East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Discussing mummy resurrection practices on the devil’s radio


One of the things that will never cease to surprise me about living in a small community, is the way in which news and (mostly) gossip travel fast.
Maybe that’s the reason why you can’t get high-speed internet connections here: they are superfluous, as gossip travels faster than your average fiberoptic cable, and does not need servers of platforms except for the bench outside of the local bar, and the doctor’s waiting room.

Ever since our father died, my brother and I have been the subject of much speculation and possibly more gossip.
To give you an example, our uncle, that never visited us here in the countryside when our dad was still alive, after being at the funeral and coming to visit us once or twice (including once when he was with us seeing the bank director) was nicknamed “the American” by the local busybodies (our uncle drives an sports car) and was identified as someone interested in buying our house. Much speculation was done about how much he was paying, and what we’d do with the money.

Or consider the whole hubbub about how come we are able to pay our bills since we do not have a “proper job” ( = we do not work the fields or cash in an undeserved pension, or both, as the local practice goes).
And why are we seeing certain people?
What’s our business with This and That?
What are we planning? What are our intentions?
Shouldn’t we be bankrupt already, so that the bank will repossess the house, and put it up for sale?

It’s always been like that.
And indeed, gossip is rife in small communities: country villages, prisons, boarding schools, tourist venues, cruise ships. The same places where you can’t play DVDs and Blue Rays for the public.
No movie, the punters have to find something else to pass the time.

Jokes apart, it’s terribly annoying, because it couples the worst of an invasion of privacy with the worst of being a fictional character in some malignant bumpkin’s mental, cooperative and public soap opera.
But it can also be fun.

Like, walking up and down in front of my house, discussing with my brother (that after all took two exams in Egyptology) about the dos’ and donts’ of resurrecting Egyptian mummies by the rituals of the Book of Thoth, including all those fun details like which portion of the dead’s soul goes where, and what bits and pieces of the body can be found in which Canopic jar.

Oh, my, the heart, now, was it in the jar with the baboon’s head or the one with the funny bird?
Who knows how to actually read the Book of Thoth?
Do you really need to read it out loud?
And then, how do you put down the animated mummy, afterwards?
Guns don’t work, obviously… an harpoon through the chest?

All this, out in the open.
It’s gonna be a long weekend for gossip-mongers out there.

(But tomorrow night I’ll post to the editor my Holmesian pastiche, The Case of the Manchester Mummies. It’s going to be good.)

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

6 thoughts on “Discussing mummy resurrection practices on the devil’s radio

  1. Usually the best revenge comes from having a brief conversation in public with the biggest busybody in town. Just a couple of minutes of inane chit-chat about nothing. Just make sure there are other people around, and that they aren’t close enough to hear what you’re saying.

    After that, the next time you go to the bank, the Post Office, some cafe, etc. just start spreading some rumors of your own about the person you spoke with, and then just sit back and let the games begin.

    Now that’s entertainment!!


  2. Manchester Mummies? Well why not? One of Conan Doyle’s original Holmes stories was “The Sussex Vampire.” That turned out to have a natural explanation. I won’t ask for a spoiler about “The Manchester Mummies” but I’d sure like to read it.


    • I’m revising and re-reading the story right now.
      I will not offer spoilers, but I can say (because I did my research) that there is a real world connection between mummies and Manchester: the Cotton Capital of Britain imported a lot of its cotton from Egypt, and many members of the Mancunian gentry developed an interest in Egyptology through this connection in the late 19th century.
      The story I am writing does have a mundane component (that Holmes will solve quite easily) and a supernatural component (and Holmes will call in some external help to deal with it).
      My current mission: shorten this baby of no less than 500 words, then off it goes to the editor, and let’s hope for the best.


  3. Just a suggestion if your initial submissions don’t pan out. I remember you said you submitted a story to Ellery Queens Magazine a month or so ago. Well, every year they devote their Jan issue to Holmes pastiches. Just something to keep in mind.


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