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Rated: 18+ · Chapter · Thriller/Suspense · #1468329
The remains of an ancient god are cloned in hopes of returning Egypt to its former glory.
Cover art for the novel, THE FALCON AND HIS DESERT ROSE


A living mummy with dry, leathery skin and sunken eyes, the assistant to Akhmed Gharib held out a recent copy of The New York Times. Beneath the date, July 3, 1932, in bold print, the headline read, Cayce Predicts Remarkable Discovery in Egypt.
        Gharib's sneer revealed his annoyance. In the stifling heat of his musty Cairo office, he mopped the back of his beefy neck with a handkerchief. "As Chief Inspector for The Egyptian Department of Antiquities, I require no advice regarding what should attract my interest."
        "I meant no disrespect, Chief Inspector." Continuing to hold the newspaper out for his employer, the subordinate bowed his turban-wrapped head. "I wished to be sure you were aware of Edgar Cayce's prediction concerning our Great Sphinx."       
        “Who is this Cayce?” The Inspector stuffed the damp handkerchief back into his pants pocket. Irked by the aide's persistance, Gharib snatched the paper from the boney hand that offered it.
        “He is a peculiar man, Your Excellency. He has gained notoriety in the United States. His disciples call him America’s Sleeping Prophet. Many, however, regard him as a fake and a liar.”
        “And you dare to bother me with the inconsequential ramblings of a fake and a liar?” Gharib rolled the paper up with theatrical disdain.
        “My Lord," the assistant raised his head enough to make eye contact. "Cayce speaks of chambers beneath the Great Sphinx at Giza. His words may inspire foreign archaeologists to visit Egypt. I thought we might conduct our own exploration, before —”
        “Silence, fool!" Gharib drew back, as if to use the newspaper like a club.
        The subordinate cowered in his employer's shadow. "Strike me like a disobedient dog, but I beg you to read the article."
        Rather than swatting his frail assistant, the Chief Inspector lowered his arm and unrolled The Times. After spreading it out on his desk, he leaned over it, supporting himself with his arms. Droplets of perspiration fell from his round face, leaving wet circles as they pattered onto the paper.
        The piece detailed Cayce's prophesy of a sarcophagus and a hall of records to be discovered under the Great Sphinx. When Gharib reached the sentence containing Cayce's explaination of what the discovery might mean to mankind, a bead of sweat rolled into his eye.
        Gharib removed his spectacles, dabbed at the stinging eye with his soggy handkerchief and blinked several times before he could continue. Bushy eyebrows arching, he blinked again, for a different reason, as he read the key sentence.
        ...this discovery will lead to a time when there will be no more death.
        The Chief Inspector whispered, "No more death?" Wearing a quizzical expression, he turned to confront his assistant. "What does Cayce mean by that?"
        From a safe distance, the aide replied, "I have asked myself the same question, Your Excellency. This is why I hoped you would read the story."
        Near the end of the article, The Times journalist revealed that every Egyptologist he contacted scoffed at the prediction. He went on to admit they all laughed at the allusion that this unlikely discovery might lead to the triumph of man over mortality.
        “As I suspected,” Gharib pointed to the spot in the article where the validity of Cayce’s contentions came under fire. “Rubbish - this is nothing more than rubbish.” He wadded the newspaper into a compressed ball and tossed it into a wastebasket beside his desk. “Go now,” he scolded. “You waste my time. I wish to hear no more of this slumbering charlatan and his absurd prophecies.”
~      ~      ~
            Seventy years later, in an antiseptically white room, constructed in a chamber forty-five feet beneath the omniscient smile of the Sphinx, the chief geneticist in command of Project Resurrection looked up from his electron microscope.
      Standing beside him, Mohammed Gharib, grandson of Akhmed, the first Chief Inspector, patted the scientist on the back. "My grandfather would be so proud!" Gharib exclaimed. Through our efforts, the Falcon will be reborn. Think about it." He waved his arms. "An Egyptian messiah, a true god, capable of controlling the very elements. Once he creates the sacred Fluid of Life, we will sell immortality to those who can afford our price."
      Gharib paused and took a deep breath as he peered into the future. “Can you not imagine how rich our country will become?" With each word, he became more excited. "Egypt will regain its rightful place as the wealthiest nation in the world, protected by an immortal military force. And,” the Chief Inspector turned to the mousy research scientist, “we will live forever to enjoy the fruits of our labor!”
      The geneticist raised a cautionary hand. “Let us not get carried away and put the royal chariot before the horse. So far, we have been unable to isolate one usable molecule of DNA from the mummified remains.”
      Reacting to Gharib’s silent, disapproving stare, the white-coated research scientist added, “But we are getting closer every day.”

