- Posting Speed
- Speed of Light
Persepolis, Iran-Iraq border, 1937...
"This way, this way please," Amir said, stooping through the tunnels and turning now and then to make sure the Professor was following. His friend Majid was bringing up the rear, holding a torch that flickered and sputtered in the darkness.
Between the two Iranians, the Professor remained silent, adjusting his hat now and then and scowling impatiently.
"We call for you as soon as it happen, Professor," said Amir, sweating and smiling, "My friend Majid - he find it, not long, not long."
"East tunnel," Majid added, before a scowl from Amir made him lower his head again.
The trio continued down the tunnels, moving from the newer excavations to the deeper Persian vault. The other workers had been evacuated on the Professor's orders, taking with them the few clay pots and old bones they had found so far.
Finally, in the eastern tunnels, Amir turned and bowed nervously, pointing to a hole in the ground. Majid held the torch and the Professor crouched slowly, lighting a second one and dropping it through the opening.
The flame fell for a few seconds then struck something metal, lighting up a chamber below. Removing his hat, the Professor marvelled at the half-glimpsed sarcophagi and statues, shimmering in dark metal.
"This good find, yes?" Amir asked the Professor, standing beside his friend and smiling hopefully.
The Professor stood and turned to them. "Why yes," he said, his voice the finest German, "The find of the century."
The luger roared like thunder, lighting up the tunnel as the two Iranians jerked and struck the wall. Blood sprayed and their cries were cut short. They slumped to the ground, leaving only silence.
Lifting Majid's torch, the light fell upon the blood-flecked face of the killer.
Colonel Seiler smiled devilishly and stepped over the bodies, gazing again into the tomb below.
The Fuhrer would be pleased... very pleased indeed.
Blexford Manor, Oxford, England, one month later...
"Amelia! Amelia!! AMELIA!! Where is that unsufferable girl?"
Roger Darcy dashed across the grand hallway, dodging statues and ornaments. He was carrying a tray of drinks in one hand and a pair of slippers in the other. Pushing past a maid who was lugging a chair into the lounge, the butler yelled up the marble staircase.
"AMELIA!!! GET DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT! THEY'RE ALMOST HERE!"
A couple of groundsmen arrived with a bucket of logs and stared at him. The butler gestured impatiently towards the study. The groundsmen left.
"No help!" Darcy muttered as he swept towards the kitchen, "I get no help! This is ridiculous! How am I supposed to plan for guests when I don't know who the guests are? Ridiculous!" He called for the girl one last time before rushing into the kitchen. "Are we ready? Are you ready? Ready.. are we? Yes? No? Right!"
The cook stared at him and before she could answer the butler was gone.
"AMELIA!" Darcy yelled as he returned to the hall. "Bedroom four! BEDROOM FOUR!" he shouted at the maid, who continued lugging large pieces of furniture that were far too heavy for her.
Through the open door of the study, oblivious to all the chaos, Professor Stern sat by the fireplace and lit a cigar. He put his feet up and waited patiently for his guests while his butler fretted.