Monday, 22 September 2008

"The Robber Artist" by Suzette Hartwell

Driven by greed an ancient Egyptian robber stealthily entered a dark tomb one night, all the while fearful of the King's ba flying out of the coffin to confront him with his awful deed. Having made it inside undetected he relaxed momentarily, until the flaming stick he held highlighted the King’s stern face painted onto the wall, his one all-seeing eye staring back, watching him.

The flickering flame served only to enhance the other uncompromising images of the gods on the wall. Although he had painted these very images during the day as a tomb artist and thought them quite serene, by night and in the deathly silence they appeared to be sinister. In his fright, he tripped over a golden casket and called upon favoured god for help, not sensing the irony in his request.

Unaware the heartbeat he could hear was his own, panic now overtook him. How different it had been a few hours earlier when he had drank several bowls of his porridge-like beer, his confidence swelling along with his belly.

Despite the fear, the lure of golden rewards and unfathomable wealth urged him closer to the body where a golden inlaid pectoral lay within a hands grasp. He lunged toward the mummy, intending to at least take the pectoral as his own. As he seized this precious ornament a loud groan emitted from the walls and filled the chamber.

He was sure now that the King was alive in the room and out for vengeance. The groaning ceiling collapsed in seconds above him, pressing his screaming face into whom he had served in life and cheated in death.

Here he remained for centuries, a mute witness to the truth.

© Suzette Hartwell 2008. Reproduced by kind permission.

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