The Red Mummy, by Audiowriter
The images from Mars Rover 12 were incredible. Not even a professor specializing in ancient historical structures, Dr. Jake North, could confirm with certainty what the detailed pictures seemed to suggest. Several huge red stone pillars carved into a solid rock wall guarding what seemed to be two large metal doors. Professor North compared the pillar’s construction details to both early Egyptian and late Roman design and the doors were definitely of modern titanium metal. Of course, this made absolutely no sense, because this structure was in a deep crater on the surface near the north pole of the planet Mars, and how could these Earthly designs have been constructed centuries ago on such a distant planet?
Even though the year is 2079, and several manned missions to the red planet had already been completed over the past decade, nothing like this had ever been found. The WGEA (World Galactic Exploration Agency) immediately made preparations for a new mission to the red planet. Professor North volunteered to spearhead the investigation along with a security military team and a construction specialist team. A total of seven men and two women were set to launch on the 48 hour journey the following morning.
The exploration space vessel, aptly named the “Explorer”, made the trip in just under 47 hours, landing in the reddish soil near the edge of the enormous crater. Dr. North wasted no time in beginning the investigation. He and two heavily armed security officers, Captain Zack Savage and Lieutenant Raven Holms accompanied the two construction specialists, Tom Gunn and Lance Drake on the first expedition into the unknown. The remaining two militants, Privates Ashley Waters and Terrance Bond were stationed at the Explorer with pilot Ron Vance and navigator Harold Tread as an extra back up security measure.
The five member mobile team disembarked the Explorer dressed in bulky white space suits with thick mirrored reflective glass bubbles protruding from their helmets. They awkwardly boarded the large personnel rover, with its chrome metal glittering as it reflected the eerie weak beams of the unusually distant sun. Capt. Savage was in the drivers seat with Dr. North riding shotgun. Lieutenant Holms and construction Foreman Gunn were in the rear seats with explosives specialist Drake standing on top of the large tool boxes near the back of the rover while everyone sternly held on to the overhead roll bars.
Four faces watched intently through a large plate glass window in the Explorer’s observation deck as the rover was quickly and completely swallowed in total darkness as it disappeared over the crest of the vast crater. The mobile crew found little comfort in the twelve headlamps as they barely cut through the blackness just in front of the bouncing rover as it bumped and jarred over rocks and small boulders down the steep descending slope until it reached the flat plateau at the craters bottom. The rover had seemed fairly large and comforting only moments ago in the dim sunlight above, but now it seemed small and frail in the endless abyss of darkness. The ride smoothed out and the tires made deep tracks in the thick, red dust as it neared the location of the unbelievably tall structure that grew in size just ahead.
As the comparatively insignificant rover approached, the pillars towered above them like four redwoods made of stone. The frail headlamps were only powerful enough to partially illuminate a single pillar, and only the lower portion. The titanium metal doors behind the enormous posts of stone reflected the artificial light back at the five humans, causing their mirrored helmets to glisten like miniature disco balls.
The team exited the rover and retrieved powerful flashlights and other equipment from the toolboxes. Dr. North paused at the pillar illuminated by the headlamps and began to investigate the somewhat familiar carvings that fully encompassed its circumference. The lower three feet was cut with vertical fluted ribs which reminded him of Roman or Greek architecture. Above that, the pillar was covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics as far up as the lights illuminated. There was no mistake, the caricatures were definitely of Egyptian origin. Dr. North was so excited, and scared, he could barely operate the high definition camera to visually document this momentous sight.
Capt. Savage glanced at the oxygen gauge on his wrist and placed his hand on Dr. North’s shoulder to get his attention. Dr. North jumped in absolute terror and almost dropped the camera. Savage pointed to his wrist and said through the communication radio,
“We’ve got to keep moving.”
Dr. North slowly nodded with understanding that their life support tanks contained approximately two hours worth of oxygen, which meant they actually were left with only an hour of exploring when subtracting the thirty minute rover descent into the crater and the forty five minute return climb back out. He reluctantly agreed to move on, and the team then approached the huge shining metal doors.
