Rated 13 and up for language
Springtime for Deathtraps
By Marjorie James
The building sat in a small clearing in the jungle, its stone walls radiating solidity and the midday heat. Giant statues of warrior-gods crushing skulls beneath their feet flanked the doorway. Xnab looked from the ornately carved keyhole to his customer and back again.
“And the key is where, exactly?” he asked.
“In the treasure chamber,” the big man said in a small voice. “We had just finished putting everything away and, well, it had been a long day. I think I must have put the key down on the altar or something. The problem is, the place locks automatically, and our entire fortune is in there. We had a few locksmiths out to work on it, but they didn’t get very far.”
Xnab nodded. He had already noticed the blood spatter around the keyhole.
“So that’s why we called you. Everyone said that if anybody could get in there, it would be you.”
Xnab accepted that, not as a compliment, but a statement of fact. He was a specialist the design and construction of booby traps, deadfalls and other, largely fatal, security options. He was a small man, thin and wiry, his shaved head still smooth and unwrinkled despite years of working in the sun. Despite making a very good living, he wore a plain tunic and no adornments at all. In his business, he considered it a bad idea to have anything extra hanging around, and he was very good at his business. In fact, anyone who knew anything considered Xnab the best death trap designer alive.
Which typically would have been reason enough to turn down a job like this, but in this case it was actually why he was there.
“How long have you owned the temple?” he asked the man, who had introduced himself as Tuak.
“Just a couple of months, actually,” Tuak admitted. “It’s not really a temple. I think the statues of the gods are just there for show. The family who used to have it used it to store their treasures and they spared no expense on the security.” He sighed heavily and stared up at the tiers of stone vanishing into the jungle. “It seemed like a good idea when we bought it.”