Friday 10 February 2012

Friday Flash - Anonymous

Photo from Popular Archaeology

Maria scrawled her signature on the form, and handed the clipboard back to the courier. He scurried out of the lab, leaving her and Tom with the coffin.

"Where exactly did Sasha find this?" asked Maria. She ran her hands across the smooth wood.

"There was a stone sarcophagus in a sub-chamber of the main tomb. Total accident they came across it, apparently there was a false wall, or something. Here, she took some photos of the sarcophagus itself.”

Tom handed her a sheaf of photos. Maria flicked through them. Her brow knitted and her lips pursed as she got further through the stack.

“But the sarcophagus is blank. No carvings, no paintings, no nothing.”

“I know. Just like the coffin. So we have no idea who’s in it.” Tom glanced at the coffin. At seven feet long and three feet wide, it was the largest coffin he’d ever seen. He hoped it would fit in the CT scanner.

“We’ll find out soon enough. Can you help me get it into the CT?”

With much huffing, puffing and swearing, Tom and Maria manoeuvred the coffin into the scanner. Maria pressed buttons on the console and the machine began to hum. She was glad the department had found the funds to buy a full scanner. She hated the old ones, scanning only a portion at a time.

“Was there anything in the chamber at all with it?” asked Maria.

“Apart from a staff, no. The walls were completely bare, too. This guy clearly mattered enough to be mummified, but it’s like they were ashamed of him, and didn’t want him going into the afterlife with everyone else.”

Tom pulled on a pair of white cotton gloves and lifted the staff out of a long case on the table. Maria whistled. Normally wood deteriorated over time, even in the largely airless environment of a tomb, but the staff looked like it had only been carved yesterday. A hunk of black rock, the size of an egg and polished to a smooth finish, nestled between the two prongs at the top of the staff.

“What kind of wood is that?” asked Maria.

“No idea. We’re going to submit it for testing. Sasha thought the rock was obsidian but I’m not so sure. It’s the wrong area for obsidian.”

The machine beeped to announce it was ready to go.

“Right, let’s see who we have.” Maria pressed another button and the coffin slid into the scanner. Tom moved closer to see the screen.

“Bloody hell,” he murmured.

The screen displayed a tall figure, male by its size and proportions, and clearly well-built in his day. Maria imagined a seven foot tall Henry Cavill.

“Hang you see anything strange or am I imagining things?” asked Tom. He pointed at the legs.

“His feet...they’re incredibly misshapen. You can hardly tell they’re feet at all. I wonder if it was a birth defect of some kind? Perhaps he was a genetic mutation. That would certainly explain his height...and possibly why he needed the staff,” mused Maria.

“And look here,” said Tom, pointing further up.

“Are those stumps on his shoulders? I’ve seen them at the base of the spine when individuals have had vestigial tails, but never on the shoulders.”

“The tomb was for a prince, so maybe this side chamber was for another member of the royal family, but one they weren’t proud of. Look at his face – the poor guy has a deformed skull along his hairline.” Tom pointed out two jagged stumps about three inches up his forehead from his eye sockets.

“Poor guy. I just wish they’d put his name on the coffin so we can return him to his rightful place in history.”

Tom sneezed, and the staff fell from his hand. It clattered against the floor, and Maria gasped to see sparks between the tiles and the black egg-shaped rock. Tom bent to pick up the staff. The lights dimmed, and the computer screens crackled. Her own machine displayed an unwelcome blue screen. She moved away from the scanner to read the error message but Tom caught her arm.

“Look,” he whispered. He gestured at the screen.

The lips of the figure curved upwards, and sparks glittered in the depths of the sockets. Maria’s mouth dropped open. She looked from the screen to the scanner.

A thump, of a fist against wood, came from inside the coffin.


Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Icy! Absolutely loved this. Sharp as a tack! One of my favourites of yours and that's saying a lot.

Tony Noland said...

Marvelous! I love the clinical analysis of the CT, and the mix of old and new. Just terrific!

Laurita said...

You just can't keep that guy down. Loved the combination of two very different sorts of tales. A fresh new twist.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Oh, noes! Now they've gone and done it. I like the way you worked in clues to the identity through the description of the scan.

nerinedorman said...

