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Couldn’t Beat Howard-Part 6

The passage was narrow. The walls were decorated with scenes of Pharaoh Akhenaten on his journey through the afterlife. Only fate could tell if his ka, or his soul, made it to the Hall of the Forty Judges. I did not care if his soul made it to an Egyptian afterlife, the molten depths of hell, or Nirvana. All I wanted was to explore what had taken years of my life to find.

Navigating through winding passages and running into a few dead ends, I quickly came to a few treasure rooms. Various chariots of different sizes and proportions took up much of the spaces. Golden thrones inlaid with lapis luzi, emeralds, ebony, ivory, and numerous other precious gems lined against the walls. Chests exquisitely crafted by dead master artisans were filled with precious treasures. Chairs, beds, and tables made from woods and metals were cluttered about. Here and there laid blue crowns, nemes headdresses, and double crowns. Necklaces and scarabs were scattered about the various treasures. Statues and statuettes of the pharaoh hunting, with his children, and of him sitting watched me as I passed.

I could cry from the beauty these treasure’s possessed. I could cry from joy of my discovery. I could cry just recalling these memories. However, as I walked from room to room, all I could do was contain my excitement. My first objective was to find his mummy.

After pacing about for hours, I finally found what I lusted after. The coffin of Akhenaten. Hieroglyphs were inscribed in the lustrous gold. Once translated, the ancient writing depicted spells, curses, and warnings. Precious stones and metals were inlaid in the coffin. The pharaoh’s likeness showed that of a man with a narrow face, almond eyes, feminine lips, and a long nose.

I slowly approached the coffin, as if I were coming upon the lost Ark of the Covenant. To be perfectly honest, this discovery was even better. I ran my fingers over the likeness of the pharaoh, thinking of how long I had waited for this surreal moment.

After a slight retreat from my daze, I pushed the lid of the coffin with a supernatural strength. Taking the light, I shined it on the inside of the coffin. Empty. No mummy. Not even the trace of a wrapping, scarab, or resin.

My face turned red. My hands twitched. My body quaked. My nerves nearly snapped. My discovery was ruined! Howard Carter was to laugh in my face, for he had found a completely undisturbed tomb a few years prior. I, on the other hand, was close to bottling perfection but it all blew up in my face because the mummy was not there! The only explanation was that tomb robbers must have stolen the mummy centuries ago. Blast and damnation!

***

As it would turn out, my discovery was much appreciated by Egyptologists from around the globe. After all, I had found the tomb of the father of Tutankhamun’s father. My only regret was not finding the mummy. I was so close to finding a perfectly preserved tomb, but I had failed. Since I could not boast of the perfect discovery like Howard Carter, his name ended up in the history books. His legend shadowed my success.

As to the mummy of Akhenaten, it has yet to be found. To this day, I sit in my London townhouse puzzling over charts, maps, books, translations, and documents. One day I will find the blasted body. Even in my old age, I will beat the odds and find Akhenaten’s withering corpse!

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18 thoughts on “Couldn’t Beat Howard-Part 6”

  1. The point where the story works best for me is the first paragraph of this post because it reveals a great deal of the narrator’s psychology. Here is a man who must have spent years studying ancient Egyptian civilization, to the point he can interpret the pictures he’s seeing on the fly, and yet he’s simply contemptuous of its beliefs and focused on scoring an archaeological discovery of another kind.

    1. Nice analysis. Do you write book reviews? That is exactly what I intended with the main character! It is also realistic for this time period, the 1920s, because most archaeologists at the time were intent on finding a large discovery. Little else was of much importance.

    2. I’m afraid my reviewing skills, such as they are, come from academic reading and writing. I’m pleased to know I hit the mark. (Or, rather, you hit the mark in communicating with your readers.) I’ll be reading through the other stories you’ve posted as I get a chance.

  2. A nice little tale! Your writing has a great sense of immediacy – I’m not left wondering what I should envision, what the characters can see, it’s all clear and direct, and in an economical span of words. That’s rarer than it should be in writing, I find.

    1. Thank you! The reader should not be left guessing or wondering about a character’s actions. When I read many books, I am left wondering what a character’s actions are because it is smothered by dialogue. There must be a balance between the two to help the reader focus on plot twists they should be wondering about.

  3. All good things must come to an end. This was a fun series. Can’t wait to see what you do next! I almost thought this was true. Great writing!

    1. I planned on ending it right here. If I continue to get good feedback I might extend the series. For now, I have other projects I am planning to post in a few days. Keep an eye out for my next short story. 🙂

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