A gunshot exploded through the tent. Part of Nisa thought that this was it, that she was actually dead, but then another, deeper part of her realized that Callahan and his men had silencers.
Nisa opened her eyes to see Callahan and the man in front of Susie on the ground. Several more shots went off, and the other security men in the room collapsed onto the ground.
“Didn’t think I’d let you die, did you?” Oliver said in her ear. He grabbed her arms and helped her to her feet, snatching the keys from Callahan. His upper right shoulder was bleeding.
Callahan lifted his gun with his free hand, groaning, and fired a shot.
Oliver yanked Nisa to the side as Chris helped Susie to the entrance. Outside, Bea sat at one of the jeeps.
“Hurry! Get in!” she shouted.
Nisa and Susie sprinted for the jeep as fast as they could as Chris and Oliver fired shot after shot. By then, the rest of the security team had been alerted. They fired and bullets whizzed by them on every side, like a violent hailstorm.
Just as Nisa hopped into the back of the jeep, more shots rang off and the tires exploded.
“Out!” Oliver shouted.
Nisa and Bea hopped out, landing on the other side of the jeep. She quickly glanced around the camp. Without the jeep, they would never make it and trying to run for their own would be a mistake. The security team surrounded them on all sides, coming out of every tent and path between tents. Dozens of them aimed their guns at them, marching toward them from the front of the camp.
“We’re trapped!” Susie cried.
Chris glanced behind them and nodded his head to the pyramid. “That’s our only chance.”
Oliver shook his head. “There are men on the sides. We’d never make it back that way.”
“No!” Chris shouted. They ducked behind the jeep as more shots fired toward them from every direction. “Inside. It’s our only chance. We’ll use the secret passageways to get deeper and lose them down there. Then, we’ll sneak back out—“
Another shot thundered around them and Nisa flinched.
“Go!” Oliver rose to his feet, firing off two more shots.
Two more security men fell, but another fired toward them.
Nisa, Bea, and Susie followed behind Chris, who shot two security men standing in front of the pyramid’s entrance.
Oliver stayed behind them so Nisa had to force herself not to look back at him to ensure he was alright.
Nisa’s feet hit the staircase and she, Chris, Susie, Bea, and Oliver sprinted down them as quickly as possible. At the bottom, workers scrambled out of their way. Chris shoved one of the workers aside and darted down one of the many dimly lit corridors.
Nisa brushed by one worker, who dropped a flashlight with a squeal of surprise. Nisa bent down and picked it up, knowing they would need it to light their way. “Come on,” Oliver said with a hiss.
He grabbed her arm and something sticky coated her clothes. She sprinted alongside him, following behind Chris, Bea, and Susie. “Ollie…” she started.
He shook his head, gritting his teeth. “No time. Go!”
The corridor had a few lanterns, but the workers started to thin out. It darkened up ahead, so Nisa handed the flashlight to Susie, who held it in front of Chris to light the way. He kept his gun out and ready, as Oliver still followed in the back, using his gun to check for men following them. It seemed pointless to Nisa since they couldn’t see, but he still did it anyway.
The hallway narrowed up ahead. “We’ll have to go one at a time here,” Chris said. “I’ll go first.” He held a hand out to Susie who handed him the flashlight. He held it in front of him in his empty hand, turned sideways, and then slipped through a small crevice, leaving them emersed in complete darkness.
Susie went next, followed by Bea, who spoke to let them know they were going. Nisa felt along the wall with her hands until she felt the crevice and then slipped inside it. She had a small frame and stature, so it wasn’t as tight of a fit as she imagined it would be for Oliver and Chris.
“Ollie? You with me?” she murmured softly.
“Right behind you,” came his soft reply. He spoke through gritted teeth.
How bad was his wound? Nisa’s heart pounded. Even if they hid in here long enough to lose them, the men would no doubt have the entrance completely surrounded. There would be no way they could escape and there was a high chance they would die down here.
As soon as Nisa slipped through the other side of the crevice, her eyes spotted the light from Chris’ flashlight shining on the rough, cracked walls of the new chamber.
Oliver stumbled through behind her and Chris shifted the light in their direction. Nisa caught him just as he fell down to his knees. Blood poured from a wound on his side. “He’s shot!” Nisa cried.