Creepy! Is that a nephilim in the box or are you just happy to see me? :D

Icy Sedgwick said...

Cathy - I did say I'd do a mummy story!

Tony - I hadn't done a juxtaposition in a while!

Laurita - Glad you liked it!

Tim - It's all about the discovery!

Nerine - Maaaaaybe...

Anonymous said...

I missed my dose of Icy fiction during my few weeks away and it's good to be back. Great flash, full of suspense and anticipation. Now I know why my mum had to wait two days for a ct scan in hospital.

Craig Smith said...

Gripping stuff! I'm sure they will find out his identity quite soon. Perfectly matched photo too.

Katherine Hajer said...

Haven't read a good old-fashioned "shouldn't have dug that up" story in a while -- thank you. I wonder hlw you write "Don't even think about opening this" in hieroglyphics?

Did you find the photo before or after you wrote the story? It's a great illustration.

Anonymous said...

That was fantastic! I literally got chills when he grinned. Excellent job this week, Ms. Icy!

Anonymous said...

Ouh, good job on building up the suspense - this would work so well as a film, too:)

Sonya said...

This is freaking awesome, I love it!

Dorothy F. Shaw said...

Fantastic, Icy. Now I want more. ;)

Steve Green said...

Devilish writing. Bwuhahahaha!

Anonymous said...

The monster wakes!


Anonymous said...

The grin...fantastic! And EVIL to end it there! :)

Helen A. Howell said...

Oh very creepy - you can't leave us hanging like that! Loved it Icy and this line made me smile "Maria imagined a seven foot tall Henry Cavill." ^__^

Anonymous said...

You always write historical fiction so well. Perfect blend of history, science, adventure and just a little black magic. Win.
Adam B @revhappiness

Icy Sedgwick said...

Justin - Glad you enjoyed it!

Craig - It's amazing the things you find on Google Images!

Katherine - I found the photo after I wrote it but it seemed to best fit the story.

Danni - Glad you liked it!

Anne - Hopefully Hollywood is listening!

Sonya - Thanks!

WG - I do have further ideas for this...

Steve - Ooh I see what you did there.

Sonia - Glad you liked it!

Aaron - I do like to keep you all hanging!

Helen - I imagine Henry Cavill most of the time...

Adam - Nerine asked me for more mummies! I will be expanding this into a further idea, too...

Anonymous said...

Are you going to write anymore of this story? I want to know what happens next. :)

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ooh this is devilishly good. Pretty scary too. Great juxtaposition of modern science with an age old format.

Larry Kollar said...

Oh wow, it's a mummy, but it ain't exactly human is it? This is going to get messy (in a good way)!

I love your mummy stories, and this one was no exception.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Love it. Gotta figure there's a reason all the Egyptian gods were half-animals.

Sulci Collective said...

Very uncomfortable reading (in the best sense) and what an amazing image you found too!

marc nash

Icy Sedgwick said...

Gemz - Hoping to use this as the basis for a book.

Virginia - I love that old meets new kind of blend!

FAR - I think I might focus on them more in the future.

Raven - Exactly!

Marc - It's amazing what you can find when you go looking for it!

Carrie Clevenger said...

Good start, Icy. Keep going. xx

liminalfiction said...

Good and scary writing and I'm going to have a nightmare about that photo.

Unknown said...

I get the feeling this thing is going to be much worse than any awakening mummy might be. I like how they ignore the hints of what it might be.

Anonymous said...

While I'm gutted you decided against writing a poltergeist story, this more than makes up for it. Really great stuff. Will there be more?

Extra points for the brilliant photo, too!

John Wiswell said...

Sorry it took me so long to read this. Life got so busy so quickly, but I'm glad I saved the tab. One of the best pieces I've read today - neat and creepy work. The poltergeist can wait!

Colin said...

Hi Icy, really enjoyed this combination of ancient and modern. I thought you handled the dialogue well, and I was gripped until the end. I really enjoyed this, thanks for posting! :)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Carrie - Keep going with the story?

LF - Sorry!

Aidan - I don't think they even considered what it could be!

Jack - Yes!

John - Oh there'll no doubt be something poltergeist-y at some point!

Colin - Glad you liked it!

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