© Copyright 2019 - Abbacor - Used by permission
Storycodes: MF+; challenge; explore; tomb; trap; capture; sarcophagus; mummy; wrapped; cloth; Mummy/MF+; entomb; enslave; stuck; curse; majick; cons/nc; X
Escape Rooms Extreme presents
The Tomb Raider’s Ultimate Challenge
“And here’s another passage.
“Just need to update my little map.
“There, one more way around the traps. I’ll be able to lead my group through this in record time when they finally open up for business. Heheheh.”
Tucking a pencil back into the fanny pack the young man moves on down the passage he just found. Coming out the other end he checks his map and nods.
“Good. This one goes right around what looks like another set of traps or three and comes out pretty close to what I think is going to be the treasure room.”
Making a new mark on the map he turns and takes the short walk down the hall and enters what he has marked on his map as ‘treasure room’.
“I wonder what kind of gaudy baubles and trinkets they’ll try to fill this room up with. And what they are going to make up as the main prize. No matter ...”
Suddenly the flashlight he is using flickers off and on several times then goes out completely.
“No, it will not matter, not for you at least,” a deep and grinding voice utters from the blackness around him.
“What?!? Who’s there?” the man calls out.
“Thieves such as yourself don’t get to ask questions, but I am feeling magnanimous. You can call me the Master of this pyramid.”
“Oh, well damn. I guess you’re not too happy to find me in here then, are you?”
“No. I am displeased to see you trying to get unfair advantage over me. Quite displeased.”
“Uh, would saying I’m sorry and giving up everything I’ve learned and written down possibly make things better?”
“I’m afraid that it is too late for that, grave robber. You must be suitably punished for your misdeed.”
“Um, I was kind of hoping to keep the cops out of this.”
The strange voice chuckles.
“Oh, the police will never hear of this, I assure you. I personally take to task all those who dare sneak into my demesnes.”
“Ah, eh-heh. I see. Sooo, what exactly is it that you have in mind then? Will I be able to go home any time soon?”
“Your new home is going to be right here, with me as your Master. Permanently.”
The sounds of cloth whipping through the air immediately follows.
“Wha ...? Hey! What is this? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”
More sounds, this time of clothing being torn asunder, intermix with the increasing sounds of cloth flying through the darkness.
“My clothes! What the hell? Wait, no. Let me go!” he cries out as the sounds of a struggle are heard.
For several minutes the sound of struggling increase, then the sound of something large falling to the floor is heard. Through out all of this the sound of whipping cloth continues to be heard.
“No! Stop! You ... you can’t do this! Please! I don’t want to become a-“
The intruders plea’s are suddenly cut off, as if something has covered his mouth.
* MMMFFFF * * UMMPHH * * MMMMMMMM *
The sound of struggling quickly slows then ceases altogether while the sound of cloth moving continues unabated. The muffled cries of the boy grow quieter and quieter, sounding like they are coming from beneath increasing layers of whatever is silencing him, and finally they cease altogether. A few minutes later the sounds of the cloth slow and come to an end.
The voice that calls itself Master intrudes on the silence, “My first new recruit. All wrapped up and waiting to be used. You’ll have to wait until the building is done, slave. By then you’ll be quite subservient and obedient.”
The Master chuckles.
“Your knowledge of my pyramid maze will serve you well, once you are able to move again.”
The Master’s evil laugh is long and deep, and worthy of striking terror into those who hear it.
“Come on Jana! We have to get a group together and do this!”
“The new escape room being built in town.”
“Another one? Those places are all pretty formulaic, they just have different themes to try and keep them from being completely boring. Besides, you’ve beaten all of them already. How is another going to be any different?”
“This says it’s going to be a whole new level of challenge.”
“Yea? What’s it called?”
“Well, the company is franchising off the Escape Rooms HQ product so they still have to keep with the naming for the most part, but they are calling themselves Escape Rooms Extreme.”
“Ugh. Really? And what makes them so different?”
“It says here that it’s not gonna be just a single room, but an entire building. And they are going with something they are calling the Tomb Raiders Ultimate Challenge. Not a lot of other details to it, but the few pictures they are using for advertising show what look like pyramids and a lot of sand like in Egypt.”
“Well, it’ll at least be bigger by the sounds of it. And an Egyptian theme hasn’t been done yet that I’ve heard of. Might be worth looking into when it gets done. Anything more on it?”
“It’s still a few of months out, and supposedly more details will be released when it gets closer to opening. It also looks like they show up in a city and stick around for up to maybe six months then move on to another place.”
“Hm. Still, it has some potential. Keep a watch on it. If they give out better info let me know.”
“Okay. Who do you think we can get to join?”
“Depends. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
-- eight weeks later --
“Hey Jana, that new escape room has just put out more info. Looks good.”
“Yea? Let me see.
“Going to be for groups of eight to twenty, that’s a big group.
“And it’s apparently a multi-level maze of some sort. With various traps, I think?”
“Yea! Can you imagine it? A group of tomb raiders exploring the insides of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, looking for the buried treasure! Ancient traps waiting around every turn to snare the foolish and careless!”
* giggle * “You and your imagination, Rick! But yea, this sounds like it might be fun. Says here it’s a full days run too. We’d have to do it on a weekend in that case.”
“How about on a Friday? Like opening day? Their first day is going to be a bank holiday opening on Friday a month from now.”
“That could work.”
“How many do you think we can get together for this?”
“If it’s going to be on a holiday, then we could get a decent size group maybe. Say, anywhere from ten to fifteen.”
“Hey Jana, this isn’t requiring a list of names for participants up front. Can I put in the reservation? It would be so cool to be the first to run it!”
“Heh. Sure squirt. See if you can get it.”
“Come on, get it get it get it ...
“Done. One group of fifteen. Aaaannd ...
“We’re the first to sign up! Yes!”
“Now we just need to get the people to fill it out. Does it say if there is any requirements for actual names or a deadline?”
“Yea. Now that we’ve got a group entered we have to get everyone to go to the website and fill in their personal info by ... here it is, enter their info in the next three days. And we can change the size of our group up or down during the same deadline.”
“Alright. We need to start making phone calls and sending out emails and texts today then.”
“Right. I’m on it from the PC here.”
“I’ll make a few phone calls.”
-- three days and numerous phone calls and messages go flying by --
“Twelve people confirmed and signed up, not bad Rick. Although I’m not too sure about Susan. This might be really hard for her going up and down multiple levels.”
“Yea, a wheelchair can be difficult. But, the site says the place is supposed to be ADA compliant and anyone can participate. Though they do say that having people willing to provide assistance is recommended for persons with a disability.”
“We’ve got that no problem. Everyone likes Susan, and we’ve all helped her out at different times. Besides, even as young as she is, Susan is probably the smartest person among us and having her around would be a big help.”
“That’s true, on both counts. So we have you, me, Susan. Wendy, Carroll, and Ken. Henry, Steve, and Mike. Albert, Larry, and Brittany. A good group.”
“Should be. Everyone has done one type of escape room or another at least once. Most of us a few times. We should be able to put it to the test and give it a good go.”
“Just a couple weeks before game time! I’m so excited!”
“Of course you are. And you’ll probably drive the rest of us nuts with all the emails trying to plan out your strategies and contingency plans before we even know what we’re getting into. I have to admit though, I’m starting to look forward to this too.”
-- the night before opening --
Jana opens the door to greet the last person to arrive.
“Hey Susan, you made it.”
“Yep, I finally got them to let me have the car and come over. Not like I haven’t been driving for three months on my own now without a problem. They can be so over-protective some times.
“Who else is here?”
“Everyone actually. You’re the last to arrive. Be prepared, Rick has maps all laid out and charts drawn up for things he has no clue if we’ll encounter them or not.”
* giggle * “He loves these escape challenges. We’ll just have to reign in your twin and get him to slow down.”
