Where Crime and Suspense Collide
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A Glimpse from the Prologue ...
Copyright 2015 Lilya Myers (Lily Myers)
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“Emshi!” the man ordered. “Get out! Go!”
He pointed to a large palm surrounded by scrub bushes and ordered them not to move from that spot. But for how long? They scrambled out of the car and without a word, huddled like a covey of quail, against a nearby palm tree. The shrouded figure stayed fixed in the back seat without looking their way, as though it were made of stone. The doors slammed shut moments before the driver of the car sped off up the dirt road until it could no longer be seen from where the boys stood. All three boys were still, until the oldest stepped out cautiously to the edge of the road just in time to see the rear tail lights of the car become dots in the darkening landscape. As he watched the dots disappear, he thought that the area seemed somewhat familiar.
The older boy had been to a farm once before that looked a lot like this. It was a remote part of the delta region along the Nile where there was not much else but farming. And crocodiles. There were many abandoned limestone hovels where farming families had once lived before the government nationalized the country and took most of their property.
The boy snapped back from his thoughts just in time to see the car’s headlights moving back toward him. He dashed back to the palm tree and sat down next to his brothers, expecting that the driver was sent back to pick them up. Instead of stopping, the small black Mercedes, empty except for the driver, sped past them, sending dust and small rocks flying as it turned off the dirt road and back on to the pavement. Then suddenly, the car was gone, disappearing as fast as it had reappeared.
The youngest child started to sob. He was hungry and afraid. They’d all heard stories about crocodiles who still patrolled some banks along the Nile. The large beasts had never been captured or slain since the Aswan Dam had been built and so, they were left to breed and roam the areas along the vast river. They had to eat, too. There were tales that farm animals and even some farmers and their children who disappeared became their meals. The youngest child whined, lamenting that maybe their father left them there to be eaten by crocodiles. The older two boys tried to ignore him until his crying became unbearable. When one of the older boys threatened to throw him into the Nile, he quieted down.
The Nile wasn’t a quiet place at night. The squawking egrets and herons that intermittently interrupted an eerie concert of frogs made for an uneasiness that crept up their spines. There was another sound that faintly reached their ears. It was different than the others. Something about it sounded almost human. Like a woman. The shrill warning sounds of the mongoose could almost sound that way.
The eldest of the boys whispered, “Did you hear that?” No one answered. The younger two sat with their eyes wide.
The sound seemed to have come from far away but it was difficult to tell. The foliage and crops in the area created somewhat of a barrier – an effective means of blocking or distorting sound. Then, of course, there was the orchestra of birds and frogs adding to it. Their imaginations kept them rooted to their spot for a while. They craned their ears to listen for more, exchanging only looks with one another. At least two of the three boys thought that maybe the crocodile had taken a woman living along the river who was washing her clothes or bathing there.
The oldest boy didn’t believe in such tales. His intrigue about their circumstances over-rode his fear. He refused to believe that they had been abandoned or left there to die. He just didn’t want to share those thoughts with the other two. The driver of the car was alone when it left, which meant that he must have dropped his father and the mysterious passenger off somewhere not too far away. The driver would come back for his father, no matter what. He settled on the fact that the driver would be sure to come back to pick them up too, so he had little time to waste.