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Short Story: Curse of the Gods


Hello once again, here’s another little story for you. If you want to send any feedback my way, drop me a line via my Contact page.

“Behold, the greatest discovery of our time!”

Professor James Stanforth stood over the tomb’s entrance, a gentle breeze whipping the sand up around him and the seventy or so reporters and locals that had gathered to watch him. The sun beat down on them all, its heat Their faces were a mixture of boredom and curiosity, people who had either been keeping a close eye on the dig or had been drawn in by the crowd and had no idea why they were there.

“In this, the year of Our Lord 1921 I, Professor James Stanforth, do solemnly decree that the tomb of Tumon-Ra has been discovered. Only a few short steps away lie the secrets of a previously thought lost generation.”

He paused for breath, allowing his comments to sink in. Yes, after almost a decade of searching he had finally located his treasured prize. The tomb that had remained elusive for all these years was now opened and rife for discovery. Fame and fortune would be his at long last.

A man, swaddled in rags so only his eyes and the top half of his nose were visible, stepped into the circle of people who stood watching the archaeologist. Stanforth took a step back despite himself. The swaddled man pointed a finger at him, his eyes ablaze.

“You will stop at once, the Gods command it!”
“I, er…” Stanforth was speechless.
“To desecrate the tomb of the great ones is to bring
“Preposterous. Somebody remove this man immediately.”
Stanforth’s security team moved in to escort the man away. As he was directed to the back of the crowd he turned again to look directly at Stanforth.
“But it is cursed! You will bring the wrath of the Gods down upon us! Stop now, before it is too late!”

Stanforth waved away the local, dismissing his claim and gathering his composure. What tosh! There was no such things as curses. They were a myth, a tale passed down by each generation to deter grave robbers and the like. He clicked his fingers to call over his assistant, Perkins. He was a short barrel of a man, a perpetual sheen of sweat on his brow. He had not reacted well to the dry heat of Egypt, yet he had not complained once.
“See to it that there are no further disturbances.”
Perkins nodded. “Of course, Professor. I’ll see to it.”
Perkins waddled away, dabbing his brow with his handkerchief. Perkins wasn’t the best at his job, but he had been the cheapest. Stanforth didn’t need the best, he needed adequate. Perkins fit the bill in every respect.

He paid no further heed to the remaining locals as he removed artefacts from Tumon-Ra’s tomb and loaded them onto the fleet of vehicles. They were being taken to the British Museum to be studied and, later, displayed for the public. His time in Egypt passed by without further incident, and he thought no further about the wild accusations of that man.

He took a single object from the tomb, a small gold representation of Tumon-Ra himself. A spoil of war, as it were. He left it in a prominent position in his home on the mantlepiece in his hallway. All visitors would see it as they entered the building. It would be an excellent talking point when greeting dignitaries and the like.

But as the weeks went by Stanforth began to think that the Egyptian may have been right after all. His health began to wane, feeling himself grow increasingly weaker with each passing day. Just as he was starting to feel well again, the malaise struck and he was reduced to feeling miserable once more.

Inexplicably, each of his five beloved pet dogs died. It was not clear how or why, they had just dropped dead. Then his housekeeper died under similarly mysterious circumstances. Then his gardener. One by one, those closest to Stanforth were dying. Nobody could offer an explanation.

Perkins had continued to visit despite the warnings from everyone around him about being near Stanforth. Good old Perkins. He remained a picture of health, if you ignored the sheen of sweat that had accompanied his brow all the way from Egypt. Stanforth had no explanation for it. Perhaps there was a curse?

After more than six weeks of occasional illness, Stanforth’s condition worsened and he found himself bed bound. Incapable of moving without exerting all of the energy that was left in him, the days passed with little enjoyment. Eventually, inevitably, he weakened so much he slipped into unconsciousness. The end came shortly thereafter.

The funeral was held behind closed doors. Rumours of an Egyptian curse followed him even in death. Only the hardy few, remnants of his distant family, Perkins, a few close well wishers, were all that were willing to risk the wrath of the Gods that Stanforth had brought back with him from foreign lands.

The swaddled man knocked twice on the wooden door, opened it and stepped inside. Inside a dozen flaming torches hung from the walls, the room well lit to compensate for its lack of windows or natural light. At the far end of the room sat an ornate throne, gold gilded. In it sat the High Priest, of which denomination wasn’t clear. The swaddled man approached with deference, kneeling at the foot of the throne and lowering his head to the ground.

“It is done.”

“You have achieved much” said the High Priest. “Now they shall fear the Gods, and we as their loyal servants shall be rewarded.”
“I live to serve.”
“Were there any complications?”
“Just one. The fat man, the one from the dig. He lives. He was the only one who did not enter the home through the front door. It seems he had family working on the grounds and he would visit them beforehand. He would walk in through a side entrance somewhere away from the poison in the artefact he took as his own.”
“It is of little consequence. To leave one alive after so many have died… the Gods are appeased. Return to your Order, do the will of the Gods.”
The swaddled man nodded and backed away from the throne. There were rumours that another foreigner was seeking the tomb of Tutankhamun. If so, he was certain his services would be called upon again in due course.

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