Storytime with Erika
A supernatural fantasy novella
A powerful curse cast thousands of years ago by the Grand Vizier. Tanakhmet cursed Prince Akhmose to never enter the Field of Reeds, the heavenly paradise. Why did he want him to linger as a restless ghost among the living, forever?
By reading the hieroglyphs, Layla, a young Egyptologist, inadvertently breaks the curse and frees the ghosts of both Prince Akhmose and the Grand Vizier whose thirst for revenge is stronger than ever.
With Layla’s help, can Prince Akhmose finally cross into the afterlife?
Or perhaps, because of the charms of the mortal woman, he doesn’t want to…
Available in eBook and audiobook, as well as in Italian and Spanish
Present time, chapter 5
The old church bell chimed twelve times, the sound echoed through the silent museum, weaving its way into Layla’s half-dark studio. Akhmose stretched and sat up feeling groggy and disoriented. He looked around the large room that was lit by the full moon through the window. Where am I? What is this strange place? he thought, feeling confused. How did I get here?
He looked toward the window. The pale moon and the chirping sounds of the night birds and insects spoke of serenity. Akhmose stood up and started walking toward the window but felt as if he was walking on air. Looking down at his legs, he realized that his feet didn’t touch the ground. Startled, he concentrated on standing with feet firmly on the ground. When he descended, he felt the floor under his bare feet. What is going on? Am I dreaming?
As his eyes adjusted to the moonlight, he looked around and saw a sarcophagus in the middle of the room. How strange. This place doesn’t look like a burial chamber. He walked back to the sarcophagus and dropped his hand to the surface, only to watch his fingers sink into the solid wood with no resistance. Yanking his hand back, he stared at the large sarcophagus in total confusion. He could see the face painted on the exterior, and at that moment, he realized that the sarcophagus was made for him. But I’m not dead. I’m dreaming. He sighed in relief. That’s it! This place is not a burial chamber and can’t be the beautiful place of the afterlife, the Sekhet-Aaru. And besides, even if I were dead, the sarcophagus shouldn’t be closed, not until my body was placed inside.
“Where am I?” His voice echoed in the room, but it was only met with silence. Panic started to set in, not knowing why he was brought to this strange place. He buried his face in his hands and felt the smooth skin and muscles beneath. My body feels solid and real, yet everything around me feels as soft as clouds. Why?
His steps made no sound as he walked toward the walls. Shelves upon shelves were filled with papyrus rolls but they looked old and faded. He saw strange symbols painted on small paper squares, but he couldn’t read them. None of the figures made any sense. He felt anxious and lost.
Then, he saw colorful hieroglyphics. They were so clear and real and beautiful. Whoever painted them must have been schooled by a really great teacher. He tried to unroll one of the papyri open, but his hands kept sinking into it. He gave up and turned away.
Suddenly, a bright light beam swept across the floor and then the walls. He froze as his eyes followed the light. Was it a sign? What caused this strange bright light? It looked to be as pure as the sun, but how could it be seen at night? Was he in the realm of the gods? Heavy footsteps approached, and he moved toward the sound. A large man in strange clothes held a torch that didn’t burn with flames. That’s no torch with fire! Akhmose decided. How could they trap the sunlight in that small cylindrical object the man is holding? The strange man looked old and worn, paying no attention to him. Akhmose crossed his arms and commanded, “Tell me what this place is!”
His face burned when the man refused to reply, or even glance in his direction. How dare he? He was Akhmose, brother of the Pharaoh of Egypt! He took a step closer to the man trying to avoid the bright light. Standing in front of the man, he shouted, “Can you hear me?”
The stocky looking man didn’t even blink. What’s wrong with this man? Those who own this place, why are they employing the blind and deaf? Akhmose sighed and leaned against the wall. He had given up on trying to get the man’s attention. All his life, few dared to ignore him, and even fewer who were not punished for said transgressions.
His gaze was drawn to the moon and smiled. He was in a place where nothing was familiar except the moon staring down at him. He tried to relax and ease the building tension. A troubled mind attracts confusion, but a level head draws the solution. His father had told him many times and it had always worked for him. He tried to make it work for him, again.
The bright light from the stranger’s torch landed on him briefly, and he wondered if the light was meant to harm him. He jerked backward by instinct, but when the light swept his body, he felt nothing. No heat on his skin, no burns from the light. It was nothing like the sun. Lost in his thoughts, Akhmose didn’t notice the man walking in his direction. When the stranger was a foot away from him, he didn’t stop. Before he could move, Akhmose felt the man go through his body—it felt like a gust of cold air.
The stranger drew a sharp breath. “A window must be open somewhere. It’s drafty in here,” he mumbled and shivered. Akhmose watched in horror and couldn’t understand a word he was saying. The man shined his flashlight on the shelves and continued his monologue, “This place is giving me the heebie-jeebies. I wish I could get a normal day job.” He quickly turned and started walking toward the door.
Surprised, Akhmose reached out and touched the man’s arm. “What did you do? How did you do that? How did you walk through me?” He pulled back in horror as his hand and fingers sunk into the man’s arm.
The guard yelled in fright, “Who’s there? Is there anybody there?” His eyes widened as he looked around the empty room. He turned and ran as fast as he could, his footsteps echoing down the long hall.
Akhmose followed the man who spoke in a strange tongue. He saw another man walking toward them in the long corridor. Sharp light wavered from his torch as he moved his hand.
“Earl! There’s a ghost in here! I’m getting the hell out of here.” The stocky man pointed at Layla’s workshop with shaky fingers.
“Don’t be stupid, man!” The taller man shook his head and groaned. “What are you going on about, there’s no such thing as ghosts.”
The shorter man stuttered, “No? Then you never had one touch you.”
The taller man groaned and shivered. “Okay, let’s get out of here.”
I’m in a strange world and I don’t understand what these people are saying. Why am I here? Am I a ghost? Akhmose watched the men flashing their lights everywhere. He wondered who they were. They wore the same black outfit and looked more like watchers than thieves.
Akhmose shook off the uncertain feeling and began wandering. I must find someone who speaks my language and explain to me what I’m doing here. He walked from room to room and passage to passage until he came upon a large door. When he tried to grab the doorknob, his hand and arm floated through it. It was a strange experience. Am I really a ghost? I can feel my body, but everything around me feels as if made of clouds. Feeling more curious than scared, he pushed his foot through the thick door and when he didn’t feel pain or pressure, he rushed his entire body to find himself on wide, stone steps.
It must be a temple, Akhmose looked back at the building with tall pillars. He walked down the stairs and looked around in awe. Everything looked strange. He had never seen anything like it. The buildings were almost as tall as the pyramids and clustered together. He had never seen so many large buildings together. Marveling at the lights, shining from the top of long poles, he wondered. There are so many people walking about. Why aren’t they sleeping? Only watchers and evil people move around after sunset. At least in the world, I knew. Suddenly, he felt a rush of great power dragging him. Everything turned into a blur.
Storytime with Erika. Enjoy!
Erika M Szabo
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