-1Chapter 1 - Searching

Sometimes you had to lie to yourself. You had to use your imagination and make something up, pretend that you were doing something monumental. That you were working toward the good of mankind. At least, that's what Jaclyn did anyway. It's what she did to keep herself from going nuts in the desert.

The 'Ancient World,' this was where all the big discoveries were, and that meant that the big money was not far behind. At the end of the day, that was all that mattered. Jaclyn loved ancient Roman society, but there just wasn't much more to dig up on the Roman Empire. No, The Middle East was the real cash cow for archeological discovery.

Ten years ago Jaclyn would never have imagined herself out here among the sands of Egypt. Actually, she was a pretty boring college student. A very bright young girl, Jaclyn Samone breezed through all of her classes. She majored in the actuarial sciences for two years. In other words, she would have been the one to calculate all the statistics, risks and data on customers for insurance companies. Would have made daddy real proud, lots of money there. It just didn't stimulate her mind. She wasn't interested enough in all of the challenging math.

At the end of sophomore year she decided that she needed to travel. After a little bit of searching, she found to archeology, researching ancient cultures. That was what she would do with her life.

Looking around at the ten or so trailers that surrounded her, she wondered whether she had made the right choice. She had studied abroad in Rome during her last year. The green hills around the old city, the quaint little towns. The impressive ancient architecture. This is where she wanted to be, not stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Deep down, Jaclyn knew that she was just complaining. She didn't know how much longer she would last in the Egypt, but archeology was what she wanted to do. Quite frankly, she loved the job too. She loved to discover. She loved the feeling of escaping time itself, the ability to see the world of ages and ages ago.

Maybe, more than anything, it was just because she had been in the same place for too long. She had grown restless. Jaclyn had not been an archeologist for very long. The twenty-nine year old began to wonder if she had an innate nomadic drive for life, growing unimpressed and needing to travel as much of the world as she could during this short life.

Maybe she could look into some of the more settled African countries. Now there was an inviting idea. The idea roused in her a fantastical, daydreaming kind of excitement, but she entertained these thoughts only on the most superficially, fictional way. Who could say, though, maybe some day in the not so distant future she could pick up and move on again.

Finally ripping herself from this imaginary world of make-believe, she prepared to get some work done.

"Hey Mag," Jaclyn uttered, almost with a sense of respite. Friends made this place bearable.

"Hey, girl, howya feelin?"

"Good enough, ya know? Good enough."

"Yeah, I hear ya."

"Hey, so ya know what I was thinking?"

"What's that?"


"Really? You want to head down there?"

"Well ya know, nothing but daydreams, but yeah, why not? I'm sure its an exciting place to work."

"Yeah well watch out, down there. Ya don't want too much excitement."

"Nah, all of the political stuff gets better the further south ya go."

"Well, yeah I think it's a great idea. If the desert bugs you then you've gotta go somewhere that makes ya happy."

"Like I said, just daydreams right now. I complain but that's just because I want something to complain about," Jaclyn laughed. "I'm really not ready to leave this place yet."

Maggie laughed more out of understanding than actual humor. Eight years Jaclyn's elder, Maggie wasn't 'full of experience' but she knew enough of what Jaclyn was saying.

Frank Devaro was the team leader. He pretty much ran the show. Apparently, a few years back, some other excavation made by some other company hinted toward a nearby plot of land that was used for burial. Previous digs had yielded nothing spectacular but the hope was always that you were on the verge of the next great discovery.

Seven hours later, Jaclyn called it a day. Being in the sun always tired her out. Today was relatively boring, but overall it wasn't a boring job. Boring moments were few and far between. It was a strange life she had. Especially since she had a family in town.

Richard and Lizzie back home…now that was a story. When Jaclyn and Rich met, he was studying nuclear medicine. He was just starting his first year as a graduate student. Rich wasn't a smart guy but he was a hard worker. He could have lived up to the graduate studies. He would have made a great doctor too. However, his heart was just not enough into it to choose his career over Jaclyn. Rich decided to take whatever jobs he could get with his bachelors in science and support Jaclyn.