“Like we always do.” * giggle *
“Hey everyone, Susan made it!”
A chorus of greetings from the packed living room is followed by an enthusiastic Rick trying to get everyone focused on his plans.
“Alright! The brains are all here! So here’s what I think -”
“Whoa there little brother! Take it down five notches.”
“You’re only ten minutes older than me!”
“Yep, that makes me the older twin. And I’m also the bigger one too. You’re just a shrimp.”
“What!? I am not a shrimp!”
The familiar teasing does the job of derailing Rick and getting him to calm down. Susan throws him further off the track with a question.
“Where’s the pizza you said would be available? I’m starving.”
“OH, yea. The food.” Rick checks his watch. “They should be showing up about now in fact. Give me the money, I’ll go check to see if they’re pulling up.”
Handing Rick the cash, Jana winks at Susan while several others chuckle and he dashes to the front door.
“Now that we’ve got him distracted for at least a couple minutes, I’m going to bring up the one elephant in the room here and just get it out there.
“Susan, this is going to be a multiple level building that is apparently going to be designed like the interior of an ancient pyramid. We have no idea just how hard this might be for you to get around.”
“I’ve been dealing with this wheelchair since I was thirteen. I am used to getting around in it now, and I started driving three months ago when I turned sixteen. I have regular PT sessions twice a week still and I work out in the gym the other three days of the week. I also train for half-marathons on the weekends. So, I’m in great shape.
“But you’re right. We have no idea what it’s going to be like inside this thing despite them saying it’s ADA compliant. Compliance can mean very different things depending on who’s looking at it. And they even have a warning that assistance is recommended, so I am guessing it’s not going to be a cake walk for someone like me.
“I can -”
“Oh no you don’t,” Henry butt’s in. “No way you’re going to bow out on us just because you think it’s gonna be too hard on the rest of us to get you through. We’ve got you girl.”
Brittany chimes in with, “Damn straight. You have all the help you need right here in this room. You know we will; no questions. Besides, if you’re not there then who’s going to point out all the holes in Rick’s crazy ideas?”
The rest of the team nods or gives quiet agreement.
Rick comes back into the room carrying six extra-large pizza boxes.
“What did I miss?”
“Just party pooper Susan trying to tell us to leave her behind, again,” Larry tells him.
Rick sets the food down on the coffee table and turns to Susan.
“Oh hell no. There is no way you’re backing out on us now Suz. Not the night before we go and bust this thing wide open.”
“We were all telling her that,” Ken says. “Between just Larry Henry and myself we’ve got more than enough muscle to carry her and her wheelchair. And the rest of us are no slouches either. We’ve got it more than covered. You’re going little girl.”
“Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it. I love you all.”
“And we love you,” Carroll informs her.
“Well you kinda have to, being my big sis and all,” Susan giggles.
“Shoot, sister or not, you are just too nice and cute to not love. And we need you to keep Rick in check.”
“Hey now! I’m not all that bad! Am I?”
Everyone laughs and a good time and tasty pizza is enjoyed by all as they discuss what might be encountered the next day.
-- opening day --
“Thanks for the ride, Cee.”
“No problem sis.”
Carroll looks around as they get Susan’s wheelchair setup.
“Looks like only half the team has arrived so far. Of course the twins are here.
“Wanna bet they got here before the crack of dawn?”
Susan giggles as she transfers into her chair.
“No bet. You know as well as I do Rick probably only slept for an hour or two after we all left.”
“You’re probably right. And he probably annoyed Jana too. I hope he didn’t go too far, she’s hard to deal with when she gets pissed at him.”
“Hard for Rick maybe. She tries to keep it cool with others. Unless he really ticked her off good.”
Walking over they greet the others who were there before them. In about fifteen minutes the rest of the team arrive in time for the doors to be unlocked. The group is ushered into a side room that is setup as a conference area. A man enters dressed as an ancient Egyptian overseer.
“Welcome to our pyramid! And congratulations on being the very first group to seek to defeat the challenge! We hope that you find it as challenging as many others have in the other cities we have visited.
“The goal is to find your way to the center of the pyramid, obtain the trophy, and then make it back out again in the time you have been given. None have managed to succeed to date. While you may have heard that the game is rigged, we assure you that is not the case. The simple truth is that the challenges you will be facing are quite difficult. All of them have been fully researched and guaranteed authentic traps found in many tombs of old, with maybe a little Hollywood style flair thrown in for good measure.
“As to the potential danger you might face, as I mentioned these are all very real traps. While they were originally designed to kill the thief who dared to invade, we have made enough changes to them that they will not be nearly so lethal. Although they will still appear that way,” he says with a grin.
“Now, since you are the very first group to test this particular pyramid, there will be an extra bonus for you if you are able to successfully defeat the Mummy’s Curse today! I won’t tell you what it might be though, but it will be a nice surprise.
“So, as to the rules. You will have just under twenty-four hours to complete the challenge. There are up to five levels which you may have to traverse to some degree to first make it to the treasure chamber, then make your way back through and get out. Be aware, the exit may or may not end up being in the same place where you will enter from!
“Along the way you will encounter traps designed to stop you. Anyone who is caught in a trap is considered ‘dead’ and will be removed from your group. Anyone lost and not with the group if you win will count against your end score and the bonus you will receive. This is not the first time bonus I mentioned, that is separate and will not be affected. If even one of you makes it out then the full, first-timer bonus will be awarded.
“There is a standard bonus given to a winning group for each member that makes it out at the end. If all but one your entire team is caught in the various traps, it is still possible for the full bonus to be received. But how is that possible you ask?
“When a team member is removed due to a trap, they will be gone for a set amount of time then returned to the group again. However, once returned to the group they will not be allowed to help or participate or in any way assist the group. In fact, they will be an added burden to the group. How we will ensure that to be carried out is going to be a little surprise for you to learn in the course of the game. We fully expect that you will not be able to keep everyone from falling into some of our traps.
“Along the way you will encounter some of our actors. They may be indifferent to you, they may try to help you, or they may try to hinder you. Some will appear as slaves, some as hired workers, a few might be overseers, and of course there will be some mummies to contend with. We can’t have a challenge called the Mummy’s Curse without a few mummies showing up, now can we?
“In just a few minutes I will show you to the entrance and your time will begin whether or not you enter and you will have until sunrise tomorrow morning to beat the Curse.”
“What gear or items are we allowed to have and take with us?”
“I see that you have a few packs with you already, so we will go through them with you and remove anything that we deem to be unsuitable or give you an unfair advantage. I will tell you that any weapons at all will not be allowed. While it is possible that our actors might attack you, they will not use weapons, and neither will you. Outside of that if you wish to add to your gear from what will be provided on tables outside the pyramid’s entrance you are welcome to do so.
“Once you are inside there will be no turning back and you have an entire day to work with, so food and water is something that you need to seriously consider.”
With the rules laid out the friends were instructed to open and empty the packs they had brought. Going through the items the majority of the gear was approved without hesitation, and the few items that were questioned, such as a ten pound sledgehammer, were given up with little argument. An odd looking collection of nylon straps were questioned and they showed that these were two harnesses the friends had designed to assist them with getting their one disabled member, Susan, and her wheelchair through tough areas. Once explained the harnesses were approved and even commented on favorably.
“Here you are boys and girls, the entrance to the tomb. Once you enter the doors will be closed and you will not be able to open them from the inside, unless of course you have the trophy item in your possession. Good luck, and may you be the first group to succeed where so many others have failed.”
Looking over the items provided the group selected some extra water and food to bring along and entered the challenge.
Coming around the corner Susan stops and looks back.
“Guys, there’s a pretty steep ramp here leading up. We can go back and try another direction if you want.”
“Suzie, are you making disparaging remarks about yourself again?”
“Um, not really. Take a look at this thing, it’s really steep.”
“Whoa, that is steep.”
