The base of the hill turned out to be extremely dense. The tractor driver barely managed to take off several feet of soil. It was barely worth digging deeper as the tractor began to slow down and slip. Hugh climbed out of the cabin and, grabbing a crowbar, began to pick up the stubborn soil. The land seemed ordinary. He chopped a little around the perimeter, thought of returning again to the tractor, and finally decided to examine the ground in the center. But as soon as he had boiled a couple of times in the middle of the base of the hill, the crowbar bounced off with a tinkling, hitting his palms unpleasantly. Hugh bent down and, through the holes left by the crowbar in the ground, he saw some kind of stone. He picked up the crowbar again, and this time he carefully began to poke it in the ground, feeling for the edges of the stone. It was quite large and, moreover, strange: a rectangular shape. The tractor driver put the crowbar aside and brought a shovel. After a couple of hours, he managed to dig out a strange obstacle: it turned out to be a large stone slab. He tried to pry it with a crowbar, but nothing happened. The slab did not even sway.

In the distance, the sound of a moving car was heard. A few minutes later, an engineer’s crossover re-entered the clearing. The tractor driver waved his hand to him; the engineer got out of the car and, looking at the unusual find with interest, walked around the excavation site.

“Did you try to move it with a tractor? Maybe there’s treasure? By law, it’s yours. Want to share?” The engineer was cheerful and determined to joke. “Okay, let’s try to pull it off. If it is empty, you will drag the plate away, and if there is anything, tomorrow I will call the authorities, archaeologists and, possibly, representatives in the Indian community. They will come, they will understand. We agreed with them that way.”

Hugh unwound the cable, made a large loop, and threw it on the plate. The tractor roared and slowly pulled the slab aside. The engineer waved his hand. Hugh stopped the tractor, got out of the cab, and walked over to the opening. His heart almost stopped in his chest from surprise: in the stone bed, surrounded by household utensils and various objects, lay a mummy. She was like two peas on the vision that was visited the tractor driver at night. The similarity was enhanced by a tomahawk hung on its side and a large, oval brooch of yellow metal, studded with multi-colored, apparently precious stones, lying on the chest of the buried.

A sigh of amazement, escaping from the chest of the engineer, pulled the tractor driver out of his stupor. “That’s how it is!” He could not hide his surprise and began to look at the contents of the burial with interest. “Yes, there are all sorts of different…you know that you have to stay here,” he turned to the tractor driver, “and make sure that no one steals anything. I’ll go to the master and will try to call the office today. If I don’t phone today, I’ll tell them at the meeting tomorrow morning. You just do not go anywhere, be here, and be careful not to plunder.”

The engineer was agitated and did not notice how pale the face of the tractor driver was. Hugh was also excited and did not realize what to say to the engineer or how to refuse an unpleasant mission. His gaze was riveted on a dried-up figure of enormous height, wrapped in a decayed robe embroidered with colored threads and beads. He silently nodded his head and, as before, continued to examine an unusual find. The engineer got into the car, started the engine, and drove away.


Hugh was alone again. He walked around the tomb, carefully examining it and the mummy. For a moment, his attention lingered on his shoes; he remembered the traces around the fire. The mummy was clad in leather boots without heels with curved toes. Hugh shivered from an unpleasant comparison, but the next minute, his attention was already drawn to the brooch. It was quite large, palm-sized, and undoubtedly made of gold. Attached to the chain of such a yellow metal, the brooch was lying on the chest of the mummy; the chain, in turn, was slung over the neck. I’d like to present such a thing to Lucy: Hugh’s secret desire. The archaeologists will come and they will take everything. It will be dust somewhere in a museum. Or they’ll give it to the Indians, and they will again bury the decoration in the ground. If I give it to Lucy, she will be very happy, and her friends will die from envy. No one will notice the loss. Who knows what was there and what was not?

Hugh knelt and carefully began to pull the chain out from under the mummy’s head. The pendants thinly tinkled, and the brooch was heavy in weight. But at the same second, a wild horror shot through the soul of the tractor driver; it seemed to him that the mummy had opened its eyes, and its expression had become embittered. Overcoming the weakness that had gripped him, the guy jumped up and, using all his strength, rushed to the tractor on cotton-bending legs. Looking back, he noticed that the mummy was staring after him.

The tractor did not start again. The starter was spinning until the battery sat down, but it never made a sound. The darkness was thickening, and suddenly fallen fog hid the surroundings much better than it had been in previous days. Hugh darted to the side of the road, but there was nothing there. He ran around the site, but the night along with the fog reliably hid the road to the highway, as if it was not there. The guy rushed to collect brushwood, but the drizzling rain covered the branches and boughs with a thin layer of moisture, and the brushwood did not ignite, even though the tractor driver poured plenty of diesel fuel from the fuel tank on it.

