Mummy Fanfic by Katie Sullivan
Rated PG-13 for innuendo, mild cussing and mature themes
Disclaimer: Meela/Anck-su-Namun, Imhotep, and all other characters besides Jeffrey are (c) Universal and are used without claim to copyright as a fan tribute. I maketh no money from this fic. Sueth me not.
Chapter One: Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
The unforgiving equatorial sun blazed in the cloudless sky, making the graduate students working at the dig sweat, squint and complain. Aside from the furnace-like climate, they had little to complain about. They had been selected as the top students in the world and given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to excavate a recently-uncovered tomb near Saqqara.
One of the students, a young woman with long, squarely-cut black hair, sat off by herself, using a small paintbrush to clean dust and sand from a statuette of Anubis. Around her, her colleagues toiled in the heat, shoveling away debris from the pit surrounding the tomb's entrance. Through the millennia the desert had swallowed the complex beneath its relentless dunes, and reclaiming the site was no small task. The eager archaeologists worked through the peak of the afternoon, impatient to get inside the tomb itself. They were the most promising up-and-coming Egyptologists in the class of 1926, drawn from universities in England, America, France, India, Germany, Spain, and, of course, Egypt itself.
Meela Pasha had been to all of those places at one time or another, traveling with her businessman father. Fortunately she hadn't been with her parents when their plane crashed into the Sargasso Sea two years ago. There had been murmurs about the curse of the Bermuda Triangle, and she was inclined to believe them. She'd always been superstitious.
Despite her travels, though, she considered herself one hundred percent Egyptian. The heiress was fascinated by the area's rich history, especially the era known as the Old Kingdom. While she struggled with physics and mathematics, Egyptology came like second nature. The ancient language recorded in hieroglyphics, which few attempted to pronounce, flowed from her tongue with an uncanny grace. She couldn't explain it. She simply knew her calling was Egyptology.
Even the scorching heat didn't bother her as it did the others. She worked without complaint, studying the foot-tall statue with narrowed eyes, painstakingly brushing sand away to uncover the inscription. She pursed her full lips in concentration, ignoring the others. The statue was inscribed with a hymn to Anubis, asking that the jackal god safely lead the tomb's occupant to the Afterworld. It had probably been taken by tomb raiders in ancient times but abandoned when the thieves took flight. No doubt they had fled into the night at the sound of an approaching guard, trying to make it to their boat and back across to the eastern bank of the Nile before they were discovered and punished.
Meela closed her eyes for a moment, watching the scene play out in her mind. It all seemed so real. Some accused her of having an overactive imagination, but it was all so vivid for her, as if she had lived in those times herself. And maybe she had. She kept an open mind about a lot of things, and reincarnation was one of them.
She had to force herself to stop obsessing over details and move on with her work. There would be time to study the artifacts later, back in a nice, cool laboratory at the university. She sighed and wrapped the statue in linen, labeled it, and packed it carefully in a crate with the other things they'd unearthed that day. It never felt the same, looking at artifacts away from their context. Here, under the heat of the sun-god Ra, with the tang of baked sand in her nostrils, she felt connected with the ancient people in a way she never was inside a stuffy lab.
"Meela!" called an excited male voice from down in the pit. "Come here, quickly!"
Other students dropped their tools and rushed to see what the Curator had discovered. If he called for their star translator, it must be something important.
Meela dusted off her hands on her khakis and hopped down into the dig, surefooted in leather boots despite the crumbling sand. "What is it?"
The Curator was an odd little man, fluent in a number of languages, both dead and living. His name was Faud Hafez, but everyone simply called him "the Curator." He was either Egyptian himself or something very close to it, for he fit in perfectly here in the desert. There was something unsettling about him, but no one could ever put their finger on it. Most simply dismissed him as a little creepy and let it go at that. He was a skilled archaeologist and beneath his flowing red head covering there lay a seemingly unending stash of historical facts and figures. Meela was the only student he really got along with.
Now he pointed at the inscription on the tomb's door, turning to his best pupil with a grin. "What does this say?" he asked with the air of one who knew already but wanted confirmation.
