Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Beginning 494

"I saw a delivery truck go past. Was that the Egyptian embalming table?" Bryan asked as Professor Duncan climbed the stairs from the basement to his courtyard.

"Yes indeed it was. The carpenter's reassembling it."

"What nonsense, creating the undead. It sounds so B-movie-ish and scary kid's story. Hard to believe that people were ever that superstitious," Bryan scrubbed the grime off the statue of a satyr. He wore only work boots, cutoff jeans and gloves. His young and well-muscled body glistened with sweat, mossy residue and soapy water that splashed as he worked to restore the marble satyr.

"They believed that the undead guarded the Pharaoh like supernatural bodyguards. After dinner, we can read through the ceremony using the scrolls and other artifacts from Egypt. You can playact the sacrificial acolyte and become one of the undead."

"I'd be thrilled." Bryan laughed, his blue eyes sparkling with anticipation.

"Not half as much as me," Professor Duncan muttered under his breath. His gazed shifted between Bryan's pectorals and biceps. "Later, we'll do another ancient Egyptian ceremony. You can playact the sacrificial sexualite, and become one of the unclothed."

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Christine Eldin


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

Meanwhile, in the other room, the scarab on the faence collar of Imenkraptep, priest of Isis, began to glow in its glass case.

Trudy Nickerson turned and eyed the piece, leaning her rump, rounded like two ripe apples, against the sarcophagus she'd been restoring. She rolled her eyes. Not again.

"Hey, Doc!" she yelled as the thing began to levatate, tapping like an overcaffeinated gerbil against the underside of the glass, "You better get in here quick! The scarab's trying to animate the mummy again!"

As the Professor rushed in and began a hurried incantation, Trudy shook her head. How in the world was she supposed to concentrate on world domination if the Doc couldn't even manage a simple containment?

"Here, let me do it." She pushed him aside and unbuttoned her blouse another couple buttons. "If you behave, 'Kraptep, I'll let you do a little more than look...when we replace your body with the kid's. Comprende?"

The paranormal behavior ceased abruptly. Being the reincarnation of Isis still had its perks. I mean, she thought, there's getting worshipped and getting worshipped. And the kid had it all over a 3000-year-old mummy.


Evil Editor said...

Hard to believe the carpenter's on the job already. First they'd have to open the crate and get rid of a few million Styrofoam peanuts and inspect the shipment. The carpenter can start reassembling it tomorrow.

Seems a bit incongruous that someone whose reaction to the table's arrival is "What nonsense, creating the undead," later says, "I'd be thrilled," when offered the opportunity to run through the ceremony.

Ulysses said...

I'm afraid I don't find the dialog believable. I don't think "What nonsense" sounds realistic coming out of the mouth of a modern young man.

"I saw a delivery truck go past. Was that the Egyptian embalming table?"

"The carpenter's reassembling it."

"Mummies. It's like a B movie, or a kid's ghost story. People actually believed that stuff was real?"

. . . Just my two piastres.

Bonnie said...

It seems rushed. I know it's good to get into the story quickly, but you go from the Egyptian table to Bryan's body to the satyr (presumably Greek or Roman) to the ceremony.

The other thing that bothered me is that artifacts are generally treated with a lot more care than this. It made me wonder if they're dealing in stolen artifacts or something?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Technically, the writing is good. Can't fault that at all. I'm missing any emotional connection. Maybe it's not aimed at me?

This sounds almost 'you know, Bob' to me. A lot of information you need to hang the story on done in long dialogue.

How old is Bryan? While I read this, he flickers between really young, like 13 and early 20's. I think his dialogue sounds really young, but the description of him gives me a slightly older feeling.

I love your writing, Dave. And I can see possibilities here just knowing a bit of how twisted your stories tend to be. But that's inside knowledge. And that's the only thing I have saying "read on".

Nice continuation! Might even be close to the truth. ;-)

Dave Fragments said...

This is another one of my old stories I want to work on this summer. Bryan is a college kid working at an archeological site restoring old statues. He's a little too eager to please. But then, maybe life as a zombie wouldn't be all bad. I never did anticipate professorial sex.

Christine's continuation would work better with Bryan being Brianna and then we could have that incredibly cliched, torrid romance scene of the buxom gal being tied naked to the sacrificial table and the professor being the high priest. It's slightly more complex than playing doctor in that Professor Duncan could be renamed Professor Santangelo and he could give Brianna Italian injections.

Chris Eldin said...

I also couldn't pin Bryan's age, for the same reason Sarah suggested.

I think this has a lot of possibilities, but the dialogue has to be more authentic to the characters.

Good luck with it!!

Whirlochre said...

I'm stuck on where the action is taking place, so although we're straight into the characters and the dialogue, it's suspended in limbo.

The dialogue itself is snappy — but as it's the main vehicle here for info, I can hear a hint of radio play in it.

