Today I begin a new tale in my Baker Street Adventure series starring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Expect a few surprises and a lot of cool guests to show up to darken or brighten the landscape as we journey this time into a world lost in time, but awakened to our own.
Revenge of the Mummy
(A Sherlock Holmes/Doctor Watson Adventure)
"Something stirs in the dark and dreary
Something wicked, something weary."
-- From the Book of Druids, 845AD --
The museum was very quiet at night and Special Security Guard, Robert Burns liked it that way. He spent his entire day listening to his wife complain about how she never had any time to herself, that she was always washing and scrubbing, chasing and hollering, cooking and cleaning, darning and mending. She would go on and on and he would go on and on...not listening, but instead looking forward to his time with the Mummies.
He turned his badge upwards on his blue uniform and admired it. Ten years now. Soon it would go from silver to gold and in another ten, he'd get a gold watch and a pension, then in another ten he'd get his platinum badge with the gold star in the medial and run the Security Unit himself. But since he was the only security guard, that wasn't as big a deal as it was getting the full pension that would go with the thirty years.
At that moment he never considered that perhaps he wouldn't be alive in another twenty years to collect. Such is the manner of most of us that we swagger through life, young and old, thinking that what happens to others will never happen to us, then one day...it all changes.
Robert sighed and let his badge flop back into place. He straightened his uniform and entered the vault room, the most secure area of the British Museum. It had a storage capacity of close to ten thousand square feet with multi-level shelves, most of which were dusty from never having been used or cleaned over the years.
He reckoned that much of what was here would never be removed and taken out for the public to view, because in all his ten years nothing had been removed. He couldn't for the world of him figure out why, other than the silly warnings of curses and other deviltry that dressed some of the crates and containers, cases and tubules with their dated mummies from every era of modern civilization back to the predawn man.
He grinned once when he looked into one exhibit that showed a primitive ape skeleton and a primitive man skeleton.
He could see precious little difference between them. One Curator at the Museum had even gone so far as to reconstruct both the ape and the man and set them side by side, and he knew that would never make it into the museum proper because blimey if he could tell the difference between man and beast, except for having a bit less hair.
Come to think of it, he mused, last time he visited a zoo he had seen tourists hunched over very much like the apes there, their arms dangling at their sides. He frowned. He hadn't thought until that moment that maybe he also looked that way. He shrugged. Such high and lofty thoughts were for the scientists and the Curators, not him.
That brought him straight back to his own problems. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't bother locking the door behind him, or closing it as was proper procedure. Instead he began his usual patrol down the long dusty corridors of the storage room, musing on his own...to him at least...miserable home life.
What a poppycock life he had been given, treated like Tosh in his own home. He would have done better to sort with the Midnight Angels on the docks, than settle down as he had. But now he had no choice in the matter. His children called him Daddy, and he loved them dearly, even if his wife was an endless nag and bore. That couldn't be remedied, but he could take short vacations away from her. And he did. He called it...work.
So the Mummies he guarded began his entourage, his adoring fans, his family and friends, who never gave him a word of bitter, or a salty remark. It was peace as a man of his stature should have. Even if his stature was just above five feet.
He adored them so much that he began giving them pet names.
The one that had been a boy king, he called Pegleg Pete. The one that had been a famous queen of the nile he called Strawberry Pet. The guards that had been buried with her, he called Icky, Bicky and Nod. He wasn't making fun of them really, it just made the creepiness of the ghastly forms more digestable and...he grinned nastily...fun in a very wicked way.
If his boss had found out his true motivations for wanting this job, he might have been sent instead to sort the mail, or to unload the incoming museum relics. But he didn't and he wasn't. And there was more. Always was. His doctor made sure of that. Mister whiskers all up and down his face made his life even more hellish during his last visit for an upset stomach, which seemed to be happening more and more frequently of late.
What he hadn't told his wife was that he was on medication for ulcers that were growing in his stomach. His doctor, Doctor Watson, a very abrasive sort, but of good heart, had told him quite frankly that if he didn't give up his eating of such poor foods and improve his diet, the ulcers could bleed him dry and could very likely turn cancerous even sooner.
He had laughed. The image of him with holes in his stomach was downright bollocks. Everyone knew if you had holes in your stomach you would die immediately.
Doctor Watson had bristled. "You laugh. But unless you want to end up pickled like those blasted ghouls in the museum, you had better watch out for yourself."
