„…there was a tiger in the spaceship…“ she thought on and on.
„Continental breakfast. Josh! It’s horrible!“
„Do you also think it’s horrible, that you get checked out by an oriental ferry queen?“ Josh pointed at one of the girls in a group of dancers, who were hired to entertain the hotel guests with traditional belly dances.
„Marvin, look! She is starring at you all the time.“
„She is cute, I think she reminds me of someone.“
„Maybe. Anyway what are we going to do today? I’m sick of all the crowded market places and stuff!“ said Josh mouthful with dry untasty breakfast cake – not even the vanilla filling could help out.
Right at that moment a familiy at a table next to Josh and Marvin’s were discussing a trip to the pyramids. As Marvin and Josh could tell the family would join an organized tour to the Temple of the Sphinx.
„Isn’t that a bit cheesy?“
„Did you think we came here without visiting the stony lady?“ said Marvin excited.
„Can you hear when they are planning to leave because the research aren’t writing themselves and the trips from the hotel start just two times a day I read.“
„Come on! Mr. Telcinsaw is coming on monday and the trip takes a few hours – why not?!“
„Mr. Telcinsaw will pull our heads off if we have no new results and he will get the impression we were just having fun here. We haven’t found the perfect blue, yet!“
„Just tell me what I don’t know!“
„Marv‘, by the way what are you always doing with these tissues, napkins or coupons and stuff? You are always folding something!“
„Is it then?“ Marvin led the paper flower turn in his hand.
When Marvin was ten years old his mother forced him to fold paper swans for every four-letter word he used. Pretty quick he got a swarm full of birds. „Make something beautiful out of something ugly.“ she said. Even now, when he could be sure his mother couldn’t admonish him about his bad words his subconscious behaviour made him fold a pretty rose.
The dancers were having a little break, sitting next to canteen door and drinking sweet black tea out of little colourful glasses. Josh pushed his chair backwards: „Let’s go. No Sphinx today! We have work to do.“ Marvin went to the girl who looked at him during breakfast and gave to her his rose. Her cheeks turned red and a charming relieved smile brought a sparkle in her big brown eyes. The other girls were giggling.
Marvin grined back at her and left together with Josh the dining hall and took the elevator to their room 201. The door was open and a cleaning lady stood confused between all the glasses, pipes, gas burners, camping tables and ovens– their improvised laboratory.
„Shoot! Josh! I told you to put a note at the door!“
„What’s the problem? Do you think she understands anything of it? Do you think she’s a spy of one of our competitors?“
The small lady was arguing with wild gestures, pointing to all the oil stains, flames and the kind of adventurous constructions.
„Maybe you should tink her one of your paper art to calm her down. She looks like she could need a flower, too.“
„What if she tells anyone about this mess in here?!“
Josh put on one of his proven gentle smiles and went to the unexpected visitor. He stroked her shoulder and put his finger on his lips: „Don’t tell anyone about what you saw in here. You understand? It’s top secret… secreto…sirrrr. Ok?“
She nodded scepticaly. Her puls decelerated. She took a deep breath and sat down at one of the picknick tables the two young men put up. What seemed to awake her attention the most was the bubbling glass pipe instellation. The extraction of deep blue pigments dropped in a bowl in kind of a purple liquid. The dried brim of that condenced substance got a green cristalized glimmery surface.
„What’s you name… um… ‚ewsm‘?“
„Hey Aset, I’m Josh and this is Marvin.“
Aset nodded again but without noticing them. She was magnatized to this magical looking processes but then she stood up and started to clean the bathroom but not without taking a glimpse over her shoulder back to the dropping purple blue. She started humming a traditional sounding melody while she worked with her magical liquids.
„Ok, I guess she is on our side. She won’t say anything – what do you think?“
„I think so, too. Maybe she is a good witch.“
Josh took a narrow lancet and scrached on the green glimmering residue. Carefully he strew some crumbs on a clean petri dish and surveyed them under a microscope.
„Marv‘, it looks like we will have a cheesy date with Mrs Sphinx nevertheless – the test with the ore from our Sinai trip was successful – no ash remains and a clean cristal forming.“
„How is that possible? The conditions would have been minerals with high oxygen content!“
„Goodbye…tomorrrow!“ Aset said into the conspiratorial silence.
Squeakingly she pushed her cleaning trolley through the door.
„Wait! You said ‚witch‘, right? What if she cleaned these petri dishes before with one of her dissolvers? And both the residue and the liquid reacted with each other?“
„She’s not a witch she’s a hero then!“
Marvin ran after the cleaning lady. A few minutes and many international sign language try and errors later he came back with her. Josh imitates cleaning the peti pieces and made questioning eyes. Aset understood and took a glass with a yellowish paste out of her trolley and gave it to them. They opened the vessel and smelled.