As much of a 'bone-head move' as it seemed at the time (and despite all of the people repeatedly informing him of that) he never regretted it. He never looked back. And it wasn't something that he prided himself on. He just didn't feel that he sacrificed anything for her. He wanted to be with Jaclyn and he was, that was it.

When they first had Lizzie, they still had somewhat of a normal life. They were a typical American family. Jaclyn was working at a history museum and Rich worked at some low budget biological research facility. It wasn't as cool and hi-tech as it sounded. It was just that, a facility where research was conducted.

When Lizzie was born, Jaclyn decided to stay home. She didn't really like working at the museum. Rich had given up his education for her, she figured that she could handle watching Lizzie for a few years. Besides, when Jaclyn found out about the job in Egypt, Rich was more than supportive. Now it was he who stayed home with Lizzie.

The dig site was about a forty minute drive from town, but Jaclyn didn't mind. She got used to the distance after a while. The commute soon became little more than typical trip.

"Hey mom," Lizzie unenthusiastically droned on.

"What, I don't get a kiss now?" Jaclyn asked in a mock hurt voice.

Almost as if baited by some sweet reward, Lizzie jumped up and greeted her mom properly.

"That's more like it."

Suddenly Rich appeared from the kitchen.

"Hey babe, welcome home."

"Hey," the two shared a brief, casual kiss.

"What's for dinner?"

"Roast beef and potatoes."

"Sounds good, I'll be down in a second." Jaclyn ran upstairs to get ready for dinner.

Sometimes Jaclyn wondered how she had gotten a hold of Rich. Rich wasn't a male model. He wasn't the most handsome man she had ever met. But he was attractive. Rich was good looking for an average joe. He had short, jet black hair and a mustache that she thought was silly. Jaclyn was the more lively of the two and it showed through his wardrobe. He wore quiet, simple clothes that made him look all the more intelligent.

More importantly, Rich was just a great guy. She had played around with her share of "bad boys," stupid boyfriends, a-holes and frivolous relationships. All college kids had, male or female. But as she neared the end of her education she really wanted something serious.

She found Rich at a part-time job. Her parents had paid for some of her education. Most of it was eliminated by scholarships. She didn't need to get a career and attend night school. All she needed was a part-time job to afford food. She worked at a café where they sold sandwiches, salads, pizza etc. It marketed toward people on lunch break from the surrounding area. At the time Rich worked two blocks away but he came in very often. He was very timid and shy. He had only had one other serious relationship in his entire life, and even that was brief in duration. It was Jaclyn who made the first move and over time they got to know each other and eventually fell in love.

Although reluctant to admit it, Jaclyn very pretty, herself. Also reluctant to admit it, this was one of the reasons that had first attracted Rich to her. Her long brown hair was light enough that it turned dirty blonde in the summer months. Her long, thin face complemented her slim body. Unfortunately, she could rarely complement the curves that came with that body in her khakis and button down shirts. It mattered little, Rich knew how pretty she was anyway. Besides, they were really past the point where that mattered anyway, despite whatever reason Rich was or wasn't willing to admit he had first noticed her.

Back at work the next day, she could now see further into the eerily thin tomb in which they were digging. Apparently this place was only a few miles from some ancient town. Now, the next step was to dig around and see whatever this burial spot had to offer.

Jaclyn was inside one of the trailers, studying whatever little artifacts were found, as was pretty much the custom. Sometimes, Jaclyn would go outside and help out with the excavation itself, but rarely. Only if it was a slow day and they were digging something particularly interesting.

So far she had seen a bunch of typical items from the typical time period. All of the clay objects that you'd expect to find. The real fun came from being outside and exploring the dug up tomb. Unfortunately, that stuff was finished. They had identified the "resident" and at what point in the timeline he lived. Now, it was just a matter of seeing what else was here and whether or not there would be something particularly interesting about this place.

