Ch. 6 excerpt

by Carolee

 

March 2008

 

“This time, try putting the gold pyramid part in quotes,” Courtney suggested excitedly over Holly’s Bluetooth.

 

“I’m pretty sure I tried that already,” Holly answered, her attention on the screen. “Try it again then, just in case,” Courtney encouraged. “For me?” Holly obliged with a small sigh, and a page of hits came back. It wasn’t a large number, but they only needed that one, the key that would let them in. They’d been trying off and on for weeks, working in shifts when they had any free time at all.

 

Two-thirds of the way down the page, one of the links wasn’t like the others. “Okay, I think we’ve finally got a contender,” Holly replied, eyes widening. “It’s totally blank.” She was looking at a page of solid black nothingness. It just sat there. Who pays to register a domain and goes to the trouble of creating a black page but doesn’t populate it with so much as a “coming soon” message? She moused around the screen, trying to find a link. Selected the page to see if there was any black-on-black text hidden there. No dice. It was just… empty. “I’m not sure what I’ve got here,” she added, distracted.

 

“Blank? It could be something, I guess. I’m on my way there now. Just finished my last class of the day. See what you can figure out in the meantime.”

 

“Will do,” she replied, and they hung up. Holly regarded the screen, willing it to speak to her.

 

Then there was a brief flash of the pyramid, just half a second, barely registering on her consciousness. She gasped. This was definitely the site. It had to be.

 

She waited to see if the flash would come again. It did, and this time Holly noticed something else. For that brief moment, she’d seen the cursor turn into a pointing hand, and she knew she’d figured out the way in. The next time it appeared, she tried to click on the image while it was there. “Damn,” she said, as it just barely eluded her. She moved her desk clock to where she could see it in her peripheral vision, trying to figure a pattern, but looking at the clock was distracting her from the page just long enough to be unable to click in time.

 

About half an hour later, Courtney rang the doorbell.

 

“It’s open,” called Holly, still focused on the screen. Flash. Click. Damn. She turned from her chair as Courtney came into the room and looked at the screen over Holly’s shoulder. “What-cha got?” she asked Holly.
 
 

 

“About a minute and a half left to explain before I need to get ready again is what I’ve got,” replied Holly. “The page is blank most of the time, but there’s a flash of a pyramid graphic every two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. The cursor changes when it’s there so I think we just need to click on it, but I can’t seem to do it!”

 

Courtney stood and watched for the next flash. “Okay, I think I can do this,” she said with a smile. Dramatically gesturing as if to crack her knuckles and roll up her sleeves, she gave Holly a wink. “All that quality time with the PS3 is finally going to pay off,” she laughed. “You watch the clock and give me five seconds of warning.”

 

They waited quietly. “Okay, five,” said Holly finally. Courtney clicked. Success!

 

“HOW did you do that?” asked Holly, exasperated but thrilled. Courtney didn’t answer, as they watched to see what would happen. First the pyramid stayed on the screen, then it faded into the background as a message appeared. “Welcome to the Society of the Pyramid,” it read. “Loading…” A progress bar went across the page.

 

After a second, a new page appeared. “We’re in, we’re in!” shouted Holly. “It’s about time,” replied Courtney. “We’ve only been looking for this for, like, ever.”

 

The two friends spent the evening reading every page they could find on the web site. It had begun as a rumor, that an ancient pyramid-shaped device was out there somewhere and that it had a magical power to make you beautiful, powerful, rich, all sorts of things. Some called it a cult, some called it a “society” and most people called it a scam. But Holly and Courtney loved the mythology, and had decided that it was worth investigating. Courtney had even audited an Egyptology class the following semester to see whether the pyramid was mentioned as part of King Tut’s treasure. Not a word.

 

It was mostly the level of secrecy surrounding the society that intrigued them. A group that had an agenda to promote wouldn’t make themselves so difficult to be found. But this group seemed to be nearly off the web radar. It was only through a chance encounter at a party last year that they even knew it existed. Now after all their effort, it was time to find out what “it” really was.

 

They read page after page of hints and rumors, second-hand accounts and warnings, painstakingly gathered from dozens of possible possessions. It appeared that somehow the object had been “finding” people on its own for centuries, and that it brought tremendous luck, both good and bad. Some even suggested that certain significant historical figures had kept it at some point, including the inevitable Elvis sighting. It was wild rumors like these that kept the Society of the Pyramid small even when people did happen across it.

 

An overview page suggested that people who were in possession of the pyramid were victims of terrible visions, but their outward appearances changed overnight. They seemed to become beautiful and their desires started to come true… then things went bad. And records went fuzzy. The stories had two things in common: all were told by people other than those who had actually owned the pyramid, and the longer the person had the magic object, the worse things turned out for them in the end.

 

The fact that there were friends, confidants, and others who had seen it meant that in theory it couldn’t kill or hurt people who had simply seen the ancient device. There was so much information to absorb, Holly and Courtney filled a small notebook with everything they’d learned. This included the fact that a few dozen people believed in the power of the theoretical object and had made it their life’s work to find it. They decided to join their ranks and look too. As most searchers had done, the two bound themselves together with an oath to be lifelong “society buddies” and always protect each other from being drawn into the wrath of the pyramid if one of them happened upon it.

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