A/N: So, hi everyone. I've never written a Mummy fic before, and I wasn't actually planning on writing one. But then the idea for this popped into my head. I think it'll get funnier, but I'm not positive, so don't hold me to it. If a few people review, I'll post another chapter (WARNING: Postings may be extremely erratic and happen at times when sane, healthy people are asleep.) I have no idea where this is going, so suggestions are welcome and will be read with gusto.
A/N # 2: I read this over reposted it because of the numerous technical errors and just plain stupid stuff that I found. It should be smoother now.
Disclaimer: I don't own nuthin', 'cept for a couple DVDs and my (as yet unnamed) main character. She has a name, I just want to wait to reveal it.
So Not in Arizona Anymore
"Ugh… that hurt," I groaned, rubbing my head where the girl had elbowed me. She'd been huge—hit me square in the temple, just when I was coming down from a sweet header to Allison, one of my teammates. I was hoping like hell that the ref red-carded her and trying to sit up when I realized that the soccer field had gone really quiet all of a sudden. I reached out a hand and touched the ground, then pulled it back with a gasp of pain. I was lying on hot sand, which certainly hadn't been there when I fell. I sat up and opened my eyes, squinting against the bright yellow light.
My stomach fell out from under me when I looked around. Rolling sand dunes stretched out in every direction, and not a soul was in sight. I swallowed dryly and brushed some of the grit out of my hair, which promptly fell out of its hasty bun and onto my neck. I could feel sweat dripping down my back uncomfortably, so I pulled my hair into a quick braid that would last longer than the bun and draped it over one shoulder. Suddenly, keeping the thick, black locks long seemed like a really stupid idea, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I stood up slowly and, when I didn't collapse from a concussion (like I said, that girl had been a friggin' Goliath), started walking up the nearest sand dune. Small particles began working their way into my sneakers, but there was no way I was going to walk barefoot in that heat. This wasn't the kind of desert I was used to—I'd been raised in Arizona, in the dry hills of the Sonoran Desert. I'd spent a fair amount of time in the Mojave, too, but neither had sand like this. This was the beach-like stuff that you only see in the Middle East and places like it. At least the heat was something I was used to. I guess running all those drills outside wasn't going to be completely wasted on indoor soccer.
Sand slipped from under my feet as I moved, pulling me back down half a step for every one I took, so it took me a fair amount of time to reach the peak of the dune. When I did, I nearly cried, but saved it, knowing that I wouldn't have any water for a very long time.
The same bland yellow sand was all I could see, mile after mile of tall dunes. There was no frugal vegetation like in the Sonoran, no sharp mountains to break the monotony, and absolutely no sign of some sort of oasis that I could get to easily. While I stood there, contemplating my certain doom and wondering just how in God's name I'd gotten out there, the sand shifted out from under me. I slip-stepped my way down the other side of the dune and land face-first on the ground. It took a second to register, but I was up on my feet again an instant later, crying out at the heat. Shaking, I sank to my butt and started whimpering quietly. I wasn't supposed to be there. I should have been at my game, cheering Allison for making a goal. Instead, I was trapped in some sort of pseudo-nightmare that felt so real it hurt.
I'm not sure how long I stayed like that, but when I finally stood up again, the shadows were a lot smaller than they'd been, and I realized I needed to find some shade before the hottest part of the day—mid-afternoon. Instinct and years of desert living began to kick in. The collar of my shirt was soaked with sweat, so I pulled it off and wiped my neck down before fashioning a haphazard turban out of the bright purple uniform. My black shorts, bra, and socks were fairly coated in the yellow sand, but at least the socks were moisture-wicking material, which saved me the added discomfort of sweaty feet. Eww.
Before starting, I pressed my thumb into my skin, letting out a small breath of relief when it didn't pale at all and bounced back easily. I was thirsty, but I had some time before I dehydrated completely and needed hospitalization. Even so, I really wished I had my Camelbak and two liters of rubber-tasting water with me. But I set out anyway, heading northeast and hoping desperately that it was the right way to go. I figured north was a good bet, but I since I had absolutely no idea where I was, so it probably didn't matter much.
