The Sign Of Numbers
“Sir, We have just had an urgent call from Interpol, and the Superintendent wants you and the Sergeant in his office now!"
“Alright, Constable, thanks, we’ll be right there!” Inspector Albright replied.
“Good morning gentlemen, I’ve just received a Red notice from Interpol stating they need Scotland Yard’s help.” Said the Superintendent.” “There’s an international gang of antique thieves selling stolen Egyptian antiquities throughout Europe!”
“ Superintendent, does Interpol have any mugshots and names of the thieves?” Asked Inspector Albright, sitting by the desk with Sergeant Davidson.
“Yes, they believe one of them is the Master criminal and ringleader, Gerald Kingsman, who has been wanted since 1950, five years now. He has teamed up with experts in antiquities. One of them is an Egyptian professor, Ahmed Nasser.
The Egyptians have asked Interpol to organise two Scotland Yard detectives to come and visit and liaise with their police.” The Superintendent said, smiling proudly.
Both detectives looked at each other in surprise.
“I do hope you won’t disappoint me, detectives!” Said the Super, glaring at them.
“Of course not, sir!” Said the detectives.
“Remember, you are representing Scotland Yard!” The Superintendent said.
“Get your passports and luggage together." He continued: “Your plane to Cairo takes off tomorrow morning at ten o’clock. Both detectives stared at each other in disbelief.
“Good luck, gentlemen.” I will regularly be in contact with the Egyptian police and Interpol.” With that, the two detectives shook hands with the Super and then left the office.
“Ah, well, Sergeant, we better go and tell our wives, and set our alarm clocks for early, tomorrow.” Said the Inspector, patting Sergeant Davidson on the back.
“I don’t think Maureen will be best, pleased, sir, with this being at such short notice!” Said the Sergeant.
“No, Sergeant, I don’t think my wife will be pleased either.” Replied the Inspector. Anyway, I’ll give you a lift home in my car.”
“Thanks, sir!” The Sergeant replied.
The following day at Victoria station platform 3.
“Morning Sergeant, here’s our train to Heathrow.”
“Hello, Inspector!” Replied the Sergeant as both of them looked for a compartment.
“Let’s get in this compartment!” The Inspector shouted, after opening the door; both of them, with their suitcases, climbed on the train as it stopped.
Both detectives took off their Fedoras and trench coats and placed their luggage on the rack above their heads.
“We may as well relax, Sergeant; it’s over an hour to Heathrow.” said the Inspector, lighting a cigarette.
The Sergeant got out a tourist book on Egypt from his coat pocket and started to read it.
“Oh, I see you're determined to learn about Egypt, Sergeant?”
“If I’m going to be there a while, sir, I thought I might as well learn something about it!” Smiled the Sergeant.
“Yes, that makes sense, Sergeant.”
The Inspector replied, dubbing out his cigarette in the ashtray.
“I’m going to have a little nap; let me know when we are coming into Heathrow, Sergeant!” Said the Inspector stretching out his legs on the seat.
“Yes, of course, sir!”
Finally, the train came into Heathrow.
“Flight 333 to Cairo, Egypt at 10 o’clock is at gateway 3, gentlemen!” Said the receptionist pointing in the direction of the departure gate.
“Thank you, miss.” Said Inspector Albright, taking his passport and ticket.
“Okay, Sergeant, let's get on the plane.” The Inspector said.
After arriving at Cairo airport.
"Hello, Inspector Albright and Sergeant Davidson!"
"I am Inspector Bassem Osman.
I've come to drive you to your hotel."
"Thank you, Inspector. " Replied the detectives.
After arriving at the hotel.
"Right, gentlemen, just sign the register. And here are your keys to room number 3." Said the hotel manager.
"I will let you both rest from your long journey, and I will pick you up tomorrow at 9 a.m." "Then We will go to the police station." Said Inspector Bassem.
"Okay, see you tomorrow!" Said Inspector Albright.
"It's okay, we will carry our cases, Albright told the manager as both detectives walked up the stairs.
The Sergeant and Inspector walked to room three, and with their key, they opened the door and walked in. Above them on the ceiling was attached a bladed fan slowly spinning around, ineffectually trying to cool the room. There were two beds next to each other with a patterned rug on the floor and a wardrobe with its door hanging off its hinges.
