The Sun Stone: An M. G. Towne Adventure
The singular thought snapped into existence, zipped down the spinal cord and raced through every nerve ending of one M. G. Towne–professional archaeologist, amateur conspiracist, and world-class imbiber of spirits.
That lone notion wasn’t lone for long. As M. G. leaped carelessly down the yellowed limestone steps with his pocket-sized flashlight bouncing off the inner tomb walls and a heavy backpack slapping into his kidneys, an image of a mouth-watering Tom Collins entered his mind. It was enough motivation to get out and get out quickly. Given the gallon of sweat pouring down his head, he feared he wouldn’t make it back to the bus let alone back to the hotel bar in time to enjoy a fine cocktail. At the age of sixty-five, he was reluctant to admit he was half the man he used to be, but somehow twice the size. If security found him unconscious on the ground, they’d surely search his backpack. Nearly a year of planning to snatch the artifact would have been all for naught.
M. G. could see beams of sunlight as he neared the entrance. The unwanted cell phone in his pocket buzzed over and over again. He cursed himself for even bringing the damnable thing, but his assistant, Carla, made him promise to take it when he was traveling and he never knew when it may actually come in handy.
Get with it, old man, she had admonished, I even made sure it was an ancient flip phone–just your style.
It had taken him a half-hour just to figure out how to turn the ringer off and though the soundtrack may have been appropriate, he didn’t need to broadcast a beeping rendition of Flight of the Bumblebees in the middle of a heist.
At last, he was outside.
Twenty or so of M.G.’s fellow tourists were lined up beneath the steady sun, only half of them with white sunblocked noses, but each and every one of them entranced by their guide’s ability to blabber on about basic Egyptian Middle Kingdom stuff. M.G. attempted to casually insert himself behind a stocky, overweight woman wearing a flowery sundress and floppy hat. He nodded and smiled as the guide spoke. Even if he’d forgotten twenty times in historical knowledge than what that chump knew, M.G. still would have had a hard time paying attention. He was too focused on catching his breath, trying not to stand out. Obviously failing, the woman turned and gave him a disgusted look, then stepped to the other side of the group.
If his peers saw him now, an inch of white belly peeking out from the bottom of his khaki shirt, they would joke that “he was too old for this shit.” A part of him wondered if maybe they weren’t wrong, but M. G. ignored the possibility. This discovery was too important.
As if connected to his thoughts, the artifact pressed into his back like a hot poker and he thought he heard a low hum emitting from within. Every remaining minute of the tour was almost unendurable, but by some miracle, he eventually found himself sitting on a lumpy bus seat carrying them back to the Al Bustan in Cairo. Upon entering his room, he pulled out the cell phone and counted twelve missed calls from Carla.
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