As I walked, I was thankful for my dad's Indian skin tone. If I'd gotten my mother's paler complexion, the sunburn I was getting would have hurt a whole lot more that it was going to. Every once in a while, a blast of hot wind would whip some sand off a dune and fling it into my face, but I just brushed it off and kept walking, trying to ignore the climbing sun and my building thirst.
When the sun reached its peak, I sat down and used my shirt as a towel again. I was absolutely filthy—covered in sand and sweat—and I really wanted to be at home. Swallowing thickly, I pressed my arm again. My skin didn't bounce back so readily this time, and my thumbprint stayed rather pale for a good portion of a minute. I leaned my head back and willed myself not to cry, but a few tears squeezed out in spite of my efforts. I took a few steadying breaths and stood again, tucking the shirt into the back of my shorts. This time, when I scanned the horizon, I saw something that at least told me I could survive the afternoon heat.
A few hundred yards away, a tall dune curved over at the top, making a small hollow bowl at that base. It faced east, which meant it would give me shelter from the sun as it began to set in the west. I trudged over as quickly as I could, slipping in the sand a bit as I went, and sank down gratefully in the curve. Now that my body was resting completely, I could feel my muscles start to give out. My head was pounding, a combination of the heat, exhaustion, and its meeting Goliath-girl's elbow. Before I completely collapsed, I put down my shirt, for once thankful that it was a lot bigger than it needed to be, and curled up on top. My eyes slid shut like they were weighted with lead.
I think I must have been running a fever by the time I finally lay down, because when I slept, my dreams were just plain strange. My mother's face loomed over me, whispering my name as a fountain of water poured from her mouth. I tried catching some in my own, but by the time it should have reached me, the water was just sand. I guess that part wasn't so odd, seeing as I was missing both my mother and water pretty heartily at the time, but when her green eyes clouded over and became brown, it got weird. I could see her face, but she wasn't saying my name anymore. She stood on an ornate balcony, wearing some kind of black wig where her brown hair should have been. The balcony was odd, too I realized, and pretty soon I was wondering why I was dreaming my mother into ancient Egypt. Her eyes were kohl-lined and distant, gazing out at what I guessed was the Nile. I patted myself on the back at my thorough imagination. I could even hear shouts coming from the river, and they were most definitely not English.
Then the view shifted, and her eyes were green again, her hair curly like it should have been. But her clothes were odd, and the tall man with the brown hair who was kissing her neck was definitely not my father. I tried to find something else to look at, and noticed a man who looked a lot like my uncle Andrew. He was talking to an Arabic guy dressed all in black, but I couldn't understand what they were saying. The Arab was petting a hawk on the back absently and nodding at whatever nonsense it was that Uncle Andrew was saying. I felt kind of uneasy looking at him. The tattoos on his face might have made me and my friends laugh if we'd seen them on some skinhead at the park, but on this guy they just looked menacing. The only other person I could see was a black guy standing behind them all, his hands on a ship's wheel. He was alternating between listening to Uncle Andrew and scanning the horizon. He looked nice enough, and I was wondering whether I could actually talk to any of them when the vision faded into darkness. I guess it was so weird because it had seemed so normal. Either of those images could have happened (aside from my mother and uncle being in them), but they'd just come as dreams. Usually my dreams are more whacked than Dumbo's pink elephants. I also tend to remember them, but when I jerked awake, these slipped away like sand.
Of course, that might have had something to do with what it was that woke me up in the first place.
When I opened my eyes, the sun was rapidly sinking behind the horizon. My headache had subsided a bit, but my mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton and my throat screamed for water. I could barely sit up, so I just rolled over a bit, right onto the sand that I had avoided by sleeping on my shirt. Cursing softly, I started to push myself up, but stopped when I heard the sound of a horse snorting behind be. I held still for a moment, hoping that whoever was on the horse was friendly, then turned around slowly.
