landed at the feet of Marcus. At the same instant, another tendril snaked forwards, like a finger, searching for the figure. Rene glanced back and yelled, "HOLD ON TO IT, DAMN YOU! DON'T LET IT GO!"
"HOW?" Marcus yelled in frustration, trapping the figure with his feet against the statue behind him. Marion wriggled downwards, pulling at her clothes and her flesh against her bonds, grazing her skin unmercifully but not noticing the pain. The ropes bit deeply and as she pulled downwards, they cut into Sallah's stomach, tied on the other side of the Roman statue from where his view of events was severely restricted. "WHAT IS HAPPENING?" He yelled. "WILL SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT IS HAPPENING!" Marion's right hand stretched downwards, her fingertips brushing the cat just as the black snaking tendril found its prey. With a sudden surge born of panic and desperation, she thrust down, splitting the skin on her forearm and extracting yells of pain from both Sallah and Marcus as she grabbed the cat figure firmly by the neck. "I'VE GOT IT!" She cried in triumph, but her feeling of victory turned to one of blind panic as the tendril reached the cat and crept up to hold her hand in a vice like grip, pulling her toward the void. The cat lifted from the floor, stretched between her hand and the portal, drawn by the black, formless trail of the vortex. It could go no further. Marion's grip was cast iron as she knew that probably ALL of their lives depended on the cat not being drawn back into the gateway. At the very least, Indy would be lost forever if she were to let go. Then, Rene cried out and they all looked over toward him. "THE WHIP! INDY'S WHIP!" The end of the whip was slipping around the leg of the statue. It was slowly being pulled free. The others were powerless to help and inside the black void Indy felt himself slip backwards. He now had two hands and with a strength born of sheer desperation he began to climb up his bullwhip. With each inch he moved closer to the light, he slipped back half an inch but scrap by scrap, fragment by fragment, he reached the opening. He could hear the sounds of the voices outside. Clearly there was some drama taking place but he had no idea what was happening. With a sudden lunge he forced his hand toward the light and his hand disappeared from view.
"RENE! LOOK!" Marion screamed. They all stared incredulously at the hand that seemed to be coming from the end of the black funnel. Rene grabbed the hand and dropped the whip, pulling backwards with all the force his tired body could muster.
Indy was flung out of the void and careered into Rene who fell backwards with the impact. Such was the force with which Indy was ejected from the opening that he continued moving past Rene and ended up on his back, leaning upside down against Robert's legs at the statue. He lay gasping and panting for breath.
The vortex was not finished, however. The black tendril, now released of its fight to hold on to Indy, joined in the struggle to regain the statue and more frighteningly, Marion. A wind began to rise and dust was sucked from the floor toward the black void. The ropes binding her began to snap, one by one and she was yanked toward the gateway.
"INDY!" She screamed in terror. Indy grabbed at her legs and felt himself being drawn back towards the void as the wind increased in strength. "Oh shit!" He murmured, looking at the figure of Cleopatra, standing motionless, implacable in the archway, ready to step into the twentieth century as soon as the thirteenth sacrifice was made, dust swirling about her as the time portal fought to regain the final cat.
"RENE!" Indy cried, partly calling for help, partly aware of what Belloq was about to do next.
The Frenchman was galvanised into action by the plight of his friends and leaped between them and the portal, cutting the groping black mass in half with his body, shielding his eyes from the whirling, stinging dust amid the howl of the growing wind. Instantly the grip on Marion, Indy and the cat was released but Rene was gone, into the void!
Indy leaped to his feet and lifted the cat, jamming the figure into Robert's hands. "Don't let it go!" Indy barked above the noise of the gale as he raced toward the portal. A fine black tendril was growing outwards once more, probing through the dust and the wind, seeking out the final cat. Indy was banking on a vague hope, based on his experience inside the void. He reached the portal and wrapped one arm tightly around the pedestal to one side. He glanced up, squinting through the swirling, blinding dust and went cold to see Cleopatra standing on the threshold of the arch, only needing the cat to set her free. Forcing his eyes away from hers, Indy stared at the formless black void floating in front of him, sucking anything and everything not fixed down into it. Several times he felt his body hit by smaller flying statues and artefacts as they were drawn into the void. He took a deep breath and forced his free hand into the vortex, calling out, "Rene! Take my hand."
Instantly, he felt the pull of the void but he hung on determinedly to the pedestal. Something heavy hit the back of his hand and he almost lost his grip but he bit his lip and ignored the pain that shot up his arm. Feeling around in the void, he continued to shout, "RENE! RENE! GRAB MY HAND!"
From behind he heard Marion and the others yelling amid the noise and howl of the increasing storm for him to get free and escape the almost certain fate Belloq but Indy was determined. He knew he could not let Rene die in a time in which he did not belong. The black vapour began to creep up his arm, engulfing it, swallowing his body, steadily and inexorably. Still he groped about in the void calling for Rene, choking on the dust that filled his mouth and throat.
