Tyler grinned at Mom around a mouthful of delicious cold, fried chicken. They also had potato salad, lemonade, and brownies to finish before their picnic at the beach was over. They were sitting on the red, blue, and green beach blanket munching and listening to the waves lick the sand.
“Better hurry up,” Mom said. “I don’t like the look of that sky.”
Tyler looked up and sure enough, the sky was quickly filling with angry greyish-green looking clouds. He hoped they would be able to finish before it started raining.
A gust of wind rushed past them and Mom’s big straw hat with the silly purple flower lifted into the air like a flying saucer and went rolling down the beach.
“Come back!” Mom screamed, dropping her chicken and racing after the straw and purple flowered missile. Tyler giggled as he watched streak away, flip-flops slapping against the bottom of her feet as she went.
When he turned back to the picnic basket to grab one last piece of chicken, he saw an amazing sight. A cloud seemed to be moving down the beach. Tyler only had a moment to try to figure out how this could be when the cloud surrounded him. It wasn’t wet as he expected, but dry and stinging, like a million-billion little needles stinging his face and arms and chest.
The wind had started a sandstorm andTyler was caught in the middle of it. Worse than that, so was Mom. He had to find and rescue her.
Thinking quickly, he grabbed a blue and white checked napkin and tied it bandit-style over his nose and mouth, so he could breathe without inhaling lungfuls of grit. Then he jumped up and started off down the beach.
With the sand blowing like it was, he could only see a few feet in front of his face. Maybe if he were higher up, he could see above the swirling bits. He climbed a small sand dune, placed his hand above his eyes to block the grit, and turned around in a circle like a lighthouse.
Suddenly, the sand dune moved beneathTyler and began to rise. Tyler lost his balance and fell on his butt. He hadn’t climbed a sand dune after all but the back of a sleeping camel. The camel stood, spat into the blowing sand, and looked back at Tyler. The boy grabbed the beast’s reins and slapped them lightly against the animal’s back. The camel started forward. Tyler guided the camel down the beach in the direction Mom had run.
They moved at a steady pace until Tyler got impatient and slapped the camel’s back with the reins. Instead of moving a little faster, the beast broke into a full run.
Ahead of them, the ground fell away. They were headed straight for the edge of a cliff. Tyler frantically tugged on the reins screaming, “Whoa! Stop! Halt!” Nothing worked.
The edge of the cliff loomed closer, andTyler broke out in a cold sweat. Just before reaching the edge, the camel stopped dead in its tracks. Tyler lost his grip on the reins and flew over the camel’s head and off the cliff.
In the valley next to the cliff sat an enormous pyramid. Tyler was headed straight for it. He only had a second or two before he would be splatted against the side of the building.
“Open sesame,”Tyler bellowed at the last possible moment.
A block in the pyramid slid aside, and he sailed through the opening. He landed with a thump in a pile of gold coins and jeweled goblets. The light was dim inside the small chamber, butTyler could make out funny looking furniture and a huge brightly painted sarcophagus standing upright in the center of the room.
As Tyler got to his feet, a hissing and jingling caught his ear. An enormous king cobra slithered over the pile of gold coins and headed straight for him. Tyler darted behind the sarcophagus. The snake popped its head around the side and struck at the boy. Tyler continued around to the front of the burial box and pushed with all his might. The sarcophagus teetered and finally fell, squishing the snake beneath it. The impact broke the ancient seal and the lid slid partially off. Tyler’s eyes grew wide as a hand wrapped in dirty grey rags reached up, gripped the lid and pushed it off onto the floor.
Tyler watched in horror as a mummy, wrapped head to toe in filthy bandages rose and started after him.
Tyler backed up until he felt the edge of the window bump his legs. The mummy reached out and grasped the boy’s shoulder. Tyler looked up into the rotting face of the dead pharaoh. The mummy took another step toward him, Tyler took another a step back, slipped on the sandy floor and fell out. Tyler reached out to try to steady himself and gripped a loose end of the mummy’s wrapping. It unraveled asTyler tumbled down the side of the pyramid, and the boy became entangled in the filthy cloth. When he came to rest at the base, he looked like a mummy himself.
A group of people in white robes and head gear surrounded him.
“Hail the risen Pharaoh,” someone shouted. “He has come back from the dead to lead us.”
Tyler couldn’t believe his ears. Before he could protest, they lifted him into a chair that they carried on their shoulders. He watched in astonishment through a tiny slit in the rags over his eyes while nomads came from every direction and joined the procession as they carried Tyler to a great palace.
Inside, a huge feast was arranged as they transferred Tyler to a mighty gold throne. An endless line of people carried food and jewels and clothes up to Tyler, bowed, laid the gifts at his feet and retreated.
The enormous room was packed with people. The temperature rose quickly, and Tyler was drenched in sweat beneath his mummy wrappings. A hush fell over the throng as the boy began unwrapping himself. The cooler air felt wonderful against his skin. When he finished, he stood before them in his swim trunks, tank top, and flip flops.
“Impostor,” someone shouted. Soon they were all pointing and screaming, scrambling to take back the gifts.
Two men grabbed Tyler by the arms and dragged him kicking and screaming out of the palace and onto a great stone terrace. They plunked him down on a red, blue and green rug in front of a judge who proclaimed that the penalty for impersonating a resurrected king was beheading.
“But, I didn’t…” Tyler began.
“Silence!” the judge roared.
An enormous man with a huge curved sword stepped up next to the kneeling boy.
At least I won ‘t have to brush my teeth anymore, Tyler thought sickly. But, what about Mom? I still have to rescue her from the sandstorm.
The executioner raised the sword high over his head and prepared to swing when a gust of wind passed through enveloping the crowd in silvery sand.
“Abracadabra,” Tyler said. At that, the red, blue, and green carpet on which the boy knelt, rose from the ground, hovered above the howling crowd and zipped off.
The red, blue, and green carpet carried Tyler over the palace and past the pyramid. The camel looked up from grazing on the cliff and snorted as the boy flew past. Suddenly, the carpet banked left and began a steep dive down toward the beach.
The carpet accelerated as it swooped down, and Tyler closed his eyes. Wind and sand hooted and howled in his ears, and a seagull squawked and did a triple somersault in the wake of the out of control carpet.
“Whooooaaaaaa,” Tyler shrieked. A split second before impact, the carpet abruptly slowed and landed gently on the beach.
Tyler opened his eyes and found himself seated on their red, blue, and green beach blanket. Just then, the wind died down and the sand began to settle. Mom was just getting back, brushing sand out of her hair with her fingers and shaking her hat.
“What a mess,” Mom cried, gazing down at their plates of chicken and potato salad which were now covered in sand.
“Oh,Tyler, I’m so sorry our picnic was ruined,” she said.
Tyler threw his arms around her waist and hugged her as tight as he could.
“That’s okay, I had a great time,” he said. “After all, a little bit of sand never hurt anybody.”