Screaming Dead 9
Some years ago, back when the treasures of Egypt hadn't been ripped from their resting place and hauled away to foreign museums to be gawked at and gather dust, there were still men who wanted a piece of history for their own reasons. Blackie Cole, officially a businessman, but more commonly referred to as a racketeer, was one of those men. Steve Banning, officially an archaeologist, but commonly referred to as a grave robber, was hired by Cole.
Banning's task was to find the tomb of Princess Ananka. Not an easy feat, even for an accomplished thief. With his frequent partner Babe Jensen and Cole's agent the 'Great' Solvani, Banning was equipped, financed, and set out to the desert to find the lost tomb.
Cables were sent and received. Hopes were high and reports were positive. The last cable mentioned a great find. Due to weather and the authorities, the team was flying over South America. That was the last time anyone saw Banning, Jensen, or Solvani.
Until three weeks ago.
Blackie Cole may not have been the typical image of what people thought of when they imaged a jungle explorer. Short and wide, he wheezed with every swing of his machete. Behind him were the only two people he trusted. Professor Gibbs; Cole never learned his first name, a tittering older man with glasses that seemed incapable of staying on his face. The other, carrying more equipment than either man was Gibbs's assistant, Kitty Caroll.
Caroll, the youngest member of the group by far, grunted under the weight of the food, water, and various scientific equipment. "Not to sound disrespectful sir, but what are we looking for again?"
"The lab of Katherine Caldwell." Gibbs moved a branch out of the way. It smacked Kitty directly in the face as he let it go once he passed by. "Mr. Cole heard of her research and thinks it might tie into his own interest, as well as mine."
"Over here!" Cole shouted from up the trail. "I found something!"
"Caldwell was working with a Dr. Frankenstein, brilliant fellow from what I hear, and they were close to cracking the secrets mankind has been searching for since he first crawled out of the muck and declared himself human." Kitty had ignored nearly everything the older man had been saying, but took the speech as a good time to drop the many backpacks that they saddled her with and gaze around the clearing.
"Wow, what a place!" The words seemed inadequate. The ruined lab, almost completely hidden by the jungle, stuck out like a rotten limb. Grass and vines were making inroads in covering the structure up, but it was like nature itself was cowed by the contents of the lab.
"This is the lab, I'd bet my gold teeth on it!" Cole slapped his thigh. Sheathing his machete, the older American stomped towards the building. He had barely taken a few steps when he vanished.
"Mister Cole!" Gibbs rushed towards his employer's last appearance. He stopped as he neared a gaping hole in the ground. "Are you alright?"
"Better than alright!" Cole shouted from the hole. Cole cackled as he limped towards something he never thought he would see again. A ruined airplane sat gathering dust before him with two marked graves. "I never thought I'd see you again!" He ignored the graves and poked inside the plane. A large crate, thick with grime and mold, sat unmolested in the hold. Cole couldn't contain his mirth.
Amira Seward sighed as she flipped through her mail. Frankenstein's creation and his mate had left. Not permanently, of course, but their absence was still keenly felt. Her return to life still left her confused, but not so weak that she was unable to see visitors.
Marta Solvani sat across from her in Dr. Seward's parlor. The young woman nervously sipped her tea. "Thank you for speaking with me today miss."
"My pleasure, but what exactly did you require my services for?"
Marta cleared her throat. "My father was a magician. Not a successful one, sadly; he often did extra work for some questionable characters. Some years ago, he was hired by a gangster named Blackie Cole to oversee an expedition into some remote part of North Africa. That was the last time I ever saw him."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Thank you, but I received this in the mail a few days ago." She slipped a badly rumpled postcard from her purse and placed it in Amira's hands. It was a fairly cheap postcard of a generic jungle bird. On the flipside were scribbling in a shaky hand. "'Dear Marta, I hope you are find. The box is not important. Jackals hunt the night. Beware the seven hills; Yours, dad.' "Well, this is a bit confusing. Did you think your father is alive?"
"I honestly don't know. Dad always considered himself a sneak. The code he was trying to send doesn't make any sense I mean, I don't know of any box or any jackals."
"Maybe it's a trick? Some confidence game maybe?"
"I thought that too, but the postmark is from South America. Dad always flew through Rio." She cast her eyes down. "That was part of his cover, you see. When he was smuggling he would fly through Rio to fence his goods."
"So you think he faked his death?"
"Maybe, but I'm not sure."
"Your case sounds interesting, but wouldn't this be a matter for the police?"
Marta shook her head. "If I involved the police, they would arrest Dad for sure. If this is a con, I have to know why."
Amira glanced at the letter. The full moon was several weeks away, hopefully giving her a breathing spot. "I'll accept. We can leave on the first flight out."
"Well, this has to be the find of the century!" Blackie Cole beamed. The contents of the plane had been dragged, mostly by Kitty, up to the ruined remains of the lab. "But what puzzles me is how the plane landed where it did."
