The Dark at the Heart of the Pyramid
The Dark at the Heart of the Pyramid
“The pyramids of ancient Egypt!” announced the Doctor as he flung the TARDIS door open.
Buffy walked out of the police box and onto a palm-covered patch of grass. It was summer and the sun was blazing over the spire of a giant obelisk that rose before the mighty sphinx and…
…A huge pyramid of dark bronze glass?…Surrounded by a paved path, a parking lot and a long stretch of hotels and casinos?
“Nope,” said Buffy. “That’s Las Vegas.”
The Doctor squinted. “We’ll…er…just try that again.” * * *
“The pyramids of ancient Egypt!” the Doctor repeated. He stepped out of the TARDIS and lost his foot in a sand dune.
As he cursed at refilling his freshly-dressed sneakers with sand once again, Buffy slipped out of the blue box with more careful footing and immediately felt something… different.
The first thing that struck her was the feel of the sun on her face. The blazing Vegas heat replaced by a lesser humidity and the softer light of dusk, the sky to the left of her giving way to a deep orange glow. The next thing she noticed was the quiet. Gone was the bustle of traffic, and the air…was it thinner? Or just…clean?
She was in a different world – an old world – and she could actually feel it.
Her body pulsed with a surge of adrenaline at the thought of setting foot into history and actually seeing the ancient world with her own eyes when it was still cutting-edge and modern.
“Alright,” said the Doctor, moving passed her. “If we want to find a Builder we should start with the greatest feat of building ever undertaken since the creation of the universe – the great Necropolis of Giza.”
She frowned at the thought. “Is it, though? Really?” She turned to see the Doctor standing at the rise of a small sand dune, the fading fire of the dusk sky behind him.
He beckoned her. “Look at this…”
From his tone he was offering to present her with evidence to the fact and she struggled up the fine sands of the rise to join him. The sight beyond stole her breath.
Below them, with the last shimmer of sun on the far horizon, lay the Necropolis of Giza, and it was not as she had seen it in photographs. Only one large Pyramid stood in all its glory, a second one standing half-built. Buffy’s mouth fell open and the sudden rush of adrenaline threatened to knock her off her feet. She was looking down over the Great Pyramids of Giza right in the middle of their construction.
The half-pyramid was the nearer structure and it rose from the sands in ever-decreasing brickwork fashion to a flat top where a great clay and mortar ramp of unbelievable proportion led away towards a distant quarry. To the right, easterly, about a kilometre from the build, stood a small square limestone structure on the banks of what must be the ancient Nile River. Just behind it, the distinct shape of the Sphinx could be seen and it looked finished from where she stood. There were other small pyramid structures and low rectangular buildings, but her eyes now turned to the furthest superstructure. The first complete pyramid of Giza to the north. It was not the crumbling heap of ragged blocks she had seen in pictures, but a giant smooth spear tip that pierced upward through the desert floor. Its surface was deep blue on one side and awash with orange on the other as it reflected the sky just as the Nile did far off beside it. On its eastern side stood a temple entrance and the whole pyramid, which covered a greater surface than 6 soccer fields, was surrounded by a wall a good few metres from the base.
“The Great Pyramid,” intoned the Doctor. “By your time it will be the only Seventh Wonder still relatively intact. And the oldest.” He pointed to the new build. “The pyramid of the Pharaoh Khafre still under construction. No cranes, no lorries or… trucks, or whatever you Yankies call them. No machines to cut the bricks. All done by hand. The design alone is too advanced for future minds. The very planning of it will boggle the brains of men for thousands of years.” He turned to her with a secret smile. “But not ours
Buffy, still struck dumb, looked again at the plateau. It was not the baron desert she would have expected. There were grasses and palms in small patches spread about the area, especially off to the right of her where, in the distance, there seemed to be a large township on the riverbank filled with greenery.
“The worker’s village,” the Doctor noted.
She turned back to him with wide glowing eyes. “When is this?”
“Twenty-five forty BC.” He shrugged. “Give or take.”
After a silent moment she glanced down at herself. “I’m wearing a space-suit,” she pointed out. She observed the Time Lord’s new brown clothes. “And you, with your suit and tie. Aren’t we, I dunno, a bit conspicuous?”
He looked confused by the very notion. “I don’t usually have a problem…”
Buffy’s face changed suddenly and the surprised Slayer was a Valley Girl once more. “We gonna meet King Tut?” she asked eagerly, like she’d just stumbled on a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the boy King.
