“Don’t touch that, doofus!” I hissed at my best friend Josh as he tried to stretch his arm past the roped barrier for the third time. “Do you want us to get thrown out?” In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind leaving this museum of ancient history that my parents had dragged us to. This summer, my parents thought it’d be so wonderful to hit a bunch of museums. My parents invited Josh to come along and his parents were only too glad to get him away from video games for a week or so.
“I can’t help it,” said Josh in a low tone. “I almost feel compelled to touch it. It’s like I don’t have any control.”
“But why that?” I asked as I tugged Josh away from the black and gold sarcophagus dating to some pre-Egyptian time. According to the plaque, it was the sarcophagus of a mummified girl, around fifteen years old or so. According to the hieroglyphs she was a princess who was murdered on her wedding day by her personal slave.
“I have no idea,” pleaded Josh. “Like I said, I don’t seem to have any control. Come on, nobody is around. Let me just touch it for one second!”
“Don’t be stupid. There’re cameras in the ceiling,” I said, folding my arms. “Come on, fingers. Let’s go catch up with my folks.”
As we walked away, Josh kept glancing back at the display until we finally turned a corner.
My mouth full of the bite from my burger, I said, “I’m so glad to be out of that museum!” We were at an outdoor café and a breeze tried to steal my napkin. It had clouded up with the distinct smell of rain in the air.
Mom looked at me and said, “What, honey? You mean you didn’t enjoy it? I thought it was fascinating!”
I swallowed and as I picked up my soda cup, I said, “Ok, Mom. It was fascinating. But I have to admit, it felt a little oppressive inside. I still have the headache I had while there.” My little sister just rolled her eyes at me. I glanced over to Josh and his eyes were focused on something far away.
“Josh?” asked Dad for the second time before Josh finally looked over at him. “I hope you’re enjoying your vacation.”
Forcing his attention to my dad, Josh answered mechanically, “Yeah, Mr. K. Mitch and I were just mentioning that we didn’t know there were quite so many museums across the country.”
Dad laughed and said, “Well, I have to admit that this hasn’t been the most exciting vacation ever, but we have seen a lot of the country side and some of the best museums in the country. Myself, I could have spent days in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.”
“That was a cool place, Dad,” I chimed in, trying to sound positive.
Mom said, “And don’t forget. On the way home, we’re stopping in Arlington, Texas to go to Six Flags.”
“I hate rollercoasters!” announced my twelve year old sister, Pam.
Josh’s face had glazed over again as his eyes again focused on some distant object.
Dad stretched and said, “Well, we should probably get back to the hotel. I want to take a nap before we go to that play tonight.” We all started to get up from the table. All of us except for Josh.
“Earth to Josh!” I said. “You okay?”
A determined look darkened Josh’s face. Through gritted teeth, he said, “No!” Then he suddenly stood, sending his chair flying backward to the floor and shouted, “Dammit! I have to touch it!” He then took off running in the direction of the museum we had been at earlier.
“Touch what?” asked my Mom, looking confused.
“Josh!” I shouted. “Come back! Don’t be stupid!”
Pam asked, “Where’s your stupid friend going?”
Frowning, I said, “Back to that museum. It was all I could do to keep him from touching that stinking mummy’s tomb earlier. He’s obsessed with it.”
Dad said, “Go after him, Mitch. I’ll pay the bill here and get the car and follow you over there.
I nodded to Dad and took off running to try to catch Josh. To be honest, I didn’t know if he just wanted to poke it, the way people have touch something with a “wet paint” sign on it or if he wanted to caress the damned thing. Either way, I’m sure the museum wouldn’t appreciate anyone getting close to one of their valuable artifacts.
I wasn’t used to running and my sides were killing me and I felt my lungs were about to explode as I raced up the steps of the museum, closing in on Josh. He disappeared through the door just as I topped the steps. There was a lot of congestion at the entrance as there were a lot of people milling around, some leaving, others entering and many gathered around looking at the large Tyrannosaurs Rex skeleton in the middle of the foyer.
I wormed my way through the throngs of people. I knew where Josh was headed, so I didn’t have to see him directly. I ran down the main hallway until a security guard that I didn’t notice said loudly, “Hey boy! No running!”
“Yes sir,” I said as I slowed to a fast walk. I took a turn to the left at the next intersection and broke out into a run again.
I entered the mummy exhibit moments later. I saw Josh lift the rope barrier so he could go under it. As I approached, he just stood there, his finger poised. As I came up behind him, I hissed, “Josh! No! We’ll get in trouble!”
He just stood there, arm outstretched, his finger only an inch or so away from the sarcophagus.
Reaching past the rope barrier I grabbed his shoulder and again in a loud whisper said, “Josh!” At that very moment, as if he’d been waiting for me to touch him, Josh pressed his finger against the black onyx tomb of the mummy princess.
I was suddenly blinded by a brilliant white flash of light. I tried to breathe, but couldn’t force any air into my lungs. I had the distinct sensation of falling, but I couldn’t tell which was up or down. And then all was blackness…
I abruptly sat bolt upright, gasping a lungful of air, strands of long black hair falling across my bare shoulders and face. A white cloth fell to down to my waist and I heard a clattering as I seemed to have knocked a few things to the floor. At first, my eyes wouldn’t focus. From beside me, I sensed some movement and heard a loud gasp like someone managing to come up for air after being under water and had run out of breath.
