Villainy and canopic jars

Death.  Ghastly, appalling, death.  Margaret detested the foulness of death at the hands of another human being.  The victim of the murderous monster lay before her:   so young, a life…not so full of promise.    He was one of the misogynist felons who abducted them.  She wondered why the Frenchman put him in there rather than simply burying him in the desert.  Margaret would be following him shortly…Follow.   As if she were in an automobile with his tail lights in sight.  Follow.  As if…blast her and her philosophical last thoughts.  She wondered how the hell she got there.   Everything started out so innocently–so benignly, so salubriously.  Margaret always liked that word.   She felt one couldn’t use it too much…

The murderous swine was trying to pick the lock.  Margaret hoped he was lousy at it…then what? She would die of thirst next to a rotting corpse in a room full of artifacts.  Priceless artifacts. Margaret stood up and walked to the shelves with the canopic jars.  Picking up the jar made of lapis lazuli, she smiled at the loveliness of it.  She gagged when she pictured what was inside.  She frowned as she realized that cretinous brute outside had ceased his attempt at opening the lock on the secure, fireproof door.  She had planned for caviar and champagne on her deathbed.  She didn’t suppose there was anything like that there.   Margaret sat on the floor and reviewed the events of her very short time in Cairo that might have precipitated such a dilemma.


Margaret was sweltering under the Egyptian sun.  She couldn’t see the sun, really. The entire sky was glaring white.   Somewhere the sun was generating an outlandish amount of heat and light to cook the poor country and its people.  She could imagine an Egyptian Pharaoh standing in that glare, adorned with gold–casting beams of supernatural light on his people and declaring himself a god.   Such musings did nothing to stop the endless torment of blinding light.  Then her companion suggested she shade herself with her umbrella.  Margaret decided instead to go back inside the air conditioned airport.

Normally (as if anything were normal) Margaret didn’t venture into Egypt until Winter.   She changed her plans because her friend and colleague, Rasima, called her and informed her that they could lose the concession unless they began excavating immediately.  Competition was getting worse each year. Of course, Nadira insisted on accompanying her.  Without Nadira, Margaret would probably be dead from over-exposure.

Rasima met them at the airport.   Rasima’s grandfather, Hassan, had a wonderfully extravagant house situated along the Nile, surrounded by lush vegetation.   Margaret loved staying at Hassan’s house as was their tradition when first arriving in Cairo.   Rasima’s family would come with all their favorite dishes and there would be eating and catching up with old friends.

Early the next morning, Margaret and Rasima headed out to renew their concession permits for yet another year.  Nothing was ever simple in Egyptian bureaucracy and the two Egyptologists were well-prepared, or so they assumed.  As luck would have it, Nadira caught a mistake in their paperwork and had to send a few emails.   She proposed meeting up with them with all the papers enabling them to queue up early.  And so began their misadventure.

Margaret and Rasima were abducted on the way to the Antiquities offices.  However, it was the concession papers the men wanted, not the two women.  The criminals were limited in the area of reasoning and stupidly took the two renown Egyptologists in lieu of the papers.  Margaret’s and Rasima’s eyes were covered and their hands tied during their journey.  After a half hour of verbal abuse by the women, their mouths were taped as well.

When they arrived at the oasis, all their abductee accoutrements were removed and they were allowed the small freedom of the oasis, although, it was rather substantial in size and a pleasure to the senses.  Their half-witted abductors were whipped by a giant of a man, who turned out to be French.  Things went downhill from there.   At nightfall, Margaret and Rasima attempted to escape into the desert backtracking on the well-worn path of heavy vehicles.  There wasn’t a rock or even a weed to hide behind.  They were nearly caught.  They split up to find some place to hide. Margaret found the artifacts storage closet, successfully picked the lock and once inside, locked the door and jammed the lock with her favorite silver barrette, imprisoning herself with a corpse.

Margaret ceased her brooding and began looking for an alternate exit from what might be her final resting place.  Of course, the Frenchman was not that much of a buffoon that he would have another access to what was, in essence, a safe.  She was running her fingers along a wall and she felt a seam!   She stood there contemplating the seam when she heard a voice through the wall.  She banged on the wall and received what could only be rapping using Morse  Code.   Margaret didn’t know Morse Code. She wondered who would know Morse Code in the desert?

Suddenly realizing who was on the outside, Margaret dove for the other side of the room and contorted her body into a ball–arms around her head.

