This is just a short little story idea I had that I thought you’d all find amusing. Only 2,000 words long and made up of several scenes that would be part of said story.
The Scientist’s Guide to Dating a Mummy
By T.S. Lowe/LoweFantasy
Somewhere in the middle beginning…
The lead broke in the middle of multiplying 6x by the imaginary number. When jamming the spent eraser didn’t spout out more, Echo’s stomach grumbled. It was all the distraction her body needed to shove in all the other bits it needed to her preoccupied brain: bathroom, water, oh, and the hips are a bit stuffy from sitting, and that stress knot that especially loved it when matrixes got involved had returned to her left shoulder.
With a groan, she sat back in the office chair and stretched her ears to each shoulder. A chorus of popping vertebrae made her wince.
“Yeah. A break.” She said to the empty lobby.
The creak of faux leather sounded ten times louder in all that empty space.
All that empty space
Just for me to drift
And drift alone
Amongst the dwarves and giants
She snorted at that. That was a crappy line. Poetry was already crappy, no need to go along with adding a potential bathroom joke. Though she did giggle at the line of thought as she walked into the bathroom, thinking that, as long as no one was hear, she could be as ridiculous as she wanted to be.
But the first line had a bit of a charm to it she rather liked. And, since no one would ever read it, she could be attached all she wanted?
“Past?” she said to herself, listening to how the word hissed with the water from the faucet and bounced against the tiles. “Past is over used.” She liked the idea of writing poetry that didn’t sound like poetry—or rather, the creepy, mushy kind she always imagined was read at open mic night.
“Maybe River’s right. I am judgmental.” She flicked water off her hands and into the sink as they dried. “I guess I could—yeah right.” Like she’d go to an open mic night. The idea of being surrounded by all those people caught up in their angst and pain and love poems…she wouldn’t be able to take them seriously, and it would just embarrass her all over again that she had this guilty pleasure in the first place.
So, muttering words that might…fit right (it wasn’t the rhyme, it was something in the sound), she murmured about blue dwarves and red giants in the sky as she wiped her hands on her jeans and made her way to the fountain.
“All that empty space,” she said to the stainless steel bowl of the water fountain. For a moment, she hung over it, waiting to push the button for water, listening to the expanse of the museum humming along with the air units. “Oh, all that space…”
“But must you drift alone?”
She jumped, accidentally sending a spurt of water from the fountain in her surprise. Her heart stuttered hot and hard. She had heard it this time. She had definitely heard it.
There was nothing in the lone emergency light of the empty hallway.
“Who’s there? If you show yourself, I won’t call the police. We’ll talk.”
She waited, again wondering why how whoever had spoken had managed to speak without their voices echoing like hers always did in the emptiness. Even if they had stood beside her, surely it would have bounced a bit. Talking against the wall, talking in the ducts—her brain ran over the possibilities, but there just wasn’t any sound absorbing materials in the front section of the museum.
Something like a brush of air went past her cheek and she shook, as one’s body often did randomly when the temperature dropped a degree, or, as ancients once said, someone walked over your grave.
“Must you drift alone, in this space so vast?”
She thought she would have a heart attack. It was next to her, it had to be, but still she saw nothing.
“Ghost don’t exist.” She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. “Not-not in a way that’s detectable in the spectrums the naked eye can see, at least, and definitely not by sound.”
But even as she said that, the voice spoke over her, soft and urgent such as one desperate to calm a frightened animal.
“Why must you drift alone in your space so vast, among the giants and dwarves of the past? If the light is old, as you say, I could come to you, come your way.”
Poetry. Lord Almighty the ghost-hobo-in-the-ducts-voice-in-her-head was trying to talk poetry to her.
Without thinking, probably because, well, what does one’s brain do in a situation like that? She stuttered out lines as though this was just another poem she were telling herself.
“All that—all that space, just for me. Not a breath to b-b-blow adrift, my fragile flesh, into a star. Burning, burning, burning star.”
