Daughter of Isis - Draft - Chapter 1-5
Only one had watched for the rising of Sirius.
It was not anyone among the workers, who labored under their burdens, now complaining among themselves at the growing heat of the day that was now upon them.
Nor was it the tired archeologist, whose harried presence was more like that of a honeybee, his buzz ever present on the dry winds, his hopes of honey showing in his eyes.
It was only Selket, the one who followed the ancient beliefs with an understanding older than her years. The only one among them who now welcomed the dawn with reverence, the only one who searched the sky above them.
She had waited for the sight of it each evening, aware that once the star had emerged from the netherworld; that the rising of the Nile and the searing heat would follow, as it had for thousands of years.
She had stood nearby, listening to the worker’s chatter, watching as they cleared another yard of debris that lay between them and the elusive evidence they sought each day.
She had listened to the words of her father with her usual faint smile, the one who directed the search, whose sighs of exasperation followed him to the tent each night as each new day brought no rewards for his labors.
She was also the only one that had noticed the large cobra, as it lay coiled up. It had been there for several days now, ever watching as she stood near, its eyes seemly never closing as they met her own gaze.
She had followed one day as it departed with the setting sun, seeking its home within the small crevice the workers passed by with their loads of loose shale and dirt.
Now, the serpent was the first one to greet her each morning after her devotions, and the last one to give her notice as silence fell once more over the dig site, and the constellation of Orion showed itself in the clear evening sky.
“Selket, you are looking like your usual tomb raider self this evening,” Karl let out trying to divert her attention, seeing that his daughter was once more peering out towards the side of the hill where the workers had been digging, towards where she had been sitting earlier, watching with rapt interest as the baskets were being removed from the excavation site.
“Please stay near the tents. I’ve told you, there is an open shaft and pits from where we have been searching. That section is too loose for you to be out there poking around with your shovel.
“You’ll cause it to rain dirt down upon you, perhaps even bury you in the amount that’s there.
“Stay clear of that, we’re not going to find any indications of what we seek this year, it will remain hidden.”
“There is no one there to guide you now, I have given all of them a day off,” he added, noting her attention hadn’t wavered from where she had been looking, unaware that she was no longer alone.
“We are nearing the end of the season,” trying to gently lower her expectations, “it is simply too hot during the days for us to get much further. The workers will begin packing everything up in a few days, they will bring the trucks back with them next week.”
Smiling at the sight of her in dusty jeans and worn boots as the light evening gusts of warm air sent her hair fluttering around her, he walked over to where she stood to reach out so he could place an arm around her, letting out a deep sigh as she leaned her head against him, her attention still focused on where the workers had been active.
Glancing up at him, she slowly raised an arm, pointing towards the serpent as she looked towards it once more, her attention drawn to the snake as it wandered ever closer to her.
“Come on, let’s fix us something to eat. My stomach has been the first to growl, so it is my turn to cook our meal this evening,” gently reaching out to bring her arm back down, turning them back towards the tents, wishing once more that she could speak as he felt her resistance, knowing without seeing them, that her large dark eyes implored that she stay.
“Ah, yes,” seeing that she was preparing the lanterns for the night, “I had forgotten to refill those,” glancing up from where he was sitting at the folding table, making sure his diagrams and maps were once again held in place by loose bottles of water.
“Always the dutiful daughter, what would I do without you,” watching as she threw him her usual quick smile at the comment.
“You should be back in school before I return,” inwardly cringing at the fleeting frown she flashed at the remark. “You need your education to be strong, the world around you is difficult enough as it is.”
Walking over to stand behind him, she stood with an arm on one of his shoulders, her attention going down to the papers he had been studying.
Slowly, she let go of him to tap a finger on one of the diagrams.
“Yes,” he sighed, noting the movement. “That’s where we’ve been working this season. I’m thinking we should move over to the right in the morning, shift our efforts away from this outcropping,” reaching out to shift her finger away from the spot the cobra had awaited her.
“The temple must have been placed further off, out into the more open areas,” sliding her hand over to the new location he had chosen, “and that worked area is now unstable.
“I was working under the impression that they would have used a shaft cut into the side of the hill for any burial chambers.
“I now fear the weight of the dirt and rocks above could bring it down on one of the workers at any time. We’ve had to use some wooden beams against the rocks for our safety.
“I have based all of this work on a myth, but we have to be close to what we seek,” glancing up at her for a moment as she then walked around to the other side of the table, her attention still on the diagrams of the dig site.
“No one else would believe me if I mentioned her name, but this was all once a lush valley, and her temple once stood here,” he added, sitting back in his chair to return her look as her eyes came up to meet his for a moment before returning to the papers. “Somewhere…
“Only an old fool such as myself would spend his own funds on searching out here with nothing more than a tale in the desert winds as a guide.
“I would be the subject of much mirth and smiles if I were to mention it to others, I know. Even the officials, the ones who granted my permit, were all very amused among themselves as I turned to leave.
“They all would think I’ve been standing too long in the sun, if they knew the truth of it.
“You need a proper home now, not out here like this, living in a tent.” giving his daughter another glance, feeling the pressure to give her some news she would not like as he changed the subject.
“The carpet beneath your feet is a blanket of warm sand, the roof over our heads nothing but the glaring sun, and a thousand stars greet us in the night sky.
“You need a change, and your grandparents have been asking to see you. I think they still want to try and spoil you before you get much older. They’ve missed so many summers, so many fond memories.
“Perhaps it will be best that we haven’t found what I was looking for this year, although I had so many hopes.
“Well, let life go on as it will. We will meet our fates as the Gods have decided them,” letting out his usual sigh as she sat down across the table from him, her eyes unwavering as she moved some of the dark lengths of her hair away from her face to see him better.
“Perhaps it is time we settled down, stop chasing this dream of mine. Time is always short and the end of the day is always closer than expected,” finally saying it as he tossed down the pencil he had been playing with, letting it land on top of his papers.
“I wanted to wait until the season was over to tell you, but I feel it is a sign,” he finally said, looking back up at her, trying to gauge her reaction.
“Selket, I have been meaning to talk to you. I have had an offer, a nice job in America. A place where you can find friends, and dress like the wonderful young lady you have become.
“You go around here looking like a Bedouin most days,” throwing the teenager a quick smile, “a true native of the land… looking as if you were Queen of the Desert.
“Even the workers quickly relent to your demands, as if you ruled them all with only the power of your smile and the depth of your eyes.
“It’s time you understood that the sight of an approaching storm is not a threat to your dig site,” giving out a slight smile at the not so distant memory, “and the sting of sand on your face has a counterpart… snow in your gloves.”
“Hey, any headaches today?” he casually asked, trying to hide the concern in his eyes, relaxing slightly at the shaking of her head in reply, her shoulders giving out a little shrug.
“We will begin to pack up soon, so it will be best to prepare for that,” seeing her eyes had stayed on him.
“Get yourself ready for bed, then.” he finally let out, his attention returning to the charts on the table as he gave out another troubled sigh.
Slowly, she looked around at the shadows of the tent, her eyes shifting when she finally located her small shovel, its shape nearly lost amid the coils of the cobra.
Later, when she got up to place one of the refilled lanterns and a heavy coil of rope beside it, its eyes were still watching her.
With only a brief glance back towards where her father was sleeping, she quietly opened the tent flap, and headed towards the site, following the serpent with the light from the lantern.
“Mudeer,” the overseer let out, halting before him, a hand on his chest in an attempt to regain control of his breathing, his excitement showing in his eyes as he gestured back towards the morning’s new dig site.
“Hasten, Mudeer. The workers have found something.”
“See,” he gasped out, holding up the wall tile he had brought with him, the deep blue outline of the Eye of Horus prominently displayed in its center.
“We have located the temple. It is watched over by God.”
“Well, this has to be the last of them,” Margaret let out, pushing the folders on the desk away from her with a low tired sigh. “We need someone who is not only both competent and knowledgeable in the field, but trustworthy as well.”
“Preferably someone who hasn’t heard about what’s been going on here,” Mike let out from the other side of the table, shaking his head.
“I think we’re screwed there. This is the second time the position has opened up in three years.”
“There’s still that English man, Whithers,” Mrs. Walston remarked, glancing down at the list she was holding, mentally ticking off several of the other names.
“According the latest gossip, he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, news of it is spreading faster than a wildfire,” Mike groaned, leaning back in his chair to glance around the conference table at the others.
“It was his girlfriend’s cookie jar, and in his wife’s bed.
“As I hear it, a lot of other unsavory items are coming out of the closet now. Not exactly the professional image we’re trying to foster here.”
“That brings us back to the Egyptian fellow, Dr. Karl Arawa,” Warren remarked, checking his own copy of the list of names under consideration for the department’s position.
“The one we considered first, and thought we couldn’t afford.”
“Could we shift some of our budget?” Mrs. Walston asked, looking up at the other men, “I mean, we are the Board.”
“Some Board we’ve turned out to be,” a wavering voice gave out from the far end of the table, causing each of them to look over at the older man in the wheelchair.
“We’re running this place into the ground with those incompetents we’ve hired in the past.
“Damn,” he let out forcefully, smacking his hand on the table. “We even had to put a lock on the supply room door, then change the lock to his office.
“Nothing but a damn common thief,” he snorted. “Taking anything not nailed down to support his gambling debts.”
“We have Mike here to thank for mentioning a complete inventory. I knew when he baulked at the idea that something was up with him. I’ve held some suspicions all along.”
“Well, whomever we get, that is where we’re going to start,” Margaret sighed. “We need a proper assessment of the inventory, for the insurance if nothing else. Let’s try to keep the police out of this if we can, it’ll affect attendance.”
“What did we find out about the Egyptian?”
“Well, for starters, he’s not actually an Egyptian, nationally speaking. He just works there,” Mrs. Walston replied, opening up one of the folders before her.
“His mother was an American, and she insisted that her child be born here.” looking over her glasses at all of them.
“His father was the Egyptian. The family name, which he once traced as far back to the 18th Dynasty, is misleading you.
“Her family maintained a home here for their only daughter, but it seems they rarely returned for any length of time, his interests drawing him to various dig sites over recent years.
“The daughter mentioned in that article, was born here as well.
“He’s considered a known name in Egyptian antiquities today, and mentioned in high regard in that magazine article I passed around, the one concerning that new find outside of Luxor.”
“A quiet man, always enjoyed working alone, but often consulted on other areas as well. He has some family money on his wife’s side… so he doesn’t have to do his shopping on the black market,” looking up to throw Paul a wry smile.
“I’ll save us some discussion,” Warren let out, holding up a hand to gain their attention. “On behalf of the Museum, and since all of you voted me the President, I’ve already taken the liberty of sending him a proposal… checking on his interest,” noting Mike’s expression.
“After all, we did have his name top of the list when we first started looking around. I figured he’d be the one and as the price was the unknown factor, I simply went out on a limb and wrote him directly.”
“He’s probably worth a bit more, now that he’s went and found another tomb, the second one in the last ten years according to that article,” Mike gave out.
“I’m just saying is all,” noting Warren’s glance.
“We’ll keep the assistant positions closed for now,” glancing over to Mrs. Walston, “maybe merge a few others together. That’ll give us enough to make our counter-offer.”
“Warren, that’s getting bold, even for you,” Mike remarked, as everyone else considered his idea.
“According to that article, he’s been very busy with some tragic circumstance with his family, if I recall it correctly and there was that last discovery. What made you think he’d even bother to reply?”
“His daughter,” Warren replied. “Things have changed since my first proposal. We can use his own bitter situation to better our own, and I think he’ll accept a decent offer.
“I’m expecting a prompt reply, so we just need to get our heads together on our final offer and be ready to send it off.”
Stepping out from the taxi, Karl looked over towards the building he would now be working in, holding up a hand to block some of the now falling mists that threatened to obscure his view.
As museums went, he mused, it actually wasn’t half bad. A pleasant mix of the traditional imposing Greek style architecture loosely blended with a touch that leaned towards a more modern approach.
Just enough glass and shine he mused, looking at the building once more after paying his fare, noting that it tended to merge into the background when compared with the others surrounding it.
It impressed one with its presence when one gave it some consideration, but did not seem overwhelming.
“Good evening, you must be Charles,” holding his new ID badge up to the security officer as he reached the central counter of the lobby. “I’ve been here before, but it was during the day.”
“Sure am, Doc,” Charles replied, his southern drawl coming out as he reached for his clipboard.
“I was told to expect you this evening, Sir. Welcome aboard. If you’ll please sign in, you’ll be all set.
“There’s always some coffee going back in the security office, if you need some,” he added, watching as Karl scrawled his name on the next line down.
“Not many of us wandering the halls in the evenings like this, just that girl up on Four tonight. That’s her name there, above yours there, Sir.
“I was told to expect you, so I left the main door unlocked this time, but everything will be as tight as a drum now that you’re signed in and all. I’ll be going around checking them every hour.
“Oh,” lifting up a small white envelope, “This was left here for you, your new office key. I heard they wanted to change the lock up there.”
“Ah, Charles,” carefully lifting the bundled object onto the counter that he had been carrying over his shoulder by its thick strap, “Could you do me a huge favor, and please take note that this one is mine.
“I understand you’ve had some rude surprises of late,” throwing the young man a smile. “I didn’t want to be seen walking out the door with something later, causing anyone to think I was taking my work home with me.”
“Oh, you’re the man around here now, you’ve got permission to do that sort of thing. Just need to stop by and let one of us at the desk know on the way in,” tugging at the zipper to get an idea of what had been brought in.
“A box, Egyptian box,” he added, adding a note to another clipboard after peeling back the layers of cloth used to protect it. “Made of wood, and wrapped up like a mummy.
“I recognized that coffin thing on the top there,” showing Karl a broad grin. “We got one of them upstairs.”
“Just stick this on it,” reaching over to peel a numbered business card sized label off a sheet.
“You’re all set, Sir. It’s logged, and I’ll remember, I’m the evening shift. Except for on the weekends,” he quickly added. “That’d be Ralph; the older guy... must be over eighty years old.
“I think he was the first guy they hired,” leaning over with another grin on his face. “This place has been around nearly forever.
“The elevator hardly ever gets stuck anymore,” he threw out after Karl as the doors closed with a light ding of a bell.
