Babylon Rising, Chapter 18
So, Murph and Laura have the tail of the Bronze Serpent.
We are blessed today.
Yeah, you guys really are blessed. Surely, only a just and merciful god would take time out of his busy schedule to make sure that you two university employees could leave your students barely a week into the fall semester, travel halfway around the world for free, and instantly find a biblical artifact by accidentally falling into a hole.
Speaking of which, there is that little matter of being trapped in a buried chamber two levels below the surface…
Surely Murphy will have to utilize his survival skills to get them out of this one. Perhaps Laura’s knowledge of ancient architecture will help them to map out the rooms and determine how best to get through thousands of years of sand and dust and brick. The air quality may be an issue: I wonder if they’ll have enough oxygen to…
There were two passageways leading back in the opposite direction from where the cave entrance started. Murphy chose the one that was least sandy. After several hundred yards, the sand was turning into dirt… Murphy was able to hoist himself up on a combination of rock and roots and poke his head aboveground. “Honey, I think we can squeeze through here.”
Oops, wait. Laura’s foot got stuck in some roots. (I suppose it could have been worse; she could have broken a heel.) Apparently, girls are incapable of freeing one foot from a tangle of roots, so Murph has to help. Which is a good thing, as he notices “a small shoot growing out of it in the shape of an almost perfect cross.” This he gives to Laura.
And if this was a movie, it would be worthy of a Significant Close-Up. YES THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER O I C WUT U DID THERE.
However, easy though it was to find a priceless biblical artifact in ten minutes, it won’t be so easy to get back to the car. Someone starts shooting at Murph and Laura before they have even climbed out of the little tunnel-hole thing.
But Murphy has a plan! A plan that is impossible for me to understand, because I have no sense of what the gunman can see or how big the hole the Murphys are hiding in is!
Whoever was firing was able to shoot down the hole but would not be able to establish much range unless he stuck his gun inside it. Which was what Murphy was counting on.
There was quiet for a moment as the gunman was reaching that conclusion on his own once he no longer saw the Murphys running underneath the ground hole.
Wait, what? The gunman can’t shoot them unless he sticks his gun in the hole, but he can see them running around in there?
So the gunman sticks his gun into the hole. Murph grabs the gun and yanks. And while I try not to think about how dirty this all sounds, the gunman falls through the hole…and keeps falling.
The bullets had torn up the ground to such an extent that they loosened centuries of sand, dirt, and stone that had provided only a relatively shallow covering—for a deep pit of sand way underneath the ground.
Tons of sand that had not been touched by humans for centuries, if ever, rushed to cover his body within seconds of landing. … In fifteen more seconds, there was only a mound of sand where the head had been in the sunken chamber.
This tree with tangled roots has been growing over a pit of Lightning Sand? Which is also under the tunnel that leads into the Room of the Amphoras of the Bronze Serpent?
Okay, I’m starting to care even less than I thought I did before, which was very little. Or something.
Oh, and the shooter was their driver. If that makes any difference. (Spoiler: It won’t.)