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Amun’s Den
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ISBN-10: 1-89484-149-2
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction
eBook Length: 191 Pages
Published: June 2002



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Total Readers: 3

From inside the flap

A lonely, disgruntled adventurer named Doc Cowles and his associate Stan Samuels encounter a prophetic woman while exploring the Egyptian ruins of Giza. Cowles and Samuels are enthralled by her captivating persona as they follow her through the embattled Middle East, and eventually to the United States. Within days they are joined by four others and as a team they journey across the country, struggling with their troubled pasts and their ominous futures.

The mysterious woman calling herself Ankh has many secrets and possesses unusual powers far beyond the travelers' grasps of reality. There are more questions than answers when they are in her company, and they eventually realize she is more than just a charismatic friend--she is their only hope for survival.



Reviews and Awards

David Bean has done a tremendous job, combining interesting narrative with thought-provoking fiction. The characters are fully developed and we are prompted to share their doubts and inspirations...Amun's Den is a delicious read for the lovers of the fantasy genre; and like all good works of fiction, it has a strong plot...I strongly feel Amun's Den should be read twice for its well-written passages; and certain nuances are meant for the discerning readers.

Nikesh Murali, eBook Reviews Weekly
http://www.ebook-reviews.net

Amun’s Den (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE


A creature of habit, Martin ?Doc? Cowles jogged between the ivy-covered buildings of the campus, panting heavily as he pushed himself to his athletic limits. A man of nearly forty-five years in age, he had managed to maintain an acceptable state of fitness, even though the majority of his time had most recently been spent behind a desk or standing before a group of drowsy students.

The struggle to teach the young adults of the school came with much frustration to him. It seemed he was never the true reason for their attending class; instead they seemed more interested in ogling the other students in the row ahead of them. As the school year approached a conclusion, he found himself constantly envious of his friend, Professor Stan Samuels? fortune of having spent the past few months traveling the historically blessed regions of Egypt.

He continued to jog, wishing to be with his friend in the field, but understanding the necessity of his teaching to maintain the financial support of the school. As head of the Archeology Department, his days seemed much more structured than he would have wished. Up in the morning for a quick jog, shower, shave and into the office where he would silently stew, dreading the morning’s primer class of freshmen.

Passing in front of a fraternity several blocks from his home, he sidestepped to avoid tripping on a clutter of discarded beer cans strewn across the sidewalk. He glanced at the yard in front of the house, the grass littered with empty cans and bottles. Shaking his head, he continued at a steady pace, wondering how the students would ever hope to graduate when they seemed to party every day of the week. After all, this was only Tuesday and it appeared the boys had been bingeing all night long.

Growing tired, he slowed to a rapid walk for the last few blocks to the house, eventually climbing the series of wooden steps leading to the front porch of his home. He paused before entering, staring at the mist of the morning as it dissipated from the college grounds, and wondering how this ever became known as higher education--the youths he encountered seemed more often to consider it higher social time.

He unlocked the door, going inside and stripping his sweats to take a shower. Taped to the medicine cabinet mirror was a note to himself regarding the evening dinner he had been ?asked? to attend by the trustees.

Doc deplored the dinners. The primary reason for his attending was as an attraction for the guests, to many of whom he had become something of a minor celebrity. Years of dig sites in the Yucatan or in Egypt had provided him with scores of stories with which to entertain the socialites, and many of his discoveries had been chronicled by the regional news media, forcing him into the limelight.

There was nothing more boring than rubbing elbows with the trustees and their thick-pocketed donors. He hated kiss-ups. At least he could rest assured there would be ample supplies of high dollar scotch for him to pass the few hours with.

Dried and shaved, Doc went to the kitchen where he poured a bowl of cold cereal. He sat at the table silently chewing and listening as the puffed rice made its morning sounds. The house was so silent. The crackling sound seemed to be amplified, worsening as he chewed each boring bite.

Through the large opening between the kitchen and the living room, he could see the stacks of documents carefully arranged in a manner only he understood. A bachelor of choice, he could see no reason to add the stress of any woman disorganizing his precisely arranged home of paper treasures.

He rose from the table, standing nearly six feet two inches in height, and grabbed his briefcase from near the refrigerator. The walk to the office wasn?t too far, but he normally opted to drive his Porsche the distance, preferring to avoid any more personal contact with the students than he was forced to endure.

Driving across the campus, he noticed a few of the students were now beginning to mull from their liquor and drug induced states, forcing themselves to attend classes. He wondered why they even bothered, knowing their dislike of learning and preferences for party. What an existence this was.

