|American Horror Story 6|
A female mummy from ancient Egypt lay outstretched inside a hospital scanning machine.
The British Museum had brought the mummy to St. Thomas’ Hospital for a non-invasive examination of the body beneath its wrappings.
“We’ll begin by doing the head and neck in two millimetre slices. I’m just relieved that nobody will have to give this patient the bad news that she’s terminal.”
The radiologist had made the joke to bridge the jarring disconnect between ancient death, wrapped up in magical spells, and the modern day machinery of medical imaging.
The radiation scan - at a dose lethal for the living - blasted through the linen windings. It was like a penetration of sunlight warming the bones after the ache of the desert night.
The machine hummed. A spinning cylinder curved around the mummy’s head like a night sky arching over Egypt.
The sand-dry cells of the body, spread out in an undulating landscape on the CT tray, stirred in a sudden breath.
Life! Resurgent life! It eddied, thickened, mounted in force, blowing, gusting, then blasting through the mummy like a desert sand storm.
She opened one green eye to look out through a small gap in her wrappings.
“Shall we pipe in some comforting music for the patient?” a voice said outside the chamber.
A man laughed.
Her first thought was not a word, but a symbol, the glyph of union between a man and a woman.
That first thought, like the first sunbeam of clarity penetrating into the blackness of a temple sanctuary, pierced the inchoate state of her mind.
The radiation blasts and the flashing had aroused her from her sleep of centuries, but she needed more. She must have the generating fluid of life to begin to restore herself.
Only a man’s life force could magically start the flow of energy to rebuild the ruined temple of her being.
Am I lying here in the body of Mother Nut, the goddess who held up the sky and stars?
A much harder, metallic place.
She found that she had been swallowed up in the round mouth of a vault-like chamber. Not Nut’s star-lined body, but a gullet, like that of the great serpent of outer darkness and evil, Apophis.
She stirred and the bandages, though finely wrapped, crackled like dry rushes around the length of her high-waisted and long-legged form.
“Vibrations on the screen. Is there construction work going on outside? She just twitched!”
“I certainly hope not!”
Where am I? There was no sweet chanting for her here, nor the soothing shimmer of the sistra rattled by her priestesses and no burning gum of incense from Punt to celebrate her divine aroma.
Instead the sharpness of hospital antiseptic flared her nostrils.
Her supranormal awareness told her that this was not Egypt. It was a green, island place, far from Egypt, across the expanse of the rolling Great Green.
That realisation brought a pang.
But it was nothing like the pang she felt as the first powerful emotion that she had experienced since her ‘night of ointment and bandages’ thousands of years earlier speared through her. She gave a low moan.
Lost to me!
Isis felt her chest rise in grief, but it felt like heaving dunes of sand and not warm flesh, and there was no moisture to rise to her eyes in tears, just a trickle of dust disturbed by her moving eyelashes.
“This is unusual. The skull shows no sign of being emptied and packed with linen…”
“She’s very early period. Her mummy case is simple and severe, the earliest typological style,” the voice of a young female Egyptologist explained. “She was obviously named in honour of the goddess Isis, an extremely ancient deity…”
A beeping alarm cut across her voice and the scanner machine plunged into darkness and so did the room.
“Our own auxiliary generator will kick in.”
It did. Immediately. The light and the whirring resumed.
“Back on stream. But it might be wise to pause and continue this later to be safe. We’ll bring her out of here temporarily and resume when the glitch is over. If we’re quick, the tea will still be hot in the hospital cafeteria.”
She felt her body moving, being dragged out of the gullet along the sliding CT tray, vibrating under her back, and she came out through the round mouth of the scanner into a wider space.
Then the hospital’s back-up power died too and the room now swarmed with darkness again. As black as the tomb.
“Curses!” a voice said.
“Is that an imprecation or an explanation,” the CT operator said.
An uneasy chuckle.
“Anybody got a pencil light? Where’s a GP when you need one?”
“Come, this way, folks. Follow my voice. I can find the cafeteria in the dark.”
She heard footsteps retreating.
‘Osiris. I will begin a new journey for you.
I, Isis, Great of Magic, will rise and search for you – for your remains, your pieces, even the atoms of your dust - and through the power of my magic I will restore you.’
Isis renewed the vow of a new cycle, a cycle that the Egyptians believed took place every 5,000 years and that had now been re-activated by a blast of twenty-first century radiation.
But first, she must revive herself and that meant seeking the life force.
She gave a dusty croak and writhed like a serpent sloughing its skin, snapping the rotting bonds that held her limbs against her body and her legs together. She sat up, as slowly as the ancient ceremony of the raising of the Djed pillar.
She rocked and swung stiff legs over the side of the tray. The knees would not bend, so she slid the rest of the way stiffly to the floor.
The feet of Isis touched earth again.
The thin bones in her feet cracked like breaking tubes of glass. Gingerly she took one step and then another, shuffling out of the CT suite into the big city hospital, in darkness.
Isis walked the earth again...
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