“Yea. That first trap was pretty easy to get past even for me. Swinging pendulum blades have never really been all that dangerous except to those who are completely oblivious. But this isn’t even a trap, it’s just a lot of hard work.”
“Can you make it up on your own, or do you want help?”
“Do we even want to go up there?”
“Well, they did say we have to go through the different levels, and that guy dressed as a slave pointed this way while the overseer berated us for getting in the way. How’s the map looking so far, Rick?”
“I’m getting it all down, but if we are going to change levels I’m not sure where it’s going to fit. I’ll go to a new page of course, but I don’t know if my map will be starting out on the right side of the paper. I still say that there’s something weird going on in here and we’ve crossed over parts that I already drew.”
“Can’t be. The walls have no marks on them like we’ve been leaving, and according to your mapping we haven’t looped around anywhere so you must have mis-drawn it.”
“Yea, I know Jana, but it still feels wrong. Either way, we go up now or do it later. Your call Susan, you’re taking the lead.”
“Alright. Give me a short rest break and we go up.”
Water and a small bite of food for a snack are passed around, and then they head up the ramp.
Susan has several of the others go up first then begins to push herself up the incline. As she slowly makes her way up, Steve and Brittany continue down the passage to looking ahead a short ways while Albert waits at the top. Neither Steve nor Brittany notice the string that is barely an inch above the floor and the toe of Brittany’s shoe catches it as she walks and the string breaks.
“What was that?”
Looking down Brittany sees one end of the string flutter to the floor.
“Crap!” she calls out. “Guys, look out! I think I just set off a new -”
Her words are cut off by a scream behind her that falls away.
When the string was yanked it set off a pitfall trap on the ramp. As Susan was pushing up the ramp, a ten foot section of the floor under her front wheels suddenly pivoted down exposing a yawning black abyss. The sudden shift from her front end dropping down causes Susan to be thrown forwards. Carroll, who was following closely behind, was able to grab the back of Susan’s wheelchair and keep it from falling through the opening. Unfortunately this did not stop Susan from falling out of the wheelchair and disappearing down into the blackness below. Susan’s scream as she falls seems to continue until it disappears in the distance.
Jana grabs Carroll as she is trying to lean down and futilely find her younger sister.
“But, but ... Susan fell in!”
“And she’s gone Carroll. Can you see her or anything down there?”
“Look,” Larry speaks up, “We were told that nothing here will kill us.”
“Look at that pit and tell me she didn’t fall to her death!”
“Okay, yea. It looks deep. It’s probably an illusion. Here, let’s test it.”
Pulling out a quarter Larry flips it up in the air and down into the hole. The coin rings from the initial flip then goes quiet as it falls into the darkness. The group waits for a moment to hear it hit bottom.
And they wait.
And wait some more.
A minute later they are all staring wide eyed at the hole.
“Holy crud. I don’t know how they did this, but I’ll be danged if this doesn’t look like a bottomless pit.”
“Hey, don’t worry. They said that while the person is technically considered dead, it’s not real. And they will come back to us again. So let’s keep Susan’s wheelchair with us and get the rest of us over this trap and move on. Susan will be back.”
Using some rope they had brought with them, they get Susan’s wheelchair and everyone below the pit up over it and continue along.
-- in the darkness --
Susan screams in fear as she is thrown out of her wheelchair and begins to fall down into the pit below her. As the light begins to recede she suddenly lands in a black cloth that stops her fall and holds her up. Her scream continues to echo around her for a bit longer before it fades out. Looking up she can see the opening a good distance above her and hear the echo’s from the others talking. Just as she is about to call back up the shaft something softly hits the cloth she is laying on and slides up against her arm. Grabbing it she is able to recognize a quarter.
“Ha,” Susan whispers, “they must be testing how deep the hole is. They’ll never hear it hit bottom with this jet black cloth that caught me and the coin. And I guess I’m a victim of the trap now and dead, so no calling back to them I suppose. But how do I get out of here? And my wheelchair is still up there too, so how do I get around now?”
A few minutes later Susan is startled as several hands grab her and pull her off into the darkness.
-- back with the main group --
The team has been moving along through the new level they are exploring for a couple of hours and a new pit trap has just revealed itself. This time a twenty foot long section of the floor dropped open exposing a more classic spike trap where numerous shiny and very sharp looking spears have been set with the point upright at the bottom. The floor split length wise down the middle and swung away down to either side revealing the ten foot deep pit that now fills the corridor from wall to wall.
“Whoops. Good thing nobody was standing out there when the floor gave way.”
“No kidding. What’s your map say Rick? Do we need to get across?”
“Um. Good question.”
“And the answer?”
“The magic eight balls says that the future is cloudy and uncertain.”
“Hey guys,” Carroll says. “Look at how the floor is hanging along both sides. The end by the wall is fixed. And look at the torch sconces.”
“They’re spaced pretty close together here. In fact, they look close enough to grab from one to the next if you were to carefully walk along the ledge the floor made.”
“You’re right. We could get across this.”
“Okay. So does everyone go, or just a few of us to scout it out and see if it’s a dead end?”
“Good call. No sense all of us risking a fall if we just have to do it all over again coming back.”
“Right. Carroll, you found the way over, you want to go?”
“Sure Rick, I’ll go. I sure wish they’d give Susan back to us again. I miss her. Wendy, Ken, Mike, you guys want to come along?”
“Yea, we’re in.”
The others nod and while the four party members work across the trap the others take a breather.
Moving on down the passage it turns once and ends at a door. Opening it they find a simple room that is mostly empty except for a simple stone alter. On the alter lies a mummy wrapped head to toe in dirty bandages. The arms are crossed over the chest and tightly secured in place within the wrappings, while the legs are bound together into one unmoving column.
“Well it’s about time we found one of these, although it looks like this one isn’t going to be giving us any trouble. Its arms and legs are fully bound together and it can’t move.”
“Guess not Ken. Come on Mike and Carroll, let’s give the room a quick search to see if there’s another way out or something useful.”
Moving into the room Wendy approaches the mummy and alter.
“Woah, guys take a look. This mummy has its eyes uncovered, and they’re open!”
“What? Really? Let me ... Oh my god! Susan! It’s Susan!”
Carroll grabs the mummy up off the stone and hugs it tightly to her chest.
“Hang on there, how can you be sure?”
“Dangit Mike, I know my sister’s eyes. I’ve looked into them often enough.”
“Well shoot. This is an interesting twist. We get Susan back, but there really is no way she can help up. She’s just baggage now.”
“Well, now we know how they intend to keep the dead people from being useful. They turn them into immobile mummies.”
“Susan, are you okay? Are you hurt?”
Despite wanting to communicate, all Susan is able to do is blink. She is unable to tell the others what happened to her in any way.
“We have to get her out of these bandages. Help me out here.”
“Carroll, we don’t have any way to cut her free. They took all of our knives, remember.” Trying to pull up some of the cloth Wendy can’t get even a finger underneath. “And these wrappings are done too tight to rip off it looks like. Susan is now our albatross.”
“Well I’m not leaving her here! She’s coming with us!”
“I didn’t suggest otherwise. We still have her wheelchair, so she can ride while someone pushes her along.”
“Looks like this room is a dead end after all, but it returned Susan to us so not a complete waste of time.”
Carroll and Ken carry Susan between them as the quartet return back the way they came. Coming around the corner the rest of the group gawks to see them carrying a mummy down the hall.
“Um, guys, what the heck? What’s with the stiff?”
“This is no stiff, it’s Susan.”
“No way. Please tell me you’re kidding?”
“No joke,” Mike confirms. “That’s Susan. This is how they make sure the ones who die from a trap can’t help when they get returned.”
“Oh snap. That’s unreal. It definitely fits in with what the guy said about them being a burden and non-helpful though.”
