فصل 13

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فصل 13

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Salahadin ‘s Bluff

Half-way up the gully, Salahadin stood waiting in the moon-light. Musa and the policemen were hidden behind rocks.

At last Salahadin heard the noise he was waiting for. Strengel and his men were carrying the mummy out of the tomb. He waited patiently until Strengel came round the rock. Strengel did not notice him. He had his back towards Salahadin and was giving instructions to his men.

‘Carefully now - go carefully,’ said Strengel to the men above him.

A few moments later, Strengel turned round to look for a path down the gully. He saw Salahadin standing below him.

‘Salahadin El Nur,’ said Strengel. ‘I didn’t expect you so soon. Have you come here to help us?’

‘I’ve come to help you put the mummy back in the tomb,’ replied Salahadin quietly.

‘I’m taking the mummy away with me,’ said Strengel. ‘And you won’t be able to stop me.’

‘I’ve got my men all round you,’ said Salahadin. ‘And they’ve got orders to shoot.’

‘Order them to shoot if you want,’ said Strengel. ‘But think what will happen before you give the order. Remember you haven’t got protective suits. I was the one clever enough to think of suits to protect us from the germs. Without these suits, you cannot come near the mummy. If you shoot us, we’ll drop the mummy. It will break open if it falls and the germs will spread everywhere.’

Salahadin stood looking up at Strengel. For a few seconds, there was a strange silence in the moonlit gully.

‘I’ve told my men to shoot you in the legs,’ said Salahadin. ‘A space suit with holes in it will not protect you.’

‘And my orders to my men are to drop the mummy if I am shot,’ replied Strengel. ‘We are coming down now.’

Strengel’s men began to move. Strengel’s men carefully lowered the mummy down over the large rock. Strengel came nearer to Salahadin.

‘You’d better move,’ advised Strengel.

Salahadin waited until Strengel was a few metres away. Then he raised his revolver.

‘Stop where you are,’ he said to Strengel. ‘Stop or I shoot.’

‘Shoot me and you’ll die - and your policemen with you,’ replied Strengel.

‘You’re all going to die anyway,’ shouted Salahadin loudly. He wanted Strengel’s men to hear him. ‘Didn’t Farrow tell you about the acid?’

Strengel stood still and his men stopped moving.

‘What acid?’ asked Strengel.

‘There’s a strong acid on the walls of the tomb and on the mummy,’ replied Salahadin. ‘The acid is slowly burning through your suits and through your gloves. When it has burnt through, the germs of the disease will follow it. Then you will all die like De Fries and Keesing.’

Strengel’s men looked at one another carefully. Then they lowered the mummy down onto the ground below the rock. They looked at their gloves and at their space suits.

‘He’s bluffing,’ shouted Strengel, turning back to face them. ‘It isn’t true. There isn’t any acid that can last for thousands of years. It’s a bluff.’

But his men did not move. They were not sure if Salahadin was speaking the truth.

‘You’ll soon feel the acid burning your hands,’ Salahadin shouted up at them. ‘Then it will be too late. The germs will be inside your suits.’

Suddenly one of Strengel’s men began to tear off the gloves of his suit. He believed what Salahadin was saying. The sweat caused by the rubber gloves was making his hands itch.

‘I can feel my hands burning!’ he shouted. ‘I’m getting out of this suit before the germs kill me.’

‘You fool,’ shouted Strengel. ‘You’re sure to die now. Your suit is covered with germs.’

Strengel was right. As the man was pulling the suit off from his legs, he gave a loud scream. He rolled forward and fell down the gully, turning and twisting. Salahadin jumped to one side. The man rolled past him and lay twisting in pain beside the dead body of Keesing.

Strengel suddenly ran towards Salahadin. He wanted to touch Salahadin with the outside of his suit. Salahadin would die too. But Strengel could not move quickly because of the suit. Salahadin shot Strengel in the leg. Immediately the germs got into his blood and in a few seconds he was dead.

Salahadin shouted to Musa and the policemen.

‘Come out now,’ he said. ‘Watch these men.’

Then he looked up and spoke to Strengel’s men.

‘The acid will take some time to burn through,’ he told them. ‘Before it does, you have time to carry the mummy back into the tomb. Then we’ll help you to take those suits off carefully.’

Strengel’s men did not know what to do. The man lying beside Keesing gave a loud scream and died.

‘You haven’t got much time,’ Salahadin shouted. ‘Get that mummy back into the tomb quickly. It’s your only hope of staying alive.’

The men carefully lifted up the mummy and began to move it back into the tomb. Inspector Musa climbed down towards them.

‘Keep back - keep away from them, Musa,’ shouted Salahadin.

Salahadin told one of the policemen to go back to the Range Rover, ‘Bring me the box of dynamite,’ he said. ‘I am going to shut the Queen of Death in her tomb forever.’

Back in Cairo, Leila opened the front door of the house. Inspector Ahmed was waiting outside with the two policemen.

‘Christine Farrow is locked in one bedroom,’ said Leila quickly. ‘The man’s in another room - he’s using a radio.’

‘Let’s get him first,’ said Ahmed. ‘Show me the way.’

Ahmed and the two policemen followed Leila. Leila pointed to a bedroom door.

‘He’s in there,’ said Leila.

Ahmed walked quietly up to the bedroom door. He turned the handle, but the door was locked. Ahmed stood back with his revolver in his hand. One of the policemen crashed against the door with his shoulder. The door broke open and they ran into the room.

‘Police - the police are here,’ shouted Greer into the radio.

Ahmed pointed his revolver at Greer, ‘You’re under arrest,’ he said. ‘Give me the keys to the other bedroom.’

Suddenly a voice came from the radio. It was the voice of Dr Farrow.

‘What’s happening there?’ asked Farrow. ‘What did you say about the police?’

Ahmed went over to the radio. ‘Who’s calling?’ he asked.

Farrow explained who he was and where he was calling from.

‘What about Inspector Salahadin?’ asked Ahmed.

‘He’s here,’ said Farrow. ‘What about my wife?’

‘Your wife is all right,’ said Ahmed. ‘What’s happening where you are?’

Farrow began to explain, but he was stopped by the voice of Salahadin.

‘This is Inspector Salahadin El Nur. Who’s that?’

‘It’s Inspector Ahmed speaking. Hello, Salahadin. Every-thing’s all right here. Christine Farrow is safe and well. How are you?’

‘We’ve got to move out of here quickly,’ replied Salahadin. ‘I’ve put dynamite under a rock at the top of a mountain. The dynamite is going to explode in a few minutes. Keep listening - you’ll hear the noise.’

The policemen took Greer away. Ahmed sat down near the radio, and Leila brought Christine Farrow into the room. She was crying.

‘You can stop worrying. Your husband is safe,’ Inspector Ahmed told her. ‘I’ve just spoken to him on the radio. Everything is all right.’

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