Risen: The Tale of Alexander’s Mummy
Abner held the shot glass up to his face and studied the mysterious clear liquid, the azure of Mediterranean sea shimmering behind him, amidst a cluttering of sailboats cradled in a small marina. “What did you say the Greeks call this?
“Ouzo” I replied, lifting my own glass and gesturing to his.
I was taken aback to see Abner in such a state. His medium length hair was nearly all white, scruffy with wisps tucked behind his ears. Dark circles loomed under his eyes as the creases of age cut deep into a sagging, what appeared to be, malnourished face. Perspiration glistened on his sun spotted brow and his clothes were disheveled and stained, here and there, with sweat. He appeared as if he had not eaten or slept in days and had aged a decade in the last few months since I had seen him last.
Three days earlier he had messaged me, urging me to meet him in Santorini. He would not discuss any details over the phone or through e-mail, insisting I meet him in person. All I knew was his dig in Egypt been shut down under mysterious and grave circumstances.
Agitated and paranoid was not like the Abner I knew, my colleague and friend of twenty years. We had done our dissertations at the same time at Oxford and later worked on a number of digs together and even co-authored several papers over the years. Abner was always the ever dignified Egyptologist, the voice of reason and logic.
Out of great concern for my dear friend, my loyalty and trepidation having gotten the best of me, I made arrangements to shut down my own dig at Hisarlık, near the ruins of Troy, in order to meet him.
Abner gave me a suspicious look, and then tossed back the shot and I quickly followed. The syrupy liquor fell into the back of my mouth and I savored the slow burn of licorice as the anise alcohol made its way down my throat.
Abner momentarily shut his eyes and grimaced. “Tastes like Sambuca.”
“It’s not unlike it,” I said placing shot glass top down on the table.
I leaned forward, “Abner, you didn’t ask me here to get drunk and watch the sunset. What has happened with your dig? I am hearing the whole the thing has been shut down by the Egyptian government. Something about an accident? There were deaths?”
Abner looked at me with some apprehension. “Ethan, I . .” He trailed off and reached for a pack of Marlboros, gave it a tap and retrieved a cigarette, lit it, looked about the patio and in a hushed voice said, ”Ethan, we found Alexander’s tomb.”
Exhilarated my eyes widened. “Intact? Abner, was the tomb intact?” Abner looked at me, not with the childlike enthusiasm one would have announcing such a find, but the subdued melancholy of someone who was consumed by grief.
“Oh yes, riches beyond Tutinkomen’s and a mummy.”
“You have Alexander’s remains?”
Again Abner looked about the patio tables surrounding us, which were mostly vacant this time of day, and took a long drag from his cigarette. “No, Ethan, there was a mummy, who, I am afraid, has run a muck and is very much on the loose.”
I smiled. But my amused smirk almost instantly collapsed into an expression of grave concern. For as I looked on Abner, I knew he was not jesting. He believed every word he had said.
“Ethan,” he cut me off. “I saw it with my own eyes. Alexander’s mummy reanimated and killed nine people on my dig.”
I stared at him, not sure how to respond. Had Abner suffered a psychological break or fallen victim of some elaborate hoax? These were my thoughts as I looked upon the burdened and aged face of my friend. And he, no doubt, gauged me as to how I would judge him then, his friend of twenty years.
“It sounds perfectly outlandish, I know. I would not believe such a thing had I not witnessed it with my own eyes. I assure you, it is true, Ethan. ”
Just then, a waitress arrived with an octopus appetizer and a bottle of red wine. She poured the Agiorgitiko wine and disappeared back into the tavern.
“Try the octopus. It is quite good,” Abner said helping himself.
I drew a large mouthful of wine from my glass and again I leaned forward. “Tell me what happened. Tell me everything.”