Friday April 2, 1925
On Friday afternoon they traveled to the Red Alley in the old city. It was a narrow street bazaar. Finding a red door, they entered a clothing shop. The proprietor had not heard of Warren Besart, but Sean noticed him glancing at a curtained doorway in the back. Pushing open the curtain while the shop owner protested loudly in Arabic, Sean saw a filthy tiny back room nearly filled by a foul bed, two filthy cushions and a worm eaten low table. There were empty wax packets scattered about and a couple pipes, which Sean knew were hashhish related. Standing next to the back door was a pale white man with dark sunken eyes and a scruffy blond beard. He threw open the door and ran.
They gave chase and nearly lost him, but spotted him again. Sean caught up and tried to tackle him, the man crumpled to the ground and curled up in a little ball blubbering “Leave me alone!” They drug him to his feet and forced him back to his filthy room. He insisted on smoking some more to “get them out of my head”. When bribed sufficiently so he could purchase more drugs he spilled the following story in a crazed manner:
A lawyer contacted me.I agreed to act as purchasing agent for Mr. Roger Carlyle of the United States, who was represented to me as a wealthy American. On written instructions from Mr. Carlyle, I purchased certain artifacts from Faraz Najir, an antiquities dealer, and illegally shipped them out of Egypt to Sir Aubrey Penhew in London. I know the artifacts were ancient, but nothing more.
“When the Carlyle Expedition came to Egypt, I arranged for all their equipment and permits. Their main site was at Dhashur, in the area of the Bent Pyramid.
“One day at Dhashur, Brady came to me and told me that Carlyle, Miss Masters, Sir Aubrey, and Dr. Huston had entered the Bent Pyramid and then vanished. Brady was excited and suspected foul play since he diggers had already fled the site and work came to a stand-still. We did not know what to do, so we drank.
“The next morning, Carlyle and the others reappeared. They were excited by some tremendous find, but what it was, they would not say, nor did I learn, for Sir Aubrey was a fiend for secrecy. All of them had changed in some inexplicable way, and a way not for the better; I did not ask further.
“That evening, an old Egyptian woman from El Wasta named Nyiti visited me. She said that her son Unba had been one of the diggers. She said the diggers had fled because Carlyle and the others had consorted with an ancient evil, the Messenger of the Black Wind. She said that she could recognize that the souls of all the Europeans but Brady and myself were lost. If I wanted proof, I should go to the Collapsed Pyramid at Meidum at the time when the moon is slimmest – the night before the dark moon. Three weeks later, on the night before the dark of the moon, God help me, I went!
“I took one of the trucks, pretending to leave for a night in the pleasure quarter of Cairo. But instead I drove the twenty miles south to Meidum, and secreted myself where she advised. There in the midnight blackness I saw Carlyle and the others disport themselves in obscene rituals with a hundred madmen. The very desert came alive, crawling and undulating toward the ruins of the pyramid. To my horror, the stone ruins themselves became a skeletal, bulging-eyed thing!
“Strange creatures emerged from the sands, grasped the dancing celebrants, and, one by one, tore out their throats, killing all until only the four Europeans, and one other robed celebrant remained.
“Something more loomed out of the sand, the size of an elephant but with five separate shaggy heads. Then I realized what it was – but it is madness to speak it! I saw it rise and in a great ravening swallow as one all the torn corpses and their hideous murderers, leaving alive only five people amidst the stench of the blood-soaked sands.
“I fainted. When I recovered, I wandered into the desert. There further horrors awaited me. Stumbling up a rise before dawn, I saw beyond hundreds of dark sphinxes, rank upon rank drawn up and waiting for the hour of madness when they will spring to devour the world! I fainted again, and this time I left the world for many months.
“A man found me; for two years they cared for me – a man mindless and without hope. Eventually I returned to the world and made my way back to Cairo. But I began to dream! Only hashish helps now, or opium if it can be found. My supply is low again, and my life is intolerable without it. Will you good people please contribute? Only strong drugs keep me from insanity. Everything, everything is lost. There is no hope for any of us. Everywhere they wait. Perhaps you will join me in a pipe?
They paid him and left him to his drugs and insanity and filth.
They arranged with the hotel for a driver and guide to Dhashur the next day. While walking to their flat, they noticed they were being followed. by and Egyptian man, whom they ditched.
On Saturday morning they traveled to the site, the driver giving them the standard tourist information on the pyramids at Dhashur. Arriving, they found some other tourists there and looked around at the various structures. Investigating the Bent pyramid they found two entrances, the north one guarded by 4 Egyptian soldiers and the west one boarded up. James bribed the soldiers and gained entrance to the north section which led to an empty room, Heln thought it might have been a preparation chamber for the priests.
