Keystone

Free Keystone by Luke Talbot

Book: Keystone by Luke Talbot Read Free Book Online
Authors: Luke Talbot
and looked up at George. “That was a clue, Mr Turner.” He
nodded towards three people standing next to what looked like a water cylinder
connected to a personal computer. “That and the fact that their X-ray shows
that there is a large open space beneath my feet.”
    “You got here just
in time,” Gail said. “The Professor received the authorisation a while ago to
go ahead with the excavation and remove the block.”
    George
grinned. “I would like to see that.”
    “See it?”
Mamdouh raised an eyebrow. “If you don’t mind, you can help us by pulling on
one of the ropes!”
     
      One end of the stone was to be lifted from its
seat using a large industrial jack. It looked like a scaled down forklift truck
about two feet high, and was being operated by three engineers from Cairo. Two
small indents had been drilled into the bedrock against the end of the engraved
stone, to allow the jack’s small metal feet to be wedged underneath it.
Compressed air was forced into the machine’s pistons, and the stone rose slowly.
As its base crept above the bedrock, a long metal rod, flat on one side, barely
an inch thick but made of high density carbon steel, was slipped under from one
side and pushed through until it protruded out on both sides like an axel.   Its flat edge was facing down, stopping it
from rolling out from under the heavy stone.
    One of the
engineers crouched down and shone a torch underneath the stone to verify that
the lip on which the stone sat ran uninterrupted around the perimeter of the
hole.  
    “If the ledge
is only partial, or damaged, then when we pull on the stone it may fall into
the hole, which would make things rather complicated.” Mamdouh had told them.
    After several
seconds the engineer stood up nodding and said one word in Arabic to his
captive audience. “He saw steps in the hole,” Ben translated for Gail and
George.
    Air began to
escape from the jack’s piston as the engineer gently lowered the stone to sit
comfortably on the carbon steel rod.   The
engineer who had positioned the rod gave a thumbs up signal to his colleagues,
and they proceeded to remove their machinery.
    A hundred foot
synthetic rope was then wrapped twice round the stone. The two loose ends, one
coming from either side, were passed through a steel ring three inches in
diameter positioned at the raised end. The two ropes were then given to two
groups of three people wearing gloves and standing a foot above the bedrock,
outside the trench.   From above, the two
groups, rope and stone looked like a giant letter Y; they would be pulling it
back to where it had first stood, thousands of years earlier.
    Ben and George
positioned themselves at the back of one of the groups.
    “Pull gently,”
Mamdouh ordered as he watched from inside the trench.
    The two ropes
became taught and the loops around the stone creaked as the six people
nervously applied their weight. It gently shifted towards them, uncovering six
inches of the stairway beneath.
    The engineer
who had shone the torch under the stone proceeded to spray its path with a
water-based lubricant, to facilitate its passage.   The Professor walked to and fro around the
stone as it slid slowly away, until after barely five minutes of pulling it was
clear.
    He held his
hand up to stop the eager Al Jazeera photographer from approaching the hole and
shouted out in Arabic.   The photographer
backed off, pushed up the rim of his baseball cap and shook his head in
confusion before taking several dozen photos from a short distance, outside the
trench.
    “We must
catalogue the finds first, for archaeology, before letting Al Jazeera in.” Ben
explained in English.
    “Is it just
me, or does Mamdouh look a little nervous?” Gail quizzed him. “More nervous
than excited?”
    Ben thought
about this for a while before responding. “I cannot say what the difference
between nervous and excited is, Gail. If it were me, I would be running down
the steps already,” he

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