Being a curious tale of Archaeology, Burn Fetishism, and World Domination, by world-famous Undead Egyptologist, Jack Eidolon, as told to Mike Bryant
Photography by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
“My name is Jack. And I’m a braineater.”
That was me, about two and a half years ago, at my first Undead Anonymous meeting.
Just like everyone else there, I was addicted. Addicted to eating human brains. It had been fun for a time, but I’d seen too many of my friends meet their untimely demise at the hands of some jackass with a rusty shovel.
Rusty shovels are just one of the many reasons why the Zombies decided to integrate into polite society and live among the humans, side-by-side.
Some of the earlier members of my twelve-step group had just received their five-year medallions. Five years without eating brains. I was happy for them, I really was. But me; I was a fraud. I had discovered a loophole of sorts.
Archaeology was my profession. And I was doing really well. Since I was already technically dead, I didn’t need to worry about getting bitten by asps or reawakening some ancient virus or anything like that.
One day, the museum called and asked me to investigate a previously-undiscovered pyramid that was found in the Valley of Kings. It belonged to a little-known Pharaoh named Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep, and they wanted me to do the usual legalized smash-and-grab. So I packed my gun and bullwhip and put on my old brown leather jacket and cool hat and headed out to the airport.
There, I met up with the assistant with which my benefactors had set me up: A sweet young thing in an even sweeter skirt named Lucy. A strange name for a skirt, I know, but there you have it.
The woman’s name was Calcine. Blaze Calcine. She was an odd one. And when an undead braineater calls you odd, you’ve gotta be a really special kind of odd. Three is odd. That’s a mathematical fact. But three’s got nothing on this chick.
When we met, she looked a bit surprised. Then she said “Oh! Um …”
“Is there a problem?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I mean … well …”
“I’m a Zombie?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “Well … yes. It’s just that …”
“That you’re going to spend twenty hours beside me on an airplane and you’re afraid that I might try to eat your brain?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“Not to worry,” I said. “I’ve got my two-year medallion and a whole bottle of Brain Flakes.”
“Brain Flakes?” she asked.
“Drugs,” I explained. “Prescription. Sort of like methadone, but for braineaters.”
“And those work?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “They take the edge off, make you not crave human brains so much. The addiction never truly goes away, but at least they keep you regular. Besides, when I look at you in that skirt, it’s not your brains I think of eating.”
“I’m sorry?” she asked.
“Never mind,” I said. “Let’s get on the plane.”
She was friendly enough at first; told me about her education, her previous digs, and her love for archaeology. But the second I started to put the moves on her, she just shut me down. And I’ve got some seriously good moves. When you’re able to dislocate any or all of your limbs at any given time, your moves can be seriously cool. And kind of gross.
Finally, she got sick of my crap and said, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand? The ‘n,’ the ‘o,’ or my foot up your ass?”
“Some guys pay extra for a foot up the ass,” I said.
“Look,” she told me, “I’d just like to keep this a professional relationship.”
“If I was paying, it would be professional,” I explained, hoping to trump her with logic.
She just sighed and looked away. Time for Plan B: A little thing I like to call ‘The Death Card.’
“Is it because I’m undead?”
“What? No,” she said. “I don’t care about that.”
“Then what is it?”
“You’re just not what I’m looking for.”
“How do you know?” I asked her. “You barely know me.”
“Trust me,” she said. “I know.”
“Yeah? What are you looking for?” I asked.
“None of your business.”
“Oh, come on,” I said. “Tell me what you’re looking for and then I’ll know whether or not I should just give up.”
“You should,” she said.
“So prove it. What are you looking for in a mate?” I asked.
She mumbled something in response.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Burns,” she said.
“Yes, burns,” she said.
“You mean like, ‘Your mother’s had more dicks than a Richard convention’?”
“No, I mean like scars caused by fire. Burns. They really get me off.”
“I … see,” I said, even thought I didn’t, and wasn’t sure I wanted to.
“No, you don’t,” she said. “I dunno what it is, but I love burn scars. All red, black, and bubbly. They get me so hot. Though not as hot as the fire that caused the scar, I suppose.”
“Most women have a thing for firemen,” I said. “You like the guys they save.”
“No,” she explained. “I like the ones they missed.”
Another man might see this as a giant, flashing, neon sign that says ‘KEEP AWAY’ but as a putrefying dead man, I was willing to give her some leeway.
“I could hold my finger in a candle or something,” I suggested.
“It’s not the same.”
“No, I don’t suppose it is.”
Eventually we touched down in Cairo, found our rental car, and were off to the dig. We arrived to find a fairly standard ancient step pyramid.
We grabbed our pry bars, and went to work on the stone door. Eventually we cracked it open, and I pulled out my flashlight.
“You wait out here, Miss Calcine,” I told my lovely assistant. “I’ll secure the area and let you know when it’s safe.”
I stepped into the gloom and walked down the dusty old hallway to the main room at the centre, the first person to do so for over four thousand years. My flashlight beam fell upon the ancient sarcophagus right in the centre of the room. The intricately carved face of the long-dead Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep stared back at me. The walls were covered in the usual hieroglyphics. I’d have to get to work translating them soon, but first to my real reason for being there …
You’d think that a 4000-year-old brain wouldn’t taste so good, but you’d be wrong. A good brain is like a fine wine. As it ages, the flavours come out and it really begins to shine.