Chapter One

        The music, if you could call it that, wouldn’t stop. Coming from the apartment next door, it penetrated the thin, sheet-rocked walls as if they were mere tissue paper adorned with colorful Boston Red Sox pennants and paraphernalia. Thomas Jefferson Franklin cringed as Middle-Eastern, belly-dancer music filtered through the fibers of the pillow pressed against the sides of his throbbing head. Drums and tamborines created a pulsing assault that lacked any discernible beginning or end. Unintelligible words were wailed by someone filled with either deep despair or intense jubilation.
      Tortured by the repulsive, moaning and whining, Thomas conjured up the image of a crowded Egyptian marketplace. Unpaved streets were flanked by dilapidated buildings, their walls caked with a thick crust of wind-born sand, baked to a dry, dirty brown by “The Eye of Ra,” the unblinking desert sun.
        Feathers flew from screaming chickens that dangled upside down, wildly flapping their wings in a futile attempt to flee potential purchasers. The belabored bleating of goats and squealing pigs added to the din. Several pigs escaped from their pens and were chased, congesting the paths between the kiosks and carts filled with indigenous Middle-Eastern treats.
      At the far edge of the chaotic, dust-veiled scene, the flutes of squatting, sweat-soaked, snake charmers hypnotized their cobras. The hooded snakes rose, hissing and swaying from their woven baskets in time with the pounding and jingling. The overall effect mimicked a warped or broken record, creating a never-ending, non-purposeful rhythm.
      “Oh God, please, please make it stop,” Thomas prayed. He clenched his eyes shut, feeling the room and his stomach begin to spin. This wasn't how he envisioned his first day back at M.I.T.
        That afternoon as he finished unpacking, several of his friends dropped by suggesting they get together for a few, yeah, right, a few, tankards of Regatta Golden down at the Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square. That led to a stupid, fun, but stupid, drinking contest, and this was what the lucky winner had to show for his achievement. You would think that a twenty-four-year old man with two years of Naval military service followed by three years of outstanding academic achievement at M.I.T. would have more sense, wouldn’t you? he wondered.     
        Pressing the pillow tighter against his ears, Thomas beseeched the almighty with the drunk’s equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer. “I promise I’ll never drink again if you’ll just make it stop!”
      The Almighty didn't buy it. Neither the music nor the turbulence in Thomas's stomach subsided. Instead, it intensified as the queasy feeling in his gut rose and he broke into a cold sweat.
        His belly felt as if it were inhabited by a clump of fishing worms, slithering all over each other, seeking a way out of the prison in which they were confined. Discovering that they could climb to freedom by piling up, one on top of the other, the night-crawlers formed a nauseating, conga line. Inexorably wiggling and squirming, they danced their wormy way through the esophageal pathway, propelled on a slimy organic escalator, powered by the spasmodic contractions of an abused, irritated digestive system, until.... 
    After puking up and flushing away what must have been a full pitcher of Regatta Golden Ale, Thomas rested his head on the cool, blessed porcelain. He hoped this would be the evening's last wave of nausea.
    With considerable effort, he raised a wrist to peer through bleary eyes at his Sony chrono-com. Could it be two in the morning? He needed to be somewhere by ten. Where, he wasn’t sure, but he needed to get some sleep.
      Feeling a little better, Thomas ran a hand through his damp, close-cropped black hair and rose shakily. Still, the belly dancers continued next door. At the sink, he cupped both hands beneath a stream of cold water and splashed his face, soaking the floor in the process. Too dizzy to risk bending over to mop up the water, he shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck with a cool, damp washcloth. I'm gonna have to go next door, he thought. Ali Baba and the forty thieves have gotta turn it down.
      Wobbling back to the bedroom, Thomas faced a dilemma. Should I try to pull my jeans on while I'm standing? I'd have to balance on one leg for a moment. Or, would it be wiser to sit down on the bed and get both legs into the pants?. He turned to sit and congratulated himself on his decision-making ability. You have to be smart to get into M.I.T.
