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INCIDENT AT THE EXHIBIT
LIEUTENANT RICHARD AGAR – Canoe Cop
Eventually, the world comes back into focus, and it’s not a very pretty place. I seem to be lying flat on my face in a fire-lit Egyptian tomb.
For a moment, I don’t remember what’s going on, but then it all comes rushing back:
Me trying to save Julie from Dr. Hawas and his undead Egyptian playmates—Princess Amunisis and the mummy, Rahotep… Yeah, trying… but not making a very good job of it…
The mummy attempting to bear-hug me into tiny bits of Canoe Cop…
Me on the point of the blacking out when Julie tosses that ancient necklace into the fire…
The princess vanishing, like a mirage on a summer day…
And me, falling to the floor, the whole universe spinning and going black…
I’m lucky, I think, as I regain more of my senses. Lucky that bandaged galoot didn’t crush me to death.
What Julie did must have stopped him… somehow.
But even though I’m not dead, I feel like I’ve been tussling with the Swedish Angel, or one of those other pro-wrestler guys. My ribs ache with every breath I draw, and spots are still dancing before my eyes.
And try as I might, I can’t seem to climb back to my feet.
I watch helplessly through a black haze as the mummy lumbers toward Julie while that nut-bag Hawas screams “Kill! Kill!”
I guess her kayoing the princess’ ghost moved me off of the top spot on the crazy archeologist’s enemies list. Julie getting rid of Amunisis has bought me a little time, but that may only keep me from getting killed before she does.
“Julie…!” I croak, trying to distract the monster.
My heart sinks, because I know that nothing I can do will stop Rahotep from killing the love of my life.
But, astonishingly, right when Julie’s within reach, the mummy stops.
He just stares at her with those empty black eyes of his. And he must like what he sees, because that’s all he does: stare.
That gives me time to struggle to my knees, though my world is still full of black polka dots.
Then Hawas yells something and, golden dagger in hand, he charges Julie.
Now, I’ve learned from experience that this gal can take care of herself, but I gotta tell you, I don’t like her chances against this crazed—and well-armed—maniac.
“Julie!” I yell, though my warning comes out more of a whisper than a scream.
She ducks, putting a glass display case between her and the Egyptian nut-job. For a few long seconds, they play this-way-thata-way around the exhibit.
That gives me the moment I need to spot my borrowed canoe paddle, lying on the floor nearby, where it fell after I threw it into Hawas’ smug face.
I dive for my weapon just as Julie topples the display onto the deranged doctor of antiquities. He gets out of the way, but the case smashes into a thousand bits when it hits the floor.
“You’ll pay for that!” he cries, looking at the ancient doo-dads spilled everywhere.
“I’ll write you a check, so-and-so!” Julie shoots back.
That’s my girl—full of moxie! At least, I hope she’ll agree to be my girl (officially) if we survive this.
I snatch up my paddle. Though my ribs still ache like the blazes, my head is finally pretty clear.
Hawas lunges at Julie again. She dodges and swings for his jaw with a really nice left hook.
He’s faster than he looks, though, and steps aside, slashing with that gleaming dagger as he does.
Julie shrieks as the blade traces a long cut down her left forearm; she backpedals.
“Hey!” I shout. “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size, you son-of-a-gun!” (Or some curse close to that.)
Hawas turns toward me, his murderous eyes blazing. Light from the brazier burning in the center of the room catches the ruby ring on his right hand, and the jewel gleams blood red.
“Why don’t you?” Hawas replies, his voice a nearly inhuman growl.
“Rich, look out!” Julie cries. “Duck!”
I duck just in time to avoid a mummy haymaker that would almost certainly have taken my head off.
“Kill the infidel, Rahotep!” Hawas commands, pointing at yours truly. “Kill!”
The mummy makes a grab for me, but I tuck into a somersault and roll out of his way. The big galoot lumbers after me.
“Kill this!” Julie says, picking a big vase up off of a pedestal and chucking it at Hawas.
The Egyptian gets his arm around in time so that the pottery shatters against that, rather than his head, but the blow still staggers him.
While my beleaguered brain is wondering whether that was a replica or an original artifact, Julie pounces like a tigress.
He tries to stab her, but she comes in under the blow and smashes the wrist of his knife hand with her elbow.
His fingers jerk open, and the dagger goes flying, but he manages to grab her hair with his other mitt.
Julie yelps as he yanks her head back with his left hand and, before she can recover, punches her in the face with his right. Blood trickles out of her pretty nose.
“Julie!” I yell. The distraction nearly costs me.
The mummy makes another grab at my aching body. I dodge enough to avoid his deadly clutches, but one bandaged-wrapped paw connects with my left shoulder.
It’s like getting hit with a baseball bat.
I careen backwards, crashing into the brazier in the center of the room, and sending it toppling to the floor. Burning coals scatter to the four corners of the exhibit hall. More than a few land up against the big, papier-mache columns, but I’m more worried about Julie than I am about starting a fire.
Hawas’ clout on the nose doesn’t kayo my best gal, though; instead, she counters with a roundhouse right to his chin.
The archeologist staggers, and she’s about to hit him again, but he intercepts the punch, seizing her right wrist.
He counter-punches with his right, and she manages to grab his wrist, too. Now both of them are grappling, caught in a deadly wrestling match. The Egyptian’s eyes burn with madness, Julie’s baby blues are grim and determined.
Rahotep lumbers through the overturned coals. I’m hoping he might go up like a torch, but no such luck; those wrappings of his must be asbestos.
I smack him in the face with the butt end of my paddle, but he doesn’t even flinch.
Instead, the mummy wallops me with a wicked backhand that sends me sprawling across the chamber once more.
The good news is that the blow puts a lot of space between the two of us. The bad news is that it starts my world spinning again.
Even worse, a couple of those coals I wasn’t worried about have actually set some of the exhibit displays alight—and the spreading fire is cutting off my best avenues of retreat.
The mummy, of course, just keeps on coming.
While I try to figure out how not to get killed, across the room, through the fire and smoke, I can see Julie still struggling with Hawas.
She’s athletic and fit, but he has the strength of the truly insane.
His left hand is fastened around her pretty throat, now, and he’s trying to bring the other in for the kill. Julie’s got one hand clamped on either of his wrists, but she’s clearly losing this tug-of-war.
“Julie!” I yell, but I doubt she hears me over the crackle of the mounting flames.
At the last moment Julie diverts Hawas’ right hand into her mouth; she chomps down—hard!
That ruby ring he’s wearing probably stops him from losing a finger, but Julie jerks her head, and her teeth rip that red-and-gold circlet right off. She spits it out, and it skids across the floor and lands in the center of the chamber, where the toppled brazier formerly stood.
She and Hawas back away from each other, both panting for breath, both bleeding from numerous scratches. Julie looks like a cornered panther, Hawas like a crazed hunter, ready to move in for the kill.
The mummy lunges for me.
I step to my right and smack my paddle into its ribcage with all my might.
It’s like hitting the side of a battleship.
The shock of the blow runs up my arm and through my whole body. My injured ribs scream with pain.
Rahotep keeps coming.
Everything behind me is burning.
Nothing I do is having any effect on this monster, and I’ve got no place left to retreat!
NEXT: The Explosive Finale!
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