“Yep, and really sticks with the theme of the place. Someone grab one of the harnesses and come over here with it so we can get Susan back across. This is a dead end by the way.”
Jana carries the harness across and they rig it so that Ken can carry Susan on his back while he makes his way over the pit. Once on the side with the rest of the group they all take a moment to inspect the Susan mummy and Wendy updates Rick’s map. They have to use one of the harnesses to secure Susan to her wheelchair as she is fairly stiff and unable to bend much at all in her thick wrappings.
-- only thirty minutes later --
The group is searching around another room that has been found. This one has some pictographs painted on the ceiling and several small alcoves with stone figurines in the walls. The statuettes are only about twelve inches tall and take up the majority of the space in their respective niches. Carroll is sitting down and trying to talk with Susan, but cannot make any head way with intelligent communication.
“Hey, I think I found something here,” Albert calls out. “This one actually looks like it’s a lever of some type.”
“Hm. Trap or hidden passage? What do you guys think?” Jana asks.
The team decides that it’s a hidden passage since all of the traps so far have been triggered by some form of stumble or misstep so far. Pulling the lever forwards Albert looks around as nothing happens for a few seconds. Then the entire room seems to shake and dust starts to fall from the ceiling.
“Crap! A trap!” everyone begins to run for the hallway they came in from and several of them make it out of the room. The far end of the passage is a good forty feet away and they all yell when the ceiling of the hallway begins to descend.
“Run! Faster! We’ll be trapped!”
Albert having been the closest to the exit is only ten feet away when the stone block under his foot depresses and inch and clicks. The sudden shift throws him off balance and he goes down with Henry and Mike tripping over his body and joining him in a pile of flailing limbs. The opening of the hall they are in that would lead to a cross hall is quickly closed by a large stone block free falling from above. Everyone else in the hall screams in shock.
“OH HELL! Back! Back! Back! Get back before we’re all crushed!” Wendy yells while looking fearfully up at the slowly descending ceiling.
The four others who were in the hall by this point scramble back and one by one they make it back into the room. The three boys who fell take a moment to disentangle themselves and start back. By the time that Jana gets free the hall has narrowed so low that she is actually crawling on her hands and knees and is the last person who makes it out.
“No! NO! Help us! Get us out!”
The three boys continue to try and crawl on their hands and knees, then on their bellies as the stone continues to lower. As the space becomes too small for a human body to fit their fear filled yells become frantic and seem to turn to screams of enormous pain. The stone finishes closing with a thud, also cutting off any sounds from the three men.
Wendy cries out in anguish and openly begins to weep while the rest stare blankly at the floor where the passage used to be.
“Guys! Guys! Remember! No real deaths!” Rick emphasizes. “We got Susan back in good health, well so to speak. They will come back to us too.”
“Dang, you’re right,” Brittany says. “But hell, that looked too real. And their screams.” She shudders and shakes herself.
“Yea, that is awful. Maybe we can recommend they turn it down a few notches at the end. But look, there’s a stairway leading up again where the hallway was at.”
“Unfortunately over half of our remaining provisions just disappeared along with them.”
“No other way to go but up if we want out of this room.”
-- in the collapsed hallway --
The ceiling continues to lower, beginning to press down on Henry, Albert, and Mike and pinning them in place. The weight steadily increases and is getting close to where it will painfully crush them as they scream, sure that they are about to die, when the floor suddenly drops several inches along with the weight above them. With a resounding thud the stones stop moving and all three find they are held tightly but only uncomfortably in place by the ceiling and floor. For a few minutes they simply breathe in relief then are surprised when the floor under them tilts down to one side and multiple hands reach in and drag them out.
-- a new level is being explored --
“You know, comparing my first two maps it does look like the second level is smaller over all around the outer dimensions. Just as if we really are in a pyramid.”
“Think this level will be the same way, smaller?”
“Could be. We haven’t gotten all that far yet so I can‘t be sure, but so far it looks that way.”
“Hey, how long has it been now?”
“Um, about two hours it looks like,” Steve says checking his watch.
“Didn’t we find a room with Susan in it about two hours after she was declared dead?”
“Yep, sounds about right.”
“And guess what, here’s another room,” Ken says from the front.
Entering the room the group sees several sarcophagi standing along the walls, about six or seven in all.
“Think the guys are stashed away in some of these?”
“Maybe. Let’s open them and find out.”
The group spreads out, going to all of the coffins at the same time. Jana and Rick team up together on one, with the rest of the team taking one each. They all work to get the lids off finding them to be heavy and well seated. Jana and Rick get theirs off first to reveal a quiet and fully wrapped mummy standing inside. The eyes of the mummy blink in the sudden light.
“Found one!” Rick calls out.
The others are encouraged by the find of their friend and work to get another casket open. Larry manages to pry the lid open on his sarcophagus at about the same time that Carroll opens hers. As soon as the two lids reveal a crack to the interior both are forced open from the inside and a much more mobile mummy reaches out to grab the person who has freed them.
“EEEK!” Carroll yells. “Mummy! Help!”
The others who have not opened a sarcophagus look around in mild confusion for a moment as they are expecting to find their other two friends wrapped in bandages.
“Bad mummies!” Larry yells. “They’re attacking!”
“We’ve got this!” Jana calls out. “Find the others!”
Jana and Rick split up and go to help Carroll and Larry. While the fights begin, Brittany gets a lid off.
“Got a good one!” she calls, then moves over to help Wendy open her stone prize.
The mummy which attacked Carroll has latched onto her arm and is attempting to pull her into the sarcophagus with it. Jana arrives and puts her arms around Carroll’s waist to pull back. Rick and Larry struggle to stop Larry from joining that mummy. Wendy and Brittany work the lid loose from their sarcophagus and jump back as a mummy reaches out and swipes at them, barely missing. The mummy steps out and shambles into the room.
“Crud! Another bad one! Watch out it’s loose!”
Steve and Ken pry open their respective caskets at the same time, opening the last two.
“Got a buddy here!” Ken sings out while Steve dodges the mummy that practically jumps out at him.
“Another bad one! That makes four!”
“Get our friends out, these lids are all on hinges! They could close!” Ken reports.
Jana and Carroll are struggling hard and only managing to maintain their place against the mummy that has hold of Carroll. Larry and Rick are doing only slightly better against the one they are fighting.
“These things are really strong! Get everyone free and come help us quick!” Jana demands.
Wendy and Brittany pull the mummified body of their friend out and drag it over to rest beside Susan who was left by the entrance to the room. Ken takes the mummy he found and brings it to join the group, and Steve moves around the two battles and wandering mummies to retrieve the friend that Rick and Jana had found.
With the rest of the group taking the time to move their three helpless friends, the two mobile mummies have shuffled over and joined in the fights trying to claim Larry and Carroll. Larry has just barely been managing to keep free from the mummy before him, but has not been able to get clear of it. Suddenly he is grabbed from behind and looking down he sees two bandage wrapped limbs encircling his chest. Rick stops in surprise for a second and the first mummy knocks him back and onto his back. Larry is physically picked up and although he struggles greatly he is carried forwards where the two mummies pin his arms and disappear into a dark passage just before the lid of the sarcophagus slams shut.
Wendy turns just as Larry is captured and can only watch when the lid is closed. She begins to run towards the fight for Carroll which is farther away.
Jana is hit from behind and knocked away from Carroll by the fourth mummy. It attempts to grab Carroll but she is able to twist away and the mummy falls forwards into its brethren. Unfortunately the mummy which has hold of her arm does not let go and a moment later the new adversary adds its grip on her to the contest by encircling her waist. With one arm pulled behind her and ensnared around her waist Carroll is unable to stop them from pulling her in. Reaching out towards Wendy with her one free arm, she lets out an inarticulate scream of fear that matches the look on her face as the sarcophagus slams shut just inches from Wendy’s finger tips.
