Curse of the mummy: parts one through five

Jacob Parish truly believed his next-door neighbor had the power to bring back the dead.

 

Just last week he had spied her through her picture window wrapping one of her cats, Angel, in fine linen and dousing it with a type of kitchen spice and a puff of perfume. Angel didn’t move or even escape a single twitch during the process, so Jacob could easily infer the poor feline had previously died…or it actually preferred being mummified!



Next to Angel, its small brain sat inside a canopic jar.



 


Once the mummification had been complete, the woman had taken her embalmed pet out into her front yard (her front yard for Christ’s sakes!) and buried it under her hedge of giant sunflowers.

 
Jacob, horrified, had remained near the picture window like a stick figure while his neighbor plotted her cat’s final resting place. He couldn’t believe what he had seen! Was the old lady off her rocker?!

 
Afterwards, Jacob had scurried headlong to his house. There he had plunged into a tub of ice water and allowed his numb brain to sluice out the thoughts of death and revival and desiccation. 

 
Why had the woman mummified the cat? Why had she buried it under the sunflowers? Did the flowers and the mulch hold a power over the dead animal common grass and dirt did not? Jacob could only guess.

 
But later, he found out the truth…the horrible truth.

 
The woman’s name was Michele. She had become a widow at the spruce age of forty when her husband had succumbed to a brain aneurism while removing a loose nail from a dysfunctional birdhouse. Since then, she had lived aloof and by her lonesome. Only she and her few remaining cats inhabited the small clapboard dwelling Michele’s father had built bare-handedly so long ago.


Two months prior to witnessing the mummification, Jacob had moved next to Michele with his father and stepmother. And right away he had been told, warned about Michele and her “off-kilter” behavior. The warnings had come as marked-as-urgent letters—most of which hadn’t exactly beaten around the bush:

 

SHE’S A CRAZY OLD BITCH!

WATCH OUT—SHE CAN CURSE LIKE A MUMMY!

HER BREATH CAN KNOCK YOU FLAT!


The last warning Jacob had received mentioned a coat hanger:

 

DON’T EVER TURN YOUR BACK ON HER, OR YOU’LL BE CLOSELINED—LITERALLY!

 

At first, she had seemed like a dear old woman, another suffering from loneliness and osteoporosis. And naturally, Jacob hadn’t taken the warnings seriously…that is until he had seen first-hand the power the woman had over the dead.

 

Unbelievably, the cat returned from the grave, and had nestled back inside Michele’s house as if it were perfectly natural. The animal still wore the linen, the proof of its mummification, but without a brain it could do little but lie inert on a windowsill and stare milky-eyed out at a world it should have left behind forever…but had rejoined once again.

 

Somehow, Michele had revived the cat. She must have. How else could he explain the cat’s sudden reappearance?

 

More importantly, if she could revive cats, what else was the woman capable of?


Jacob didn’t plan on finding out.

 

It had taken him two days to decide what he should do about his next-door neighbor. Sure, he could’ve called the police—informed them of his suspicions. He could’ve even done a little more investigating.

 

But doing these things would’ve likely had him crouching blindfold in the white glare of insanity.

 

Besides, who would ever believe a seventeen-year-old boy spouting off about cats returning from the dead, anyhow?

 

So, after a few days of deliberation, he made his decision. It was rash, but he had no other choice. He would arm himself with his father’s old M1 carbine, and he would visit Michele in the dead of the night, and under the full moon.


 


Here he would send Michele to the grave…where she belonged. 

                                          _ _ _

 

Jacob secured a foot atop of the air-conditioning unit; then another…slowly. He didn’t want to arouse his parents, who, at this time of the night, were sound asleep.

 

Luckily, the powered-on air conditioner made enough noise to drown out any sound he made.

 

Jacob, with ease, closed his window.

 

He jumped from the air conditioner, and into the dry grass; it crinkled underfoot. The M1 carbine slung over his back he found with palsied, excited fingers. Again he checked the cartridge—not because he felt half-cocked, but because the clack it made when ejecting from the butt-well re-applied his self-assurance.

 

Jacob, an ecstatic pulse throbbing at his temples, headed for his next-door neighbor’s side fence. He thumbed the latch back; it creaked noisily.

 

He entered the back yard.

 

Tonight was perfect, the perfect night to murder a perfect stranger.

 

Overhead, the moon was a wan orb, full and flattened one-dimensionally against a drop of bluish-black. Light from the full moon bathed Michele’s yard with a mellow glow.

 

A cool, balmy breeze swept through. 

 

Jacob had never seen a back yard like Michele’s before. It didn’t have grass. None. Instead, the yard acted as a redbrick-and-mortar courtyard, which stretched from her back porch to her neighbor’s redwood fence, respectively. The bricks were ancient; the mortar eroded.

 

There was a gazebo. Also a green-iron tripod trellis and a large fan-fern Mimosa tree and a picnic table someone once painted pink.