I was starting to see blurry shapes and various shades of light and dark when I heard a girl’s voice on the other side of me shout, “Master! They are awake! Master! Just like you said!”
I heard scuffling of feet from a short distance. I could vaguely make out the shape of a man leaning over me. He finally began to congeal into the features of a man with a shaved head, a short beard on his chin and he was wearing a robe that definitely didn’t look like the bath variety.
He turned his face to someone I couldn’t see and said, “Slave! Run! Tell the king, now!”
The same girl’s voice I heard a moment before said, “Yes Master!” I then heard the patter of her feet as she ran from the room.
The man looked at me and smiled as he bowed his head. “Princess Kiya! Welcome back to the land of the living.”
At that moment, from beside me, a girl’s voice shouted, “Where the fuck are we? What the hell is this?”
I looked from the man over to my side and saw a beautiful young girl of about fourteen or fifteen, her hair long and black. She was sitting upright, naked and covered only from the waist down by an ornate cloth. She was on a stone table surrounded by lit candles floating in scented oils. Several girls stood around her table.
I found myself shaking uncontrollably. I was shocked and scared out of my mind. Who were these people? What was this place? Unlike the girl next to me, I couldn’t bring myself to speak. Why did the dude with the beard call me “princess”? I looked down and saw boobs. I looked at the bearded guy and with disbelief in my voice, which didn’t sound at all like my voice, I said, “I have boobs…” Then I passed out.
I felt myself lying on a soft bed. I didn’t open my eyes as I stretched out in total luxury. What a bizarre dream. I turned over onto my side and felt hair fall over my face and shift of weight on my chest. I froze. This wasn’t right. Maybe I was still dreaming. I squeezed open one eye, but couldn’t make out much in the dingy light.
I rolled onto my back and opened my eyes. Above me was a silken canopy supported by four posts. This wasn’t our motel room. I sat bolt upright and felt the weight of my breasts sway for a moment, and hair fall over my shoulders. The cover fell from me and I saw that I was naked. Three barely dressed girls came up to the bed and slid to their knees.
What the hell is going on? I sat there, staring at my breasts and feeling long hair sliding over my shoulders. I looked at my hands. Hesitantly, I touched my breast. Oh my God. It’s real and it’s me. I closed my eyes and bit my lip in trepidation as I slid my hand down to my crotch, afraid to confirm what I suspected was there. Oh-my-God! I don’t know how, but I’m a girl! This must still be a dream because you just don’t wake up as a girl!
The closet girl said, “Are you okay, my Mistress?”
I sat there in my female nakedness staring blankly at the stone floor. To no one in particular, I said, “No. I’m not.” The three girls, who I suspected were slaves, all looked scared and uncomfortable.
“Where am I?” I demanded. “What is this place?”
Looking dismayed, the closest girl said, “You are in your private quarters my Mistress. In the palace of Ra, the king who will soon become your husband.” Looking afraid to ask, the girl said, “Are you feeling well enough to be out of bed my Mistress? The High Priest Ammon said you would feel disoriented for a day or so.”
I pulled my legs over the side of the bed and stood up. I felt a bit wobbly. The weight shift on my chest upset my balance and I stumbled. The closest girl jumped up as if to steady me, but just stood there as if afraid to touch me. I motioned to her that I was okay.
I tried to take a quick inventory of myself. I was a girl of indeterminate age, well tanned with silky black hair down to the middle of my back. I looked around and saw a sparsely furnished room with the large covered bed, which dominated the room, a few wooden chairs and a couple of tables. One table was cleared while the other had several jars of who knows what scattered across the surface. There was a doorway to what appeared to be a closet and the other door must certainly be the entrance. Three windows with only silken curtains to cover the opening let in light and a fresh, warm breeze.
I walked to the window and looked out upon what to my untrained eye was an ancient Egyptian-like city. The buildings weren’t all just a desert brown. They were painted a variety of bright colors. A warm breeze stirred the curtains and lifted several strands of my hair.
“This is incredible,” I said out the window. “But totally impossible.”
“Mistress?” the slave girl asked hesitantly.
Still looking out the window at the ancient splendor, I said, “You said ‘husband’.” I turned to face the slave girl doing all the talking. “I’m getting married? I just got here.”
Looking at me nervously, the girl answered, “Why yes, my Mistress. Seven days hence you will become queen and form an alliance with your father’s kingdom.” The slave girl allowed herself to smile and said, “It will be a wondrous celebration for a beautiful queen!”
Horrified, I blurted, “I don’t want to get married to anyone right now. Especially a guy!”
Looking terrified, the slave girl whispered, “Mistress! Please don’t let the High Priest hear you speak that way! The king was very upset that you killed yourself to escape marriage!”
“Say what?” I said as a cold chill shot down my spine. “Did you say kill myself?”
The girl said, “You don’t remember, my Mistress? It took every bit of the High Priest’s knowledge of the Black Arts to bring you back.”
What the hell? The sarcophagus, the girl mummy and Josh’s uncontrollable urge to touch it. Is that how I got here? Was Josh the other girl I saw when I first woke up? Am I the girl mummy that supposedly was murdered? But the slave said I killed myself. I never believed in magic, but I couldn’t deny being here. Why us?
