He entered holding the revolver, as if to face an unknown enemy, hoping to help his father in danger, but as soon as he arrived inside, his hope shattered. In the room, there was no one…just the phone with the handset raised and resting on the ground.

Edward got close to the well, calling his father. He seemed to hear something in response, but he wasn’t sure; so he tied the rope to a ring on the wall, began to descend into that dark pit.

The descent only took a few minutes, but the bottom was dark and wider than he could have imagined from above. In fact, the light of the lantern revealed the entrance to a grotto.

“Always better than a narrow tunnel,” Edward said.

He walked into the cave, following the downhill terrain until he found three tunnels which branched off: one on the right, one in the middle, and one on the left.

He took the one on the left, and after walking on his knees for a few meters, he ended up into a small cave with a high ceiling, which allowed him to examine it comfortably.

In a small niche dug into the rock, he found, to his surprise, a note from his father…

It was a sheet of yellowed paper kept in a leather wallet covered with dirt, and when Edward opened it, he read these words:

My name is Robert Campbell and I am an archaeologist. My research has led me to this unknown darkness populated by disturbing beings, but I knew that it would not be without danger.

The existence of Duat, the Egyptian world of the dead, has always been considered a legend, but thanks to a papyrus I found in the tomb, I discovered a tablet with engraved hieroglyphics, but despite my repeated attempts, I obtained only meaningless interpretations.

I’ve decided to explore the well, but first, I leave here the scroll and my slouch hat…I don’t think I’ll need them, anyway.

After reaching the bottom, I found the entrance to a cave into which I went, finding three tunnels, and on the stone slab that closes one of them, I saw engraved the symbol of Ankh.

Surely there is a kind of mechanism…I tried to look for it, but a sound of trailing steps froze my blood, confirming that I was not alone in that darkness.

Panic-stricken, I put out the lantern and slipped into one of the other tunnels, ending up in a small cave with a high ceiling, where I waited in obscurity holding my revolver.

After a time that seemed to me to be an eternity, I lit the lantern and put it in a niche dug into the wall, noting that, after not even a meter, the latter turned to the left, revealing a row of steps that went uphill.

I walked along them, and at the end, I ended up on an elevated point, where I got confirmation of my theories.

Below me was a landscape as horrible as it was fascinating…the unknown ruins of a forgotten city

stretched as far as the eye could see, and in the distance, I could see pyramids and huge statues, while a river of calm dark waters divided that nightmarish land, which was under a dark sky lit up by a pale moon.

So…they weren’t legends! I had found my way into Duat…the underworld of the ancient egyptians!

With the intention of making all this known, I rushed towards the exit, but my joy was short-lived; just as I came out of the tunnel, some horrendous beings armed with curved blade swords attacked me.

The keepers…a kind of undead, charged to guard the borders of that dark kingdom! If they had caught me, I would have become one of them.

I shot in the pile, seeing their bones shatter and some of them fall. I ran back into the cave, climbed the stairs, and entrenched myself behind a kind of altar, waiting for their assault at any moment.

I can’ t leave this place anymore…but I have a way to get away from those monsters. Luckily, I always leave a bullet to myself, but first, I have to leave a testimony in case someone comes looking for me, and I have a short time to do it; so, I write an report of my exploration and put it in my wallet.

Now I have to go down the stairs, being careful not to make the slightest noise, and once near the entrance, place the wallet in the niche on the wall, and go back up to admire for the last time this gloomy and fascinating world.

After reading the note, Edward was so upset that he wanted to go back, but doing so would have nullified everything, and his father would have died in vain.

No, he couldn’t allow it…and putting his father’s wallet in the backpack, he said, “I’m going to reveal your discovery, Daddy; I’m going to do it in your name, I swear! And now…let’s find those stairs!”

Lighting up a dark corner, he found the stairs, walked along them without hesitation, and upon reaching the exit, he ended up on a sort of terrace, where his reasoning was again put to the test, because the ghostly village that appeared in front of him was the same from his…dream!

But how was that possible?! How could he have dreamed about what his father had discovered?

It was all so absurd that Edward thought he was dreaming for a moment, but a sudden shimmer from the base of some kind of altar attracted his attention.

Edward approached, illuminating the shadowy part, and it was then that his lantern revealed the origin of the shimmer.

It was a big Schofield revolver, held by the hand of a skeleton…

Edward immediately recognized his father’s bones and bent over those remains, reassembling them as best he could and then covering them with the tent cloth.

In the end, he took his father’s weapon as a keepsake and put it in his backpack.

But if the father had died long ago, whose voice could it be on the phone?