He had thanked the good Doctor, paid his fee and ignored his advice. He enjoyed the finer things of life too much to stop eating them now. He'd rather die with a stomach of sweets and good stout malt liquor, than a stomach of carrots and milk.
Something moved beyond the periphery of his vision.
His heart raced for a moment, and then he remembered seeing a large moth in the room earlier. How it had come to be there he hadn't thought to ask. The room was supposed to be safe from that sort of thing, but that never kept the rats off ships now, did it?
He took his oil-fed lantern and headed to the right, where the really odd mummy had been placed. It wasn't displayed in the usual places the others were and stored safely away for the night. Instead, it was kept locked up, as if it were dangerous, which made no sense at all to him.
He went to that mummy and peered at its display case. "Warning. Do not touch at the peril of your life." The plaque said.
He grinned and stifled a laugh. These administrators really knew how to drum up a crowd.
The older fellow with the...what he called...higher learning had said this one had been found in a deep excavation outside of London in some kind of odd device that they couldn't move because it was buried so deep and was so large. He had asked what kind of device, and the older man had been about to tell him, but a military type had come into the office at that time...late and frowned at both men.
The older man never said and was never seen again at the museum. Which was strange, but not all that complicated to figure out. What tosh would want to work in such a dreary place all the rest of his life, except someone like himself that wanted away from his missy?
He tapped on the case. Nothing.
He turned away, letting the light fall across the rather large storage area he was patrolling. It wasn't in danger of being broken into. No outside windows. No overhead ducts for someone to crawl through. No hidden panels.
In fact no way in or out, except the heavily locked door at the front of the room, which was open only because he was now doing the rounds and he had the only key to.
He looked back at the case and the rather oddly shaped mummy within. It was shaped like a...why hadn't he recognized it before. Like a slug!
He had to laugh. His imagination was getting away from him. How could a slug be a mummy and especially a nine foot tall one, which didn't make sense if it was a human either, though the museum did have a section were the purported bones of giants were on display They were called freaks of nature and not normal, but what was normal he thought, as he turned away from the display again.
Wouldn't it be funny if the mummy were just the genetically damned son of some pervert that had made it with his own brood? That thought sickened him and so he ditched it as neatly as if it were a burning charcoal into the back of his mind, where it festered and grew, because deep down inside he knew something was off about it, something dreadfully off.
But then much about his life was off, so what was one more lousy off going to matter he considered as he turned away from the case.
He felt this vibration behind him and turned. He could swear the wrapping about the mummy was throbbing. That wasn't possible, was it?
So now, rather than ignore the warning entirely, but partially, he used a special key on his keychain to unlock the case and swing its door wide. He leaned close inside with his lantern almost poking where the head of the mummy might have been.
Suddenly, the door to the room slammed shut.
"Here now!" He gasped.
He whirled around, almost smashing his lantern into the display glass.
"Who's there?" He demanded. "If you're some kind of bloke with the idea of getting offs on scaring a poor helpless security guard, who scratches his living and escapes his miserable life by hiding behind his badge, then you've done quite well by yourself. Just show yourself and all is forgiven."
Hoping it wouldn't be noticed, he very carefully reached his hand for the service revolver on his right hip. He was an armed guard. He knew how to use the weapon. He had served in Her Majesty's war in the Indian Isles, where it wasn't unusual for the blokes to come at you with these wicked swords with jagged edges that could rip your guts out if you weren't fast on the draw. He had been and so here he was all safe and cozy with some kind of kook trying to gray his hair early in his life.
He drew the weapon and moved cautiously up the row of mummies. "I said, 'Who's There'?"
Then he felt something moving behind him. Just a slight vibration on the floor. But enough to warn him. He spun around, his weapon ready to fire.
Something warm and slimy grabbed his weapon hand and twisted his arm so hard he screamed. Then something horrible and alien to everything he had ever seen or known thrust its face into his.
His scream didn't last long. The lantern fell to the floor and the oil burst free, lighting up the volumes of books that had been stored nearby. The flames etched a line along the aisle, briefly illuminating the fallen man and something unnaturally large near the door. And as if by magic the flames just as suddenly exhausted themselves and dropped the body laying there back into shadows. But at the door. At the door something stood watching where the man had fallen. Something so horrible to imagine, so awful if you could see it that you would probably not live through the night. Something out of a nightmare. Something too horrible to describe or exist!