Chapter 4 of Scions of the Sphinx is now live on Wattpad.com. This chapter marks our first look at the main antagonist, Mu’at. Bobby doesn’t know it yet, but this strange man with the black eye-patch is the man responsible for his missing parents. Catch up on previous chapters on Wattpad or my website RScottBoyer.com/blog
“So where to?” asked Bobby as they merged onto the 110 freeway. “Burbank?”
Jinx scrutinized the plane ticket. “LAX to New York, with a connecting flight to Cairo.”
“And you got your ID?” asked Bobby.
Jinx reached into the bulging hip pocket of his cargo pants and pulled out a passport. “After our little trip to Guatemala, I make it a habit to carry it everywhere I go.”
Bobby took his right hand off the wheel and ruffled his cousin’s spiky brown hair. “Why does that not surprise me?”
“You got the money, right?” said Jinx.
“Yeah,” said Bobby. “I grabbed it from Mom’s stash box when I ran upstairs to get my passport. All we need now is your permission paper work and hopefully a vacant seat on the plane.”
“I’ve got my paper work already,” said Jinx, producing another set of documents from his voluminous pants. Bobby braked hard to avoid rear-ending the car in front of him.
“What?” said Jinx, sticking out his lower lip to give Bobby a wounded look. “I downloaded everything I needed from your dad’s computer while you were upstairs. Chief showed me how to forge documents months ago.”
Bobby checked the time on the dashboard and silently implored the car to go faster. “I guess all we gotta do now is get there in time.”
* * *
Arriving at the terminal with less than half an hour until departure, the boys combined Bobby’s cash and Jinx’s paper work to purchase the last remaining seat on the flight. Thankfully, the terminal proved nearly empty, with only a short line at the TSA checkpoint. Since neither boy had any luggage, it was a relatively simple matter for them to take off their shoes and belts and pass through the metal detectors.
The only holdup was Jinx emptying his seemingly bottomless pockets into the gray plastic bin for X-ray screening. The TSA attendant on duty, a heavyset black woman with neon pink fingernails, raised her eyebrows, looking astounded as Jinx unloaded the contents. Thankfully, despite the huge quantity of items, nothing raised an alarm.
Jinx took a puff on his inhaler as they arrived at the gate with less than a minute remaining in the final boarding call. Handing over their tickets, the boys hurried down the ramp and onto the plane. Bobby was up front in first class, while Jinx sat near the back.
As Bobby found his spot in B4, he noticed a tall, athletic man with a black eye patch over his left eye sitting across the aisle. Impeccably dressed in a dark gray suit, the intense glare of the man’s jet-black eye made Bobby squirm. Turning toward the window, Bobby busied himself strapping in and adjusting the seat belt.
The plane rolled back from the terminal, and Bobby folded his arms, trying to relax as the plane prepared for takeoff. A few minutes later, the engines rumbled and the plane shot forward, climbing steadily upward toward the clouds. The instant the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign turned off, Bobby jumped up and made his way to the rear. Jinx sat next to a pudgy, middle-aged man with thinning hair and an expansive birthmark shaped like a pear beneath his right ear.
It didn’t take much to convince the pear man to change seats for an upgrade to first class. In under a minute, the man had collected his possessions and departed for the front, leaving Bobby to spend the rest of the flight next to his cousin.
The boys talked for a while, voicing expectations and making plans for their final arrival in Cairo. Jinx fretted over their limited resources and lack of preparation. Bobby tried to act calm, ordering round after round of soda and snacks from the flight attendant. Inside, however, his stomach was roiling with fear and concern for his parents.
Eventually, both boys grew tired. Taking his miniature flight pillow, Bobby shoved it into the crook of his neck and leaned against the window. In time, the rhythmic hum of the plane’s engines lulled him to sleep, where he dreamed of the beautiful girl in the garden.