“Well doesn’t this beat all. We get the three of them back only to lose two more. We’re down by half now.”
“Yea Jana, and we now have four of our own mummies to tote around between the six of us. And when we get those two back it’ll be six mummies to drag about. This is getting harder and we haven’t even found the treasure chamber.”
“I know. But guys, we can do this. We don’t give up. Not on our friends and not on a challenge. That’s the way we do things. It’s either that or we just sit still here and wait for the time to elapse. If I’m going to lose, then I plan to go down fighting.”
“You’re right,” Steve responds. “I agree with Ken. We can do this. Two more hours and we get Larry and Carroll back. As long as we keep everyone together then we get the full prize and the big bonus. When we win. Not if, when.”
The others nod in agreement.
“Let’s take a short breather here. Somehow I don’t think that waiting here two hours will cause them to reappear in this room. We can move on in ten minutes.”
-- a short while later --
“What’s this?” Rick wonders out loud as he stops pushing the wheelchair carrying Susan.
“Find something?” Jana asks.
“Maybe. Give me a minute to check it out.”
The walls of the corridor they are in have various scenes and figures either painted or lightly carved on them. Rick goes over to one section that has a carving on it and pokes around for a moment. Sticking a finger into a hole there is a click and with a push Rick opens a hidden door in the wall. The passage it reveals is a bit narrow and ends in less than ten feet at a ladder going up through the ceiling.
“Well, this could be a bit of luck for us.”
“I’m not so sure about your definition of luck,” Brittany says while looking at the ladder and carefully resting her large linen wrapped burden against the wall.
“Okay, so it’s going to be a pain getting everyone up there. But it is a way up to the next level so possibly another step closer to the treasure.”
“Could be,” Steve says cautiously while looking up the hole. “That looks like it’s a good thirty feet or more. Why don’t a couple of us go up and check it out real quick to see what’s up there. That’s a lot of lifting to get these four that far up a ladder.”
“Works for me,” Wendy agrees. “Come on Steve, you go first and I’ll follow. We’ll be back in ten to twenty depending on what we find.”
The two of them climb up and quickly disappear. Jana, Rick, Ken, and Brittany drink a few swallows of water and check on their mummified friends. They’ve managed to work out a simple system of yes or no questions to which the four bound people can respond by blinking. They seem to be limited to only answering questions about how they are currently physically doing; questions about what happened to them or what they might have seen or heard while separated go unanswered. Around fifteen minutes later Wendy calls down from above.
“Okay we’re back.”
She climbs down the ladder while Steve waits above.
“It looks like this is a good route to take. The opening comes up in a small room and there are a couple of different directions to go. We split up and checked down both ways far enough to find out both directions split up again.
“How are we going to get our four bits of dirty laundry up?”
The crack about the dirty laundry gets a small chuckle from Rick and some narrowed eyes from one of the mummies. Using the harness that has been keeping Susan secured to her wheelchair and the one coil of rope they still retain the four non-mobile team members are lifted up through the ladder well followed by the wheelchair which they have to remove the two larger rear wheels from temporarily to get it to fit.
Once everyone is up on the next level they pick a direction and start exploring with Rick starting a new map to track their progress.
-- on the fourth level --
The group has explored through a maze like warren of hallways, finding no rooms or traps along the way. Rick’s map appears to indicate the levels outer dimensions are again a bit smaller than the previous ones. Looking over what he has drawn Rick looks down the hall they are currently in.
“Interesting. All the passages lead around to this one last hallway.”
“Well I don’t know about you all, but I need a rest,” Brittany states. “Carrying around this dead weight for the last couple hours is getting old.”
“It is tiring,” Jana responds, “but they are our friends and teammates. And we have been rotating who carries a mummy frequently so we’ve all gotten a break from the added weight.”
“Brit’s got a point. It’s been a couple of hours and we haven’t found anything. We should be getting Carroll and Larry back here somewhere.”
“Oh good, two more mummies so now everyone gets a useless body to drag around.”
“Come on Brittany,” Ken speaks up. “It’s not all that bad. We can still switch off who gets to push Susan in her wheelchair so someone gets a bit of a rest. At least there hasn’t been any traps on this level.”
Turning a corner the group comes up to a blank wall.
“Aaand it’s a dead end. Well, let’s see if there’s a trigger for a secret passage.”
They all move down to the end of the hall to search. When enough weight is on the floor at the end it tips down. An entire twenty foot section of the floor tilts on a pivot creating a slide that dumps the whole team down. A rain of sand comes down from above ensuring that there is no firm footing and everyone slides down into the darkness below.
The slide goes down in a spiral for a good distance and everyone who can is yelling as they bounce around against the sides, into each other, or their mummified companions. The wheelchair causes several exclamations of pain as it caroms off the walls and into people. Finally the trip down the slide ends in a large room brightly lit by torches and everyone tumbles across the floor, coming to rest in various states of disarray. The sand that facilitated their ungraceful descent flows on down through a stone grating carved in the floor at the bottom of the slide.
“Oh dang, that was a rough ride,” moans Wendy.
The group begins to get up and dust themselves off and checking on the incapacitated members.
“Looks like these four had it the easiest. Their bandages protected them from the worst of the bouncing around,” Steve remarks. “How is everyone else?”
“Just a bunch of bumps and bruises and abrasions it looks like,” Jana notes, to which the others acknowledge the same.
“Susan’s wheelchair took a bit of a beating though,” Rick points out. “It’s going to need some repairs after today, but it looks like it will still work at least.”
“Hey, does anyone else see what is around us? This is the treasure room!” Brittany says excitedly.
“Hot damn! We’re at the halfway mark! Let’s find the trophy.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be that gold statuette up there on the dais between those two mummies,” Ken says pointing up to an alter on the far side of the room.
Walking towards the goal they take a look at the seeming treasure randomly piled about.
“Heh, this looks like a cheap glass stage prop,” Brittany comments while tossing what looks like a large diamond back.
“Wait, are those ... I think it is!” Jana calls out.
Getting closer they all now notice that the two mummies appear to have the eyes uncovered. When they make it up onto the dais they are greeted by two pairs of eyes looking back at them from the two sarcophaguses on either side of the stone alter.
“It’s good to have you two back with us again. Well, at least the group is all back together again anyways. We just have to carry your butts around from now on while you lie around doing nothing.”
“Be nice Brittany, they’re back which is the important thing. And imagine what it’s like for them. Completely unable to move, unable to talk or even make any sounds, totally helpless.”
“Okay everyone, time to take a rest. We’ve been at this for quite a while. Leave the trophy where it is until we’re ready to leave just incase its booby trapped ala Raiders of the Lost Ark. Larry and Carroll can stay where they are too instead of having to stare up at the ceiling like the others.”
The able bodied members of the team eat some food and drink some water while resting. They check on their mummified friends and nobody, not even Susan who has been wrapped in bandages the longest, indicate they felt a need for anything.
Thirty minutes later Jana stands up and starts packing their gear.
“Time to get moving. We’re only half way there and we don’t have a lot of time left. Rick, grab the statue and put it in your bag.”
The others get up and begin to work out how to best transport the immobile members of the group. Rick steps up and taking a look around the gold colored statuette doesn’t see anything obvious, so with a shrug he picks it up and places it in his backpack. A minute later the entire room begins to shake and tremble, while the sounds of stone shifting against stone are heard all around them. The room begins to move and turns on an axis by ninety degrees so that when it stops the north wall is now facing west. For several more minutes they continue to hear both near and far the sounds of stone shifting.
“Good gods, did the room really just rotate around?”
“According to the compass, yes.”
“And what was all that other grinding?”
“Anyone want to bet the pyramid just changed shape and our map is now useless?”
“Oh hell no. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’m thinking the place just shifted its entire configuration. Look over there, the slide we came down is gone and there’s a doorway on the far wall that wasn’t there before. It’s going to be a whole new maze to get out, and all new or at least fully reset traps.”