Lying on one of the beds, the Sergeant asked the Inspector:
" Inspector, don't you think it's a bit of a coincidence that our train platform, the plane flight, gateway, and now our hotel room are all numbered 3?"
"Simply, that is all it is, Sergeant, a coincidence!" Replied the Inspector picking up the room phone.
"Yes, room three here, Can you bring us up a large jug of ice water and some glasses, please?"
"Look, Sergeant, I know you are into all this psychic stuff, but you watch tomorrow; any numbers that come up, I bet they won't be the number 3 again!" Said the Inspector.
Moments later, Knock! Knock! The Inspector opened the door.
"Thank you for the water.” Said the Inspector, tipping the man some change.
"Boy, I needed that." Said the Inspector drinking up his ice-cold water.
"You can freshen up in the bathroom first if you like, Sergeant!"
"Thanks, sir." Replied the Sergeant, getting up from the bed to grab a towel and his toiletries.
"Okay, that's me cleaned up!" Said the Inspector.
"I've just checked my watch; it’s after 11 p.m. Better we turn in now, so we're nice and fresh for the morning."
"Yes, I need a good night's sleep!" The Sergeant said, yawning.
"I trust you both had a good night's rest?" Asked Inspector Bassem.
"Yes, breakfast was good too." Said the Inspector, with the Sergeant nodding in agreement.
"Then I will now take you both to the police station!"
"Here we are gentlemen, It may not be as sophisticated as your famous, Scotland Yard, but we still catch the criminal." Said the Inspector laughing.
"Yes, I'm sure you do,'' smiled the Inspector.
"It's not the room that counts; it’s the people in it!" Laughed the Sergeant.
The Sergeant blushed a little when he saw Inspector Albright stare at him.
"Yes, Sergeant, that is very true." Replied Inspector Bassem.
"Please come into my office and sit down, both of you.” Asked the Inspector.
“Would you like a drink, tea, coffee, or water?” He added.
“Yes, Tea is fine.” Both detectives answered.
“Now, Scotland Yard detectives, I hope you can help us catch these criminals!” Kingsman enlisted the help of our Professor Ahmed Nasser and four other experts to steal our pyramid antiquities.
"Kingsman has a degree in archaeology and has used his knowledge to know what dealers are after. And how much they are willing to pay for certain Egyptian artifacts.
"So, if we can find out who any of these dealers are, it could be the link to capturing these crooks, especially Kingsman!" Replied Inspector Albright, unsuccessfully lighting a cigarette.
"Here, Inspector, let me!" Said Inspector Bassem, using his lighter to light the cigarette.
"Thanks!" said Inspector Albright.
"We know of such dealers in Egypt who wouldn't hesitate to buy these artifacts, but they know my men are watching them!"
"Do we know how many artifacts they stole, and how much would they sell for on the black market?" Asked the Inspector, sipping his tea.
"It is believed that there were 300 antiquities stolen, and they are estimated to be worth three-hundred thousand pounds!" Said Inspector Bassem.
Both the Inspector and Sergeant glanced at each other and started choking. Struggling to get their composure as they both violently coughed when drinking their tea.
"Oh, I am sorry if that shocks you both, detectives!" Remarked Inspector Bassem.
"That's okay, Inspector Bassem. I tried to swallow too much tea!"
"Funny how you and the Sergeant choked at the same time?" Smiled Bassem, glaring at the detectives.
“So, gentlemen, I will take you now on a little trip through Cairo.”Said Bassem getting up from his desk.
“Where are we going, Bassem?” Asked the Inspector.
“I am going to show you the scene of the crime, as it were!” Bassem answered, climbing into his jeep.
"Please get in, gentlemen!" He said.
“First, I will fill these canteens with water and get more petrol for my jeep.
"Detectives, we are visiting The Three Pyramids of Giza, and nearby is a tomb that was looted and defiled by the thieves we are after!"
The Sergeant smiled at the Inspector and said:
"The Three Pyramids Of Giza, interesting?"
"Now, Sergeant, behave yourself!" The inspector said, glaring at him.
"How long will it take to get there, Inspector?" Asked the Sergeant.
"A couple of hours, maybe less," Bassem said as they got in the jeep.
