Myron Schnekel, sitting at his favorite corner table in Francois’s Bistro, took a bite of quiche lorraine, his favorite dish at the restaurant, but it wasn’t quite right today. While he ate, he researched a history assignment with a passage in the Book of the Dead he read aloud off his iPad. His parents argued over the color of the walls for the new sunroom and competed for the last of the pate de foie gras.
“What language is that?” asked Myron’s father.
“You can read ancient Egyptian?” asked his mother.
“It was extra credit.”
A few miles away in the Smithsonian, Ramesses III’s chef, Pehenkamen, awoke. Confused and disoriented, he scratched at the box he was in until it moved smoothly out from under it’s cover. He stood up in pitch darkness, his joints creaking and his dried-out sinews snapping. He stepped over the edge of the box he was in and fell four feet out of the museum drawer onto a linoleum floor.
Pehenkamen pushed himself up and stood, his joints starting to loosen.
“Who called me?” The royal Egyptian accent his mother taught him came out a hollow rasp. The summons echoed in his arid memory and drew him to rectify a blasphemy, he knew not what.
He felt his way through the dark, finding a door that confounded his efforts to open it. He pounded his fists upon it, and it splintered to pieces. Magnificent things appeared to him in the massive halls of a great palace. Golden treasures, unfathomable machines, screaming subjects in strange clothing. They pointed at him, repeating the words ‘muh mee,’ foreign words with unknown meaning to Pehenkamen.
“Where is the blasphemer!” he roared. They only screamed louder, so he chased them, hoping to catch one, but they were moist and spry while Pehenkamen struggled with every step.
He could feel the blasphemy vibrate in the air. It agitated his mind, buzzing up his crumbling spine into his skull.
He followed the irritant, displeasure bristling into a simmering rage. He found his way outside the castle where big, enclosed, black-and-white chariots with fantastically large, sparkling jewels on top surrounded the entrance. He started down the stairs, and machines from the devil boomed as several projectiles penetrated his body.
Pehenkamen howled and jumped over the chariots. He picked one up by the rear, turned it over, and smashed it on top of another, shattering the red and blue jewels.
With long, jolting strides now he followed the summons, the irritant, the blasphemy.
Faint screaming pulled Myron out of his reading.
“Whoa, what’s that?” asked his father. “Stay here.” He threw his serviette on the tablecloth and bolted for the restaurant’s front windows.
A mummy came into view—a real animated mummy, with tattered burial cloths, discolored resins, and a bee in his bonnet. It smashed through the window, scattering the patrons, threw its shoulders back, and bellowed toward the ceiling.
“Where is the blasphemer?”
Myron’s mouth fell open, and he quickly closed the reader on his iPad.
With jolting steps the mummy came closer, directly toward Myron and his mother.
His father leaped for the mummy’s legs and wrapped his arms around, but the mummy kept plodding as if he wasn’t there. “Run! Myron, Cookie, run!”
But their corner gave them no escape. The mummy stepped up to the table, looked at Myron and shrieked at him. It quieted and stared, then turned its head toward the kitchen door. His father let go of its legs. Myron slid off his chair and followed the mummy into the kitchen where it trudged in fits toward Francois, the cook. Francois backed up, slashing a knife in the air and chattering his teeth.
The mummy stared at him, then looked over on the warming shelf. It grabbed a glass pie plate full of Quiche Lorraine and threw it on the brick-orange tiled floor, shattering the pie plate and splattering the quiche everywhere.
It grabbed Francois knife hand and roared into his face. “Hashasha Hmaaht!” it bellowed.
“What? What do you want? What ees it?” cried Francois.
Myron cleared his throat. “Um. He says… he says—‘Too much salt.’”