Dark Melbourne streets held an extra chill this Easter, and I jumped as the door to the apartment block slammed shut behind me. Ever since I’d be working on this exhibit, I’d been jumpy. Tutankhamun was in our museum. And every single gold foiled Easter egg reminded me.
Now, I know that the stories of the curse associated with his tomb were phooey. After all, Howard Carter lived such a long time after he was in that tomb. But dead bodies made the museum feel eerie, and I resented the masses who came to boggle at the body of a boy.
It didn’t help that the curator had died suddenly from an aneursym, working late one night in the office, her pyramid paperweight lying askew on the ground. I had never seen her face so white, which they told me was just the paleness of death. I knew differently.
As her assistant, I was nominated to head to her home, where she lived alone. No children, a niece in Queensland who could not come and settle her affairs until next week. And she had a file the administrator needed. So here I was, in this old dark, creepy building in a dead woman’s apartment.
The elevator creaked ominously and smelled that aged, neglected smell of old buildings. On the 4th floor, I headed to apartment 7, the auspicious Egyptian number. Opening up the door, I was bombarded by the smell of antiquities.
Walking into the hallway, I noticed the old fashioned cane in the umbrella stand, the lilies on the table. It was beautiful appointed, everything in its place. I walked straight into her office, to her desk, where the manila folder was closed neatly. A stone scarab rested in front of an old photograph. I looked closer and recognised a young girl, resting on the lap of a man who could be her grandfather. Looking closer, I recognised the features. It was Lord Canarvon, the financier of the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb. I recognised him from the photographs in the exhibition.
It must have been the curator’s mother. She was too young. But I could imagine Anne, the great-granddaughter of the famous backer, being enchanted by her family, pointing out the amazing discovery that happened all because of her great-grandfather. I smiled at the history, and wondered if anyone knew.
The window was open slightly and I went to look out over the park at the back of the building. A shooting star made me smile, until I realised it was headed straight at me! I squealed and dropped to the floor, as it sailed over my head. I turned around and found a flaming arrow, buried in the carpet. It started to shower on to the carpet and singe. I leapt up and grabbed the lilies, tipping them over the arrow, to stop the flames which spluttered out. I saw a little papyrus attached to the arrow.
That was it. I was out. I grabbed my file and ran, ringing the administrator and squealing the story out down the line. The door on the building almost hit me on the way out.
As I rounded the corner to my car, I saw a boy in a dark robe duck around the corner, near black eyes sparkling as he threw a dark smile my way.
My keys jangled loudly as I tried and failed to put the keys in the ignition. This was going to be one long exhibition.