"It seems easy enough to decipher Mister Cole." Professor Gibbs picked up a mildewed log book. "According to what little I could read, it seems they ran into a horrible storm. Crashing into the thick undergrowth, Dr. Frankenstein may have found the plane and bodies and buried them."
"Makes sense enough, but what did you find inside?" a greedy gleam flashed across Cole's face.
"Ah, now that is the real find!" Gibbs directed the older man to another table set up in the ruined lab. A tarp kept most of the jungle out, but not the heat. "Your men were successful in finding the tomb of the princess."
Cole almost started to drool. "Was there anything in her coffin?"
"Well, not the usual treasure if that's what you're looking for I'm afraid. I did however find a large cache of tanna leaves. Remarkably well preserved too. I'm rather surprised as I thought the leaves would have moldered in such conditions."
"Never mind that, where are the leaves?" Cole grabbed Gibbs by the labels.
"Why, Kitty had taken them to the building's interior. They were much too fragile to leave in the open."
Cole relaxed. "Ah, of course, how thoughtful of you." Composing himself, he slicked back his hair. "I think I'll drop by. Those leaves sound fascinating."
"Good evening Miss Solvani, Miss Seward." A richly accented voice spoke from the shadows. Both women turned and regarded the approaching man with distrust.
"Do I know you?" Marta raised an eyebrow.
"Not personally, no, but allow me to rectify that. My name is Professor Andoheb. I am a professor of history at the University of Cairo."
"Charmed to meet you professor, but why are you on a lonely airfield in England in the middle of the night?"
"I will explain. I have been searching for some time for the lost tomb of Ananka. I believe the young lady's father may have found it."
"I don't know!" Marta blurted out. "I haven't seen my father in years, and I don't know anything about a princess, missing or otherwise."
Andoheb nodded and held up his hand. "I meant no offensive madam, but you see, I recently rediscovered the lost tomb myself. The princess's body was nowhere to be found and there was evidence of tomb robbers. Naturally I was loath to involve the authorities without any stronger evidence, but as you two are involved in the search for the missing party, I would be honored to join you."
"That's all well and good professor, but how exactly did you know where we were and what our plans were?" Amira stepped forward.
"Allay your suspicions, please. The former I learned in the village, where I was staying on an unrelated matter. As for the latter, idle gossip revealed that you two were in a hurry to a far off land, plus in my own search the name of Steve Banning came up as a person of interest. Research lead to the only person who might know, the daughter of the Great Solvani. It seemed logical that we pool our resources."
Amira and Marta huddled together for a moment. "It sounds too good to be true, plus I don't trust that attitude of his." Marta eyed him warily.
"I agree, but I have a feeling that left alone he might prove to be a bigger issue. With us we can keep an eye on him."
Walking towards the older man, Amira stuck out her hand. "Very well professor, we welcome your companionship."
"Splendid. I've already taken the liberty of loading the plane with sufficient gear for a safari. We can leave without delay."
Correctly suspected by the two women, Andoheb had a rather large secret. He was a professor and he had been searching for the princess Ananka, but his true motives were quite different. Among his many titles, Andoheb was also a high priest in an ancient order.
Centuries ago, when the pharaohs ruled like gods, the Princess Ananka ruled with a fair hand; but even princesses are captive to their fates. Ananka had a lover, a warrior in her army named Kharis. If Kharis had been of noble blood there would have been no issues, but as a peasant he would never rise higher than a low level officer.
As such the pair hid their love; at least they thought they did. From the Hill of the Seven Jackals they were watched. A royal taking a lover from the lower classes was hardly as scandalous as historians would have recorded; indeed it was seen almost as a necessity. When Ananka grew ill and died, however, things became serious.
Maddened with grief, Kharis broke into Ananka's tomb and spirited her away to the Hill of the Seven Jackals. Kharis had been searching for a way to bring his love back and it was there he thought he would find it. Tanna leaves, taken from a rare plant, could be turned into a potion that would, it was written, stave off death and more.
Kharis was apprehended before he could mix the potion. For his blasphemy he was condemned to a living death. Buried alive and without the proper rituals to see his soul to the other side, Kharis was made into Ananka's protector, with the head of the order keeping watch over Kharis. The protector of Kharis was a duty that had been passed down from master to student in an unbroken line ever since.
Andoheb looked at the large box. When the two women were engaged in other matters, he gently tapped the wood. "Soon, soon"
Blackie Cole grinned like a child with a new toy. Before him was a pile of the legendary tanna leaves. "I get this and Frankenstein's equipment. Who says life is unfair?"
Kitty entered the lab. "Oh, I'm sorry sir, I hadn't realized you were still here."
