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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 25 page 21

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Jasmin blushed, then stood tall. “Samir likes it rough, and so do I, not that it’s any of your concern,” she said haughtily, walking away. Helen and Darya exchanged glances and tried not to giggle.

“Is Maria coming?” asked Helen.

“She told me she would be along in a minute. She insisted on finding a bathing suit to wear,” said Darya.

Helen let herself relax in the warm water and closed her eyes and luxuriated while the other women took turns having their scrub-downs and massages. Darya’s head poked around one of the pillars surrounding the pool. “Helen, now it’s your turn!”

Helen reluctantly dragged herself out of the pool and the attendant asked her to stretch out on the heated marble slab. Her entire body was lathered down and then scrubbed with something akin to a cheese grater. It was at once painful and exhilarating. All of Helen’s nooks and crannies were buffed and then a bucket of warm water was thrown over her head. She got soap in her eyes and gasped. Another lathering down and the water torture again and then came the massage. Helen had never felt so relaxed or clean. It was over far too quickly and as she lay there she noticed how quiet the surroundings had become. The wedding party had left — wait, everyone had left! The attendant had ducked out a side door to have a cigarette. Helen was alone in the spa.

Helen was just having a quick rinse under a shower to get the massage oil off and she felt a presence behind her. She swerved around to see a flash of black burqa robes. Must be one of the wedding party, she thought. Then suddenly the figure in black leaped out from behind a pillar, and Helen saw a glint of steel like a dagger. She tried to scream but no noise came out. At that precise moment, the spa attendant came in through the side door. The burqa figure panicked, turned and ran out through the spa doors.

“She had a knife!” Helen cried out.

“Who? What are you talking about?” said the attendant, laughing. “We are the only ones here. You must be dizzy. Will that be cash or shall I charge to your room?”

Helen sank onto a bench, feeling faint. “I’ll pay cash.”

So much for the calming massage, now she was a nervous wreck. She raced back to her room and locked every lock that could be locked. She pushed a heavy chair in front of the door for good measure. Before she had time to even fathom what had happened, there came a tap on the door.

“Room service.”

Helen froze. “I didn’t order anything. Go away.”

A note slid through, under the door. It read, “I am a friend of Aslan’s. Please let me in.”

“Prove it!”

“Look through the peephole,” the man’s voice said.

Helen looked through the hole at a young man wearing a waiter’s uniform and holding out a police I.D. just like Aslan’s.

She cautiously let him, and the empty tray he was carrying, in.

“Aslan asked me to bring you up to date. Another agent and I will be closely following you and the tour group to make sure you are safe.”

“I could have used your help twenty minutes ago when some crazy woman in the spa tried to stab me!” Helen cried. “I can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt me personally.”

“I will replace my colleague with a female agent so that this cannot happen again. You will be protected. Try to get some rest. I’m going to check the camera footage of the spa right now,” he said confidently.

A fitful sleep plagued Helen and all too soon it was morning and now she was boarding the bus for the tour to Heiropolis.

“Where is Maria? I didn’t see her at breakfast,” she asked Bruce.

“The old girl has a bit of a dodgy tummy, I’m afraid,” said Bruce. “She wants to stay at the hotel this morning and rest.”

Jasmin announced that Samir too, was not feeling well, so off they drove with the group, now down to four of them and their guide.

<CONT...>