Sheikh Omar covered his face with his scarf and looked through the gap in the temple wall. Excellent, he thought. The late arrivals were being seated. Let the show begin!
A hush fell over the excited spectators, anticipation growing with every heartbeat. Then, softly at first, Verdi’s stirring music began to rise up. Instead of a parting curtain, beams of coloured light washed over the stage. Slowly, the performers materialised out of the gloom and the spellbound audience began to clap and cheer.
The high priest, Ramfis, an Italian bass, was telling the Captain of the Guard, Radames, a famous American tenor, that the gods had already made their choice. Celeste Aida, the sublime aria, brought the house down.
‘I don’t like it,’ muttered Haddad, scanning the empty space under the TV transmission towers with his opera glasses. He was searching in vain for the security guards supposed to patrol that area.
‘But he was magnificent,’ protested Jana, applauding enthusiastically.
‘I’m not talking about the singing.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Gut feeling; you know how it is. After a while you see trouble brewing everywhere,’ replied Haddad quietly, without removing his glasses. ‘This place is one big trap and we are sitting right in the middle of it.’