Cole glanced at his watch. He had been staring at the leaves for over an hour. "Well, time flies when you're having such fun." He ignored her and refocused on the leaves. "I've got them, now what? The stories and research are too vague! If I mess this up, I could be killed, or worse. I need a guinea pig." As the words formed in his brain he saw Kitty. A new idea formed, a thoroughly wicked one as he gathered up a small sample of the leaves and went to find Gibbs.
The Creature, were it given to human emotions, would have sighed with annoyance. The last time the pink skinned things invaded the Black Lagoon, things had gone rather badly. Seeing the new group brought back memories of fire and pain. Spying the two males and one female, the Creature slipped back into the murky water. If they stayed away there would be no issue, but as the sunlight danced on the Creature's claws it was reminded on how long it had been since it had dined on humans.
"Are you sure about this?" Kitty eyed the machine in front of her warily.
"Of course I'm sure!" Gibbs absently waved his hand as he finished hooking the large coiled machine up to the generator.
"Cut the chatter, I have to know if these things work!" Cole groused.
Kitty had been injected with the extract of the tanna leaves. The legends had mentioned certain rites to be performed and only under certain conditions if the immortality was to be achieved. Cole figured it would be easier to have Frankenstein's equipment substitute for the stars.
Kitty took a quick breath as the machine powered up. Before she could exhale a bolt of energy shot out and enveloped her. She felt no pain, only an intense tingling sensation. When the ray stopped, the tingling increased. "Professor, what happened?"
Gibbs and Cole stepped out from the machine and gasped. "Kitty…Ms. Caroll, how do you feel?"
"Fine I suppose, but a little giddy."
"You idiot!" Cole's shock gave way to anger. "You must have fouled things up somehow! She's not immortal, I just know it!"
"Wait, that's what you were trying to do?" Kitty tried to move, but Gibbs held her down.
"Kitty, please, you don't need to stand up now, why don't you take a rest?"
"Stop coddling me!" A cold bolt of fear went through her. "Wait, what happened? Am I burned? Let me see!"
Cole cruelly laughed at her words as Gibbs stuttered. "Now, really, it isn't as bad as it may seem, in fact it may be a blessing."
"Let me see!" She tore a hand free from the frayed restraint. She reached for Gibbs's collar but stopped. "Where's my arm?" The appendage felt fine and she could tell it was still there as she flexed her fingers. The only drawback was that it was invisible. "What did you do to me?"
"I'm not sure. The tanna leaves, mixed with the weird energies of the machine, could have caused this reaction; perhaps some epidermal rejection, maybe." He continued to muse. He freed her from the restraints. Kitty unsteadily walked forward until she found a polished sheet of metal to act as a mirror. It was harder to move as she couldn't see her feet anymore.
"So what, you made me invisible?" She glanced down. She could still see her shirt and pants, but now they seemed to be wrapped around nothing. Her pant legs ended mid-calf, leaving her looking like she was floating.
"You fool, you ruined it!" Cole snarled. "Can't you do anything right?"
"Now sir, we have plenty of tanna leaves left and I'm sure Ms. Caroll would assist." Gibbs turned towards his assistant. All he saw was a pile of clothes on the floor. "Huh."
Kitty staggered out into the jungle. She still couldn't see her feet, making walking difficult, but nude she could slip away from the men. "Great, now I'm naked and in the jungle. At least those two idiots won't bother me anymore." She walked to the edge of the lagoon. Dropping a pebble into the brackish water, her situation slowly dawned on her. "What if I'm stuck like this forever?"
That was when she saw the eyes staring back at her from the water. She thought they might have been a trick of the light, but she changed her mind when she saw the scaly green hand break the water's surface.
She dashed back to the lab, suddenly unconcerned with her nudity.
The Creature moved onto the shore. It was strange; there was nothing there, yet there was the unmistakable scent of a human. The Creature felt this bore investigating. It slinked through the dense brush, following the footprints.
"I'm telling you, there was a monster in the lake!" Kitty, wrapped in a lab coat, insisted.
"Yeah, and I'm Ty Cobb." Cole snorted. "You sure know how to pick them doc."
"Now Mister Cole, if Ms. Caroll swore she saw something I have no reason to doubt her." Gibbs tried to sound sincere, but his tone came across as patronizing.
"But there was something in the lake, a big green fish monster, I'm sure of it!"
"Nonsense!" Cole spat.
"Actually, she might be right. I recall stories of a kind of gilled man living in this area. If we could capture him, why, think of the scientific rewards?"
"Or actual ones. I tell you doc, I think this trip might be the most important one I ever made!" Cole rubbed his hands together, thoughts of profit improving his mood.
Amira had been quiet for most of the plane ride over. The full moon was still some time off, but her concerns were for the others with her. Marta was worried about her father, but Professor Andoheb puzzled her. The man fretted over his crate. He also had a peculiar odor about him. He didn't stink, rather like he was perfumed with some odd fragrance.
Once the plane landed in Brazil, the professor was the first one to suggest searching the jungle. "Are you sure my father is there?" Marta seemed skeptical when Anodheb pointed towards a large section of the jungle on his map.