The surface looked smooth, but upon closer inspection, it actually consisted of thousands of small pyramid shaped impressions, about an inch square. The valleys between the shapes were exactly the same size and shape as the protruding pyramids, only in reverse. The entire surface was consistently covered with these symmetrically perfect pyramid impressions. Dr. North ran his left hand over the surface and the thick gloved finger tips gently rubbed across the pointed tips.
At that moment, the huge doors began to slowly swing outwardly open. A powerful vibration could be felt, but only the slightest of sound could be heard. This was due to the atmosphere being less dense than that of earth.
The team had no choice but to back away and allow the behemoth doors to travel their course. A powerful gust of smoky steam rushed out with a slight hiss as the doors breached their dormant seal. The steam instantly vanished into the thin atmosphere and the solid rock beneath their feet constantly vibrated as if a biblical earthquake was taking place.
The doors came to an abrupt halt when they were pointing straight outward at 90 degree angles to the walls. These monolith slabs of metal were each ten feet high, six feet wide and several inches thick. Savage estimated them to weigh several tons each. The inside surface of the doors adorned the exact same pyramid design as the outer.
Savage quickly inspected the door edges where they met when closed and discovered a row of small holes running along the entire length. He assumed all four edges of both doors, top bottom and both sides, had these small holes that must be the source of some kind of atomic seal.
The inner sanctum was pitch black. The flashlight beams seemed to go on forever into empty depths. No matter which direction the beams were directed inside the cavernous temple, the light simply faded into abysmal nothingness. The team all looked at each other in hopes of someone having an intelligent explanation or suggestion. But nobody was able to come up with anything reasonable.
Savage made the decision. He stepped through the threshold and stood motionless for a fraction of a second just inside. Then, he began walking deeper into the blackness. The team focused their beams on the back of his white suit until it eventually disappeared out of sight. They couldn’t see him or the beam of his flashlight. They again looked at each other in absolute terror as their beams of light began to quiver into the dark interior from trembling hands.
Then, suddenly, a faint beam of light could be seen shining from deep within the darkness. It looked to be hundreds of feet away. But there was no way Savage could have traversed that distance in such a short amount of time. The beam grew brighter and larger, as if Savage had begun walking back toward the entrance. Then the frail beam of light suddenly disappeared.
Another several seconds ticked by and each member of the team jumped in fright as the communications in their helmets screeched with blaring tones of feedback, then quickly fading to a steady scratch of static. Then they heard Savage’s voice excitedly saying,
“Come on in here! You won’t believe what I’ve found!”
The team again looked at each other and just as Dr. North began to enter the temple, Lieutenant Holmes grabbed his arm and said,
“We’re going to do this by the book. I will lead, you follow, then Drake. Gunn, you stay out here until I call for you on the radio.”
They entered into the blackness single file as directed, and Gunn watched from the threshold. Just as Drake was completely inside, the doors silently began to close. Not even Gunn noticed the movement. The ground didn’t shake or rumble. Gunn was pushed from behind as the behemoth doors closed tightly together and sealed shut. When the doors slammed shut, they vibrated the floor. The rest of the team looked back to see what had happened. Gunn had fallen down from the sudden push from behind and his flashlight had slipped from his grasp and began spinning in circles on the gritty slab floor. The beam flashed in a quick circle like a police car light, only white in color, as it spun wildly on the floor.
Just then the entire space was instantly illuminated with blinding light. The team held their suited arms up to block the glare coming into their helmets as they tried to see what had happened to Gunn. Then, out of nowhere, Savage came running up from behind. He was frantic, heading toward the door. At first Holms though Savage was going to help Gunn, but there was something much more sinister taking place, and Savage was the only one quite aware of what it was.
The radio communications blared with the terrified voice of Savage saying,
“Run! Get the hell out of here! It’s coming after us!”
Holms turned to look deeper into the temple to see at what Savage had encountered. Dr. North and Drake began running after Savage toward the doors. Gunn had gotten to his feet and the four of them turned back to see a tall, black beastly creature with a metal spear in its hand running toward them. It was heading straight for Holms. She turned and began running toward the doors, but the creature was gaining on her. She wasn’t gong to make it.