 

Jacob liked Michele’s yard. It always made him think of sanctuaries, a place where one could find refuge and peace.

 

Ironically, it belonged to a woman who had the power to raise the dead.

 

Jacob pressed his body up against the rough slatted boards of the clapboard house. He stood there in total darkness. Lights inside the home were off, as was the porch-light. Usually Michele left a light on, but not tonight. Jacob held his breath, and then sidled toward the screen door.

 

He tried the handle. The wooden screen door swung back. Jacob smiled. This is too easy, he thought. Well, one door down, another to go. He grabbed the door knob, turned…

 

But stopped—when the porch-light powered on!

 

Jacob froze. Heart hammered in his chest. He felt like the proverbial deer that had been caught in the path of oncoming headlights.

 

This was not in the plans!

 

When Jacob heard the back door creak open, he scooted away, alongside the wooden siding—in a panic. He crouched beneath the ledge of a darkened window…waited. His chest ached.

 

A moment hence, the screen door pushed outward—and Michele stepped outside.

     
                                
                      

When she spoke, Jacob almost shot her right then and there. He truly believed the woman had discovered him and was attempting to ward him off with sheer virulence alone. Words were sharp and biting and full of hate.

       

GODDAMN REDNECKS!

THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS AND THEIR DRAG CARS, TEARIN’ DOWN MY ROAD!

 

If it weren’t for Michele’s course, which was a beeline through her back yard, and the direction her voice carried, he surely would’ve squeezed off a round.     

 

AMERICAN DIALECTS SOUND SO BLAND!

 

Jacob also noticed Michele had something draped over both arms, something big and bulky and wrapped in a ratty comforter. Michele canted with the object; oxbow legs wobbled. She grunted spasmodically.

 

Michele reached the pink picnic table and set the object atop its surface. Her entire body heaved from the exertion.

 

And her voice continued to croak and boom into the summer night air.  

 

I HAVE AN UNREASONABLE FEAR OF THE STREET-SWEEPER TRUCK!

ONE WRONG TURN!

DADDY’S GONNA DO THE WHITE-GLOVE INSPECTION—AGAIN!

 

Jacob knew he couldn’t shoot Michele outside—not if he didn’t intend on alerting the authorities posthaste. No, he needed to get inside the house, where it was safe and sound to murder.

 

Michele still had her back turned—she didn’t notice the young boy with the deadly weapon standing upright; didn’t hear his knees pop. She was too preoccupied with whatever it was she had sprawled out across the picnic table. Gingerly, she removed the comforter, tossed it aside…and exposed a naked human body.

 

Jacob could see it plain as day. Moonlight glimmered over the stark-white skin; curves of it ran in slick rivers. Breasts were firm, swollen. The head of hair was blonde and lengthy; it almost touched the grass. 


With dawning horror, Jacob realized the body once belonged to a teenage girl.

 

And knowing this, it took every last vestige of strength to keep himself under control. Mummifying cats and screaming inconsistent gibberish was one thing, but killing teenage girls was another.

 

Jacob gripped the stock of the carbine tighter. Gritted his teeth. Man could he not wait until he had a few moments alone with this crazy bitch. He may even treasure those moments forever.

 

Michele snorted. She threw her head back and howled at the moon deliriously.

 

I AM A WOMAN!

STAY OUT OF THE SINKHOLE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOUR FURNITURE!

I CAN’T FIGURE OUT NUMBERS IN MY HEAD ANYMORE—YUCK!

 

After her desultory rant, Michele strode over to the gazebo where a hatchet gleamed on the boarded floor.

                                        


She snatched the hatchet truculently and returned to the body.  Rearing the hatchet back over her head, Michele screamed, WHAT’S A TOOL-SHED STALK?!

       
Although mortified and weak-kneed, Jacob didn’t hesitate…he couldn’t. Now was his only chance to get inside the house. When Michele swung the axe down at the body for the first time, Jacob moved; he slipped in through the open doorway, and into the unfolding blackness.

 

The living room was a modest one: couch, loveseat, TV…a shag rug.  Jacob snuck behind the loveseat. There he would hide until Michele entered the house and then he would have her dead to rights. But until then, he would have to endear the grisly sounds of a teenage girl getting hacked to pieces, of a hatchet striking bone and flesh…not to mention the sporadic outbursts from a deranged woman.

 

YOU’RE QUITE THE SENTAMENTALIST, AIN’T YA?!

 

While waiting for Michele to return, Jacob Parish went almost mad. 

                                               _ _ _

 

Jacob couldn’t hold it in anymore—frankly, he was unable to. In a flash he had his fly unzipped and a steady flow of piss directed at a potted plant. He smiled as immense pleasure surged within him. His bladder had screamed for nearly an hour and giving in to its demands felt really good. Jacob zipped his fly and then crawled back behind the loveseat. His legs had fallen asleep, but he figured he didn’t need them for what he had to do. Just point and shoot—that was it. At least he hoped. 

