Home > The Mummy(11)

The Mummy(11)
Author: Anne Rice

Silently, Julie moved into the conservatory. Still trembling uncontrollably, she went closer and closer until she was staring directly down at this thing.

The body was filling out in the sunlight! It was growing ever more robust as she watched! She could hear the sound of the wrappings releasing it. She could see the chest rising and falling with regular breath.

And the face, my God, the face. There were eyes there, great shining blue eyes under the thin wrappings. It reached up suddenly and tore loose the bandages. Yes, large and beautiful blue eyes. With another rip, it tore the bandages from its skull and released a soft mop of brown hair.

Then it rose on its knees with quiet grace and reached down into the fountain with its bandaged hands, scooping up the sparkling water to its lips. It drank and drank the water, with deep sighing gulps. Then it stopped and turned towards her, wiping away more of the thick ashen layer of linen from its face.

A man looking at her! A blue-eyed man with intelligence looking at her!

That scream rose again, but was not released. Only a soft sigh came out of her. Or was it a gasp? She realized she had taken a step backwards. The thing climbed to its feet.

It rose now to its full height and gazed calmly at her, its fingers working almost absently to clear the rest of the rotted bandages from its head as if they were cobwebs. Yes, a full head of dark wavy brown hair. It fell to just below the ears, and came now softy over the forehead. And the eyes evinced fascination as it looked at her. Good Lord, imagine! Fascination as it looked at her.

She was going to faint. She had read about it. She knew what it was, though it had never happened to her. But her legs were literally going out from under her and things were going dim. No. Stop! She couldn't faint with this thing staring at her.

This was the mummy come to life!

She backed into the Egyptian room, legs trembling; her body moist all over, her hands clawing at her face peignoir.

It watched her as if genuinely curious as to what she meant to do. Then it wiped more of the bandages away from its neck and its shoulders and its chest. Its broad na**d chest. She closed her eyes, and then opened them slowly. Still there, with those powerful arms, and the dust falling from its lustrous brown hair.

It took a step towards her. She backed away. It took another step. She backed up farther. In fact, she was backing up all the way across the library, and very suddenly she felt the centre table of the second drawing room behind her. She felt her hands touch the edge of the silver coffee tray.

With silent, even steps it came towards her - this thing, this beautiful man with the splendid body and the large gentle blue eyes.

Good Lord, are you losing your reason! Never mind that it's handsome! It just tried to strangle Henry! Quickly she darted around the table, groping behind her with outstretched hands as she moved towards the front drawing room doors.

It stopped as it reached the table. It looked down at the silver coffeepot and the overturned cup. It picked up something off the tray. What was it? A wadded handkerchief. Had Henry left it there? Quite unmistakably it pointed to the spilt coffee, and then in a soft, resonant and distinctly masculine voice it spoke:

"Come and have a cup of coffee with me, Julie!"  it said.

Perfect British accent! Familiar words! Julie felt a shock course through her. This was no invitation from the thing. Why, it was imitating Henry. Same precise intonation. That's what Henry had said!

It held out the handkerchief, which it had opened. White powder, sparkling as if full of tiny crystals. It pointed to the distant row of alabaster jars. The top was missing from one of the jars! And again it spoke with the same flawless, crisp English accent:

"Drink your coffee, Uncle Lawrence."

A groan escaped her lips. The meaning was unmistakable. She stood there staring, the words echoing in her head. Henry had poisoned her father and this creature had witnessed it. Henry had tried to poison her. With all her spirit she tried to deny it. She tried to find some reason that it could not be so. But she knew it was so. Just as surely as she knew this thing was alive and breathing and occupying space before her, and that it was the immortal Ramses come to life out of those decayed wrappings, standing before her in the drawing room with the sun at its back.

Her legs were going out from under her. No way to prevent it, and the darkness was rising. And as she felt herself slip downwards, she saw the tall figure dart forward, and she felt the strong arms catch her and lift her and hold her quite firmly, so that she felt almost safe.

She opened her eyes, and looked up into its face. No, his face. His beautiful face. She heard Rita scream from the hallway. And the darkness rose again.

