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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2314212
A strange object is found in Tut's burial chamber. Winner of The Writer's Cramp, 02.16.24.
Tut’s Cell

No doubt we have all heard of Howard Carter and his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen, unplundered and fabulously rich, in the 1920s. The treasures unearthed then have since been exhibited around the world and we may think that we have seen it all.

But we haven’t.

This is the tale of my good friend Andrew Selkirk, his mysterious disappearance, and how I solved the enigma of his fate. I have no doubt that few will believe me because it is indeed a story apparently based on the wildest imaginings possible. Yet I have to tell it, if only to record that some things, once thought impossible, are not only feasible but have, in fact, been achieved.

It all began with Andrew’s sudden disappearance in 2019. As a famous scientist and inventor, the fact that he was gone, without explanation, from his usual haunts and dealings was big news. For weeks the media were filled with guesses and alleged sightings to explain his absence.

To no avail. The months passed with no sign of Andrew and eventually the fuss died down and was forgotten. My friend was never seen again.

It was not the last I learned of him, however. In January of 2024, I was called to inspect an unusual finding amongst the artefacts brought back from Egypt by Howard Carter’s Tutankhamen expedition. As the leading exponent of Egyptology, I was expected to be able to throw some light on the matter.

It turned out to be way beyond my archaeological skills but open to any modern person’s understanding. The item in question had been discovered underneath Tut’s mummy when it was first removed from the tomb.

This is the point at which you’re not going to believe me but I must state it openly and clearly as the plain and unadorned truth. It was a cell phone.

Understandably, Carter and his colleagues had no idea of what it might be and, to hide their embarrassment at this ignorance, the item had been consigned to some drawer in the British Museum without ever being listed or displayed to the public. In time it was forgotten.

Now the thing had been rediscovered by some technician going through the contents of long unopened drawers, and I was expected to be able to explain it away. My first thought, that it had somehow been inserted into the drawer by some prankster, proved nigh impossible. The security system and cameras showed no evidence of such tampering.

So I had to spend a bit more time on it. I examined it closely, noting that it was as dusty as one might expect from its original hiding place, but otherwise appeared to be in good condition. It was, strangely enough, the same make and model of cell that I had owned a few years back. I pressed the button to kick it into life and, unsurprisingly given how long it was supposed to have been unused, it was as deceased as the oldest doornail known to mankind.

I made a quick visit home to dig around in my oddments drawer and, eventually, to come up with my old recharger. Back at the museum I plugged everything in and waited.

Half an hour later my patience ran out. With the recharger still on, I hit the Start button.

The screen glowed and came to life. It took a while for everything to load up, forgivable under the circumstances, and then the Home screen appeared and sat waiting.

I searched through the apps quickly. Contacts seemed to be a good place to start, so I thumbed it into life.

And now you’re really going to take this with a pinch of salt. The first name on the list was mine. My address and telephone number were just as they had been back in 2019.

My eyes moved on to the next entry. This was for someone named Mum. No surprises there, then. I carried on reading.

Most of the names were unknown to me but, to my concern, some were friends of mine. I had to find out just who was the owner of this phone. Back on the Home page, I saw the symbol for Facebook and hit it. To my relief, it loaded without requiring a password.

I held the cell phone of Andrew Selkirk in my hand.

Which was impossible, of course. Why, let alone how, would he have sneaked into the museum to deposit his cell in an unknown drawer in a little-used storeroom? It made no sense.

Thinking that he might have left a note somewhere to explain everything, I returned Home to search the apps again. Google Docs sprang out at me. The thumb went into action again.

This time there was no need to search for an answer. It displayed itself immediately as an open document entitled Help.

Just that, Help. I read on.

This is what Andrew had written:

The time machine is broken. No hope of getting a flux capacitor in Egypt in 1323 BCE. Sneaked into Tut’s tomb during its construction and secreted the phone in his sarcophagus. Hopefully Carter will find and preserve it for a later generation to read this note. But I, Andrew Selkirk, have proved that time travel is possible. I didn’t leave any notes to explain how but someone will work it out, I’m sure. Just make sure the flux capacitor is reliable. I won’t be able to get a replacement for thousands of years.

Don’t worry about me. Tut’s sister is making life very comfortable for me, I can assure you. Bye.

Word count: 932
For The Writer’s Cramp, 02.16.24
Prompt: Write a story or poem about an alternate history, in which something entirely unexpected is found inside when Tut’s burial chamber is opened.
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