William Doonan

I write books and stories.

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Five

with 3 comments

June 13, 2011

Seville, Spain

Hanson       http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

Guys, it’s about seven in the morning here and I’m terrified.  I just got back to the apartment and I need to get all this down before I have a stroke.  And I apologize in advance; I haven’t gotten to any of your stuff yet.  I probably won’t get to it today either because I’m not leaving the apartment.

OK, so I spent yesterday morning wandering the old city.  I walked around the cathedral and then visited the Alcazar, the giant fortress that was the center of government for the Moors until they lost the civil war in 1492.  It took me about three hours to meander through all the palace rooms and gardens, and admire the mosaics.  And the whole time, I had this suspicion that someone was watching me.  I didn’t see anybody, but I could feel it.

When I walked out through the gates, back into the old city, I sat down and just stared at the archive.  I catch my breath every time I look at this great building.  This was once the Council of the Indies, as you know, the nexus of all exploration in the new world.  This building is where exploration permits were written, where trade licenses were negotiated, and where treasure and plunder was recorded.  For a short time, this building would have been the center of the world.

Anyway, it was really hot out, and I think I might have spent too much time in the sun, so I went back to the apartment and took a nap.  Next thing I know, it’s 10:00 at night.  I hadn’t had anything to eat, so I figured I’d head out.  The old city is a maze of narrow streets and paths, too small to get a car through, you’d think, but people manage.  And it’s easy to get lost because there are so many twists and turns.  It took me about six minutes to lose my way.  Everything looked just a little different at night.  And it was also deserted, all closed up, being Sunday.

So I kept walking, trying to find my way to some main street that I recognized, when I heard laughter coming from up ahead.  Good, I told myself, I’ll catch up and ask whoever is laughing how to get out of the maze.  So I started walking faster, turning down one little lane after another, but the laughter seemed always to be up ahead.  Finally, I started running, and when I turned the next corner, I nearly ran into the two little gypsy twins, the boys from the restaurant a couple of days ago.  They pointed at me and then they bolted.  I didn’t know what to make of it, but it was definitely creepy.

At this point, I was really lost.  I was in a part of the old city I hadn’t been to before, and the paths were really narrow.  So I decided I would turn back the way I came, but when I turned around, I saw two guys behind me.  They were gypsies, no question about it.  Dingy looking guys in their fifties, they were smoking, and they were coming right at me.

“What do you want?” I shouted, but they didn’t answer.  I tried it in Spanish too, but they kept coming.  I ran.  I followed the path as it turned, and I ran right into the side of a white Mercedes which was blocking the path.  The back door opened and this old guy stepped out.  He was a gypsy too, that much was clear by the beads and the pom-poms in the car, but he was dressed nice  in a white suit and a cape.  He was smoking too.  Meanwhile, the other two were right behind me.

I was scared to death, certain that they were going to rob me or worse.  “I’ll call for the police,” I told him.  I should have said it in Spanish, being in Spain, but it didn’t occur to me.  I spun around to face the others.  “Don’t you touch me,” I yelled.

“They’re not going to touch you,” the man by the car said.  “They’re low caste.  To them, you are mahrime, polluted, as are all non-Rom.  It would take weeks to purify themselves, to remove your filth.”

My filth?  “What do you want?”  I kind of wedged myself up into a doorway so that I could keep an eye on all three of them.  “Who are you?”

“We’ll start with who you are,” he said.  “There’s something special about you, isn’t there?  My daughter-in-law smelled it on you.  And you frightened my grandsons.”  He leaned against the car.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, but I told him I was a historian.  I told him about the excavations, about the church ruins.”

“So you were there, down there at the edge of the world?”

“If you think coastal Peru is the edge of the world, then sure.”

“You’ve seen them, the creatures?”

“Creatures?”  I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“And during the night, you never went outside?”

I told him about Erdulfo, and how he keeps things locked up at night because of the drunk cane cutters, but he just laughed.

“So you don’t know.”

“Don’t know what?”

“You don’t know who you’ve gotten involved with.”

I asked him who he was.

“Sacromonte,” he said, puffing on his cigarette.  “My family has lived in this city for more than five hundred years.  Metalworkers we were, forging blades for Queen Isabella when she lay siege to the Alcazar.  My people were rewarded handsomely after her victory.  Metalworkers, we were, and we desired one metal more than any other.  Do you know what metal that is, payo?”

I nodded.  “Gold.  But Isabella didn’t have any gold left.  I’m a historian,” I reminded him.

“That’s right.  She offered silver, but instead we waited.  We waited nearly fifty years.  And then we reminded the new king of his grandmother’s debt to us, a debt which had been running up interest for fifty years.”

“King Charles.”  I nodded.  As terrified as I was, I was fascinated.  “He had already been crowned Holy Roman emperor.”