"What the hell are you saying!"  Randolph was not really fully awake. He struggled out of the tangle of covers, reaching for his crumpled silk robe at the foot of the bed." You're telling me you left your cousin there alone in that house with this thing!"

"I'm telling you it tried to kill me!"  Henry roared like a madman." That's what I'm telling you! The damned thing got out of the coffin and tried to strangle me with its right hand!"

"Damn it, where are my slippers! She's alone in that house, you fool!"

Barefoot, he ran into the hall and down the stairway, his robe ballooning behind him.

"Hurry, you imbecile!"  he shouted to his son, who hesitated at the top of the steps.

She opened her eyes. She was sitting on the sofa, and Rita was clinging to her. Rita was hurting her. Rita was making little whimpering sounds.

And there was the mummy, standing right there. Nothing about it imagined. Not the dark lock of hair fallen down on his smooth broad forehead. Or his deep shadowy blue eyes. He had torn loose more of the rotted stuff that covered him. He was bare to the waist, a god, it seemed at the moment. Especially with that smile. That warm and embracing smile. His hair seemed to be moving as she looked at it, as if it were growing before her eyes. It was fuller and more lustrous than it had been before she fainted. But what in God's name was she doing, staring at this creature's hair!

He drew a little closer. His bare feet were free of the cumbersome wrappings.

"Julie,"  he said softly.

"Ramses,"  she whispered back.

The creature nodded, the smile lengthening." Ramses!"  he said emphatically, and he made her a very subtle bow with his head.

Dear God, she thought, this is not merely a man gifted with beauty; this is the most beautiful man I've ever seen.

In a daze, she forced herself to climb to her feet. Rita clung to her, but she struggled free of Rita, and then the mummy-the man - reached out and took her hand and helped her to stand.

The fingers were warm, dusty. She found herself staring right into his face. Skin like the skin of any other human being, only smoother, perhaps softer, and full of more high colour - like that of a man who had been running, the cheeks faintly flushed.

He turned his head sharply. She heard it too. Voices outside; argument. A motor car had pulled up in front of the house.

Rita made an awkward dash to the window as if the mummy were going to stop her.

"It's Scotland Yard, miss, thank God for that."

"No, but this is a disaster! Bolt the door at once."

"But miss!"

"Bolt it. Now."

Rita ran to obey. Julie took Ramses' hand.

"Come with me, upstairs, immediately,"  she said to him." Rita, put the lid on that coffin. It weighs almost nothing. Close it up fast and come."

No sooner had Rita slid the bolt than they were knocking and pulling the bell. The shrill clanging from the back of the house startled Ramses. His eyes moved quickly over the ceiling and to the back of the house as though he had heard the sound traveling the wire to the kitchen wall.

Julie tugged him gently but urgently, and to her amazement he followed easily as they made their way up the stairs.

She could hear little cries of distress coming from Rita. But Rita was doing as she had been told. Julie heard the thump as the lid of the coffin slid into place.

And Ramses, he was staring at the wallpaper, at the framed portraits, at the knickknack shelf nestled in the corner at the top of the stairs. He was looking at the stained-glass window. He looked down at the wool carpet with its pattern of feathers and twisted leaves.

The pounding was becoming quite impossible. Julie could hear her uncle Randolph calling her name.

"What shall I do, miss?"  Rita called out.

"Come up at once."  She looked at Ramses, who was watching her with a strange mixture of patience and amusement." You look normal,"  she whispered." Perfectly normal. Beautiful, but normal."  She pulled him on down the hallway." The bath, Rita!"  she shouted as Rita appeared, quivering and tentative, behind him." Quick. Run the bath."

She brought him on towards the front of the house as Rita hurried past. They had stopped their pounding for a minute. She could hear the grind of a key in the lock. But the bolt, thank God for that! The pounding started again.

Ramses was truly smiling at her now, as if he were about to laugh. He peered into the bedrooms as he passed them. Suddenly he saw the electric chandelier hanging on its dusty chain from the ceiling rose above. The tiny light bulbs looked dull and opaque in the daylight, but they were burning, and he narrowed his eyes to study this, gently resisting her for the first time.

"Later you can see it!"  she said in panic. The water was roaring into the tub. The steam was pouring out of the door.

