2014 © Victoria Pitts-Caine
Priscilla Hackling chiseled and
brushed away the crusted dirt of thousands of years when voices
echoed above her. One she recognized, Rayhan, her trusted
assistant. They grew louder, closer, but she chose to ignore
them. She glanced at her chronometer—three o’clock. Her descent,
right after day break, into the yawning mouth of the aperture
had occurred without incident and brought her to the colorful
glyphs which ran in vertical strips on a wall deep within the
cavern. She studied them with care, assured she’d found a sealed
compartment, the final burial place. She had worked for months
at Sakkara just outside of Cairo, a section of the great
necropolis of Memphis, the old kingdom capitol. In early 2010
the Department of Antiquities and the Cairo Museum had gained
access to this area, the tomb of a lesser scribe of Unas. The
stark, summer sunlight shifted across the opening of the dig.
above ground intensified. She sighed, stored her tools in their
worn, leather case, and walked across the expanse of the
antechamber. She reached the ladder and, as it did every time, a
quick flash played in her memory. The day she climbed out of a
dig in southern Egypt, where Trey lay in a pool of his own
blood, the twelve-jeweled breastplate of the priest torn from
Priscilla, can you come topside?” Rayhan’s urgent voice met her
ears. She stood frozen on the first rung.
What could go
wrong now? Her permits were in order, she had clearance from the
Egyptian government—in fact, in a way worked for them—but this
entire dig had been trouble. She gripped the worn wood and
crawled out into the unrelenting afternoon heat. Rayhan stood
not fifteen feet from her as he argued with a uniformed official
and others roped off the area. From her experience, this dig
would soon be over.
took a patterned bandana from the hip pocket of her knee-length
cargo pants and wiped her face and hands, then jammed the red
fabric into her satchel. She extended her hand to the
Hackling.” She removed the hat from her short, strawberry blonde
curls. “Is there a problem, sir?”
Johnson.” He shifted his cap to shade his eyes and pointed
toward the dig. “We need to close this project.”
scrutinized the officer. Egyptian descent. English last name.
She bit her
bottom lip to squelch a smile. “At least we have that in
common.” She waited for him to comment and when he didn’t, she
continued. “The permits are in order. I’m working for the
“I know who
you are, Dr. Hackling.” The captain crossed his arms over his
chest and spread his legs into a defensive stance.
fluttered in her chest. Why now? An important discovery lay
under her feet; countless hours of work lost. “Then why are you
shutting down my project? I’m right on the precipice of a major
“I’m not. I’m
preserving it. I’ll have guards on site day and night. No one
will touch your dig while you’re needed elsewhere.”
This is my work. The museum has invested a large sum of money
into the project hoping I’d find out who this scribe was and his
importance to Unas. I’m certain the tomb is the architecture of
said, the dig will be untouched. We’ve reopened the
investigation of the murder of your fiancé, Trey Whittington. I
need you to come with me.”
gasped. An unexpected jab twisted in her chest. Trey, the
remarkable, handsome man she’d planned to spend the rest of her
life with died three years ago. He had been a part of her since
they’d met at the University of Cairo. They were both from
England and in love with Egypt and each other. With limited
success she’d moved on. She had to or she might as well have
been buried with him. She’d told the authorities everything
then. Why were they dredging it all up again?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pitts Caine is a native Californian and lives in the bountiful
San Joaquin Valley. Her varied interests include genealogy and
exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into
her novels. While her genre is inspirational, she likes to refer
to herself as a Christian Romance Adventure Novelist.
has received recognition in both fiction and nonfiction from:
Enduring Romance top 10 picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing
Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine and The
Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel,
Alvarado Gold, was published in 2007.
Victoria is a
former staff technician for the environmental sector working in
air pollution control. She is the mother of two daughters.
Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, church service and
emergency radio communications.