I squatted down beside a pile of earthenware jars. I opened the first one. Nope. Liver. Then another one. Intestines. I began opening them more rapidly, growing more and more excited at the prospect of feeding my addiction when I was suddenly awash in light. I froze.
Then a voice with a very proper, upper-class British accent echoed around me. It said, “Is this what you’re looking for?”
I turned to look behind me, in the direction from which the voice had come. When my eyes became adjusted to the unexpected illumination, I saw a man. A man wearing a monocle. He was sitting cross-legged on an ornate golden throne with a martini balanced on the left-hand armrest. His right hand was busy holding a cigarette on a bitch stick as he exhaled. Fitting, since he also wore a rather dashing smoking jacket, along with a dark red fez complete with the little tassel-thingy. Oh, and did I mention that he was also covered head-to-toe in bandages? I didn’t? Well he was. In his lap was a cat. It also was bandaged. In his left hand he was holding up an earthenware jar which obviously contained his brain.
I was speechless. He was not.
“Jack Eidolon, I presume,” he said.
“Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep?” I asked.
He grinned, set the brain jar down on the throne’s armrest, and picked up the martini. “Well done,” he said, taking a sip. “You’re obviously a very clever little Zombie. However, I can’t very well allow you to eat my brain, now, can I?”
“I guess not,” I said, standing up. “So … uh … I guess I’ll just be on my way.”
“Nonsense, my good man,” he said. And then, “Mohan! Gerald!”
Two very large thugs appeared out of the shadows and grabbed me. They were big, shirtless bastards with big, shirtless bastard swords. They carried big, round metal key rings. Nothing says “captor” quite like a giant key ring.
Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep pressed a button on the arm of his throne and a secret door opened up in the floor. A spiral stone staircase lead downstairs. Mohan and Gerald dragged me down it and into another room. And what a room it was. It contained a wall full of televisions, a giant electronic map of the world with sinister-looking little white lights in strategic positions, and even more sinister-looking red lights in even more strategic positions. All of this could be viewed from a very comfortable-looking and well-worn sofa. In front of the sofa was a coffee-table laden with half-eaten pizzas, empty beer bottles, various remote-controls and video game controllers, and a couple of bongs.
Behind the sofa was a stone slab with leather restraints. To my chagrin the sofa wasn’t what they strapped me to.
Once I was secured to the uncomfortable hunk of rock Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep sent the thugs off to get Blaze, as well.
“Why are you doing this to me?” I asked.
“Because I can’t have you spoiling everything,” he answered. “I’ve spent the last four thousand years working on a plan to take over the world and run it from this very pyramid. If I let you go, you’re liable to go spoiling it by telling the authorities. And we can’t have that, now, can we, Mister Eidolon?”
“Let me go,” I said, “And I promise I won’t tell anybody. I swear on my own grave.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Mister Eidolon. You see, I also need a sacrifice.”
“A sacrifice. To Ra.”
“You’re going to kill me?”
“Not exactly, no. I mean, you’re already dead, of course, but I plan on finishing you off,” he explained. “Or rather, Ra will finish you off.”
“You know him personally, do you?”
“Shut up, you,” he suggested. “Do you see those three holes in the ceiling?”
“You’ll note that they are in the precise position of the three stars in Orion’s belt,” he said.
“Uh… sure. I totally noticed that,” I said, unconvincingly.
“Once every two thousand and four years, the three stars line up exactly with those three holes. Each hole contains a lens of carefully polished and focused diamond, carefully attuned to the light of its related star. When they line up, the light of the stars intensified and said light is refracted to a particular spot above you. The Staff of Ra is then inserted into that hole in the floor. At the top of Ra’s staff is another jewel, which will further intensify the light, creating a beam which will, as the stars move across the sky, slowly bisect you, starting at the wang.”
“Why not just kill me now?” I asked. Which was kind of a dumb thing to ask, really, if you think about it.
“No,” was his rather succinct answer.
I thought about it for a bit. “So the sun doesn’t shine though there in the daytime?”
“Yes,” he said, “but the diamonds aren’t attuned specifically to the Sun’s frequency.”
“You couldn’t just adjust the diamonds to work with the sun?”
“Because that’s not what Ra wants,” Ho-Tep explained. “Ra’s Process Department has worked out the specifics that way for a reason. I must destroy you precisely as outlined in The Book of Ra. He will then grant me powers beyond your imagining.”
“I see,” I said, “And this can only happen every couple of thousand years?”
“Two thousand and four, to be precise,” he said.
“And you’ve been here for over four thousand?”
“That is correct.”
“So you already had one chance. What happened th-”
“I don’t want to talk about it!” he snapped, cutting me off in mid-sentence. “I’m just glad that it’s going to work this time. Four thousand years in a pyramid with a dead cat and two goons has almost made me batty.”