 

The last hour had been the worst in Jacob’s life—an awful, indescribable hour. Chewing the skin under his finger nails had been the only thing that had kept him from foaming at the mouth. 

 

Half of that time Michele had hacked at the body—diligently. The other half had been spent digging a hole and burying the body. Jacob imagined the hole wasn’t extremely large, since there was probably nothing left of the body that you couldn’t squeeze through a wire mesh.

 

It wouldn’t be long now. The job was almost finished. It had been exhaustive work, and Michele would need her rest.

 

And Jacob would get his. Oh yes.

 

The whereabouts of Michele’s cats hadn’t come to mind until Jacob heard what sounded like something scratching at wood—far-off. The incessant scratching needled down Michele’s parquet-floored hallway and into the living room. Jacob, quickly inferring it was the cats making the noise, didn’t think anything of it. Cats do scratch at stuff. But then he heard someone crying—a soft, mournful wail that wrenched his heart and chilled his blood.

 

Michele must’ve had the ears of a bat, because she heard the wails. Moments after they began, she entered the house through the back door and started sniffing and shooting off at the mouth.

 

EATING MY OATMEAL AND MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS!

MOST OF US ARE HERE TO EXPRESS!

LET’S RUN THE REDNECKS OUT!

 

The linoleum floor beneath Michele’s feet creaked hollowly. She took a few steps forward, closer to Jacob’s position, and then stopped. Her sniffing intensified…as if smelling something peculiar in the air.  

 

SORRY YOU DON’T LIKE RED BEANS AND RICE!

DADDY COULD’VE TAKEN COMFORT IN MUCH WORSE!

 

Jacob huffed and puffed. He had had enough. He was tired of the woman’s babbling…tired of sweating and definitely tired of doing nothing. In a fit of unruly anger, he jumped from behind the loveseat with the M1 carbine aimed at the woman. He bellowed, “How do you like having your life fucked with—huh?!

 

Michele, scared right out of her penny loafers, managed an articulate “jiminy-cricket” just before a .30 round breeched her forehead and exited the back of her head. The round pierced the far wall.

 

Jacob, excited, rushed over to her prone, inert form sprawled out across the floor. He said, “Serves you right—you goddamn beatnik crusader!” and spat a glob of yellow snot into her face.

 

Well…was she dead? Had he finally put her to rest? He couldn’t tell. She had resembled a dead person before he shot her, the dried-up carcass that she was. He bent down and checked her pulse. Yep, she was dead—dead as a fucking hangnail. Good riddance, too.

 

Jacob left Michele and proceeded down the hallway where the cries had originated.

 

He passed a bathroom, and eventually Michele’s bedroom. The room at least appeared normal. No human or animal cadavers that he could see.

 

At the end of the hallway was a stone staircase, leading to a basement.

 


Jacob called down. “Hello?” He could no longer hear the wails.

 

A voice, obviously female, and foreign, responded from somewhere below. It sounded pitiful.

 

“Master?”

 

The scratching at wood started up again.

 

“Master?”

 

Another teenage girl, Jacob thought wretchedly. “Master” must be the name she had given Michele. She thought I was Michele.

 

He bounded down the steps and took a rightful gander at who had been crying—and almost fainted dead away.

 

Jacob couldn’t believe what he was seeing. There was the girl—but locked inside a cage! His heart thumped audibly. He moved closer. Inside the cage, the naked, red-headed girl continued to scratch at a structural post of the cage—as if she were happy to see him.

 

“Who are you?” Jacob asked her. He then noticed the dog collar looped around her neck. The name “COO” was stenciled on the name tag. He wondered aloud, “Why does she call you Coo?”

 

Coo’s feral, glazed-over eyes roved the interior of the cavernous basement, searching. “Master?”

 

“No,” Jacob said. “She’s dead. I shot her.” He held up the M1 carbine for her to see.

 

Confused now, Coo set her gaze on him. “Master’s…dead?”

 

Jacob nodded. “Yes.” He moved even closer. The carbine he leaned against a wall.

 

From inside her cage, Coo watched his every move.

 

Jacob asked, “What’s your real name?”

 

She didn’t answer.

 

Jacob tried again, this time applying a hand to the wire-mesh of the cage. He needed to get her out of there. But he couldn’t locate the opening though. The cage was completely enclosed. Weird, he thought. While Jacob was busy looking for the opening, Coo did something totally unsuspecting. She pressed her head to the wire-mesh—and began licking his fingers!

 

“Master,” she said, nurturing his finger tips like a suckling does a tit. “Master.”


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Synopsis
Dedicated to all of my friends on the website! (would've had this out much sooner if it weren't for 24: season 7). Find out what Jacob discovers in the basement!
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