Eternal Unrest: A Novel of Mummy Terror [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Lorne Dixon
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Horror
eBook Description: Under intense aerial bombardment by the German Luftwaffe, the British government arranges for the most valuable exhibits in the British Museum to be shipped to the Smithsonian for safekeeping. Charged with shepherding the priceless artifacts across the ocean is archeologist Priscilla Stuyvesant. Leaving Great Britain on the Limpkin, an aging freight vessel, the ship is overrun by a gang of Nazi deserters loyal to a doctor exiled from Germany for conducting genetic experiments on his own people. But the desperate deserters aren't the worst terror on board: three of the exhibits from ancient Egypt return to life. In life, they were the Pharaoh's most skilled assassins. In death, they are something far more dangerous: undead warriors with mesmeric powers and a thirst for revenge that defies the centuries.
eBook Publisher: Coscom Entertainment, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2011
"Intense, sharp, and gut-wrenching, Eternal Unrest sucks you in and holds you tight. I don't normally read war novels, but this one I couldn't resist. Dixon knows how to blend horror (mummies!), history, and humanity together to create a powerful merging of the three. Highly recommended!" - Elizabeth Massie, author of Sineater
"Buckle up, folks . . . . On the heels of putting his stamp on werewolf (Snarl) and zombie (The Lifeless) lore, Dixon now gives us a memorable mummy tale that spans centuries and continents, provides Hollywood-sized action, and shows the author's aptitude to draw well-developed characters. Eternal Unrest is Dixon's most ambitious work yet." -Harrison Howe, author or R.I.P.
"No longer will the Mummy be an over-looked horror trope. I foresee many trying to emulate what Lorne Dixon has created here with Eternal Unrest." - Keith Gouveia, author of Animal Behavior and Other Tales of Lycanthropy
Caught in the invisible, jostling hands of the Sinai desert winds, the restless sands danced, rising off the cracked and barren flatlands as a sparkling, glassy mist. Petosiris shielded his eyes and drew a swatch of weather-beaten cloth across his mouth. The desert could be unforgiving and cruel. Even experienced travelers lost their bearings staring out at an endless golden horizon. Too easy to let the sands in, to inhale the coarse grains with each breath, and begin to dehydrate and die.
Petosiris had not come to die. The opposite, actually: he had been charged with a horrible responsibility: to harvest lives at the scale of a plague. Usermaatre Meryamun Ramesses III, was dead--murdered--and every drop of his blood would need to be accounted for with a life.
The assassins were already dead, struck down by Petosiris's blade in the Pharaoh's temple moments after their attack. Their deaths did not begin to pay their debts.
Twenty days' journey from the city's Northern outpost, the conspirators' home was a village of conscripted men in the shadows of three high dunes. As Ra moved the light across the sky, the soldier's wives and children remained protected from its burning rays by the three peaks. The village was named Ra's Shadow. Although shielded from the burning sun, they would not be protected from Petosiris and his men. He gave the order for the five dozen archers in his company to surround the town and block off all escape routes. There was to be no exit from Ra's Shadow but death.
Turning, he faced them and assessed their fatigue after the long ride from the city. Ankhhaf, Khaemweset, and Siatum--his most trusted soldiers--wore tired faces, but the fires of their faith burned strong in their countenance. He said nothing to them. They needed no orders. Trained since birth, they were more warrior than man, a separate creature bred for the highest art of worship and devotion: they were warrior priests. Only bloodstains on their hands could appease the angry gods.
The remaining sixty soldiers looked worse, beaten down by the elements and exhausted by the long journey. Some would surely die on the long walk home once the rationed water ran out; even well-trained soldiers would succumb to the limitations of their bodies. The priests would pray for them. But before that, today, they would hold their positions and take aim at Ra's Shadow with their bows as he and his fellow priests delivered the wrath of the gods.
Kneeling down, Petosiris bowed his head to the sun, closed his eyes, and listened to his three companions dropping to the soil. They recited their favorite war prayers, voices overlapping, and asked the gods to accept the offerings the day would bring.
Finishing his prayer, Petosiris opened his eyes and ran a hand over his neck and traced the raised ink on his flesh--a holy inscription in the shape of a crocodile curled around a dark woman. Rising to his feet, he raised the mask of Sobek to his face, a forged metal sculpture of the crocodile god's elongated face. The others tied heavy canvas scarves over their faces, leaving only a thin slit for their eyes.
They entered the village through crude wooden gates. The town was busy--elderly men tending to a center market, slaves cleaning and fetching, women shopping, with children dangling from pouches on their bellies. Beyond the market there were rows of shabby thatched-roofed huts and shaded desert garden tents. The villagers whispered, alerting each other to the priests, and stared at their visitors with blank faces. Some of the old men had served in the army, still wore scars from Hittite swords, but even they did not recognize the emblem sewn into the priests' black robes. Whereas the Pharaoh's official guards' crest was the jackal with nine captives, the symbol on Petosiris and his men portrayed the prisoners dead, limp bodies impaled on wooden spikes.
