I just got this back from the editor last night. Enjoy!
Burning. My skin was burning.
I opened my eyes.
Bright. Too bright.
I tried to turn, to roll away, but I couldn’t move. Not well. Not quickly.
I swallowed… tried to swallow.
Throat too dry.
I raised one hand, trying to blot out the sun. Pain shot through me, gnawing at my flesh like a thousand fire ants.
It was bright… so bright.
I stared at the sky through my splayed fingers, eyes squinted nearly shut.
My mouth was dry… so dry. I tried to lick my lips, but my tongue stuck to them. The taste of blood filled my mouth. Sour and metallic like dirty nickels.
My stomach sloshed, twisted, turned, revolted.
Bile rumbled upward, raging up my throat like a river. I rolled, somehow, someway.
Vomit splattered across the sand. The hot, burning sand.
My stomach hurt, muscles clenching so hard it choked off the breath from my body.
Sand. So much sand. I put my forehead against the white sand and lay there unmoving.
The sun beat at my back, scorching and relentless. I could feel it scalding my flesh. I shut my eyes, trying to figure out where I was.
I was an Orange County guy. I was used to the sun, to the heat, to the sand. But not like this, not the relentless burning of this sun, this sand. So hot I could feel my skin baking.
I opened my eyes and stared down at the sand. Where was I? I looked around, but there was nothing but sand. I shut my eyes.
I opened them again.
Nothing but sand. Endless sand.
I shut my eyes and concentrated. Was I dreaming? Was I dead?
No… No it hurt too much to be dead, to be dreaming. So where was I?
The last thing I remembered…
What was the last thing I remembered?
Flashes of light? The flaring in my brain like a lens on a badly taken photograph. Hot and distilled down to a pinprick.
I remembered… I remembered pain. I’d been hurt, been bleeding.
I sat up on my knees and ran my hand over the spot on the right side of my chest. It was fine, good as new. The skin puckered a raw pink color. Had it healed? How had it healed?
I reached down, feeling my body for injury, but the only pain was a strange stiffness, a tense ache, like a cramp all over my body.
I was naked. Where were my clothes? What had happened to my clothes?
I looked around.
Sand. Only sand.
I stood up. Naked in the unrelenting sun and stared at the sky.
I remembered. I remembered the mummy. The mummy, Khufu. He had risen, had attacked us.
An explosion throwing me backward. Statues crumbling. The tomb caving in.
I stared at my hand. I remembered breaking it. Could feel the rocks falling on top of me, crushing my bones.
Was I dead?
I took a step forward, my bare feet padding on the super-heated sand.
I needed to find someone. Needed to find out where I was.
I gripped my head.
Think, think, think.
Visions of a fictional bear crossed my brain, sparking something. Blonde.
There had been a girl. Not blonde. Dark-haired.
Dark-haired like my sister.
I swallowed with my dry throat and licked my cracked lips. They tasted like blood.
My sister. My sister would be worried.
She didn’t know I’d been trapped in the Egyptian tomb.
I needed to find her, needed to find my way home.
Why had I been in that tomb? I remember…
To find something important.
The mummy had risen. Khufu. Khufu the evil pharaoh. The one who built the pyramid of Giza.
He had wanted something. I had wanted something.
He had wanted… he had wanted to go back.
I had wanted… I had wanted to go back…
Why? Why had I awakened the mummy? Why did I want to come back to the time Giza was built? Why did I want to come back four thousand years?
Was that where I was? Was I in Egypt? Was I four thousand years in the past?
I took another step. My legs gave out. Too weak.
Thirsty. I was so thirsty.
I got to my feet.
So much sand.
Why was I here? What had I come for?
That’s right. I had come for a soul.
My friend Connor’s soul had come here.
It had been sent back. Trapped. Lost in time.
I needed to find his soul.
I needed to find it and bring it back.
Back to my time.
Only Khufu knew where it was. Khufu the mummy.
The one who had sent us back.
It made sense.
I had wanted to be sent back.
I had wanted… I had wanted to find Connor’s soul.
I stood again and took a few steps.
My mouth was dry. So very dry.
The sand was hot.
The sun was burning me.
The heat beat at my back.