This story is based on Egyptian mythology, Victorian fascination, and Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Some Words with a Mummy” wherein his mummy speaks like a British aristocrat. Here, I offer my take on what I think the mummy would say and how it would behave.

We’d heard about how the Victorians would have mummy-unwrapping parties, and we were intrigued. I had been hired on as a gig with the DeYoung museum in San Francisco, to help shuffle folks around and through the King Tut exhibit. The position was Exhibit Assistant, and paid $10 per hour. And I’d invited my friends, Lacey and Jonathan, over after hours. We were going to hold our own mummy unwrapping.

See, one of the big draws of this exhibit was a mummy that lay there uncovered, in the open, for visitors to touch the bandages of, just to say they’d done it. This didn’t hold any appeal to me: just this morning, I touched the old bandage that covered my recent leg wound, but you didn’t see me running around all over town trying to tell everyone from the mailman to the local barista about it.

Now let me paint you a picture—I don’t want to be all cliché, but it really was a dark and stormy night—stay with me, it’s important to what happened. The thunder blasted out from the sky like Joshua’s trumpet bringing down the walls of Jericho, as Lacey and Jonathan knocked on the door, peering in, growing more soaked by the minute. I unlocked the door and ushered them in out of the rain, giving each of them a big hug.

“Hey, thanks for coming. I was just going to spend the night here since I was scheduled for an opening shift. Anyway,” I said, a wide grin spreading across my face, “did you bring the tools?” If I was getting paid so poorly, at least we’d get a good story out of this, to tell our grandchildren someday. We walked over to the open-air mummy and I looked up in shock as lightning cracked across the sky.

“That’s just Thor, calling out to his minions,” said Jonathan.


All at once, a mighty, fiery whoosh tore through the glass on the ceiling and hit the mummy below. My friends and I covered our heads, screaming as we stood under a hail of glass, hot as though we’d just been flung into hell.

In the wake of the lightning strike, the silence was deafening as a tomb. Slowly, slowly, I lowered my arms, bits of glass falling away like snow. I looked around: Lacey and Jonathan seemed shaken, but otherwise alright. Lacey shrieked and pointed toward the mummy, whose arm now pointed straight up toward the sky like a lamppost.

“How did it do that?!”

“What the fuuuuuuu…” came a voice from the mummy’s location.

“H-hello…?!” I ventured, walking closer to the mummy. After what had just happened, I wasn’t afraid to look stupid anymore. The mummy grumbled incoherently, but it sounded rather angry in tone. I looked over, and the mummy twitched, sat up, and tore the bandages from his mouth and eyes. He looked at me and glared, and I stood mortified, never expecting this and certainly not expecting the fellow to speak English. Surely some black magic was at work here.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, to see what would happen.

“I’m not in the afterlife, all my things are gone, and I’m back on Earth with some buffoons from the future, not to mention these bandages that I have for clothes at the moment,” the mummy replied.

“Umm…we’re sorry,” said Lacey, offering the mummy an oversized Oakland A’s jacket. “Here, you can wear this.” She crept over and handed the metallic green jacket to the ancient mummy.

The Egyptian reached out for the sports jacket, waggling his fingers as he hadn’t in thousands of years, dust scattering into the air. He seized it and studied it for a moment before donning it, a stark contrast to the bandages beneath.

“Now then,” said the mummy, “you haven’t offered me food, which is sacrilege, when the dead rise.”

“What do you mean ‘sacrilege?’” Lacey chimed in. “We don’t believe in your go—“

I gave Lacey a hand signal that roughly meant “shut up” and her words died in her throat as I searched my handbag for the Snickers bar I’d bought on the way in. I removed the wrapping and handed it to the now-animated mummy. The mummy sniffed the candy bar and then bit into it, nodded once, and continued eating. Jonathan watched all this in silence, blinking rapidly, skin growing clammy and sort of grayish, like he might soon faint.

“Now you must kill me, as I had been dead, and speed my soul away to the afterlife. I have now seen the future, worn its raiment, eaten its delicacies, and my soul is as ready for the afterlife as it was when I was laying there in peace, waiting for the river to flow with my spirit on it, before some punishment from the gods caused me to wake.”

“We can’t kill you!” said Lacey, turning toward me.

“I think we can,” I replied, wondering if we really could, with little impunity. “Technically, he’s already dead. We can re-kill him. It’s like double-jeopardy in court.”


“Haven’t you seen that movie?”

Jonathan, having finally re-discovered his voice, stepped forward, raising his hand into the air like a boy scout. “I’ll kill him. He seems like kind of a jerk anyway.”

“There is a brave one among you,” said the mummy. “Let him come forth.”

“No, you shut up,” I replied to the figure sitting in the casket, hardly believing that I was speaking in such a manner to a thousand-year-old mummy who was technically my elder. I motioned for Lacey and Jonathan to come forward, because we needed a plan to deal with all this. Re-killing the mummy was just one option. It would let fate travel in the normal, forward-facing direction. In the morning, the exhibit-watchers would come through and I would shuffle them through the exhibit for my ten dollars an hour, and everything would be normal and would suck. That’s not what we had come for. And the gods brought the lightning for a reason.

That morning, the exhibit opened as normal, and the crowds shuffled in, and the glass of the ceiling lay all around the charred casket that once held a mummy. And the mummy, and the rest of us, were gone.