The impenetrable night had come. The cold rain intensified, and Hugh, fleeing from its piercing streams, climbed into the tractor cab. It was dry here. The exhausted battery still slightly fed the lamps, which glowed with dull, yellow specks. Hugh turned on the receiver: the radio broadcast the latest news.

“The tragic incident occurred with archaeologists who revealed an unknown tomb near the pyramid of Cheops,” a woman’s voice said. “One of them was fatally injured by a plate that fell on him, and the other two were taken to a local hospital with signs of a severe allergic injury. Doctors believe that they were attacked by an unknown virus that has survived in the tomb from time immemorial. However, local residents believe that all the victims were affected by the curse imposed on the burial by the priests of ancient Egypt. To prove their case, they cite numerous examples based on similar events that occurred with the predecessors of the researchers. So, of the scientists who uncovered Tutankhamen’s tomb, no one was left alive either. And although none of them died a violent death, they all soon died after an autopsy from various diseases, most often from cancer.”

Hugh shuddered at these words. Suddenly, thunder struck, lightning flashed not far away, and the receiver was silent. The guy rotated the tuning, clicked the switch, but it was all in vain; the device no longer made a sound. Gradually, the lamps went out and the cockpit was gripped by oppressive darkness and silence. The tractor driver wrapped himself in a jacket and lay down on the seat. Raindrops drummed on the roof and windows, Hugh closed his eyes and tried to sleep. It was all in vain. Peals of thunder made him shudder and kept him awake. The creaking of trees swaying in the gusts of wind was like a cry coming from somewhere out of the ground.

A strange sound, resembling the slap of the palms on the hood, made him alert. Hugh opened his eyes, but saw nothing. He had almost calmed down when, suddenly, close lightning lit up the landing and illuminated the tractor with its flash. A wild cry of horror burst from the tractor driver’s chest: the mummy, pressing its face to the side window and putting its palms on it, looked at the guy at close range.

Hugh darted into the opposite corner of the now-tight cabin, but the mummy, turning her hands on the glass, also went over to his side. Having done so a few times, the guy froze in the middle of his refuge. His pursuer, illuminated by flashes of lightning, watched him motionlessly for some time, then snatched the tomahawk and hit the cabin hard.

Sparks splashed from hitting the metal on the door. One of the windshields shattered into small fragments. The dead man slipped his hand into the hole and poked the tomahawk at the guy. The guy shied away from the assailant, snatched the pry bar out of the bag, and hit the arm of the mummy.

Dust fell out of its sleeve, and Hugh saw with horror that it had crumbling skin and dried muscles. The tomahawk remained compressed with the bare bones. The mummy angrily looked at its damaged hand, tumbled into the cabin, and with even greater frenzy, rushed to the tractor driver.

Hugh opened the door, jumped out, and slammed the door shut, leaving the mummy inside. Now they have changed places: the guy circled near the tractor, without risking moving away from his refuge, and the mummy thrashed inside the cabin, not having the opportunity to figure out how to get out.


In the east, it was getting light. Somewhere far, far away in the sky came the hum of the plane. The mummy shuddered, gritted its teeth, glanced at Hugh, and, slowly, reluctantly, dissolved in the air. The exhausted tractor driver fell to the ground, empty. He woke up from the stupor after someone slapped him on the cheek. Hugh opened his eyes and saw the master.

“What are you doing?” the master asked the tractor driver. “Did you drink a lot yesterday? Why are you lying in the rain?”

He extended his hand to the tractor driver and helped him rise from the ground. The rain was still drizzling; small drops fell on top of the master’s head and neck and ran down his collar.

“Bad weather. My car got stuck, I had to leave it and come on foot. Without a tractor, I could not pull out. Let’s go, pull it out, then continue the work.”

“I can’t,” answered the tractor driver. “The battery has shut down; the tractor will not start.”

The master approached the tractor and whistled in surprise:

“Who did it like that?”

Hugh moved after him and, through the parted mist of fog, he saw the tractor’s bent carcass. The windows were broken and the cabin was covered with gaping scars on the metal, along with nicks and scratches.

“Well, you went on a spree!” The master looked at the tractor driver stupidly and backed away from him. “It’s a hell of a day today with these the accidents. Stay here, I will be back on foot myself.”

And he, turning sharply, strode away, almost running. “Oh, by the way,” already out of the fog, invisible, his voice echoed out, “the engineer crashed. When he was returning yesterday from us back to the office, he lost control of the car on a turn and crashed under Navistar. The car shattered and he died.” The surroundings again drowned in silence. Hugh sank onto the wet ground and fell into oblivion.