“Damn. Now that sucks.”
“And we still have to lug around six useless mummies with us.”
“Brittany,” Jana groans then just shakes her head.
Taking the coil of rope and a cheap, and rather dull, bronze sword from the treasure piles they manage to make harnesses to tie around their friends so they can carry them across their backs. One person will get to take a break from carrying by pushing Susan tied to her wheelchair and they decide to switch out who gets to push the chair every couple of hours. With everything set the group heads out of the treasure room through the new doorway and into the pyramid.
Travel through the passageways is no more difficult than before, taking into account that they are now carrying five living mummies and pushing one more. Rick continues to create a map as they go; he just starts over with a new page marked at the top as being after the room shifted. A new trap is encountered soon after leaving the treasure room but it does not stop or hardly even hinder them thanks to their helpless passengers.
The trap shoots small darts out from the ceiling and aimed down at an angle that would strike someone on the back of the neck or on their backs. The mummies take the hits instead of the one who can still move and they don’t even realize what happened for several minutes until Wendy notices a pair of darts sticking up out of the bandages of the mummy on the back of the person in front of her. They check and it does not appear the darts were able to penetrate all the way through the wrappings to the flesh of the person inside, and about ten darts in all are found between the different passengers. When they pull the darts free Ken notices that they are wet on the ends.
“Dang, look at this. It looks like this dart has something coating the tip of it. I bet if it had stuck one of us and gotten into our blood it would have knocked someone out at the very least.”
“Anyone want to test it?”
“No thanks Rick. If you’re that curious then go for it yourself and find out if you become another mummy burden for us.”
An hour or so later they are taking a break from carrying their burdens when Steve leans back against the wall. There is another carving in the wall and where he leans his shoulder against causes the head of the figure in the carving to depress slightly with a click. That is all the warning the group gets before the floor drops away beneath him and Ken along with the two mummies they were carrying. Below the floor is a large expanse of sand that drops lower in the center. Both boys fall straight down into the funnel shaped depression and the sand is so loose they immediately sink down up to their knees. The two mummies, Carroll and her sister Susan, also fall in but land flat on their back or side and do not sink.
“Dammit, another trap!”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I think. Ken?”
“Alright over here. But I’m not getting out easily,” he says while trying to climb up.
The sand simply shifts under his hands when Ken tries to pull his leg up and he sinks just a little bit deeper instead.
“Nope, not good. We’ll need some help to get out. Can you reach Carroll or Susan?”
“Yea, they look close enough to the edge we can get them out.”
“Do that. I don’t want them sinking down in this stuff and not being able to breathe.”
“It’s like dry quicksand,” Steve observes. “I can’t get enough of a purchase to pull myself up.”
The two mummified girls are safely pulled out and laid on the firm floor of the hallway with the others. Jana gets out the rest of the rope and is about to toss the end out to Ken when the sand around the two begins to shift and slide down towards the center of the depression. Both Steve and Ken are quickly carried down with the sand and sink deeper in the sand at the same time.
“Crap! We’re sinking! It’s like a big drain! The sand is falling down the center!”
“Catch!” Jana yells as she throws the end of the rope out.
Steve is closer now, but the rope still falls short due to him both sliding down further and sinking. In moments Ken reaches the center and is sucked down below the surface.
“Help!” he cries out as he disappears, his raised hand the last thing to go down out of sight.
“Steve! Try again!” Wendy yells as Jana is pulling the rope back up.
She flings out the rope keeping only the very end in her hand and it is long enough to reach Steve.
Steve is just on the edge of the center and has sunk up to his armpits in the sand. Grabbing the rope with both hands he clings to it with desperation. Jana sits down and grabs her end with both hands holding on tight which stops Steve’s descent into the sand. It is not enough to pull him free however.
“Come on, pull!”
“I’m trying dammit, but I’m slipping!”
Rick jumps down behind Jana and grabs around her waist to keep her from going over the edge and into the pit herself. Wendy and Brittany can’t do anything to help as the entire length of the shortened rope is stretched tight between Steve and Jana with no way to grab onto it.
Suddenly Steven jerks down into the sand up to his shoulders.
“Gah! I just got pulled by something! Help!”
Another pull and Steve disappears under the sand entirely. For a moment the rope remains taught going down into the sand, then it falls slack. Jana and Rick fall backwards from the sudden loss of tension, and Jana is able to pull it up with no Steve appearing on the far end.
“No! Two more gone!”
“Yea, two more down. But not ‘dead’ dead. Just removed. We’ll get them back soon.”
“And the four of us will have to first figure out how to drag these six around, then eight when those two come back. This is getting really difficult.”
“I know. But if we want to win then we have to bring everyone with us.”
“No, we don’t Rick. That’s just so we can get the full group bonus. We can still beat it without them and get the first timer bonus.”
Rick nods and looks at the six mummies lying in the passage behind him.
“You’re right Jana. But I don’t want to admit even that defeat, not yet. Can we keep them with us until we at least find Steve and Ken again? It’s usually in some room. We can at least leave them all together that way.”
“Well,” Jana begins while looking at Wendy and Brittany who nod, “I guess that will be okay. But we’re not going to get very far.”
“Think about it Rick,” Brittany says. “With six of them and only four of us we can only move four while leaving two behind. The best we can do is go as far as the next corner or intersection, then go back for the other two and bring them up. We’ll be going back and forth a lot.”
“Right, I see what you mean. I still want to try and keep everyone together as long as we can.”
“You are one stubborn guy, but alright. I don’t disagree with how you feel. Let’s do this.”
Two hours and a lot of effort go by. The four of them manage to cover a good bit of ground even with doubling back frequently to fetch the two who get left behind each time. Susan quickly becomes one of the two to get left each time as she is a lot easier to transport on her wheelchair.
“Man, am I getting tired. My arms are sore,” Brittany complains.
“At least there haven’t been any more traps. That’s good,” Jana points out.
“True,” Rick agrees.
“Hey, do you hear something?” Wendy asks.
Stopping, the four of them listen. The echoes of what sounds like metal on stone and the occasional voice is heard.
“Is that someone else in here?”
“It could be slaves or workers. And they might be able to help us!” Rick says.
The chance of help seems to invigorate everyone and they move a little bit quicker towards to sounds. As they get closer the sound become clearer, and can be recognized as people working on stone. When they get close enough that it sounds like the workers are just around the next corner the team regroups and brings everyone up together.
“So, do we all go around? They might not want to help us you know.”
“There might be another overseer with them. Those guys are not helpful.”
“Yea, but the slaves still try to give any help they can despite them. I say one of us waits here with the mummies and the rest of us go around together. A group of us seemed to keep them in check.”
“Okay. Rick, you hang back and try to update your map some more. The three of us will go.”
“Alright, if you say so.”
“We should take one of them with us, maybe as an example of how we need help?”
“Not a bad idea Wendy. Let’s do that.”
Jana leads the way with Brittany and Wendy carrying Larry between them and they go around the corner. Down the corridor they see a group of workers, not slaves, with not just one overseer but four of them. The workers are busy building a wall or something out of large stone bricks and sealing them together with some type of mortar. They approach cautiously and one of the overseers notices them, calling for a halt in the work.
The workers stop and step aside leaving a path to the one who appears to be the head of the work group. He impatiently gestures for the trio to come forward. The girls slowly move through the men seeing looks of contempt or disdain from a few. Back at the corner, Rick carefully pokes just one eye around to watch so he hopefully won’t be noticed.
“Um, would it be possible for you to give us a little bit of assistance? We are trying to find the exit and -“
“Silence! I have no time for the likes of you! We have important work to do here,” the overseer says while waving his hand at the men and the work being done.
Looking around, Jana notices that they seem to be closing up two openings in the walls, one to either side. She is not close enough to clearly see what is inside or beyond the apertures, although she thinks she might be seeing the side of a bandage wrapped body just peeking out of one.