“Dr. Arawa? Sorry to be a bother, but you’ll need to sign for this one, Sir,” the girl at the door gave out, throwing an apologetic look towards him as he stood looking down at the box now resting on the table.
“Inventory list... I hope I’m not disturbing your work,” trying to peer around him to see what was sitting on the table.
“Oh, I’ll have to get used to such,” Karl replied, glancing up before showing her a faint smile. “I’ve just arrived, and used to working alone over the years.
“I’m still learning to adjust to the big city ways. I’m so new to the museum that I haven’t even been given my own parking spot yet, not that I’ve had time to go out to purchase such a vehicle.
“You must be Lorrie,” taking in the young girl’s tanned looks and streaked brown hair.
“I was told someone else would be working here in the late evenings with me, but I haven’t gone out on a safari to seek you out. On the first day, I’m just happy that I found my office.
“Am I correct?” setting himself back in his chair.
“Oh, that is just so incredible, an ushabti box,” she sighed, walking over to where he had been standing, her eyes on the highly engraved oblong chest as she held out the manila envelope to him.
“We don’t have a funerary box, and I’ve never seen one so finely constructed and ornate. That’s some detailed work on the sides. It’s in excellent condition, too.”
“Yeah, I’m Lorrie,” she added, “but I have to tell you, don’t go believing everything you’ll hear about me,” throwing him a glance.
“I didn’t go hunt down our night security officer last month, and then beat the crap out of him because he pissed me off. He just came up behind me at the wrong time. It was just a natural reaction to a sudden fright.”
“The one downstairs… Charles?” raising an eyebrow at the remark, trying to imagine the event. “You attacked him?”
“Punched him right out, he fell like a ton of bricks,” flashing a quick grin at the memory. “I was over at one of the Hatshepsut statues up here one evening, all by myself.
“How was I to know he was sneaking around like that?
“We don’t mention it, sort of avoid the issue, but I’ve noticed he’ll whistle a tune on his way through our department now.
“I brought in a couple pizzas for him last week, just to show him I didn’t harbor any ill feelings on him trying to scare me.
“It’ll mostly be just us during the week like this,” taking her eyes off the box to look over at him, “I was trying to get a job as one of the departmental assistants, before the funding dried up.
“Now, I get to catch up on the office paperwork, and I usually use the time for some photography of the displays, and cataloguing… keeping up with the website.
“There’s always plenty of little things to do,” giving him a wan smile. “I’ve been told we get to start on a complete inventory of the department.”
“Ah, you’re also my budding Egyptologist. I was told we had one, back when I came in for my interview,” giving out a smile.
“I can use that interest around here. I was also told that Dr. Maxwell’s main concern was in the art collection in West wing, the impressionist paintings.
“So, I suppose it’ll just be us doing the inventory, but I thought that it might be best to hold off on that for at least another day or so, use the time to orient myself.
“Well, as to this one,” returning his attention to the chest, “no one else has seen anything quite like it either, I suppose. The primary reason I dragged it back out,” glancing back down at it before reaching out to take the offered envelope, putting his signature on the clipboard lying beneath it.
“It’s a touch of the familiar when you find yourself needing someplace to start. I’ve had it in my possession for some time now, but it is still a mystery to me.
“An old friend gave it to my grandfather one day, while he lived in Egypt,” noting her curiosity.
“It now seems so many years ago. I was told his own grandfather had found it on a dig a great many years earlier, as a youth actually, and had kept it hidden away. I suppose its unusual appearance was part of that choice,” giving her a quick glance before returning his attention to the box, “and the fact his friend was an Officer in the Army. He said he could no longer risk its discovery.
“Of course, some of that story may be a cover up to hide the fact his own grandfather had been a tomb robber, and such a discovery might have shortened his military career,” letting out a slight chuckle.
“It has become a favorite past time for me these last few years, pondering its purpose, trying to understand what it represents… whose tomb it came from.”
“He didn’t consider turning it over to the Antiquities Department?” asking in surprise, still enthralled at the sight of the chest. “That would have been the best choice, I think.”
“Too many questions for something so rare, I suppose. Who would believe that he knew nothing of its true history, or where it had been found?
“Besides, it was removed before the restoration act that said such finds were to be returned to the country of origin. The battle still being waged over the pieces held by the British Museum shows us how well that idea was received back then.
“I intended that this position be my last, a job with a proper roof over my head,” showing a wan smile.
“No need to go wandering to the ends of the earth. I’m not getting younger, and now I have other things to consider,” letting out a low sigh, a quick frown crossing his face.
“It’s been kept sealed away for many years,” looking back down at the box. “I was thinking it would attract a lot of attention, at least once revealed to the academic world. The museum should see a marked increase in sponsorships and attendance once we display it.
“I think I’ll need more information than ‘mystery box’ to place on the label before that happens though. I’ve never seen another like it, either.
“I suppose I should inform the Antiquities Department as well, after all, its part of the history of an ancient people, but I believe I can arrange for us to be the ones to display it for a period of time by begging another favor of the ones owed me, before having it returned to where it came from.”
“Dr. Arawa, you do know that when word of that box gets out, we’re going to be too busy answering the phone, and giving guided tours to get anything else done around here during the day. It’s a remarkable discovery.
“Man, it’s a good thing we’re working the evening shift,” her attention still riveted on the box.
“I’m so glad they found someone like you to take over, I think I’m going to enjoy working here now. I’ll get some nice photos done up once you’re all settled in.”
“I see you’re deeply interested in my mystery chest. What can you say about it?” nodding down towards the side of the box facing her, the dark markings illuminated by the small lamp he had set on the table.
“Tell me,” giving her another appraising glance. “I have been told you’ve had some schooling, even spent a summer on a dig near Karnak while you were in college. I could use another point of view.”
“Well,” hesitantly moving closer, “the artwork on the upper lid appears to be expertly done, and considering its detailed construction, we’re definitely talking royalty here.
“New Kingdom is the first thing that comes to mind,” taking the time to study the artwork. “You know, I think I’ve seen that image there somewhere else…”
“Oh, that’s thought to be the winged soul of the departed, that’s Ba,” using a finger to point out the figure, “and it’s hovering over a mummy, or I guess to be more precise, it appears to be hovering over a sarcophagus.
“I saw something like that in the Papyrus of Ani, the Book of the Dead. We have a copy on display,” throwing him a quick glance, “and that’s definitely a tyet on the side of the sarcophagus.
“Beneath that, there is a winged Goddess… I’d say that’s Nephthys, Protector of the Dead. She and her sister Isis always appear together in funerary scenes, but Isis is missing from this one for some reason.
“Well,” she quickly added, “except for the tyet, which is considered a symbol of hers.
“I think scarabs are a symbol of resurrection, or the dawn, depending on who you ask. The two on the lower corners of each side are made of lapis lazuli, but the upper ones appear to be made from amber.
“Scarab symbols are common to the funerary cults of those ancient times, so nothing earth shaking with that, but the choice of materials is surprising, and it’s clearly quality work.
“I’ve never such detail before,” examining the beetles closely.
“They’re inset into the wood, and…” shifting her position so that she could see the other side, “that appears to be a Nile serpent, maybe an image of Apep.”
“As to the writing,” returning her attention to the side facing her, “Hieratic… Demotic, maybe,” she mused, leaning over to get a closer look.
“Those markings look odd to me though,” raising her eyes to see his were on her.
“Now that I think on it, I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of writing before. I don’t remember what the stars represent.
“It’s a proper mystery box alright.”
“Very good, a nice assessment,” nodding his head at her. “I’ve been studying these sort of objects for most of my life, they’re always a mystery in the beginning,” letting out a little sigh as he leaned back to look at her. “This one more than others, I fear.
“You said New Kingdom, is that because the image on top there, the one that reminded you of the Papyrus of Ani?”
“I suppose so,” pausing to consider what she had told him, “I mean, that Papyrus is dated to the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, somewhere around 1240 BC. The box doesn’t look older that that.”
“I only asked to open your mind to other possibilities,” he remarked, nodding back at the box.
“The use of scarabs appears in the 6th Dynasty, which is about 2300 BC, over a thousand years earlier. They were used to represent rebirth, perhaps the rebirth of the sun… which, I suppose, would help explain the association with the dawn.
“The use of the Apep first shows up around the 8th Dynasty, approximately 2160 BC. The stars were thought to represent the afterlife, but my own studies make me think that is just a guess. I tend to think they represent those souls who have crossed over.
“That look on your face tells me you can understand my wife’s shock at your age, she was so surprised that I stopped my studies of such things long enough to marry her.”
“Oh, you’ll have to bring her in one evening of course, I’d like to meet her,” Lorrie replied, her interest still on the mysterious chest.
“She passed away, many years ago,” Karl sighed, giving out a slight shrug at the suggestion.
“It’s just me and my daughter, but she won’t be able to visit anytime soon. She’s now over at the University,” turning to look out the window, his eyes shifting, going to the distant bell tower that marked the campus.
“Her name is Selket, Selket Tiye.”
“Selket,” Lorrie replied, idly taking up her clipboard once more. “Pretty name. You’ve named her after a Goddess, the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Magick.
“Tiye as a middle name is interesting as well, if I’m remembering it correctly. Hereditary Princess, or Mistress of the Two Lands. You can’t beat that for relating to her heritage. Her sister was wife to Tutankhamun.”
“Oh, what’s that expression you have there,” she let out, “What else do I need to consider?” pausing at the door on her way back out into the hallway.
“What was inside, a shabti figurine, Sir? That might have been a clue to its owner. It could have told us whose tomb it came from, they usually had a name, or something marked on them.”
“That I don’t know either, but I can say with some confidence that whatever was placed in that box is still in there,” his eyes gleaming as he smiled at her once more.
“You didn’t lift it up, that might help you to solve part of the mystery, or perhaps just add to it.”
“May I?” she asked, returning to the table, her curiosity growing as she took in his amused expression.
“Damn, it’s got something heavy in it,” she slowly let out, surprised at the unexpected weight. “What’s in there, lead?”
“It is still sealed, and I’ve never opened it up, so I can’t say. I didn’t want to pry at it, any more than did the original finder,” glancing back at the box. “There doesn’t seem to be a latch. It’s most unusual, a true mystery.”
“As you must know, the Egyptians didn’t use lead in their funeral items,” Karl let out quietly, keeping his eyes on her, “only in their eyeliner.
“They tended to use another heavy metal.”
“Gold,” she slowly let out, her eyes widening as she returned his look.
“Whatever is in there must be made of gold… it’s a golden puzzle box.”
“I don’t like the late shift,” Kelly let out, checking her watch again, frowning at the time they still had left. “I didn’t like it last month, and I still don’t like it.”
“You just don’t like walking around this place at night,” May-May replied, rolling her eyes at the comment.
“If you were out bar hopping, you’d have a smile, and be closing the place down.”
“I didn’t close that place down,” Kelly said, throwing her look, “My ride got drunk. I had to wait for somebody else since the buses weren’t running. Sally just likes to tell it that way.
“It’s a spooky place, like working in the morgue, and don’t try to tell me different,” quickly glancing back over to the other girl.
“You even mentioned something when we had to work down there for a month. The only difference is, these ones are still breathing.”
“I don’t know why they have us students checking on the coma patients anyway, it’s not like we can do anything for them,” she added, seeing the clipboard getting checked for what tasks remained on the shift.
“My life as a Med student,” May-May said, giving her a grin as she shook her head. “I can’t wait for that book to come out, guaranteed to put you to sleep, or in a coma.”
“Come on, duty calls. We only have the two up on Five,” throwing her a glance as the watch was checked again. “It’s not like they’re the living dead, it’s more… like they’re just sleeping.”
“I still think it’s creepy,” Kelly remarked, finding herself trying to be quiet as they entered the last room on the hall. “I’ve read they can hear everything we’re saying.”
“You read too much, and most of them are those cheap horror stories,” May-May replied, checking the operation of the small flashlight she took up from the nurse’s station just inside the room.
“Since you’re in one of your moods, I’ll check the eye responses this time, and you write them down, but you get to do it on Friday.” looking in the desk drawer for a new form to use.
“Oh, fair deal,” Kelly muttered, her attention going over to the second covered form.
“Hey, I thought old man Harris was supposed to be in here,” a touch of relief in her voice as she realized the elderly man wasn’t there.
“Mandy told me he died this morning,” May-May replied, giving out a slight shrug of her shoulders.
“Sometimes they don’t wake up. A coma is like that, who really knows what’s happening in there.”
“Hey, this one is just some kid,” Kelly let out as she walked over, surprised at the identity of the new patient. “She can’t be more than fifteen, maybe sixteen.
“What in hell is she doing in here?”
“Just came in,” May-May replied, reading the notes on the folder lying on the end of the bed, “She’s been that way for a month or so… no prognosis given. I guess they’re still conducting the tests, trying to get a proper evaluation,” looking over to Kelly.
“She was being treated overseas, somewhere in Egypt according to this. Some place I can’t pronounce.
“Man, what a name to get saddled with,” trying to figure out the pronunciation of the patient’s name. “Something… Arawa.”
“Hey, look. Let me do Mr. Jones over there on Friday,” nodding her head towards the other patient, “and you can do her,” Kelly remarked, giving out a hopeful expression.
“Girl, what is going on with you tonight?” looking up from the folder to stare at her, “You losing it?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Kelly let out quietly, shifting her eyes back to the girl’s face. “I can’t explain, it just creeps me out. She’s supposed to be outside, arguing with her parents, trying on dresses for the dance and stuff,” turning to look back.
“She doesn’t belong in here, lying in that bed as if she’s waiting on her soul to be returned or something.”
“We won’t either, in about 30 minutes,” May-May replied, nodding over towards the other patient. “We going to get this done, or is the day shift going to report us for failing to complete our rounds when they come on?
“It’ll be more than our souls that will be in jeopardy if Dr. Johnson has a say in the matter. Our jobs, too.”
“Normal response. Maybe she’s Greek,” Kelly mused, marking down the reaction to the light. “Her name,” giving May-May a look in response to her questioning expression. “It sounds like Greek to me.”
