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He was no longer aware of the nurses as they checked his pulse, adjusted the sheets, and shook their heads sadly at his condition.

He was no longer aware of his wife, sitting by his bedside, lost in despair.

He burned.

The air, to him, seemed dry and hot. Familiar. He had spent so many years breathing that air, far from the land of his birth, the sand underfoot and the heady scent of spices on the breeze.

Underneath the spice, there was another smell. A dusty, musty scent. The aroma of air that had lain undisturbed for centuries. The smell of the tomb.

Before his eyes, he saw once more the sparkle of those marvellous treasures. Gold and ebony. Riches beyond imagination.

He smiled in his fever. He did not need to imagine those marvels. He had seen them. Touched them. Packed them into wooden crates and brought them home to be shown to the civilised world.

His breath came harder now. He burned all over, an unnatural fire that spread from one tiny spot on his neck. He heard the insect buzz again, felt its bite once more. The fire spread uncontrollably and his extremities twitched.

There was someone else in the room. An imposing figure, despite its youth. A golden child with a stern, impassive face.

“Death shall come on swift wings,” the Pharoah said, “To him who would disturb the peace of the King.”

© Kari Fay