? We’re way, way before his time.”
She sighed with disappointment. “What about Queen Nefertiti?”
“Noooo, we’re way before her
“Way, way, way
Buffy huffed. “Jeez. Aren’t we gonna see anyone
The Doctor shook his head. “You Humans and your celebrities.”
He told her to wait while he collected something from his TARDIS and, alone, Buffy found herself drifting down the dune towards the astonishing scene laid out before her.
As she reached the base and drew onto the flat land of the plateau, she realised that three men were approaching her in the dwindling light. They were dark-skinned and bare-chested with simple white skirts. Two wore hair in tight black curls that were short, tucked behind the ears – one with a battle axe strapped to his belt, the other a shouldered bow. The man leading them was bigger, with a gold and emerald neck piece and a white Tut-style head-dress. He approached with a spear in hand.
Buffy had nowhere to hide. They were close and, from the way they moved, had already spotted her. What was she going to tell them? And then it occurred to her… “Oh no… they’re Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians. I don’t speak Ancient Egyptian. I don’t even speak very good English. … Oh damn… English wasn’t even around now, was it? This’s gonna be a disaster.”
The tall lead guard stopped a couple of metres away and pointed his copper spear tip at her head. “And just who the hell are you, then?”
Buffy was flabbergasted and began to sputter, “…Buffy… um… Buffimus…Maximus.”
The bowman turned to the axeman. “What is that? Sumarian?”
“Too early for Romans?” she mumbled nervously. “I shoulda paid attention in history class.” Where the hell was the Doctor? The three soldiers were scowling at her. “How about we talk about this over a coffee? …Starbucks? …Everywhere’s got a Starbucks.”
“She must be a slave girl,” said the axeman.
She didn’t like that image one bit, nor the kind of treatment it would bring. “What? No! I’m… a gladiator. A…a warrior. A soldier
! Like you.”
They laughed. It was a bellowing hearty laugh. Now it was Buffy who scowled.
“She is a bit clean and tidy for a slave, don’t you reckon?” said the bowman.
“Yes,” agreed the big one with the spear. “She is quite tasty and exotic, isn’t she? The King will make you his concubine.”
She balked. “The King won’t
The three men stood at arms as the Doctor came skidding awkwardly down the dune. “I couldn’t help overhearing,” he said as he came to a halt. “Did one of you say there was a King about?”
“Who are you?” demanded the head guard.
“Building Inspector.” He flashed his psychic wallet.
The guard in the head-dress turned his spear at Buffy. “Is this one with you?”
“Yes,” he replied, “it’s my slave.” She gave him a severe looking-at. “Cost me three camels and a rug,” he said. “I realise now I was had. She’s rude, obnoxious, a terrible belly-dancer and she can’t even boil an egg. She’s for sale if you’re interested. One camel.” They weren’t going for it. “Half a camel? …The hump?”
rude and obnoxious?” asked the tall spearman.
“You’ve got a face like an ass,” she fired at him and turned to the Doc. “And you’re about to have yours royally kicked.”
The Doctor opened his hands to the men. “Any takers?”
The three soldiers eyed each other briefly and the axeman said to the spearman, “Should we see them to the Field Marshal’s tent?”* * *
They were soon being led toward the pyramids by the tall guard, the other two falling to the rear. Buffy regarded the Doctor and saw he was actually relishing their capture.
“At some point, Doc,” she began in a whisper; “we need to have a little chat about these identities you come up with. And maybe start discussing them before
He pursed his lips and gave a single nod, then handed something across to her. “Here.”
“What’s this?” She turned the raggy sheet of paper over in her hands.
“It’s a little like psychic paper. You think of a piece of published text or art you want to see and that’s what it displays. I gave it a papyrus theme.”
“Why aren’t those guys speaking Ancient Egyptian?” she asked, tucking the layered paper into her sleeve.
“They are,” he answered. “It’s… it’s… complicated. Well, not that
complicated. I’ll explain later.”
They were taken to a large tent at the foot of the unfinished pyramid where a stocky man in a red scalp-cap sat. He was with a thinner man in simple robes pouring over a heap of papyrus papers and a table covered in a map of the site with a host of wooden pieces scattered over its surface. It seemed they were plotting the next phase of construction. Either that, or an invasion.
The stocky marshal looked up at them with little interest.
“We found them wandering the dunes to the south,” said the spearman.
