First half of a short story.
SUMMARY: In the 1890’s, well-renowned Egyptologist James Quibell has been involved in the mysterious Hierakonpolis dig. A decade later, he breaks his silence by writing the mystery that has shrouded the death of the famous Professor Petrie.
CATEGORY: Falls under Biography/Mystery/Horror, Urban Legend
Journal of James Quibell
5th May 1900
My initial excavation with the well-renowned Egyptologist, Professor Petrie, was in Gebtu (also known as Coptos) in the early 1880’s; from that firsthand experience I have learned a great deal about the Ancient Egyptians and have come to appreciate their arts and culture until they have earned a special place in my heart. We have traveled to other parts of Egypt which only increased my interest and fondness of the land, but it was the infamous dig of 1892 that has marked me for life.
I have always been told to prepare myself for the worst in every excavation as there may be thousands of year old (yet, innovatively crafted) booby traps lurking in every corner of the site, or perhaps look out for unforeseen falling debris, all of which comes down to the same point which was to keep safe at all times. But though we are precautious nothing could have primed us for the unexplainable being we have encountered on our third day. By that point in the excavation, we have pierced through a tomb of an unknown royal family member; the marks on the halls leading to the main chamber expressed such an odd picture none of us, not even Professor Petrie, could fully grasp.
There were pictures of a luxurious life, that the owner of the tomb must have had centuries ago. It was interesting and easy to make out yet somewhere along the middle of transcribing, we’ve lost the idea. There seemed to be a series of death brought by one person, which our dear professor regarded as probably a symbol of a plague. It was then followed by some war images and even more deaths yet the oddest thing, and the most confusing of all is that in the next few pictures, the dead seemed to have risen to fight again. We have all come to the presumption that this is some sort of a reincarnation story yet it could not fully be since the scenes have not ceased and the, what seemed to be, reincarnated people were killing their own ensemble too. It was all too mystifying.
When we have finally reached the main chamber of the tomb, a revolting stench welcomed us but it was what lies behind the big stone door that astonished us; it was a corpse, a mummified corpse lying outside its sarcophagus! It was an outrageous sight! Whoever took it out of its gilded sarcophagus really made sure that it looked as if the corpse had crept out of it. No one dared to move for a while until the Professor finally walked in and we followed him, keeping quite a distance from him.
He squat down beside the corpse to inspect it as some of the men roamed around checking for other possible entryways, but as the professor leaned in, the corpse’s fingers moved! He backed away immediately, appalled. He looked at me and gestured for me to move closer, I went behind him and as satirical as it may sound, I truly did hid behind the great professor frightened that the corpse might move further muscle. I stood there in complete silence waiting for the professor to say something but he didn’t, instead he folded his arms at his chest and looked down at the corpse; I could tell that he was thinking really hard for an explanation.
Then he got down on a knee and lightly poked the shoulder of the pasty gray coloured corpse. In an instant, it responded and the professor immediately stood up and backed away again. It moved again, opening its mouth this time, gnawing as if trying to sink its rotting teeth at something as it tries to stretch its arm out to our direction. That gnawing sound echoed which made the other men move in our direction and look at the corpse on the floor.
The professor looked at us calmly, and said, “Gentlemen, I think we just gained a new member.” It was amazing how the professor could say this calmly as if he was introducing us indeed to a new colleague, someone that is alive and breathing and not something that lies lifeless on the floor of the spacious chamber just right outside its sarcophagus. The professor looked back at the corpse, this time it was trying its best to crawl but could not seem to pull itself any further from where it lies on its stomach on the floor. The professor then ordered us to check the rest of the chamber, I specifically was asked to check the sarcophagus and as I did, I discovered something way beyond what I could comprehend.
There were scratch marks on the lid of the coffin, which could only be from human fingernails; the scratches were deep as if what was inside it was buried alive and is desperate to get out, which probably means that my initial theory that it had crept out of the sarcophagus might be a fact after all. I backed away and turned to the professor, showing him what I have just seen then, telling him about my inconceivable theory; we both looked at the corpse on the floor, still gnawing. In that instant, the professor ordered some of the men to retrieve a large cloth and wrap the corpse with it, and not long after they were carefully wrapping the body of the deceased, avoiding its mouth in the process.
But before they could fully wrap the corpse, it had sunk its rotting teeth to one of the diggers’ arm. He screamed in pain as the sharp teeth of the corpse pierced through his skin. “Be careful!” The professor screamed at the men who tugged the corpse away in both shock and terror. The victim pulled his arm as it pushed the head of the corpse away but instead of detaching the teeth of the corpse from his arm, his skin tore and he yelped even more in pain. Immediately, he was taken out of the chambers and out into the camp to be treated.
The remaining men continued to wrap the corpse as instructed by the professor. In a couple of days, we all have taken out what we could from the chamber including the sarcophagus, and not long after that we went back to England to further study the antiques we’ve found in the main chamber. The crew member who got bitten was treated but had an infection, which resulted to a high fever that lasted for days. He was delirious by the third day at the ship, and soon he passed away.
But the very next day, whom we saw died in pain the other night, was roaming the halls of the sleeping quarters. He does not look alive, though and instead of walking, he dragged his feet on the floorboards of the hall; he was also moaning, not in pain or in any other emotional way, just simply—moaning, absentmindedly and his eyes were hollow and empty. Simply put, there was no sign of life in him apart from his ability to moan and walk (or rather drag himself around). I stood there at the end of the hall with the other members of our crew, they were all terrified; I was terrified too, and as it got closer I felt my knees weaken, I was shaking and as the slug reached out for me, I felt a hand pulling on my sleeve and there was darkness.
To be continued…