"I know the area." Amira countered. "It will not be an easy trek, and there are things in that place I'd rather not run into again."
"Poppycock, we have provisions for weeks, weapons to stop an army, what else could we need?"
"I suppose you have a point." Amira eyed the large crate carefully. The odor seemed to be coming from within the wooden frame. "Speaking of equipment, I think we could make better time if we just left this box behind." She waited for his response.
"Don't be ridiculous, that contains vital equipment!" Andoheb was flustered. "We are taking it with us."
"Amira has a point. This thing is very heavy and we'll be hard pressed to carry ourselves through the jungle, much less dragging this thing behind us."
"That's assuming we can find a guide to take us." Amira pointed to a group of men staring at them from the bar. "I think we've made too much a scene."
Despite Amira's worries, they did manage to find a guide of sorts. The only man left at the last bar in town to be exact. Everyone else had fled the moment they learned where Amira and company wanted to go. Lucas, his breath reeking of cheap whiskey, looked up from the bar. "Hey, don't I know you?"
Amira stepped back. "You must be mistaken, but we would like to hire you."
"Hey, for two pretty ladies, Lucas and the Rita II are always available!"
Thus an accord was struck. Lucas, while still tipsy, had their equipment loaded onto his tramp steamer and they set sail before dawn. The whole time Amira felt uneasy. "This whole thing makes me nervous. There's just too many wild cards to deal with. I'll have to be careful."
"So doc, what is our dead princess telling you?" Cole rubbed his hands together as Gibbs examined the sarcophagus.
"An absolutely fascinating story. It is mentioned several times that this princess is protected by an avenging spirit; a warrior who will never know death."
"Cute stuff for the kiddies doc, but treasure! Does it say anything about how the tanna leaves work?"
"That I'm still translating, but what I have so far speaks of such danger I'm hesitant to continue. We saw what happened to Kitty."
Cole pulled out his gun and leveled it at the older man. "Finish the words doc, or that screwy dame won't be the only one to disappear."
"Mister Cole, I protest! This is an amazing scientific find, not to mention historical!"
"All I care about is cheating the reaper. If this box of bones can do that, great, but I can find the same answer somewhere in this dump, I'd settle for that too!" He fired off a round into the ancient stonework, destroying countless hours of work and what a lifetime of slavery took to build.
Anoheb put down his journal. He felt a chill despite the sweltering heat. He considered writing it off as nerves or a tropical disease, but he ventured into the cramped hold of the boat to make sure. Striking a match, he looked around the pitiful amount of equipment they had brought.
He moved further inside to check on the one bit of cargo he cared about. "Fear not Kharis, the infidels shall die for their crimes against our princess." He lowered the match. The flame went out as the lid of the box opened slightly then slammed shut. After checking to make sure the top was secured, Andoheb went back to his cabin
The trip up to the Black Lagoon was smoother than last time, although there were still a few setbacks. When Lucas finally sobered up, he was none too pleased to discover their destination, although a large cash deposit managed to calm him enough not to throw them all overboard.
Amira caught Marta lounging by the rear of the boat, her feet dangling off the side. "I'd be careful doing that."
"Piranha?" Marta drew her legs back.
"Worse," Amira was about to go into more detail when Andoheb appeared behind her.
"I fear this is where we must part company, at least for the moment." Amira noticed his crate being loaded onto the shore. "I wish you the best of luck in finding your father my dear."
"Why don't you come with us?" Amira eyed the crate. He had no bearers and nothing else save for the box. What was he going to do?
"Alas, I fear our paths must diverge. My interest is and always has been on recovering the treasure of my people." He stepped off the gang plank and went ashore, leaving the two women on the boat.
"Odd fellow." Marta surmised.
"Yes, but there is something about him, I fear we may see him again."
"Gee, you sure know your way around a jungle!" Marta struggled against the weight of her back as Amira cleared the path.
"It helps to have been here before."
"You've mentioned that, but why are we here when the postcard was marked Rio?"
"No, it had been processed through Rio, but I noticed the markings. It had been taken from a remote office and sent to Rio, then forwarded to you. The office is the chief post office for this district, so it must have been sent from here. As for this exact location, this is the only section of the jungle where a person could live."
"Oh that's silly, aren't there natives?"
"No, in fact this section of the Amazon was left alone for centuries. If your father is anywhere in this green hell, I know the location well, but we'll have to hurry. There is danger here I'd rather not face again."
"That is the second time you've mentioned danger. What is it? What is out here?"
"You promise not to laugh?" Amira stopped swinging her machete. When Marta nodded, Amira broke out her canteen. "There is a monster living in this jungle; some kind of fish-man. It stalks the murky waters of the lagoon."
Marta wasn't impressed. "And let me guess, no one has ever seen this creature and lived to tell the tale?"
