Chapter 2

Meanwhile back in Egypt, Dyspepsia had been given a bedroom of her own at the hotel. The pupils normally have to share, but she’d got her own bedroom because she often stayed up half the night talking to Spookie by FaceTime. That would have kept her room-mate awake if she’d had one.

Back in Sunderland, Spookie and Puss purr-Miau had spent the afternoon chatting away, not just about camels but everything they could think of – which is quite a lot when you realise that by now Puss knows just about everything there is to know.

But Spookie knew that Dyspepsia would be getting in touch by FaceTime shortly, so she went into the kitchen to make a hot drink before pretending to go to bed. She offered to make one for Puss as well, although she knew what the answer would be. She only did it to be polite.

But Puss was glad to settle down for the night and conserve his batteries. He was perfectly content to lie on the mat in front of the fading embers of the fire. It was literally ages since he’d had the chance to be a proper cat and do catty things. So he wanted to make the most of it.

Once in her bedroom, which she normally shares with Dyspepsia, Spookie picked up her smartphone and tuned in. Dyspepsia was unusually excited when she told her about her day. That surprised Spookie, because it sounded like she would have had more fun going along with the rest of the party to visit the Serapeum.

Dyspepsia told Spookie about what she’d seen in the desert – which was actually nothing at all, when you come to think of it. But she told her about the big squares in the satellite photo, and showed her where to find them on Google Earth.

Spookie wasn’t awfully impressed. She knew there were lots of funny things visible all over Egypt in satellite photos. But when you got there, there was nothing to be seen. But she pricked up her ears as soon as Dyspepsia showed her the AG13 button cell she’d found, with its hieroglyphic inscription. That proved it couldn’t be a modern battery thrown away out of a car window.

So the ancient Egyptians really had known about button cells! And Puss’s battery box could have been something he started out with, and not just had installed recently. And that meant one of two things…

Either AG13s hadn’t been invented in recent years, but instead copied from something found in an Egyptian tomb – a fact which the discoverers had kept very quiet about.

Or Puss had carried back the knowledge of how to make AG13s from the present day to ancient Egypt, which was a dangerous thing to do.

It was lucky that the knowledge of batteries and electricity had been lost to mankind in the intervening years, or it could have tied a nasty knot in space-time itself, as Recorded History grappled with the fact that mankind both knew and didn’t know about electricity and what it was capable of. That sort of self-contradiction is called a logic bomb, and it could have blown the space-time manifold wide open.

Spookie said nothing to Dyspepsia about Puss son-of-Miau; how she’d discovered him in a junk shop, and how he’d come to life when she’d put batteries in him. She was determined to keep Puss as a big surprise for Dyspepsia when she got back home.

But when Dyspepsia told Spookie what she’d seen on her geiger counter, the cat nearly hit the ceiling. That whole part of the desert had been seriously radioactive.

Dyspepsia had been wise to get back in the taxi and drive off before she and the taxi driver could absorb a dangerous dose of radiation.

Spookie told Dyspepsia that she’d made a major archaeological discovery. Dyspepsia was so grateful to hear it. All day long she’d tried to be an Egyptologist, doing real scientific research. But Spookie told her not to hope for too much, because nobody was going to believe her.

The trouble with archaeologists, Spookie observed, is that they’re not much good at physics and mathematics. It made them unfit to recognise an isotope separation plant when they saw one.

…to be continued.