Dr. North couldn’t believe his eyes! The creature was the Egyptian God Seth. The God of chaos. But this thing wasn’t human. Hell, it wasn’t animal either. It looked to be made of black painted wood. It must have stood twelve feet tall with a head shaped like a huge bird. It’s running motions were as smooth as a human mans. How could this be? The long spear in its right hand and huge beak like nose with pointed ears standing straight up on the sides of its head. This is impossible, Dr. North thought to himself.
Just then a barrage of machine gun fire sputtered out from his left. The sound was muffled, barely making a noise. The puffs of gunpowder residue timidly pelting the side of Dr. North’s suit. It was Savage. He was shooting at the creature, trying to save Holms, but the bullets seem to travel in slow motion. Not super slow motion, but slower than expected. That didn’t seem right. The thin air should allow the bullets to zoom even faster than they would on Earth. It must be the low oxygen content in the atmosphere not allowing the gunpowder to fully burn, causing the bullets to travel slower.
Then the gunfire suddenly got louder, the bullets began traveling faster. The atmosphere inside the temple was thickening. The air pressure and content was miraculously changing.
The bullets began striking the beast with ferocious accuracy. Splinters of black painted wood were tearing off the head of the creature. It slowed its pursuit of Holms. Savage changed clips and began another barrage of fire. Holms finally reached the rest of the group and began firing her weapon. The creature was coming apart. Large chips and splintered shards of wood flew in the air, cluttering the stone floor. The beast fell to its knees, still trying to attack its victims. The bullets kept pounding the wooden apparition. It fell flat on the hard floor, crawling, reaching, clawing at the team. Then, when it was only twenty feet away, Drake threw an explosive charge at the faltering creature. The charge went off, the blast threw the team up against the titanium doors and ripped the creature apart into nothing more than wood chips and sawdust.
Dr. North was stunned, he couldn’t move, absolutely engulfed with the horrid scene. Savage and Holms tried to open the huge doors, but to no avail. Then all of a sudden they heard a clomping sound. Like stone on stone. They all fearfully looked into the depths of the temple to witness an even more horrific vision. A solid stone statue, running, clomping with thunderous footsteps straight toward them. It was huge. Twenty feet tall. Thick as an oak tree. Savage and Holms began firing at it. The bullets ricocheting off, whizzing and whining off into the distance. The lead projectiles seemed to have no effect on this creature of stone.
Drake prepared another explosive charge as he said,
“I’ll have to get closer to it before it reaches us, or the charge will kill us too!”
Savage nodded to Holms and they took off running toward the charging statue. Each ran on opposite sides toward their attacker, along the outer walls of the enormous temple. The statue slowed to a walk, moving its head from side to side with a loud scraping sound, trying to decide which one to chase. Drake took advantage of the few seconds and made a mad dash straight toward the confused creature of stone.
Drake had covered the charge with a sticky silicone substance. He ran past the creature and tossed the charge toward its shoulder. The explosive glop slammed against the hard surface and stuck for a moment, then it began sliding down the creatures back. The stone beast stopped and tried to reach the charge, but it was out of reach of its awkward arms and hands. Drake yelled loudly in the radio,
“Take cover! It’s going to blow rock everywhere!”
Drake dove and rolled into a fetal position only ten yards away from the creature as it still fumbled awkwardly, stepping in circles, as it tried to remove the gooey charge. Savage hid behind a smaller pillar on the left wall and Holms did the same on the right wall. The rest of the team hunkered down together, facing the doors, with their backs toward the immanent explosion. Then it happened.
Drake had made this charge quite a bit larger than the last. The shockwave carried bits and pieces of shattered stone and grit in all directions around the room. The entire team was pelted with sand and rubble from the completely shattered monstrosity of stone.
The lights suddenly dimmed and several loud moaning roars filled the air. The team looked toward the rear of the temple to see an even more hideous sight. A countless number of dingy linen wrapped human figures were advancing toward them. It was an army of mummies. Arms outstretched, legs stiffly fumbling to walk their ancient bodies fore ward. The moans so loud, they were almost deafening. Padded scrunching of linen wrapped feet scraping across the gritty red stone floor.