I turned to the girl who had been speaking to me and said, “You! There was another girl who woke up with me. Where is she?”
The slave girl said, “Chained in the lower rooms my Mistress. The slave killed you once before.”
What an odd thing to say, I thought. Killed me once before? I shook my head to try to shake the cobwebs out. I said, “Well, I doubt that she’ll try that again. Bring her to me.” This other girl just had to be Josh. We both arrived at the same time.
Looking worried, the girl said, “But my Mistress…”
Getting frustrated I said with an irritated voice, “Would you like to join her?” That wasn’t at all like me. It was as if some other personality was being impressed on me.
Her eyes wide with fear, she said, “No my Mistress…”
“Then go.” She didn’t move for a few moments so I said, “Now!”
“Yes my Mistress!” she cried and ran from the room. I felt bad about yelling at the girl, but I needed to find out if that other girl was really Josh or not.
My stomach growled. I realized I was tremendously hungry. I turned to one of the other girls and said, “I’m hungry. Is there anything to eat around here?”
“Mistress may have any meal she desires.” said the other girl. “What is your wish?”
“I wish I was back home…” I said quietly.
“Nothing you have to kill or cook. Can you bring me just some bread and fruit?” I asked.
“Immediately, my Mistress,” said the girl. She rose and hurried from the room.
The last girl looked very nervous. She was on her knees and bowed with her head to the floor.
“Do I have any clothes?” I asked, not really liking being naked in public.
“Would you like me to dress you my Mistress?” the nervous girl asked.
Since I was clueless where the clothes were or how to wear them, I said, “Yes.”
I looked back out the window and said to no one in particular, “I could get used to this.”
By the time two guards and the first slave girl returned to my quarters with the girl who could only be Josh, I was dressed and a tray of fruits and breads was on a table near the window. The girl I thought was Josh was chained and naked and looking quite hot with her large, firm breasts, long raven hair and dark brown eyes and full lips. I probably looked much the same, except I had on clothes and a crown.
“Unchain her and leave us!” I ordered.
One of the guards said, “But my Mistress. She is not to be trusted. We must remain.”
Channeling my inner bitch, I said, “Do I have to draw you pictures? Unchain her, and leave.”
The guard bowed and said, “Yes my Mistress. We’ll be right outside your door.”
I said, “Good idea. Do that.”
The guards removed Josh’s chains and withdrew, along with the three slave girls. Josh dropped to her knees and bowed with her head to the floor. Well, I have to admit, she’s a quick study. Or, it’s not Josh.
Looking at the girl on her knees, I said, “It’s me. Don’t you know me?” I walked over to her and she just stared at the wall.
“You are the princess.” She looked up at me and continued, “Soon to be queen of all you survey.”
“That’s it?” I asked. “You don’t remember a museum and your need to touch things?”
The girl slowly looked up and said, “Mitch? Holy shit, is that you?”
“Josh! Thank God, it’s you!” Josh jumped and hugged me girlishly.
Quickly disengaging, Josh said, “Sorry. It’s a girl thing. I’m glad to see you, such as you are. I thought I was all alone. Any idea what’s going on?”
I shook my head and said, “Not yet. It’s obvious we’re back in time. I think it has to do with your sticky fingers that just had to touch that mummy case. I don’t know why, but I think that’s why we’re here.”
Josh grabbed a piece of fruit from the table and took a bite before she said, “But where is here? And why are we girls? And look at you. All decked out as a princess while I was tossed into a dungeon. That’s not fair.” Josh walked over to the window. “Holy shit. This is amazing. It’s like being in a movie.”
I joined Josh at the window looking out over the city. I said, “Yeah. I wish it was a movie. Or at least a dream. I don’t see how we can be girls and thousands of years in the past. Remember the plaque at the museum? We’re in a pre-Egyptian society.”
Josh turned to me, her newly deep brown eyes boring a hole into my soul. She said, “Mitch. I’m scared. I’m really, really scared. What’s going to happen to us? You’re going to get married to some dude. How are we ever going to get back home?”
I gave Josh a girlish hug and said, “I’m scared too. I don’t know how we get back. I bet we can get some answers from that high priest.”
Josh looked back out the window and said, “Maybe we should ask him. I mean, this is really cool. It’s really awesome that we’ve traveled through time and all. I want to explore and all that shit. But we’re chicks, man! That’s crazy. I don’t want to be a girl and I want to go back home!”
“I know! I’m really worried. What happens to me if I get married?” I said.
“You’ll be fucked, man. Literally,” Josh said with a frown.
“Well, we’ll just have to have a little talk with that priest guy, that’s all.” I said. “He brought us here, he has to know how to send us back!”
I walked over to the door and rapped my knuckles on it. A moment later, the door swung up and the guard who spoke before entered.
Before he could ask me what I desired, I said, “That high priest dude. The one that was with me when I woke up in that chamber. Can I talk to him?
“It’s difficult to gain an audience with Ammon, the high priest, Mistress.” said the guard.
“Tell him I want talk to him,” I said. “And I mean like yesterday.”
The guard lowered his eyes and said, “Only the king may request an audience with Ammon, Mistress.”