Marching into the market, Petosiris surveyed the goods on sale on the dealer's tables: ox flesh, dried fish, and plant roots. Others sold dining utensils, cooking pots, and clothes. At the end of the market, an old man with a stump for a right arm displayed a variety of painted papyrus leaves. Leaning in, Petosiris struggled to decipher the primitive dialect. The village's hieratic writing probably hadn't changed since the beginning of the New Kingdom.
But Petosiris recognized enough to understand he was looking at a page of text from the Book of the Dead. Rage burned through his body and forced his muscles to clench. Selling the Word was illegal.
He turned to his men and said, "Pay no mind to their numbers. We are in the midst of the gods' enemies and they are all worthy of our blades. They all die."
Unsheathing his sword, Petosiris snatched the old man from behind his table, dragged him over his wares, and held him overhead. The Trojan War hadn't only taken the vendor's arm, but also both his legs. He squirmed, his one hand wrapped around Petosiris's thick forearm, thrashing like a snake. Drawing his scimitar blade across the old man's throat, Petosiris showered himself in the vendor's blood, drenching his robes.
The market came alive. Vendors and customers alike ran screaming from the booths, abandoning their purses and purchases, kicking up sand.
Ankhhaf was already in motion, spinning on his heels, short blades in both of his skilled hands. Plunging one knife into a young woman's chest, he used the other to penetrate the back of her neck and slice downward along her spine. Screaming, she flailed as the blades darted deep through her flesh and muscles and met inside her. Ankhhaf twisted the woman as he retracted the knives. Her flesh tore away from her skeleton as he fell.
Siatum fired his bow into the fleeing crowd, his deft fingers reloading before the arrow hit its mark, and fired again. Fueled by prayer, the arrows sliced through flesh and bone, often continuing through several bodies before lodging in their final victim. He alternated his shots, covering the entire range of the crowd, not allowing any safe exit path.
Curved, serrated daggers protruded from rings on each of Khaemweset's fingers. He danced through the center of the crowd, slicing out throats and disemboweling as he went. Wrestling a vendor to the soil, he gouged out the man's eyes before driving his claws through his temples. Leaping off the dead man's chest, he extended both arms wide and tunneled through the villagers, leaving severed limbs in his wake.
As a child, Petosiris learned to hunt like the hawk, the cat, and the crocodile, to lie in wait and allow the opponent to reveal his weaknesses, to avoid wasting energy by using only the most necessary motion, to see every fight through to victory or death. He also learned how to hand off his emotions to his shadow as a gift. A man without guilt, fear, or repulsion was a true warrior: a being near to the gods.
Later, he would watch his shadow weep for the innocents who died by his hand. But that was later.
He ran to a long, thatch-roofed home in the center of the village and kicked in the door. Rushing in, his ears were assaulted by a chorus of screaming children. The dark-skinned boys ran to the far wall and cowered there. A large woman in a maternal gown stepped between Petosiris and the children. In her hand she clutched a wavering, wood-handled kitchen knife. She screamed, "LEAVE THEM--THEY'RE ONLY THE YOUNG HERE, ONLY--"
Petosiris lashed out, severing her fingers along the edge of the knife's hilt. The blade fell to the earthen floor, drawing up a small whirlwind of sand. The nurse dropped to her knees, cradling her hand, and begged him to spare her--to spare them all.
Petosiris rested his free hand on her face. His fingers slid upward to her hairline and gently pushed her head wrap off. Holding her in his hand, he whispered a prayer to Sobek and squeezed. Her eyes glazed over.
He watched her free will drain away. She stood and stared into his eyes, awaiting his orders. He was quick to oblige her. "Kill them."
She reached down and retrieved the kitchen knife from the sand. Although forced to use her untrained hand, the blade no longer wagged. Her grip was true. Straightening up, she glanced back at Petosiris and whispered, "Hail our duty unto Re."
He smiled and turned as she approached the children.
As he slid back outside, he added to her orders without speaking, merely by thinking. He could hear her respond in his mind, eager to appease him. The order was, And then kill yourself.
They slaughtered the village. Moving from the market to the houses, they kicked in doors and destroyed the lives of those they found cowering inside. A few tried to resist, clumsily fighting with farming tools and kitchen utensils. It made no difference; they died just as quickly and were added to the burning mound of blackened bodies in the center square.
Those who ran were cut down by archers' arrows.
In the marketplace, they died.
In their homes, they died.
In the fields, they died.
Today was a day for death.