Short Fiction - Monsterhearts: Neko - Starting from the Bottom

I’m waking up…good, as planned. The Great Spell still works. Thanks again, Osiris. But you still owe me.

Wait...there’s something off. This isn’t the tomb I commissioned in Thebes. Those aren’t my shabtis and my scarabs. Hell, those aren’t even my canopic jars. This is just a bunch of random junk, stolen from a dozen other Pharaohs’ tombs -- where’s my stuff? Where am I?

My eyes are still clearing... There, I can focus them again. The walls and ceiling are some sort of plaster, painted with random inscriptions copied from who knows which pyramid. Nothing about this tomb is right. And there’s a big fresh crack in the ceiling, still dribbling broken plaster and letting the sunlight in.

Something’s gone very wrong.

The last time I woke up, Osiris had returned my ka after 400 years as per our arrangement. The secret priests got me back on the throne in short order, and I got to work. Unsurprisingly, the kingdom had badly rotted in my absence. I restored the temples and got tax collection back in order. I started a new canal and even built a navy, something which had apparently never occurred to any of my idiot heirs.

They hadn’t held onto my conquests in Syria, either. So that was a top priority. I made a little alliance with the Hebrews (that name sounded familiar -- hadn’t they been slaves or something? I guess they must have gotten free somehow in my absence), and marched north. That’s...when things get vague for me.

I’ll bet I died in battle. Shit, I must not have made it back to Egypt. The Babylonians probably captured my body. But why would they have put me here, in this crappy fake tomb? Thoth, I’m going to need some answers.

Oh, good. I hear voices outside the doorway. I should be able to wring some information out of whoever these guards happen to be. But what language is that -- something from the Arabian desert tribes? I don’t recognize it.

Let’s hope at least some of these stolen trinkets are authentic. I need to get some magic going. Here we are, this Ibis figurine looks legit. Thrice Wise Thoth, Lord of All Secrets, Grant Me Knowledge of This Tongue.

Much better. They’re talking about an airstrike, by someone called the Americans, and how their boss President Hussein will probably execute them if his museum got damaged.

I don’t really know what any of those things are, but I know how slaves sound when they’re afraid of their master, and I can gather that they’re currently in the process of losing a war.

And I can start putting pieces together. New languages. New nations and titles for kings. New weapons of warfare. That fresh crack in the ceiling -- I’ve been sealed in here. No way for my ka to return to my body when the time came. It’s been more than 400 years. Maybe a lot more.

When the guards come in to check on the damage, I’m ready. I don’t quite have the full strength of my majesty back yet, but I’ve got more than enough to dazzle a couple of downtrodden lackeys. Anwar and Malik drop to their knees, and I have them fill me in on the details. I’m in a place called Iraq, ruled by a man named Saddam Hussein (who calls himself President instead of King for unclear reasons). This tomb is in the basement of one of his palaces, a museum put together from artifacts he’s bought, stolen, or dug up. I was his prize centerpiece, found right here in this city -- Tikrit. Okay, I know that name. Now I know where I am.

As to when -- It’s been almost 2,600 years. It’s 1411 in their calendar, 1991 in the Americans’ version. And these Americans are the ones currently kicking the shit out of Saddam in this war. Anwar says they’ve got invisible flying weapons called stealth fighters, which can drop exploding stones called bombs anywhere they want. That’s what blew that crack in the ceiling.

Screw this Saddam guy, he sounds like a chump. Looks like America is the big-deal empire right now. Richest, strongest, most famous -- they boss the world around and do whatever they want to whoever they want. Malik says they have a city called New York where billionaires live in glass towers taller than the Great Pyramids.

Well then. Sounds like my kind of place. Anwar fetches me some of his old master’s best clothes, and Malik gathers up the still-functional artifacts from the tomb. I take a look in a full-length mirror on our way out the door. Nice job, Osiris, I’m back to looking eighteen. And I like this new style of suit, much sharper than robes. I miss my double crowns, though. All in due time. Right now, let’s focus on what’s essential: getting to the center of the action and starting to climb back on top.