Margaret thought the concussive force should have killed her, let alone the explosion.   It had to be Rasima.   She always used too much explosive…

Back at Hassan’s, the entire family was there, waiting.   When they walked in there were joyous ululations, hugs and questions.  Neither Margaret nor Rasima could hear any of it–just ringing in their ears from the explosion.   Nadira and Hassan had been instrumental in locating them.  Based on Nadira’s past experiences she had placed a GPS pinger in Margaret’s barrette and used Hassan’s own  search engine  written by him specifically for locating and…well, it had something to do with the Egyptian Secret Service.  Having their location, adult male members of the family, aided by Egyptian soldiers, rescued the Egyptologists.  They smiled knowingly among themselves–it was to be an interesting digging season…as usual.

Inspiration Monday:  Errant Star at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompt:  Search Engine
Word Count:  <1000
Many thanks to Stephanie Orges for hosting Inspiration Monday


When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

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Posted in adventure, archaeology, fiction, humor, inspiration monday, murder
15 comments on “Villainy and canopic jars
  1. Doobster418 says:

    Interesting story full of dark intrigue, but I certainly didn’t expect that it was written for the “search engine” prompt.

    • Lucy says:

      Yeah, that’s pretty obvious. Ah well. C’est la vie. I originally wrote it for something else entirely and just finished it off. I’m going to keep Margaret and her two friends for future stories. Not necessarily for any challenge where I’m limited. Lucy

  2. Kate Loveton says:

    I salute you – because you figured something out while I’m still grappling with how to use the prompt words in a story… I shall persevere!

    Terrific job!

    • Lucy says:

      The entire story was written for another prompt which I misread: it’s not “desert” oasis, it’s “dessert” oasis. I had to stick in the stuff about a search engine. Write a mystery in which you have a character who can find anything on the web: he’s literally a search engine. Mass darkness could be the blackout in New York City–people stuck in an elevator? And “dessert oasis” your protagonist is locked in at the Ghirardelli factory in SF overnight. Yum. Helpful? No? Lucy

      • Kate Loveton says:

        All good and useful suggestions, lovely Lucy. The way my brain works is I write all those prompts on a piece of paper, and then just let my brain think about them for most of the weekend. Usually, by Sunday, I can come up with something… I did catch the dessert oasis and imagined a candy cotton landscape. Wow, I should have chosen THIS week to write about psychotropic drug dreams!

      • Lucy says:

        Okay, you’re different. I just start typing and let my fingers to the writing. Sometimes I have 2 or 3 drafts that don’t do it for me but I keep them because I might need them. Such as this time. I had already written part of the story a month ago. I just finished Friday Fictioneers and will publish in a bit. You go to bed and get some sleep. Good nite Sweet dreams Lucy

      • Kate Loveton says:

        Yeah, I like to let stuff percolate – but, trust me, I go through a lot of drafts! (grin) Have a lovely Friday!

  3. jubilare says:

    I really like the story here! Fun and interesting! 🙂 I have some questions/nitpicks for you, though, if you want that sort of thing. If you don’t, just ignore me. 😛

    First is the use of italics. What purpose does this serve? Because it reads like emphasis, and I was jerked out of the story because I wondered why certain words were emphasized.

    A typo: “She always used to much explosive” should be “too much” 🙂

    And the third thing is “2 days earlier…” This confused me because it started out two days earlier, and then skipped over the “present” intro into the future without another transition. Sometimes this works, but in this case, it threw me a bit because I kept waiting for the “present” moment. It might run more smoothly if you explain some things like how the body got in there with her.

    • Lucy says:

      Thanks for the tips. I will go over it again. I had 5 challenges to do and started to get confused which one I was on. This was only because I was behind. No excuse though for poor writing. Thank you again. I’ll let you know when the fixes are in. Lucy

      • jubilare says:

        But this is not poor writing. Typos slip through, and I believe there is no such thing as a piece of writing that cannot be improved. Of all the posts I have read so far for this InMon prompt, I like this one the best. 🙂

      • Lucy says:

        Thanks for your encouragement. Lucy

  4. What a fun little adventure! Good thing Margaret has friends in high places. I love her random thoughts about vocabulary words. : )

    • Lucy says:

      She’s a bit of ditz.. Salubrious and malfeasance are two of her favorite words. .I’m glad you had fun reading it–that was the goal. Thanks, Lucy

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© [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles], [2015-2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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