Back in the days of yore (meaning, for all practical purposes, the summer of 1993), with my brother we got this strange idea of joining the Friends of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. It made perfect sense: we were both interested in archaeology, and my brother was taking a university course in Egyptology. We spent a lot of time in the museum, that at the time was still in its old, “classic” configuration.
So we went looking for the Friends of the Museum office, and were quite surprised when we discovered
- it was only open one morning per week
- it was not open even then
But being young and persistent, and this being summer and we on vacation, we basically staked out the place, going there every morning for two weeks, until we finally found the door to the office open, and walked in.
We were confronted by a woman in her fifties, walking the dangerously fine line between elegant and tacky, all big “obviously fake in a post-ironic way” jewellery, designer clothes and a huge 1980s-style perm.
She looked at us, took a deep drag on her black cigarette, and asked what we were looking for. We explained we were there because we wished to join the club. And here she looked at us with wide surprised eyes, made a brief, distasteful smirk, and said
But you are… young!
I was twenty-six and my brother was twenty. Under her disapproving gaze we filled our forms, provided our telephone and address, and were told we’d hear from them.
We never did.
But because nothing ever gets wasted, and I am still paying my bills by writing stories and posting them to magazines and publishers, I’ve just used that experience – together with a few other bits and pieces of folklore – to write a short horror story for my next submission.
It’s called The Hall of the Statues, and it starts with…
They have placed the two Sekhmet statues outside, by the sides of the gates.
Now I’ll let it rest for a few hours, and then I’ll revise it and mail it.