"Actually quite a few people have seen it, myself included." Amira took a long swig of water.
Marta quieted down. "You did?"
"Yes, and I barely escaped," Amira omitted the part about her being a werewolf at the time. "Since it looks like the two of us, let's go ahead and find shelter. There should a ruined fort a few kilometers ahead. We can make camp there and plan our search in the morning."
"I must say Ms. Carroll, I do wish you would put some clothes on." Gibbs fumbled with his glasses.
"I'm wearing boots, isn't that enough?" The disembodied voice echoed in the lab. The boots clicked together in response. "Starkers I can go anywhere and listen to anything, even that creep Cole."
"Yes, Mister Cole has explained to me several times about that. He's not a man to trifle with, so I ask that you please refrain from eavesdropping."
"Yeah?" Kitty's voice sniggered. "Maybe you should try listening to him. That guy is daffy! He's convinced this mummy is going to make him immortal. He's dangerous professor, and if we don't split now I'm not sure we'll be able to."
"Nonsense! Why, Mister Cole is probably just tired from the heat, that's all. We've made some amazing discoveries here and I won't abandon them over some silly hysteria."
An exasperated sigh drifted past his ear. "Ok, ok, but I warned you prof. The next time that mug starts talking to himself, I'm slipping out of here."
"Oh, now don't be silly. Where would you go in your state?"
"Anyplace I felt like it Gibbs." Kitty's voice was low and dangerous. The boots undid themselves and fell over. "If I were to walk out that door, would you really be able to find me? And in the nighttime, well, you can barely see straight in the daytime. I'd disappear Gibbs."
A chisel flew up then suddenly dropped. Gibbs stepped back as the door opened. "Kitty, Kitty what are you doing?"
"You know, I was really rather cross with you at the first Gibbs, but now? Now I can go anywhere I want to and do anything I please. Remember what I said Gibbs." The door shut itself.
"Kitty? Kitty, are you still here?" Gibbs stayed still for a long time.
Cole, meanwhile, was busy with other projects. "The princess's secrets will be mine, no matter what!" He walked by himself. With Kitty's new habit of eavesdropping, he took to walking only in the most inhospitable parts.
He moved silently as he neared the outer wall. The fort's remains were barely standing, but the inner labs were covered. When he heard two voices talking, he drew his gun and inched closer. "Two hikers? Too bad for them!" He cocked the hammer as he neared closer.
"I still can't believe that my father is still alive." Marta warmed coffee over the small fire as Amira adjusted the lean-to.
"I wouldn't put too much faith in that. We still don't know if that letter was real or not. Honestly, I've been having a bad feeling about this trip since we arrived."
"Then why are we here?" Marta sighed.
"This seemed like the best place, yet now, I'm not sure."
Cole stepped out into the open. His gun trained on both of them. "You don't know how right you are gals. Stick your hands up and I won't blow your brains out yet."
Marta and Amira complied. Cole smiled deeply as he gestured towards the jungle. "We're going for a walk and I don't want any funny business."
Before the two women could say anything, a large branch ripped itself free from a nearby tree and shattered itself over Cole's head. Amira rushed forward and quickly bound the man's hands and feet together. "What just happened?" Marta scratched her head.
"Around here I don't question odd things." She tucked the pistol into her belt. She started to walk into the brush when Marta stopped her.
"We're not going to leave him here, are we?"
"He just tried to kill us, plus I doubt he walked here. There must be another camp close by. Let's check it out, see if they're friendly."
"But what about him?" she poked Cole with her toe.
"Leave him, if we're in the wrong we can come back and untie him, and if not we're better off where he is."
Kitty watched the two women leave. Once she was alone with Cole, the invisible woman couldn't but smile, although the effect was lost on the dazed gangster. "Well, I knew you'd crack up, but what are those two gal's angles in this?"
Kitty's musings were cut short when Andoheb strolled into the clearing. "Is this Grand Central Station?" Kitty grew exasperated. She stayed silent as the new arrival looked Cole over.
"I knew following those two would pay off." Andoheb cast his eyes skyward. "Your faithful son gives thanks for this gift." He bent down and dragged Cole off into the jungle.
"Ok, so who do I follow?" Kitty glanced around. The two women went east towards the lab, whereas the man went west towards the jungle. "I wish I had a coin to toss, although I'd have to be wearing pants then." Deciding that the latest arrival would hold more interest, she quietly slipped through the jungle after him.
"Ah, Kharis, how fortunate we are!" Andoheb, now dressed in a ceremonial robe, stepped back from the open casket. The strange brew of tanna leaves filled the air as he anointed the mummy's body with the mixture. "Rise oh son of the ancients, rise and unleash your vengeance!"
Cole, who had been awakened by this and passed out several times since, tried to speak. A heavy gag in his mouth prevented that, as Andoheb grew annoyed with the man's profanities. The priest turned his attention to the gangster. "You, who have broken our laws and defiled our tombs, shall pay for your crimes!" Kharis slowly rose from the casket. Ancient eyes glistened from behind the bandages.
