Mark A Davis
The streets of London in 1890 were filthy. Mud lined the carriageways -- well, people called it mud, but everyone knew it was horse manure. Smoke and soot choked the air and made the sky hazy. It was said of the sheep that grazed in Regent's Park that you could tell how long they'd been in the city by how dark and dirty their coats were.
Two people appeared in a mud-caked alleyway off a main road. They were just there, suddenly, as if they'd just stepped through a doorway where no doorway existed. One was an old man in a brown tweed suit with a derby and a bow tie. The other was a young woman in a wine red dress with a tight bodice, leg-o-mutton sleeves and an a-line skirt that was almost bell-shaped. She held overhead a long staff with an hourglass symbol on one end. Almost immediately, this staff vanished.
The woman made a face. "Gods, the smell," she said. "Like a sewer!" She glanced down at the excrement that filled the alley. "It isn't enough that I've got to wear some ridiculous outfit in this era, but I've got to walk through horse crap everywhere I go too! At least bustles are out of fashion -- thank the stars for small favors."
"We don't have far to go," the man said. "Mr. Montegue's office should be just around the corner."
"Yes, I know, I am the one who brought us here..." the woman replied.
A minute later they waited patiently in the well-furnished office of the Bertrand, Montegue and Leeland law firm, while the secretary announced them to Mr. Montegue. A few moments passed, and they were ushered in. Mr. Aleph Horace Montegue was a thin man with a thin mustache, a bald pate and sharp eyes that peered through spectacles.
The old man glanced at the wall, where a signed photo of a baseball player hung. "Why, that's Cy Young!" he exclaimed. "Best danged pitcher I ever saw! And you've got his signature and everything! You hold onto that, Mr. Montegue; that's gonna be worth money some day!"
"Grandpa!" the woman hissed. The old man looked about.
"Oh, right!" he said, and sat down.
"And how may I help you two?" asked Mr. Montegue after a moment.
"We wish to retain your services," said the old man. He placed a small pouch on the desk. The lawyer lifted the pouch, which was quite heavy and jingled with coin. He opened it up.
"American silver dollars," he said. His eyebrows rose. "Why, there must be at least twenty-five in here!"
"My understanding is that you represent some... rather unusual clients?" the old man asked.
"Perhaps I do," the lawyer replied. "Define unusual."
"Hera Mac Giolla Bháin is a sorceress, and was naturally accused of witchcraft," the old man said. "You defended her when she was acquitted at trial. Likewise you've done work for Count Vladimir Mergulescu, who I understand is a vampire...."
The lawyer's eyes narrowed. After a moment he said, "I do not think I have ever represented time travelers before...."
"Time travelers?" the old man repeated.
The lawyer said, "These coins look old, but some were minted this year -- and yet it's only March. Likewise, the lady dresses quite fashionably, except -- leg-o-mutton sleeves? Really? That's either a very daring fashion choice, or a sign of what might be in fashion within the next couple of years. As for Cy Young -- you do realize he's a rookie pitcher for the Cleveland Spiders, don't you? My cousin from Ohio sent that to me just a week ago, says this boy throws fireball pitches and is going to do great things -- but he has yet to pitch even one game. I should hardly expect to find a person in London who knows anything about American baseball, let alone one who recognizes a rookie pitcher on sight.
"Lastly, yes I've done work for Count Mergulescu, but nobody save me knows this. As for the jury trial of Miss Hera Mac Giolla Bháin -- they only recessed yesterday. A decision isn't expected until Monday at the earliest -- although I take it by your statement that she is about to be acquitted? If so, that is very good news indeed!"
"Dang," the old man swore. "This kind of stuff always messes me up!"
"You two appear to be American," said the lawyer. "Is the young lady your grand daughter?"
"No," the man said.
"Yes," the woman replied.
The two argued in low tones for a moment. "Say yes!" the woman hissed.
"I think I know who my grand daughters are!" the man growled. "Their names are Angela and Claire! Not Wynona or whatever fool name you're going by now!"
"My name," said the woman, "is Freya. Like the goddess. How hard is that to remember?"
"Well you ain't no relative of mine!" the man insisted.
"Young women," said Freya, "do not travel with older men in 1890's London unless they are related or are prostitutes. I am not a prostitute...."
The man sighed. "Fine," he said, turning back to the lawyer. "This is Freya Willikins. She's the third of my two grand daughters. My name is Grandpa Anarchy...." The man paused. "That is, I'm Kid... no that won't work. Look, you can call me Theodore Smith. The point is, we don't want to hire you to represent us, per se. We need you to represent a woman who's about to awaken from a very long sleep...."
Professor Wilfred Eustace Wolcott aimed his pistol and fired three shots down the hallway, to no effect. The creature still shuffled through the shadows, coming ever closer. He stepped back. Buck Haroldson slammed the door.
"Block it! Block the door!" exclaimed Sarah Goldman hysterically. "Hurry!"
"Help me with this sarcophagus!" yelled the professor. Harodlson and Bradfort jumped to his aid, and the three shoved the heavy stone sarcophagus in front of the entrance.
From beyond came terrifying moan. The professor and his three graduate assistants cowered in the corner of the room beneath shelves of pottery shards. The door rattled, then slowly it was forced open, stone scraping against cement. The professor gripped his pistol tightly.
An arm wrapped in ancient bandages shoved its way through the gap. It grasped the edge of the stone coffin and shoved it further aside.
"It's the curse of the mummy!" William Bradfort exclaimed. "I knew that old man at the dig was telling the truth!"
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Professor Wolcott. "I'm sure there's an entirely sane and rational explanation for what we're experiencing...."
The door was shoved fully open. The mummified corpse of Khama'at stood framed in the archway. Glowing eyes set deep in empty sockets scanned the room, then the undead thing stumbled towards the professor. The professor aimed his weapon....
From behind the mummy a man exclaimed, "άʎT!"
The mummy paused. It turned about. Grandpa Anarchy strode into the room, followed by the woman Freya and Mr. Montegue the lawyer.
"What we have here," said Grandpa Anarchy, "is a failure to communicate. Miss Khama'at is disoriented and confused, and she don't speak English." He handed a piece of paper to the mummy. The creature took it and began to read. "You see, she was expecting to awaken in the afterlife...."
"Of course!" exclaimed Professor Wolcott. "All Egyptian dead expected that very thing! To awaken as a corpse would be quite confusing. And -- she speaks Greek? Why didn't I realize? This is from an Alexandrian tomb, after all!"
"Oh, she knew Alexander all right," said Grandpa. "Just ask her! She claims to have slept with him once!"
"Excuse me," said the professor, "but... who are you people? We've only just opened up the neb ankh of this corpse, which immediately came to life... but you speak as if you've known Princess Khama'at for years...."
"Well, it's kind of hard to explain," said Grandpa. "I sort of do know Mummy Ra from a long time back... that's her hero name, you know. Only that's all still in the future...."
The mummy turned to face the professor. "Professor Wolcott," she rasped in a heavy accent. What followed was a stream of Ancient Greek that even a modern Greek would have a hard time following.
"She says she's sorry to have startled anyone," the professor interpreted. "She wants to speak to her lawyer, and..." the professor frowned. "She's requesting political asylum...?"