“What are you doing? How about if we help? If we can make the work go faster will you help us in return?”
“Help? From you? I don’t think so. We are completing the final punishment of two thieves who dared to enter the tomb of the Pharaoh and thought they could freely leave again. Now they will remain forever.”
Stepping forwards a couple of paces Jana is able to get a clear look inside both openings.
“Oh no!” she gasps. “It’s them!”
Standing quietly in an alcove on either side of the passage are two mummies with their eyes uncovered. The stones being mortared in place to entomb them are only up to about knee height, but the mummies look back at Jana with fear in their eyes.
“And now, three more trespassers dare to be so bold as to try and ask us to help them rob, and even worse remove a mummified resident from these hallowed halls? SIEZE THEM!”
The three girls are quickly surrounded, and looking at the numbers they realize they are trapped. The work group consists of ten men plus four overseers, more than four to one odds. They try to fight back and break free, but it is useless. They women are easily restrained then shackled and chained.
“Bring them all! They too shall be punished and these three shall watch!”
When the three women try to resist the leader gives them a choice.
“You can walk or be dragged, it is up to you, but you will come with us either way.”
From back at the corner Rick can only watch as the workers force his friends to start moving away from his location and carry the three mummies with them. Ducking back around he looks at the five other mummified friends quietly watching him.
“Dammit! Jana, Wendy and Brittany have been caught. I have to find out where they are taking them; maybe I can get a chance to free them. I’m sorry guys, but I’m going to leave you all here. I’ll be back soon.”
Looking around the corner again, Rick quietly slips around and follows the group ahead of him from a distance.
The workers take their prisoners down just a couple corridors to a chamber with a sunken floor. The passage opens onto a wide landing overlooking the room and a flight of stairs goes down from one side along the wall to the floor below. There are three stone alters at the far end big enough for a person to lie on with short raised columns at each corner that have rings embedded in them. Rick stops in the shadows at the top of the landing and lies down so he can see over the edge and observe.
The workers carefully position the three bandage enshrouded people so that each one is standing against the wall at the end of a stone plinth so they can watch what happens. The girls are picked up despite their struggles and laid on the cold stone then their shackles are locked to the rings holding their arms and legs spread-eagle. The rings are high enough up that they are suspended up in the air by the metal shackles around their wrists and ankles.
Knives are produced and with a warning to be still or be cut, the men quickly cut off the clothes of the women leaving only their underwear and bras to cover their modesty. Jugs of water are brought forth and the three are treated to having the dust and grime rinsed from their bodies. Rick watches from above as rolls of cloth are produced and begin to be wound around his sister and friends.
First, wads of bandages are forced between their teeth filling the mouth then wound around over the lips and under the chin to securely close their mouths and effectively reducing their cries and complaints to mere muffled grunts. The bandages wind around the head capturing hair and flesh alike within, leaving only the eyes free to be seen. Working down their necks the skin of the shoulders and chest slowly disappear as the men make sure to contain every inch of flesh.
Rick quietly watches as the men work along the arms to the wrists just above the shackles, move down the torso over the hips and down the legs to stop just above shackles on the ankles. The men unlock and remove the shackles holding the ankles and wrap the bandages down the rest of the way to completely enshroud the feet then gently lay them down on the alter. Unlocking and removing the shackles from the wrists their hands are bound within bandages and the girls are quietly laid on the alters.
Initially the girls struggled as they hung in their restraints, albeit ineffectively. Even with their protests largely silenced and heads bound they continued to try and resist. However as the wrapping continued their struggles slowly become less and less as more and more of their body become bound within the bandages. When only their hands and feet remain free the three simply hang quietly and do not attempt to move or get free when the iron bands are removed.
When the girls continue to lay quiet as a second layer of bandages is begun at their feet and hands Rick quietly backs up and leaves, not wanting to watch any longer. Retracing his steps, Rick makes his way back to his five immobile friends.
“They’ve been captured and there’s no way for me to free them,” he says to the others. “I could only watch as those men began mummifying Brittany, Jana and Wendy. There was nothing I could do to stop them. It’s too late for them now, they’ll be wrapped up just like you all are,” he mutters while wiping moist eyes.
“I suppose that I’ll see them all again eventually. In about two hours actually I guess. But now what? It’s just me left. I can’t keep all of us together. I’m sorry. I’ll do the best I can for you though.”
Rick takes care to move his five friends around the corner and gently places them among the stones of the unfinished work that had been left behind.
“This should get you all back together, I hope. Eleven mummies. I’ll find the exit then if I can I’ll come back and get you all out.”
Checking to make sure he still has the statuette and rearranging the remaining supplies to just carry what he needs in one pack Rick shoulders his bag and sets off down the other direction from where the others were taken.
Rick checks his map again and looks up at the split in the path before him.
“If nothing has changed again, then the one to the right is either going to run into the mummification chamber or a dead end. The left side doesn’t have a lot of places it can go either.”
With a shrug he walks down the right passage. Turning a corner there is a stone door at the far end. Pushing on the door the sound of stone grinding on stone quietly echoes in his ears. Stepping in and looking at what is revealed Rick nods at seeing three empty alters.
“Huh, it looks like a hidden door from this side. At least my map is right. Took me long enough to figure out the corridors that it looks like they’re done and gone. I wonder how long it took them to turn Jana into a helpless mummy. I’d better take one of those torches though, this one is almost gone. Dang flashlight died on me a while back and stumbling around in the dark was not fun.”
Entering the room Rick lights an unused torch from the one in his hand and switches the new one out for the old. Looking up the stairs and back at the door he just came through he goes up the stairs. Walking down the corridor and around a corner he checks his map again.
“Looks like they found everyone and cleaned up here,” he comments out loud seeing a clear hallway where his map is marked to show the spot he left his five teammates at.
“I’ve got one direction to go from here, or I could head back to the other passage. Doesn’t matter. Just keeping going,” he tells himself.
A little while later he checks the map again and finishes connecting a line to the left hand fork. Looking to the right he eyes the opening of the only unknown direction he has. Heading into the darkness the passage curves sharply to the left and down at a steep angle, hiding the view ahead beyond more than about ten feet. The path levels out flat again but continues to curve around then switches back again in an s-curve. Coming towards the end of the curve Rick sees the corridor turns a corner and there seems to be a soft light ahead that is not torch light.
Stepping around the corner a straight narrow hall is before him with daylight spilling through the open doorway at the far end.
“Yes!” Rick exalts as he pumps a fist in the air.
He quickly begins to head to the opening then notices that the hall is not completely bare. On the left side of the hall Rick encounters a shallow alcove. It is roughly shaped and sized like the curved outline of a person. Standing within is the mummified body of one of his friends.
“You’re here? Oh yes! Are the rest of you here?”
Stepping back he moves further down and finds another alcove with another mummy looking back out at him. He moves faster along and finds several more, all looking out of their wrappings and watching him. About half way down the light has gotten bright enough he can see more alcoves along the passage, each appearing to contain more of his group. Gazing towards what he believes is the exit he even sees what looks like Susan’s wheelchair sitting beside one at the end.
“I can still do it! With all of you here I can take you all outside with me! We can win it all! Which one of you is Jana?”
Stepping up to the mummy in front of him Rick looks closely at the eyes and shakes his head. He goes back and checks four more before he stops at the second mummy he had encountered.
“Jana! There you are!” Rick exclaims.
He reaches in and pulls the bandage wrapped body of his twin partially out of the alcove and gives her a tight hug. As he holds the mummy of his sister Rick feels something tickling his wrists. Letting go with one hand he brings his hand out from behind to find the end of a bandage encircling his wrist and trailing back out of sight. Blinking in confusion Rick is dumbfounded as the bandage continues to wind itself around the palm his hand.