Kharis lumbered out of the casket and picked Cole up with one hand. Cole grew paler. Kharis, with a withered hand, tore the gag free from his mouth. "What do you want with me?" The swagger was gone from the man's voice.
"Return what you have stolen!"
"Fine, take the stupid mummy back!" Kharis growled and shook Cole. "It's at the camp, at the camp! I can show you how to get there!"
"I can find the way myself, thank you." Andoheb nodded. Kharis slammed Cole into the ground, smashing his skull instantly.
"Come Kharis, we must rescue the princess before those infidels desecrate her any further!"
Kitty, who had been a silent witness to everything, paled. "How can you stop something like that?"
The meeting at the camp went better than previously thought. Gibbs calmly introduced himself and both women stated their reasons for being there. "Well, I'm glad for the company. My assistant Ms. Carroll seems have, ah, vanished."
"Professor, all I want to know is my father all right?"
"Frankly my dear I haven't a clue." Gibbs shrugged his shoulders. "We only found the two bodies. As to this letter you mentioned, I fear I had no idea of its existence until you told me."
"Then was it all just a wild goose chase?" Marta almost cried, but Amira stepped forward.
"Someone sent that letter, hoping to draw us here. Now, if it wasn't you or your associates, then who could it be?"
"It was I, Ygor!" A cackling voice echoed from the darkness. A hunchbacked figure emerged from the shadows of the jungle. Amira gasped in horror.
"It can't be, you were torn to ribbons two years ago!"
"Ygor survives, Ygor always survives!" The misshapen man wetly coughed. From under his tunic he produced a gun. "Follow me, please, if you want to live."
Kitty hadn't left the campsite of Andoheb. The figure of the mummy fascinated her. "That thing should be dead, but it has the strength of a dozen men, easy. How? Was it those same leaves I was using?" She considered taking more for herself, but Kharis's hand snagged her wrist when she reached for it. "How did it know?" She cried out when the undead warrior tightened his grip.
"What is going here?" Andoheb emerged from his tent. He stared at Kharis as the bandaged figure walked towards him, seemingly dragging something. "You caught something?"
"Call him off and I'll talk!" Kitty spat. Andoheb stepped back in shock.
"If I were living a few centuries ago, I'd swear Kharis captured a spirit. Tell me, who are you? Or do I ask what are you first?"
"My name is Kitty. Until a little while ago I was working for that greasy stain on the floor over there." She drew an arrow in the dirt towards Cole's remains.
"And you seek to avenge your master's death?" This sent Kitty into hysterics, much to Andoheb's confusion.
"Hardly, if anything I owe you for rubbing that bum out; no, I wanted to see if your leaves could make me visible again." She explained her story. Andoheb removed a blanket from his tent and gave it to her.
"Your story is fantastic, although I am inclined to believe you. What you spoke of, however, I fear I have no idea if the tanna leaves could reverse your condition or make it worse."
The blanket shifted in the dirt as Kitty sat down. "Well, I have to admit, I'm getting kind of use to it now, but if you still want what Cole stole, I can get it back with minimum trouble."
Andoheb chuckled. "You know, I believe you could. I'll still send Kharis with you, as I doubt you possess the strength to bring the Princess Ananka's sarcophagus back, but be warned. Any tricks and Kharis will, I assure you, put you before Anubis to weigh your heart along with your former alley."
The Creature slinked from the muck. Food had been scare and hunger drove it from the dark water towards the fort. It dimly recalled loud creatures that hurt it, but the hunger pushed everything aside. The Creature's claws glistened in the dying rays of the sun as it moved towards the voices and light.
"I keep telling you, I'm not a medical doctor!" Gibbs protested.
"And I say you are. Now fix me, or else I kill your friends!" Ygor leaned against a table for support. It was obvious the man was dying, but he would still live long enough to cause trouble for everyone.
"Of all the nights for there to be no moon!" Amira swore at herself. She considered rushing Ygor, as she doubted anyone there had loaded the gun with silver bullets, but a look at Marta and Gibbs changed her mind. "No, I couldn't let anyone else be hurt because of my actions."
"You fix me, or I shoot!" Ygor pointed the gun at Marta.
"Stop!" Gibbs put himself in front of the younger woman. "I'll do what you say, but we'll need supplies."
"You can't fool me. If I let you go, you'll try to find a weapon or call for help."
"Well, what do you expect him to do, operate with his bare hands?" Amira snapped. "I'll go and look for equipment. You can shoo t me if you want, but I won't stay here and be useless." Amira stormed off into the bowels of the building. A bullet from Ygor convinced Marta and Gibbs not to follow her.