“Love all that hair,” May-May remarked, reaching out to stroke the shiny veil. “It’s even longer than mine, and so thick and heavy. We should brush it for her next time we’re up here. I don’t think she’s Greek.”
“Well, just because her hair is the same color as yours, which is darker than the bottom of a well, that doesn’t make her Chinese.”
“She’s from somewhere else,” continuing to examine the girl, taking the fine features of her face. “The chart says she came in from some place in Egypt.
“An Egyptian Princess, that’s all I need to be tending. I’ll probably get damned for saying something rude, or failing to bow at the proper time,” Kelly let out, rolling her eyes.
“You’ll get damned alright, for standing around,” a man’s voice suddenly said from the doorway. “Hop to it, girls. Time’s a wasting.”
“Oh, it’s the brilliant, well cultured, Mr. Wantabe Student President,” Kelly let out, recovering from the intended shock of his unexpected voice.
“We’re busy in here, Brad. What brings you crawling up the stairs, can’t find anyone who’ll stop to listen to your whine?”
“Your skills are needed, ladies. Someone just upchucked in the girl’s lavatory down in maternity,” stepping into the room to get a better look at what they were doing.
“You guys done?”
“Oh, lookie here,” he slowly let out while moving closer to the girl’s bed. “Ain’t this one a sight for sore eyes, we have us a cutie in here.
“I didn’t know they allowed models in here. Actually,” give Kelly a smile, “I didn’t really think ones like this existed, just airbrushed images in a computer somewhere.”
“Back off, Brad. You leave this kid alone, you hear me?” Kelly replied, her tone of voice changing.
“You’ve already had a lecture on patient care. The way I heard it, your father had to use some influence to keep you from getting the boot.”
“What, you going to push me down an open elevator shaft, just like in those books you’re always got your nose stuck in,” Brad replied, showing a slight sneer.
“I haven’t been lectured on anything, you can go ask my dad,” making a face at her before turning his attention back to the girl on the bed.
“Sweetie here must be new, I’ll have to make sure I get a chance to stop by and say hello. I like the way that sheet curves.
“I have this floor next month,” a slow warped smile coming to his face before he turned to leave, “Don’t forget, maternity.”
“I’m going to Dr. Johnson,” Kelly gave out, her eyes on the door closing behind him as he left.
“Don’t go rocking the boat over a few words, he must know it was us that reported him last time,” May-May replied.
“If we go right back with another claim, he’ll make it look like we’re the ones who need to get the boot.”
“Dr. Mesa is the class advisor, I’m going to let her advise me if that pervert gets anywhere near our princess. Come on, let’s finish up and get out of here.”
“What made you say she was waiting for her soul to return,” May-May asked, returning the flashlight to the desk where she had found it. “You sure you haven’t been reading too many books? You’re acting weird on me again.”
“It just came to me, like that time with the car.”
“Kelly, that was just a coincidence, the driver turned out to be twice the legal limit. He was just drunk.”
“Okay,” Kelly let out, lifting her arms up and dropping them, “So no one believes me, that’s alright. One of these days I’m going to know the Lotto numbers and once I do, I’m history.”
“What now?” May-May asked, seeing her pause as she turned back towards the beds.
“Oh, nothing,” she finally muttered, her eyes on the still form, “I’m losing it, folks will talk if I say anything else.”
“They already talk,” May-May said quietly, pointing them out towards the locker room. “I’m not going back looking like this. I want my jeans and boots, it’s been raining out there.”
“What about maternity?”
“That’s why we have a custodial staff, so screw Brad. He knows what he can do with his maternity problem.
“He’s probably the cause of it, he makes me sick, too.”
“Hey,” turning to give her friend a look, “Don’t forget, it’s your turn to buy breakfast.”
“I’ve got our bus fare. What’s Brad’s problem with the stairs,” fishing the bottom of her purse for her loose change.
“The elevators, he sort of let it out one day that he has this weird fear of elevators, so some of the gang has been on his case over it ever since.
“It’s the reason he’s always using the stairs.”
“Dr. Arawa, Karl Arawa?” making his way around the desk to greet him, “it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Sir. I’m Dr. Johnson, Head of the Department.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you arrived the other day, they had me in surgery for what seemed to be half the night.”
“Oh, quite alright,” Karl replied, taking his hand in greeting, “There was not a great need to see you on my part. I was just here seeing to my daughter.”
“In fact, that is my purpose here this morning, an early visit. I’m currently working a night shift for awhile. New job, new responsibilities,” taking the offered chair.
“The staff directed me towards your office when I asked about her. I guess I’m here before the scheduled visiting hours.”
“She’s upstairs, all settled in,” Dr. Johnson replied, taking up one of the folders on his desk.
“No need to get concerned, she’s in good hands. In fact,” standing away from his desk, “How about I take you up to see her myself?”
“Everything is looking good,” taking a few minutes to review the findings in the folder he had brought along with them.
“We ran an initial series of tests yesterday, and I haven’t had a chance to get these in her chart up there. I wanted to see them first.”
“So far, she’s not showing internal clots, or any indications of a hemorrhage. Vitals look good, but I’ll know more once we check a few more areas.
“We now have a nice MRI machine here, it’s the latest type. I’ve just scheduled a time slot for her.”
“Evening, Doc,” Charles gave out, tipping his cap as he approached. “How is it going?”
“Oh, Charles,” turning to see the security guard. “Good evening.
“Quite well, actually. I’m impressed with the items we have here. I didn’t get a chance to give the entire collection a detailed study when I stopped in for my interview, just a few of the larger pieces.”
“Well,” he drawled, “I don’t go around touching anything, just to let you know. I don’t let anyone else do that, either,” he quickly added, looking around the cases.
“That Miss Lorrie up here? She don’t like to see me hanging out up here much,” glancing back at Karl.
“She thinks I like to walk by just to take a gander at some of them figures back there,” using a thumb to indicate the wall murals.
“Some of them don’t wear all that much, I guess it was plenty hot back there in Egypt. Huh, Doc?”
“Well, it was nothing unusual, either. There are many illustrations over the span of thousands of years depicting that aspect of their lifestyle.
“Yes, its art, and usually stylized, but it tells us something of the people. Although it gives us an admittedly limited insight on how they actually lived their lives.
“Unfortunately, archeology isn’t the best means to determine the inner workings of an ancient society. For example, we don’t even know anything about their weddings, who proposed to whom, those sorts of things.
“Some things were just not recorded for us, and of course one must understand the artwork was done by the men, so it’s a one sided view as well.
“Perhaps they thought so little of some events, that it was not worth mentioning,” giving him a quick smile.
“However,” turning to move on to the next display case, “I’ve never found one that was blushing from the way she was dressed. No one seems to give it any consideration.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Charles replied after a moment, “except that Miss Lorrie.”
“Lorrie blushes?” giving him a glance as he lifted the glass top of the case, his attention on the small numbers beside each item as he checked the list.
“Well, she did that night, let me tell you,” glancing around once more to see if she was near.
“When I came up here one night, she was wearing one of them outfits you see them priestesses and such wearing, Doc. Prettiest sight you ever did see, let me tell.”
“Ah, she mentioned that my first day on the job, the time she turned around and sort of knocked you down,” showing a slight grin. “I was told you surprised her.”
“She’s a member of a Fellowship, they pay honor to Isis,” stopping his inventory to give Charles his attention for a moment. “We’ve already discussed it.
“I’ve told her if she wants to use her break time to come in here on certain days to give honor to the deities of an ancient civilization, its fine with me. I’m not going to forbid it.
“I’m sure the old Gods of Egypt would appreciate the homage. It doesn’t happen all that often these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my own ancestors did the same thing, back in the day.
“It’s no problem if you take note of it again, she has my permission,” giving him a smile. “Whatever you saw her wearing last time, will probably be her usual attire.”
“What she was wearing… did she tell you?” Charles gave out, trying not to stumble on his words as he held his hands up to his chest.
“I saw it… them… and she was looking just like that one lady figure back there,” a light blush beginning to show on his face.
“I mean in full glory exactly, Doc.”
“I see,” his smile returning at the expression being shown to him. “I didn’t ask. Perhaps it’s best that we avoid this section on certain evenings.
“I’ll see to it that she keeps us informed on which days she’ll be following her spirituality. That way, neither of us gets a surprise, or a black eye.”
“Yeah, good idea, Doc. Damn girl nearly gave me a heart attack last time. Oh,” suddenly remembering what he had wanted to say, “There’s a crate down in the basement, you might want to check it out, too.”
“The storage area, yes. We’re going down there next week,” Karl replied, glancing over to the clipboard with his inventory on it. “We’re almost done up here.”
“No, this one is still sitting over in the shipping section, over past the restoration room.” shaking his head.
“Mr. Jameson, that other fellow they fired, he had me set there about a while back. Once I heard some shady things were going on, I went back down there and took the shipping label off of it.”
“I don’t want to see another piece of jewelry in my life,” Lorrie gave out as she dropped herself down in the chair in front of Karl with a groan, setting her clipboard down on the desk with a clatter.
“From my side, we’re missing two wrist bracelets, three jewelry boxes, a serpent arm bracelet and a head piece.”
“I’m missing five shabti figurines, and a small statue of Khufu that was donated to us about ten years back. So far, that’s the only donated item that seems to have gone missing. All of the other items on my side are still here.”
“Same here,” giving out a low sigh as she nodding over to her clipboard. “For the most part, the collection is intact, with all of the loaned items still on display.
“I guess he didn’t want to get caught taking something that was normally out there in the public’s eye.
“More shabti figurines?” she suddenly asked, noting the wrapped items sitting on the table.
“No, must be two of your missing jewelry boxes. I found those in the bottom drawer of my desk, wrapped in paper,” turning to follow her gaze.
”I suspect he was planning something with them. I was going to place them back in there until I can figure out where to put them.
“I’ve been wondering what to do with all the smaller figurines and statues we have. The museum has nearly 30 more shabti figurines, not to mention the other various items.
“Not all of them are on display at the same time so it is easy to overlook them, they wouldn’t be missed for years.”
“We should fix that,” shifting her attention back to Karl. “I mean, if we’re going to keep some of these things stuck in a box somewhere, it’s like we went and buried them in the sand ourselves.
“Isn’t it better that everyone can see all of them?”
“Good point,” taking a pen out to make a note on one of the papers on his desk. “We’ll need to review our display and floor layouts, and plan out a strategy on how to add more display cases,” a smile coming to his face.
“There just might be enough room.”
“We can ask the Board if we can take back the South annex, that smaller room beside the ship models,” leaning forward, her eyes showing her excitement, “That used to be part of our department.”
“Well then, we have next month all set for us. That was easy,” Karl sighed, leaning back in his chair. “This job isn’t so difficult.”
“Oh, just wait,” Lorrie gave out, sitting back in her seat, “You haven’t got permission to do something like that.”
“I asked to head up the Egyptian Department, with all of its antiquities and displays,” keeping his eyes on her, “But it seems I ended up in charge of the entire place,” a smile forming as he watched her reaction.
“We had to discuss it first. I mentioned that I might be able to get us on the list for the Egyptian Exposition that’s going on tour in a few months.
“We’ll just make the changes, note the additions on the website, add a new photo or two to the next brochures are printed up, and if we still need a nod from the Board… well... I’ll let them know what we’ve done to the place.”
“So, how was your day?” Martha asked, carefully watching as her daughter dropping herself down in the living room easy chair while letting out with a loud groan.
“I’m on the evening shift now, Ma,” Lorrie replied, dropping her backpack down on the floor beside the chair before leaning it back to raise her feet.
“Better than expected, we’re almost done with the inventory,” glancing over. “This new guy knows his stuff.”
“Did you ask about that position you been wanting, the one with the antiques?”
“Its antiquities, and no, I didn’t,” laying her head back on the back of the chair. “It’s too soon, he just got the job. I’ll be punching in at the time clock for awhile yet.
“What’s for breakfast,” changing the topic.
“Whatever you want to fix us before you crawl up there to that storage room you call a bedroom,” her mother replied, a smile showing.
“Add another stack of books or magazines in there and they’ll all come down through the floor. They’ll all be sitting down here.”
“Gives me more room,” Lorrie muttered, giving out a low sigh as she sat back up. “I guess its scrambled eggs, again.”
“What’s on your mind this morning, that awful guard again?” Martha asked, waiting until she had sat down at the table before trying to discover the problem that her daughter seemed to be dealing with.
“What’s that?” Lorrie replied, giving out a tired groan as she realized the salt and pepper had been left on the stove.
“You’ve had that look on your face the whole time you’ve been playing with them eggs,” her mother replied, throwing her a look of her own as Lorrie got back up.
“Somebody been after you?”
“No, I think they learned a lesson last time, he hasn’t returned to ogle me,” giving her a smile, “It’s just the boss, and the ghosts up there these days,” bringing the shakers back with her from the stove.
“It’s been quiet up there,” showing a thoughtful expression before giving out a slight shrug.
“Beats me, mom. Maybe it’s dealing with these recent thefts, and the disrespect of an ancient people. Half of the things came to us from tombs, so who knows what feelings we’ve created over disturbing them.
“I told him about the Fellowship of Isis,” getting back up to grab the loaf of bread from the counter, deciding on making herself a sandwich with her scrambled eggs this time. “He’s cool with it, or me… whatever.”
“Your order of incense came in yesterday,” giving her a look. “Half the house smells like frankincense and sandalwood up there.”
“The coast is clear, just as I thought,” Brad let out under his breath, talking to himself as he carefully peering into the dim room before entering, pulling the door closed behind him before turning on the small lamp at the nurse’s station.
“If them stupid girls are thinking I’m going to wait a whole month to check her out, they’re sadly mistaken,” grinning as he looked over to where Selket lay.
“I’ve been told it’s always best to make your move when they least expect it.”
“Besides, she might not be here next month,” his smile widening, pleased with his logic.
“Now, you other guys stay where you are, pay no attention,” looking over to the beds of the other patents that had been brought in. “It’s just a routine examination. No one will know I was ever here.”
“Let’s not forget to take this,” grabbing the chart from where it was hanging from a hook at the end of the bed, “Just in case we get interrupted,” giving Selket’s still form a leering look.
