Chapter II - Inception

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The dark and the quiet of the Egyptian night broke as it had daily for untold years. As the first motes of brilliant orange and yellow light mottled the undulating dunes of the seemingly limitless desert landscape, Hunter Price awoke.

For the time being, the Prices lived in a cutting-edge, military-grade tent on the digsite premises so that they could remain close to the action. Their tent had all of the conventional modern amenities like running water and electricity.

Hunter looked at his sleeping wife Tiyana for a few moments before climbing out of bed, putting on a pair of convertible khakis, and wrapping a white cotton button-up around his shoulders. He staggered out into the first smoldering embers of morning light where Shenouda brought him coffee and toast.

Egyptians did not have surnames the way Americans did. They used their father’s name as a second name and sometimes used his father’s name as a third name. The final name effectively became their surname although the kitchen worker, Shenouda, simply went by “Shenouda.”

He gingerly sipped dark-roasted black coffee and nibbled on bread baked fresh that morning at the digsite kitchen as he reflected on how they had come to this point and what they would find the next day, following the big excavation.

• • •

On the morning of the big excavation Hunter laid awake for a least an hour before he decided that he could not contain his excitement any longer. He jumped out of bed, literally throwing the sheets off. At 4:48 AM he gently, yet firmly, shook his wife Tiyana awake.

“Good morning to you, to you, to you,” Hunter sang softly and poorly.

“Uuuughnnah, Hunter.” Tiyana gurgled.

He continued the shaking and the singing, only the tones became less vibrant and tinnier.

“Ok, ok, I’m awake. What time is it anyway?” Tiyana mumbled.

“4:48, I know the alarm goes off at five, but I couldn’t wait, we’ve got to get started. Today could very well be the big day.” Hunter said with emphasis on the word “big.”

Tiyana began speaking sweetly at first, and then more businesslike, “Dear, that’s adorable, but you know we are just starting today. We don’t know how much of that rock there’ll be. It could be nothing, just a geological freak development or some old foundation for a pyramid or mastaba that never got built. Anyways, the tunnels down there are all caved in and if they ever led somewhere I doubt we’ll find it on the first day of using the tunnel boring machine. Also, by the way, its still not too late to have one more comprehensive geotechnical investigation done by the guys that Grabenbohren recommended. I’m just saying . . .”

Hunter cocked his head to the side as he interrupted, “I thought we didn’t have a budget for any of that. You know, we’re way out of our element here already. I think we’ve moved beyond stratification and phases, at least for time being. Of the tunnels we’ve explored, we have already gone over every square inch with a fine tooth comb. We’ve got great momentum going here with the ding and all. We really need to ride that momentum. Who knows how long they’ll even let us borrow the tunnel boring machine. Plus, hey, we went with, ‘If in doubt, bash it out’ before, and I’d say that worked out pretty well for us.”

Tiyana smiled and coquettishly rose out of bed as she replied, “Yeah, yeah, you know you’re preaching to the choir. Someone has got to be the devil’s advocate around here though. We’ve got to, you know, check ourselves from time to time. Keep the dialogue open. Make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves.”

She moved closer and put her hands around his waist.

“You just keep asking your questions and doing what you do. If I had my way, this entire site would have been sieved and floated five miles deep by now and the ding would have been crushed or lost in the jumble.” Hunter said as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her lightly on the lips and then slowly around the neck.

“I love you dear and I hope we find what you want today. I’m going to hop in the shower.” Tiyana said as she gently broke their embrace.

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