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Interview with a Mummy
By RD Rivero



“Interview With A Mummy”
By RD Rivero
April 9, 2000

Pumyra found herself treading through winded, abandoned streets of an
ancient city.  She had left Bengali and Lynxo in charge of the Tower of
Omens when she received the invite to attend a demonstration.  Tygra,
Panthro, Liono and many other third earthers were also scheduled to come
see the events that would unfold in the ruins of that first earth
museum.
Hers was not a pleasant walk.  The buildings were old and loomed darkly
over the narrow streets.  No lights, there were no lights only
dust-encrusted lamp posts.  Large moths and flying cockroaches fluttered
through the scene to add to the air of decay that clung about that
ancient city of death.
The moon hid behind clouds that streaked across the sky to block out the
stars.  The night was oddly warm for autumn, with only the slightest
touch of an unexpected chill.  She shuddered more than once when a
sudden breeze slithered across her face around a dreary corner.  She
increased her pace, she looked more suspiciously.
She stopped and in the silence she heard footsteps faraway.
When she turned her head to see, all she found was a passing shadow
fading into oblivion.  In any event, at last she came free from the
dangerous streets to the open square where the museum stood.  The change
was total.  Everything was open, even the could-cover had let up.
The marble facade of the museum stood out, the cleanness of it stood out
as something too new, as something exceedingly out of place.
There were more shadows, shadows of eerie, smoky shapes, of only the
faintest suggestions of actual, physical forms -- arms, heads -- that
dotted into and out of view, that seemed to come closer from everywhere
around the museum.  She walked swiftly thought the open square, up stone
steps to the entrance.  Quickly she thrust open the side door and
hurried in to escape the disturbances of the forgotten city outside.
A dark hall, barely lit by the bulb above the front doors and the other
at the opposite end of the passage.  She looked around, tried to catch
her bearings, she walked briskly across the vast length of the chamber
to the open doors of a ‘brighter,’ gray stone passage.  She did not cast
one glance side to side but there were unavoidable glimpses of
sarcophagi, carved idols and -- her imagination supplied the rest.
Through that second hallway, a turn to the right and she reached the
tall staircase that seemed to go up and up forever with only slight
bends or crinks along the walls.
Tapping -- the sound of tapping came from above.
She caught her breath and regained her composure.  She climbed up, for
footsteps resonated noiselessly in her caution.  It seemed her ascent
would have no end but at last she came upon a set metal doors -- doors
almost the exact replica of those of the refrigerators of Cat’s Lair.
Behind them was the room set aside for the night’s demonstration.  She
stood a moment uncharacteristically nervous and pushed the doors open.
On the other side was a nearly empty room, without furnishings.
Pumyra knew most who were present:  Liono, Panthro, Tygra, Willa,
Mandora, RoboBear and several Wolos.  They greeted her, they drew her
into a close circle.  All stood, there were no chairs, only a couple of
instrument racks and the main object.
The main object.
The room was dominated by a long, low table upon which rested a six-foot
bundle of dull gray cloth.  Familiar, but just then she realized why.
It was an Egyptian mummy, removed from its coffin.  It awaited
unraveling, no doubt.
Tygra raised his hand for silence.
“Most of you know what is about to happen tonight.  I will only outline
the procedure of the demonstration for convenience.”  He looked down on
the mummy and stepped around the table.  “This is an Egyptian mummy but
we hope different from all other mummies previously uncovered.
"According to our painstaking translation of the hieroglyphics of the
sarcophagus where this body came, this marks an attempt of the
priesthood of Egypt to send one of their number alive into the lands to
come. The unique part of it and that which occupies us tonight, is that
this priest did not die, nor was his body in any way mutilated. Instead,
according to the inscriptions, he was fed and bathed in certain
compounds that would suspend -- indefinitely -- the actions of his body
cells. He was then put to sleep and prepared for a slumber very similar
to death, yet not truly death. In this state he could remain for years,
yet still be reawakened to walk again, a living man.
"In brief and using our terminology, these people of what we call first
earth, claim to have solved the secret of suspended animation. Whether
or not they did is for us now to determine."
Pumyra felt herself grow cold while the knowledge penetrated her being.
The past had indeed reached out to the present. She would witness that
night the end of an experiment started millennia of millennia ago.
