Here's a snippet from Sebastian Reckless & The Long-Forgotten Kings, Part 2. It was tough to find a portion of the story that didn't give anything away, but let's give this a shot. In this excerpt, Sebastian and Tessa, along with their new Egyptian friend Ottah, have just dealt with a plague of locusts and an arena full of giant crocodiles, which were all distractions from the far more important problem of the atomic bomb that's about to go off. They are deep underground inside a series of chambers that once belonged to a lost civilization called Neph.
A Piece Of Chapter 61
Right now, the nuclear bomb was Sebastian's most pressing concern. He had been inspecting every square inch of its steel-cased surface, and realized there was nothing he could do to it until he had some tools to work with. “Tessa! Where’s my equipment-belt?”
Her voice answered back from the other room, “Sebastian! We have a new problem… a new and very terrible problem!”
There was such alarm and hopeless doom in her tone that Sebastian hurried to see what dreadful thing it was that she had discovered. He hustled across the arena, jumped out one of the holes in the wall, and was instantly there at his partner’s side.
Standing before them were six mummies — six living mummies.
They were hideous things to behold — the bandages that wrapped them from head to toe were halfway eaten up by mold and decay. As the creatures moved, those wrappings fell away from their limbs, revealing the flesh beneath in all its ugliness. It could hardly be called “flesh,” it was so dry and withered. Instead, it looked like some cracked, dusty, thousand-year-old, brown paper that some sloppy craftsman had stretched over a bony frame. Every twitch of the wrinkled, prune-like muscles could be seen as they shifted and shuddered under that thin, rotten skin.
The most unsettling feature of each one was, of course, the face. With most of the flesh rotted off; no lips to hide their chipped, brownish teeth; and bare patches of skull visible here and there, it was a good thing that most of their heads were hidden by bandages.
These six creatures were standing by the six open holes in the floor that had been their sleep cells, the lids of those cells having been shoved to the side. Obviously, Sebastian's enemy had awoken these ancient sleepers before leaving, just to provide another crisis for the hero to face, if he happened to escape from the coliseum full of crocodiles.
Tessa wondered why those creatures were so disgusting to behold. Why would they be so withered and decayed? Wasn’t their several centuries of sleep supposed to leave them healthy and young again? After all, wasn’t it called a Sleep of Healing? Sebastian figured (and rightly so) that something must have gone wrong during the last hundred years. To him, it appeared to be a simple malfunction in the sleep process. But he and Tessa would have to save their questions and answers for a later date. They had more serious matters to worry about, for the equipment that they needed was in the hands of those mummies.
The monsters’ bony fingers were digging around in the pouches of the heroes’ equipment-belts, playing curiously with their energy-pistols, and inspecting their helmets inside and out.
Even so, this wasn’t the worst part. The most horrifying development was the fact that the lids of all the other sleeping cells were sliding sideways with a chorus of stone-on-stone scraping noises. And, as those ninety-four casket lids were slowly pushed aside, ninety-four additional mummies were rising up out of their compartments in the floor.
As Sebastian and Tessa stared at that army of mummies, Ottah raced to their side to scream the obvious: “The evil genius has released them all from their sleep!”
The mummies turned curious expressions at the three intruders. The monsters’ eyes peering out from the shadowy slits between their ancient, moldy bandages seemed to wonder, “Who are these people invading our sacred resting place?” Their snarling mouths filled with broken, rotten teeth seemed to be casting out threats such as, “Don’t you know that we slaughter anyone who disturbs us?” But what those mummies had to say was difficult to understand, for their voices were dry and cracked — hardly working at all — and their muttered threats were spoken in the lost language of Neph.
“What are they saying?” asked Tessa.
Her partner replied quite casually, “Something about ‘death’ and ‘mutilation’; we’ve invaded their sleep chamber and we must be torn limb from limb — something along those lines. What do you think, Ottah? You’ve studied some of the Neph language. Do you understand any of… Ottah?”
Ottah was just frozen — unblinking, and mouth hanging open. He was too terrified to respond.
Sebastian asked Tessa, “So what was the ‘new and very terrible problem’ that you said was out here?”
With a wave of her hands, she presented the scene in front of them. “An army of mummies is marching toward us!”
“ ‘Problem’?” he scoffed. “This isn’t a problem! This is…” His eyes lit up with delight. “This is… just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”
The boy-adventurer spun around, grabbed a curved, hooked sword off the wall, and charged forward, bellowing his battle-cry at top volume:
“Let the maps of war be drawn!”
© Copyright 2009, Lee Rushton Howard