Just then Mohan and Gerald returned, dragging Blaze with them. She was doing the standard kickings, screamings, and “what-is-the-meaning-of-this”ings that most people do when in that sort of situation.
“Ah, Miss Calcine,” said Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep. “I’m so glad you could join us. You’re very lucky, young lady, as you will get to watch me progress from Mummy to Who’s-Your-Daddy, as it were. The time is rapidly approaching.
“Mohan, dress her up in the gold Slave Girl Bikini, chain her to the sofa and spark up the bong. Gerald, prepare the Staff of Ra.”
The sun went down, the stars came out, and Ya-Mumma-Sa was lounging on the sofa, completely failing to start a decent conversation with the excellently scantily-clad Blaze. Mohan and Gerald stood by the slab watching me as I, in turn, watched the diamonds in the three holes begin to glow as the stars in Orion’s belt proceeded to align with them.
The glow intensified, and then the jewel atop the Staff of Ra began to glow as well. Suddenly, all four jewels seemed to explode to life as an intense beam of concentrated light blasted from the first three then hit the Staff of Ra, whereupon the beam turned a brilliant red and angled sharply downward to the base of the stone slab to which I was tethered. The stone began to smolder and the beam slowly crept upwards toward my precious dangly bits.
I called out to my captor. “Do you expect me to talk, Ho-Tep?”
“What?” He called back.
“I said, do you expect me to talk?”
“No. Why would I expect that, you daft fool?”
As the beam gradually grew nearer my crotch, the stench of burning stone filled the room. But I was more concerned about the stench of burning nutsack. Which, to my dismay, I was about to smell.
But there was one thing that Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep hadn’t counted on. Nor had I, for that matter. As a Zombie, my flesh was thin and papery. As soon as the beam touched me, I caught fire. I was soon flaming like your drunken Father in high heels on a Friday night. Only with fire instead of gay.
I screamed and strained against my leather restraints, which soon burned through, freeing me.
I jumped up and gave Gerald a big bear hug, burning him beyond recognition. Then I moved toward Mohan, who took one look at me and fled. I stopped, dropped, and rolled until the flames were out. When I arose, extinguished, Ya-Mumma-Sa-Ho-Tep was standing in front of me, holding a sword.
“Mind if I smoke?” I asked.
“Ugh, that was terrible,” he said, wincing. “A second ago, I might have let you live. Maybe caged you up for another couple thousand years until the next go and had a do-over, but after a quip like that, there’s no way.”
I was backed into a corner, weaponless and rather stressed out, having just barely eluded a second death and finding myself largely fleshless. Ya-Mumma-Sa Ho-Tep stepped toward me, raised his sword and… I heard a crashing sound.
My captor stumbled backwards and lowered his sword.
“Uh…” he said, “Me gotta go buy scratch tickets.”
“What?” I asked, perplexed. Then Ho-Tep stumbled to the side and I saw Blaze Calcine, still chained to the sofa, holding the remnants of an earthenware jar. She had smashed it. She had destroyed the brain jar and with it, the brain that gave the jar it’s accurate, if uncreative moniker.
The Mummy dropped his sword and stared at me vacantly. “Do you like music?” he asked. “I like the bands with guys who sing. You know… five guys who dance the same and sing.”
“Boy bands?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said, enthusiastically. “Boy bands! Me like those! Good music.”
“Good work, Calcine,” I said, and grabbed the key ring off of what was left of Gerald’s immolated belt. I ran over to the sofa and unlocked Blaze’s restraints.
“Wanna watch ‘Survivor’?” Ho-Tep asked.
“No,” I said. “Come here, Ho-Tep. Sit.” He did. I grabbed the remote and found the twenty-four hour game show channel.
“That oughtta keep him occupied,” I said. “Now let’s get outta here.”
“Not so fast, mister,” said Blaze. “You’re very badly burned.”
“Don’t worry about me,” I told her. “I’m a Zombie, so I’m fine.”
“Oh, you’re fine, all right,” she said, stepping closer to me. “Whaddya say you go find a bottle of something alcoholic and meet me in that sarcophagus?”
“Will you wear the gold slave girl outfit?”
“Sure thing, Charcoal-Boy,” she said, “But only temporarily.”
She ran swiftly up the steps. I grabbed a random bottle out of the fridge and followed her.
On my way up stairs, I heard Ho-Tep call out “Me wanna get ear candling!” But I ignored him. He’d be fine as long he never discovered televangelists.
At the moment I had some burns that needed attending to. And I take my health very seriously.
Jack Eidolon is an undead Egyptologist and recovering brainoholic. Surprisingly articulate for a zombie, he has authored several books on ancient Egypt, including, “Lies Nefertiti Told Me”, “The Ra Delusion” and, “I Hope They Serve Brains in Neter-khertet.”
He thinks Mike Bryant is kind of a dick.
Mike Bryant was once ejected from a Karaoke bar for performing the Weird Al Yankovic classic “Yoda”, instead of taking things seriously.
He has released a spoken word CD entitled “Chicken Noodle Pants” and two novellas, “Shaolin Rock Star” and “Operation Dickhead”.
Mike likes Science Fiction and Heavy Metal, which is sure to make him a hit with the ladies.
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations.