A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(14) by Bella Forrest
Yusuf and Hassan pulled up in a black car exactly on time. We all transferred to my grandfather’s shiny white truck, Fariss in the driver’s seat. Soon we’d reached the end of the roads and Fariss began driving the truck over the sand. After half an hour of the bumpy landscape, I was feeling sick. I fixed my eyes straight ahead through the windshield. We had to close all the windows and put the AC on because the sand was flying in.
By the time we arrived at the site, it was noon. The first thing we saw was a spread of large dark green tents erected on a raised area of sand. Arriving at the top gave us full view of the entire camp. Up close, the tents looked sturdy and secure. They were made of thick material that withstood the desert wind. There were also long caravans parked here and there, and I spotted a toilet sign at the very edge of the camp, away from the tents. There were wooden tables fixed into the sand and digging equipment scattered everywhere as people wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts milled about large holes that had been dug into the ground. I made sure my sisters were wearing their hats and headscarves that Bashira had provided as we climbed out from the vehicle and looked around.
“Let’s get set up in the tents first,” Yusuf said. “This way.”
We followed him toward the cluster of tents. He entered the third one that we passed. It was much larger inside than I’d expected. It contained five spacious compartments that were to be our bedrooms while we stayed here. They were comfortable looking, with mattresses on the ground, covered with clean white linens and pillows. Each compartment also contained a cabinet filled with snacks and lots of bottled water.
“As you see, you have a room each,” Yusuf said.
We dumped our stuff in the tent and then walked back outside.
“Girls,” my grandfather said, pointing to the group of static caravans in the distance. “The toilets are over there. They have showers there too.”
I needed to use the bathroom, so I went there with my sisters. It was surprisingly clean inside. The floors were stark white, as were the rest of the furnishings. We used the bathroom, washed our hands and then splashed our faces with water. It had been a long, sticky journey.
When we exited the caravan and crossed the baking-hot sand dunes, my grandfather and Yusuf had already joined the diggers and were overseeing the work they were doing.
“Over here, girls,” my grandfather said on spotting us. He pointed to a wide wooden table that had been fixed in the sand. It was covered with stone objects and ancient-looking artifacts.
“This is everything we’ve unearthed so far that is of interest,” Yusuf said, looking over the table with fascination.
Dafne’s eyes positively lit up as she gazed down at the stone carving of what looked like an eye. She began talking animatedly with my grandfather, while I took Lalia’s hand and we ventured further into the dig site, snaking around holes and looking down at the people digging there. Lalia asked me countless questions—what the names were of the tools they were using, how deep they were going to dig, if there were any snakes or scorpions around—and I tried to answer as best as I could. I kept looking at her and smiling. She didn’t know how cute she looked in her headscarf and oversized sunglasses. I had left my phone in the tent, but I made a note to take a picture of her to show to our mother when we returned.
We wandered around the rest of the site until 2:30pm when it was time for lunch. We headed to a particularly large caravan about half a mile away from the main tent area and, entering, found a long dining table. A delicious aroma wafted toward us from the kitchens round the back. We all sat down to eat and then everyone headed back outside to continue work. We remained outside until evening, and Hassan, my sisters and I even had a go at unearthing some artifacts ourselves under my grandfather’s supervision. As night began to fall, we headed back to the large table where all the artifacts had been piled up. It was fascinating to see everything together in one place.
People had started building a bonfire about thirty feet away from the tents, and Hassan beckoned me over to sit down beside him. My sisters, grandfather, Yusuf and a whole crowd of people gathered round the fire. I was surprised when Yusuf pulled out a giant sack of marshmallows. Soon we were all toasting marshmallows while sipping date and banana smoothies.
We chatted around the fire until about 9pm. By this time, my head was beginning to feel strangely light. I clasped a palm to my forehead. It felt hot. I must’ve stayed outside too long today. I wasn’t used to this heat. I felt like I was coming down with a migraine. I set down my empty cup on the sand and backed away from the fire, which was hot against my face.
“What’s wrong, River?” Hassan asked.
“I think I’ll make it an early night. I have a headache.”
“You should return to the tent and drink lots of water,” my grandfather said.
Yeah, and then need the toilet all night long…
I looked toward Lalia. “Are you coming to bed now? Or will you come later with Dafne?”
She was already standing up and walking over to me. She clutched my hand. “I’ll come now,” she said. Her cheeks were bright red. I felt her forehead—it felt hot too. Her breathing was unsteady.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “Do you need your inhaler?”
“I think I’m okay,” she said, a little too breathlessly.
“Come on, let’s go back… Good night,” I called to everyone sitting around the fire.
“Good night,” they called back, many of whom I hadn’t even spoken to yet.