Without a moment's hesitation, Meela began reading in flawless ancient Egyptian. The other students gave her blank or annoyed stares until she translated into English. "A vile curse be upon he who defiles this tomb, the eternal resting place of Horemptah, chief steward to glorious Pharaoh Djoser."
The Curator nodded. "Very good. Very good indeed. A tomb dating back to the days of the very first pyramid!"
"Well, aren't we going to open it?" asked Jeffrey, a student from a university in the southern United States. His knuckles turned white as he eagerly grasped his pickaxe.
"You don't believe in ancient curses?" Meela asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Naw," he scoffed, spitting in the sand to emphasize his point. "Fairytales and hokum. Lemme in there!"
The Curator silenced him with an icy glare. "We do not barge into tombs with pickaxes. Opening this chamber will require days of careful excavation. We will clean up for today and begin tomorrow at first light, before the sun grows too hot."
Disappointed grumbles and relieved sighs arose from the students, depending on how tired they were. Meela was indifferent. She had a great deal of patience when the situation warranted it. She packed up her brushes and picks in their leather case, humming a little tune to herself as she did so.
"Hey, Meela," Jeffrey drawled, sidling up to her in a painfully obvious attempt to flirt. "You got plans for later? Me and a couple of the guys are havin' ourselves a little shindig, and I was wonderin'..."
"Sorry," she said insincerely. "I have other plans."
Jeffrey's awkward smile gave way to a frustrated scowl. "Aww, c'mon, Meela, you never do anything."
"I study. Perhaps you should try it sometime. Then you wouldn't embarrass yourself trying to stick your pickaxe where it isn't needed." She slung her bag of supplies over her shoulder and headed for the bus, leaving him flushed and indignant.
She supposed she should socialize once in a while. It wasn't that she didn't find men attractive; she just never found one who felt right. There was a nebulous but insistent image far in the recesses of her mind, some ghostly shadow of Mr. Right, and although she had no idea who he was she knew none of her fellow students fit the bill. There was nothing wrong with having a little youthful fun, of course, but she never cared to waste time on Mr. Wrongs. It was almost as if she already knew for certain who he was...without knowing his name or face. But when she met him, she'd know. That much she was certain of.
Meela put a hand to the side of her head. Whenever she tried to put the fuzzy mental picture of him into focus, she got dizzy. Odd. She blamed it on an inner ear disorder, or bad shellfish, or something like that, but in the back of her mind she had the nagging suspicion that it was something far more important. There was something, some knowledge, some memory, some realization, just beyond her reach, scooting away like quicksilver when she tried to grab onto it. Maybe she was crazy.
She laid a shaky hand on the side of the bus, its metal burning hot in the desert sun. The dizziness wasn't going away this time.
"Akum Ra...Akum Dei..."
Where was that voice coming from? She knew she'd never heard it before, and yet...it was so very familiar, and comforting...
"Yah su hai... Yah su hai..."
Everything started going black, and she felt herself drifting in two directions at once. Her body was toppling backward into the sand, but her mind, her soul, was zooming outward. Suddenly, a vortex of memories swept across her brain.
"Yahk tu hai... Yahk tu hai... Yahk tu hai..."
It was as if someone had turned on a faucet to full force, when all her life it had merely been dripping. She remembered everything at once, overwhelmed and thrilled with the complexity and intensity of the emotion. As she floated through the dark ether, it all became clear. She had never really forgotten...she just hadn't been able or willing to remember.
Her name was not Meela Pasha. Not really. She had been born Anck-su-Namun in the great city of Thebes, over three thousand years ago. She had been sold to the royal harem after her father's financial empire collapsed. Ancient wounds throbbed anew as she recalled how Pharaoh Seti I, a pompous fool old enough to be her father, had forced himself on her, beat her, robbed her of her very humanity... Flames of passion coursed through her formless self as she remembered her true love, High Priest Imhotep. Their love had carried a horrible price, a web of secrecy and forbidden rendezvous that had culminated in their murder of Pharaoh. As the royal Med-Jai guards burst on the scene, she had plunged a dagger into her own body. She remembered everything, but most of all she remembered Imhotep...his touch, his scent, his voice--
His voice. Now. Reading from the Book of the Dead.
