Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Princess Nefera rides a nightmare lion couch...

Amazon Kindle - for younger readers (as Roy Pond)


   No sooner had she uttered the prayer than the painted surfaces of hieroglyphs on the tomb walls began to writhe as if in the heat of a nightmare. A pin-tailed duck exploded out of a piece of wall text and flapped past her head. She jumped out of the way. 

   An ape shrieked and chattered and sprang onto a golden chair and fixed her with a narrow, close-set gaze. She shrank away.

   A snake slithered out of the text of an ornamental casket and dropped. It hissed and wriggled to form a jagged black line like an earthquake that split the floor.

   Nefera gave a scream. She leapt up onto her golden lion couch to escape it, drawing up her legs. Now two hieroglyphs of lions sprang from the wall and leapt in unison at the couch as if to attack, but instead they passed into the golden lions of the frame. 

   The couch suddenly rippled underneath her like muscles drawing taut. Then it reared like a creature.

   Nefera rolled to the back and would have flown off had it not been for the footboard that stopped her. As it was, her head banged the edge of the frame, which set her ears ringing.

   The twin lions of her couch landed and broke into a charge. She lifted her head, dizzied by the acceleration and struggled against the force of gravity. They were charging through a storm of living glyphs, eyes, feathers, a hare, reeds, ploughs, panicking birds, bees and suns and she was riding on the lions’ backs – carried along on a hurtling couch.

   They sped across a plain, sandy waste, lit by a dim light like that from the moon and stars, except there was no moon and no stars up above, just glowing hieroglyphs in the sky as if it were a painted ceiling.

   Nefera crawled to the front of the surging couch so that she could see where they were going.

    “What is happening? Where am I going?” 

    “I am the Lion of Yesterday,” the one lion spoke in a rumble like far off thunder 

    “I am the Lion of Tomorrow,” the other coughed as he ran.

    ‘Hieroglyphs that spring off walls. A lion couch that comes to life and now speaks. What have I done?’ Nefera thought, her mind in wild disarray.

   It was like one of the scary bedtime stories her nurse used to tell her, except this one was a nightmare – and she was riding on a nightmare couch.

   Was she being carried to the judgment Hall of Osiris?  If so, then they must be taking her by a different route. She could see no sign of the series of passages, gates and guardians that were said to line the route to the Hall of Judgment.

   Only desert.

   She looked over the edge of the couch at the ground flying beneath and now she saw that it was not in fact desert, but instead a grainy, yellow-brown surface – papyrus!

   They were racing across a vast, unrolled scroll. Was this her missing Book of the Dead and was she being carried along by living words. 

   Nefera felt a surge of hope. ‘Perhaps my words are not lost and can save me after all.’

Kindle and paperback (Roy Pond)