Saturday, June 24, 2017

An archaeology blog-style novel "EGYPT EYES"

‘Egypt Eyes’ –  “Be my eyes in Egypt,” she says to him. 
The celebrated young Egyptologist and space archaeologist Dr Constance Somers had once explored ancient Egypt from space. 
But now she is legally blind. 
She hires controversial, alternative Egyptologist Anson Hunter to be her guide on a Nile cruise. ‘Show me the hidden Egypt of your imagination,’ she says. But does she have a darker purpose, planning to use his unique skills to help her penetrate a secret and dangerous site that she found?
Where is the blind girl leading him?
And why are agents of the US National Reconnaissance Office, a secret Intelligence agency in charge of satellites and overhead security, suddenly taking an interest in the work of the space archaeologist? Has she made a discovery in her satellite archaeology that has global security ramifications?
Anson must face unexpected enemies at every turn and use his skills to survive the dangers of a lost underground sanctuary as he tries to unlock its shattering secret.
‘Egypt Eyes’ is groundbreaking adventure and mystery fiction with an Egyptologist’s blogs and photos.

(Opening Excerpt)
1. Walking into trouble
Sanctuary, Temple of Philae
What happened in the Temple of Isis today?
I stepped straight out of the dimly lit sanctuary and into a meaty hand that clamped around my mouth. The hand muffled my gasp as I was yanked aside.
I am rangy, yet I was dragged along like a piece of furniture, the hot salty palm preventing me from making a sound. My surprise removal ended in a darker side chamber.
As a controversial alternative Egyptologist, who also occasionally takes small tour groups around Egypt, I am always walking into trouble, but this was physical.
I had been the last out of the sanctuary, the footsteps of my small group fading in the distance, when I walked into my abduction.
“You’re okay,” the human gag said, taking his hand away. “Don’t
make a noise. We need to talk, privately.”
It was a swarthy, good-looking young man I had seen walking around outside the temple. He’d got here pretty fast, then I saw another arrive and now there were two of them blocking my way out of the chamber. In fact two of him. Twins.
“That’s a good trick being in two places at once,” I said.
“We find it useful,” the new arrival said.
Identical twins? No, not quite. The second one was a faintly milder version. It’s a curious thing about twins, even so-called identical ones. One of them always looks more defined than the other, as if the printer cartridge is running low on ink for the second iteration.
“What, collectively, do you want from me?”
“Your help,” they said together.
“I’m afraid you’re going to have to hijack another guide. I’ve already been hired to show someone else around.”
A flicker of a smile touched the face of the milder-looking of the two.
“Yes, we know you’re an alternative Egyptologist who has been hired by Dr Constance Somers, a satellite archaeologist who is now blind. But what do you know…”
“…about her? Tell us why she would hire you,” the dark-print twin said, not so much ending his brother’s sentence as shutting it down.
“What do you know about me that you think I’d want to tell you?”
“We know quite a bit more about you than you think…”
“You’ve consulted with US Intelligence in the past,” hard-edged twin said.
This is no secret. I’ve blogged about it.
“Who are you?”
Twin Lite said softly: “Let’s say US surveillance.”
“What sort of surveillance?”
“That doesn’t matter. The fact is, Dr Somers may have stumbled on something that could have far reaching repercussions and implications…”
Dr Constance Somers is celebrated for her work in satellite archaeology before she went blind. Am I now her eye on the ground, where once she had a satellite eye in the sky?
Who are these two on her trail?  
Having worked with Intelligence organizations in the past, I have heard of the National Reconnaissance Office or NRO. It was once a classified agency of the US Department of Defence and its existence was flatly denied until recent times. NRO designs, builds and works with the Air Force, operating the US reconnaissance intelligence satellites. Nothing on the planet is beyond the NRO’s prying eyes in the sky, or beyond. Conspiracy theorists on the Internet accuse the organisation of covering-up their monitoring of unidentified objects.
“So she stumbled across something she shouldn’t?” I said.
“We can’t specify the nature of our investigation. But we’re asking you to keep us in the picture if you learn anything or anyone approaches her. The very fact that she hired you to accompany her would suggest to us that she is acting unusually…”
“…and we know of your past history of unorthodox investigation,” the other one finished his sentence.
“Why don’t you talk to her?”
“She’s uncooperative.”
“She’s keeping a secret?”
“We believe so.”
“If it’s such a secret how did you get onto it?”
“That’s not really important right now…”
“…what matters now is that you say nothing to anyone and just keep your ears open. Others may try to reach her. Dr Somers has attracted the interest of groups that want to discover what she knows.”
So they want me to be their ears and she wants me to be her eyes.
I had the feeling that the walls of the chamber were closing in.
“Why should I help you? She’s asked me to be a guide and so I think my loyalty should be to her.”
“Maybe it will change your mind if we tell you something. One of our investigators was tracking her and then disappeared. Dr Somers found something hidden beneath Saqqara, and he followed her down there, but only she came out. She is playing on your well-known interest in dangers from the ancient past. We think she plans to take you, without warning you, into an environment with unknown but lethal hazards. We don’t want you vanishing too...”
“So you’d better have this,” the harder one said.
“What’s that?”
“A tracking device so that we can come if you vanish too.”
He handed me a small object about half the size of a flash-drive stick.
I was puzzled enough right then to accept it and to slip it into a pocket.
“Don’t say anything to her. Just keep an ear to the ground. We’ll get back to you down the track.”