And So We Dig
Selena stretched lazily, listening to small sounds from throughout the camp as fires were lit, shovels gathered, belts packed, sifters put into place. Erikarl had loved her thoroughly the night before, and Selena had given herself completely to him. She wondered if he truly realised it. Opening her eyes, she gazed at the chair to her left. He sat watching her quietly, handkerchief raised and pressed against his face. She knew he was pinching his nose under the cloth, and upon see ing her eyes open he released his hold and sneezed: "Hitchmmpff, chmpf, chiishhhh, haaaashhhhh!"
"Bless, my love. Good morning," Selena breathed, reaching to touch his leg.
"Danke, Sella." Erik sniffed and gave his nose a quick, rough blow. "Having you here makes this much better."
He put his free hand upon hers and indicated his nose with his handkerchief. He cleared his throat and sniffed. "I have availed myself of pills, but it always seems to take time for them to work, and even then the pills are only slightly useful. I ... I ... ishhhh, ahhhhh, hetchhh, ahhhh..."
Another sneeze seemed about to burst from him, but the urge vanished just as he braced himself for it.
Selena sat up, thin sheet falling away, and slid her legs over the side of the cot. She stood between Erikarl's legs and took the hanky from him. Dropping it on the cot, she bent to kiss him, and he nuzzled his face against her breasts. Ah, but she felt so good to him. "Oh, Sella," he said, his arms moving round her waist, holding her close to him.
"Is this better, baby?" she asked as she stroked his forehead and then massaged the tips of his fingers, kissing them gently.
"Mmm, feels nice," he replied, sniffing. Selena began rubbing the tips of each finger in an insistent circular motion, and then slid her fingers down each one of Erik's, toward his palm.
"Doktor, this will ease your sinus pressure and in some instances stop your sneezing. You see, the tips of your fingers and toes are pressure points for the sinuses. Though I adore your sneezes , Herr Doktor, we need you in tiptop condition, and being distracted on the dig today will not help us at all. I was away from you too long. Can you forgive me?" Selena looked directly into Erik's eyes.
"Dearest Sella, never was I angry, so there is no need for forgiving. Now here you are, and the past reasons why we were apart do not matter." Erik kissed the tips of her fingers and stood. "I'll be back with tea and something to eat; the water basin is on the desk. If I am here much longer I may never leave this tent today - what of your scrolls then?" Erik chuckled.
Selena smiled. "Oh, you are correct on many levels, Dr Von Staedlmann."
Twirling the soft bristled brush between her thumb and forefinger, Selena marvelled again at how the dust was remove d and the surface of the stone became exposed. Suddenly a glint of gold shone in the late afternoon sun and she stopped dusting immediately. Pulling her mask down, Selena called Erik over. Finally something. But the sun had begun its descent and there was no telling how much daylight was left. Selena stretched - so easy to become lost in the dust of discovery, she mused.
He came striding toward her, smiling, mask in hand. "Sella, you have found something?"
"Erik - I don't want to disturb it. This is your find. Take the brush; my hands are shaking." Selena thrust the brush into his hand, and took his mask. Standing on tiptoe, she kissed him and then placed it over his nose and mouth.
"Ach, lacherlich (ridiculous). This mask liebchen, I need it not."
Selena smiled and kissed his cheek.
"It is more for my benefit than for your health, Erik. I want you right now and am not sure how much more it would take for me to ravage you, Doktor. A woman must know her breaking points."
Erik smiled wickedly. "Then perhaps, I should take the mask off, eh?"
"Dust, Doktor. And behave." Selena folded her arms and nodded toward the base of the colossus.
With expert care, Erik flicked a few stray particles aside and then swirled the brush over the remaining unexposed portion of the inlaid emblem. His height, his power, and the perfect shape of his body impressed Selena as she watched the muscles in his lower forearm move. He made quick work of the otherwise tedious task and then stood.
"Sella, please get the scroll."
Selena retrieved the tube containing the old parchment and pulled the scroll out.
The sun glinted off the emblem, blinding her for a second. It seemed to have transmuted yet again. Her heart beat out of control, wild rabbit fast. Instinctively Selena placed the parchment over the emblem on the colossus' face so that the two matched up. Erik grabbed Selena's wrists as the earth shook beneath their feet and a passage opened up in the sand directly in front of them. Sand and earth fell into a dark chasm, and then the stair was exposed.
Selena began to head down the steps, but Erik held her firm. "Wait. Let me light a torch and gather the packs. You take the scrolls. We have no idea what it is that lies before us."
She nodded in awestruck understanding. Unable to speak, she picked up the leather tube and placed the scrolls inside, then slung the tube over her shoulder.
"Oh Erikarl, I had no idea," was all she could offer, putting her hand upon his sleeve. Erik smiled broadly, brushed his lips over her forehead, and gently pressed his cheek to hers.
"To discover it with you, my love, this moment means the world to me." Torch held high in front of him, Erik lead the way.
