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Locked with the Bug - Flash Fiction
The Hazmat at the Door
The hazmat team arrived. A girl was carried out from the home. The news crews was reporting live. Within the house, I was crawling through the thick smoke. When I stretched out my hands, I found gold coins, jewels, talismans, and rubies. The stench grew as I crawled on my belly. The house above had suddenly collapsed, like a ride at a fair -- the lighthearted music playing, and then the screams when the ride pivots, bends, and crashes into the cotton candy.
I could hear outside people pounding on the door, the incessant ringing from the doorbell. I couldn't get near to Lucy -- she was barking, but it seemed to come from two different sides. I kept crawling in the tunnel; the noises from the outside world became more muffled. I crawled for what seemed like forever, hoping to improve my odds, hoping to catch some clean air. But it seemed thick, musty, if not ancient.
At some point, I curled on my side and fell asleep. I'm still not sure what happened. If maybe there was a illegal chemical in the house. Why was hazmat there? When am I allowed to stop dreaming and instead descend into comfort? I must have been going mad. There is only one conclusion to this dizzying quest: I was going mad. As I crawled, and the sound of gold coins became synonymous with my steps -- I found myself in a room with giant statues, with animal heads. There were torches on the wall... and stone flooring. I assumed I had fallen into an old cellar that no one had taken the time to find. But why would the walls have lit torches?
I felt cold and alone. Each step echoing louder and louder. When I turned a corner, there was a big black box between two giant animal statues. Everything in the room was made of gold -- golden crowns, golden harps, and golden swords.
The Belly of the Temple
As I approached the black box, a spider the size of my leg appeared. It carried something away on its white belly. I looked up and there was a colony of bats, all chirping. There were snakes on the ground, hissing... and though my heart was racing -- all I wanted was to reach out and touch the black box. I thought maybe it would be a pharaoh's body, maybe a mummy. I was quite certain I was dreaming, and it must have been a series of dreams.
With the mindset that I was in a dream, I didn't scare so easily. Why be afraid of a snake if it's only a dream? I slid my hand down the black box. The eyes in the statues turned red -- nice effect, dream mind.
I lifted the lid, and a green mist filled the air. I had to pull out my cellphone -- what I saw in there was a mummy on top of ancient, disintegrating tablets. The statues started shaking. Up above I could see my house, and the hazmat team beating on the front door. My daughter was being taken into an emergency vehicle. They kept pounding the door, and the statues kept moving. There was red liquid running up and down the walls. Air came from the mummy's lips. The tablets were glowing. This queer dream. What did it matter? Where would I wake when it finally stopped. It kept shaking, the quake within... and I laid on the ground, feeling my heart pounding, a snake was biting at my heel and I fell asleep.
And this new dream, started with fire. I was in body paint, wearing an orange tunic, and was at the throne. The sky was the darkest I had ever seen. The concubines were crying, and I was cold, stoic, and unyielding. My council spoke of blood over some house's front doors. That several people at homes had tonight, on the darkest day, after locusts, the water turning to blood, and a plague of frogs, that somehow they had lost much more. We didn't know if the food supply had been poisoned or if the hand of god was with a group of foreigners. I held my firstborn son in my arms, and wept for him as his final breath of air escaped his body. Everyone was changing into their mourning clothes. We had already struggled with famine, and now death was raging in Egypt's largest metropolis. The center of the world, a kingdom of magic -- turning on its head to ruin.
The Past Behind the Tablets
We were obedient to death. We thanked our gods for everything, including death. But this seemed to be in the favor of a certain ethnic group -- and so we let them cross the Red Sea. We didn't want their kind there anymore. We feared they knew poisons and potions better than us, and were going to overthrow us. We overcame that time after they had left. There were many secrets we learned about them, many more magic spells -- but centuries later that was all turned into rubbish. Part of the Alexandria Library, the Great Library was destroyed in a fire to prevent future generations from being literate on magic or our knowledge of the one true God.
We had somehow gotten the Ark of the Covenant into our archives, and when a certain pharaoh passed, we placed his body upon the stones and left him in one of the most complicated tombs of all time. The only way to enter it was if I myself was reincarnated and could travel through a series of dimensions to find myself. To literally be swept by earth, through a sinkhole, or a fantastical dream to the tomb.
But what if I told you -- the box made a mistake? What if it had summoned the wrong modern person to it, simply because it was tired of waiting? And that the real pharaoh wasn't me, but some other bumpkin? What could this possibly mean then? And why would the Egyptians want one of their pharaohs to appear thousands of years into the future? Maybe it was a mark of technological achievement. Maybe it was a test of the afterlife.
Outside the Suburban Home
Outside the home, a news reporter was trying to get an interview with anyone. She was frustrated by the lack of comment from police and the hazmat crew. She decided to take matters into her own hands, partly because she was a new hire and didn't realize there are limitations to professionally following protocol. She went through the backyard when no one was looking, and found a light green mist coming from the window of part of the house that had been hit by the sinkhole. She lowered to the window with a camera. Used her zoom to get a closer look. What she saw surprised her. A man wrapped in bandages was pacing about the basement. A green light kept glowing from a spot in the ground. She really wasn't sure if it was a meth lab explosion, insanity, or if the man had been wrapped by a medical crew. When she sat back to think about it, she looked at her hand, and saw little red drops of blood on her hand, but as she stared at this blood, it became clear, more like tears. She didn't know how to report on this story, much less write about it. She didn't want to disappoint her boss by saying it wasn't much of a story, at least a coherent one. She took a few pictures of the bandaged man with her camera, but when she went through the camera to review it... there was nothing there. The day was feeling more and more wasted.