As he parked in the open area next to Tomkins Hall, where his office was located, he remembered when he had first been offered the research grant to begin his initial dig site. The thrill of the discovery potential had transformed him tremendously. How he loved to be engulfed in the history of an ancient tomb, far away from civilization and teaching. At first, when he had learned the grant was conditional upon his teaching several classes each year, he hadn?t been too upset, but as he became aware of the poor learning drives of the students, it was almost immediate that he had become disgruntled.

He soon found himself entering the front office of the Archeology Department, where he was greeted cheerfully by his secretary, Becky, a single mother of three whom he had hired more for empathy than for her talents as a typist.

?Morning, Doc,? she said smiling, comfortably sitting at her desk with a cup of coffee and a copy of Newsweek spread before her.

?Hi, Becky,? said Doc. ?Anything worthwhile going on this morning??

?Not much, Doc. You?ve got a couple messages, including one from Dean Miller making sure you haven?t forgotten the dinner party tonight.?

?Thanks. Do I need to call him back??

?No, he just wanted to be sure you were going to be there, I guess,? she said. Her continuous smile seemed to warm the office. ?Coffee??

?I can get it,? he answered, unlocking his office door and placing the briefcase on the chair just inside. He walked to the pot and poured a cup of strong, black brew. ?Any word from Samuels??

Becky shook her head. ?Nothing. He was supposed to check in yesterday, but I never heard from him. Think he’s still some place in Egypt.?

?I?m sure he?ll call in soon, probably just got distracted, you know how we get when we?re in the field,? he said, shutting the office door behind him. He moved to the window and stared at the grounds in the distance, wishing to be with Samuels, wherever he was.

***

?Doctor Cowles,? said a student in Doc’s ten o?clock class. ?How many pyramids are there in Arabia??

Doc frowned, wondering what section of the textbook the young man had been reading. ?Try how many are in Egypt. You been reading your book, or just sitting in class??

?My dad said they were in Arabia. Are you sure they?re in Egypt? I?m not sure you?re right,? said the dark headed student, as the fluorescent lights above him reflected off his nose ring.

?Trust me, I?ve been there,? said Doc, clearly irritated with the freshman. ?Your father apparently didn?t read his books, either.?

The teenager made a soft "humph" sound, and went back to doodling in his book. Doc heard several of the others seated around him snicker, goading the boy to ask some more stupid questions.

?Let me ask you kids a question,? said Doc. ?How many of you could care less about being in this class? Why are you even here??

From the back of the room a blonde haired girl raised her hand. ?We have to be here, Dr. Cowles. It’s a required course.?

?That the only reason??

?Guess so,? she said.

?Well, I don?t guess there’s a lot of sense in trying to teach you kids anything, if all you have to do is show up and try to pass the tests, right? Think we?ll call it a day, maybe tomorrow you?ll want to learn something,? he said, closing his briefcase. He turned and left through the side door of the room, leaving the class smiling to have been released early. Heading directly to his office, he entered, surprising Becky with his early return.

?Out early, Doc?? she asked.

?Yeah, out early. Couldn?t handle any more of their insipid thoughts. Becky, tell me something. Do you think the kids that come to this school are here to learn, or are they here to socialize??

?I?m sure they?re here to learn, Doc. Why??

?Just wondered if it was just me who thinks the only reason they?re here is to party. I sure see no sign of intelligence,? he answered.

?Doc, I think you?re just getting bitter toward the system,? she said, as he closed the door behind him.

***

?Doctor Cowles, this is Mrs. Henderson, one of our largest contributors,? said Dean Miller with a broad smile.

?Pleased to meet you, madam,? said Doc. He tried to act genuinely sincere in their introduction; however, as the night proceeded it became more difficult with each limp and sweaty handshake. He was already on his second glass of scotch, and the dinner hadn?t even been served yet.

?Doctor Cowles, have you been to any interesting places of late?? she asked.

?Not really, just been trying to educate the kids I keep finding in my classroom,? he said. Dean Miller gave him a brief glare, and Doc knew he should try to stress the importance of the university. ?I?m always impressed with the bright kids we have attending our institution. They?re really creative with the ways they think. Will you excuse me, Mrs. Henderson? I need to make a phone call."

Doc left, walking swiftly down the hall from the reception area, upset with the constant false front he was forced to exhibit. He went into the rest room, where he washed his hands, staring into the mirror. The face staring back was one of a graying, tired and frustrated man who was now beginning to develop dark bags under his eyes from lack of sleep.