“We have to be professional about our work, sweet cheeks. In fact, I was just reminded of that a little while back, he used those very words.
“Of course, my dad used a few other words of his own,” a look of disgust crossing his face, “but we don’t need to go there on my first visit. There’s going to be plenty of time for that later.
“I like the ones that just lay there,” grinning once more as that unpleasant memory of that meeting passed, “So sweet and innocent. That tan you’re sporting helps, I hear most of them go pale while they’re in here.
“What the hell was that?” he suddenly let out, almost dropping the chart as he leaned down to look around his feet.
“Something just went over my foot,” silently cursing the dimness of the room as he knelt down to look beneath the bed, keeping a hand on the edge of the bed for balance, not seeing the shifting of the sheet beside his hand.
“Damn. Working nights in this place is getting to me,” muttering as he stood back up to look around at the shadows.
“Creepy place, it’s like a tomb in here,” coming out before he began to slowly ease his hand underneath the covering.
“Now, let’s show the good doctor what you have hiding under here. It look like you might have some serious swelling going on, we’ll have to make sure before someone comes up here in the morning for follow ups.”
None of the patients responded to his sudden cry of fright as he quickly pulled his hand back out, shaking it vigorously to rid himself of feeling that something had touched him beneath the sheet.
“What the hell is going on here? There’s something under here,” confusion showing on his face as he reached over, giving a quick tug on the sheet that was covering her.
His next cry was more of a scream, the fright turning to sheer terror as the cobra began wrapping part of its nine-foot length around his extended arm.
No one turned to watch as he fought his way over to the door in a jerky, panicked motion, the chart going flying across the floor as he fought against the greater strength of the writhing, hissing serpent, crying out with terrified screams for help as his face paled.
Seeking to rid himself from the serpent’s grip, he desperately tried to catch the snake’s length against the doorframe as he tried to flee, trying to trap the cobra with the edge of the door.
For a brief moment he thought he would be free of it, until to his horror, he realized the doors of the room opened outward and his frantic tugs to get clear only forced the door to open in his direction.
His screams echoed down the empty hall as he reached the corridor, the hallway seeming to grow in length as he struggled his way along it, striving to reach the elevator.
Dragging the weight of the serpent as he still fought its attack, his continuing pleas for help went unanswered. Turning towards the small lobby area, his fear glazed eyes widened in horror as the chime suddenly sounded and the doors of the elevator slowly yawned open before him, as if it had been waiting to display its dark welcoming shaft.
No one heard the bone in his arm snap as he struggled to reach the stairwell door, somehow managing to force it open as the snake now worked its way around his legs.
No one heard him cry out as he fell down the steps to the landing below, another bone giving under the serpent’s strength as the stairwell door slowly closed with a low click of the latch.
Only the serpent heard the slight sigh of contentment as it returned, coiling up in its former spot, eye’s on the door as silence descended once more upon the sleeping patients.
“Where did this come from?” taking in the appearance of the small container of ice cream suddenly set before him as Lorrie found her chair once more.
“There’s a small icebox in the kitchen up on Six. I keep it stocked for nights like this. I have to keep my name on them,” holding up the lid to her own container to show him, “Otherwise, they’re history,” showing a little smirk.
“I hope you like vanilla, the last of my chocolate evaporated last week.”
“Oh, this is an unexpected treat, vanilla is fine,” picking up the plastic spoon she had dropped for him. “What are we celebrating?”
“I was wondering, Dr. Arawa,” leaning back with her own ice cream in hand to look at him, “That site you found, the one you were working on in that article that got passed around here before you arrived.
“How did you find that tomb that was mentioned?”
“Ah, well,” pausing for a moment before resuming his interest in the container. “That room wasn’t a tomb, but I found it very exciting. I was at the point where it looked like another wasted season. I was pleased to prove an old tale was true.”
“That’s got to be the most evasive answer I’ve ever heard in my life,” raising an eyebrow at his reply.
“There weren’t many of the finer details concerning the site itself, so I guess that was your doing as well. You seemed to have downplayed it, as if it was of little importance. You even left it in the hands of the Department of Antiquities, as if you were finished with it. No further interest.”
“Such curiosity,” Karl let out, keeping his eyes on her as he considered her question.
“Actually, I convinced them to seal that chamber back up, once everything had been removed for preservation. The walls were bare of inscriptions, so there was little need to allow others to disturb it once that had been accomplished.
“The outer temple area will have to be exhumed from the sand. I’m sure it will reveal more of itself as time goes by.
“I’m in contact with one of the German universities, they have a good field team. I asked if they would to assist me when the work begins again. I’ve had several good offers, since mentioning the other issue I was dealing with.
“Why do you ask?”
“Your mystery box, the one you showed me,” she finally said, overcoming her nervousness, deciding to ask the question she had been mulling over before resuming her attention on the last of her ice cream.
“When I lifted it up to check the weight, back on the first night.”
“There were loose grains of sand beneath it. Somewhat unusual for an item you’ve been hauling around for years… wouldn’t you say?” lifting her eyes to his, anxiously waiting his reply.
“Ah, now I understand,” carefully giving his own ice cream some attention before looking back up at her again.
“If you’re asking if I removed it from the tomb, the answer is no.
“In fact, the room I was credited with discovering just held a number of sealed pottery jars, and a few bundles containing some common personal items… ivory combs, hand mirrors, baskets of linens… and other such things.
“There were some funerary items reported in the article as well,” his thoughts going back to the sight that greeted him in the light of the lantern when he had entered the dark crypt.
“I was hoping it would be untouched when we discovered it, another find like that of King Tutankhamun. It would have placed me in the history books,” giving her another furtive glance.
“Like everyone else, I had envisioned an immense treasure trove. As it was, there was nothing of such importance within the chamber except for those general items. The artwork found in the outer area held my attention more than the contents of the room.
“I wouldn’t have called it a tomb, but that’s what was written in the article, I suppose that sells more copies.
“I had gotten the impression it was a common side room off from the storage chamber used by the temple that had once stood above it, as we also found bread, beer urns, and other offerings of that nature.”
“There was a statue of Ba-Aset that we found, the Soul of Isis,” seeing her look. “Another aspect of Bast.”
“Alright, then where did the box come from?” raising her eyebrow, getting confused. “You said nothing much of interest was found, but offerings… and a statue.
“Offerings for whom?”
“As you’ve surmised, the box story isn’t what I said before… so I will tell you, if you want to play detective with me and help to solve a part of the mystery.
“The box, as I understand it, came from the tomb,” he carefully replied, seeing her quick nod, before giving out a slight shrug of his shoulders. “You’d have to ask my daughter, I wasn’t present.”
“Hold on,” she replied, still confused, “That’s a funeral box, and you just said it wasn’t a tomb. I’m confused already.”
“Yes, I was not the finder of the box, that much of the story is true. She is actually the one who located the room. I had nothing to do with it.
“It wasn’t as mentioned in the article. There was another one, a hidden room, one that held the box and the sarcophagus,” watching for her reaction. “Now, that one was a proper tomb. As I understand, the box came from there.”
“The other chamber was immensely larger,” his eyes shifting as he thought back. “There was an small opening between one of rock formations when I arrived, which then led down a wide paneled passageway after you made your way through the narrow opening. It completely covered in a relief of ancient Gods, and the depiction of rituals.”
“I should say that I didn’t have much time to examine them, I suppose I was in shock from the sight of them, and that I was searching for my daughter.
“I must have traveled several hundred feet down that dark shaft, with only my lantern and marks in the dust that covered the floor to guide me. My state of mind when I entered the tomb was a near panic.
“There were no names, no cartouches,” setting the empty container down on the desk, leaning back to look at her, “Although the style of the architecture reminded me of the work done for Seti I, the arched ceiling, the lotus columns that rose up to support the entrance way that led out to the central chamber.
“However, there was nothing I could use to place it within his time period, nor anyone else’s for that matter.
“The word elegant comes to mind. It impressed me with its simplicity and beauty.”
“A lost tomb that belonged to someone who didn’t feel the need for awe-inspiring grandeur, and you never mentioned it to anyone,” still taking in what he had said.
“No inscriptions on the sarcophagus?” leaning forward, engrossed in his story, trying to envision the scene.
“I suppose the sarcophagus is the strangest piece of the puzzle,” giving her a slight smile, “You’ve seen alabaster artifacts, yes?”
“Sure,” surprised by the question. “I just saw a couple out there, case number 27 if I remember correctly. We have several vases, and cosmetic jars.”
“Ah, good. Now,” leaning forward in his seat, keeping his eyes on her, “Try to imagine a sarcophagus some six feet in length, setting on four finely carved pedestal columns, about three feet in height which were made entirely from the finest onyx-alabaster.
“In case you are not familiar with it, that’s the type of alabaster that shows the bands within the material.”
“Now,” he quickly added, noting her expression, “Try to see the entire sarcophagus made from a highly polished, green onyx-alabaster.”
“That’s not possible, Dr. Arawa, they only quarried common alabaster in Egypt… it was used for a lot of items and it has a soft white luster. They used for vases and jewelry boxes, that sort of stuff. You don’t go making an entire sarcophagus from it.
“Oh, wait. Seti’s sarcophagus was made of white alabaster,” her eyes widening at the recollection, “The one that got taken off to England.
“I guess that could be done more than once, but I think you must be mistaken on it being green. Maybe it degraded from exposure to other elements over the years, copper maybe.
“No one has ever found green alabaster in Egypt that I know of. It doesn’t exist there, or anywhere else in that part of the world,” showing a thoughtful look on her face.
“Well, you understand my first impressions then. As you see, we truly have a mystery here,” he sighed, reaching out to play with the empty carton on his desk before, deciding on his next words.
“I’ve looked into it of course, for weeks afterwards. I’ve had some time on my hands,” he slowly added, his attention back on her.
“You’re right, such onyx-alabaster is only found outside of Egypt. That’s the type the supporting structure was made from, as well as most of the wall panels that I saw, so it was imported.
“Oddly enough, it appears to be a type quarried in what is now Virginia,” a smile coming to his face at her expression, “and the green, well, there is a well known source for that as well, one equally distant and surprising.”
“It comes from a place now called La Pedrara… you’ll find it in Mexico.”
“Oh wow,” came out slowly, as she sat back in her chair, unable to think clearly. “That’s not possible.”
“I’ve got a few photos,” smiling at her. “I had my phone with me, it has a camera. There was a single statue standing at one side, each flanked by a pair of large djed columns that rose to the ceiling, with another identical set at the other end, each facing the sarcophagus.”
“Exquisite detail,” he added, grinning at Lorrie’s rapt attention. “The figures looked to be of Isis, and were about six feet tall, each made of pure gold with details made from lapis lazuli. They each stood on a raised dais, and both so highly polished that they seemed to glow on their own… and so incredibility life like.
“I truly thought she was standing there before me when I first looked upon her,” pausing to look back at her.
“My mind went numb at the sight, my heart pounding. I had to fight the urge to drop to one knee and bow my head in reverence.
“If King Tut’s tomb was a chapter in the history of Egypt, this one was the rest of the book,” remembering the scene that had awaited him.
“A throne, also made of gold, stood to one side. Its detailed work quite similar to the one found with Tutankhamun, with the exception that it only showed a young woman.
“Flanked on either side were raised golden treasure boxes decorated in detailed relief, one with Anubis resting on the lid, the other was a large falcon which I took to be Ra. Whatever they contained is still there, as I didn’t have time to explore their contents.
“There were no canopic jars to be seen, nothing I would have expected to be seen in regards to the remains of whoever was entombed there.
“Yes,” seeing the look in her eyes. “There was a side chamber as well, same as with the temple. Its access was sealed with thick bars of copper that held the wide doors tightly sealed. I took it to be a treasury.”
“But nothing of this was mentioned,” she replied, still dazed by what he had said, “There was no royal tomb mentioned by anyone.”
“No tomb beneath the temple site we found. That is what I told the press, but they still used that word,” sighing as he stood back up.
“That ice cream really helped, thanks. Let’s head down to the basement, Charles has told me we have another type of mystery waiting on us down there.”
“Dr. Arawa, you keep saying that your dig didn’t find a tomb, I still don’t understand,” keeping her attention on him as he led them towards the elevator.
“You just told me that you did.”
“I didn’t,” looking back at her. “I’m not weaving another tale,” smiling at her attempt to gain a better understanding. “My daughter found it.”
“And you didn’t mention her discovery…” her eyes widening at the revelation. “No one else knows of its existence. You had it sealed back up to protect it.
“You said there was no cartouche… no name, so what was on the sarcophagus?”
“A kneeling winged Isis figure with bowed head, arms out stretched, one on each end, facing each other. Similar in design to those seen on the coffin of King Tutankhamun, except for the fact that they covered a larger portion of each end and that they were made of gold, each carefully inset into the alabaster.” looking over to her as the elevator reached the basement and the doors opened with a low ding.
“There was the text you saw on the box, it was the same way on both sides.”
“You discovered an unknown tomb, maybe dedicated to Isis herself, maybe one of the greatest finds in the history of Egypt, maybe even the world… and you didn’t say a single word,” stopping at the shock.
“Dr. Arawa, I can’t believe someone would do that.”
“What tomb?” he asked quietly, glancing her way for a moment before heading towards the shipping area, his “I never said I found a tomb,” coming back to her as he walked on.
“What does it say on the box, that text you asked me about,” standing still, waiting on his reply. “You must know what it says.”
“She who is the beginning and the end. The giver and taker, the one unknown. All praise,” giving her a slight smile as he paused. “As I said, it’s a mystery.”
“What was in the sarcophagus?”
“I didn’t open it. Perhaps it held a box, a very old box,” pausing to give her an enigmatic smile before turning to continue on. “I had the wood carbon dated before I arrived here.
“How odd that the box shows an illustration we could date to the 19th Dynasty, but the age of the box is dated back to the 1st or 2nd.”
“Wait a minute,” doing the math in her head, “That can’t be, that would mean that chest predates the pyramids.”
“Yes,” smiling at her expression, “the chest is over 5,000 years old. Now, the question emerges… is it the original chest, or is it one made to replace an even older one?”
“I suspect it was left sitting on the throne since the sarcophagus seemed untouched, but you’ll have to ask my daughter where she found it. The little tomb raider beat me to it.
