“There she wakes!” I heard a heavily accented voice, saying happily. I opened my eyes and I saw a sweet old lady smiling.
“How you feel?” she said.
“Uh.. what… where am I?” I murmured.
“The infirmary. A lucky girl, you.” She said.
“Where is my friend?” I said while trying to get up.
“Friend? I not know. You comed alone.” She said confused.
“You… haven’t seen a man with shaved head and…” I started but she interrupted.
“Dalida know. She here yesterday when you comed. Dalida out, go ask she.” She said and turned to leave.
Great. Just great. My head hurt from the knot of my bandana. Couldn’t they just untie it for me? They didn’t even bother to take my shoes off. I made an effort to stand on my feet. I was very dizzy but I could walk.
The infirmary was more like a house with a kitchen, a living-room, and just a few extra beds in the bedrooms. There wasn’t really much medical equipment either. I found my way outside, where I saw a younger woman standing.
You’d better be Dalida. And you’d better speak a language that I can understand so that we can communicate.
“Excuse me. Are you Dalida?” I asked.
“Ah, you’re awake! Welcome!” she said cordially. “Yes I am Dalida Barakat.”
“I am Alyssa Richards. How did I come here? And… how long have I been here?”
“You were brought here by the guards of the Pyramid of the Burning Sands. You’ve been here for about a day now.” She replied.
“Did the guards… rescue me? What from? A trap?… Was I hurt? I see no bruises on my body, yet every inch of it hurts… And what about my friend Ray?” I kept asking questions like crazy without even giving her time to respond.
“The guards say they found you lying outside of the pyramid. They found nobody else with you. You got in the pyramid with that friend of yours?” she asked.
“Yes… I had this STUPID idea to explore the pyramid with Ray…” My heart was racing as I was bringing into my mind the events of the previous day. I was so angry at myself. God, what did I get us into?
“I was examining some carvings when I realised he wasn’t near anymore. Then… then, I heard him screaming…” I couldn’t sustain my tears any longer. “Then… it all went dark… I… I don’t remember… anything else… ” I explained in between sobs.
There was also another thing, but I decided against mentioning it, for I wasn’t sure whether it was reality, illusion or simply a dream I had while sleeping on the bed of the infirmary. There was a man’s face on my mind.
While it was just a vague image of somebody I hadn’t met before, the memory was very vivid. I remembered him looking at me, possibly trying to tell me something.
“The local police are expecting that I call and let them know you are awake. I hope you won’t get in too much trouble for getting in there without permission. Oh, and do not worry, we’ll find your friend.” She reassured me.
For the rest of the week, I mostly cried from guilt and frustration. I went back to the camp only to discover that we had been robbed. Luckily, I was carrying my passport and money with me at all times, but my clothes and supplies were gone; so were Ray’s.
Apart from crying, I spent a lot of time with the police officers. They didn’t seem to care at all about my sneaking illegally in the pyramid, but were instead focused on investigating what happened that night and where Ray was. I gave detailed descriptions of all our actions up to the point I had lost my senses and helped them as much as I could with their investigation.
Generally, although they were all very nice to me, I had a feeling that something was off. With my every sentence, when I gave my statement, I could see them throwing glances at each other. Then again, maybe I was just overreacting. Maybe I had hit my head in that pyramid after all and thus I couldn’t think straight.
I was definitely unable to think straight. I had a constant feeling I wasn’t alone. “Great. It’s the perfect time for me to get paranoid! I make conspiracy theories about the police; I think I’m being chased… Splendid!” I said to myself.
I was about to leave from the tavern I had lunch at, when a weird movement caught my eye.
“What the hell? Am I really being watched?”
The mysterious man disappeared before I had a chance to see his face or say for sure whether he was watching me. I ran outside, but instead of the mystery-man, I fell on one of the officers, who was apparently off duty.
“Hey, officer. How are you?” I greeted him.
“Still here, good lady? Perhaps, you’re staying here too long?” he said. He tried to sound friendly, but there was something about his tone that I didn’t like.
“What do you mean officer? … I don’t want to leave without knowing what happened to my friend. Besides, my flight is in three days.” I said, wondering whether he was implying I should leave.
“Are you asking me to leave?” I said again, after a few moments had passed without him saying anything.
“No, no, you welcome here. You want to stay, stay. But it is time to go back home.” He smiled warmly. A pause again. “Go home, good lady. Maa al salama.” He finally said still smiling at me and turned to leave.
“Maa al salama” I responded, uncertain as to what was the point of this conversation. Then, I heard some sounds coming from above. I instinctively raised my head, and noticed again the mystery figure.
He really is watching me, I thought and I immediately called the police officer who had only taken a few steps.
“What is it?” he asked.
“There’s…” I started, but as soon as I looked up again the man was gone.
“No-nothing.” I said. Who knows, perhaps it wasn’t completely a coincidence that the man and the officer were at the same place, at the same time.