Chris handed over the flashlight to Susie, who kept it steady as Chris darted over to Oliver’s side. Nisa gently lay him on the ground and Chris ripped his shirt. She couldn’t even see the bullet hole, for all the blood covering him. Nisa’s stomach and chest tightened and she struggled to hold back tears. Grasping his hand, she swallowed deeply. “Wi—will he…?”
Chris shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s not like we have any of the right equipment to help him down here. I’ll do what I can. If you guys can start a fire, we can use that to cauterize the wound but I’ve gotta take that bullet out first. Susie, keep the light here.”
Nisa’s hands trembled but she glanced at Bea. “Do you have anything to start a fire with?”
Bea reached into her pocket. “Thank goodness I hadn’t given up smoking yet.” She reached into her pocket and took out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes. Nisa would have said something, but in this case, it was likely saving Oliver’s life.
She used the edge of the light to search the room. Fortunately, there were pieces of wood lying on the floor and old cloth, so she piled them together and scooted it closer toward Oliver—opposite from where Chris knelt with his knife.
Bea lit the lighter and a small flame burst on the cloth. Nisa leaned down and lightly blew on it. The flames grew wider, dancing along the edges of the wall.
Chris slipped his knife into the fire and held it there for a few minutes. “Need you guys to hold him down.”
Nisa and Bea nodded and each of them took a side. She pressed her hands on his shoulders and held him down. Chris took the knife and sliced through Oliver’s skin, digging it deeper. Oliver screamed and he tensed up and shoved against Nisa’s hands. She threw her whole weight against him on one side—from behind, to stay out of Chris’ way—while Bea did the same on the other side.
Oliver screamed again.
Chris furrowed his eyebrows. “Almost got it. Su, the light.”
She stood over him and Nisa wanted to tear her eyes away, but couldn’t. The light provided plenty to see every horrific detail as Chris dug the knife inside the bullet hole and reached his fingers in to pull the bullet out.
“Got it.” Chris hurled the bullet across the room and then reached his knife back into the fire. The knife turned bright orange as he pulled it away and pressed it against Oliver’s side.
Oliver screamed and he thrashed. Nisa and Bea practically had to sit on him to keep him lying flat on the ground. Suddenly, he went limp and his eyes fluttered closed.
Nisa’s heart nearly skipped a beat, but she held her hand over his mouth to make sure he was still breathing.
“They probably heard that,” Susie whispered.
Chris grabbed his gun and Oliver’s and waited by the crevice. Sure enough, voices echoed across the walls and his eyes darted around the room.
Nisa stood, using her foot to throw sand over the fire. “There’s another hall leading deeper in. Should we move him?” she whispered.
Chris gestured to the crevice. “If they find us, we’re all dead anyway. Do you know how to shoot?”
Nisa nodded and she took one of the guns. He gave the other to Bea, while Susie held the flashlight. Chris bent down, picked Oliver’s arms up, and placed them over his shoulders.
Nisa held her breath and let Susie, Bea, Chris and Oliver go in front of them, while she picked up the rear. The voices grew louder, so loud that it almost seemed like they were right on the other side of the wall. Nisa clenched her sweaty palms around the handle of the gun. Her father had showed her the basics of how to shoot, but she had never done it other than at targets and she had never had to shoot anyone—she was nothing like Oliver.
The thought of his wound made her chest tighten and Nisa found it difficult to breathe. She hurried after them and stayed close as they followed the winding corridor. Darkness descended on them like a heavy weight, but Nisa pushed it and all her fears aside. It was more important to try to focus on how they would survive.
Chris stopped in the next chamber, which from what little light the flashlight provided, Nisa could see was filled with shelves. Each was coated in layers of dust and cobwebs. Insects crawled along the walls and Nisa shivered, glancing back at Chris and Oliver.
Chris gently lay Oliver down on the ground, heaving with a deep breath.
“What are we going to do?” Susie whispered.
“You know they’re going to be waiting for us,” Nisa said. “We can hide down here, sure, but without water, we’ll die in a few days. We have to figure something else out.”
Susie glanced around the room, shining the flashlight along every inch of the wall. “Sometimes they had secret passageways out of places like this, but not too many because of thieves.”
