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Mummy’s The Word
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-840-0
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 118 Pages
Published: June 2011
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

Skye Madison has been entrusted with settling her uncle’s estate, a creepy Victorian mansion filled with macabre relics. With only a few days off from her busy job, the task seems insurmountable. Especially when the house is rumored to be haunted. Even the normally level-headed Skye feels a strange presence in the place.

When her uncle’s lawyer introduces her to two collectors who might be interested in the property, it seems too good to be true. But the antiquities collectors seem a little too eager to acquire her uncle’s house.

Skye soon discovers what’s behind their interest in the property. The house contains a secret room, and not just any secret room, but one hiding an ancient burial tomb.

And a mummy who’s not as dead as he first seems.

Mummy’s The Word (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE

The wooden sign nailed to the door read Beware of Cat!

Skye slid the key into the lock. The old mechanism was stiff and refused to turn. She tried again with more effort and heard the tumblers reluctantly engage. The swollen door protested when she leaned against it, stubbornly holding its ground. She put her shoulder against the door again and shoved. The door swung open suddenly, spilling her into the foyer.

She fell forward, tearing the knees of her pantyhose on the rough flooring. She’d boarded the plane right after work and hadn’t had time to change. The short skirt and the sensible pumps just weren’t up to the job, she thought as she picked herself up off the floor. She grabbed her suitcase and hauled it inside.

She was just about to reach for the door knob, when a gust of wind slammed the door shut behind her. A squeak escaped her lips, then a jumble of expletives as the closing door plunged her into darkness.

It took a moment to quell her racing heart. She took a deep breath. Dust-heavy air filled her lungs making her cough. The air around her felt thick and cloying, as if something waited in the gloom for her to make the first move.

"There’s nothing in the darkness," she muttered aloud. "It’s just an old house."

An old house in need of more than a coat of paint. A run-down dwelling that it was probably best to bulldoze into the ground. Except that hadn’t been Uncle Max’s wish. Her eccentric Uncle Maxfield had wanted her to see to his last affairs personally.

Her boss had given her two weeks leave to clear out the old house, freshen it up and put it on the market. Not a second longer, he’d said. Her beloved Uncle Max deserved better, but two weeks was all she had.

Skye reached behind her, fumbling for the light switch she knew lay on the wall beside the door. Instead her fingers closed on something soft and sticky. "Ick!" She pulled her hand from the cobweb. Flattening her hand against the wall, she felt around until the click of the light switch broke the silence of the foyer.

For a moment she feared the lights wouldn’t come on, that Uncle Max’s helpful solicitor might have shut the power off in the basement fuse box, but the old electrical system flickered to life.

She turned to reach for her suitcase and found herself staring into the open maw of a grizzly bear.

Involuntarily, she leapt back a couple of feet. The bear wasn’t new, she realized. For many years it had stood in Uncle Max’s study. The taxidermy project looked a little the worse for wear. Bits of its fur were missing. One of its glass eyes looked loose. On one of its paws Uncle Max had hung his fedora. Well, that explained what the bear was doing in the foyer. Good old Uncle Max had turned the poor dead bear into a hat rack.

Shaking her head, Skye glanced around. She saw no sign of a cat, as the sign above the door had proclaimed. Maybe it was just Uncle Max’s idea of a joke. Nothing else shocking had been moved into the foyer. A chunky wooden chair stood on the other side of the door, her uncle’s boots beneath it. Like he might just show up at any moment. She swallowed the lump of grief that seemed lodged in her throat since she’d gotten notice of Uncle Max’s demise.

Above her an ancient chandelier lit up the entrance hall in low-watt incandescent bulbs. The effect was even more muted by the proliferation of spider webs gracing the lights. Nothing new there. Uncle Max had lived his life in an abundance of dust and cobwebs.

She rubbed her palms on her skirt. It was going to have to go to the cleaners anyway she reasoned. Leaving her suitcase by the door, she turned the old lock to secure the premises-not that anyone would want to steal any of Uncle Max’s dusty old stuff-and turned down the hallway that led to the kitchen.

The living room lay on her right. She flicked on the overhead light and glanced into the crowded room. Living room turned out to be a misnomer. Storage room for strange old stuff would be more appropriate. An ornate fireplace took up the southern wall. Every significant room in Uncle Max’s house had a mantle, as if he’d been perpetually cold. A large leather couch and a couple of matching chairs crouched in the center of the room along with a cheetah footstool. Bookcases and glass curio cabinets took up every inch of wall space. A shrunken head dangled from the stained glass lamp beside the sofa.

Skye glanced at the head with its laced-up lips and winced. All of this she’d have to find a buyer for. And that was just the living room. She wandered down the hall to Uncle Max’s study and flipped on the light.

His study was even more crowded than his living room. An impressively-large desk took up one corner of the room. More bookcases filled to the bursting point with leather bound volumes claimed the walls. The shelves had begun to sag under the weight. Another giant fireplace sat at the far end of the room. A brightly-painted mummy cartonnage was wedged between two bookcases. The case contained a real mummy. Uncle Max had shown her the linen wrapped corpse many times. Her uncle had long suspected that the mummy hadn’t been the original occupant of the cartonnage. He’d theorized that the two pieces had been put together by an unscrupulous antiquities dealer long ago. As a child, the mummy and its mystery had fascinated her.

"Sorry mummy," she said aloud. "Guess you’re going to have to go, too." She stepped out into the hall, leaving the lights on and headed for the kitchen.

Illuminated, the place looked more shabby than spooky. She hoped Uncle Max hadn’t moved anything weird into the kitchen. Her hopes fell as soon as she flipped on the kitchen light. A stuffed two-headed calf had been put to use as a tea towel holder.

The refrigerator hummed contentedly, or rather rumbled like a jackhammer. Whatever lay inside had likely been there for six months. Skye groaned. Putting a hand over her nose, she eased the door open. Someone had emptied it of its spoilable items like milk and cheese, she noted with relief, taking her hand away from nose. Likely Uncle Max’s helpful solicitor. But he hadn’t disposed of the other items the fridge contained. Scanning the neat rows of glass mason jars, it didn’t look like there’d ever been much room for anything edible.

A jar of what looked like pickled rattlesnake sat next to a pig embryo with five legs. Another pot’s contents could have once been pickled eggs now floating in some green ooze. Most of the bottles contained some kind of brown or greenish goop. She shut the door quickly and leaned against it, just in case anything inside decided to take advantage of an open door and escape.

Satisfied the fridge was secure, she turned on the tap. Brown water gushed from the long disused faucet, but eventually it ran clear. She rinsed her hands and dried them on a tea towel she found in one of the drawers. Let the two-headed calf keep the other ones. Idly, she wondered what her chances were of finding a buyer for a mutant calf.

Her stomach growled, reminding her she hadn’t eaten since lunch. No matter how unappetizing the contents of Uncle Max’s fridge were, she was starving.