Then in the void, a hand grabbed his and held tight. Indy pulled for all he was worth and the vortex seemed to contract about him, as if it knew what he was trying to do. Still Cleopatra stared, seeming almost unaware of what was taking place at her feet. Then suddenly Indy felt a wave of calm come over him and the pull from the void lessened. He became almost unaware of the fury of the vortex and the wind and he heard Rene's voice quite clearly. Not as actual words but more as a kind of thought. As if he knew what Belloq was thinking.
"Let me go, Indiana. I told you once, I have been researching this for a long time. I want this, Indiana, as much as you wanted the Ark. This is my adventure. My voyage of discovery, if you will. Indy, my old friend. We are both adventurers, archaeologists. Think of the opportunity I am faced with. How can I not accept the challenge?"
Indy cried out, to the confusion of the others, "Rene, don't do this. Come back. We're a good team. We can research this together. The Queen will break through if you go. You know that can't happen."
Then the voice in Indy's mind was back, clear and unswerveable. "Indy, my dear friend. Release me. We cannot share this adventure, just as we could not share the Ark. You know that. It would never work. And anyway. I will learn far more in the actual time of events." Indy began to argue but he felt Rene releasing his grip. Something hard banged into Indy's back before being sucked into the void but he ignored it.
"Indy! You will be famous! You will discover great documents about Cleopatra's time! Trust me! You must break the thirteenth cat though and throw the pieces into the void. It must not be allowed to pass through whole! Do you hear me? It must be broken!" Indy nodded, sure in the knowledge Rene knew what he was thinking.
"Do it now, Indiana, and Indy! Look under the left pedestal and check the statue. Farewell, my old friend. You haven't heard the last from me..." Rene let go of Indy's hand and he was gone, his voice trailing off as an echo from the past.
Instantly, the vortex began to recede from his body and grow in strength around the cat still firmly in Robert's grasp. The wind howled ferociously and if the others had not been tied to the Roman statue, they would have been lost to the groping black fingers. Indy was on his feet and with no explanation, to the astonishment of the others, he raced towards Robert and grabbed the cat from him, dashing it to the floor, shattering it to pieces at the instant the vortex sucked it away like a giant vacuum cleaner, removing any trace that it had ever been there.
Indy's head snapped up to see the figure of Cleopatra fade from view, her hand outstretched as if trying to keep hold of the future and the portal became nothing more than a stone archway once more. The wind subsided, the dust settled and an eerie silence filled the room. Indy sagged to the floor, exhausted.
Two days had passed since the events in the library chamber and Indy, Marcus and Robert were seated at a table in Sallah's house. Marion was out somewhere with Sallah's 'friend', Celicia.
"I can't believe that Rene has gone into the past. It just doesn't seem real." Marcus said, pouring himself a third glass of wine.
Indy shrugged. It had all seemed real enough to him. He had recounted the terrifying events in the void as best as he could remember and the whole event had been their chief topic of conversation since they had carefully hidden the chamber again after their escape.
"One wonders." Marcus said, "Abners notes. you know. the part about the wheel. Travelling a circle. We've all been experiencing feelings of Deja vu recently. Do you think we've all done this before? Will someone find the parts of the cat again? You know, in the past? Was it actually you who broke it first time round, centuries ago, Indy, only to be rediscovered by you in that shop? Have you been breaking that statue over and over again, have we all been doing this every two thousand years? Is this all part of Abners wheel? Are we going to do it all over again in the future, or past, or whatever..." Marcus fell silent, in thought.
"So do you think Rene made it?" Robert asked a moment later. He knew little of Belloq other than what he had seen of him over the previous days but had liked what he had seen. He had noticed though, that whenever the events in the chamber were discussed, Marion was absent. This puzzled Robert as from what he had heard, Marion had been Indy's girlfriend some time ago, not Belloq's.
Again Indy shrugged. "Who knows?" He said. "With Rene, anything is possible." Robert, however, was like a dog worrying a bone. Something troubled him and he couldn't let go.
"Surely, he would leave us a clue. You know, some sign from the past or something." Marcus laughed. "You mean messages from the grave." He said. Indy joined in with the joke, laughing at the thought but then he remembered Belloq's final words. Something about looking at the statue, and the pedestal. He stood and downed the last of his wine, a determined look in his eye. "Follow me." He said. "Maybe Rene has spoken to us. We just haven't been listening."
The door swung open on the stairwell at Indy's gentle push and he, Robert, Marcus, Sallah and Marion descended the remaining steps into the outer chamber of the Library. The inner door and switch panel had been closed, hiding all evidence of the tomb beyond. "It's not really a tomb..." Marcus was saying. "I mean, Cleopatra's body isn't there." Indy nodded in partial agreement.
"That's the whole point." He said. "She never was, but at the same time, she always was." "I don't think I quite follow..." Robert said, confused. "You will, if I'm right..." Indy said cryptically, manipulating the hidden wall switch again.