He gave her another decorous little nod with a slight lift of his eyebrows, and followed her into the bath. The shining tile seemed to please him. He turned slowly to the window and stared at the sunlight sparkling in the frosted glass. Gently he examined the latch and then he opened the window, pushing out on the two sides until he could see the rooftops spread out before him and the brilliant morning sky above.

"Rita, Father's clothes,"  Julie said breathlessly. They were going to break down that door any minute." Hurry, get his robe, slippers, a shirt, whatever you can lay hands on at once."

Ramses lifted his chin and closed his eyes. He was drinking in the sunlight. Julie could see his hair moving ever so slightly; tiny tendrils at his forehead curling. The hair seemed to grow thicker. It was growing thicker.

Of course. This is what woke him from the dream-filled sleep, she realized. The sun! And he had been too weak to do more than struggle with Henry. He had had to crawl into the sunlight before he could gain his full strength.

There were shouts of" Police"  from below. Rita came running with a pair of slippers in her hand, and a pile of clothing over her arm.
"There's reporters out there, miss; a whole crowd of them, and Scotland Yard and your uncle Randolph ..."

"Yes, I know. Go down now and tell them we'll be right there, but don't draw back the bolt!"

Julie took the silk bathrobe and white shirt and put them on the hook. She touched Ramses' shoulder.

He turned and looked at her and the immediate warmth of his smile astonished her.

"Britannia,"  he said softly, his eyes moving from right to left as though to encompass the spot on which they stood.

"Yes, Britannia!"  she said. A sudden lovely giddiness took hold of her. She pointed to the bath." Lavare!"  she said. Didn't that mean wash?

He nodded, his eyes taking in everything around him - the brass taps, the steam billowing up from the deep tub. He looked at the clothing.

"For you!"  she said, pointing at the robe and then at Ramses. Oh, if only she could remember the Latin." Vestments,"  she said desperately.

And then he did laugh. Softly, gently, indulgently. And she found herself petrified again, staring at him, at the smooth shimmering beauty of his face. Lovely even white teeth he had, flawless skin and such an oddly commanding manner as he gazed at her. But then he was Ramses the Great, wasn't he? She was going to faint again if she didn't stop this.

She backed out the door.

"Reste!"  she said." Lavare."  She made pleading gestures with both her hands. Then she went to leave, and quite suddenly his powerful right hand closed on her wrist.

Her heart stopped altogether.

"Henry!"  he said softly. His face took on an air of menace, but not towards her.

Slowly she caught her breath. She could hear Rita screaming at the men to stop their banging. Someone was shouting back from the street.

"No, don't worry about Henry. Not now. I'll take care of Henry, you can be sure."  Oh, but he wouldn't understand this. Again she gestured for his patience, his forbearance, and then she gently removed his hand from her wrist. He nodded, let her go. She backed away again, and then shut the door and ran down the hallway and down the stairs.

"Let me in, Rita!"  Randolph was shouting.

Julie almost stumbled on the bottom step. She rushed into the drawing room. The lid was in place on the coffin! Would they see that faint trail of dust on the floor? But no one would believe it! She wouldn't have believed it!

She stopped, closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and then told Rita to go ahead and open the door.

She turned, a rather prim expression fixed on her face, and watched as her uncle Randolph, dishevelled and barefoot, wearing only his dressing gown, came into the room. The museum guard was right behind him, and two gentlemen who appeared to be police in plainclothes, though she did not know precisely why.

"What hi the world is the matter?"  she asked." You woke me from a sound sleep on the sofa. What time is it?"  She looked about in confusion." Rita, what is going on?"

"I'm sure I don't know, miss!"  Rita almost screamed. Julie gestured for her to be quiet.

"Oh, my dear, 1 was terrified,"  Randolph answered." Henry said ..."

Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Drawn into Love (Fluke My Life #4)
» Nightchaser (Endeavor #1)
» Right Where I Want You
» Tangled Like Us (Like Us #4)
» Be the Girl
» Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)
» If I Only Knew
» Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2)
» 99 Percent Mine
» Free (Chaos #6)
» Work in Progress (Red Lipstick Coalition #3
» Moonlight Scandals (de Vincent #3)