Perhaps she would speak to and hear speak an inhabitant of that long
lost age.
She raised her eyes from the object on the table, let her gaze fall upon
the window and what was revealed through it. The clouds were gone and
the cold, bright stars shone through.  Space, she remembered the lonely
vastness, the complete emptiness and the total isolation.  So alone, she
thought, so alone.  To have been ‘suspended’ for so long seemed a worse
and crueler sentence.
Tygra and Panthro began to unwrap the. Rolls and rolls of old, crumbling
cloth unwound from the figure on the table. Grainy dust filled the air
to tickle her nose. Several coughs were heard when the last of the
windings fell away.
The body lay uncovered in a fine state of preservation. The skin was not
hard, no, it had not hardened.  The arms and legs were still movable for
they had never stiffened in rigor mortis. Tygra seemed pleased by that.
In horror she noted several grayish-blue patches on the face and body
which she recognized to be mold without asking.  The tiger bent over and
carefully scraped off the old growths. They left nasty reddish pitted
scars.
She wanted to rush out of the building into the clean night air but the
fascination kept her glance fixed in hypnosis on the me object before
her.
“We are ready," Panthro said in a low voice.
The two Thundercats began to bathe the body with a sharp-smelling
antiseptic to clean off all remaining traces of the preservatives used.
Finished and at last the way was open for the work of revival. Large
pads were brought out, laid out all over the body.  A current was sent
through them mostly to raise the body temperature to more normal
warmth.  Arteries and veins were opened, tubes clamped to them from
apparatus under the table. She understood that artificial blood was
being pumped into the body revive the internal organs and open the flow
of blood again.
Tygra announced that he was about to attempt the final operation, the
final work toward actually bringing the corpse to life.  Already the
body seemed to be that of a living man, the flush of red tingling its
skin and its cheeks.
"Blood flows again through his veins and arteries," whispered Liono.
"It is time to turn off the mechanical heart and attempt to revive his
own."
A needle was plunged into the chest, a substance injected into the
dormant, cardiac apparatus of the body. Adrenaline, she assumed.
Over the mouth and nostrils of the former mummy a bellows was placed,
air forced into the lungs at regular periods. For a while there was no
result. She began fervently to hope that there would be no result. The
air was supercharged with tension, horror mixed with scientific zeal.
Through the chamber, the wheeze of the bellows was the only sound.
"Look!"
Someone cried out the word, electrifying all in the room of
resurrection. A hand pointed shakily at the chest of the thing on the
table. There was more action: the chest rose and fell more vigorously.
Quietly Tygra reached over and pulled away the face mask and stopped the
pumps.
The chest of the Egyptian still moved, up and down in a ghastly rhythm
of its own. To their ears came an oddly noticeable sound -- the sound of
air being sucked in and out of a sleeping man.
"He breathes." Panthro reached out and laid a finger on the body's
wrists. "The heart beats."
"He lives again!"
Their eyes stared at what had been done. There, on the table, lay a man,
a light-brown-skinned, sharp-Semitic-featured man, appearing to be in
early middle age. He lay there quietly asleep.
She shook her head disbelievingly.  "Who will waken him?" she whispered
above the pounding of her heart.
"He will awaken soon," was the answer. "He will rise and walk if nothing
had happened at all."
Then the Egyptian moved. His hand shook slightly.  His eyes opened with
a jerk.
Spellbound the witnesses approached the table.  In shocked silence they
watched the Egyptian sit up slowly, painfully. His features reacted
grotesquely, his face was a horribly contorted mask ready to come off.
His body moved jerkily.
The ancient's eyes roved over the assembly.
Pumyra fled from the room in frightful terror.  The others followed.
Behind rang out a terrible, hoarse bellow, a gurgling that thankfully
could barely be heard. Everyone fought to be the first out of that
museum, out the doors into streets and away.
The Egyptian had moved his body and opened his mouth to speak but
instead his face had fallen in like termite-infested wood.  Parts of the
body that, having never been alive, could not be preserved in suspended
animation.  The bones, strong in death, could not defy the crushing
passage of time.  Soft, fragile, crumbled bones tore through.
The whole body shook suddenly, trembled suddenly in violent heaves of
spasms.  With the swing of the arm, the body transformed itself into a
shapeless mass -- a quivering puddle -- of flesh and blood that
projected innumerable jagged fragments of darkened bones.





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