“Yes.  And the Holy Roman emperor owed my family now more gold than was available in all of Spain.  So we made a deal.  We would go to the Americas ourselves.  So we served as soldiers and grooms and valets, but we got what we wanted.  We made it to the Viceroyalty.  We were getting closer to the gold.”

“Wait a second.”  I stepped out of the doorway but the two other guys moved in, so I jumped back onto my perch.

“Forgive them,” Sacromonte said.  “They don’t speak English.  They don’t speak much of anything.  Low-born, but they’re good thieves and they keep their mouths shut.  And remember, they’d never touch you.”

I decided to test this.  I took a bold step toward them and raised my right hand as if to shake.  They nearly fell over themselves jumping away, but my success was short-lived.  They pulled identical truncheons from inside their coats and came towards me.  I pulled back to my perch in the doorway.

“Just a moment more and you’ll be on your way,” Sacromonte told me.  “Do you understand what I am telling you?”

“I think so,” I said.  “You’re saying that five hundred years ago, some members of your family, gypsies, traveled to Peru in search of gold that had been promised by Queen Isabella.”

“That’s right.  We sailed in 1540.”

“Amazing.  I’d love to interview you for my research,” I told him.

He spat on the ground.  “I don’t think you’ll live long enough.”

If he saw the fear and confusion on my face, he did nothing to put me at ease.  In fact, he did quite the opposite.  “He’ll come for you now,” he said.

“Who?”  I was getting frightened all over again.  The other two sensed it and they started tapping their sticks against their legs.

Sacromonte shook his head.  “We’ll talk more, payo.  Maybe I can yet save your life.”  He brought a leather case from his jacket and took out a card.  He extended it gingerly, careful not to touch my hand.  Under a drawing of a green wagon wheel, was the name ‘Melchor Sacromonte’ along with an address.  “You will come tomorrow night.  Use the back door.”

“Why should I do that?  You know, I’m not really enjoying this.”

“We never got the gold,” he continued.  “Oh, we found it.  We found more than we were owed.  But we didn’t know about the creatures.  Didn’t know what they were capable of.  If your associates are still down there, they won’t be alive much longer.  Neither will you.  Now promise me you will come tomorrow night.”

My heart was racing; I didn’t know what to do.

“I’ll know if you’re lying,” he told me, and I had no doubt he was telling the truth.

“No.”

He shook his head sadly.  “Then I’m truly sorry.”

Remember, I had been crouching in this little doorway because it at least offered a vantage point to keep an eye on all three of these guys.  But I had given scant thought to whose doorway it was, so I was unprepared when the door swung open and I fell back into the darkness.  The room smelled like death itself, moldy and damp, and part of the floor had rotted out.  There was an empty bookcase on the far wall with a lit candle resting on top.  Were it not for the candle, I would have bet my life that nobody had been in the room for decades.

I scrambled for the doorway but the two guys blocked my way.  When I turned around, I saw a figure standing in the shadows.  He was stooped over and he came toward me slowly.  This might sound strange, Laney, but I swear the room got colder.  I think I nearly dropped dead with fright.

I couldn’t see his face until he got very close, until he put his hand on my arm.  Then he looked up at me.  Laney, I’m no longer certain about anything in life.  I’m not convinced the earth actually does revolve around the sun.  Maybe science has it all wrong.  But I’ll tell you one thing I know for certain.   This guy was dead.

I jumped back and ran.  I think those two gypsy guys weren’t expecting me to move so fast, or maybe they were just so afraid of touching me, but they scrambled out of the way and I ran.  I ran down that alley and I kept running until I saw people, lots of people.  I took a seat at an outdoor bar and I drank until the first rays of sunlight gave me some hope that the entire earth hadn’t just turned itself into some unanticipated kind of hell.

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Written by williamdoonan

November 28, 2011 at 4:57 am

3 Responses

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  1. Night of the Living Dead meets Sheltering Sky meets at the Mountains of Madness! This is the heith of hi concept!

    deadpaintersgallery

    November 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

  2. So the guy is freaked out but he has time for a data dump: “I walked around the cathedral and then visited the Alcazar, the giant fortress that was the center of government for the Moors until they lost the civil war in 1492.” Maybe it doesn’t have to be so detailed. “…this gigantic fortress the Moors used until the civil war in the 1400s. But that doesn’t matter…” The same thing happens in the next paragraph with “Council of the Indies.”

    You wrote: “It would take weeks to purify themselves, to remove your filth.” My filth? “What do you want?” I doubt he’d mull something over, like “My filth?” in an e-mail.

    You wrote: “I took a bold step toward them and raised my right hand as if to shake.” I’d add something like, “…my right hand as if to shake it” or “…and fisted my hand in the air.”

    You wrote: “He extended it gingerly…” I just can’t buy a guy would write this in an e-mail.

    I like the build-up, the introduction of the old man, and the dead guy. Cool!

    Carole Avila

    September 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

    • Good, good, good. I’m working on compiling all this for an e-book, so this is extremely helpful. Thank you, Carole.

      williamdoonan

      September 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm


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