“Come now, I believe I know where we can find that missing statue of Khufu.”
“Has anyone else seen these recordings?” Dr. Johnson asked, letting out a snort of disgust as he turned around to Sergeant McGuire, the hospital security officer.
“No, Sir. Other than my own staff, I mean,” gesturing back to the outer office. “Myers was on duty in here, using the cameras to keep an eye on that kid, just as you asked.
“He’s the one who caught what happened, and the one who went to check it out before calling for me.
“We don’t have any cameras in the stairwells, and the camera in the room only let’s us see the end of the bed. Somebody was more concerned with patient privacy when it was installed. I guess the purpose of security didn’t enter their head.”
“Where’s he at now?” Dr. Johnson asked, shaking his head at what he had seen on the monitor. “I’m going to have to inform his father.”
“Down on Two,” checking his notes, “Busted his arm in several places, along with a couple of ribs.
“I got told he was under a strong sedative, so I wasn’t able to ask any questions while I was there.
“Myers told me he was going on about snakes, at least when he came to in the ER,” throwing the doctor a look, followed by a shrug of his shoulders.
“We figure he was smoking something during his breaks, but no one’s bothered to check for that yet. I think they were waiting on your say so. We haven’t called any outside authorities.”
“Well, we can clearly see where he entered the room, picking up the chart to make rounds, although he wasn’t on the schedule to do that,” pondering what he had seen on the recording.
“Then he starts dancing about the room, which continued out into the hall. He seems to want the elevator, then abruptly turns and runs towards the stairwell.
“It’s no wonder we found him in a pile at the bottom of that first flight of steps. It looked like he was trying to do the Macarena.
“No… I don’t think we need to do anything further, I’ll let his family see this,” nodding towards the monitor.
“It’s a shame we can’t record the sound as well, to hear what he’s saying. He seems to be singing or something.
“Who knows what that kid was using. I suppose we should have an inventory of the medicine lockers done.
“Let’s get the ones who helped you up there, I’ll tell them it’s an insurance, or liability issue, and they’re not to mention it to anyone in case there is a court case.
“I’ll suggest to them that they don’t want to be involved in something like that, as his father has some influence around town. I’m sure they’ll understand that,” giving McGuire a look.
“That should keep all this quiet. I’ll have one of the student nurses check on the patients, their testimony can be discounted in court if it comes to that.”
“His father, Sir,” the officer asked. “Want me to call him now?”
“I’ll handle that, I’m sure he’ll understand the situation when his son begins to ramble on about snakes being up there,” letting out a tired sigh.
“Since it involved a patient, I’ll call the girl’s father as well, just to cover the all the bases.”
“Charles informed me that he had removed the shipping label,” taking the cutters to the metal banding straps that secured the crate. “I suspect we’ll be able to recover a few items.”
“How did he know to do that?” Lorrie asked, reaching out to take the cutters as the band snapped, watching as Karl used the end of a screwdriver to force the lid open.
“Ah, see here,” Karl let out, pulling out handfuls of shredded packaging material to reveal a statue, “Just as I suspected.”
“I’ll get it,” taking the statue up in both arms, “It’s not that heavy, I’ve got it,” she gave out, lifting it and shifting slightly to get a better grip. “They don’t make them light, that’s for sure.”
“We’ll take it upstairs,” Karl said, after checking the crate for any other loose items. “I guess we’ve lost the bracelets.”
“I hope that’s your cell phone buzzing,” she let out, trying not to let the strain of the statue’s weight show on her face as they rode the elevator back up. “I don’t feel like answering.
“Something’s wrong?” she asked, seeing the expression. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Ah, no… I don’t think so,” Karl gave out, his worry beginning to show on his face as he returned his phone to a pocket, “It was the hospital, they want to see me.
“They used the new MRI machine,” he explained, at Lorrie’s concerned look. “There is a dark spot, and perhaps it is the problem. He wanted to discuss it before they did anything.”
“Well, let’s drop this thing off at the office and get ourselves over there,” she promptly said as the doors opened up for them, “I’ll drive.
“Hey,” the idea hitting her she set the statue down on the table with a deep sigh of relief, “The box.”
“Yes,” turning to her as he grabbed up his jacket. “What is it?”
“A MRI will let us see what’s inside that box,” turning to him with an excited look on her face.
“Let’s bring it along.”
“You sure know how to get that Chaplain upset,” Kelly mused, glancing over to May-May as they went about their duties, “I don’t think I’ve seen that side of you before. You really gave him the eye.”
“He disgusts me, coming in there claiming Mr. Jones’s family requested it, and both us standing there knowing his paperwork has him marked down as a Muslim,” she replied, her eyes narrowing at the memory.
“Did you notice that he caught your look just as he was about to go over the Princess?
“I bet he was going to toss his holy water her, shove one of those pamphlets under her pillow. I’ve heard he’s like that, waving his arms about, muttering his words.”
“Janet’s going to get an earful no doubt. She’s a follower, probably thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
“I don’t want him getting close to her,” May-May gave out quietly, looking over to the covered form. “He’ll probably be back.”
“No wonder that one is such a looker,” Kelly muttered under her breath, watching as Karl entered the room.
“That has to be her father, good looks run in the family,” looking over to May-May.
“Handsome and distinguished, just the way you like them,” May-may replied, glancing up, “No ring.”
“That helps,” Kelly let out before shifting her attention over to Lorrie who had just entered; a bag slung over one shoulder.
“That doesn’t,” May-May gave out quietly, throwing her an amused look. “He’s already got someone falling all over him.”
“Can’t be, she’s too young,” Kelly replied.
“And how old do you think you are?” setting down the clipboard she had been holding. “Let’s go meet and greet, Dr. Johnson must have called him.”
“Oh, wow,” Lorrie let out softly as she approached the bed, taking in the sight of the young girl as Karl began speaking to the two nurses in the room.
”So you are his little tomb raider, no wonder he’s so protective of you,” looking around for a table before carefully setting the box down on the end of the bed.
“You’re a beauty, that’s for sure,” her attention on Selket’s features.
“Hey,” unsure of what else to say to the unresponsive girl. “I brought your find along,” nodding back to where she had placed it. “Maybe I should call it your treasure chest, you found it.”
“I’ll be right back,” Karl said as he came over to the side of the bed, his eyes on his daughter, “Dr. Johnson would like to see me down in his office.”
“No problem, Sir. I’ll keep an eye on her for you,” Lorrie said, trying to give him a comforting look. “Don’t worry, it’ll all work out.”
“That’s some beautiful artwork on her box,” May-May said unexpectedly, her attention on it as Kelly left with Karl, leaving the two them in the room. “I’ve always loved Egyptian things.”
“I think I spent most of one summer in the museum over there, just staring at all of the various items on display,” finally taking her eyes off the box to look over at Lorrie.
“It’s an ushabti box,” she replied, seeing her interest. “I brought it along hoping we might be able to use the new MRI I heard you guys have. We wanted to see what’s inside without ruining it by forcing it open. The contents are a mystery to us.”
“I thought figurines were kept in those, I think that’s what they found in other funerary boxes,” May-May said, examining the box with interest. “They were used to house the spirits of the dead, or helpers in the afterlife, something like that.”
“You might have a wait on seeing the contents if you’re not going to open it for her,” nodding over to the other beds in the room.
“We had two in here for the last two weeks, now we’re up to five and I’m expecting another one in later today. Every agency in town wants us to do some scans on their coma patients, but that schedule is up to Dr. Johnson.
“It’s missing something, are you sure it’s authentic?” May-May suddenly asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked over to Lorrie.
“What do you mean?” looking over to where the nurse was now pointing, “I think that’s a scene from the Papyrus of Ani. It certainly goes along with the use of the box, I didn’t see anything unusual about that being there,” noting her interest in the various figures and symbols.
“You should keep in mind that there is more than one Book of the Dead,” looking back over to Lorrie, “and more than one type of box can be found in ancient tombs.
“What did you see the snake as representing, the serpent of rebirth?”
“Yeah, could be,” Lorrie replied, beginning to realize that the nurse was well educated in ancient Egyptian history. “I was thinking Apep.”
“I don’t think that is correct,” slowly shaking her head at the idea. “You might want to re-look at that, it doesn’t feel right to me. I think what you have there on that side could be Ament, in her guise as a serpent.”
“Ament, wife of Amen, what cannot be seen. A Goddess of the air and invisibility… I know of her,” Lorrie said, considering the idea. “She didn’t come to mind.”
“What makes you think that’s her, and not Apep,” giving May-May another look.
“Oh,” she replied, “She is a Goddess of the sarcophagus, tombs, and coffins. That’s her there on the front, I recognized her when I realized that’s a hawk on her head.
“It’s a wild thought, no doubt,” giving Lorrie a quick glance before returning her attention to the box, “but on this other end is a scorpion, which is a symbol of the Goddess Selket, the one whose name she bears. She was said to protect the Gods from harm with her scorpions.”
“I’m sure her father already knows who she is… and he must be aware of what is missing from the artwork,” her words fading out as she looked back down at the covered form again.
“Kelly, the other nurse, she’s the one who made me think of her, actually,” turning back to her with a thoughtful look.
“We were in here a while back, checking the vitals and responses,” explaining as she shifted her position to move over beside Selket.
“She told me later that she thought she saw a coiled cobra, lying right here,” motioning with a hand. “On her chest, as if it was protecting her.”
“She’s always seeing things like that, she has a vivid imagination,” throwing out a slight smile at Lorrie expression.
“Relax, there are no snakes in here, but I guess I was reminded of that by the one on the box. It sort of looked like a cobra to me.
“We call her our sleeping princess, so I guess that makes us her attendants.” reaching down to stroke the strands of hair beside Selket’s face. “At first we thought she had a nice tan, but that’s her natural skin tone.”
“Your idea does make sense, like a tutelary. Did you know that Ament was the Goddess who welcomed the departed at the entrance into the Kingdom of Osiris,” Lorrie said, taking her attention off the box, looking over to Selket.
“Osiris,” May-May replied quietly, giving her a quick glance before returning her attention to her patient. “Lord of the Dead… son of the Sky Goddess, Nut. Brother, and husband of Isis.
“Yes, we know of him. When his brother killed him, his wife brought him back from the dead with a magic spell. Such is the power of love,” a slight smile showing.
“As a follower, you must know she is very powerful,” looking back over to Lorrie.
“You’ll have to excuse me for a moment,” she suddenly gave out, lifting a hand to the side of her forehead, “All of a sudden I’ve got this raging headache. I’ll be right back, I’ve got some aspirin in my bag, it’s just down the hall.”
“Hey, what’s the word?” Lorrie asked, as the door opened and Karl and Kelly came in.
“We must wait,” Karl let out, followed by a sigh as he moved over beside the bed, his eyes back on his daughter.
“They want to recalibrate the machine, and run the test once more, just in case there is a problem. They didn’t want to do something in a rush.”
“Well, that’s weird, a doctor not wanting to run at you with a scalpel,” Lorrie remarked, keeping her attention on him. “You alright?”
“Oh, fine. At least for now,” he replied, showing a tired smile, “Lots to consider. I must wait.
“Her grandparents want to visit her, I suppose that must wait as well.
“You should talk with that other nurse that was in here,” nodding back towards the door, “the one that just left. She seems to think there’s something missing from the artwork on our box, which I guess is also on the waiting list now. They’re getting crammed with new patients.”
“That girl wouldn’t know art from a cartoon in the funny papers,” Kelly let out, returning from checking on the other beds. “The comics,” she added, seeing the confused look.
“Her family was very poor, she’s the first to graduate from high school, and go to college from what she told me. She came here from California, I think her parents were immigrants from Taiwan or something like that. They worked a farm out there somewhere.”
“I thought she said she was from around here, that she used to go to the museum,” Lorrie said, getting confused, “She seemed to know a lot about ancient Egypt.”
“Oh, well I suspect she would know the pyramids if you showed her a picture, but don’t ask her where they’re located. I think that’s the extent of her understanding on Egypt, other than what we might catch a glimpse of on the television from time to time. Her interest is in medicine, she wants to be a doctor one day.”
“Are you the one who saw the snake?” making a guess. “She mentioned that, too.”
“What?” the surprise showing on her face as she reacted to the question. “I never said I saw a cobra on your daughter, Sir,” looking over to Karl, “I mean, I thought I saw one once, but I never mentioned it. I swear,” turning back to Lorrie.
“I never told her about it, everyone just laughs when I talk about things like that. May-May’s a good friend, but even so, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. They’d all think I was wacko.”
“Well, she seemed to know all about it,” Lorie said, giving out a slight shrug of her shoulders, “She also told me that might be Ament on your box, or Selket’s box.”
“She referred to it like she knew it was hers,” looking over to Karl. “She also said the one I had thought was Nephthys, is actually somebody else, maybe the Goddess Amunet. She mentioned both of the old Gods, Amen and Amunet.
“She knows of Osiris as well, spoke his name as he was a old family friend or something.”
“What made you think it was a cobra?” Karl asked, keeping his attention on the nurse.
“Oh, that was easy, it sort of raised up while showing that hood around its head. I only know of one kind of snake that does that, Sir.”
“I see,” his eyes narrowing slightly, “and what color was it?”
“The ones I’ve always seen on television were black, and the lights were low, but I thought this one had shades of brown,” Kelly promptly replied, seeing his was serious.
“I didn’t make it up, I really saw it,” looking over to Lorrie. “No one would have believed me, so I never mentioned it.”
“I like snakes, always have,” keeping her eyes on Karl, “My brother had a python for years, until it got too big and it was offered to the zoo. He let me hold it all the time. It wasn’t scary at all.”
“I should tell you that there’s something odd going on in here,” she slowly added, sensing the girl’s father was accepting what she had said.
“Something was by her hand when I came in. Well, I thought I saw something when I opened the door, after I was told to come up and check on the patients.”
“I checked her, but everything was normal. I’m thinking it was because her hands are relaxed at her sides, usually they tend to curl upwards with coma patients.”
“Yes,” Karl remarked, seeing her expression shift for just a moment.
