The computer's electronic voice suddenly boomed. Spooked, Sebastian sprang from the chair.
For the first time since the lights had gone out, Sebastian noticed the computer was still operating. Every other electrical device he could see was off, yet the computer was not only running, but it was reciting in English the text of the Book of the Dead.
Sebastian slumped back onto the chair. The voice, even an electronic voice, was nice to hear. But very strange at that, so he thought. "What the hell?" he said. "What's going on?" He slapped the side of the computer monitor. "Okay, already, that's enough mumbo jumbo. I don't have all night for this. And how the hell can you be working?" He stood and stepped back from the table. "This is freaking me out," he said, voice raised, hoping perhaps someone upstairs might hear and come to check things out. Company would be wanted and welcome.
The lights in the building came on. Other computers made noises as they powered up.
Sebastian sighed in relief.
The computer continued to recite the text.
He tried using the control-alt-delete keys to end the computer's recital. Still the machine kept rattling on.
Sebastian turned off the computer's power switch, knowing to do so would mean he'd have to start his work all over again. But he didn't have time to listen to the machine carry on. He had academic work to do.
The switch clicked off.
Still the computer kept running.
"What the hell? Oh great. Now it's screwed up."
The sounds of hurried footsteps in the stairwell announced the arrival of Sebastian's year older brother Jordan. If ever there was someone who was the life of a party it was he. Always in a party mood, Jordan was well known for his antics and his involvement in sports. A complete opposite of Sebastian, Jordan loved sports and feasted on its competitiveness. He loved controlling a game, and being in control of an opponent. He was especially good at football and wrestling, sports that had awarded him full scholarships. At times his friends would swear he knew nothing else but sports.
"Hey, Dork, I've been looking all over for you," Jordan said as he came through the double doors at the foot of the stairwell. He always called his brother Dork, while Sebastian called him Doofus. "God knows I feel like a drenched rat too." And he looked like it.
"I told you I'd be here," Sebastian said. He was thinking he could have used his brother's company a few minutes earlier when it was pitch black.
"I didn't think you'd be here this late," Jordan said. "The guys upstairs said you were down here all by yourself. Adam Strachota figured you're being anti-social."
"Yeah, like he should talk," Sebastian said. He slapped the side of the computer again. "I haven't ever seen him with more than one or two other people at the same time. He even sits alone in the back of the classroom."
"They said the lights went out," Jordan said and chuckled. "Did someone come down and hold your hand?"
"Very funny, Doofus," Sebastian said.
Jordan knew his brother had a thing about the dark. "Too bad Connie wasn't down here when the lights went out. Bet you wouldn't have worried about it then."
"Bet not," Sebastian said, glancing at his brother and smiling.
"Yeah well, anyway, did you forget about tonight?" Jordan asked. He had planned this night for more than a week. It was to be a celebration to mark one full year of going steady with the girl he loved. It would be a special night he wanted his brother to be a part of.
"No I didn't forget," Sebastian said. The last thing in the world he'd forget was a date with Connie. She was the girl of his dreams, a head turner no doubt, perfect in every way. And he knew how special the night was for Jordan. For the first time since Jordan's junior year in high school he'd been going steady with a girl for longer than three months. Sebastian wondered if wedding bells were in the future. That would be one heck of a drunk.
"The girls are waiting for us at the pub," Jordan said. And so was a tall frosted glass of his favorite beer. He loved beer, especially free beer, which he expected to get plenty of that night from his friends to help mark the occasion.
"I've got a paper due tomorrow," Sebastian said. He ran his hands through his shaggy hair, still frustrated with the old computer. Now he was beginning to wish he'd waited his turn at one of the newer ones.
"Always the procrastinator," Jordan said, giving his brother a light jab in the side.
"Lightning screwed up the computer," Sebastian explained. "Half of my term is in there."
"So what's with all the mumbo jumbo?" Jordan asked. He didn't even know the old computer's speakers still worked, as many times as they had been poked with pencils and pens.