„It’s something like lard. She must have used it to get the calcified residues off the dishes.“
Even before Marvin and Josh could think about how to ask her to get a bit of this undefined paste she made a rejecting gesture to Marvin who wanted to give her back the glass. „…keep…“ she said and disappered abrubtly to not to get in trouble with the hotel senior staff. Now it was time to find out how the consistency of the yellow paste was.
While Marvin and Josh explored the secret ingredience of their master piece Aset took a seat in the dressing room. She slipped out of her white working shoes and kneaded her feet. Through the door a smiling girl in a costume enterd the dressing room. She opend the locker next to Aset’s. Aset pinched the girl’s cheek, about what a nice flower she got. Nafi, the dancer from the dining hall smiled. She told her the paper rose came from a cute guy from America. He attracted her attention because of his fire red hair and his pure pale honest looking freckled face. Aset asked her if he was with an other man with dark brown curled hair and trimmed sideburns. He was. Aset asked her if she could keep a secret. Nafi was someone she could always count on. She looked expectand at Aset with her deep soulful eyes and nodded conspiratorially so Aset told her the whole story about the pigments, the microscopes and all the other experimental arrangements – she told her about her feeling the two young Americans might be magicians. Nafi was impressed. She knew her hearththrob was something special. And now she also knew his name: Marvin.
Aset and Nafi knew eachother for years. Aset once helped Nafi, when a hotel guest claimed her she stole his purse from his deck chair at the pool area. Aset could give the hotel security guard a propper clarification and later the rude prejudging tourist found the purse in his own hire car. Nafi got a bar „Toblerone“ and 170 piasters from him as compensation.
Their friendship helped Nafi and Aset to stand the unpersonal atmosphere of the hotel. The wisdom, they would never have enough time to get to know someone new because the person would leave the place a few days after. Aset felt like a ghost before Nafi‘s arrival in the resort. She had to act secretly and undetected and would never gain aproach. It was the same with Nafi she had to accept she would never make friends there. These facts made their connection even closer.
The results with the lard was extraordinary. Later would be the question how to reproduce the paste, but this was someone elses job. The lard stabilazed the cristalisation of the pigment resedue and made it possible to get a solid color result on fabric and paper. The agency Marvin and Josh made resurches and tests for was about to establish a synthetic fabric with strong features to sell it to car industry and other worldwide acting factories. The agency sended twenty teams arround the globe to make tests to find a substance which contains the perfect blue for their inventive project. Marvin and Josh made studies with mangan from a mine in Sinai. The two young men got low budget for their trip but had to deal with high expectations which they seemed to improve now.
„Aset saved our asses. We definetly can be proud of our experiments and a bit luck is torlerable to have.“
„Are you as hungry as I am?“ It was half past nine.
„I‘m as hungry as a bear. I only had this stupid vanilla thing for breakfast.“ Josh answered and grabbed his mumbling stomach.
„Ok, then let‘s go and get supper!“ A few minutes after they entered the dining hall but turned arround disappointed because the kitchen was already closed. They steped out of the hotel lobby and walked down the street. They found a nice tavern apart from the touristic traffic.
„That was good! I have no idea what it was.“ Marvin sipped enjoing a sweet black tea. „What do you think about going to bed early and take the first bus to the Sphinx tomorrow morning?“
„I‘m fine with that. That might be the best against my headache. I guess I have problems with the dry heat and focusing the whole day the petris gave me the rest I think.“
Marvin slept like a stone and when Josh woke him up his head was fine. They grabbed some stuff like cameras, notebooks and whater bottles and reached the bus in the last second. They took the back seats although the bus was nearly empty. It was eight o clock and the bus drove them trough deserted little streets and uneven sandy driveways through a pall of smog to their destination. Just twenty minutes later they stood eye in eye to the impressive Temple of the Sphinx.
„What are you doing there? Are you crazy?!“ Marvin catched John who took some rock samples from the Sphinx paw. „What‘s your idea behind this?“
„I read the Sphinx was once painted in vivid colors.“
„Of course – erverybody knows about her famous blue paws!“
„Who knows? I‘ll take some more proofs. Give me the little zipper bag, please. Back at the hotel we make some extractions with these crumps and maybe we can educe some original sphinxian color.“
„Like no one else did before or what?!“
The driver sat on a folding chair and took a nap under an arabic newspaper. With Josh and Marvin the only passengers were a family with two little amped hyper active kids and a couple on their honeymoon. All of them had the remarkable idea to taking pictures playing with the distance so they were facing the Spinx in eye height.
„I think the most colorful part of the Spinx would be the head piece.“
„So you are in? Perfect!“ John smiled invitingly.
„Let‘s go to her tail then – I guess this is the easiest way to climp up.“
From the tail they stepped on the right hindpaw through her pelvic bone to her backside and further to her shoulders. Marvin took Josh on his own and helped him to get at the Sphinx‘ head. Josh took out one of his lancettes and streched to reach her headdress. He cringed. Marvin balanced. „What‘s going on up there?“ he asked.