Edward was assailed by doubt when a sudden sound of shaky cobblestones made him turn towards where he had gone out, and with his heart beating like a drum, he held the revolver, ready to fire towards that exit immersed in total darkness.

Someone or something was going up…he could hear steps that stumbled getting closer and closer, and when a shadow suddenly appeared, Edward fired!

The detonation broke that surreal silence like sudden thunder, and immediately afterwards a voice shouted, “Mr. Campbell, don’t shoot! I am Nuabis!”

“Nuabis? But…where the hell did you spring from?” said Edward.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went out to smoke to relax, I saw you go down to the vault, and I decided to follow you. I couldn’t leave you alone,” said Nuabis.

Edward told Nuabis everything from the phone call to the dream he had, and then told him about his father by showing him the note, while the Egyptian appeared increasingly frightened.

“Mr. Campbell…we have to get rid of those two objects before it’s too late, and then we go back. Your dream, and your father’s note, leave no doubt as to where we are. This is the realm of the dead,” said Nuabi, pointing to the landscape.

“No…I must honor my father’s memory by revealing all this!” said Edward

They went down the stairs, but hearing a noise of trailing steps, blocked them instantly.

Edward unlit the lantern, immediately imitated by Nuabis.

Wrapped in darkness, and with the thrills that ran from their backs to the hair, they stood in silence, ready to hear the slightest noise.

Edward cocked the revolver’s hammer, but Nuabi blocked him, whispering, “No…if they don’t hear anything, they’ll leave.”

After a wait that seemed like an eternity to them, the two men lit the lanterns again, continuing their descent, and when they reached the end of the stairs, they decided to stop for a moment.

“They should be gone…” said Nuabi with a sigh of relief.

“Are you referring to the keepers? “Edward asked

“Yes…souls trapped in their corrupt bodies and condemned to wander in the most complete darkness, given that they cannot see,” said Nuabis.

“Yes, I remember…it is said that while they were alive, they witnessed many serious injustices, but nevertheless, they kept quiet because it was convenient for them to do so. When they died, they were found guilty and deprived of sight forever, but they have very fine hearing,” Edward said.

“Exactly…and the sound of the gunshot must have alerted them,” Nuabis replied.

Seeing the Egyptian frightened to death, Edward reassured him by saying, “Nuabis, I can’t just leave, but you’re free to go back.”

But the Egyptian refused and, summoning his courage, decided to follow Edward.

They examined the other two tunnels and saw that they were closed by slabs of stone, and on one of them, Edward found the figure of the Ankh deeply engraved. He took the find from the backpack and, without hesitation, put it in the stone, causing the immediate opening of the tunnel, after which he recovered it.

The gallery was narrower than the previous one, but the two men walked through it without difficulty, and soon after, they ended up outdoors. In front of their eyes, the streets of the lost city extended in all their disturbing beauty.

Edward decided to find an elevated point to better understand where they were, and followed by a fearful Nuabis, he walked towards what looked like the staircase of a temple.

The lanterns illuminated the path drawing grotesque plays of shadows on those forgotten walls, but, unlike the Egyptian, Edward was fascinated by that place.

When they arrived at the base of the stairs, they heard that sound of footsteps again.

They began to climb as quietly as possible, reaching the top of the building without any problems.

Edward was increasingly attracted to that unknown., underground world. How much fame and glory would it give him to reveal its existence?

He took a piece of paper and a pencil and, completely absorbed, began to draw with precision everything he was seeing, turning those white papers into parts of a disturbing forbidden map.

He was distracted by Nuabis, who silently said, “Look…on the river, the fog suddenly appeared.”

“Ah, yes… I remember now. It heralds the arrival of the boat of the dead. Someone must have been judged fit to enter the realm of shadows,” Edward said as he stood up to see better.

A funeral boat had escaped from the fog, sliding slowly and silently on that dark water, while he and Nuabis watched the scene in an unreal silence made of wonder, respect, and fear.

Edward was looking to find out who the disturbing figure on the black boat was when Nuabis grabbed him by the sleeve and said, “The helmsman of the underworld…the one who carries souls.”

“Well…he made an empty trip, since he’s alone,” Edward said with a sarcastic approach.

Then, to his great surprise, he saw that the boat had stopped near the shore, just below them.

“It stopped right down here, I don’t understand…” Edward said.

“Don’t you understand, Edward? And yet it’s so evident,” said a calm, resolute voice that came from behind him.

Edward turned around and saw Nuabis smiling at him.

“Nuabis…what’s going on? You changed your tone of voice,” Edward said.

“Edward, you are more blind than the keepers; the obsession with finding your father led you to this forbidden place, only to be replaced by the desire to reveal its existence,” said Nuabis.