“I need to speak to the person in charge of this build immediately,” said the Doctor, wasting no time and speaking with authority.
The Field Marshal looked to the thinner man, who asked, “In what regard?”
He waved his wallet once again. “We’ve received a number of complaints and… I have to assess the safety of the site.”
The stout marshal huffed and threw a handful of papers down. “How many more pressures will the Vizier deliver upon our heads before this project is done?” he rumbled in annoyance. “Deal with this,” he said to the thin man. “I’m retiring ‘till morning.” He pushed himself up from his stool and vanished into the back of his tent, the flaps closing behind him.* * *
The robed man, having admitted to being in charge of organising the workforce and overseeing the build, led them out of the marshal’s tent and north towards the half-made pyramid. The sky was now a deep shade of blue, the sun faded from the horizon. To the east the Nile was hidden in shadow and the Sphinx was little more than a dark shape in the distance.
Buffy and the Doctor stood at the base of the new pyramid. Even at half its finished height it was still a towering structure and the ramp that ran for hundreds of metres from the quarry soured above them to the current apex. This, Buffy thought, was more like the image she knew. Giant blocks of limestone built up in decreasing layers, but crisp and clean and new, not decayed and crumbling.
“I’m not sure I understand the Vizier’s concern in this regard,” said the overseer in a deep soft tone. “He expressed no such worries on his last visit.”
“Oh,” said the Doctor, “I’m sure it’s just a formality. But I can’t help wondering why such a feat, even as great as this, should bring so many men to an early end.”
The overseer looked offended and he pointed across to the shadowy spike of the nearby first pyramid – the Great Pyramid. “You see that? Two-hundred and eighty cubits in height. Each side four-hundred and forty cubits in length at the base. Millions of stone blocks mined and dragged from the distant quarry, the surface stones brought across the Nile from Tura. Hundreds of thousands of men working at height with stones the Gods themselves could not raise from the ground. It took half a lifetime to complete. Do you know how many perished by its completion?” He turned back to the newer structure. “This build is almost as massive and at daybreak we are expected to begin working the men day and night.” He calmed down then, and sighed. “There will be casualties. What would you have me do?”
The Doctor had a few suggestions but he bit his tongue. This, after all, was not the purpose of his visit. “They do look very complicated,” he said. “The very idea
of them… Who designed them exactly? Who made the plans?”
The man looked at him sideways. “Why… Ra
, of course.”Ra?
… “The Sun God?”
“And father of all Gods,” the man added.
“But… how do I put this…? Which prophet did he speak through?”
“Prophet?” He didn’t seem to understand the concept. “It was Amun-Ra himself who conferred with King Khafre, and with his father King Khufu before that when the Great Portal of Khufu was constructed.”
“Portal?” asked Buffy.
The man pointed to the Great Pyramid.
“King Khufu’s tomb,” said the Doctor.
“It’s not a tomb, sir,” the man corrected. “This structure is a portal – a gateway for the soul to ascend to the heavens. The design was given to us by the Gods.”
The Doctor, puzzling, walked ahead a little way and Buffy joined him.
“Maybe we should ask someone a little less… high on faith?” she whispered.
“You won’t find a man, woman or child in this land who does not give due credit to the Gods,” the overseer called to them. “And it has nothing to do with faith, girl. We know they exist.”
Buffy shared an embarrassed look with the Doctor. “How can you know they exist?” The whole point of religion, she thought, was faith.
“Within the ancient mythos, the Gods live among the people,” the Doc told her. “They’re real tangible beings.”
“This isn’t the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,” she muttered.
“Yes,” agreed the man. “The Gods walk among us. Though, it has been many years since they were seen on this corner of the River.”
“Clash of the Titans,” the Doctor muttered back at her. “Or Jason and the Argonauts. Not Sinbad.” His attention returned to the overseer. “That’s a shame,” he sighed. “I could do with having a word with one of them.”
“I’m sure you would,” came his amused reply. He then moved closer to the Doctor and lowered his tone. “There are some who believe one of them still remains here. There was a conflict among them many years ago, and Osiris – overseer of the underworld and keeper of the dead – he was cast out by Amun-Ra. This was in the time of King Khufu, during the building of his Great Portal.”
The Doctor was intrigued. “What caused this conflict among the Gods?”
“No-one knows. But there are whisperings that Osiris was buried beneath King Khufu’s portal – deep beneath the foundations. However, no work was carried out below the foundation level. I know – I was here.” It was clear this man had been harbouring these questions of secrets for a long time.
