A thrilling adventure for two young boys,whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret.
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secret of the sacred scarab
A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!
THE GIANT COBRA
Adam heard a loud thud and a muffled “Oof!” Where Justin had been was now a gaping void. Adam stuck his head through the cavity and looked down.
“Justin! Where are you?”
“Down here.” Justin’s voice rose from below and a faint beam from his flashlight appeared. “I’ve fallen into a room. It has tons of wall paintings so it might be a burial chamber. Can you get down? It’s not a very big drop. Just watch out for a lot of mess.”
Slipping off his rucksack, Adam then clutched the straps of both their rucksacks in one hand and carefully wriggled through the hole. He tumbled onto a pile of dirt and rubble, landing next to Justin. Clouds of earth and tiny stones showered them as they struggled to their feet. They dusted themselves off and then gazed upward. The opening seemed to be very high above their heads. Justin moved the flashlight up and down in slow sweeps. On the ceiling, a painted cobra shimmered: the royal serpent surrounded by many smaller serpents. The dancing beam threw bizarre shadows so that the creatures appeared to be writhing, as if they had suddenly come to life. Adam shivered. He hated snakes.
As he looked around, Adam realized that the only exit had been closed up. A doorframe was visible, but whatever door had once been there was now smoothed over with plaster. It was a secret chamber and they were trapped inside.
Just then, the sound of voices and scrabbling noises came from the tunnel above.
“Quick,” Justin whispered. “Hide.”
But where, and what if the men started to look for them? They grabbed their rucksacks in case the men spotted them on the ground just below the hole. Justin flashed the beam around the chamber. The light revealed several sarcophagi. One made of stone had the lid askew while a wooden one was standing upright, the cover hanging ajar. Possibly, they had somewhere to hide after all.
“Looks like someone else got here first,” Justin remarked, “but at least they opened this one. Get in.”
He heaved the lid farther off the stone sarcophagus so that Adam could squeeze inside. Adam peered in first, wrinkling his nose as the stale, musty odor of long-dead bones and frayed mummy wrappings hit his nostrils. He reached in and pulled out what looked like an arm bone, still wrapped in flimsy linen bandages. The remains of knobbly fingers hung from the end of the bone.
“This is disgusting! I’m not getting in there.”
“Yes, you are.” Justin pushed him in headfirst. “I’ll hide in the other one and think of something to scare them off.”
Justin disappeared from sight while Adam lay there, breathing in the rotten-smelling air. The lumpy remains of the previous occupant pressed into his back. As the voices and scrambling sounds got louder, he saw the beam of a flashlight flickering over the walls and ceiling. Adam held his breath. Two faces peered from the hole in the wall. The beam now danced over the floor of the chamber.
The men muttered to each other. Their voices sounded curious, as if they’d expected to find two boys cowering in fear below, but instead found the chamber empty. The men looked around for a few minutes. Then they began to break away pieces of the wall to make the hole big enough for them to climb through it. One of the men called out something in Arabic. He sounded friendly, even coaxing. Adam remained silent, as did Justin. The man spoke again, this time in broken English.
“Young boys? Come out. No one will hurt you. Come out now.”
What’s Justin going to do? Adam wondered. Then he got his answer.
“Wooooooooaaaaah!” The haunting cry came from the upright sarcophagus.
There was a sudden flurry of movement in the tunnel and two voices jabbered excitedly in Arabic.
“Eye of Horuuuuuuus,” Justin croaked in his best imitation of an old hag’s voice.
Adam raised the arm bone and poked it through the opening of the sarcophagus, jiggling it so the fingers rattled horribly. To the terrified men gazing through the cavity, it must have looked as if the mummy was rising from its resting place.
“Aieeeeeeeee,” Adam screeched, his voice trembling with fear.
Eerie echoes sounded in the chamber. That was enough for their pursuers. The men dropped their flashlight into the tomb and fled back down the tunnel, yelling what sounded like curses or prayers in Arabic. After a few seconds of dead silence, the boys burst out laughing.
“Eye of Horus. I love it!” Adam giggled.
“They’re always saying it so it must be important,” Justin sniggered.
Then they fell silent. Adam wondered how they would get out of the tomb. In the stillness, a strange, rustling noise came from somewhere in the chamber.
Adam froze. “Justin, is that you?” he whispered hoarsely.
“I was about to ask you the same thing.” Justin’s voice also sounded unsteady.
Simultaneously they peeped out of their hiding places. The flashlight the men had dropped, now lying on the floor of the chamber, illuminated their worst fear. In the corner, a pile of silvery coils moved stealthily, light glinting on its silver-and-black speckled skin. Its enormous body began to undulate as it uncoiled in lazy ripples, a large, triangular head protruding from the gleaming mass. A whip-like tongue flicked in and out of its jaws.