She had no form, yet she felt herself being drawn upward toward the sound of his voice.
No longer thinking of herself as graduate student Meela Pasha, she erupted from the black pool in an amorphous black sheet, liquid, unreal, soaring toward her body. Not the body she had left at Saqqara. Her original body. A pitiful, withered corpse lying on an altar.
There was a rushing in her ears as she regained her body, diving into the oddly familiar shell like a child hiding under the covers during a thunderstorm. She gasped and quivered, reeling with shock yet delighting in the sense of homecoming. She looked around wildly, trying to get her bearings. She lay on a cold, stone altar beside another woman who was in her prime, young and beautiful but obviously terrified out of her wits.
Anck-su-Namun--for that was who she now knew herself to be--looked up at the sound of a delightfully familiar voice. Cloaked in a black robe and kilt, the golden scarab pectoral shining against his sculpted chest, his brown eyes and cleanly-shaven head gleaming in the torchlight, gazing down at her with unconditional adoration--Imhotep. How? Why?
Shaking off the questions, she attempted to move. Oh, to run into his arms and feel the comforting warmth of his body banish the ice from her soul! But she couldn't even sit up. Her limbs were dry and stiff, her strength flickering, her head spinning.
"With your death, Anck-su-Namun shall live," Imhotep told the other woman, raising a shining ceremonial dagger, "and I shall be invincible!"
It started to make sense, then. This other woman--who also seemed bizarrely familiar--had to be sacrificed to renew her body. But wait, she wanted to say, she already had a perfectly good body, lying uninhabited back at Saqqara! But she couldn't speak, either. Only an inarticulate, rasping groan emerged from her dry throat.
"Evy! I found it!" someone yelled, and Imhotep stopped mere seconds from plunging the knife into the other's chest.
"The Book of Amun-Ra," he breathed. He pursued the intruder, setting the ceremonial knife next to her head as he passed.
Anck-su-Namun was vaguely aware of fighting around her, shouting and the clang of weapons. She turned to study the woman beside her. Suddenly, she recognized her. Her hair was curly and a lighter shade, but there was no mistaking her former pupil and step-daughter-to-be. She tried to say, "Nefertiri," but only a ghastly moan came out.
Her strength was slowly returning, though, even if her voice was not. If her beloved wanted Nefertiri--or whatever her name was in this life--dead, she would gladly help. She hated the haughty princess, hated being forced to train her, hated her blind devotion to her lecherous father, hated how she could keep a Med-Jai lover without fear of death upon discovery, hated everything about her.
Stiffly, Anck-su-Namun sat up on the edge of the altar and took the ceremonial blade in her hands. Imhotep was busy dealing with two men who apparently wanted to stop him from performing the sacrifice. If she could just get herself to function, her love wouldn't be so badly outnumbered. One of the interlopers read the cover inscription from the golden Book of Amun-Ra, and a cadre of mummified soldiers arose to join the fray. Imhotep commanded them to attack the others. That helped, but she still needed to get moving, herself...
Finally, she stood. Her limbs were shaky but she was able to walk. The fine gold knife in her hand lent her confidence. Emboldened, she lunged at Nefertiri. The reincarnated princess had retained much of her agility, unfortunately, and evaded the attack. The chase was on.
The first man was still trying to translate the rest of the golden book. The soldier mummies kept the second man busy. As Anck-su-Namun pursued Nefertiri with the flashing blade, the princess was attempting to carry on a conversation with the man with the book while trying not to get killed. The two seemed to be translating something on the fly, but she realized too late what it was. The one with the book finished the inscription, and the soldier mummies stopped attacking. She lashed out again at Nefertiri.
"Destroy him!" Imhotep was shouting. "I command you to destroy him!" Judging by the silence, there was no response on the part of the soldiers.