The evening came quickly. The fog, already thick, became even denser. Moist mist covered the ground. The guy took out his cigarettes, but they turned out hopelessly wet, and the wet matches didn’t want to light up at all, and they didn’t even sparkle when striking the box.

The tractor driver climbed into the cab, but there was no longer the same comfort: springs and pieces of foam rubber protruded through the tattered leather of the seat, the floor was littered with glass chippings, and the wind blew through the broken windows. Hugh picked up the blanket from the floor.

Previously, he covered the seat; now the blanket got tangled up under his feet as a wet dirty rag. Shaking it several times, the tractor driver tried to free it from the glass fragments, but nothing was visible in the dark. He wrapped himself in a damp blanket and lay down on the seat. At first, the wet rag was not warming up and the tractor driver was shaking with cold, but gradually, life-giving warmth returned to his exhausted body. Hugh calmed down and fell asleep.

He woke up because he felt the touch of metal to his throat. Hugh opened his eyes and saw the mummy again. It was standing right above him, holding a tomahawk in its hand, with a blade near his chin. Hugh clearly distinguished the evil grin, but he no longer had any strength to resist and, straining, he tried to crawl away.

The mummy snarled something and, grabbing the guy by the hair, took out a knife. It’ll scalp me now, thought Hugh with some sort of indifference. Through the parted mist the moon looked out, the tractor driver saw its reflection on the blade. The blade flashed, but Hugh did not feel the pain; he lost consciousness beforehand.

He woke up because someone shoved cotton with ammonia under his nose and patted his shoulder. “What are you, man, did you come here to work or sleep?” the familiar voice of the master yelled, bringing him out of his stupor. Hugh shook his head frantically and, surprised, not knowing what to say, jabbed his finger at the crossover:

“Have you already pulled out?”

“From whence?” Now it was the master’s turn to be surprised.

“How from? You were stuck yesterday in the mud in the rain…”

“When was I stuck? Under what rain? There was no rain yesterday, and nowhere did I get stuck.”

Another crossover went from the bend, and Hugh recognized the engineer sitting inside. He got out of the car and went to the master and the tractor driver.

“So are you alive?” a cry of amazement burst from Hugh’s chest.

“Why would I be dead?” grinned the engineer.

“He told me that you crashed under Navistar,” the tractor driver nodded at the master.

The engineer and the master looked at each other in bewilderment.

“You don’t look good.” The engineer carefully looked at the guy’s face. “How are you feeling?”

“I feel normal,” said Hugh, and only now he felt a terrible weakness in his legs and severe dizziness. Trying not to betray his condition, he lit a cigarette, but a strong cough shook his body. Hugh choked, dropped the cigarette and, losing consciousness, fell into the grass like a bag.

The frightened master and engineer ran up to him. One of them put his hand on his forehead and then said:

“Yes, he’s burning. The temperature is forty degrees, no less. Let’s get him to the hospital, to the doctors.”

They spread out the seats in the crossover, opened the back door, and carefully laid the tractor driver inside. The master jumped behind the wheel, and the car’s motor roared and disappeared around the bend.


The door of the bar swung open, and those present looked back at its illuminated rectangle.

“Hugh, damn it, where have you been for so long??!” His friends were delighted at the appearing fellow.

“Where did I disappear? I was sick. I don’t know how I caught a cold, but there were nightmares: felt like shooting a horror movie.” Hugh confidently went to the table and was happy to see Lucy sitting among friends.

There was something subtly familiar about her face, but someone pushed him a mug of beer, Hugh drained it in one gulp, lit a cigarette, and got distracted. Finally, the friends stopped asking him about the disease, he stopped talking and looked at Lucy again. She waited for him to pay attention to her, and as soon as he extinguished a cigarette, she said:

“You do not want to invite me to dance?”

“Why so? With pleasure. Allow me, madam…”

The bar was cool. Lucy was wrapped in a thick wool sweater thrown over her shoulders, but the offer from the beau was barely received as she threw it on the back of the chair and stood up. Hugh’s wild grimace of horror made her stop and stand still.

“Where did you get that?” His trembling finger pointed at a large gold brooch hanging on her chest.

“Where from? From my grandmother…and she got this brooch from her grandmother. This is our family heirloom. Previously, I was not allowed to, but now they allow me to wear it. They say that one of my distant ancestors was an Indian leader, and he gave this brooch to his daughter, and she gave it to her daughter. Now the brooch has passed on to me…”

And Hugh remembered where he had seen this brooch, and this glance of slanting eyes. A terrible cry escaped from his chest as he jumped out of the table and ran out of the bar…


For all installments of “Brooch,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1