“Thank you,” said the Doctor, patting the man on his shoulder. “You’ve been a great help. Don’t let us keep you from your important…work stuff. We’ll just take a quick look around and be on our way. I don’t think there’s going to be any safety issues worth troubling the Vizier with.”
“And I don’t think you came here for such a purpose,” said the man knowingly. He pulled his robes around himself and went away towards the nearby encampment.
When he looked back to Buffy, the Doctor saw she was testing out the papyrus he’d given her. He then saw something he never expected to see on a papyrus scroll. The logo of Wikipedia.
“There is a basement chamber a hundred metres down,” she said, pointing to the loaded image of a cutaway of the Great Pyramid. “Even the historians don’t know what it was made for.”
“Sounds worthy of investigation, don’t you think?”
“Oh, yeah. Somethin’s off all right.” She rolled the scroll and tucked it away as the Doctor headed for the temple at the base of the Great Pyramid. Buffy stopped and looked around in wonder.
“Buffy? Everything alright?”
“Yeah… Just…” Was this really real or a weird dream? “Yeah,” she moved quickly ahead of him. “Come on.”
The Doc grinned and followed the Slayer.* * *
They headed for the eastern side of the Great Pyramid. There, facing the Nile, was the Funerary Temple that stood as an entranceway leading beyond the surrounding wall enclosure.
They passed three small pyramids in a line and a cemetery of low buildings before clambering onto a long causeway that led from the river to the temple. They easily got by the guards at the temple opening with the Doctor’s trusty wallet. Inside they only saw one monk-like figure who quickly took leave of them.
Buffy found herself in a torch-lit open courtyard with a covered walkway all around. Red granite pillars held up the overhanging white ceiling stones, which were decorated with a hieroglyphic border. As she looked at the symbols of Ancient Egyptian writing above her head, she fancied they reformed as words before her eyes, saying: Here stands for all time a memorial to Khnum-Khufu a King of these great lands now resting with the Gods among the stars
She realised with some sadness that nothing of this would remain by her own time. Lost to all mankind forever. Except for her. I am here
, she thought. I have seen it
Lost to mankind, lost to womankind, but not lost to Slayerkind.
“Well, hello there.”
Buffy turned to the Doctor. Between two red pillars, perched on a black stone statue of a seated king, was a great big monkey. It had a bushy coat of white fir, dark skin on the face where the long snout protruded, and close-set black eyes. Its down-turned mouth and heavy brow gave it a thoughtful grouchiness that reminded her of Clint Eastward in his old age. She quickly realised it was not any old monkey but a decent sized baboon. The Doctor gave its hairy cheek a scratch, which did little to interest the primate. It simply sat there with its hands on its knees in a disturbingly human pose.
“Quit monkeying around, Doc,” said Buffy as she handed him a flaming torch and led the way through the temple.
The pair stepped through to the sands within the walled area and gazed up at the smooth flat face of the giant pyramid. The perfection of its lines beggared belief yet there it stood just a few metres ahead, reflecting pale moonlight across its immaculate surface. Buffy checked her scroll again as they approached the angled structure, and pointed to a small square opening about 15 metres above their heads.
“There’s a descending passage there,” she said. “It goes about a hundred metres down to the lower chamber.”
“It doesn’t look very wide,” noted the Doctor.
“Nearly a metre. Wide enough. But…” she examined the diagram. “Even if we get down there we might not get back up. And… I think it says here somewhere that the passage is blocked up along the way.” She scrunched the sheet up and put it away. “It’s not looking good.”
The Time Lord put his hand against the surface of the ancient monument and ran his palm over it. “It’s still warm from the sun,” he said in awe. “Come here.”
She went to him and let him place her hand against the radiating surface.
“Now,” he whispered, “doesn’t that make it so much more real for you?”
She had to admit that the hot stones seemed to gain life on touching them. It was one thing to see something amazing – something impossible – but to hold it in your grasp and know it was real… To know that, at this moment in this time, she was within history itself. She was touching it, leaving her handprint on its surface. She was part of it now.
Buffy turned to him and gave a short burst of laughter.
“How big is the lower chamber?” the Doctor asked.
“It said thirty feet on the flat I think. Not sure how high. Why? You think you can squeeze your Tardum-thing in there?”
“TARDIS. And, yes. I think I might give it a go.”