“What? How is ...?” he states in shock as the bandage wraps around his fingers and pulls them tightly together.
“NO!” Rick yells.
Letting go of the mummy he pulls his other hand free and the mummy falls back to lean against the back of the alcove it came from. Rick finds that both hands have been wrapped in bandages that extend from the mummy of his sister. Two more bandages lift up and reach for his arms.
As he backs away from the animated strips of cloth Rick gives a hard yank and is able to tear the two bandages loose, but does not free his hands. The now loose ends of the wraps pull up around his wrists and on to his arms. The bandages are tight but not uncomfortably so, and while they stop him from moving his fingers individually they are not tight enough to stop him from being able to pick up the torch he dropped from the ground.
Using the open flames Rick burns the bandages that are reaching for him, thankful they do not continue to burn all the way back to where the cloth ensnares his mummified twin. A sudden tightness around his ankle makes Rick look down then spin around to stare at the mummy of a friend behind him. The bandages from that mummy are reaching out to claim him as well, and his leg from ankle to knee is already in their grasp. Swinging the torch and pulling Rick breaks the bandage holding him and he turns to run for the exit.
The sight before him is daunting. Bandages from all the mummified forms of his friends wave in the air partially filling he corridor. Gritting his jaw Rick frowns and begins to run and attempt to avoid the final trap of the pyramid while swinging the torch around to burn those that get close.
Some of the bandages grasping at him miss while others merely slap against him and fall away. A few are able to grab him though which slows Rick down as he either tears or burns them loose. Suddenly Rick is tripped up and is flung forwards as he falls. The torch goes flying from his hand and rolls away. The pack on his back is jarred when his chest hits the floor leaving him breathless. The flap covering the top of the bag comes loose and the statuette, the prize he must take out, slips free and lands just inches in front of Rick’s eyes.
With a grunt of surprise Rick grabs the golden figurine and strains to pull free of the bandages winding themselves up his legs. The effort is rewarded with several tearing sounds and he surges forwards towards the exit. The tearing of cloth that had been heard was not just the bandages ripping free though. Strands of the cloth had worked around the backpack and inside of his clothing and were attempting to remove them. Pulling against the bands of wrappings his shoes and socks are stripped from his feet, the straps of the pack are broken so it falls off, and his shirt is torn in several places.
The momentary pause in his movement when he hit the floor was enough though that multiple lines of cloth had been able to both grab him about different parts of his body and being encircling him in multiple wrappings while continuing to get beneath his remaining clothes. While he is able to tear free and make progress, the bandages now wound around his body are restricting his movements enough that he is noticeably slowed. This allows more of the multitude of bandages to successfully make contact and wind around his limbs and slow him down further. They also tear and remove the remains of his shirt and shorts. Rick continues to fight and struggle forwards, straining to reach the outside and complete the challenge. His progress is impressive. With pure determination Rick manages to get even with Susan’s wheelchair which is closest to the exit.
By this point over seventy-five percent of Rick’s body is wrapped in bandages. From the bottom of his ribs down there is almost no skin to be seen, just a small glimpse of a knee or thigh or heel. Both arms are bound from fingertips to partway up the forearm with the right arm covered up over the elbow. The left shoulder and upper arm have been wrapped tight. Individual bands of cloth crisscross over Rick’s chest and upper back and around his neck. Several lengths of bandages have wound around his chin and mouth and one band has grasped his forehead and around the back of his head. There are so many bandages stretching between the mummies in the hallway and Rick’s slowly disappearing flesh that he is barely able to continue moving.
Looking down Rick can see a green painted line only a few feet in front of him. A shadow falls across the floor, blocking a portion of the sunlight from the doorway. Looking back up it takes a moment for Rick’s eyes to adjust so he can see who or what is standing there. To his horror a large mummy stands in the doorway. It is wrapped head to toe in layers of bandages that looked very old and time worn. No flesh shows on the figure anywhere, and where the eyes should be two glowing red orbs stared back at him.
The shock of fright makes Rick stop fighting for just a moment. In that moment his feet are once again pulled out from under him and he falls to the floor. The bandages working to add him to the gallery of mummies behind him quickly encircle more of his flesh, fully covering him in bandages up to his neck. Rick tries to fight back but both the number of bandages now wrapped around him and those holding him back from the other mummies is too much. They begin to pull him backwards away from the exit mere inches away. With a muffled moan of hope Rick manages to free one arm and reaches forwards with the statuette in one bandage enshrouded hand. It falls from his grasp with no more than an inch between it and the line, still within the interior.
Rick is slowly pulled back further from the exit as he continues to try and struggle, the numerous bandages continuing to add new layers around his arms legs and body. His head is soon wrapped top to bottom and front to back leaving only his eyes uncovered. With several layers of bandages now enveloping his body Rick feels his legs pull inwards as more bandages bind them together into a single unit. His right arm is pulled underneath and bound diagonally across his chest. As Rick desperately tries to claw back forwards to the exit with his one remaining free arm he hears a deep, gravelly chuckle emanate from the figure that has been watching his eventual defeat.
“Did you truly think that you could win? Do you even realize where you are? Look outside, what do you see?”
The bandages pause in their task of mummifying Rick. Looking out the door he sees only hot sunlight reflecting from vast expanses of sand. Turning his gaze to look up at the mummy standing in the way Rick is confused.
“As soon as you chose to freely step into the pyramid, my abode, my home, you were transported far away from where you call home. Or used to call home that is. I hold ultimate power here, nothing happens without my consent or knowledge. I command all that reside here.”
As the mummy speaks the bandages once again continue to add to Rick’s mummified body and pull him further inwards. As his left arm is restrained and bound over his chest he looks down along his bandage covered body to see the empty alcove where he is being dragged to. He realizes that while the bandages wrapped around him do not appear to be thick nor tight enough to keep him from struggling, he has stopped all movement from the neck down. He thinks about fighting, bending his body arms or legs, but nothing responds. His body remains still as the bandages continue to wrap around him in thicker layers.
“Oh no boy, it is much too late for you. You are fully within my power now. I do not wish for you to move and ruin the wrapping of your body. You and your friends are mine to do with as I please. Watch.”
Rick feels himself lifted up into a standing position and he can see the mummies of his friends on either side of him. One by one the bandages from each withdraw from Rick’s immobile form. As each mummy reclaims the bandages extending from them their wrappings add yet another layer of cloth around the mummy from toe to head. On reaching the face of the mummy their eyes close and the bandages wind overtop, finally sealing them away inside a fully completed mummiform. He is moved down the corridor and forced to watch as each and every one of his friends is lost to him, nothing more than a quiet and motionless mummy remaining.
The last one to be viewed is Rick’s own sister, Jana. They both stare out of their bandages and can do nothing as the final layer slowly winds around their bodies, cruelly teasing them with the final thing to be witnessed being the end of their own sibling’s failure. The bandages wind around, forming an intricate pattern of wrappings up their helpless bodies, the layers having grown thick enough now that even without the magical stillness they would not be able to move. Reaching the head the bandages wrap around the top and bottom one strand at a time, slowly encroaching on the remaining area around the eyes. Eventually there is nothing else left to cover. At the same time on both, a length of linen cloth reaches around and oh so slowly covers over the open eyes of the person within and cuts off any sight. Eyes finally close under the wrappings as several more bands of cloth now quickly finish the job and the mummy that once was Rick floats back over to the empty alcove waiting to be filled.
“HAHAHAHAHA!” the grating laugh of the Pharaoh echoes along the corridor.
“Twelve new mummies wrapped and bound! New slaves to be used as I see fit! I think that I shall keep you all bound, here, as a warning and testament to the folly of challenging my Curse. You will be the final, ultimate trap that none shall escape! You will never be free, and soon your bodies will wither and desiccate while your spirits remain trapped within dry shells. Welcome to you new homes and unending half lives!”
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