“I think this is one of the eight-foot snakes you were talking about,” Justin whispered. “Maybe longer.”
The giant cobra slithered across the floor with a dry, scraping sound. They shrank back into their sarcophagi, shaking.
“What shall we do?” Adam asked.
“I’m not the expert,” Justin snapped. “You’re the one who knows so much about snakes.”
“We should distract it!” Adam said in a loud whisper.
The snake jerked at the sound of his voice. It glided closer to the stone sarcophagus. Adam lay back on the pile of smelly bones and closed his eyes to half-slits. He looked up at the ceiling where the painted cobra shimmered.
I can’t believe this is happening. I know it’s after me.
The slithering, scraping sound grew louder. Then directly in front of him, just at the edge of the stone sarcophagus, the forked tongue whipping back and forth came into view followed by the loathsome head, which reared up, its hood spread wide. Then the creature opened its monstrous jaws, revealing wicked fangs. A clear drop of deadly poison trembled on the end of each fang, glistening like a pearl.
The reptile made a hideous hissing as it stared into the stone coffin, hunting for its prey, waiting for the tiniest movement that would betray his presence. Adam closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look into the snake’s gleaming black orbs. I’m finished, he thought, sliding his hand into his pocket and feeling the scarab. Somehow, just holding it made him feel calmer.
Then Justin called softly, “I know how I can distract it. I have my snake stick in my rucksack. Don’t move a muscle because the cobra will strike if it senses you. I’m going to make a loud noise and then throw the snake stick into a corner. That should lure it away from you. On the count of three, jump out of the sarcophagus and make for the hole in the wall.”
Adam tensed his muscles. He half-opened his eyes. The snake’s head still hovered but it had turned to look in the direction of Justin’s voice. Adam heard a rattling sound as Justin banged the snake stick against his sarcophagus, creating a vibration the snake would most certainly feel.
Justin screamed, “One, two, three!”
Adam sprang out of the sarcophagus just as Justin threw the snake stick into the farthest corner and leaped in the opposite direction. As the stick clattered to the ground, they raced for the opening. Hissing savagely, the giant cobra sped after the snake stick, and then struck what it evidently thought was another snake. They reached the wall and gazed up at the hole.
“It’s so high,” Adam squeaked.
“Help me up,” Justin ordered, “and then I’ll reach down and haul you up.”
“Wh-Why not the other way around?”
“Because I’m taller so I’ll be able to reach down and get you. Your arms are too short to get me. Now hurry!”
Adam cupped his hands and, as soon as Justin had one foot in, Adam heaved. Justin leaped up, grabbed the edge of the hole, and then pulled himself to safety. Luckily, the men had broken the opening much wider so it was now easier to reach. Justin then lay down in the tunnel, hanging his arms and head over the edge of the cavity.
“Quick, grab my arms!”
Adam threw the rucksacks up to Justin. “Catch! We may need them later.”
“Take my hands!” Justin screamed. “It’s coming.”
Adam looked behind him. The snake had discovered their trick and was now facing Adam. It raced at top speed toward him, with its hood raised and its tongue flickering. The furious snake struck, smashing viciously into the wall only inches below Adam’s dangling feet, and just seconds after Justin pulled him up through the hole and back into the tunnel.
“Come on. Let’s go, before it brings friends to the party.” Justin slipped on his rucksack. “You shouldn’t have bothered with these.”
“We may need them,” Adam said stubbornly.
Justin shook his head. “I think your life is more important than journals and stuff.”
Adam was already crawling away. “But we’re safe now. Let’s get out of here.”
They scrambled back down the passage, almost sobbing with relief. Their hands and knees, scraped raw from the rough surfaces, stung dreadfully. A faint light ahead signaled the mouth of the tunnel and Justin motioned Adam to stop. They listened and watched. There was silence.
“Looks like the coast’s clear,” Justin whispered. “Let’s make a run for it.”
Relieved to be near the end, they bolted out of the tunnel, around some rocks, and straight into the arms of the two men. Adam and Justin screamed in fright. They kicked and clawed their captors, their feet and fists flailing to escape the men’s strong grip. Then Adam felt a wet cloth placed over his nose and mouth and smelled something strange. Everything went black.
They slid to the ground in a limp heap. Each man picked up a boy and slung the unconscious body over his shoulders. With slow and careful steps, their slack burdens dangling, the men followed a new path down the hillside, away from the Valley of the Kings.