“Well, it’s not much, I mean nothing was there when I walked over to take a closer look, but I had to re-cover her when I got called to check up here. I didn’t imagined that,” Kelly let out, giving him a slight shrug of her shoulders.
“No one has told me how that happened, or how they knew of it,” she added. “Nothing was out of place that I noticed, except for her chart,” nodding over to the bed. “I found it on the floor.
“It had to be one of the staff. I don’t think she just sat up and laid herself back down.”
“Perhaps Dr. Johnson is withholding something,” Karl let out slowly, raising an eyebrow at the disturbing thought.
“He called me in a rush, knowing something had went on in here, then abruptly shifted it to the pretense it had something to do with the MRI machine,” giving Kelly a look.
“She was scheduled for the MRI earlier now that I think on it. I’m beginning to suspect he panicked and changed his story for some reason.”
“Well, let’s all just go find the man,” Lorrie let out, getting steamed over the possibility something crooked was going on. “Before he thinks he’s Elvis, and we get told he’s left the building.”
“I’ll take you, May-May should be right back, she’ll keep an eye on her for us.”
“My Lady, your return was once heralded among the people,” May-May said quietly, peering down at Selket’s quiet face.
“The belief of you has faded from their memory, none even know your name today,” reaching out to run a finger down the length of her hair. “It is right that you return to remind them.”
Placing her hands on the box, she moved her fingers over each of the blue scarabs, pressing them inwards from each side, smiling at the lifting of the lid as the internal mechanism was released. With veneration, she carefully reached in to bring out the gleaming golden ankh.
Using great care, she opened Selket’s hand to place the loop in her palm, closing her fingers around it to hold it in place.
Slowly dropping down to one knee in reverence, she bowed her head as the ancient name came quietly to her lips.
“I hate all hospitals,” Lorrie finally let out, still fuming as she drove them through the morning traffic, heading back to the museum.
“Whatever happened to individual care, and folks that listened to you,” she went on with, shaking her head, “and that one nurse, the one who seemed to know everything and still knew nothing.
“Let’s not even mention the other one, who sees things,” rolling her eyes at the memory. “Yet another weird aspect of that place.
“If I were you, I’d yank her right out of there,” glancing over to Karl. “You should talk to my mother, she was a nurse when she was younger. She could give you some advice.”
“We can not blame the nurse staff, they seemed both knowledgeable, and concerned,” he replied, his thoughts still on her suggestion.
“I can understand his reluctance to admit to some strange actions going on with one the students, it becomes a liability issue. I’m sure he’s had some past experience with that sort of behavior.”
“Well, he should have just told you when we arrived, no need for it to get it all dragged out,” still upset at the hospital visit. “We couldn’t even get them to use the MRI on the box.”
“Yes, I’m disappointed with that,” resting a hand on top of the box held in his lap, “It was a good idea. It would have provided some answers.”
“Hey,” she said, thinking on what she could do to help, “How about having dinner with my mom and me tomorrow.”
“Now who’s the one who’s acting strange,” Kelly remarked, throwing a concerned look over to May-May, who had paused while trying to get her boots on.
“Sorry, I’ve had this blinding headache for the last hour or so, ever since we went up on Five,” holding a palm up to the side of her head.
“It’s fading, but I think I need to go lay down for awhile.”
“You coming down with something?” Kelly asked, walking around the bench to look at her, “You need to go see a cheap doctor?”
“Oh, funny,” she replied, a faint smile coming to her at the idea. “Who, Brad?”
“I don’t think so,” a wide grin showing as she looked at May-May, “Guess who is now laying down on Two, wrapped up like a mummy.”
“A mummy?” dropping her hand from her head to look up at her, “I’ve seen one at the last Halloween party. What makes you think of them?”
“You for one, I heard all about how you knew about Egypt, ancient Gods... mummies… all that stuff.
“The other thing is the good news I’ve been bursting to tell you, Brad went and threw himself down the stairs. I heard he was on drugs.”
“You’re kidding,” returning her grin with a look of surprise. “Says who?”
“Susan, she’s working the ER this month. Why would she lie, she hates him more than we do.”
“Don’t you remember, back when Brad set her up with this phony appointment for a breast exam. She was sitting there on the examining table, expecting to see Dr. Mesa, and he comes waltzing into the room wearing a fake beard and mustache. She couldn’t wait to tell me what happened to him.”
“What did you think of Karl?” changing the topic on her.
“Who?” May-may asked, a look of confusion coming to her face as she sat there, her boot still in one hand
“Dr. Arawa, the Princess’s father,” taking a step back to observe her. “You alright?”
“I don’t remember him,” giving Kelly an odd look, “I can’t remember much of anything that happened in that room, it must be this headache.”
“Hey,” Kelly suddenly asked, the thought coming to her, “Did I ever mention seeing a snake to you, or any scorpions?”
“No,” noting the shake of her head. “Then there’s something damn strange going on around here then, and I don’t think it’s me.
“Hey, how about l cover breakfast, you need something in your tummy, girl,” reaching out to help her with her boot. “Come on, we’ll get you home after that.”
“You didn’t tell him,” Karen Mesa said, crossing her arms as she gave Dr. Johnson a look born from the years they had worked together. “I can tell from that expression you have.”
“I tried, I wanted too,” he replied, resting his head on one hand using the desk to keep himself upright. “I knew he worked nights, so I called him with the news, but I didn’t get a chance to explain,” shifting his head to look over at her.
“Then all this business with that student, which happened to involve his daughter… it was too much for me. I haven’t been sleeping well,” sighing as he leaned back to place his head against the chair back.
“I handled it poorly. Maybe I’m just getting too old for this line of work.”
“She has a tumor, one we can’t operate on. We both came to the same conclusion, Johnny.” giving him a compassionate look.
“It’s probably the reason she’s a mute, which means it’s been there for a long time.
“It’s always heartbreaking news, no matter who it is.”
“This is it,” Lorrie said, driving them up into the driveway of the huge Victorian house. “It’s been my grandmother’s family for generations, but I wasn’t raised here,” explaining as she led them to the front door, “a good thing too. I would have gotten lost more than once.
“My mother wants to hand it over to me, go live in some little apartment where she can answer a knock on the door without having to walk 30 feet to the door.
“I’ll get Marleen, that’s my mother. She’ll want to meet you,” as he set the box down on the table in front of the sofa, following her hand motion to have a seat.
“So, anyway,” Lorrie went on to say, “We have all this room, so I was thinking it might be a good idea for you to bring Selket over here. You’ll get the care she needs, too.”
“What is it?” seeing her expression as she glanced back down at the box.
“That nurse… she knew the box came from an ancient tomb, she mentioned it. She also said something was missing, back when we were at the hospital,” her attention still on the artwork. “It just occurred to me what she meant.”
“She also mentioned that you probably already knew what it was,” glancing over to him.
“So,” leaning back to give her a thoughtful look, “What is missing?”
“The Ankh,” the words coming out slowly as she returned her attention back to the box, reaching down to tap the artwork.
“The Spirit of the Dead… Ba here. Isn’t he always depicted carrying an Ankh?
“Ah, the Ankh. The symbol of life, from what we have learned of it,” following her gaze over to the box. “Yes, I had noted its absence.
“There are several ideas on the source of its shape, and as to where the idea came from, but you’re correct. It isn’t there.”
“She who is the beginning and the end, the giver and taker. The one unknown…” lifting her eyes back up to him. “You know who she is.”
“All praise the Beloved Daughter of Isis,” keeping his eyes on her, smiling at her reaction.
“She doesn’t have a daughter, only a son, Horus. She had a sister,” Lorrie quietly replied, a thoughtful expression coming to her face.
“Oh, wait a minute here. You’ve been searching for an ancient site for years, knowing whose it was… those figures on the side of the Sarcophagus, the statues in the tomb… those weren’t Isis, were they. You only told me that they looked like her.”
“The one not named, the Goddess Kissa,” he replied, leaning back once more as he noted her reaction. “The one unknown.”
“I think we’ll discover that isn’t the Goddess Ament as the nurse mentioned, although that’s a bird there on her head,” keeping his eyes on Lorrie. “She is known to have the ability to change herself into a Black Kite, it would look like a hawk.”
“But Dr. Arawa, Isis is always was shown with the throne head piece, and if that’s a bird, or kite, it certainly isn’t her.”
“No, you are right,” his eyes shifting back over to the box on the table, taking in the image of the figure once more. “Sorry, I was thinking ahead, I didn’t mean to imply it was Isis.
“As soon as I saw her for the first time, back when I first saw the two statues. I knew I had finally found the daughter of Isis.”
“I found mention of her in the last tomb I had discovered, back some ten years now,” shifting his eyes to her as he thought back.
“A small plate told of her, mentioned she was hidden away, and the general location of her temple.
“It didn’t say dead and buried. I understood it mean hidden, so I took that to mean she still existed.
“Oh, don’t go giving me that look,” he quickly came out with, seeing her expression. “You still honor them yourself.”
“No one does that for someone who does not exist. You believe them to be real, history tells of them, the art shows us of them.”
“You honor a memory, an image we hold in our minds,” holding up a hand as she tried to reply, “But, I must ask… what else does one need to exist?”
“Just look at Isis. We know what she looked like, we’ve known of her for thousands of years. We know of her attributes, the lineage. All we’re missing is her blood type,” breaking a slight smile. “There is nothing to say she is no less real than any of the Pharaohs.”
“Dr. Arawa,” she began, “They are myths, they represent the creation story, the origins of a people. We honor what she represented to the people, to us. The stories of them attempt to fill in the blanks in our understanding of a mystery we’ll probably never be able to grasp.
“We are limited in our understanding because we are human. I think the truth is greater than our ability to understand all of it, but it strikes a cord within us somewhere. They make us ask questions, they make us seek the stars in the night sky, looking for the answers.
“That’s what religions do, they don’t really provide the answer, they merely provide us with something to use in our pursuit of life. They allow us to keep searching for that final answer.
“I don’t think she stood at the edge of the Nile, waiting on a boat to take her across,” returning his gaze. “They weren’t real in that sense.”
“She could if the ancient ones exist within us,” he carefully let out. “Perhaps we are part of them, and they still exist because we do.”
“Perhaps she could indeed stand there, waiting on her boat,” he added, “if she was truly a Goddess. What is there to stop her?
“Well, now you have some understanding as to why she was referred to as the one unknown,” smiling at her expression as he leaned back against the sofa. “No one knows anything about her.”
“No one else believed me either, yet my daughter found her tomb, and was the first to enter in nearly 5,000 years, if not more.
“I thought that the throne she discovered was the very one that was used by Isis, known by some as the Throne Mother. Now, I’m beginning to suspect it was hers alone.
“Look, I believe what we are dealing with here is an ancient magick. Consider the fact that all forms of life were believed to have been created by the Gods.
“Look at Ra, who is said to have called each of them into existence merely by speaking their secret names.”
“So, you think by someone saying her name, she then exists, she comes back as a person?”
“Isn’t that something we all do, respond when someone calls out our name?” letting out a light sigh as he glanced back over to the box.
“We have cobras and scorpions in Selket’s room,” showing a thoughtful expression. “Things no one can see, unless you’ve spent some time in her presence.
“Something is being manifested, and I’m thinking it’s a force so old that we’ve lost it to history. All mention of her was been removed or hidden away thousands of years ago, and perhaps with good reason.”
“You’re saying those nurses saw something real, the cobra she claimed to see was actually there?”
“Wait a minute,” her eyes widening at the memory. “You asked what color… as if you knew about it already… or expected it,” giving him a confused look. “The cobras in Egypt aren’t black… are they?
“Oh, wait up, don’t tell me,” she quickly added, keeping her eyes on his, “They’re some shade of brown.”
“As I said, there seems to be some influence at work here. Don’t forget that the nurse you spoke with displayed an unexpected knowledge of ancient Egypt. I was thinking she gave out another’s name, so that the true one would still remain unknown.”
“What in the world is going on here? Why is the Ankh missing from the box?” sitting down beside him, her attention back on the box. “This is all so confusing. Where is it?”
“Oh, stupid me,” she quickly added, rolling her eyes at her own comment. “It’s inside it.”
“Yes, I think you’re right. Isis was often shown with it in her hand, and we’ve never located the one depicted, so it makes sense to say that is what we’ll find inside that box.”
“Perhaps she gave it to her daughter.”
“Here’s some hot tea,” Marleen let out, coming into the room with a tray in her hands.
“Just put it down here, mom,” Lorrie replied, leaning forward to move the box from the table, her hands going to each side as she tried to move it.
“Oh, damn,” quickly looking over to Karl, “Did you feel that?”
“I didn’t see anything, I was looking at our tea,” leaning forward to see what she was talking about.
“The scarabs, they shifted when I pressed on them to move it,” looking down. “I think it released something inside.”
“You’ve discovered the locking device,” Karl gave out, his excitement growing, seeing that the lid had opened slightly.
“There must be a spring lock of some kind. This is incredible.”
“Mom,” Lorrie managed to get out, “Do you know where my camera is?”
“Now,” sliding the thin white cotton gloves on her hands, “This is just like finding buried treasure, “ looking to Karl for a moment, getting his nod to proceed before reaching out to gingerly lift the raised portion of the lid.
“What is it, dear?” Marleen finally asked, seeing the change in expression as the lid came up to reveal the contents.
“Incredible,” Lorrie let out softly, mesmerized by the sight. “Look,” turning to Karl, moving so he could lean over to look inside. “Two golden shabti figurines.”
“Not seen for over 5,000 years,” lifting her camera to take a shot. “The archeology world is going to go crazy when they see these.”
“It looks like they’re alive,” Marleen remarked, taking in the sight of the gleaming figures. “What are they, dolls?”
“Ushabtiu,” Karl gave out, quickly placing one of the small pillows from the sofa on the table as Lorrie carefully reached inside to bring out the first one.
“They represented helpers, or were used to house the spirits of the dead. Those who would help in the afterlife.”
“House servants,” Lorrie gave out, still in awe of what they had discovered.
“I’ve never seen so much detail. They were often made of clay or stone, mom. During the later years of the New Kingdom, they began to mass-produce them using glazed earthenware, sort of like ceramics.
“But I’ve never heard of one ever being made of solid gold,” giving Karl a glance. “Covered in gold foil maybe, but never anything as these, Dr. Arawa. This is unheard of.”