That said, it sets up possibilities that I'd be happy to continue reading about. I have no idea whether it will play out as humourous or scary.

Scott from Oregon said...

I thought you started with an awkward bit of dialogue.

I would flip things, start here--

"Bryan scrubbed the grime off the statue of a satyr. He wore only work boots, cutoff jeans and gloves. His young and well-muscled body glistened with sweat, mossy residue and soapy water that splashed as he worked to restore the marble satyr..."

I'd dump the word "glistened" because it's not only overused, it fails to describe the mossy bits and only barely covers the soapy bits in your string. "Was covered in" or some derivitive, perhaps?

The dialogue, yes to others, had a rather unnatural quality to it, too full of story, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Agree with much of what's been said but I wanted to add a positive note. I really like the word Satyr. It made me read on. (I did also think of professorial/accolyte sex, having scanned the dictionary and found satyriasis. Wondered why you mentioned it if you didn't want Robin's and my head to tumble into the gutter as we imagined all sorts of fun with suds. Sorry, I did not think of butterflys.)And the Satyr makes me think Greek which did not mesh (for me) with the earlier Egyptian ref. Maybe you could make it a statue of Anubis. (???) So, I just thought I'd mention that.


fairyhedgehog said...

I found it a bit stilted but I loved the young body glistening with sweat and soapy water. Maybe mossy residue could come later, as I stumbled on it coming straight after glistening.

I guessed that the professor had evil designs on Bryan but I wasn't sure what Bryan was up to. He sounded like he was going to be the love interest for somebody - the professor, or someone else?

I like the continuation a lot. I'd also like to know what happens next in the original.

fairyhedgehog said...

EE, did Blogger just eat my comment?

Dave Fragments said...

"Imenkraptep" Odd, I can't seem to find him in my Egyptology texts :-)

I said satyr twice, too that makes it even worse. This story is about undead demons and other zombies-like creatures. The way the "scrolls" describe making a zombie guard is to raise a demon and entrap the demon inside the victim's chest.

As for location - Herculaneum or Pompeii are easy possibilities. Any Greek or Roman city with ancient ruins would work.

Neither "What nonsense, creating the undead. It sounds so B-movie-ish and scary kid's story. Hard to believe that people were ever that superstitious,"
"I'd be thrilled." Bryan laughed, his blue eyes sparkling with anticipation.
came across as eye-rolling sarcasm. I thought it was obvious but apparently, it isn't. Grumble! Why can't all of you read my mind? Stupid me? It sounded good at the time. I will fix it.

By the way, Bob... {wink} ... Bryan isn't a reluctant participant. He's willingly participating thinking that he'll be able to control the demon inside of his body and he'll have power over the professor. Neither of those two putz's are correct. I mean, if you really, truly raise a demon from hell, do you think it would let you control it?

Thanks, y'all.

Evil Editor said...

Eyes sparkling with anticipation are seldom rolling.

Dave Fragments said...

Yeah, I know... beat me when I'm down... I love it... Flog me... Whip me... Kick my poor, decrepit body to the curb with the rest of the dog droppings and road kill. Strap me down and make me watch FOX news.
Just don't make me watch LOST or The HILLS or The RICHES or IDOL!

talpianna said...

Is it hot in here, or is it just Scott?

You wouldn't find an Egyptian embalming table in Herculaneum or Pompeii, you'd find it in EGYPT!!! And satyrs are Graeco-Roman mythology, not Egyptian. Moreover, the Egyptian method of embalming was to bury the body (I think for a month or two) in a tub of preservative salts.

And I'm sure a CARPENTER wouldn't be allowed anywhere near it! I shall ask my friend the retired British Museum Assistant Keeper, she who gave up on THE DA VINCI CODE after the first two words, and post her reply.

Anonymous said...

nice unchosen cont, ww. That overcaffeinated gerbil is a great visual.

First sentences/paragraphs need to raise questions in the reader's mind, to encourage them to read on. After the obvious one of 'Why does he want an Egyptian embalming table?' my next was:

'Where was Bryan while the Professor climbed the stairs? With him? Above him? Waiting in the courtyard with a baseball bat?'

The lack of specific reference points - a feat considering facts were given - interfered with my ability to build a quick mental stage on which I could watch the characters move and talk.

This could be got around with a very minor rewrite:

"...Bryan asked as Professor Duncan came into the courtyard. [the word 'came' lets the reader know Bryan is already in the courtyard]

"Indeed it was. The carpenter's down there undoing the crate."" ['down there' establishes the fact of the basement workshop without spelling it out]

My mental stage is now basically set, although I still can't tell what the pov is. Much as I appreciate a half-nude, buffed and glistening body of either gender, I'd like to know whether I'm supposed to be appreciating it from his own head (ain't I awesome, man?) or the head of the apparently lecherous professor.