Sand, small stones and bits of dislodged earth scattered under his feet, echoing into the darkness below him as he stepped down. Passing the torch to Selena, Erik pulled out a sheet of tracing paper and held it against the stone wall. Taking a black crayon, he rubbed over the paper so that engraved glyphs would be copied exactly. Selena held the torch still, but her gaze shakily travelled into the pitch black below.
"I am thinking the best course of action is to take zis tracing back and signal to the camp. Nebal must know immediately and guards must be placed. Zis tomb has not been raided as the others. We need many hands with torches, and something to be certain the opening is not lost as we descend." Erik sighed, leaning back on his heels. "And I think, that I ... that .... etchhhhh, hatishhh, chishhhhhh! Verdammt, I need another pill."
Though his sneezing sent shivers up her spine, she noted that he sounded extremely excited and a little tired. His accent always became stronger whenever that happened. They went back the way they had come, and emerged into the open. Erik rubbed his neck wearily.
Selena put her hand upon his shoulder. "Bless you. Herr Doktor, are you feeling well?"
"Mien Liebe, I am well, perhaps tired. Zis discovery is by far the largest - perhaps beyond even the boy king. I am thinking we have not the resources to catalogue, to photograph and transport to Cairo and then there is also that part of me aching and torn. Perhaps zis was not meant to be disturbed. If only we could film and catalogue and set up a museum right here in its resting place."
Selena was shocked at Erik's true feelings and the conflict of emotions, but said nothing. She merely rubbed his back gently. Erik held Selena close and put his lips to hers. He stroked her hair, and then his breath began to hitch, and he turned from Selena slightly and sneezed harshly: "Issshhhh, hupchisshhhh, atichhhhh, hapshmpf!" Still holding her, Erik got out his handkerchief and blew his nose.
"Okay, my love, we go find Nebal, have the men posted, and plan the day tomorrow."
Nebal was located and brought to the opening in the earth. Erik gestured wildly and refused vehemently when it was suggested that the dig begin that very night. In the end, men were posted and tents pitched close to the stairwell. Messengers were sent to Cairo in fast-moving jeeps at differing times to ARCE. Selena wrote her communication to the Emory Briarcliff Campus, Building A, Atlanta, Georgia, and almost wished it did not have to be sent.
Dinner was served hastily, and tempers were running high among the diners. Selena decided to take a bath. She had noticed some resentment from Nebal, and thought it best to stay out of the way for the time being. The rest of the research team would arrive within two days, and then there would be no more time for pampering. The real work would begin. After her bath, Selena brushed her hair and placed a cassette of Native American music in the tape player.
Erikarl wearily drew back the tent flap, hearing drums beating softly within. Selena pulled him toward her, into the middle of the tent. She pressed against him, and Erik wiped his nose and placed his arms around her. She rested her head just above his left pectoral, listening to the beat of his heart. It appeared for a moment to beat in time with Native American drums. Erik bent his head slightly, moved it to the crook of his arm, and sneezed: "Isssht, hapchuh, hasssschmpf."
"Bless," Selena whispered and began to kiss him slowly, passionately, deeply. She let her hands slide along his back softly and teasingly. When her fingers reached the bottom of his shirt, she began to push it up, letting her touch graze the sides of his body. She broke contact only long enough to pull off his shirt and allow her towel to fall to the floor.
As Selena pressed skin against skin, Erik's manhood grew firm and erect against her stomach. Sounds of delight escaped his lips, weariness left him. They kissed again, pushing against each other, trying to melt into each other, to become one with this kiss, to brand souls together. Moving toward the cot, Erik bent to pull off the blanket and lay it upon the tent's floor. They sank down on to the blanket.
The drums seemed to become louder in Selena's ears, and she realised their sound had become the beat of their passion, beating harder and faster, beating to become one, in harmony with all that surrounded them. She brought her hands up to the sides of Erik's face, and ever so softly her fingers glided across his skin. Leaving his mouth, her lips began to follow the path of her fingers, kissing gently where they traced. Erik grabbed her fingers and turned his head to the side: "Huurasshhhhh, ishhhh, atchishhh."
Selena said nothing as her lips nipped along his chin. She kissed his neck, stopping at his jugular to feel the beat of his pulse, listening to him as his breath came in short gasps, heralding another set of sneezes. "Ishhhhh, hurashhhhh, haptishhah!"
She caught the spray on her fingers, and her hands moved along his shoulders, down his arms, and she left the lightest of kisses on his collarbone.
She brushed her thumbs along the sides of his torso, sending shivers through them both as his lips wrapped around one of her nipples, teasing and suckling. He was like a hungry babe. Selena brought her lips back up to brush across his, letting his hands find and cup her breasts. His breath changed to the pre-sneeze inhalation again. Pulling away to look at him and smile, Selena placed her finger under Erik's nose, silencing another sneeze. Then she kissed him deeper still and whispered: "Not yet Herr Doktor, wait ... I will tell you when to sneeze, my love."