"It's reciting the text of the Book of the Dead," Sebastian explained.
"Well, shut it off. We can't keep the girls waiting," Jordan said. "We wouldn't want the beer to get warm, now would we?"
"It is off," Sebastian said. "The lightning must have caused a power surge or some damn thing."
Sebastian glanced at Jordan and held up the unplugged end to the power cord. "You mean like this?"
Jordan slumped onto a chair. "How the hell?"
"It's unreal, Doofus," Sebastian said.
In a dark alley within the city of Cairo, Egypt a blinding flash lit up a thirty-foot swath. From out of thin air a figure appeared, toppled to the ground and lay in a fetal position. Eighteen year old, Ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun lay there, gasping for breath. He drew in deep breaths, expanding his lungs to the point where they ached. All the while he was becoming cognizant of his strange surroundings. He sprang to his feet and quickly backed up against a brick wall. Fear and anxiety gripped him as never before. Stunned by what had just happened he did not recognize anything. His eyes moved constantly as he took in every sight. He stood still for five full minutes, frozen by terror and cloaked in bewilderment. Slowly, cautiously he walked toward a light at the end of the alley, all the while looking around at the strange looking buildings.
He emerged from the darkness. He stopped at the end of the alley and stood beneath a streetlight. He was wearing only a loincloth and an undergarment. Slowly he ran a hand over his arms, his chest, and his face, feeling flesh that had felt the grip of death for more than three thousand three hundred years.
"I live again," Tutankhamun said, speaking in his ancient dialect. He pinched himself and felt the slight pain. "It is real."
There came a second blinding flash within the alley. Minutes later a hulking figure of a man emerged from the darkness. The man was clothed in a leopard skin garment. He came up to Tutankhamun and stood behind the king. The man had served as a high priest during Tutankhamun's reign and had officiated over the king's mummification and burial. His name was Jemghod.
"I am here to serve Pharaoh, and to help return him to his rightful rest in the underworld," Jemghod said, bowing his head in respect. He too spoke in the ancient language.
Tut glanced back at the high priest. "I do not wish to return to the underworld as yet."
"But, Your Majesty, you must!" Jemghod said. He quickly became silent as Tut raised a hand to stop his speaking.
"I live again, Jemghod," Tut said. "We live again. How is this possible?" He turned and faced the priest. "How have we come to whatever time this is?"
"The powers of the Book of the Dead are great, Your Majesty," Jemghod said. "Surely great enough to return you to your rightful rest."
Tut turned his back to the priest. "Look around, Jemghod. What marvels do you see? Look there." He pointed to the streetlight. "How could the light of Re be captured and placed at the end of a pole? And look at the strange looking dwellings. Surely these things are not of our time. I cannot go back to the underworld just yet."
Jemghod looked down the street and saw a billboard with an advertisement about the King Tut exhibit at the Cairo Museum. The writing on the sign was in English, clearly meant for tourists to be able to read it. To Jemghod the wording was unrecognizable. He closed his eyes for a moment, opened them and again looked at the sign. He could read every word. "Strange," he said softly.
"What?" Tut asked.
Jemghod pointed to the sign. "Can you read what is on that flat surface, Your Majesty?"
Tut looked at the sign. "No."
"Close your eyes and open them, Your Majesty," Jemghod instructed.
Tut did as his high priest instructed. When his eyes opened every word on the sign was readable to him. "How can this be, Jemghod?"
"I do not know, Your Majesty," Jemghod replied. "Not only have we risen from the underworld, the gods have blessed us with the gift to read foreign languages no matter how strange they appear." He looked around and saw signs in a multitude of languages. "I can read every word I see, no matter the language."
"I too can read them, Jemghod," Tut said. "Great are the gods. Great is the power of the Book of the Dead."
"Greater magic than I knew it possessed," Jemghod said. He looked back at the museum sign. "Your Majesty, perhaps I know where some of your things could be found."