“Yes,” the awe of what they had discovered showing in his voice. “Truly, this is unbelievable.”
“This puts the funeral mask of King Tut to shame,” setting the figurine down on the pillow. “I think they’re both females.”
“This one looks like Hathor,” Karl remarked, noting the sun disk set between the horns rising from the crown worn on the statue’s head, “Goddess of Love and Beauty, a fertility figure. Look,” pointing down at one of the hands. “She carries an ankh.”
“Who is that other one?” peering over into the open box.
“This one is different, she has ostrich feather on her head,” carefully bringing out the second statue.
“Oh, darn,” Lorrie let out, slowly turning it to see the back, “There’s no name here, either.”
“She looks like Ma’at. Can that be right?” looking over to Karl with a look of surprise.
“Goddess of truth and law, the one who gives order to the universe,” he replied, holding out a hand to take the figure from her, turning it to look at the back.
“Her Su-feather was used to weight the heart on the scales of justice, and unlike many of the ancient Gods, she was always represented as a young woman.
“She is a daughter of Ra, as was Hathor. Mention of her is recorded back as far as 2300 BC. She was also said to welcome the dead.”
“These may date back to the age of the box itself. We have a true mystery here,” letting out a light sigh.
“Hathor is mentioned as far back as the 1st Dynasty as well, so this places both of them in that time frame.
“Each is carrying an ankh in their left hand,” leaning back once more to give them some thought.
“Lorrie,” his eyes going over to her, as he considered his words, “I don’t think these are proper Ushabtiu. I mean, not the type we’ve seen before. They are unique from all others I seen, and resemble detailed depictions of the Goddess’s seen in various murals and texts.”
“I think what we have here are more akin to Temple statues, extremely well crafted representations of the Goddesses themselves.”
“Both of them are related, and Ra is said to be the grandfather of Isis. We know their names, we recognize them when we see them...” Lorie sighed, gazing down on the two gleaming Goddesses.
“I suppose you were correct, now that I’ve seen them and touched them. I know they exist.”
“You’re going to be famous,” Marleen said, returning her attention to pouring out the tea.
“I think that assistant position just opened up,” Karl remarked, leaning back to watch as Lorrie took more photos.
“It seems that you don’t have to stand in front of her bed with arms crossed to protect her from our ever so loved, and respected, Chaplain,” Kelly whispered as she assisted with placing fresh sheets on the bed.
“What, she reached up and punched him with a fist?” May-May asked, showing a smile at the remark. “She sat up, and spit on him?”
“I think he would have handled it better if she had, I think someone’s done that before,” her smiling growing.
“Justin was telling me he was on his usual heathen crusade this morning, and had snuck in here just after the rounds. He caught him going in from the corner of his eye, just as he was about to go into the Men’s room down the hall.
“So, let it out, girl,” May-May said, seeing the smile was still showing, “Let me hear it. I need a good laugh sometimes, too.”
“Well, he can’t stand him either. He isn’t into that laying on of hands stuff any more than we are.
“So as he tells it, he turned to go back to see what he was up too, and just as he reached the door, it flew wide open and the Chaplain was coming right back out, looking like a wide-eyed ghost.
“Like the devil or something was chasing him,” stopping to recall what she had been told. “He was sweating and flushed, babbling some nonsense, and shaking his hand as if something was on it.
“He told Justin that he was having difficulty in breathing. It got so bad he had to be taken down to the ER for a check up.
“Susan told me he collapsed, lost all control of bowel functions and bladder a little while after he got there. It was quite a scene down there for a bit. Dr. Morris had to give him a shot of something.
“Spider,” she added at May-May’s amused reaction. “She told me he had a bite marks on his hand, and he had some kind of serious reaction.
“He finally got sent home. One of the off going staff volunteered to drive him, but it was a rough go for him.
“I still think it was probably a panic attack, but that’s what you get for disturbing a sleeping Princess.”
“Could have been a scorpion, they’re related to spiders,” looking back at Kelly, “And if I recall correctly, the venom from their sting can have those effects.”
“A scorpion, what made you think of that?” Kelly asked cautiously, giving her a careful look.
“I saw one, back when her father visited, when they brought that box with them. It was on the box,” she added, seeing her confused expression. “I saw a scorpion on the box.”
“Well, how could it have stung him if it was on that box, it was a wooden scorpion,” giving out a faint smile.
“Not a wooden one, it wasn’t carved or anything, it was sitting on top of the box. I guess it wasn’t amused when he tried to disturb her.
“It must have been waiting under her pillow. That’s where he shoves his pamphlets, so the visiting families can find them.”
“I just thought of that,” giving a shrug of her shoulders.
“Life around here is getting interesting,” throwing a glance over to May-May as they headed down towards the cafeteria for their break.
“How did it get in here?” thinking on the scorpion. “It had to come from somewhere.”
“Maybe from the box they had with them,” May-May suggested, giving out a slight shrug. “They brought the thing into the room with them, and they took it with them when they left. Remember?
“That scorpion must have stayed back with her, if it really was there. That box was probably a gift from the Scorpion King himself for all I know, it could’ve held a dozen of them. He’s lucky they didn’t kill his ass.”
“Then how come we didn’t see a single one when we changed the sheet?”
“Magick,” giving her a quick glance.
“Man, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings us. This place is getting interesting; I’m beginning to look forward to coming in here. I’m learning ancient history, this is a good thing.”
“Well, I guess that means we’re good… until we start seeing pink elephants.
“I’m bringing my camera tomorrow, just in case.”
“Hey, you ain’t going to believe this, but it looks like we have a problem up on Five again,” Meyers said, looking over to McGuire. “I thought I just saw something.”
“What is it this time, the nurses throwing themselves down the stairwell?” Sergeant McGuire asked, lowering his crossword puzzle book just enough to give him a questioning look from across the small room.
“We have some kind of romantic suicide pact going on up there with this year’s crop of students?”
“Ah, no…” Meyers, replied, glancing back at the display he had been watching, “but I think it’s the same room as before, the one with the coma patients.”
“What about it,” trying to stifle a yawn as he set his book down on the desk.
“Somebody else dancing up there?”
“Not when I looked up, I caught the camera giving out a couple of flickers,” keeping his attention on the Sergeant. “Then I thought I saw someone standing outside in the hallway, dressed in white.
“I thought they used those little blue paper nightie things on the patients these days, and this was white. Don’t go asking if I’m sure, because she was standing there staring at the camera, and its way past visiting hours.
“She’s also had more hair than Lady Godiva, so that counts as a positive ID on me seeing somebody,” showing a wan smile at the attempted humor. “I tend to notice such things.”
“You want to alert the nurses, or do I have to go up there again?
“Oh, you’d just love that,” McGuire replied, “You’ve got your eyes glued to that screen every time one of those nurses bends over,” giving up on his book with a low sigh.
“Go ahead and let the nurse’s station know, tell them I’ll meet them up on Five,” tossing his pencil down with a tired sigh.
“If that’s one of the coma patients, they’re probably scared and wondering what in hell is going on, and we really don’t want to find one in the stairwell like that other kid.
“Hold up,” an idea coming to him, “Let’s check the recording first.”
“Just watch, I’m not losing it,” Myers let out, his eyes glued to the display as he replayed the disk.
“See,” turning back to him, “the door is opening, just like I said. She came out of that room.”
“Where is she then?” he asked, leaning over his shoulder to check the display. “There’s nobody standing there.”
“It looks like the door swung open on its own,” he added, still watching. “No one came out.”
“She just turned around and went back in there, sleep walking?” Meyers came out with, questioning his understanding of what the camera had captured.
“How come I saw her then? Remember, I told you she was standing there looking at me.”
“Damn, we’ve had enough of these sorts of problems. You didn’t get to see the expression on the parent’s faces of that last kid who was playing games up there,” giving him a look as he turned to leave.
“George, the one on days, had to replay the recording for them.” shaking his head as he headed towards the elevators.
“What is it?” Kelly asked, seeing the look on the head nurse’s face as she listened to the call.
“Meyers, playing his games again,” Janet replied as she put the phone back down.
“He’s trying to get me to go up to Five by telling me he thinks one of our patients is wandering around up there dressed like a ghost.
“Those guys need something else to do on the late shift, it’s beginning to irk me. Just the other day he called me to see if I still had any of those brownies left over, the ones I bake up to share with the staff.”
“Maybe he just wants to meet you in a quiet, dark room,” Kelly let out quietly, unable to hide her grin at her expression.
“You never know, maybe it’s not your warm brownies, maybe he’s got the hots for you.”
“Oh, I’ll give him a shot of something that’ll make him babble like a child for the rest of the week,” letting out a rude noise at the idea.
“You want to go see?”
“Sure, it’s time for my rounds anyway,” Kelly replied, checking her appearance in the small mirror beside the counter before heading towards the elevator.
“I’ll call down, if it’s you he really wants to see.”
Can’t be one of ours, she silently mused, watching the floor numbers change as she rode the elevator upwards. They wouldn’t even be able to sit up without some help. All the muscles go weak after lying like that. He should have thought of that before he called us to go up there.
“Well?” turning to give McGuire a fixed look from the empty hallway for a moment while holding up her arms up before dropping them. “I hear that Meyers has us chasing wandering spirits now.
“So, where is it?”
“Wait a minute here,” closing the stairwell door behind him as he turned to look around the area. “He says he saw someone on the camera, so they have to be around here somewhere.
“I can understand if they wake up unexpectedly, but they don’t disappear, too.”
“Maybe she can do that, since I don’t see anyone standing out here in the hall,” letting out with a sigh. “You boys better not be playing games tonight.
“Alright, let me check the beds. I need to go in here anyway,” going into the room and hitting the light switch, a look of shock coming to her face as she stared at the empty bed.
“Oh crap,” were the first words that came out, throwing a wild look over to the sergeant. “It’s the Princess, she’s awake. Quick, check the stairs.”
“I just came up the stairs,” he replied, taking a quick glance around the room as he bent down, hoping to sight the patient lying on the floor. “Where is she?”
“The stairs,” Kelly came out with, using more force as she repeated the words. “If she’s not here, or the hall, the only other place is the stairs. I came up the elevator.
“Going up!” she added, seeing his pause. “You would have met her if she had gone down the stairs.”
“Oh crap is right then,” he gave out, heading towards the hallway with his radio in hand. “That leads to the roof.”
“Hey,” picking up the phone to call down, “We need some help up here, Janet,” Kelly let out, trying to calm herself down.
“Page Dr. Victor to Five. Bed 2 is up and walking, and she’s not in the room. We need some help up here, and I mean Stat.
“We’re going to have to relocate her once we find her,” glancing around the room once more, “we’ll need to bring up a wheelchair, too.
“She must have took the bed sheet with her,” looking back to the bed. “I guess she didn’t like wearing the paper gowns we use up here, it got shredded and left on the bed.
“Man, I hope that girl isn’t wandering the halls naked. Myers is going to drool all over his cameras.”
“She’s just standing there,” McGuire gave out, turning to give Kelly and the other nurse with her a glance before returning his attention to the girl standing at the short partitioning wall that ran the length of the roof’s edge.
“I called to her once, but she didn’t respond. I was afraid I’d scare her after that, so I waited for you to get up here.”
“Don’t you guys think to keep this door up here locked,” Janet gave out, the disapproval of the situation evident in her tone of voice.
“You’re going to have to explain to Dr. Johnson how all of this was allowed to happen.”
“She can’t speak,” Kelly suddenly said, remembering what had been written on her chart. “She’s a mute, so she couldn’t answer.”
“I’ll get her away from the edge, she knows my voice,” holding up a hand to Janet, trying to keep anyone from rushing forward as they all stood watching, pausing as the girl briefly lifted up both arms to the stars overheard, her dark hair flowing around her like a heavy silken veil in the gentle breeze that sweep over her.
“Selket,” coming out with her name as she approached, not wanting to startle the young girl, her apprehension growing as she got closer to her.
“Hey, it’s me, Kelly. Let’s go back inside, sweetie. It’s not safe up here for you.”
Turning away from the sight of the city skyline, Selket gave Kelly her attention, taking in the way she was dressed, before glancing back over to where the others stood standing.
Lifting one arm, she pointed in the direction of the museum, her eyes on Kelly’s.
“Yeah, you’re someplace else. I know, it’s confusing,” she came out with, carefully taking her arm and bringing it back down to her side.
“Come with me, Princess. I’ll explain, and we’ll get you something better to wear than that sheet,” a flicker of wonderment crossing her face as she realized that half of the sheet had been folded in the center and pulled around her waist, the other half looped around her neck, then twisted over once as it came down to cover her breasts before being tied at her back.
“We’ll have to be careful on the view we give them guys, this isn’t Egypt,” she slowly added, as she placed an arm around her, guiding them back towards the stairs.
“You’ve probably noticed, they don’t buy quality sheets to use for clothes around here, either.”
“Let’s put her down on Two,” Janet remarked, checking the folded piece of paper she had taken from the pocket of her jacket. “We’ve got an empty room down there, the one next to Brad.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Kelly replied, guiding Selket into the elevator, noting her interest on nearly everything around them as they had walked down the hallway.
“She’s probably in shock and confused over everything right now.”
“Now what do we do?” looking over to Janet. “I mean, what’s the procedure when one of the coma patients wakes back up, asking for tea and cookies?”
“Oh, let’s not go exaggerating the situation,” amazed at the sight of Selket sitting on the edge of the bed, taking in the exquisiteness of the girls features, her dark lengths of hair splayed out around her as she sat looking like a someone lost in the world.
“We should give her father a call,” Kelly remarked, interrupting her thoughts
“We should call Dr. Johnson,” Janet replied, neither one of them able to take their eyes off the girl. “I’ve heard of it happening, but I never had one wake up before on my shift.”
“If you’re going to call him, he’ll be over at Dr. Mesa’s place,” raising an eyebrow at her remark.
“It’s Friday night, they play doctor on Fridays,” a smile beginning to show. “I have my sources.”
“I like that look on her,” returning her attention to the manner in which Selket was dressed. “Nice, I wish I had a waist like that, and her skin tone is so amazing.”
