Pick Your Own YA Fantasy Part 5

PYO-Logo[Welcome to part five of my continuing blog series. I write the book, you pick the plot. For earlier parts, see part 1part 2part 3, and part 4.]

“I need to get into the Great Pyramid,” he said. There was no way he’d be able to lie and get away with it. His ears wouldn’t let him. But he could tell the girl some of the truth, and just leave out the parts that were too outlandish. At least at first.

The girl shrugged. “And? Just use your ticket.”

“That’s the thing,” he said. “I don’t have one.”

She frowned at him. “Where’s your tour group? Where are your parents?”

“I’m here all by myself. I just got here a half hour ago.”

“Then you’re not getting in,” the girl said in a matter of fact voice. “They only sell a few hundred tickets each day, and they sell out as soon as they’re up for purchase. You should have–”

“I teleported here with a djinn, who’s putting me on a big adventure to payback a bet he made with my great uncle in a poker game.” The words tumbled out of my mouth. As soon as a few had come, the rest just sprinted after them. “I just got out of bed an hour or so ago, and when I did, I was still in America. Now I”m in Egypt, I have to get the Lost Tome of Ra to the Library of Alexandria, where I guess there’s like a ton of zombie mummies waiting to tear me apart, but the djinn promised to help me once I got there, because he can’t because of the curse.”

It wasn’t the world’s best explanation ever, and he’d skipped over some of the more crucial parts, but that’s what he got for winging it like that. It was like the words hung out in the air between them, the girl inspecting them dubiously. Why should she believe him? Why had he decided to just blurt it out like that?

“This is a game, yes?” the girl asked at last.

“A game?” John asked.

“I have read about it. You Americans do it all the time. LARP. Live Action Role Play? I always thought it sounded stupid, but maybe it is because I didn’t think about doing it near the Great Pyramid. Can I play too?”

“Can you play too?” John’s mind wasn’t working all that well. He’d told her the truth, and she’d decided to take it as a game? Could this actually work?

“Stop repeating what I’m saying. My name is Lisbet, but my friends call me Liese. Let me play, and I’ll get you into the pyramid.” To seal the deal, she smiled. That dimple again.

“Okay,” John said. Because what other choice did he have? And it wasn’t really lying to Liese. Not completely. He’d told her the truth, and now he wasn’t protesting when she thought he’d been joking.

Her smile grew wider. “Come on. We need to work it out with my friends.”

It turned out that Liese was visiting on a class trip. Private school in Germany, and their parents were all loaded with money. Not that it made the kids any different. They were about like the kids John had at school in America. Some of them were stuck up, and some of them were awesome.

Liese was awesome.

One of her close friends was claustrophobic, and the thought of going into the pyramids had been keeping her up late at night for weeks. She was more than willing to give John her ticket and stay outside in the fresh air. “I hadn’t really been planning on using it anyway.” she added.

And just like that, this seemingly insurmountable tasked turned completely . . . surmountable. Was that a word? It was now. John listened to Liese and her friends chat in German. He didn’t know what they were saying, but none of it sounded spiteful or mean, even if it involved a fair bit more throat spit than he was used to. Throat spit wasn’t a syllable, in English.

Their time to enter the pyramid came, and John approached the entrance in the middle of the Germans, ticket proudly clutched in his hand. Khalid would be so proud of him. But his heart fell a few stories when he saw who else was heading in at the same time.

“What are they doing here?” he asked Liese. The French were everywhere, and the boy who’d been so mean to John was smack dab in the middle, shooting glances at John that felt like daggers.

Liese barely spared them a glance. “We enter in large groups. Ours is smaller, and theirs is smaller, so we go together. It’s no big deal. Just ignore him. We’ll watch out for you. What are we going to do when we get inside? Are your friends there, dressed as mummies?”

“I’m . . . not sure,” John confessed. He still really didn’t want to outright lie. “I’ve got a book. We need to find the entrance to the library, but it’s supposed to be hidden somehow. You can help me find it.”

Liese nodded, her expression eager and her eyes bright. “This is exciting!”

Giving the French a final suspicious glance, John focused on the task at hand: the pyramid. The entrance loomed up like a big dark mouth, waiting to swallow him whole. One moment, John was outside under a painfully blue sky, surrounded by sweltering heat and a burning sun, and the next, he was in a dark tunnel diving into the ground.

He had expected it to be cooler in the pyramid. It was shady, after all, and all of John’s experience led him to believe that going inside on a hot day meant you could cool off. Apparently, Egypt hadn’t gotten the memo. It only got hotter the farther he went down. Sweat broke out across his body. It was like he’d plunged into the world’s hottest sauna, just without the old fat men in towels. But the heat wasn’t the only difference from his expectations.

John had always pictured the inside of a pyramid as being full of tunnels and nooks and crannies. All he could see was one long passage leading down. He kept waiting for side branches. Places to duck out and start hunting for the entrance to the Library of Alexandria, but nothing ever came. Just yard after yard of short ceilings, fluorescent lights, and heat. Then the tunnel switched from going down to going up. Not that it got any less cramped. And then it was up up up. No hieroglyphics on the walls. No ancient sarcophagi loaded with mummies ready to spring out at you.

Just a tunnel.

There wasn’t even a tour guide there to explain anything. Just a group of people crammed together. John could understand why Liese’s friend didn’t want to go.

“Well?” Liese asked as they ascended. “What do we do?”

It was an excellent question. Here he was in the pyramid, but John didn’t have any idea what the next step was. He knew the entrance was somewhere, but he wasn’t sure how to find. Liese needed an answer, however.

Make a Choice

Okay, peoples. Last time went really well, I thought. I appreciated getting the input in addition to the votes–and I even named Liese after one of my most faithful voters. (Though Germans have a hard time with the “th” sound, so “Beth” was out as a name. I had to use a variant.) So I’d like more of the same this time. Still, I think it’s also helpful to give you choices to vote on, to constrain the possibilities somewhat. Here you go:

  • John can just keep doing what he’s doing. Follow the group and hope something comes to him.
  • John can hold back, letting the rest of the group go on ahead, to give him and Liese a better shot at finding the entrance somehow.
  • John can take the Tome of Ra out and consult it again, figuring perhaps it will have additional information as it gets closer to the pyramid.

Write in votes are acceptable as well. I perfectly fine with people talking and discussing options on Facebook or my blog’s comment area. Exciting things are in store!

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