While James and Helen distracted the guards, Sean and Chuck pulled off a few boards and went in the west entrance. They waited for the others to join them then crept down the dark passage to a large room in the middle of the pyramid. This room was decorated with faded hieroglyphs of a burial chamber with two remarkably thick alabaster columns in the back. Searching the right column, Sean found a secret door which they opened revealing a set of twenty steps rising up in a tight spiral. Ascending the steps they followed a series of ramps leading to the apex of the pyramid. The ramps ended at an archway opening into a large room. The room had six 5 foot high pillars topped with strange gems set into their tops. In the back of the room, on a raised dias sat a massive black throne carved of obsidian and studded with precious gems. On the wall behind the throne were carved runes, Helen recognized part of it as Ancient Egyptian but it was mixed with something alien and unfathomable. She could make out something about a prophecy, a birth, and a mountain, and something related to the timing of the prophecy, but that was all.
On the left wall of the room were two bas relief depictions: One of the stars and the other of the solar system. Formidable looking astrological symbols ringed the latter.
On the right wall of the room was a distorted map of Eurasia, Africa, Australia, and the western pacific. Mountains, rivers, and continental outlines were easily recognized; no cities or nations were shown. An elongated triangle was formed by three uncut rubies marking points in the East China Sea, central Kenya, and western Australia. An inlaid ebony band marked an arc crossing the Indian Ocean inside the triangle. Arcane symbols bordered the map which could not be read.
James was intrigued, the others frightened. Chuck wanted to leave, Sean was unsure what to do (he recognized the chamber from the description in the book his cousin had read), Helen was amazed. Sean began playing with the gems on the pillars. When he flared a cigarette and touched it to a gem, the gem burst into flame. He did it to a second and Sean freaked out. Sean tried to club James with his flashlight and they tussled. Chuck grabbed Helen and began pulling her towards the door. The door suddenly filled with clacking bricks popping into place blocking their exit as the other four gems flamed to life one after the other.
When the last gem lit a tall dark figure appeared sitting on the throne. The figure rose to it’s feet, he was magnificent in the glittering regalia of a pharaoh, his skin was darker than the blackest night and perfectly smooth, his eyes glittered with an alien intelligence and malevolence. He carried two scepters in his hands and raised them high, the air on either side of him boiled and rippled and foul unearthly music rang int he minds of those in the chamber. He spoke in unearthly tones a strange language they somehow understood: “Who dares enter the sanctum of the Black Pharoah?”
James drew his pistol and fired off two shots at the tall dark figure on the throne. The rippling air materialized into two great viperine creatures, which had curiously distorted heads, and grotesquely great clawed appendages, supporting themselves with ease by the aid of black rubbery wings of singularly monstrous dimensions.
The beasts descended on James, one of the them grabbed him in it’s sinuous tail and bit his head off. Blood sprayed from his headless shoulders and the beast dropped the twitching body to the floor. The Black Pharaoh swept his scepters out to the sides and the creatures retreated to the corners of the room and went invisible again. His voice rang out “Any other of you wish to meet a similar fate?” There was only silence in response.
“You are foolish to continue your current efforts. The gods you seek to defy are too powerful to be discomfited by the puny struggles of mortals. You should gratefully and meekly return to your homes and await the inevitable. Look you at the fate of those who came before you…”
He waved his right scepter and a vision appeared shimmering in the air before them. They saw clearly a scene of a camp in a lush environment, probably somewhere in Africa. Black bearers came and went, the principle members of the Carlysle expedition could be seen. The scene was peaceful, they could hear the chatter of the camp, the wind blowing on the grass, and the songs of birds. Then the screams started. Scores of the winged serpents that had killed James descended from the sky, while out of the earth lurched ghoulish figures with lolling tongues and claws, formless spawn, and other frightful beings. The monsters set upon the camp and the carnage they view was unspeakable. All of the whites were ripped to shreds and their dark skinned employees died in droves.
This was too much for Helen and Sean. Helen began eating her socks and Sean crumpled into a blubbering ball in the corner. Chuck stood their looking around confused.
The Black Pharoah sneered, “Even the brave know their lot. All doors are closed to you; all your dreams are doomed; all your struggles futile!” At another wave of his hand, the map on the right wall shimmered and dissolved. In it’s place was an archway: Beyond stretched ancient Egypt. They recognized the area near the pyramid, but the red pyramid was not there. There was an active market bazaar set up where craftsmen worked busily.
“Or you can accept what is to come and profit by it. Come, join me and I will open your eyes to universal truths that few mortals are blessed to know. Join me, join me, join me…” He gestured to the open portal, but none of them approached. The figure of the Black Pharoah and the archway slowly dissolved and the flames of the gems doused. The bricks in the doorway crumbled to dust.
When they recovered their wits, they didn’t know what to do with James’ headless corpse. Sean took all his belongings and left it on the ramps. The three of them fled back to Cairo and drank heavily the rest of the day.
Back at the hotel they received a card from a reporter for the London Times. On the back, was written “Jonah says hello” and “Rm 201, Shepheards”.
Sunday they went to church. The reporter who left the card found them there. He said Jonah Kensington had wired him to ask if he could help them. He had worked with Jackson Elias in the past. They spent the day talking with their new friend, bringing him up to speed on most of what had happened, and he began talking about a book deal. They had lost a friend but gained another, but could this one be trusted? Recent events had left them paranoid and afraid.