They entered the inner chamber via the small opening once more and proceeded to light the wall torches.
"Rene told me to look for certain things." He said, moving toward the large Roman statue, examining the artistry and carving, hoping maybe to find some hidden panel or something. After ten minutes of scrutiny he had to admit to being baffled. "Rene said to study the statue." He said as they all looked at the folds and cavities of the carving for the umpteenth time for some hidden secret. Some clue or message. Then realisation hit Indy like a thunderbolt as he stepped back and looked up at the white carved figure.
"No. What he said was look AT the statue!", he murmured. One by one they turned and stared up, amazement flooding through them, at the towering Roman figure looking down, seeming to smile knowingly at them.
It was Rene.
"My God!" Marcus whispered. "He DID make it!" Then, wide eyed, he exclaimed, "Indy! Look at the inscription! Translate it!"
Indy pulled his reading glasses from his pocket and kneeled down, brushing the layers of wind blown dust from the letters, as if to be certain of what was written there.
"Mark Antony!" He exclaimed. "But that can't be!" Marion cried. "Mark Antony is well documented as Cleopatra's last lover. Even I know that." Then the import of what she had just said hit her and a smile slowly spread across her face. "That old smoothy..." She laughed.
"Mark Antony reputedly came from obscurity around the middle of Cleopatra's life." Indy said. "What if?..." He let the words trail off, looking up at the statue. The evidence seemed irrefutable. Rene WAS Mark Antony!
"Did Rene say anything else?" Marcus asked quietly, almost overcome by the strange turn of events. Indy jerked back from his wandering thoughts and ran to the pedestal by the arch. He put his whole weight against it and yelled, "Give me a hand!" The others gathered round and added their efforts to Indy's. The pedestal resisted for a time then gave up the fight with a loud crack and it came away from its seat at the base. The pedestal rolled to one side and Indy and the others stared at it. It was hollow!
Indy bent down and put his hand into the dark opening and feeling something inside, drew the contents out. In his hands he held a fragile wooden box of obviously ancient origin. Painted on the lid in exquisite gold with fine lapis lazuli adornment were the figures of two men. One wore a Roman officers uniform and bore a distinct likeness to the profile of Rene. The other figure wore what looked like an old jacket and a flat brimmed hat. In his hand was a coil of something. It could have been rope. It might have been a whip. Inside, carefully wrapped in the remains of a white linen shirt were four papyrus scrolls.
"Indy!" Marcus exclaimed. "You know you can never show this to anyone! You would be laughed all the way..." "I know." Indy said quietly. "I don't think Rene meant me to show anyone."
A year later, Indy sat in his office at Barnett college, musing over past events. He was on fairly good terms with Marion again and spoke to her frequently on the 'phone. She hadn't wanted to join him and was happy to go back to her small bar in New York. Indy hadn't minded. They were both a bit too old to change now. He was pleased to receive a telegram tellimg him of Robert's promotion to head of Antiquities at the British Museum and he and Marcus determined to pay him a visit in London next summer. He still could not quit get to grips with the events surrounding Rene, however. Had Belloq been Mark Antony before? Had he been aware of it all along, maybe having looked closely at images and statues of Mark Antony before? "I wish we had looked at the statue more closely BEFORE Rene went back in time. I wonder if it looked like him then?" He said quietly to himself.
"If the statue had always looked like Rene, then he must have been Mark Antony in the past. Before he went back. But is this the FIRST TIME we have done all this? Did Rene take Mark Antony's place? Or was he REALLY Mark Antony all along. Were they one and the same person?" All these questions went round in Indy's mind as they had done a hundred times over the months. Indy sighed and looked down. A copy of a new book lay on the desk in front of him. In heavy gold embossed print it bore the title, 'The life of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. By Professor Henry Jones and Doctor Rene Belloq'.
Indy contemplated the book and the wealth of information provided by Rene's three scrolls. He was indeed famous, as Rene had predicted. The information had turned many old ideas upside down and universities and museums world-wide pronounced them one of the finds of all time.
Three scrolls? Indy smiled and stood, locked his office door and moved to a bookcase of mundane everyday educational tomes. He released a hidden catch and the bookcase swung forwards, revealing a wall safe behind. Indy spun the wheel, entering the five figure code without thinking about it and yanked on the handle. The door opened silently on heavily oiled hinges. Carefully, he withdrew the decorative box he had found inside the pedestal. Inside was an ancient scroll. The fourth from Rene. He took the scroll to his desk and gently unrolled its cracked parchment. The writing was undeniably ancient and faded but what made this Egyptian scroll totally unique in the world was the language used. It was written in English. Indy began to read to himself, smiling.
"Hello Indiana. I told you I would write. Sorry about the delay. The postal service here in Alexandria is so slow. As I promised, I said I would tell you what happened to the Ark after the American Government took it from you. My contact in the Whitehouse informed me..." Indy chuckled, poured himself a large Bourbon, toasted Rene and continued to read, vaguely planning the next adventure.