I glared at him and said, “I’m about to be your queen. Shouldn’t that count for something?”
“I will ask, Mistress,” said the guard. “He will probably kill me for asking.”
“Tell him I grant you a pardon, okay?” I said. “Just go ask. Is there a garden or something outdoors? It’s stuffy in here. Tell Ammon that’s where I’ll be.”
The guard yelled through the open door, “Slave! Show the Mistress to her gardens.”
I lay on the soft cushions lining the stone bench on which I was reclining. Beautiful flowers and exotic plants surrounded me. Cool, clear water poured from an aqueduct into a pool before me. A slave girl slowly waved a huge fan, keeping a cool breeze flowing on me. There was a beautiful view of the city in one direction and of the landscape beyond the city wall in the other. The slave girl I knew as Josh stood behind me, dropping a grape or some other fruit into my mouth at my whim.
“Ah, this is definitely the life, Joshua,” I said looking over my shoulder at the girl behind me. “I could really get used to this. I don’t think it’d be all that bad if we had to stay.”
Josh dropped another grape in my mouth and said, “Not for me. I’m a slave girl. And tell me again in nine months how great it will be here when you’re pregnant and about to give birth without modern medicine.”
I said, “Don’t be so negative, dude. Think of this as an exotic vacation, away from parents, kid sisters and dusty museums! Just relax and enjoy yourself.”
The slave girl who talked the most had just brought in a tray of fruit. She set the tray down near Josh, smiled and said, “Well, my Mistress. She wouldn’t enjoy it for very long anyway.”
“What do you mean?” I asked the slave girl.
She suddenly looked worried, bowed her head and said, “I spoke out of turn my Mistress. I beg forgiveness.”
“No, I want you to speak freely. What did you mean by that?” I asked.
Shaking a little and looking hesitant, the slave girl said nervously, “I only meant, my Mistress, that it is only a few days away from your wedding.”
Frowning, I said, “And?”
The slave girl swallowed and said, “And during the ceremony, this girl, your younger sister, will have her throat slit and the blood will be collected in a golden goblet from which you will drink to ensure many strong sons for your husband, the king.”
I sat bolt upright and coughed on the grape I had just chewed on. “What the hell did you just say?”
“That girl will be sacrificed to the Sun God Ra, so that our king, Ra in human form will grant you fertility to bear many sons,” said the slave girl while she glanced over to Josh.
“She’s my sister?” I asked with a shocked expression. Josh twisted her face in surprise.
“Not any more, my Mistress,” said the grape girl. “She was selected as a sacrifice because like you, she is a virgin; your blood is her blood, and by drinking her virgin blood it is hoped will increase your fertility.”
“What kind of inhuman, backward, stupid, pagan, idiotic idea is that?” I sputtered.
“You can’t drink my blood!” Josh said. “I mean I’m not done with it yet!”
A deep male voice suddenly boomed across the garden. “Leave us!”
I looked over and it was Ammon, the high priest and he was approaching where I was sitting. Josh started to back away. I touched her shoulder and said, “You stay right here.”
The priest walked up to me and extended his hand. I said, “Do you expect me to kiss that?”
He withdrew his hand and said, “Princess Kiya. I’m glad to see you up and about. I decided to grant you a short audience. I have a very busy schedule in preparing for your wedding to the king.” He looked with disdain at Josh and said, “And why is that beast here? I must call a guard.”
I stood up and poked a finger into his chest through his overly ornate robe of office and said, “I want answers, Pal. That’s my friend Josh... I want you to undo whatever you did to get us here. I want to know what both of us are doing here. I’m not drinking her blood and I’m not marrying your king. I’ll bet your mother’s moustache you know how to send us back home!”
He struck me with the back of his hand. It stung and the jolt almost knocked me off balance. “You impetuous little brat. If you weren’t going to be our queen in a few days, I’d have you as my personal pleasure slave.” Pointing to Josh, he continued, “Yes, that is your sister who arrived back to the land of the living with you. She’s the reason you journeyed to the land of the dead where you appeared to have wandered for several millennia, your soul passing from body to body until you two finally re-united.”
“I don’t know how you got us here,” I said rubbing my cheek. “I want Josh and me back to normal and I want us both to be sent back home.”
The priest smiled an evil looking grin and said, “I’m afraid that won’t be possible. The vessels that housed you and your sister’s souls are now empty and dying. They will be dead by your wedding day.”
“I’m not drinking her blood or getting married,” I protested. “You can forget that!”
Ammon said, “Oh you will. Even if I have to force it down your throat. And I must insist that your sister be chained below. You two will not be allowed to kill each other again.”
Still rubbing my cheek, I said, “Kill each other? Look, I have no idea what is going on here. I want some answers. I’m not your princess, that’s not my sister and you know it. Where are we, why are we here and just what the fuck is going on?
The priest smiled, but this time it wasn’t particularly evil. He sat down on the bench I had just vacated, crossed his legs and began picking at the bowl of fruit. After popping a grape into his mouth, he said, “You are indeed the princess of your father’s kingdom. And that is your sister.” He held up his hand when I started to protest.
“You wanted answers, princess, I’m telling you the truth.” He tossed back a couple more grapes and continued. “Who you and your friend were before you woke up in the temple is unimportant. Those were vessels only in a dream life, holding both of your souls. Your souls have been born and reborn for thousands of years until fate finally brought your souls together again. Touching your tomb was the spark that returned you to your lifeless bodies in order to fulfill your destinies.”
