The texture of the sand rattled beneath his feet as a short-haired dog lightly moved over it, slightly shifting the grains. It was hot, but besides its clever movement across the ground, the dog showed no indication of the intense heat.
Winston’s eyes followed it. “Do you like dogs, Mr. Churchill?” asked an Egyptian labourer, working with the archaeologists.
“I like pigs,” said Winston, turning into the man’s face. “Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
“Don’t you eat pork?”
Winston looked away. “Do you know when your employer is coming to meet me? I’m getting impatient.”
“Ten more minutes, sir, ten more minutes…”
Winston continued to watch the dog running around on the sand. Did he belong to anyone? What was a dog doing here, anyway? For a country on the edge of war, it didn’t look it out here.
Of what he’d heard of the dig close by, an ancient Pharoah had been discovered in the most intact tomb site ever found, and that the casket inside the sarcophagus was made of silver. According to some stuffy archaeologist he had met, silver was said to be the bones of the gods, whereas gold was the skin of the gods.
A bunch of nonsense if you asked him.
“Mr Churchill,” came a voice, different from the Egyptians, a more comforting British hue. Winston turned to find the man he had been waiting for.
“Glad you could make it,” he told Winston, I know you have been busy in Britain at the political front of the War, but I have asked you here for a special reason.”
“Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry,” he said. “Which is why I must ask you… You didn’t ask me here for this mummy I’ve been hearing so much about, did you? People are dying out there,” said Winston, “the world is in turmoil.”
“Oh, no, no,” the man chuckled. “He is certainly a pretty proud discovery around here though. Most intact tomb since King Tut!”
“So I heard. So why am I here?” asked Winston.
“We thought this was the ideal meeting spot as it’s both remote, and the King of Egypt wanted to show off his country’s pride and culture in the hopes that you might be persuaded to help us.”
“The world will soon be overrun by Hitler’s Nazi. Why should Egypt be any different?”
“The King would like to create allies with Britain,” said the English spokesman. “It isn’t about being any different or superior.”
“But he is an extravagant person,” said Winston. “Even through the coming invasion, I’ve been told by the labourers that he keeps all lights burning in his palace despite the war coming down around us.”
The spokesman shook his head. “Rumours, Mr Churchill, I’m afraid you’ve been taken in by common rumours. The King will be here soon though, don’t you worry. I’m simply here to make sure the negotiation goes well for both sides.”
Sure enough, an elaborate carriage soon arrived carrying King Farouk. They shook hands. “Sorry we couldn’t meet in the city, it’s just too risky to be seen there right now. I hope you have enjoyed stories of our most recent cultural discovery, though I’m afraid I couldn’t show you inside. The whole site has been closed off due to the War.”
“I wouldn’t worry,” said Winston, having no interest in such things.
“If you wish, you may accompany me back to the palace, where we may talk more privately.
“Very well, come inside my carriage,” he invited them both. Winston climbed first inside.
At length, they talked in the carriage about trivial and familiar things. At a point, the King brought up his beloved Pharoah Psusennes again, asking Winston’s opinion about how he felt about the effects of the war on the discovery.
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right.”
“You’re only saying that because of the dog from the site –”
“No, I’m saying it because it’s the truth.”
“Well, I’m afraid that’s where you and I must differ,” said the King, closing the discussion.
Upon reaching the palace, Winston soon saw with his own eyes that the rumours were true, admonishing his nameless spokesman for lying. “I might just hold that against you,” he warned.
“I don’t know if you know this,” said King Farouk, “but I have a little taste for adventure. I funded the excavation of the Silver Pharoah, and I promise you I was not disappointed.”
“I suppose the mummy was well preserved,” chatted Winston noncommittally.
“No, it was very broken down,” corrected the King. “You see, he was discovered in the Nile Delta, not Memphis. But enough chatter,” he said, as they reached a long table. “Sit. Let’s talk.”
Caught in war-ready Cairo, I prepared myself for impending war. There was nobody of due importance in the city anymore. I was nobody. Let them sit about in their extravagant ways. King Farouk isn’t a man of the people. Neither are these foreigners running around our country.
There were no curses of the mummy’s tomb. There were no mummies risen from the dead. That was just America’s Hollywood destroying our culture and turning into some half-baked horror film. Mummies have no reason to come back from the dead because they are already crossed over into the afterlife.
I knew this because I had grown up in Egypt. I was even raised by tomb robbers, and I knew our culture better than any white man, and I knew the land better too. I began digging for the white archaeologists in order to set things right in other’s understanding of our country’s history, yet I was beaten to “Psusennes'” tomb by a damn Frenchman!
Psusennes is not his proper name. He was never a Greek man, he was Egyptian, and I hated the fact that every other culture was placing their own mark on Egypt rather than let it stand on its own.
Pasebakhaenniut was still in our country, perhaps. But he was being hidden away, and I had sincere doubts he would ever come out for as long as he had remained hidden.
But it was something we deserved for our country. We couldn’t let it be stolen from us. That’s why I needed to talk to Churchill.
Winston shook hands with the King of Egypt. An ally was made.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Wendryn challenged me with “Winston Churchill versus the mummy. Use as many actual Winston Churchill quotes as possible in your piece.” and I challenged Allyson with “Write 42 words about a character lost in the dark.”