The Case of the Missing Mummy
"Something stirs in the dark and dreary
Something wicked, something weary."
An old quote from the Book of the Druids
The museum was very quiet at night and 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 an on...not listening, but instead looking forward to his time with the Mummies.
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 stomachable.
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.
He had laughed.
Doctor Watson had bristled. "You laugh. But unless you want to end up pickled like those blasted ghouls in the museum, you had best 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, than a stomach of carrots.
Something moved beyond the peripherary of his vision.
He took his 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 locked up at night. 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 patroling. 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 now open 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.
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.
He whirled around, almost smashing his lantern into the display glass.
"Who's there?" He demanded.
He reached a hand to his 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 against the Indies.
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. Something out of a nightmare. Something horrible!