I sat down next to the priest and said, “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
He smiled again and said, “Look around. Is this the life you left? I know not of what wonders the future may hold, but you will find none of those wonders here. I suspect you were not female in your previous life. That is delaying the adjustment back to this life. But, in a week or so, you will be fully back to being Princess Kiya, the bride of Ra, god in human form, uniting the two kingdoms in peace.”
I shuddered, “And Josh?”
“Your sister Aoh will be dead, I’m afraid,” said the priest without a hint of emotion.
“Do I get a say in that?” asked Josh. Ammon cast her a withering glare.
“You must send us back.” I said. “We don’t belong here. I have no desire to marry some dude, god complex or not. And…and Josh here. She didn’t do anything to deserve being murdered. I’m not drinking her blood!”
Frowning, the priest said, “I grow weary of this conversation. You cannot alter your destiny. You must forget your previous life. That is not who you are. Those bodies are either dead or soon will die. You are Princess Kiya and you are to become the queen. The leaves have told me you will provide the king with many strong sons. You will soon forget who you were in your dream life.” He stood up and smoothed his robe. “I will take my leave. I will next see you on your wedding day.”
I looked at Josh who stood there pale and slack jawed and I touched her hair. I said, “We can’t let him get away with this, Josh. We have to find a way home.”
Josh said, “I sure hope so.” She unconsciously felt her throat.
Two soldiers approached us and roughly grabbed Josh and bound her hands. Josh shouted, “Hey, let go!”
“What’s going on?” I shouted.
One of the soldiers said, “This slave is to be locked up. Orders from the High Priest Ammon.”
As she was dragged away, Josh shouted, “Mitch! Help me!”
As what seemed to be the head slave girl was setting down a tray with my dinner on it, I said, “Girl. You’ve been here a while, right?”
Hesitantly, she said, “Yes my Mistress.”
“Where you here when I …um…died?” I never thought I’d ask a question like that.
“Yes my Mistress.” said the girl. “I along with others in the grand hall witnessed it.”
“Dying kinda makes you forgetful,” I said. “Tell me what happened.”
“Just before you were to slit your sister’s throat,” the girl said without any emotion. She continued, “You pulled a second dagger from your wedding tunic and handed it to your sister, the sacrifice. Before anyone could move, moving in unison, your sister plunged her dagger into your heart and you plunged your dagger into her heart.”
Feeling very uncomfortable, I asked, “Why on earth would I do that?”
Looking confused, the slave said, “You hated the king, my Mistress. Then as now, you had no desire to marry him. And you didn’t want to drink your own sister’s blood. So both of you conspired to deny the king of his queen and future sons. It would also plunge the two kingdoms into war. Until word arrived to him that you lived, your father was beginning to mount an attack on this city.”
“Where did this priest come in?” I asked, my skin crawling knowing I had murdered my own sister and she me.
The slave said, “He immediately rushed both of you to the temple and mingled your blood together. He prepared your bodies with special oils and spices. He and the priestesses chanted over you for hours until you both came back to life. His is a powerful magic.”
“So, only a few hours passed between me dying and coming back to life?” I asked. The slave girl nodded. I closed my eyes for a moment and said, “That boggles the mind. Thousands of years passed between death and resurrection, but only a few hours went by here. That makes you dizzy just thinking about that.”
“Yes, my Mistress,” said the slave girl.
“I’m curious though. If only a few hours passed, why not just continue with the wedding the same day? Not that I’m anxious to do so,” I said.
The slave girl said, “Ammon told the king that your souls would be tarnished from their travels and needed time to purify. You and your sister would need ritual baths and be cleansed, spiritually as well as physically.”
I narrowed my eyes at the girl and said, “How do you know so much? I get the feeling a common slave girl would be ignorant of such things.”
The girl drew herself up to her full height and a fleeting glimpse of pride crossed her face. She said, “I used to be Sacmis, the high priestess and wielder of white magic, potions of love and fertility, spiritual advisor to the king. But I made the mistake of speaking my displeasure of Ammon’s dabbling in the black arts. Instead of just killing me, he gained more pleasure from enslaving me and having me serve the king’s concubines.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said sincerely. “Can’t the king pardon you, or whatever they do with wrongly enslaved people?”
The girl laughed and said, “There are no wrongly enslaved people. Once someone in power calls you a slave, you’re a slave. Your history is erased and people are told to forget you. Same as with your sister. She no longer has her name. She is no longer your sister. She is only a slave. One that will be a sacrificial virgin to ensure your fertility.”
I didn’t believe in magic, black or otherwise, but I couldn’t deny the fact that Josh and I were here, a few thousand years in the past in the body of two dead girls.
A sudden thought entered my head and so I said, “So, Sacmis, how good were you at these spells or whatever you want to call them?”
The slave Sacmis shrugged and said, “At least as good as Ammon. In some things maybe better.”
Leaning closer to the girl, I said, “Do you think it’s possible for whatever magic that was used to bring me and my friend here…do you think that could be reversed?”
She pondered that for a few moments. She said, “I’m not certain, my Mistress. But there’s usually a way to undo what has been done.”
