Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Tomb of Kartoch-Mohs

On a trip to Cairo many years ago, under the scorching sun of Egypt we

(that's me--Reggie--and my three nephews)

saddled up our camels and rode west to see a pyramid newly-excavated. With my trusty translation guide for ancient Egyptian on hand, we packed a few tools and set out at dawn ....

"Suppose we pose for a photo in front of the pyramid?" said Lionel. "I brought my Polaroid camera and we promised Aunt Jean at least one good postcard photo."

"Good thinking," I responded. As we assembled for our little family photo, I glanced up into the doorway of the old pyramid. An ancient Egyptian inscription was carved there ...

"Great Scott! Do you realize where we are?" I exlaimed. "This is the tomb of the great pharaoh Kartoch-Mohs!"

"How on earth did you know that?" asked Larry.

"Simple," I replied. "It's in my translation guide -- page three, practice sentence five: Do not enter the tomb of Kartoch-Mohs. See for yourself." I handed him the book.

"Amazing! We come all the way to Egypt just to take a few simple photos and end up on the doorstep of one of the greatest legends of the ancient world -- let's go in and say hello!"

The doorway into the pyramid was a little blocked by sticky cobwebs, but we found a way in, past the giant watchful eye in the foyer (no doubt an ancient Egyptian 'welcome' sign). Down the winding dark passages we wandered, until we spotted a second inscription above a doorway.

"Say, according to the book, that's his resting place," said Lionel. "Either that, or it says his dog has fleas."

The ancient was room was empty, except for Egyptian signs on the wall ... and a gilded sarcophagus in the middle.

"Incredible," I breathed. "What does the guidebook say those signs mean?"
"Um, 'do not litter'," said Larry, checking the book. "What's say we take a peek inside?"
"And look at the mummy? I don't think so!" said Lester. "Didn't you watch the Late Night Horror Special last week? 'Attack of the Mutant Killer Mummies from Sphinxland?' "

"Ancient mummies don't pop out of their crypts like in the movies, Lester," I said sternly. "Besides, we have to take a photo -- your Aunt Jean will kill you if you come back with anything less than five superb photo postcards for her collection. Believe me, I know."

"Amazing, isn't it? The wonders of the ancient world right in front of us! The greatest and most terrible pharaoh of all of Egypt -- hand me that Polaroid, will you, Larry?"

"What's that on his head? A crown?" asked Lester.

"It's the ancient Serpent Jewel of the Pharaoh," I explained. "The rarest and most powerful symbol of royalty in all Egypt. There used a be a scepter to match, but it broke."

"Let's take a picture of that for Aunt Jean," said Lester. "I'll hold it while you take the photo."

"Aunt Jean will love this -- remember her photograph album devoted to the crown jewels of England?" I snapped the photo of Lester's pose just as I heard the rustling noise behind us ...

"AAAAIIIEeeeeeee!!" Larry's high-pitched squawk alarmed me -- I dropped the camera and turned to see ....

A REAL MUMMY EMERGE FROM THE SARCOPHAGUS! He staggered forward, lurching towards us with outstretched fingers and a terrible glare peering out from his bandages, ancient cobwebs trailing behind him.

"Quick!" I said, a bird of action despite the sudden squeak in my voice, "which one of you brought the machete?"

"Not me," said Larry, "I brought the camera and the map. Lionel was supposed to pack the machete."

"All I packed was an accordian," said Lionel.

We stumbled backwards as the mummy picked up speed -- and took off frantically down the nearest passageway.

"What does the guidebook say about this?" I shouted. Larry scanned the pages frantically.

"How about 'we come in peace?' " he offered. "Or 'where is the exit?' " That's when he lost hold of the guidebook -- which banged against the wall and narrowly missed the mummy. We dashed in the nearest room, searching for an exit.

"Wow, this must be the ancient Treasure Room," said Larry. "Maybe Aunt Jean would prefer a souvenir instead of more postcard pictures?"

"She'd better," I answered, "since I dropped the camera earlier." We heard the shuffling steps of the mummy in the hallway and took off running again, through the piles of gold coins and precious jewels. The mummy let out a terrible "RROOAARRRRR" as he spotted us again.

"Keep running!" I shouted. Ahead was a doorway carved with ancient Eygptian characters. I held the lantern up high to read them ...

"Quick!" I shouted, "through the doorway!" On the other side was a dark hallway with a glimmer of light.

As we dashed through it, we saw daylight peering through the cracks in an ancient doorway. In the distance behind us, we heard Kartoch-Mohs roar with disappointment.

Gasping for breath, Lionel asked "Why didn't he follow us?"

"Simple," I answered. "The inscription above the door says 'No Mummies Allowed Beyond This Point.' "

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