They turned to leave and jumped out of their skins, the Doctor almost losing his grip on the burning torch. The baboon was sitting at their feet with its arms folded across its knees, watching them curiously.
The Doctor laughed at their jumpy nerves and dug into his pocket. He retrieved his spare banana and dropped it in the monkey’s lap then gave his own nose a tap.
“Did you just bribe a baboon with a banana?” Buffy commented as they left the way they came.
“Just a little something so he’ll keep his mouth shut,” the Doctor replied.
The baboon swivelled around on his raw behind and watched them go as he gave the fruit a sniff and peeled it open.* * *
A darkness more pitch than that of outer space itself gave way to a blue glow as the Doctor’s police box materialised in an underground stone chamber. The door swung in and released a brilliant white light as a large glowing ball flouted out from within and bounced against the low ceiling of the room. A thin wire hung from the bottom of the light-ball giving it the look of a party balloon.
The Doctor stepped out in his faux-suede overcoat and shivered in the cold fusty air. He reached up and tugged on his floating light, which had destroyed all trace of shadow from the small chamber. “I should travel with you more often,” he said as Buffy joined him. “I get to use all my toys.”
“You should give the balloon to the baboon,” she sniggered.
“What? Bribe a baboon with a banana and
balloon?” he joked. “Don’t be a buffoon.”
“Okay, that’s enough.”
“…Yeah.” He looked over the TARDIS to see the ceiling just a few inches above its blue light. “That was close.”
“Whoa!” Buffy held out her arms and regarded the red light glowing on the breast of her sleeper suit. “It’s heating up.” Remarkable
. “I’m totally keeping this thing.”
The Time Lord walked carefully around the room; a modest rectangular space cut from the bedrock on which the Great Pyramid stood. It was empty, dusty, and had a distinctly unfinished quality. There was a small square in the centre of the floor that was lower than the rest and opposite the TARDIS door was the beginnings of a corridor that led clearly to a dead end.
“What’s the first unusual thing you notice about this room?” asked the Doctor.
Buffy wasn’t sure if he was actually asking her the question or thinking aloud. “…The dead-end corridor?”
“The dead-end corridor!” he declared. Ever the intrepid explorer, he went directly for the narrow passage ahead of them and played with the wall at its end. He played his hands over its surface then gave his screwdriver a try. He returned to the chamber scratching his head.
Buffy pointed down. “Then there’s the sunken floor.”
The Doctor’s eyes lit up as he knelt down for a closer inspection. “A pointless chamber with a pointless corridor… and a shallow pit dug into the floor…” His sonic wand buzzed as he waved it over the pit and examined its findings. The pit only seemed
shallow. The base was nothing more than a thin stone piece placed to block the drop. “A fifty-foot drop,” he said, and looked up at his companion. “There’s another room below.”
Buffy had the same look in her eyes as he expected was in his own.
She pushed the TARDIS door open to let him back in. “Going down?”* * *
Buffy was the first out of the police call box and into the icy cool sub-basement area, warmed by her protective stasis suit. The Doctor followed with his light balloon and it instantly revealed a wide stone-cut passage that led them into a much larger chamber than the one above. They saw the opening in the ceiling that led 50 feet up.
They had found their way to the secret room beneath the secret room at the heart of the Great Pyramid of Giza. And they were not alone. There was another person present, just as the overseer had indicated.
A man with pale green skin in ragged bandages slumped on the dusty floor, his arms held up to the sides – chained to the roof. Before him two decorative black plinths a couple of metres apart. Each had on top a rustic golden vase.
For the Doctor, there was a haunting familiarity to the scene. He moved closer cautiously.
The walls were decorated with simple painted imagery, most of it difficult to make out. Drawings of the captive prisoner and the plinthed vases, with two large jackals painted on either side of the rear wall.
The Doctor reached for one of the golden jugs, already knowing what would happen.
As his fingers touched the rim, the vase became aglow with yellow light. The second vase did the same. They were the bars of the cell. Breaking them, he felt certain, would free the prisoner. There may, however, be a cost too steep to pay
Buffy knelt in front of the green man and took his lowered chin in her hand. She lifted his head. His face had a definite Egyptian/Middle-Eastern quality and a worryingly villainous quality. He was bald and a narrow long Egyptian God-style beard grew out of his square chin. His gaze was vacant, but his body was alive. “What’s wrong with him?”