“Do you think you could send my friend and I back to our time?” I asked, my voice a little more tense than I wanted.
“I would have to study the tablets Ammon used, my Mistress,” said the girl. “I’m not sure if I could do it though. The risk is very high. And if your vessels are already dead, you cannot return.”
“How risky would it be for you to try to find out?” I asked. “I don’t want you to be killed for trying to help me.”
She smiled and said, “I have not been completely abandoned by the priesthood. There are a few priestesses that would help me. I would not risk it to help you, but to hurt the High Priest.”
I smiled nervously at her and said, “Whatever your motivation, girl, just let me know what you find out.”
Sacmis, the slave girl nodded and said, “I will, my Mistress.”
“Let the slave out,” I said to the soldier guarding the door.
“I’m sorry, your highness, but I can’t do that,” said the guard with a nervous look.
“You know who I am. Let the girl out!” I shouted, getting angry.
“The king himself ordered that the slave must remain in prison until the ceremony, your highness,” said the soldier looking straight ahead and not at me.
“Any rule against me visiting the girl?” I asked, getting pissed.
“No, your highness,” said the guard. He then opened the door and motioned me through. I was then partly afraid they’d lock me in with Josh.
I walked past the soldier and entered the small room where Josh was chained to the floor. She didn’t seem to notice me entering the room. I didn’t want the guard to over hear me, so I knelt beside her and whispered, “Josh? Are you awake?”
She looked up at me and said in a raspy voice, “Yes, Mistress.”
I put my hands on her shoulders and said, “Josh. It’s me, Mitch. Are you okay?”
She just looked at me for a few moments, with no recognition. After a few more moments, she said, “Mitch? Oh, hey. Sorry. I’m forgetting who I am. I don’t even remember being me any more. I remember growing up as a little girl. Not here, but someplace similar…”
I said, “I know. I’m having a tough time myself. I think being active is helping me stay sane longer.”
“Is it your wedding day yet?” asked Josh. “I’ve stopped dreading being killed. Being chained down here is pure hell. I don’t think I’d even mind being a slave girl if I could just get out of this room.”
“That’s what I came to talk to you about,” I said. “My slave is a former priestess. She knows the same hocus pocus and voodoo and crap that brought us here. She thinks she can reverse it.”
Josh’s eyes lit up a little and she said, “Oh? How soon do we go back home?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I just didn’t want you to lose hope.”
“It’s easy to lose hope down here,” she said.
“I can imagine,” I said. “I’ll try again to get you released from this dungeon. But for now I need to go. I’ll see you soon.”
I’d sent the slaves away and was walking alone in the garden. A calmness had fallen over me. It was beautiful there. All sorts of exotic plants and flowers. The sky above was a deep blue as you stared into infinity. I walked to the pathway that led down into the city itself where several soldiers stood guard. I was struck by how quiet it was, with only the trees having their leaves rustled by a gentle breeze and the happy chirping of birds throughout the garden. I looked forward to my wedding day. Why did I not want it before?
The wind caught my beautiful silken dress, swirling the skirt playfully around my legs. The slaves had drawn my hair up and leather sandals protected my feet from the hard stones. I took a deep breath and the aroma of all the flowers that surrounded me was almost intoxicating. Each passing hour, I felt more and more like a princess from a barbaric time. I knew in the back of my mind, most of the people who lived in this city and elsewhere didn’t share the luxury of what I was experiencing standing in the garden, looking out across the cityscape. But I was a princess! I smiled at the thought. I even caught myself thinking of the citizens as “my people”, as if I ruled over them.
I felt a euphoria flow through me that I had never experienced before. I was beautiful, I had power over people and I would soon be queen. I smiled again. I would have a husband who could cast the shadow of his hand from horizon to horizon, a god in human form. And from all the women in the world, he chose me to be his queen. For the first time in my life, I felt truly happy.
From behind me, I heard the fall of footsteps. I turned and…I instinctively dropped to my knees.
“My king!” I said in a breathy voice.
A well muscled man with his head shaved and sporting a longish goatee on his chin approached. He wore a silken robe that did little to hide his obvious manhood and his rippling pecks. Ra, the king put a finger under my chin and said, “Stand, my flower. You need not kneel to me.”
I stood and said, “Yes, my king.” I looked at this gorgeous hunk, up and down and tried to figure why I wouldn’t have wanted to have been wed to him. Something nagged at the back of my mind about the king, my future husband. A fleeting thought that I couldn’t quite grasp. So I just stood there and drank in his vision and inhaled his scent. I could feel my body respond to his presence.
“Why are you alone? Where are your slaves? I will have their heads…” Ra said as he looked about the garden.
I laughed and said, “I sent them away, my king. I wanted to be alone for a bit in this beautiful place.”
Ra smiled and said, “Does that mean my little flower wants me to leave?”
I touched his arm and said, “Oh, not at all, my king! The perfection of my day is now complete.”
A tiny, nagging voice kept screaming in the back of my mind, “This isn’t right! This isn’t who you are!” It was giving me a headache and I tried desperately to shut out the thoughts.
