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|Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time|
by I. MacPenn
The clicking and vibrating stopped suddenly, and a huge rock swung out from the pyramid. Charlie, Alice and George quickly jumped backwards to avoid the heavy, moving stone. As they scattered, they were each hit with cold, stale air that had escaped from deep within the tomb.
The three friends stared into the doorway and saw only total darkness. The wind outside was whipping around them violently, and sand was flying everywhere, stinging their faces and hands. The sandstorm was almost at the pyramid.
Alice yelled to Charlie and George, "But what if the door closes behind us and we're trapped inside forever?"
But Charlie, Alice and George had no choice - they couldn't stay outside during the terrible storm, so they reluctantly entered the pyramid.
Charlie took out his flashlight and turned it on. Ahead of them was a seemingly infinite corridor of stone. The gloomy, rough-hewn passageway slanted slightly upwards, and seemed to head to the heart of the pyramid. The dark ceiling was just tall enough for Charlie, Alice, and George to stand up - there were only a few inches between their heads and the rock above.
Cautiously, they walked into the darkness. "Where do you think this leads?" asked Charlie.
But no one answered him, because they were out of ideas at the moment and were worried about what lay ahead of them.
After a few minutes, their echoing footsteps were the only sounds they heard - the whistling sounds of the sandstorm had faded away. George turned around and saw the light of the doorway far behind them; it was now only a dim pinpoint of light in the distance. They were all relieved that the stone door hadn't slammed shut after them.
Ahead of them, the corridor ended abruptly. Charlie shone his flashlight in all directions around him, but there was nowhere to go. Alice asked, "This can't be the end - there's nothing here."
George pushed on the walls to their left and right, and said, "Maybe there's a secret passageway we can find." Charlie and Alice helped him push, but the walls were solid rock. They kept trying different places along the walls.
George accidentally pushed Charlie's arm, and the flashlight shone on the ceiling. Charlie and George looked up; the ceiling had a hole in it.
The hole was just big enough for a person to crawl through it. "I'll check it out," said Charlie, "help me up."
Charlie put the flashlight in his mouth and grabbed the edges of the hole with his hands. George and Alice each grabbed a leg and hoisted him up. As Charlie went through the hole, he said, "There's another passageway up here - come on up."
Alice went next, with Charlie and George helping her. Then George clambered up, with Charlie holding onto his arms.
Ahead of them was a smaller passageway. The walls were close by their sides, and the ceiling was shorter than that of the previous passage. The kids occasionally had to duck to avoid low-hanging rocks.
After going about 50 feet, they entered a large chamber. When they walked into it, Charlie shone his flashlight all around the room. The room was circular, and along the curved wall were eight dark openings spaced evenly around the circle. Each opening was the size of a doorway and was bracketed by two massive stone pillars.
As they walked around the cavernous room, Charlie shone his flashlight through each dark hole. Each one led to a seemingly endless passageway.
Charlie, George and Alice looked all around the large, domed, circular room. The doorways were completely identical.
A cold shiver went down Alice's spine. She whispered to the boys, "This is an incredibly creepy room."
George replied, "Yes, it's like being inside a giant bug."
Charlie said, "There are too many legs for it to be a bug, it's more like being inside a big spider."
"Don't say that," sighed Alice, "it's too horrible to even think about."
George laughed nervously and said, "You know it's not true, Alice, we're inside a pyramid, not a spider. Which way should we go now?"
Alice asked quietly, "Do you remember which door we came in from?"
Charlie pointed at a doorway and said, "Didn't we come in through that one?"
"No, it was that one," George said as he pointed to the one next to it.
"You're both wrong," said Alice, "we came in over there." She was pointing at a different passage entirely.
George said, "So we're lost. What should we do?"
Charlie said, "We'll have to try each passageway."
Alice thought aloud, "I don't like this."
"Which one do you want to explore first?" asked George.
Alice warned, "Wait, we should mark the one we go in so we'll remember which door we tried - they all look exactly the same."
Charlie took out a pencil. He said, "I'll do it. Let's try this one," and he pointed to the nearest opening. They all walked up to the opening, and Charlie wrote "#1," on the stone pillar at the right side of the passage.
Charlie shone his flashlight through the opening, but all that they could see was a long, eerie passageway. The three friends cautiously stepped through the entryway.
The passageway was very much like the one they had taken to get to the room. It was cold and dark, and the three walked very closely together.
For the first 50 feet, the passage was straight and tunnel-like. But it then turned sharply to the left - it was almost a U-turn. After another 10 feet, the passage made a sharp U-turn to the right. This pattern repeated another five times -- every 10 feet or so, there was another abrupt turn in the opposite direction. And the ceiling was getting taller with each turn.
Charlie, George, and Alice started walking faster through the tunnel, going around each bend more quickly. They didn't say anything to each other. The only sounds were their footsteps, which echoed nervously in the darkness.
Just after the next U-turn, they stopped dead in their tracks. Alice screamed first.
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