The Doctor came in for a closer inspection, which seemed to require his spectacles. He waved a hand in front of the man’s eyes. Very technical
, thought Buffy.
The Doctor gave Green Man’s vitals a check with the sonic screwdriver. “He’s mindless,” he concluded. “This man… or creature, or God, or whatever people believe him to be, has no soul. He’s without spirit. The essence of what he is…is not here. I’ve seen something like this before.”
He cast his mind back to his time on the Sanctuary Base orbiting a black hole. Faced with an impossibly old language that even the TARDIS could not translate. And the Pit – where an ancient civilisation buried a Beast in an eternal prison. A staggeringly cruel prison where remaining meant captivity for all time and escape meant certain doom. The perfect catch-22.
Yet, the mind of that beast had found a way out and it had made claims that the Doctor simply could not come to terms with. That it was locked away before time and the universe were formed.
At the time, the Doctor had made clear that those concepts didn’t fit his ‘rule’. That, he had told Ida Scott, was why he travelled – to be proven wrong.
Not much had changed since then. The Doctor was still troubled by the notion of a ‘before’ to time but now, with the concept coming back around to bother him, he wanted to know more. Whether it was good for him or not.
“Then where is he?” asked Buffy, pulling him back into the present. “In one of these vases?”
“I don’t know. Trapped somewhere else, or free – escaped maybe. Certain kinds of minds seem to be able to reach out beyond their body’s confinement.”
Yes, it seemed he was looking at another eternal prison. He wondered if the prison that held the Beast back on that impossible planet was of the same origin. Could it have been a creation of the Builders? Did they indeed predate time? If so, then he was a prisoner at the doing of his own people, which didn’t bode well. And there were two other points that bothered him… “There are two things about this that bother me,” he told Buffy.
After a few seconds of silence she pressed him, “…Care to share?”
“That’s kinda racist.”
He shook his head and pried the papyrus from her sleeve. A moment later he showed her a painting of a bandage-wrapped man. Green skin, gold neck piece, long black false beard and a white feather-plumed hat that looked a lot like a bowling pin. “This is an image of the Ancient Egyptian God Osiris.”
Buffy looked to the prisoner before them. Green and bandage-wrapped, his head was smooth-shaven but his chin did bear a narrow plaited black beard, which stretched as a thin border along his jaw line and ended level with the top of his ears.
The Doctor looked at her as if to rest some kind of hard-to-swallow case.
“He’s not wearing a hat,” she argued weakly.
In response, he pulled something out from behind the man’s back. A dusty white bowling pin head-dress. Okay
, she admitted, that’s pretty hard to disclaim
. “And the other thing?”
“We were told he was put here by his own people. You have to wonder what he did to deserve this
. This is a severe form of imprisonment that I’ve only ever seen used to contain something of pure evil. A Beast who claimed to be the Devil. Claimed to have been imprisoned before time and the universe came into being. Imprisoned by the ‘Disciples of the Light’. A Beast who aimed to free himself and make war with God.”
“Well,” considered Buffy, “if you believe the Bible, the Devil was an Angel cast out of Heaven for making war with God. God created light… The Angels are his disciples…”
The Doc’s face looked sour at the taste of her proposition.
“If anything could have existed before time and the universe,” she offered, “then God would fit that bill. Y’know…if you can believe in all that.”
He didn’t look any more willing to accept that theory than he had a moment ago. “I need to talk to this man if we’re going to get any answers.”
Buffy looked at the face of the Green Man. His cheeks were squished in the Doctor’s hand, his mouth drooling, and the eyes all over the place. “Good luck with that. This guy looks like he’s smoked one too many J’s.”
The Doctor sighed. He was facing a day when all his rules and beliefs were being put to the test. The notion of an existence prior to time and the universe… and the notion of magic, which was equally outside his framework of accepted reality. In spite of all that, here he was looking for pre-time Builders with the mythical Vampire Slayer – a girl who fought the supernatural with, on occasion (according to the fables in the Chronicles), magic spells and incantations. He could see two options ahead of him. Denial, or acceptance. Turn his back on this spiralling little adventure, or go along with it and see where it took him. As soon as the idea of choice occurred to him, it was already made, fixed, and decided.
“It’s just a simple matter of finding his soul and returning it to his body,” he stated finally. “You might know a little something about that.”
Buffy made the connection after a short frowning period. “The Orb of Thesulah?” She considered the suggestion, feeling like there was something that didn’t fit. It was hard work but she dug away at her brain to find what Giles-type knowledge she held regarding the orbs.