Ra pulled me close to him and said, “You are the most beautiful woman in two kingdoms. I look forward to sharing my throne, and my bed, with you.” He then bent down and kissed me. I closed my eyes and melted at the touch of his lips against mine. Ever since I was a little girl, I had dreamed of such a moment. I wanted him to pull my clothes from me and ravish me here in the garden.
I caught my breath as he pulled away. I felt my cheeks flush. With a breathy voice, I said, “My king…”
He put his finger against my lips and said, “I have the business of men to attend to my little flower. You are indeed the favorite of the gods and when you become my queen, our kingdom will be truly blessed.” He turned and walked away. I continued to look in his direction, long after he had disappeared from view.
“May I speak with you, my Mistress?” asked Sacmis, my lead slave girl as she set the tray of food down before me. My head was aching from the tiny, irritating voice in my head.
“Yes, girl,” I said as I looked over the deliciously prepared pheasant. “Speak.”
“I have found out many things while studying the tablets. Good and bad things that concern you and the girl you call Josh,” said Sacmis.
I looked over at Sacmis and the irritating voice exerted itself. Conflicting, random thoughts clouded my mind. My headache seemed to worsen. I suddenly doubted who I was. Who was the girl I called Josh? Josh? Oh yeah, my friend Josh. We were at the museum and…why can’t I hold on to a thought? Things were so simple when I was a little girl growing up my father’s palace. Wait, that didn’t seem right. Josh and I were brought here…yeah…by some kind of black magic.
Sacmis continued, “The bad thing is that there is no direct reversal of the magic Ammon used to bring you here. Also, the vessels from your time did not contain the souls of the princess and her sister. They are gone and the priest knows this. What the magic did, and it’s a powerful magic that pulls energy from the bowels of the earth itself, was to pull the life-force from the first two people pure of heart and who loved each other as sisters who touch the black onyx of the princess’ case.”
I looked at the slave girl blankly for a few moments. My earlier discussion with her dredged itself up from my murky memory. She was to find a way to send Josh and me back to our real lives. But now, did I really want to go back? I’m a beautiful princess about to wed the most powerful man in the known world. Random thoughts popped in my mind…no dentists…no video games…no doctors that actually know shit…no sport bikes…no movies… These thoughts poured through my head. And then the one thought that brought me back to reality like a bucket of cold water. Josh was going to be murdered and I was going to drink her blood. I was going to be expected to give birth without anesthesia and my husband would be the king so I couldn’t call him names during labor.
No, Josh and I had to return. My mind cleared up and I knew I wasn’t really a girl. I was never a little girl and my father ran a real estate office and he didn’t have a palace.
I said to the girl, “Our…our life-force?”
She nodded and said, “Yes. And I would guess you and your friend Josh loved each other as sisters?”
I said, “I’ve known Josh for a long time. Yes, we were like brothers.”
Sacmis continued, “Only your life-force was needed to restart the dead body. The body you now inhabit has its own brain and memories. You will fade as the real princess re-asserts herself. The king thinks her soul has returned, purified by time. The vessels you left behind will die because their life-force has been removed. This was not a soul return. This was just theft of your life-essence. You will die as the princess returns control over her body. That’s why Ammon suggested a delay in returning to the wedding.”
I cringed and said, “That’s why memories and feelings that aren’t mine have been creeping into my head. So, can you send us back?”
The girl shrugged and said, “I think so, but not just by reversing how you came here. And when I do, the princess and her sister will die again since it’s your life-essence that’s keeping them alive.”
I said, “What a decision. If we do nothing, Josh and I will be erased from existence. If we return, then the princess and her sister die again. I don’t know if I could cause someone to just die like that.”
The slave girl said, “They chose death before. They did not ask to return. Your life was stolen. You shouldn’t feel guilt for taking back what is rightfully yours.”
I rubbed the sides of my head. I said, “Just thinking about this makes my head hurt. I’m concerned about the life of someone who, to me, would have been dead for thousands of years regardless of how long she lived.”
“Something must be decided soon. Your vessels, if not dead already, will be dead soon. If the wedding goes through, you will soon be lost anyway and your friend sacrificed.”
I thought for a few moments, then set my jaw and said, “I can’t let my friend Josh and I die. Prepare what you need to do to prepare. We do this tonight, when the palace is asleep. If you can keep the princess and her sister alive as well, that’s a bonus, but if you can’t…well, as you said, they did choose death after all.
Sacmis nodded and said, “It will be done, my Mistress.”
Sacmis and I walked down the steps to the dungeon to retrieve Josh. A guard stood in our way. The girl waved her hand and said, “You did not see the princess and her slave come down this way.”
The guard looked blankly at us and said, “I didn’t see the princess and her slave down here.”
I turned to Sacmis and said, “Tell me you didn’t really just say that.”
She gave me a puzzled expression and I just said, “Never mind.”
Josh was chained to the floor and was sleeping. Sacmis retrieved the keys from the still dazed guard. I patted Josh on the cheek and said, “Josh! Wake up! Come on Josh. We’re getting the hell out of Dodge.”
Josh groaned and her eyes fluttered slightly. She looked at me with sleepy eyes and said, “Why are you here, Mistress?” Her eyes suddenly went wild as she said, “Is it time for the wedding? I don’t want to die!”
I tried shushing her and said, “You’re not going to die. At least I won’t be killing you and drinking your blood. We’re going to go home.”
“Back to father?” Josh asked.