“What are you talking about?” asked Edward. My father wanted the whole world to know about the existence of this place for the good of mankind,” Edward said.

“On the contrary, Edward…all the certainties you believe in would collapse one after the other and humanity would end up in chaos. That’s why it’s good that certain things remain on par with legends,” replied Nuabis.

Edward looked up at Nuabis and said, “But…who are you really?”

“You still haven’t realized? Try to make an anagram of my name; change the place of the letters,” Nuabis said.
Edward reflected for a few seconds…then, on his face, various expressions of disbelief, wonder, and fear alternated, and in the end, panting, he said: “Nuabis…Anubis!”

Just after pronouncing that name, the figure of Nuabis dissolved into a whirlwind of dust and then recomposed immediately after into the much larger and more disturbing figure of the Egyptian god from the human body and the jackal head.

Edward was amazed…he now realized the identity of the mysterious shadow he had shot at. He never would thought to face the god of the underworld.

He looked around confusedly, feeling completely lost; he didn’t see a chance to escape that situation as incredible as it was frightening.

Suddenly, Anubis slowly began to approach him, and it was then that Robert’s heart began to beat madly.

“Don’t worry, your heart is strong…believe me; I am an expert on the subject. It’s a shame that it’s also very hardened by selfishness. Instead, your father’s was lighter,” said Anubis.

“You…you killed him, and now…you will kill me, too!” Edward said.

“To cut the thread of your life is not my task. I am the one who judges if souls can access eternal life. Your father made his own decision,” said Anubis.

“But…I heard his voice on the phone,  I recognized him, I’m sure of it!” Edward said.

“It was me; I imitated your father’s voice because I was sure you would come down here, carrying the tablet and the Ankh with you. Would you be so kind as to hand them over to me with your drawings?” said Anubis.

Pretending resignation, Edward took the finds and sheets from his backpack, handing them over to Anubis, while his other hand ran quickly to the revolver; then, five detonations broke the silence, and Anubis fell like a wireless puppet.

“I am Edward Campbell and no one will be able to take my discovery away from me! The whole world will know! What do you think now, judge of souls? Five bullets was all it took to send you to your mummies!” Edward said, leaning over Anubis’ motionless body, taking back the finds and drawings.

He went down the stairs running, regardless of the presence of the keepers, who didn’t even try to stop him.

He arrived near the shore, and seeing the funeral boat with his gloomy helmsman, he hesitated for a moment, then pointing towards the walls to find the tunnel, but the keepers blocked his way.

“There’s only the boat to get out of here, Edward, and you’ll take it, “said a voice behind him.

Edward turned quickly, paralyzed by the fear of seeing Anubis pointing to the boat.

Taken by ever-increasing terror, Edward took the revolver and pulled the trigger, but only repeated clicks were heard, and as Anubis slowly advanced toward him, he tried to reload the weapon, but his hands shook too much.

In a gesture of insane anger, he threw the revolver towards Anubis, who grabbed it and said: “A beautiful weapon, but completely useless with me.”

Edward, increasingly frightened, began to retreat, but stumbled on a stone, falling on his back.

Anubis approached him and stretched out his hand to get his backpack while Edward covered his head, terrified.

“Don’t worry; I just want the artifacts and drawings, then you’ll be free to go. You’ll get on the boat; the helmsman will leave you in an area on the border between life and death, but you’ll survive. Yes, Edward, you’ll be like an empty shell,” said Anubis.

“What…do you mean?” asked Edward.

“I can’t trust you…you’ve proven repeatedly to be greedy, selfish, and also an unscrupulous murderer. The gesture of killing me condemned you to the oblivion of memories. Your mind will be separated from you, and it will remain here…in the place you so wanted to make known,” Anubis said, touching Edward’s forehead with the ritual stick.

Edward tried to defend himself, but two keepers grabbed his arms and prevented him from moving, and while Anubis touched him with the stick, he felt as if his head were emptying, and in a few moments, he fainted.

The following day, Dr. Wensley went to Edward’s tent to call him, but he only heard the sound of continuous metal clicks.

He decided to go in, but as he opened the tent, he suddenly stopped.

In front of him was Edward, who looked at him with lifeless eyes and an expression of anguish on the face, pointing a revolver at him.

He was sitting at the table, and his clothes were stained with dark dirt.

The backpack was as empty as the holster, and the two artifacts had disappeared, but the most disturbing thing was the pose taken by Edward: sitting next to the field phone, with the receiver in his ear as if he heard something scary, doing the act of shooting with his father’s revolver at an invisible enemy…click, click, click!


For all installments of “A Voice from the Past,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1