"It is about forty degrees today, so we will need lots of water, especially when we enter the desert."
Said Inspector Bassem.
"Off we go!" Said Bassem driving away.
Some two hours had passed when there in front of them:
“Can you see the splendid sight, gentlemen?" Inspector Bassem pointed to the pyramids just a few miles away.
"Alright, here we are!” Bassem said, stopping the jeep.
"Please carry your watering cans at all times, detectives.” He said, handing them over to each of them.
"The tallest pyramid, the one at the back, is where we must go," Bassem said.
"They are impressive, Inspector!" Shouted Inspector Albright as they walked in the desert sand.
"Yes, Inspector Albright. I have seen them hundreds of times, and still, I am in awe of them!" Bassem replied, staring up at the pyramids, with his hand over his forehead blocking the sun’s rays.
“Sir, I don’t know how the Egyptians withstand this heat!” Said the Sergeant, taking a drink from his canteen; as he panted, with sweat dripping down his face.
“It’s a case of having to, Sergeant,” said Inspector Albright, turning around to help pull the Sergeant up onto a small rock.
“Just a little further, detectives.” Said Bassem, stopping to take some sips of water from his canteen.
“Look there!” pointed Bassem to a cave entrance. “That’s where the tomb is; where they stole everything and smashed the tomb to pieces!”
The three of them finally reached the tomb entrance.
“Just inside are some oil lamps so we can see inside the tomb.” Said Inspector Bassem.
“Follow me,” he said.
“So, this is where they stole all the antiquities, Bassem?” Asked the Sergeant holding his lamp over a damaged sarcophagus.
“Yes, they left nothing, the evil dogs!” Bassem said, his voice echoing throughout the cave.
It’s certainly much cooler here than outside!” Said the Sergeant.
"Sergeant! Please be still! do not move an inch!" Said Bassem, nervously grabbing his truncheon.
The Sergeant began to shake as he caught sight of a large, black scorpion on his right shoulder. Swiftly, Bassem knocked the poisonous scorpion off the Sergeant's shoulder, onto the floor, then proceeded to whack it until it was dead.
Sergeant Davidson quickly moved to the side and gave out a deep breath.
"Thank you, Inspector!" Shouted Davidson.
“Inspector Bassem, have you got an inventory of what was in here?” Asked Inspector Albright.
“Yes, I will give you a copy of the inventory and photos of the artifacts when we get back to the Police station.” Replied Bassem.
“Let's go now,” said Inspector Bassem.
After some two-hour drive, the policemen arrived back at the station.
“Here is the inventory Inspector Albright.” Thank you, Inspector Bassem.
“Would you both like tea?” Asked Bassem.
“Yes, that would be fine.”
Both the detectives sat by the desk, looking at the artifact's inventory.
“Now, have you the photos of the artifacts?” The Inspector asked.
“Yes, here they are!” replied Bassem.
“ Inspector Bassem, we are going to need a copy of each photo of every artifact for our records.” Said Albright.
“Luckily, Inspector, we made copies of all the photos days before you arrived here!” Replied Bassem, smiling as he asked a constable to bring him the box containing, 300 photos of the artifacts.
“Great job,” said the Sergeant, as the constable handed him a metal box.
“Sergeant, I want us to familiarise ourselves with a photo of each artifact. We will be here some time, but it's got to be done."Said the Inspector.
“I will get my constable to bring you refreshments, food, and drink," Bassem said eagerly.
A few hours later.
“Detectives, I’ve just had a call from Interpol; they say Kingsman is now in Amsterdam!"
“Thank you, Bassem. Can you organise a flight for Amsterdam?” Asked Inspector Albright.
“The earliest flight to Amsterdam is noon tomorrow, Inspector.” Replied Inspector Bassem.
“Thank you; It’s nearly ten now; we better get back to the hotel, Sergeant!” Said the Inspector.
“I Will give you both a lift to your hotel now.” Said Bassem.”
“Thank you,” said the Inspector.
“Tomorrow, I will call you and meet you both at the hotel. After that, I will then drive you to the airport!”
Said Inspector Bassem, stopping his jeep outside the detective’s hotel.
After arriving at the airport and showing their passports, the two detectives sat waiting for the announcement through the tannoy for boarding their plane to the Netherlands.