“I wish I had a stomach like that,” Janet let out, letting out a low sigh. “We don’t have anything else for her wear at the moment, and I’m under the impression that she isn’t into modeling the paper gowns we use.”
“Nobody likes those things, or the ones that show off your backside,” Kelly replied, pursing her lips as she tried to come up with an idea.
“I can give May-May a call, she might have something she could borrow until her father brings her stuff over.”
“I think everyone is going to like her dressed just the way she looks right now,” McGuire let out, peering into the room from the hall.
“Hey,” holding up a hand to ward off the looks he was getting from the two nurses. “It’s the truth,” defending his comment. “She’s the epitome of classic feminine beauty, there's no denying that.”
“I like to do crosswords,” seeing Janet’s expression.
“Somehow, I can’t see them putting crosswords in the kind of magazine I imagined you looking at on the late shift,” Janet replied, raising an eyebrow at his comment.
“Well, now that we’ve got her down here all safe and sound, would someone like to help me out with my report?” looking from one to the other.
“Like how all of this could have happened?”
“You allowed her to walk out the door to the roof, Mac.” Janet replied, throwing him a frown. “That’s a good place to start.”
“It was locked, we keep the key in the office,” returning her look. “It was busted, as if someone had pushed it open with enough force to wrench it from the door jam.”
“Probably been that way for awhile then,” Kelly let out, “Brad must have done it, using the roof up there to smoke his stuff.”
“We wouldn’t have noticed anything, he was always avoiding the elevator. Admit it,” looking over to McGuire. “How often do you get a call to check out the roof?
“I doubt you’ve been up there twice since the day they gave you the grand tour.
“He could have done it if he was under the influence of something you know, and it goes along with him always using the stairs.” keeping her gaze on him.
“Unless of course, you’re thinking this fifteen year old coma patient just walked up there and pushed it open by herself. That metal door up there weighs more than she does.”
“We’ll go with the first explanation,” clicking his pen to take down notes.
“Amazing,” Dr. Johnson finally gave out, lowering the stethoscope he had been using. “Heart is strong and steady, and I see nothing here,” looking back down at the chart.
“Reflexes are normal, no obvious signs of muscle fatigue or relapse from the extended coma. It’s an amazing recovery.”
“We need to run her through the scanner again,” Dr. Mesa remarked, “I’d like to see what’s going in there.”
“Yes,” he replied, nodding his head as he glanced over, “Me too. This is quite unusual. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say it is because of something we’ve done.
“Well, young lady,” reaching out to pat Selket on the top of her head, “Looks like you’ll be up and about now. Back to school and friends before you know it,” smiling at her.
“I’ll be giving your father a call as soon as I get the latest results back. I’m sure he’ll be very excited to hear of your recovery.
“There’s something about that girl that I can’t quite put my finger on,” glancing over to Karen as they walked down the hallway to his office.
“I think I know what you mean,” giving him a smile. “She looks so… regal,” the word suddenly coming to her.
“A remarkable looking young lady, makes me wish my own daughter had turned out like her. She wants to be one of those super models, showing off everything in those next to nothing swimsuits. Maybe I could retire and live off her earnings.”
“I hear they’re painting them on these days, “ Dr. Johnson gave out, allowing her to enter the office first, “and those suits are next to plenty, let me tell you.
“Myers showed me the latest issue,” giving her a smile as he closed the door behind them.
“You should give him a call right now,” Karen suggested, “He would want to know she’s awake.”
“Hmm… yes, but what would I say?” looking over to her as he claimed his desk chair once more.
“Embarrass myself again by saying I haven’t got a clue on what’s going on here and then hand him the bill?
“He’ll think we’re all complete idiots.”
“All right, all right,” noting her expression, “I’ll make the call, he probably won’t even care about the how’s and why’s of all of this once he realizes why I’m calling.”
“Who’s there?” Brad muttered, trying to make out the dark form standing in the doorway.
“You?” doing his best to shift back, moving away from the silent figure as it seemed to glide towards him.
“Are you some sort of spirit?” he managed to get out, his growing fright beginning to affect his breathing as he watched as the cobra was laid down on the end of his bed, it’s hiss the only other sound heard as the serpent slowly made its way across the sheet, its length unraveling from the coils as it stretched itself towards him.
“I’m sorry,” he gasped out, giving out a shudder that caused his entire body to shake, his fear growing into pure horror as the figure raised a hand, revealing two scorpions resting in her palm.
“Please, I’m so sorry. Don’t want die, I didn’t mean to do that,” he pleaded.
“I didn’t know, I apologize,” imploring with his eyes for mercy as they meet hers, realizing somewhere inside himself that death itself had come calling.
“Please, mercy… I beg you.”
“Say something… please…” pleading once more, his fear finally overwhelming him.
“We need some assistance over here, in Room 4,” one of the other student nurses gave out, sticking her head in to where Kelly was standing, making sure Selket was still resting properly.
“Brad’s room, Rose?” she asked, keeping her voice low as she glanced over at her.
“Yeah,” she replied. “I was walking past and decided to go and check on him. I think he’s had had some sort of withdrawal episode in there.
“He’s feverish, and muttering his illusions out loud. I found all his covers on the floor. He looks like a poster child for the after effects of substance abuse.
“He also wet himself, so I’ve brought something dry. He can’t change what he’s wearing by himself. He tried to take it off, but wasn’t able to reach the knot he ended up with.
“It wrapped up around his neck. Now he’s just lying in there gasping for air, afraid to open his eyes and look at me.”
“We should get Susan,” returning the grin Rose was now showing, “Time for a little payback.”
“I’ll be right there, I’m not missing this,” giving Selket another glance before exiting, closing the door behind her.
“Speaking of something to wear, May-May is going to pick up something for her to wear on the way in. She wasn’t very interested in any anything we offered her.”
“Oh, why didn’t you mention,” Rose let out, joining her out in the hall. “I’ve been thinking of getting her something myself.”
“Well, she’s says she’s bringing in a robe of some kind, so that’s covered. She might like something for all that hair of hers,” giving out a thoughtful look.
“I was thinking maybe some slippers would be nice. Her father isn’t going to want to see her just wearing an old hospital sheet.”
“No…” Rose gave out, pausing as she considered what to give as a gift. “Ah,” looking up with a gleam in her eye, “I know just the thing.”
“What?” Kelly asked.
“You gotta wait for it,” smiling at her. “It isn’t new, but I think she’s going to love it.”
“Hey,” her eyes widening at the thought, “We should have a little party for her, you know, to welcome her back.”
“What? Have Janet bring in some brownies?”
“No, silly. The real thing, cake and ice cream, give her a few small gifts.”
“Welcome her back,” Kelly mused, talking to herself as she made her way down to the ER room in search of Susan.
“Where has she been?
“Maybe it’s considered progressive medicine, but I’ve never heard of us hosting a welcoming back party. They usually want to wish them out the door with the bill in hand, no one wanting them to return,” the thought occupying her mind until she caught sight of the girl she was looking for.
“This one, I thought you’d pick it,” May-May let out, lifting the chosen attire up.
“It’s actually a light cotton lounge wear item,” catching some of the enthusiasm along with everyone else as the robe was quickly drawn down over her head, the length of the white robe reaching down to her ankles.
“It’s designed for lying around the pool,” she added, smiling at Selket’s expression as she discovered the cord around that waist that allowed her to clinch it tight around her waist.
“It’s a bit open on the sides, with those long slits. It was expected to be worn over a bathing suit,” nodding at the effect it had on her appearance.
“You’re showing some very nice cleavage there, Missy. I didn’t pick up anything for wearing under it.”
“That’s just super,” Kelly gave out, as Selket twirled around to show off her new clothing, her hair held in place by the headband Janet had given her.
“No Princess is complete without her jewelry,” Rose said, coming up to her with a small white box in hand.
“This was sent to me when I was about ten, from an Uncle who had visited Egypt while he was in the Navy. Now I know why I’ve kept it tucked away for all these years,” carefully opening the box.
“Girls,” looking over to May-May and Kelly, “If you would assist, I would like for Miss Selket to have this necklace,” holding up the golden ankh on its chain.
“Since you came to us from Egypt, I thought you’d like to wear something to remind you of it.”
“There” stepping back to take in the sight of her as the clasp was fastened at the nape of her neck, as Kelly held her hair.
“A new girl, from top to bottom.”
“You’re looking like a proper Lady,” Kelly remarked, showing her approval as Selket hesitantly reached up to touch the pendent, “Now our archeologist is properly dressed.”
“Well, let’s get to the cake and ice cream,” Rose gave out, sharing the smile Selket gave her, not sure if she should be accepting such gifts that the staff had honored her with.
“I hope you don’t mind us doing all of this for you,” Janet said, bringing the first cut of cake over to her, “It’s not often a patient in that room opens their eyes, let alone walks out to lead all of us on a chase.
“I felt the moment should be recognized.”
“It gives us hope that it will happen again one day,” Kelly added, seeing the expression on the young girl’s face. “You’re now the inspiration they all have to follow.”
“It just came to me,” Rose came out with, looking to May-May as she accepted her own paper plate. “She sort of looks like Cleopatra… I have the movie at home.
“All she’s missing is an armband and a feather on her head,” coming out just as the door opened.
“What’s all this?” Dr. Mesa asked, stepping into the room, glancing around at all the activity, pausing to take in the sight of Selket with plate in hand, fork halfway up to her mouth.
“Who authorized cake?” looking over to Janet. “Does anyone here have any idea on what effect that will have on her? Do any of you realize that she’s been in a coma?”
“We got a go from Sally in Diet & Nutrition, it’s a white cake,” Rose gave out, lifting up her plate. “I just conducted a taste check, and it passed.”
“Gastro passed it, too,” another nurse called, “Internal medicine provided the paper plates,” another remarked.
“Morgue crew says to get her out of here,” Kelly said, joining in. “She’s making them look bad. Not only is she still breathing, she’s walking around here now, looking like she owns the place.”
“I see,” Dr, Mesa gave out, looking around once more. “What’s the word from the ER?”
“They asked for us to save them some cake,” May-May replied, showing her a smile, “but we weren’t expecting additional staff to join us, so… that might be an issue.”
“Well, then,” a slow smile forming, “It’s a good thing I arrived when I did,” holding up a small box in her hand.
“I brought a makeup kit as my gift,” looking over to Selket. “Extra black eyeliner, my daughter told me what to get for you.”
“We’ve given your father a call,” handing the box over to Selket, “but he hasn’t returned it yet. We left a message.”
“All right, gang. Let’s wrap this up so she can get the rest of those tests completed. We still have a hospital to staff around here, the world doesn’t stop for us, as much as we’d like to think so.”
“What do you have in mind?” May-May asked, seeing Kelly had brought a wheelchair back into the room. “Party is over, everybody’s back to work. We still have an hour of our shift to do as well.”
“She keeps looking out the window,” a smile showing on the idea she had come up with. “I’m taking her outside, down to the park.”
“She needs some sunshine.”
“Well, look at you, all smiles,” Susan gave out as she entered the room, pausing to take in the sight. “I heard through the grapevine you were able to get out for awhile.”
“I’m sorry I missed the party, I was stuck back in the ER, my shift. Look, I found something in the bookstore near me. I stopped in to ask about something on Egypt.
“I was looking for something you might want to read while you’re waiting for the final word on going home.
“You’re famous, in case you didn’t know it,” showing her the cover of the magazine she had brought into the room with her.
“It’s a photo of the temple site, and some of the items you and your father discovered.
“Well, not the entire thing of course, just the outline the workers had discovered. It says in here that your father calls you his tomb raider,” smiling at Selket as she eagerly turned the pages, pausing to gaze upon the photo of the statue as she found the article.
“Isn’t that a great looking cat,” leaning towards her to look at the photo, “I really like that.
“It’s hard to believe that it has been just sitting out there, buried in the sand for thousands of years. I’m thinking it still looks just the way it did when the craftsman finished it,” watching with interest as Selket reached out to run a finger over the photo.
“I think it says that’s Bast, the Cat Goddess,” still following her interest in the photo. “I guess you know that already. Looks alive, doesn’t it?”
“I like that one best,” smiling at her reaction as she turned the page, staring at the photo that took up the entire page.
“She reminded me of you when I first saw it, so I knew I had to get it for you,” looking down at the page, taking in the sight of the finely detailed seated figure that had been carved into the wall.
“There something about Egyptian art that just grabs you, at least I’ve always thought so. It’s so well done.”
“She looks like a Queen to me,” still looking at the photo, “I think she’s sitting on a throne. You can see part of it there.”
“What is it?” seeing his interest in the cell phone.
“Several messages, I had it turned off,” throwing her a quick glance before returning his attention to the display. “It seems Selket is going to have guests, her grandparents are arriving here.”
“Not my parents,” he added, lowering the phone to show a thoughtful expression, “They have been missing her smile for these last few years. It nearly broke my heart to have to tell them she had fallen ill.”
“There is one here from Charles,” raising the phone once more to peer at the display. “A large crate has just been delivered, and he’s wanting to know where to set it.”
“What department?” Lorrie asked, “That ought to tell that fool where it goes.”
“Ours,” pursing his lips before looking her way again, “It’s a few items I found.”
“I was given permission to undertake a year long study on them,” giving her a slight shrug at the expression that came to her face.
”We can display them as well, once we have something to tell the world about, of course.”
“A few items you found… at your last dig site,” leaning back as she took in what he had said. “You said there was nothing of interest found, except a statue.”
“Oh, yes,” waving a hand at her as he pocketed the phone, “I meant to say, other than what I was permitted to remove for preservation and study,” showing her a slight smile.
“I tend to forget these little details. It is Selket’s job to keep me informed.
“The last message was from the hospital, that Dr. Johnson wants me to give him a call.”
“This is too much,” her eyes widening at the news. “You seem to have a very bad habit of either failing to mention everything, or changing the tale as we go.”
“Anyway, screw that Dr. Frankenstein, he can wait until tomorrow.”
“There are the grandparents as well,” giving her a look, “I must arrange for rooms, and perhaps we can all go see Selket together.”
“Hey, maybe they could stay here, we’ve got lots of rooms,” Lorrie gave out, looking over to her mother.