The horse snorted again, sticking its black face right up against my hair and nibbling at it curiously. This seemed like a good sign until the rider jerked the horse's head back sharply. I felt a little bad for it—it had only been seeing whom I was. But I couldn't feel bad for the animal for long, because the rider barked a sudden question at me in a language I'd never heard before. It was almost lucky that I was so dehydrated—otherwise, I'm sure I'd have wet myself, which wouldn't have been pleasant even if the scary dude on the horse weren't there.
I looked up, but his face was hard to make out in the dark. Even so, I got the impression the man on the horse wasn't someone who liked to be messed with. At the same time, I realized that I was still sitting on my shirt, which meant he was looking directly down at my… well, suffice to say, my face flamed up when I realized it. I tried to reach for my shirt discreetly, but another sharp command made me jerk my hand back. Every movement felt slow and sluggish, like I was dragging myself through molasses. I gave up trying to see the man's face and slumped forward, starting to fall asleep again, in spite of my fear. The only thing keeping me awake was the constant cool breeze that had started up as soon as the sun started setting. The sweat on my back and arms was cooling too quickly for comfort, and I shuddered dully.
The sound of boots crunching through sand gave me the energy to look up. The man knelt down in front of me and tilted my face up. His hands were rough and callused, wrapped in the same black cloth as his clothes. My eyes were drooping, but I studied him almost as intently as he studied me. Black tattoos, like hieroglyphics, adorned his cheeks and forehead. His eyes, in the dying light, flared once before deepening to black. I felt a shiver crawl up my spine that had nothing to do with the cold, but when he spoke next, his voice was soft and questioning.
I still had no idea what he was saying, so I tried to speak past the dryness in my mouth, "I'm sorry," I rasped, only it sounded more like I was gasping for breath than saying anything. I couldn't say any more, and I toppled over completely when he stood suddenly. I watched, disinterested, as his boots went over to the horse's hooves and came back again. My eyes slipped shut just before I felt his hands on my shoulders, but they snapped open when the most beautiful sound I had ever heard reached my ears.
"Here," he said, in slightly accented English, "Drink slowly."
He tipped a small amount of water into my mouth and waited until I'd swallowed completely before giving me a little more. I think I was crying with relief. Whoever this guy was, he seemed to want me alive, which was good enough for me. After several more small mouthfuls, I felt good enough to speak.
"Thank you," I said softly. Now that I'd had enough to drink, I was just interested in curling up and going to sleep again.
But Scary Dude (who'd turned out to be not so scary) seemed to have other ideas, and shook my shoulders gently, "You can't sleep yet," he said, "Tell me where your camp is—were your people attacked?"
I shook my head tiredly, "Don' got no people," I mumbled, "No camp, neither. Just showed up, after Goliath hit me." I really was very tired, and the sand felt so comfortable and soft…
"You are traveling alone?" he sounded confused. I was confused, too, but sleep seemed like a lot more fun than answering a bunch of inane questions. I nodded, but didn't speak. I think he thought I was about to go to sleep again, because he shook my shoulders for the second time that night.
"What?" I asked irritably.
"You had no horse, no water, no rations?"
"I didn't have anything, 'cept my clothes."
"Were you trying to kill yourself?"
I sat up a little straighter at that, "No!" I may have been a little down since we lost the championship game, but I certainly wasn't depressed, let alone suicidal.
"Then what could have possessed you to come out into the desert with nothing?"
"Wasn't my choice," I was starting to get a little annoyed with Scary Dude, even if I was eternally grateful to him for bringing me water. My body was crying out for sleep, and he was getting in its way.
Fortunately, he seemed to accept this answer, "I cannot leave you here alone," he said to himself, standing. I don't think he noticed at first when I slumped back to the ground and wrapped my shirt around myself like a blanket. It's fair enough, I suppose. I didn't notice when he picked me up and put me on his horse.