"Destroy Anck-su-Namun!" she heard the other man call out in ancient Egyptian.
Imhotep called out her name in warning. She whirled around, momentarily forgetting the princess, and saw the soldiers marching toward her with grim determination. What the--? No!
Her small knife was utterly inadequate for defense against the heavily-armed soldiers. There was an explosion of pain, and once again she felt herself leaving her body.
"Anck-su-Namun!" Imhotep wailed from somewhere in the distance.
With a deep sigh she opened her eyes and found herself back in her other, living body, lying in the sand in the shade of the bus. The Curator was waving air in her face, and one of the other students was fumbling through a first-aid kit. "Meela, are you all right?" he asked.
"What...happened?" she asked, sitting up suddenly.
He steadied her by the shoulders and handed her a canteen of cool water. "You fainted."
She frowned. She hadn't fainted. Her soul had been summoned away. Right? It was far too real to have been a hallucination. "I...I was somewhere else..." she mumbled. "I was someone else, too. No, I was myself, but I'm not really me, I'm somebody else, from before... I remember, now..."
The others exchanged confused and worried looks. "We're taking you to the hospital." The Curator scooped her up and carried her onto the bus. Consciousness dimmed again, but this time it was a perfectly normal, run-of-the-mill fainting spell.
The next thing Meela knew, she was in a hospital bed. Her eyes snapped open to find the Curator sitting nearby. The lights were low and the ceiling fan helped to cool her.
"Where am I?" She sat up too quickly, and her head went spinning again.
"Back in town, at the hospital," he told her. "You must rest."
"Everything...I think." She creased her brow. Or did she? What had been so clear when she was...wherever that was, in her old body...was all blurry now. She felt as if she needed mental glasses to clear the picture. "I... This is going to sound incredible, but you have to believe me. I'm the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian woman named Anck-su-Namun."
The Curator blinked. "Perhaps you should lie down again, Meela..."
"No, no," she said irritably. "Listen to me! How else could I know everything I know?"
"You're a brilliant student, Meela. You just had too much sun today, and--"
"No! I know things! Not because I study, but because I just...know them! From before. I was named Anck-su-Namun. I was born and lived in Thebes during the reign of Pharaoh Seti the First. I was one of his concubines."
"Now, Meela, we've all daydreamed from time to time--"
"Just listen!" she snapped.
She had never been so disrespectful toward her mentor before, and her drastic change in demeanor finally made him sit back and take note.
"I was one of Seti's concubines. He was a horrible man. He beat me...raped me...crushed my soul..." Her black eyes grew distant. "But the High Priest of Osiris, Imhotep..." Her troubled expression gave way to a dreamy smile. "He saved my life. He loved me. I loved him. Then Pharaoh caught us together, and...we killed him. And I took my own life with the same dagger. Imhotep escaped and tried to bring me back to life with the Book of the Dead, but something went wrong..."
The Curator shook his head sadly, appearing to mourn the sanity of his star pupil.
"You don't believe me," she said miserably.
He was silent.
"I wouldn't have believed me, either, but today...he summoned my spirit back to my old body."
"Summoned your spirit."
"To your old body."
"Yes. It was all shriveled and mummified, but it was mine. It felt right."
"How? He would have been dead for over three thousand years."
"But he's not. I just saw him."
"I don't know," she said, near tears with frustration. "He was somewhere, some dark chamber, and he was reading from the Book of the Dead..."
"The Book of the Dead?"
"Stop repeating everything I say! Yes, the Book of the Dead!"
"That's just a myth."
"No! I saw it."
"What you saw was a hallucination brought on by too much sun and not enough water. You need some rest, and--"
"You don't believe me."
"You don't believe me. You don't. But it's true. I swear it! I know what I saw! What I heard! What I felt!" Tears welled up, and she shut her eyes to prevent any from falling. "It was real." If only she could retrieve her memories as clearly as she had before! It was all so fuzzy now!
"Get some rest, Meela. You'll feel better tomorrow," he said, gently closing the door behind him.
She buried her face in the pillow and wept.