* * *
The descent into Cairo International Airport was smooth but cloudy, affording Bobby no opportunity to view the city or the famous landmarks beyond its borders at Giza. Departing from the plane, the cousins found themselves in an ultramodern terminal full of sharp angles, glass panels, and polished steel. Having been in the air for nearly a full day, they stepped outside into an early morning haze. Arid heat stomped the street like the heel of a boot, the cloudless sky crushing any hope of relief.
Making their way to the curb, the boys stood on the sidewalk, watching cars and buses whiz by. Nearby, an ornamental geodesic dome covered in silver panels shimmered in the emerging sun.
“You’d think that whoever bought your plane ticket would be here to pick us up,” said Jinx. As he spoke, a black stretched Bentley pulled up alongside the curb. The rear window of the Flying Spur rolled down to reveal the man with the eye patch from the plane.
Bobby felt queasiness in the pit of his stomach as the man fixed him with a cold stare from his coal-black eye. “Get in,” the man said in crisp English, with just a hint of an Eastern European accent.
Bobby turned to Jinx. His little cousin wore an anguished expression, as if he’d just been asked to eat a worm.
“If this is who brought us here—”said Jinx, taking a step toward the limousine.
Bobby whirled around as a commotion broke out off to his left. A green rickshaw plowed up onto the walkway, barreling through the crowd, sending unwitting travelers diving for cover. With a cloud of black smoke, the three-wheeled vehicle screeched to a halt between the boys and the limousine.
“Quick, get in,” said the helmeted driver, dressed in brown motorcycle leathers.
“Who the heck are you?” said Bobby.
The rickshaw driver flipped up her visor to reveal large green eyes draped by long, dark lashes. “Chief sent me. Now, hurry up!”
The eye-patched man’s face contorted in rage. Reaching for the door, he made to climb out, but the rickshaw driver lifted a leg and kicked the door shut in his face, sending the man tumbling back in his seat.
The rickshaw driver fixed Bobby and Jinx with an angry glare. “We don’t have time for this. Let’s go, NOW!”
Something about those eyes dug into Bobby’s brain. He stood there, frozen as the eye-patched man fought his way upright and reached for the door again.
Pulling a crowbar from behind her seat, the girl in the helmet drove the tip between the door and the frame of the car and torqued it. The Bentley’s owner yanked the handle to no avail and began shouting to his chauffeur. An instant later, the driver’s door popped open. A burly Egyptian man, wearing a suit and turban, leaped out, brandishing a pistol in his right hand.
The rickshaw driver raised an arm, and the gun flew out of the chauffer’s hand. That was all the proof Bobby needed. With a shake of his head, he shoved Jinx into the backseat of the cab and dove in after him. While the limo driver went to retrieve his weapon, the girl gunned the rickshaw’s engine, reinvigorating the cloud of smoke. Wheeling the taxi around, the cabby tore off back the way she’d come—straight into oncoming traffic. Jinx screamed, and Bobby threw his hands up in front of his face as she spun the wheel, swinging the rickshaw around once again.
With cars swerving and horns blaring, the three-wheeled cab slid across three lanes of traffic and onto a narrow side street. Two sharp turns and they exited the airport terminal, emerging out onto Cairo’s congested main roads. Bobby coughed and Jinx went for his inhaler as an even denser cloud of smog than the one they traveled with enveloped them.
Deftly squeezing between cars, buses, and vans, the rickshaw never slowed. Gripping the seat backs, Bobby tried shouting to their driver, but between the blare of traffic and the roar of the cab’s obnoxious one-cylinder, 200cc engine, communication proved nearly impossible.
“Sorry,” shouted their driver over her shoulder. “My choices were rather limited if I was going to make it here on time.”
Jinx tried to reply and ended up nearly choking. Bobby yelled, but she just pointed at her helmet and signaled for them to wait. Both boys sat back in the open-sided carriage and tried not to breathe too deeply as their mysterious rescuer wove a frenzied path to wherever they were headed.