Because it is the Halloween season, I am only too happy to continue with my posts about monsters and how they could be used In a steampunk setting.
Philip and Doris padded down the long corridor toward the King’s chamber. Philip held the torch, pointing it at the door. It had been over an hour since they had heard from Eduardo and Gerald. Doris slipped her arms around Philip’s bicep. “Do you think they are inside?
Philip’s face darkened. “Professor James told them to stay away until we were certain it was safe.” He moved faster, every footstep taking him closer to the darkened King’s chamber.
Except, it wasn’t dark anymore. There was a flickering light in the chamber, a flame casting an orange glow. Doris took a sharp breath. “They went in!”
Philip groaned. “Idiots!” he turned, gripping Doris’ shoulders. “Listen, Dee, I want you to go back up to camp. Find Professor James and tell him he might have been right after all.
Doris wiggled free of her brawny protector and slapped him. ” Listen to me, buster. There is no way I’m gonna wander of by myself and disappear like Rosie and Zeb. Now Eddie and Garry are missing – have you flipped your lid? I’m sticking with you.” Reluctantly, Philip nodded and offered her his arm. She grasped it and moved closer. As they approached the door, he looked at his pretty companion. Her expression was determined, shoulders squared; but he noticed Doris had a tighter grip on his bicep than before.
Inside the King’s Chamber, a torch illuminated the room. The two looked about for any sign of the four missing archaeologists, but saw no one. Philip felt Doris loosen her grip on his arm, and step forward. Phil sighed. Maybe the Professor was wrong.
“Uhm, Philip?” Doris said, pulling Philip away from his thoughts.
“What’s wrong, Dee?” He asked. Looking up, he noticed that the young blonde was peering into the King’s sarcophagus. She looked at him. Her blue eyes were wide, lips trembling.
“It’s not here, Phil. The mummy is missing.”
Philip ran to her side and peered inside the stone sarcophagus. It was empty, save for a small pile of linen wrappings. He stumbled backward, falling to the floor.
“Where did it go, Dee?” he whispered. “A mummy can’t just disappear.” Doris’ answer was a scream. She wasn’t looking at him. She wasn’t paying him any attention. Her gaze was focused behind him. He turned his head.
Standing in the doorway they had just entered was a figure. It’s face was a picture of grotesque features. Partially wrapped in decaying ribbons, the face was desiccated, sunken in upon itself. The eyes were closed, sewn in place. The body was gaunt, skin an unhealthy gray. It opened its mouth, but no words issued forth; all that came out was a dry exhalation, the ghost of a moan. It shuffled forward, it’s limbs stiff, unyielding. It was the mummy, and he looked angry.
It seems that mummies have been underutilized in the steampunk genre. Though I’ve only been reading steampunk books for three or so years, I can only think of a couple of uses of mummies, and the mummies had not been reanimated. Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series uses mummies in an inventive way, but again, they are still just dead bodies.
I think part of the reason is that in appearance they are rather close to zombies. Older, admittedly less gooey zombies. Of course, in most ‘mummy’s curse’ stories, the mummy’s are out to exact vengeance, not eat their victims. But mummies make an intriguing villain. Their goal is single minded. And sometimes, as in the 1932 version of The Mummy, Boris Karloff’s Imhotep not only rises from the sarcophagus to exact revenge, he infiltrates his victims’ group to do so.
In a steampunk setting, I could see this type of monster used in a few different ways. The Victorian Era saw a renewed interest in Egypt. Victorian took the opportunity to exploit and destroy ancient artifacts. Mummies were often found and used for such things as pigments for paint, as well as unwrapping parties, where the wealthy and trendiest would witness the unwrapping and examination of the mummy in question.
Considering the destruction and lack of respect for the deceased, a story of revenge could easily be written as a mummy hunts down those that disturbed his tomb.
Perhaps a well meaning scientists studying the embalming techniques of the ancient Egyptians, or learning how the mummified body was wrapped and laid to rest. Inadvertently, the scientist raises the creature, who then goes on a rampage, bringing all this that wronged him to justice. In order to sustain his own life, the mummy could make use of steampunk technology.
Perhaps, a contraption strapped about the body, hydrating it’s body. Or a machine that helps rejuvenate the body, giving the mummy a more human appearance. The drawback is that the machine only restores a lifelike look for short periods of time, forcing the mummy to return and use the machine again. All of the work making it difficult for the mummy to do much more than murder. No matter how hard he tries, the mummy will never be anything more than a vengeful monster.
Had anyone read any good steampunk novel’s featuring Mummies? If so, I’d love some suggestions. And for the writers, have you utilized this monster in your a story?