With a heavy sigh, he returned to the crowded room, ready to mix with the money-giving society, but not before stopping at the temporary bar for another drink. It would be a long, insincere evening.

***

Doc sat silently in his office, fumbling through the clutter of papers strewn across his old mahogany desk. He gently stroked his hair as he stared out the window of his office, raising his feet to rest upon the mess of papers atop the desk. The chair creaked loudly as he leaned back. He yearned to be elsewhere in the world with his hands soiled with the dusty history of some ancient find. He had more important ambitions than arguing with na?ve students at the university, but understood that in order to maintain his funding he needed to help educate the fools of the world, in the simplest terms they could understand.

The hot sunshine beaming through the tree branches outside his office window reminded him of the blazing days of sweat he often longed for--digging in the sands of Egypt or in the sweltering jungles of the Yucatan.

A soft knock at the door stirred him from his momentary daydreams. ?Doc, you have a call on line two,? said Becky.

?Thanks, Becky. Who is it?? Doc asked, reaching clumsily for the flashing button on the phone, partially hidden with graded papers covered in red ink.

?It’s Professor Samuels?he didn?t say much when I talked to him. Just said he needed to speak with you immediately,? she replied, as she silently closed the door behind her.

?Hello, Doctor Cowles speaking,? he said.

?Hey, Doc! It’s Samuels. Glad you?re in the office. Need to talk with you about something. Something really big!?

?Hi, Stan,? Doc answered. ?How big is big? Hope it’s enough to pull me away from this hellhole. These kids just get dumber every year.?

?Doc, I?m in Egypt at the Giza Plateau site. We?ve got something we just dug up that you absolutely have to see,? Samuels said, struggling to maintain his composure. His voice quivered slightly, and Doc could tell something had indeed been found, something substantial.

?Ok, Samuels, let’s hear it, what do you have??

?Doc, I?ve been working over here at the main pyramid site. Got a mathematician friend named Gunther who’s been extrapolating some numbers with the three main structures, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. We did some triangulating from the topmost points on the pyramids and found a common point of intersection to the northwest, several hundred meters away. Yesterday, we did some preliminary digs, and found something. Doc, it’s a chamber. A large, sealed chamber with the symbol of Amun over what appears to be a potential entry point. It’s still closed off and we can?t find any sign of it having been raided,? said Samuels, clearly excited.

?Are you certain it hasn?t been accessed?? asked Doc.

?Certain. Doc, how soon can you be over here? We want to enter it. The local authorities are already on site and I convinced them you ought to be here.?

Doc paused momentarily, very momentarily, as this was potentially not only a valuable find, but was one that would take him away from the nose rings of the freshmen class. ?I?ll have Becky book a flight immediately. Should be able to make Cairo within the next thirty-six hours. You staying at the usual place??

?Yep, be glad to see you. Hurry, Doc,? Samuels said, with urgency in his voice.

Doc listened as the phone clicked at the other end. He checked the time on his watch. It was now almost two o?clock, if he pushed himself he might be able to make an evening flight and be on his way to the dig. He could feel the excitement beginning to build as he opened the door of the office. Becky was sitting robot-like in front of her computer, typing an exam for the next week’s practice finals.

?Becky,? he said. ?Would you kindly call the university travel agency, whoever they?re using this month, and book me a flight to Cairo? I need to go as soon as possible?preferably this evening. Oh, and get hold of one of the teaching assistants to take my classes for the next few weeks. Not sure how long I?ll be gone, it could be a long while, though.?

’Sure, Doc, I?ll get on the phone right away. Are you heading home now?? she asked.

’Suppose so. Got to get packed,? he answered as he locked his office. ?Here’s the key, go ahead and okay whoever takes my class load to use it. See you in a few weeks or so.?

Doc rushed down the hallway and out to the parking lot. As he climbed into his Porsche, his thoughts were almost entirely on his return to Giza. Leaving the paved lot, he nearly ran down two students crossing the street as they headed for a bar away from campus. One of them raised a middle finger, shaking his hand violently at him as he looked in the rear view mirror. He recognized the student as the arguer of Arabian pyramids, and made a subconscious note to himself to wreak some havoc upon his return.

Deep within, he knew that he was resentful toward the college atmosphere. If only there were some other sources of funding available to him, he could rid himself of these teenage pests. The years of self-imposed torment were beginning to dissolve his normally controlled tolerance levels. He continued to the small, empty house at the far end of town, anxious to be heading for Giza.