“Yeah, but finding one of those… We’re either going to have to be extremely lucky or need a miracle.” Chris folded his arms across his chest, but it was too dark to see his full facial expression.
Oliver coughed. Nisa darted to his side and clenched his hands. “Ollie. You alright?”
Oliver nodded with a groan. “If anyone can find some way out of this place, it’s the four of you.”
Bea held up her lighter. “I’ll use this and see what I can find.”
Chris gestured back down the hallway. “Just don’t go that way. In case they find their way into the crevice.”
Nisa swallowed and gripped Oliver’s clammy hands in her own. “I’ll stay with him.”
Chris nodded. “Oliver, your gun has a light, so I’m borrowing it. Here.” He grabbed his and handed it to Nisa.
Oliver smirked at him, but it looked more like a grimace, to Nisa. “I can still shoot, you know. Better than Ni, anyway.”
Chris shook his head and started down one of the hallways. This chamber branched into at least five others, that Nisa could count.
She glanced down at Oliver and her eyes couldn’t help but stare at his wound. It had stopped bleeding, but he needed a hospital. Tears burned in her eyes and she furiously wiped them away. With all the sand and dirt on her hands, that only succeeded in making her eyes burn.
“Hey… it’ll be alright,” Oliver whispered.
Nisa swallowed and shook her head. “I don’t see how. What if there are no passageways down here?” She switched her position so that she could sit cross-legged to be more comfortable. As she did, her knee brushed up against his pocket. Something sharp inside it poked her. “What is that?”
Oliver grunted and reached inside there to pull out the object. “I found some hard drives and was able to download whatever was on there. He also had some artifacts, so I grabbed this one. The others were all ones you’d already found. Thought you’d want to take a look at it.”
Nisa fingered it in her hands with a scoff. “Right, like an artifact is really going to be helpful now. Ollie… Callahan murdered my father.”
His eyes widened. “Wh—what?”
Nisa bit her lip and paused a moment to think before responding. “I overheard him. The man I spoke with was leading me on a wild goose chase. Something else is going on here and he—he killed my father for it and wanted to keep me away from it. Now, obviously, he wants me dead to. All of us. Hopefully, the hard drive you copied will have something to incriminate him. If we ever get out of here.”
Oliver’s fingers played with hers. “We will. God will find a way. This isn’t a challenge for Him.”
Nisa smiled and even though it felt faint, somehow, speaking with Ollie and seeing him back to normal, made her feel at least a little better.
“Guys!” Susie shouted.
Nisa rose to her feet and darted down one of the hallways where Susie’s voice had come from. Bea and Chris joined them a few seconds later.
Susie lifted the flashlight to shine the light on the back wall. “More of that language.”
Nisa’s eyes widened. Whatever it was, there were far more symbols on this wall than on the others they had found. “I can’t read it without the stone and my translation notes,” she said. “Not that it really matters right now.” Her fingers clenched around the artifact from Ollie still in her hands.
That was when her eyes caught a shape cut out of the wall on the far right. “Wait… Susie, hold the light up. There, in the corner.”
Susie shifted the light so that it shined on the hole cut out. Nisa knelt to peer at it more closely. It wasn’t quite a full hole—just a shape cut out of part of it. The shape was unusual, one that Nisa had no word for, but it looked oddly familiar.
“What’s going on?” Oliver asked.
Nisa whirled around on him. “What are you doing here, Ollie? You should be resting! Are you crazy?”
Chris rolled his eyes and marched over to where Oliver leaned against the wall entering the chamber, face covered in a layer of sweat. “If your wound starts bleeding again, I don’t know if we’ll be able to stop it.”
Satisfied that Chris would take care of Ollie, Nisa turned her attention back toward the oddly shaped hole. It still looked familiar and her fingers clenched and unclenched around the artifact in her hands nervously.
That was when it struck her.
The artifact and the hole were the exact same size. “Wait…” Nisa’s eyes widened as she held the artifact up. Sometimes, ancient pyramids like this were known to have secret passageways…Holding her breath, Nisa pressed the artifact against the hole.
“Wait, what are you—“ Before Bea could finish her question, blinding white light exploded around the room and Nisa completely lost consciousness.