Stumbling through the darkened ruins, Amira tried to come up with a plan. "I know I could survive being shot, but I won't risk anyone else." As she concentrated, she turned a corner into a lab. "I don't remember this part." The walls were fairly clean and the instruments looked to be in working order. An electric light cast a pale glow over everything.
"Maybe I can find something useful in here?" She examined the machines. Nothing was labeled. She moved closer to a large control panel. Seeing a lever jutting out, she grabbed it. "Maybe I could use this as a club?" She tried pulling it off, but only succeeded in dragging it down, activating the machine.
"What is going on down there?" Ygor yelled.
Amira stepped back. A hole opened up in the wall as the machine began to generate power; a strange power that was now about to unleash its full potential directly at the unsuspecting woman.
Kharis seemingly had no trouble following Kitty, almost like he could see her perfectly. She began to feel a bit self-conscious. Moving ahead, she walked closer to Andoheb. "So your boy here, how do you control him?"
"Kharis is a special case. I won't bore you with the details, but his loyalty to me is without question."
Kitty nodded, even though he couldn't see it and made a mental note of it.
The Creature lurked outside the ruins. The humans were being louder, which was fine as it made it easier to find them. The Creature crept closer to the voices.
Before Amira could move, or even question the source of the humming, she was struck by a pinpoint beam of pure energy. She howled in pain as she staggered back. As she dropped to the floor, her hand wiped a large of amount of dust free from a panel. "Gamma ray device with a lunar rock center?" She was unaware of just what the panel meant, but the all too familiar trembling in her body let her know what was happening.
"How is this possible?" She fell to the floor as her feet blazed within her boots. "It's not the full moon, it's barely dusk," She bit her lip to stifle a cry as her bones shifted and cracked. Blood flowed freely from her lip as she fumbled with her laces. She pulled one boot off seconds before talons broke through the other one. The leather warped and split as her feet shifted into paws.
Muscle swelled under her skin as she quickly tore her shirt to ribbons with her now razor sharp claws. Fur spread and covered her frame as she clawed her way toward the main door. Her mind screamed with agony as her jaw stretched and her teeth became fangs. The Wolf fumbled with her zipper before flexing and tearing the offending garment free.
The Wolf was confused. There was no moon, no food, only the lingering stench of humans. The Wolf was angry. It howled and bounded up the steps towards freedom.
"What was that?" Ygor gestured towards the entrance with his gun. "You, woman, go and check it."
Marta moved, then froze. "Wait, that gun, that was my father's gun!"
Ygor spat. "Then you're an orphan. I killed the old fool who had this!"
"You monster!" Marta balled her hands into fists. Before she could act, the Wolf burst into the room and snarled.
"What was that?" Kitty stopped when she heard the howl.
"It sounded like an animal, but not one I'm familiar with." Andoheb drew his gun. "Kharis, go and secure the area. Miss Caroll, perhaps you should stay with me." The moldering warrior nodded stiffly and lumbered off towards the ruin.
"No argument here!" Kitty, despite the heat, shivered.
Unseen by the pair, the Creature lurked nearby. It smelled two scents, yet it only saw one human. The Creature hung back, mostly due to curiosity. Most of its senses told it there were two, and the Creature hadn't lived as long as it had by ignoring its senses. It crouched and waited. When the other human revealed itself, then the Creature would strike.
The Wolf growled as it looked at the three humans. The men were clearly no threat, but the woman seemed familiar. The Wolf dismissed the feeling; how could a human mean anything? One of the men, the one twisted and smelling of death, fired his gun. The bullet passed through the Wolf's leg.
Turning to Ygor, the Wolf snarled in pain. The wound was already closing, as the bullet was not silver, but all the Wolf cared about was that someone hurt her. Ygor fired several more shots, each one tearing through the Wolf's torso.
Despite the punctured organs, the Wolf's new focus was on the man with the gun. With one swipe the gun was knocked away. The man babbled, but the Wolf was beyond human language. Two swipes of the Wolf's claws sent the man crashing to the ground.
Throwing her head back, the Wolf howled in triumph. The sound of footsteps made her remember the other two. The older man had picked up a shovel from somewhere, whereas the woman had grabbed the proven useless gun.
As the Wolf crept towards them, rage and hunger in her eyes, the Wolf stopped. The stench of death and decay flooded her nose. Turning around to face the new intrusion, the Wolf was greeted by a large bandaged man.
Growling a warning, the Wolf ignored the humans as the dead figure continued to move forward, seemingly ignoring the Wolf entirely. It was possible that is exactly what would have happened if the Wolf hadn't charged and pounced on the new arrival.
Marta felt sick. First her father's death had been confirmed by a lunatic, then a werewolf had shown up, now a mummy. A voice whispered in her ear. "Look, you two need to follow me. Things are about to get really nutty around here."
Marta shrugged. She grabbed Gibbs's arm and dragged him with her as she felt a hand slip inside hers and lead her away from the fight. Kharis and the Wolf wrestled as they slipped into the jungle.