“In a manner of speaking,” I said. I turned to Sacmis and asked, “Is Josh gone? Are we too late?”
“I do not believe so, my Mistress,” said the slave. “If we can get her back to her own vessel, she should recover her memories.”
I started trying to help Josh to her feet and said, “Well, let’s go do that voodoo that I hope you do so well.”
I was sitting on a cold, stone slab. Josh, whose memory seemed to be gone lay frightened on her slab. Sacmis came up to me holding a cup with some unpleasant smelling liquid. She said, “Drink this, my Mistress. It will loosen your soul from your physical body. It will make it easier to transfer your life-force back into the earth for the return your empty vessels.”
I sniffed the liquid and frowned. “Are you sure this will work?” I looked over at Josh and saw a priestess help her swallow the contents of the cup.
“I guarantee nothing, my Mistress.” Sacmis said with a shrug. “I am using all I know. If your vessel is still living, your life-energy should find its way back naturally. If not, you will remain here.”
“Well, Josh and I are dead for sure if we don’t try,” I said. “If I wasn’t already here because of this mumbo-jumbo, I wouldn’t never try this.”
“This city is directly over a strong source of power from the earth itself,” said Sacmis. “It is required for these black arts.”
I glanced over at a third slab in the darkened room of the temple. I said, “How did you get Ammon here and what do you plan to do with him?”
Sacmis smiled and said, “A couple of the priestesses drugged his evening meal. I plan to attempt to swap bodies with him. Let him find out what it’s like to be a slave girl.”
I looked at Sacmis with a sideways glance and said, “Are you sure you can do that? And, are you sure you want to be a man?”
Sacmis smiled and said, “If I succeed, I will be more powerful than the king. I think I’d enjoy that. And I’d enjoy putting Ammon in with the army’s whores.”
I looked at the cup, frowned, closed my eyes and downed the contents in a single gulp. Holy crap was it nasty. I coughed and sputtered for a few moments. When I had caught my breath, I said, “What about the princess and her sister?”
Sacmis shook her head and said, “I haven’t decided yet. They chose death, I might let them keep it. Or I may steal the life-force from a couple of men who were overly cruel to their slaves and give it to the princess.”
I was starting to feel groggy with a sense of floating. Sacmis sprinkled something over me.
“This will make your energy conduct more easily to the earth. The earth is timeless. The future, the past, it’s all the same to the earth,” said Sacmis as she continued to sprinkle the metallic looking dust. I could see another priestess doing the same with Josh.
Sacmis suddenly looked rather grave as she said, “Once I start this last part of the transference, there is no turning back. The process is either completed, or your energy is dissipated into the earth. A warning I must give you. The past has been altered. I don’t know what changes might await you on your return. It might be so small you won’t notice it. Just be warned. Do you wish to proceed?”
I was almost asleep from whatever I had drank. I nodded and mumbled, “Yes. I have no choice.” Everything went black and I felt a sensation of falling. It was frightening. I couldn’t breathe. And then it ended with a loud slapping sound and I felt like I hit the ground.
I awoke with a start and sat bolt upright, gasping for air. My vision was blurry at first. I could make out only vague shapes and lights. I heard a woman’s voice call out, “Oh my God! Get the doctor!”
My vision slowly cleared and I saw medical equipment on either side of me and I appeared to be lying in a hospital bed. Whatever Sacmis did worked! I was back!
A man in a white lab coat rushed up to me and shined a flashlight into my eyes. He asked, “Can you hear me? Do you understand what I’m saying?” I nodded and he said, “Raise your right arm. Good, good. This is a miracle. I’ve never seen a recovery like this.” He turned to one of the nurses and said, “We’ll need some more tests, but it seems the patient is going to make a full recovery from a vegetative state.”
The nurse turned her back and said in a low voice that she thought I couldn’t hear, “The family is just down the hall. They were going to come in when we shut off life-support.”
The doctor said in a normal voice, “I’ll go inform the family.” He quickly left the room.
Oh my God, I thought. They were just going to shut down my life support. I was mere seconds from dying. Did it matter how long we waited to send Josh and me back? I looked at the wall where the nurse had written today’s date. It was a month since I had chased Josh back into the museum, but we’d been in the past only a week. Or maybe it was all just a stupid dream and I really had never gone into the past at all. That’s probably it, I thought. Going back in time into another person’s body due to some black magic was just too stupid to be believable.
I frowned and felt a deep sense of disappointment. Yeah, it was just a stupid dream.
My mom almost slipped as she ran through the door and up to my bed. She shouted, “My baby! You’re alive!” She gave me a crushing hug and kissed my cheek.
Dad came in and gave me a huge smile. To the doctor he said, “Thanks doc! I thought for sure we were going to lose our precious daughter!”
I felt a cold chill run down my spine. I said, “Daughter?” It was then that I noticed the long strands of black hair across my face. I felt the round mounds of breasts under the hospital gown.
Dad ran his fingers through my long hair and said, “Oh God, Kiya, we were really afraid we were going to lose you.”
Another nurse came into the room and said to the doctor, “The other girl is awake too.”
The doctor said, “This is just too bizarre.”
I looked at my hands with long slender fingers ending in longish tapered nails. I said, “Ah crap, man,” and then I fainted.
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