„I saw a weired reflection in my tool.“ He turned in the direction the light came from and was surprised to espy an area maybe four miles away. What gleams in the middle of nowhere in the desert? „Let me down. You have to see these weired rays over there.“ When Marvin climbed on his shoulders he pointed at the direct spot in the desert.
„What is that? Forget about the pigments now. I want to know what it is.“
„So do I!“
They grabbed their backpacks and went down the Sphinx. „What time is it? It seems like the others are looking for us. Dug!“ They found a hidden passage between two broken walls. They coverd for ten minutes then the bus left the temple without them. Arround thirty minutes later Marvin and Josh reached the reflecting area. Carefully they came closer to it. The desert wind must have freed it.
Josh toughed the metalic surface. „Marv‘! This thing is ice cold. How is that possible?“
„What is it?“ Marvin was grabbing arround the undefined object to get an impression how big it was. „If there is no iceberg effect this thing is about seven meters to three meters big. Do you think it is an old bus or what?“
„A bus? Don‘t you get it? This is something from outerspace! Why do you think it lays freezing cold in the desert heat? There is no scratch on it – it looks brand new while it is covered with sand maybe for years.“
Right at that moment Josh fell in a hole right next to the metalic object. He didn‘t fell deep – maybe two meters. Now he stood infront of a hatch and smelled the cold air comming out of that whatever it may be. Marvin spyed over the edge down to Josh. „Are you allright? …What? Is that the entance?“ He slipped down to Josh. In aware what ever would come they enterd the dark unknown. Undefined beeping and crackling filled the room. Now when their eyes get used to the contrast to the bright desert it wasn‘t dark anymore. The whole interiour layers seemed to be autolumicentive.
Marvin was about to start a logbook – there for he grabbed his trip diary and wrote down all the discoveries they made with impressions about sounds, materials and smell. „Josh the computer is still active! Shall I push a button? I want to see what happens.“
„I see, it‘s really tempting, but this is much to risky.“
„What is it what you are wearing right now?“ Marvin grabbed Josh‘s new necklace.
„I found it in a case under that seat.“ Jash pointed at a fluffy canapee in the back part of ‚spaceship‘.
„It looks stunning! Is it the Sphinx?“
„Maybe, but she is striped, so she might be a tiger.“
„It looks like a model for something. Also her head has the wrong proportions as in reality.“
„Right, but she got a nose. The colors of her head piece seem to be inlays with these pretty stones.“
„As I said, the head piece is the most colorful. I‘ll make a sketch of it.“
Josh put himself at the cockpit pretending to be the captain. In that situation he saw a deepening formed as the tiny little Sphinx he was wearing – what if she was ment to be the key for the engine?
Meanwhile after Marvin finished the sketch he steped outside to study the cold cover. Now he perseived a little sublime label with an outlandish inscription. He decided to make a frottage from this piece to be able to make some researches afterwards. Right at that moment the spaceship vibrated, pushed Marvin at the pit wall and covered him with sand. He reacted instinctively and relieved himself and swung through the hutch in the uplifting spaceship. „Shit! My diary!“
„Forget about your stupid diary, we are flying to infinity.“
„How did you manage to start the engine?“
„The Sphinx was the key. I sticked her in this corresponding hole and than everything happend so suddenly. How could I know it would directly lifting upwards.“
„I‘m not blaming you for this. Josh, nobody will believe us, they will think we are freaks!“
„If we are comming back“
She couldn‘t believe what she saw. A bright lightening followed by a shock wave. Nafi started running into the light. The busdriver tried to hold her back but wasn‘t fast enough for her. Nafi had heard, that Marvin and Josh were missed in the desert and bagged the busdriver to take her with him on his next tour. She couldn‘t believe, that the group had left the Sphinx without them.
When Nafi arrived at that massive hole the spaceship had left she wasn‘t even breathless, her adrenalin benumbed her body. She jumbed in the bottom and looked arround. It was completely still – but what was that? A rustle. She turned arround and found a little book laying in the sand, a wind came and showed her the words ‚…there was a tiger in the spaceship…‘ like a conspiracy. She took the book and browsed. She read what Aset told her about the tests with the pigments. Than she stucked: „I will never forget about the cutest smile the sweet dancer gave me when I handed her my paper rose. I wish to know her name.“ Nafi was moved to tears. What happend to them? She ran back to the bus. When she arrived at the hotel Nafi was looking for Aset. She found her at the lobby. In short words Nafi told her what had happen and that Aset had to help her to get in Josh and Marvin‘s room to save their equipment. Aset made her clear, that they had to wait till tomorrow morning, otherwise they would attrack to much attention.
At the next morning Nafi danced with the other girls in the dinning hall. Then she couldn‘t get her eyes away from the red haired young man with a freckled face.
„Marvin, look! She is starring at you all the time.“
„She is cute, I think she reminds me of someone.“