Perhaps what was just as odd as actually coming face to face (figurtivly speaking) with the voice she had been hearing at the edge of the halls was hearing her own poetry outloud. She had never dared to, never wanted to.
And burning burning star what?
Just as the voice started up, almost relieved, with another line, she cut across him. “Okay, who the hell are you?”
There was silence.
Echo silently cursed herself. She’d probably scared it away. That, or she really was crazy, though if she were crazy she didn’t know why it only applied to this one night job of hers at a museum. Logic said it had to be someone with means she just didn’t understand yet.
But just as she gave up hope and turned to return to the lobby, he—as that was beginning to be what she thought of it as, it had that lower timbre to it—said, “If I tell you, will you swear to me you will not cross me off as madness? Will you…will you not disappear?”
She frowned. If anyone had to worry about disappearing anywhere, it was him.
“Sure, whatever.” Just tell me already so I can Google the crap out of your sorry arse and get a trespassing report in the process.
He must have hesitated, for there was a few seconds before he said, “I am Sekanefer, son of Senedj, Pharaoh and seed of Egyptus.”
A drop of water from the water fountain plinked into the quiet.
“Uh, Senedge-afer. Right. Um, I’m just…” She turned around, her thoughts suddenly desperate to get back to her calculus homework. Nothing seemed more real to her then than matrixes and multiplying imaginary numbers with 6x.
She spun around. “How do you know my name?”
“I hear many things—”
“Don’t you dare try to be all mystical on me, are you some sort of stalker? Get your ass out of my museum!” She didn’t swear. Just another sign of her lost of grip.
“I-I can’t really see what asses have to do with the situation.”
“Just out. OUT! And what the crap was all that lymric crap for, were you trying to be cute?”
The voice didn’t respond. She stood there for a long time, body hot, heart racing, and adrenaline all spiked for tearing apart doors and running like a crazy. But when it became apparent that either he had curled back up into his sound proof hiding spot or really had left, she took as deep of a calming breath as she could, then turned—
And collapsed against the wall, nearly missing bashing her head on the water fountain. Her knees were doing that bouncing thing that always heralded a panic attack, and her vision was getting cloudy.
“I’m okay,” she told herself sternly. “My job is okay, it’s still here, he hasn’t done anything all this time and he isn’t going to—nothing showed up on the cameras—” except her standing there yelling at something down the hall. “They can’t hear anything, they can only see, I can tell them—I can tell them—”
It wasn’t working. She was starting to feel nauseous and the strict inhale-exhale practice was getting shorter and shorter till she was certain her diaphragm would snap like a belt from the strain.
In one last attempt for control, she closed her eyes and focused on the feel of the cold cement walls.
“All that empty space,” her voice had become breathy. “Just floating, drifting. Nothing is there, nothing in me, I am nothing. There is nothing. Just drifting, floating, untouched, untouchable, nothing.”
And she could see it in her mind’s eye. Becoming nothing. Adrift in black. She was not Echo. Echo never existed. Anyone passed would never notice the blank of space she resided in, because it did not exist. She did not exist.
There were no bills. There was no old apartment with glitchy water heater and expensive electric bills with roommates that left their lingerie in your wash. There were no gross rice puffs for breakfast, there was no English 120 class, and there was no need for a job. No cheap Walmart bikes, no weird voices, no loss of job…
It worked, and Echo pushed herself back to her feet. Getting the drink of water she had come there for, she left the short horizontal hall that lead to the rest of the museum and stepped back into the well lit lobby, where the front desk and her safe calculus homework waited.
He came to her with his usual brush of air across her cheek.
“What troubles you, my Echo?”
“You’re right, I’m not, because some dead guy’s trying to talk to me in the middle of this equation.”
“You have stared at the page for too long now. Numbers are always easy to you, but not now. You are troubled.”
She threw down her pencil, where it bounced against a pamphlet for an ancient Chinese exhibit and over the raised counter of the front desk. “Ugh, you’re making me sound like one of Anna’s stupid fanfic romances.”
