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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2314218
An alternate history about the opening of a tomb.
Howard Carter blinked. The tomb was filled with gold. Gold, Gold, and ,more Gold. It was casting a glow on the faces of his assistants, Campbell and Anwar.

Actually, it might have been more than the light which was making their faces glow. Campbell was eagerly counting the artifacts he found. "A statue for me. A statue for you. A gold piece for me. . ."

"Not fair. Yours is bigger than mine," said Anwar.

Carter decided to intervene. "Will you two please calm down. These items are going to the museum, not into your pockets."

He turned to the one other member of his team, Dr. Benjamin Daniels, who was excited for a completely different reason. "Are you ready to open the sarcophagus?"

"I've been ready for weeks! Imagine the chance to examine the actual mummy of King Tutankhaman! But. . .well. .I'm going to need some help."

Carter smiled. Daniels was barely 5'2" and weighed less than 130 pounds. He would never be able to move that stone lid..

"Campbell" Carter yelled at the burly red head. "Help Daniels get that lid off."

"Oh very well," said Campbell. He walked over to the sarcophagus, took a deep breath, and pushed the lid. "But honestly," he said through clenched teeth, "I don't see why I'm always the one that has to do these kind of jobs, it's--- aaah!" Campbell dropped the lid and sprinted away from the case.

"What's wrong?" asked Carter.

"It's filled with bloody snakes!" said Campbell.

Reminding himself to be cautious, Carter approached the sarcophagus. Peering in, he saw that the case was indeed filled with several snakes slithering around the body. Truth be told, Carter did not like snakes anymore than Campbell, but he also couldn't help being fascinated. How could the snakes have gotten into the sarcophagus? Surely, they hadn't been there since Tutankhaman was buried. They would never have been able to breed and survive that long in a closed environment. Still, that was a question for a later time.

"Bring some torches over here," he commanded. "We'll see if we can scare them out without damaging the mummy."

It was a gruesome job which nobody in the group, least of all Campbell, enjoyed, but after what seemed like hours, but might have been only fifteen minutes, the snakes had all been driven out of the sarcophagus, where Anwar threw rocks to kill them,

And that's when they saw the staff. The funny thing was that at first they thought it was another snake, but when it lay quite still, they realized it was just a harmless staff lying beside the mummy. Only then, was Campbell willing to pick it up.

"What is it made of?" asked Carter

"Just a harmless piece of wood," said Campbell with a laugh.

Carter scratched his chin. "Wood doesn't usually last thousands of years."

"Well, this isn't anything exciting," Campbell looked like he was about to toss the staff aside.

"Wait, Campbell," said Carter. "I know it's not as pretty as your precious gold, but it's still an artifact. Handle it carefully."

"Oh all right," said Campbell, "I'll be careful with your precious staff." With mock gentleness, he placed it down in a corner.

Dr. Daniels, meanwhile, had begun examining the inside of the case. "Well, I hope I can learn something from the mummy, but there's some hierolglyphs inside the tomb.

"Oh?" Carter decided it was time to get down to business. "Daniels, you can start examining the mummy. Anwar, I want you to help me decipher those hieroglyphs, and Campbell. . . just try to be careful."

A few hours later, Carter was intrigued. Apparently, the staff was important enough for the Hieroglyphs to mention. They translated to something like "Here is the staff that my father received from . . ".and then there was a name that could not be made out.

"I wonder if this staff really belonged to Tutankhaman's father," he said out loud.

"Ahkhenaten?" asked Anwar.

"That's what most people think," said Carter, "but we know so little about him. Partly because what we do know is that he had some strange ideas. He tried to start a new religion in Egypt and force everyone to worship only one god."

"Sounds like the bugger was ahead of his time," said Campbell with a laugh.

"Maybe," said Carter thoughtfully. "Of course, the idea was so unpopular that after he died, he was buried in disgrace and most of the temples he built were torn down."

There was a silence and then Anwar spoke. "I have been trying to decipher the name of the person who gave this staff to Tutankhaman's father, but it's very strange. It translates roughly to 'drawn from water' I've never heard of an Egyptian being named that before." He paused for a long moment.

"Of course, everyone knows what the Hebrew for 'drawn from water' would be."

"I don't," said Campbell and what does that have to with anything anyway."

"Campbell," said Carter patiently, "the Hebrew for 'drawn from water' is roughly 'Moses' ."

Nobody was quite sure what to say next. But then Anwar walked over to the staff and picked it up.

He held it for a minute. Then, before anyone could stop him, he dropped it.

Then, the 3000 year old wooden staff slithered on the ground and hissed.

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