On the other hand, she was grateful to be out of the sun and into the climate controlled trailer. A comfortable seat and a cold bottle of water, yeah Jaclyn was good to go. All that she was really doing in here was research. Research and studying. She observed each of the articles for anything that made them stick out. She also identified what the object was, what it was used for, anything like that.

For some reason, Frank seemed very excited about this dig. He seemed more anxious. Jaclyn had always held a positive opinion of Frank. He was a pretty good guy and an easy boss. Lately, however, no one seemed to be working fast enough for him.

Who knows, the guy was now in his fifties. He had been doing this for thirty years and still not had his great achievement. Maybe he was just getting restless, maybe he thought that this would finally be his claim to fame. Whatever, it was, Frank wanted to see what was at the bottom of that tomb.

"Maybe he just wants to finish up and get the hell out of here," Jaclyn joked to herself. "Wouldn't blame him…" she laughed, returning to her work.

Reasoning that yesterday was boring and that there was very little to do this day as well, Jaclyn decided to head outside. They were probably getting to the bottom of the tomb. She had might as well be out there when they get to the main attraction.

The ancient tomb yielded all of the things that you would expect to see in such a place. This person wasn't extravagantly rich, but he did okay for himself. There were a few dingy pieces of jewelry laying around. Mostly worn silver and semi-precious stones.

As the objects were being hauled up and out of the excavation site, something had caught Jaclyn's eye.

It was a junky looking pot with a painted red sphere on top. Anywhere else, this would have been mundane, downright boring even. However, it just didn't belong here. This man was buried with some art, whatever wealth that would supposedly help him in the afterlife and some apparently beloved possessions. The ugly potjust didn't belong. Maybe there was something inside it?

If that was the case, Jaclyn didn't want to risk damaging the container as it was hauled up.

She called out to Maggie who was directly in the tomb.

"Hey, Mag….hand me that pot will ya?"

"The one by the table?"

"No, no that clay one standing upright on the floor."


"Be pretty careful with it, alright?"

"Careful? It's just an everyday vase."

"Yeah, which is why it's so weird that its here. I wanna see maybe what's inside."

"Hate to burst you're bubble but it feels empty. Yeah there's nothing in here at all."

"Eh, whatever. I have all day. Might as well play around with it," Jaclyn mused.

"Yeah, guess so."

The pot proved to be a very intriguing use of her time. Jaclyn spent some small amount of time on the predictably valuable artifacts that were found. She immediately returned to the curious little vase. Exploring this humble clay structure was not a waste at all.

"Well that's just interesting…" Jaclyn mumbled to herself.

Back home, she figured that maybe Rich could help out. He knew all of the scientific mumbo-jumbo much better than she did.

The ball had come off of the clay pot. It turned out that the ball was not painted clay. Actually, it was something totally different. This is what had Jaclyn stumped.

"So it's really warm? Maybe it just has a really low specific heat. I mean it's been sitting dormant for thousands of years, obviously there's no chemical reaction going on in there."

"I put it in the fridge an hour ago, and then the freezer! No change. Something internal has to be actually heating the ball."

"And you said that the chemical properties of this material matched no rock formation native to the area?"

"To the country. Plus, I'm pretty sure that if you tested that you'd find that that's no natural rock of any kind."

"Synthetic stone back then?"

"No, I'm not suggesting that. I don't know. I really don't even know, Richard that's why I came to you."

"Sorry, hun but you've got me stumped too."


"Maybe this is the big breakthrough that Frank was looking for. You may have just made a scientific breakthrough."

"Yeah I wish," Jaclyn laughed. "It's gonna turn out to be some prank probably. I bet it's battery operated."

Richard laughed at the thought of marveling over a cheap toy.

"Gotta do something to make work entertaining, right?"