“Don’t be, you have no idea what I’m talking about.”
She let out a heavy sigh and dropped her forehead to her formulas. Sekan gave a little noise of protest at the loud ‘thud’ in which it landed.
“Sekh ma’at, Echo, you’re going to hurt yourself!”
Pity, she had been hoping to knock herself out. Anything but talking about this with Sekan.
Sekan…her dear, sweet, never touchable Sekan.
)(*)()(Near the End
“Don’t you see, Sek?” Her cheeks had turned to rivers; flesh lost in the flood from her eyes. “I will never see you! I’ll never touch you or hear your breath or walk with you—I can’t even hear you outside of the walls of this stupid museum!” And like the switch of the weather from the eye of a hurricane, she turned agonizingly angry. “How dare you speak to me of love, how dare you! How dare you even speak to me—tease me—how dare you die thousands and thousands of years before we could even meet! I hate you!”
No. No this wasn’t right.
She buried her water of a face into the hand not clinging to the razor. “I love you. I love you. So just let me go!” And she dropped her hand to once more prepare herself to die.
The brush against her cheek, the faint smell of the something she could never name.
The blade against her wrist did not feel cold as ice as the poems and stories all said. It felt like a hot, thin line, like grains of sand all lined up and heated beneath a desert sun. It trembled against the skin, waiting for the strength to bite deep. Would it be easy? Would should have to push down hard? What if she didn’t go deep enough? What if she just hurt and bled like an idiot all over the museum floor just to be found like that in the morning and fired?
It was the only way.
“So what if I don’t find my way to the Nile?” She whispered, dropping her head back against the glass case of his display. “So what if my heart outweighs that feather? It would be the closest I’d ever get to you.”
“If you just lived out your life righteously—”
She wagged her head. “I’m not strong enough for that. I’m not some heroine from those stories who can wait a thousand years to be with her love. I’m pathetic, I’m ugly, I’m weak, I’m a mentally sick in the head math freak with no friends, and what’s the point of living if all I’m doing is waiting to die?”
“Echo,” he moaned. “Please, my Echo, my precious sound, don’t wound me with those insults to the keeper of my soul. If you do this, it shall be in stone that we will never meet. Neither of us will reach those shores, neither of us will live!”
The box cutter flinched back from her wrist. Hurt him? Hurt him?
Of course. Anna said suicide was the most selfish thing you could ever do.
“How would my death keep you from eternal rest?” she asked, hollow and aching.
“Do I really have to answer that?”
“My Echo, there would be no such thing as an eternal life without you. No dream of mine means anything without you. Without you I am…what I am. The soul of a man who wasted his life on idle pleasures, stuck within a dried corpse on display for children to gawk at. And that’s all I’d ever care to be.”
The box cutter fell from between her fingers. She already knew that. She already knew just how pathetic their situation was, how pathetic she was. A physics major with no life, in love with a dead man who also had no life. The world moved about them without a care, fresh and green with time, while they two waited for the other’s fall.
“Sekan,” it came out hardly a word at all, but a choke. “I want to die. What’s the point to any of this? Gods really are just sick masochists.”
“Yet I have to believe they are not.” His voice, unhindered by a mortal throat closing up with tears, whined with sorrow no mortal man would ever be able to replicate. “Because if I don’t, what else is there?”
“I can answer that.” She opened her eyes and stared up at the dead lights. “Despair. Like a poem, Sekan. Sink, because despair is the rope about your neck.”
“Spin for me one of your poems?”
“I’m sorry.” She tipped onto her side and curled about the glass corner. “I can’t.”
And though neither of them could say anything more after that, she could somehow sense that he was still there, like that breath or pause another makes before they speak. You knew the words were about to come.
Somewhere, as sleep gently pulled her down into the folds, uncaring of what George would say when he found her that morning, Sekan’s voice whispered into her darkness.
“God, where is thine justice?”