As far as she knew, they were used to bring a soul from the nether realms and contain it until it could be put back into its original body. But there was something else. She gave up on her lame brain and checked her papyrus again, calling up a page from one of Giles’ books. “But that’s a… ‘spirit vault for rituals of the undead’.”
“And another word for undead?” he asked her. “…Immortal
. A lifeform that can be trapped in an eternal prison that, possibly, in theory, as unlikely as it may be, predates time itself would be naturally immortal. Hypothetically speaking.”
“Okay… I guess.”
“Remember I said you were a myth?” he recalled, taking on a purposeful manner. “Well you had a spin-off myth about a vampire with a soul.”
“I think we need to go have a chat with your ex-boyfriend.”
She found the idea of seeing Angel (the real Angel, not some phantom of him) in all this bizarrity she was experiencing was actually pretty desirable. “Next stop L.A.?”
“Actually…” He gave her a look. It seemed like he was about to reluctantly reveal a secret. “You may have seen him somewhere else more recently.”
“In the space city?!” I knew it!
“You said it was just a…projection of my subconscious. All the other angel-related stuff playing with my mind. Just a …coincidence of imagery.”
His face darkened. “There’s far too much coincidence of imagery going on in Angel City.”
She wasn’t sure what he was referring to but his attitude was a little unnerving. She noted how easily he could shift from manic to silly to deathly serious in a sudden jarring moment as if at the flick of a switch. The Doc headed back to the TARDIS and she asked after him, “You need your balloon back?”
He stopped at the corridor. “Leave it. We’ll be back in a few seconds to talk to our green God here.”
She caught up to him. “We gonna break him out?”
“Depends what he’s got to say for himself.” He looked to the vases again and thought about the catch-22. “Maybe yes.”
At that, the back wall of the chamber seemed to let out a long-awaited hiss and the twin murals depicting oily black jackals began to distort. Their golden collars seemed to shimmer in the light and their rouge eyes came alive with bright red fire.
“What the hell?…Doctor?
He blinked at the sight. “Oh, that can’t be good.”
The jackals leapt from the wall and landed on the dusty floor as real as any real glowy-eyed angry jackal could be. They bore their sharp white teeth and growled together at the duo.
“Any ideas, Doc?”Evil spirit jackals
, pondered the Doctor. “I’d say this is your department,” he told the Slayer. “I think I’ll defer to your judgement on this one.”
The black beasts came a step closer.
Buffy took her sweet time replying. “Alright then,” she acknowledged, then finally said, “Run for your life,” and she did.
It sounded good to him and he joined her, barrelling down the passageway with the snarling dogs at their heels.
His hearts racing, the Doctor bounded into his TARDIS behind the Slayer and slammed the door.
Leaning back against it, listening to the snapping and scratching of the impossible jackals, the Doctor exhaled with exhilaration and remembered a proverb he’d heard somewhere:
‘Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids’So too do Time Lords, it would seem
“Buffy…” The Doctor ran to the control console and set in their next destination. “There’s something I need to explain to you about where we’re going.”
“About Angel City?”
“No,” he replied. “…About Weeping Angels.”
Osiris / The Green Man / The Immortal Prisoner
(Illustrated using the likeness of Amr Waked)
(*Excerpts taken from the Doctor Who episodes ‘The Impossible Planet
’ and ‘The Satan Pit
’. *The amazing Giza recreation image is the work of Bill Munns.)
Just wanted to mention that I know there are just mountains of theories about the timescale, methods and civilisations that may have built the pyramids and sphinx. Everything from aliens to slaves to tax-paying workers, or that the dates are more like 10-12’000 BC rather than 2500 BC. There really is no definitive answer so I just went with what worked for this story.
One amazing theory is that, with the body of the sphinx being so aged in comparison to the head, it was in fact once a giant lion statue pointing to the constellation Leo about 12’000 years ago and it was much later that the head was recut as the face of a pharaoh. This could explain why the head is so disproportionately small in comparison to the body. Again, this is just one theory. Geologists believe the body was subjected to weathering by torrential rain, which could only have happened in that desert 10-12 millennia ago. The head, in contrast, shows no such water erosion damage.
I wonder if it’s possible, with the body buried in the sand, that the Egyptians had no idea there was a lion beneath that head. Hard to imagine.
Anyway… on with the show…
Or on with the typing, at least.