Old Friend

Mummy Jim the Photographer flickr

Photo credit: Jim, the Photographer

The line outside the temple barely moves, the sun baking us into lethargy.  I fake a vow of silence.  The clothes and gestures, I can manage, but I’ve always been awful at accents.  They would immediately reject me as a foreigner. Which is better than them guessing the truth, I suppose.

We shuffle to the steps, into the shade, then inside.  I can glimpse the body, ahead.

He was Boab-na-Mastanek, revered prophet and founder of their religion.  He died saving his people from the demon traitor Elsanab, losing a finger in the process. A finger that half the temples in the land claim to have.

Finally, I’m there.  They preserved the body with resins.  Crude.  He looks awful.  I could have preserved it perfectly, but Boab never learned that spell to pass it on.

Because I couldn’t teach it to him.  Turns out transferring one god’s spells to another god can have disastrous consequences.

Too bad.  I liked him.

I’m the only one who knows they have the story wrong.  Not that they’d listen.  Who could still be alive after all this time, if not the “demon” Elsanab?

A closer look makes me smirk.  Sweet goddesses, that’s not even Boab.

Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  Thanks to Alastair Forbes for hosting, and for providing the original photo prompt, below!  Click on the link to read other stories written for this prompt, or to submit your own.

This is a character from a longer short story I’m working on who, along with several of his fellow acolytes, was accidentally rendered deathless by a poorly worded sacred vow.  After his own religion exiled them and then collapsed, he went through a period of trying to help other religions, hoping it might fulfill the vow so that could finally die.  The mummy in the photo inspired me to take this little side venture into the in-betweens of that story.


Photo © Al Forbes of Mixed Bag

26 thoughts on “Old Friend

  1. Oh, I like everything about this. The voice, the hint at the start all is not as it seems. The mythic story of the powerful fighting each other. And that denouement – what an ending. I think I’d like to spend more time in Elsanab’s company. Is he taken from one of your Camp stories? Would be excited to learn more about that

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for the enthusiastic comment, Lynn – I’m so glad you liked it! In the original longer version, of course there were more details — like how Boab was a “worker of miracles” but our narrator knows that he’s the one who actually did all the miracles, helping his friend out. And the spell thing is a real issue from past world building (as opposed to something I just made up for the flash fiction piece, which as you know, happens frequently) — divine casters learn from others in their own religion how to ask their deity for specific spells and how to enact them, but those processes do not necessarily transfer to other gods.

      The character (that’s not his real name; he goes by many over the centuries) is taken from my short story “The Vow”. I’ll be revising it and hopefully sending it out during Camp NaNo next month. I’ll send you the draft, if you like. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual, you’ve pulled off that twist wonderfully. I feel there is so much story here, just waiting to unfold. My only question is whether that photo is of an Egyptian mummy or Danish Bog Man? Not that it makes a great difference since it only serves as a prompt. IT’s just that the Bog burials were sacrifices, and this one looks like it has a slit throat. Something to weave into a story?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Crispina! I don’t know anything about the mummy in the photo. It was another case of searching through Flickr for a CC0 licensed photo that would work for Eneana — in this case, that didn’t look obviously Egyptian, and weren’t obviously in a museum under glass. This part won’t be in the longer story anyway; it’s a “snake’s hand”, as John Crowley says. Still, it was fun to explore this character like this.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the kind comment, James, I’m flattered! Yes, I will definitely post here when I get the longer story published. (See how optimistic I am, saying “when” instead of “if”? This may change later; we’ll see…)

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s true, the gods are mysterious, in any world! In this case, the clerics are too. Thanks so much for reading! The book(s) is going to be a while in coming, but I hope to be able to announce some short stories being published sometime this year.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Joshua! I already had most of the character from the other story, but the mummy photo inspired some additions to the world building — which is one of the many things I love about these flash fiction photo challenges!

      Liked by 1 person

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