      Fifteen minutes later, he stood, wavering somewhat, but without fear of falling over, in front of his neighbor’s door. Thomas raised a fist to pound, rather than politely knock, but stopped while he searched for the right words. What had he read in grade school?
      Was it “Open says me,” or was it “Open sesame,” like the seeds?
      Inside, the mating dance of the three-legged, spastic camel continued. Overshadowed by frustration and the lingering effects of the imbibed alcohol, the subtlety and restraint he might have displayed, if sober, failed to materialize. He banged away, loudly, mightily, bravely, on the door until it opened. He would show this, this . . . 
      In the doorway a powerful-looking young man appeared. Tall and dark, he wore jeans and an unbuttoned, white linen shirt. The opened shirt exposed a muscular set of abs that weren't developed by spending afternoons at the Cambridge Brewery. Beneath a shaven head, long, pierced ears framed his bird-like face. Resembling a beak, his thin nose angled sharply downward. But far more unforgettable was the intimidating stare that emanated from dark, widened pupils, surrounded by flecks of gold, intermingled with the tawny brown of the Iris.
        Thomas squirmed as those unusual eyes bore into him with an inhuman intensity. They reminded him of a predatory bird, like an eagle, or perhaps a falcon.
        “Why do you disturb me at this hour?” the neighbor demanded.
        His expression, as he waited for a reply, could not have been more harsh. He spoke without the faintest hint of an accent to place him geographically. His words were breathily enunciated with round, precise diction and the condescending attitude of someone with a refined, perhaps regal heritage.
      “I’m your next door neighbor, and I, uh, I...” Suddenly, telling this big guy off didn’t seem like such a smart idea. “I’m Thomas Franklin.” Forcing a thin smile, Thomas reached out to shake hands. “I’m your neighbor.”
      “So you stated." The grim titan made no attempt to shake Thomas’s futilely outstretched hand. "I am Horace Khenemetankh. Why do you disturb me at this hour, Thomas Franklin? Is it that I have been playing my music too loud for your liking, perhaps?”
        The focused intensity of the muscular man’s gaze, coupled with the accusatory intonation of his words, made the inquiry seem more like an indictment than a question.
        Peering around the inhospitable giant, into the room behind him, Thomas heard the music, but saw no evidence of a party in progress. Withdrawing his hand, he replied, “Yeah, well, as for the music being too loud, you said it, not me. But now that you mention it, I don’t feel so good, and I was kinda trying to get some sleep.” Locked in the unsettling stare of the towering stranger, Thomas felt the worms in his stomach return for an encore performance.
        Reanimated by the nerve-fraying situation, the remaining multitude caroused in his cramping gut. With the passionate intensity of college students on the final day of spring break at the beach, they surfed on a wave of bile that rose and fell, bubbling and gurgling within him.
        Thomas gagged as the sensation floated higher, cresting at the back of his throat. Beads of sweat reappeared on his forehead. Without a wall between them to deaden the effect, the music gripped him with renewed ferocity, exacerbating his churning stomach’s frantic dance. It lurched rhythmically, in time with whatever mimicked the act of singing.
      “Excuse me!” was all Thomas could manage as he lurched past his surprised neighbor. Clamping his hands against his mouth, attempting to hold in what threatened to spray out, he prayed that this apartment's bathroom would be located in the same area as his.
      Thank you St. Ralph. Mercifully, he found and knelt before the porcelain idol. Lifting the seat, Thomas lowered his head and took careful aim, lest he have to answer for his inaccuracy to the jolly green giant who stood behind him, minus the green and the jolly.

Continue turning the pages by following this link:
 The Falcon & His Desert Rose - Chapter 2  (18+)
At Fenway Park
#1468511 by George R. Lasher

I am delighted to announce that World Castle Publishing has published this novel as a paperback and as an eBook. The first three chapters are offered here as a sneak preview, so that you, dear reader, may consider whether you wish to invest in purchasing your own copy of the The Falcon and His Desert Rose.

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