Egyptian artifacts and hot bods are ood seeds - can they germinate into a stronger vine?

writtenwyrdd said...

Imankraptep? He's the guy who usually carried the holy spittoon, Dave.

I like the voice of this. I usually do like your warped and twisty tales, Dave. I agree with others who said this seems to be trying to establish too much too fast, but it did seem that something would be happening to hunky pool boy, er, scrub the statue boy, in short order.

I'd read on.

Dave Fragments said...

Ouch! Well I asked for it.

talpianna said...

From my museum-curator friend:

No, as you say, in spite of the influence of some aspects of Egyptian religion in the Roman Empire, the mummification process was essentially restricted to Egypt itself. Embalming tables were actually used: they had a tilted surface, and were normally made of stone. The corpse needed to be laid on a suitable working surface for many of the stages of mummification. The initial one was the washing of the body and the removal of the viscera, some of which were separately preserved and later reunited with their owner. The body cavities were filled with natron and the whole body was covered with the same salt for about six weeks, after which the dried-out corpse was cleaned again, packed, and wrapped. I am not an expert on the process (I'm not an Egyptologist, after all), but I imagine that small corpses - sacred animals, infants, and, of course, the lungs, hearts, livers and stomachs of adult humans, which would be buried with them ultimately, might well simply have been placed in a pit of natron.

Museum practice: carpenters and young men 'scrubbing the grime off ' and splashing soapy water about the place do not get anywhere near antiquities, whether Classical or Egyptian. Cleaning and restoration are carried out by trained conservators, who have basic science degrees, specialised higher degrees in conservation studies, and often additional qualifications and practical skills. They are more likely to be wearing lab coats and surgical gloves than shorts and work-boots. Washing is sometimes an appropriate treatment for some objects, but it usually involves distilled water and very gentle handling indeed.

Julie Weathers said...

Everything I have to say has been said, but I feel like I should toss in my opinion anyway. I know you all are waiting for it.

"Yes indeed it was. The carpenter's reassembling it."~

I agree with EE on this one. I would have him ask if the delivery truck yesterday had the table. I'm assuming this table is going to be a little more than the bookcase from Walmart with "some assembly required" stamped on its 6" side.

"What nonsense, creating the undead. It sounds so B-movie-ish and scary kid's story. Hard to believe that people were ever that superstitious,"~

I thought mummification was to preserve the body for the afterlife/resurrection. If it's going to be shown it was an attempt to create undead, we need more explanation.

My well-muscled body doesn't normally glisten with sweat when I am up to my elbows washing my satyr. The description sounds like a lusty female watching him. I would also change one of the satyrs.

"They believed that the undead guarded the Pharaoh like supernatural bodyguards.~

I would change the guarded to watched over so you don't repeat guard so closely.

"I'd be thrilled." Bryan laughed, his blue eyes sparkling with anticipation.~

I would just have him roll his eyes and snort or something to show how skeptical he is.

Is Bryan responsive to a guy hitting on him?

That being said, I am a sucker for Egyptian stories. I'd like you to flesh this out more and let us linger. You're a good writer, so tease us with details instead of giving us the quickie tour.

It reminds me of the time my dad took me through Virginia City. We drove down main street and didn't even stop.

"There, you've seen Virginia City."

writtenwyrdd said...

See, even though I knew all the stuff tal shares here, I was willing to give Dave credit for fixing it all in short order. I would have trusted him to arrange it so all things made sense-- like perhaps this is Victorian era and more rough-and-ready means are being used. Not to mention I'm reading Nightlife of the Gods at present and it reminded me of that extremely goofy book.

Dave Fragments said...

Stop, stop. I wrote that one message while I was getting dinner ready for eating during the Book Discussion and I wrote Pompeii and Herculaneum quickly and without thought. And in the midsts of cold sandwiches, salad and phone calls, I forgot I said "Egyptian Embalming table" so that's where the confusion comes in.

I'll make this story consistent, that's what all this discussion is about. It will be all Egyptian or all Roman or all Greek. And there will be a good reason for him "washing" the statue with soap and water. And Bryan will not be scrubbing an ancient statue, but a replica.

I appreciate all the comments.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure who's POV this is supposed to be. The first name you mention is Bryan, but it doesn't appear to be his POV, because of the descriptions of "his young and well-muscled body," etc. It might be the professor's POV as suggested by the continuation, but that's not clear. You could go with omniscient, but that will maintain an emotional distance from your characters, making it harder for a reader to connect.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Dave. Didn't see your comment to stop the beatings before I posted. ;) Best of luck with this! It sounds fun.


Dave Fragments said...

That's OK. The POV is a problem and your post is OK. I have to decide who's telling the story and give them the POV.

I just wanted to stop the discussion of what is and isn't Egyptian. I made a mistake in haste and it wasn't fair to let the minions go on.