The Creature spied the two figures rushing towards it. It still smelled three figures, but as far as it was concerned, two was enough. It leapt from the underbrush, its claws at the ready.
The Wolf grappled with Kharis. Much to the Wolf's shock, the undead creature ignored her slashing claws. When her jaws clamped down on the mummy's neck, she was rewarded with a mouth full of dust.
Kharis shoved her aside and walked towards the inner room of the ruins. The Wolf, fury overtaking her, jumped on his back and began to slash. Had Kharis vocal cords, he might have sighed in annoyance. He continued to press forward. When one swipe nearly severed his left arm, Kharis reached up and yanked the Wolf free.
Standing before a locked door, Kharis, with one gnarled hand wrapped around the Wolf's throat, slammed the lycanthrope into the door. The Wolf thrashed in rage. Kharis slammed her again and again against the steel frame. Andoheb, observing from a distance, wondered what would give first, the door or the Wolf's head.
The door finally cracked open. Kharis tossed the Wolf aside and entered. For the first time in centuries, emotion flashed in Kharis's eyes as he saw the sarcophagus of his beloved. The Wolf, for the most part, hung back, wary but undefeated.
The Creature advanced on the humans. Its maw opened wide as it approached. The third scent was driving it crazy, as it could not tell how there were three humans when it only heard and saw two. It moved past two indentions in the mud as it raised its claws high for the kill.
A kill that never happened, as a rock cracked over its head from behind; dazed, it slashed wildly, its claws seemingly drawing blood from thin air before one of the humans ran off. The Creature heard something fall, but before it understand what happened, the older human came back with a can.
The Creature couldn't read, so it had no understanding of the word 'fuel' written across the can. It did understand the foul smelling liquid that the human threw on it, and it understood the pain as the human fired a flare into the gas.
The Creature, blinded with pain, rushed back into the jungle, leaving a flaming trail in its wake. "Is it dead?" Marta asked as Gibbs fell groping to the dirt.
"I'm not sure, but I'd feel safer anywhere else." Hearing a slight moaning, Gibbs grabbed what he hoped were Kitty's arms. "Here, take her other side. We have to get her out of here and fast."
"Our boat should be just ahead. The skipper has some medical supplies."
"Fantastic," Gibbs stared in horror as the ruins suddenly exploded. He threw his tired old frame over Marta and Kitty as hot winds blasted through the jungle.
"What was that?" Kitty weakly muttered.
"I don't know." Gibbs adjusted his glasses.
Andoheb entered the chamber. "Wonderful Kharis, wonderful!" he ignored the Wolf, who kept a respectable distance. "It will be a journey getting this home, but the Princess Ananka will finally be restored to her proper resting place."
Kharis suddenly, or as sudden as his ancient body could muster, turned and glared at Andoheb. Perhaps it was the scent of the tanna leaves, or maybe just the sight of his beloved, but Kharis ignored the sigils and wards that had kept him a slave for centuries. With his remaining hand, he clamped down on Andoheb's neck.
The man struggled. "Kharis, I order you, let me go!"
The mummy lifted the priest up with one hand and shook him. With one heave, he tossed Andoheb into the Wolf. Ignoring the man's cries, Kharis limped towards the remains of Ananka. Slowly, with an almost agonized expression, Kharis kneeled before his beloved.
Unseen by all, Ygor limped down the hall. He had recovered from horrible injuries before, but this time he felt the reaper's cold hands on him. "So, they think they will be rid of Ygor, do they?" He coughed and felt something warm run down his throat.
Remembering the layout of the labs, he headed towards a special room, one that Caldwell had installed, in case things ever went wrong. Forcing the door open, Ygor stared at the vast amount of dynamite rigged to the building's foundation. With a wet cackle he yanked the lever as the room started to spin. He was unconscious before the shock wave vaporized the walls.
The next day Amira crawled from the rubble. Dressing in scraps she found in the wreckage, she made her way back out of the jungle. She spied the Rita II from the shoreline and waved it down. She listened intently as Marta told of the Wolf's actions and the fate of Ygor.
She jumped when Kitty introduced herself, but regained her composure fast enough. Gibbs told of the Creature's attack and the explosion that destroyed everything. Amira listened and made notes. "Was the mummy destroyed in the explosion?" Amira looked at the black water. For just a second, she thought she caught a glimpse of two baleful eyes looking back at her, but she stepped back from the ship's railing as the topic of conversation drifted to more mundane things.
Thanks for Darci's help, as always, for helping me narrow the focus down on this story and for helping with the beta.
The work was original, but based on the following films:
The Mummy's Hand (1940). Dir. Christy Cabanne, Universal Pictures
The Invisible Woman (1940). Dir. A. Edward Sutherland, Universal Pictures
Revenge of the Creature (1955). Dir. Jack Arnold, Universal Pictures