Savage leaped out from behind the small pillar and pointed his machine gun at one of the advancing apparitions. Something invisible jerked the gun from his grasp and floated it several feet above his head. Then the gun began to glow a dull red, as if being heated in a furnace. It red glow quickly grew ever brighter, hotter and hotter, until the bullets within the clip exploded from the heat. Then the gun began to melt in mid air. Molten steel oozing, dripping and plopping then sizzling onto the hard, cold floor. Then it was only a cooling, graying pile of useless steel. The same thing happened to Holm’s machine gun. Drake yelled at the rest of the team through the radio,
“Get away from my back pack – all of the C4 inside is going to explode.”
Gunn grabbed the pack and threw it as hard as he could toward the advancing mob of mummies. It flew, flipping and twirling through the air, then it suddenly stopped motionless, ten feet above the floor. Hanging there as if tied by a rope to the ceiling.
Then, simultaneously, each of the teams helmets unlocked and flew off their heads, bouncing off the walls and floor. Each member knew this was the end. And what a horrific end is was going to be, to die of suffocation. They all held their breath as long as possible. Dr. North was the first to succumb. His face turning blue, mind and body undulating, wanting, compulsively desiring to breathe. He had no choice but to let out his last breath and suck in something… anything! It was a natural reaction. He sucked in hard, wanting to feel cool air filling his lungs, but knowing it was going to be toxic nitrogen and carbon monoxide, or who knew what other gasses instead. The rest of the team impatiently waited to see what happened to Dr. North. There wasn’t much reason to wait, they too were only seconds away from having no choice but to breathe. Hell, even if they could hold their breath long enough to pass out, their automatic brain functions were going to breathe as soon as they became unconscious. But they all were ever so wrong. The air flowed in to Dr. North’s lungs with life saving oxygen. It was good. It was perfectly fine to breathe. He breathed in and out several times, almost smiling at the satisfaction. The rest of the team followed suit, feeling the comforting feeling of breathable air. The few seconds of relief was short lived as the advancing army of mummies surrounded their prey.
Waters, Bond, Vance and Tread were by now frantic. The last transmission they had heard was when the team had entered the structure in the bowels of the crater. They had been trying to reach the team on the radio ever since. Then Vance suddenly let out a yell in the observation deck,
“I see them! I can see the rover lights coming up out of the crater!”
The four watched impatiently, and slightly concerned, as the team crested the craters edge but didn’t respond to the radio call. The team sat stiff and oddly calm in the rover seats. Then the rover disappeared underneath the Expedition, heading for the air lock. Inside the mother ship, the four waited at the air lock to be briefed on the structures contents. Within a few moments, they heard the outer doors open, then close with the team safely inside. Then the inner door opened.
The impatient four found it very odd that all five of the team had left their space suits on upon entering the inner sanctum of the Expedition. Then Vance noticed something odd. The face of Capt. Savage looked very strange, very strange indeed. He couldn’t be certain, because of the mirrored glass visor, but Vance seemed to have some dirty linen shroud covering his face. Then all hell broke lose. The five team members, Savage, Holms, North, Drake and Gunn overpowered the four reserve unit members, Waters, Bond Vance and Tread.
The starship Expedition never did return radio hails from WGEA back on Earth from that moment on. The Expedition was tracked out through the solar system and beyond known space never to be seen again.
Audiowriter is an entrepreneur of many endeavors and a seasoned musician, located in southern Indiana.
He has an obsessive compulsion to spend every available moment creating written text and audio recordings of melodic musical notes. He currently has several completed novels on the shelf awaiting publication, varying from graphic horror to commercial fiction. Also in his literary arsenal is an abundance of short stories, drabbles and lyrics. Many of his original songs and music are directly inspired by the intriguing tales flowing from his wildly descriptive imagination.
Should you dare to enter the realm of Audiowriter, go to:
Posted on March 4, 2013, in Issue 7: The Wise and Ancient Dead—Mummies! and tagged e-zine, genre blender, horror, mummies, science fiction, short stories, The Were-Traveler. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.