"Now we know Kingsman is in Amsterdam; we have a chance of getting the slippery eel." Said Inspector Albright.
"Yes, Inspector, but it won't be that easy!" Replied the Sergeant, putting down his glass of water.
"Well, we know all the dealers he could contact. And the Dutch police have now a record of all the artifacts and photographs to show the dealers, so they know what to look out for." Said the Inspector.
Just then, there was an announcement on the tannoy.
"Will all those passengers for flight 501 to Amsterdam please go to gate seven right away. Thank you!"
"You see, I knew the numbers would start changing."
" It's a load of twaddle, Sergeant!" Said the Inspector.
" Good morning, gentlemen!" Said the Stewardess.
"Sergeant, you've got the tickets for the seat numbers; show them to the Stewardess?" The Inspector said.
"Your seats are over here," said the Stewardess pointing to seat numbers 19 and 20.
"There you are, Sergeant, that clinches it, not a '3' insight." Said the Inspector proudly, as both of them sat down.
"What get's me, Sergeant, is why would Kingsman risk getting caught himself, taking the artifacts to sell in Amsterdam, when he could get someone else to do it for him?"
"I have a hunch Kingsman isn't in Amsterdam. Maybe someone who looks like him is there." I believe there are only two places he could hide all those artifacts: One -in a large warehouse or two -in What do ships carry other than passengers?" Asked the inspector.
"Cargo!" Said the Sergeant, that's it, sir, you've done it! 'Freight containers the detectives shouted!" Just then, all the passengers looked around at them.
Suddenly the plane's engines started up.
"Sir!" said the Sergeant; the plane's started its engines.
"Oh, quickly tell the Stewardess to stop the pilot from taking off!" Shouted the Inspector.
Finally, the Stewardess opened the plane door to let both detectives off the plane.
Back in Cairo airport.
"Sergeant, quickly, phone Bassem and ask him to pick us up."
"Detectives, please sit down." Asked Inspector Bassem.
"I will call my constable to get you drinks," he continued.
"Thank you," the detectives said.
"Now, on the way to the station, you asked where the nearest ports are?" Said Bassem.
"Yes, Inspector," I believe the artifacts are hidden in either a large warehouse or a freight container.
"The largest container port is in Damietta."
"It will take us two to three hours to get there." Said Bassem.
"First, you must book into your hotel again, and then
I will get more water and fill my jeep up with more fuel."
About an hour later, the detectives embarked on their journey to Damietta.
After an hour into the journey, the Sergeant asked:
"How much longer, Bassem?" He said, wiping his forehead with a wet handkerchief.
"Don't worry, Sergeant, we will be there soon!"
"Inspector, are you okay?"
"Yes, Bassem, it does seem hotter than before when we went to the tomb."
"I'm afraid you are right; it is forty-five degrees today," Bassem replied.
Another hour passed when.
"There, just a few miles away, I can see the port," Bassem shouted.
"Here we are!" Bassem said, stopping his jeep outside the port
"It's massive!" Shouted the Sergeant. "How the heck are we going to find Kingsman in this?"
"Firstly, let us find the ships!" Said Inspector Albright.
Moments later, they came up to a large cargo ship from which a couple of men looked down at them. One of them seems to panic, and they both ran.
"That's it," said Albright. "That's where Kingsman is!"
The detectives rushed to the cargo ship, then up the gangway. One of the men they saw earlier then started shooting at them.
Just as they bent down behind some boxes, a gang of men jumped them.
"Sergeant, run for it and get help!" shouted Albright.
Suddenly, someone said: "halt!" A group of policemen grabbed the Sergeant.
"It's okay, we've captured Kingsman one of the policemen said.
"They are bringing him down now!"
"Kingsman!" Where are the inspectors?" Asked the Sergeant.
"They are in one of the containers, find them yourself, copper!"
"We will never find them; there are hundreds of containers!"
Said a policeman.
"I have an idea where they might be!" Replied the Sergeant.
"Here we are, officers, container number 3!" The officers stared at him in disbelief as they opened the container.
There in the container were Inspector Albright and Inspector Bassem looking at some of the stolen antiquities with their lighters.
The Sergeant smiled at them and said:
"Three was always my lucky number!"