IN THIS EPISODE: …The monster battle continues. The twins try to flee…
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CHAPTER 39 – In the Mummy’s Hands
Topaz Cushing – The Tomb in the Waxworks
The First Night of the Full Moon
Topaz kicked and struggled in the mummy’s grip, but it was no use. The hand holding her may have looked like withered leather and rotting linens, but it had a grip like iron. The pressure on her neck made her vision swim, and it was all she could do to keep from blacking out. The mummy held her aloft as though she were a rag doll.
“Let go of my sister!” Opal demanded, still clutching her burning torch.
The mummy laughed, a rasping sound like dry leaves rustling.
“You cannot harm me,” Sethotep said. “Nothing in this fragile young world can.” He glanced at the werewolf and vampire, still battling nearby. “These newer creatures may be able to tear each other limb from limb, but my power is eons older. The gods of my people reigned supreme when your gods had not even been imagined.
“Give up your useless struggles. I promise your deaths will be quick. And your souls will live on in the reborn body of the glorious Bastiti, Queen of All Egypt! It is a fate that most mortals could only dream of.”
“Dream of this!” Opal exclaimed. She lunged forward and thrust the blazing head of her torch into the mummy’s left eye. A great whoosh of sparks and soot burst from the blackened eye socket.
Startled, the mummy dropped Topaz and then batted the torch away.
The force of the blow struck the firebrand from Opal’s hand; it sailed across the room and landed against the wall of the recreated tomb. It lay against the hieroglyphic-inscribed plaster, smoldering.
“Whelp of a jackal!” the mummy rumbled, its damaged eye regenerating, and both orbs blazing bright green with fury. “For that, I shall make you linger before you die!”
Topaz groped aimlessly, trying to clear her head as the ancient monster advanced on her twin. Her hand found something warm and metallic.
Sekhmet’s torch! she realized, picking it up and rising. Of course, the ancient torch was still burning; neither she nor Opal had been able to find any way, save for the golden snuffer attached to a chain on its bottom, to extinguish the artifact once it was lit.
Topaz wished she had a better weapon. But Opal’s torch had blinded Sethotep for a moment; if Topaz could do the same, maybe she and her sister could both escape.
The mummy had backed Opal nearly into the altar now, while the werewolf and the vampire tussled on the far side of the room. Topaz had lost track of Vincent, but she thought he must still be over there somewhere, lying amid the rubble, too. A lot of the exhibits in this and the adjoining chambers now lay in ruins due to the battling monsters.
Fear knotted Topaz’s stomach. If Sethotep forced her sister onto the altar, he might sacrifice her right then and there!
“Hey, you!” Topaz shouted at the mummy.
When the Sethotep turned, she thrust the Torch of Sekhmet toward the mummy’s face.
But the undead architect must have anticipated her move, because as she stabbed, he batted the torch aside, and it was all Topaz could do to keep her grip on it.
“The two of you have spirit,” the mummy said gleefully. “Good! That makes you all the more suitable to revive my… Eh?”
He gazed in surprise at the back of his left hand. Where he’d struck the torch, the bandages on his fingers were burning.
Annoyed, he tried to smother the small flame with his right palm, as he’d snuffed the blazing torch, earlier.
But the fire didn’t go out. Instead, it spread from one hand to the other.
“What?!” the mummy said, puzzled.
Topaz seized the moment and thrust her torch into Sethotep’s face.
The mummy tried to bat it aside, again, but too late. The blazing tip of the brand sunk into the creature’s right eye socket. The eye popped, and the ancient flesh around it sizzled and charred.
Sethotep screamed with rage.
Topaz thrust the torch at him again, but half blinded, he managed to back away, and put the altar between himself and the blonde twin. Opal avoided the mummy’s blind stumbling and quickly retreated to her sister’s side.
The mummy’s remaining eye glowed poisonous green with hatred, but the fires had spread from its hands up its arms now, and across its face.
“How?!” it raged.
Then its one blazing eye lit upon the makeshift weapon in Topaz’s hand.
“The Torch of Sekhmet…” Sethotep muttered. “No…!”
Topaz remembered now that the torch had been discovered in the architect’s tomb, along with his mummy. Apparently, though more modern powers—both natural and supernatural—could not harm this undead creature, the ancient magics from when he actually lived still held sway.
“Seth and Nephthys curse you!” Sethotep cried. “Do you know what you’ve done?!”
His whole head was burning now, and he was blundering around the devastated tomb, crashing into debris, smashing into the walls, and groping blindly with his powerful arms. Many of the places he touched caught fire.
“Let’s get out of here!” Topaz urged. While the werewolf and the vampire lunged and leapt at each other near the exit leading to the Chamber of Horrors, she led Opal toward the waxwork’s front door.
But before they could reach it, Opal cried: “Duck!”
She and Topaz hit the floor as the huge altarpiece from the exhibit sailed overhead—hurled at them by the enraged mummy.
The altar, made of wood and plaster (and burning, as well) smashed into one of the Egyptian-style support columns at the tomb entrance. Weakened by the ongoing monster battles, the pillars crumbled, bringing down a huge section of the ceiling with them. Some of that wreckage caught fire, too.
There was no way the twins could get out of that exit, now.
“I will slay you instantly!” the mummy bellowed. “Your infidel blood is not worthy to revive my queen!”
But the whole upper half of Sethotep was burning at this point, and the way he was blundering around, it became clear to Topaz that the mummy was now completely blind.
Opal must have noticed that shortcoming too, because she didn’t say anything, but pointed toward the only other obvious exit to the room—the short flight of stairs leading down into the Chamber of Horrors.
That escape, however, remained blocked by Victoria and the werewolf.
The two monsters clawed at each other, growling and hissing, both seemingly more beast than human. The werewolf’s clothing had been torn to shreds, and the vampire’s blood red gown hung in tatters. Each creature bled from numerous small claw wounds.
They can hurt each other, even if we can’t hurt them, Topaz realized. Though, with Sekhmet’s torch still clutched tight in her hand, perhaps the twins at least had some recourse if confronted.
As the mummy thrashed around near the destroyed main exit to the tomb, Topaz and Opal crept closer to the werewolf-vampire battle. The windows on the first floor of the museum, currently hidden by the plaster walls of the tomb, were barred against burglary. So even if they could have reached them, they couldn’t escape that way.
“Girls…!” Victoria hissed, spotting the twins.
She prepared to leap at them, but before she could, the werewolf hurtled into her midsection, and both monsters crashed into the back wall of the tomb, near were the mummy of Bastiti still stood, patiently awaiting her resurrection.
“The girls?!” the burning figure of Sethotep raged. “Where?!”
Opal stepped between the mummy and the other battling monsters. “Right here, you flaming arsehole!” she called.
With an incoherent roar, and speed much greater than Topaz would have anticipated, the mummy charged across the room.
Opal barely got out of the way in time, and the mummy blundered into the skirmishing werewolf and vampire.
This escalated the battle between the other two; they now began attacking the burning mummy as well as each other.
As quickly and quietly as they could, the twins stole across the room and down the steps into the relative peace and safety of Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors.
Topaz spared only a brief glance back as they went, and saw all three monsters rampaging amid the building inferno.
She hoped that neither Sethotep nor Victoria would be able to deal Paul a fatal blow. But if they didn’t… What next?
He really was cursed! she thought regretfully.
Even if they’d believed Paul, though, would she and her sister—or even their father—have been able to help him?
Topaz hoped that, somehow, they might still get that chance.
Then she lost sight of Paul and his undead foes amid the fire and smoke.
TO BE CONTINUED…!
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