William Doonan

I write books and stories.

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Twenty-One

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June 28, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson        http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

I miss you, Laney.  I would dearly love to know if I’m still dearly loved.  I hope you’re not souring on me just because I’m an international criminal.

I’ve changed identities more rapidly than expected.  My pickpocketing roommates keep an abundance of wallets strewn about the apartment, but I consistently pick the wrong ones.

For two days, I was Jakob Wempel of Berlin, Ohio.  I wore eyeglasses and a long fake beard.  Identification is required to access the research library at the University of Seville, so I handed over Jakob’s Ohio driver’s license, and began searching for historical references to Sebastiano Gota, and to our new undead friends; Cuellar and Duran.

Nothing came of it, except a link to a source called ‘Archivo Rota’ the broken archive, which nobody seems to have heard of.  Then Jakob’s uncles came for me.

Amos and Samuel Wempel each took an arm and led me outside to their truck.  Apparently, they’d been alerted when their nephew’s stolen ID lit up on some database.  Apparently too, they were Mennonites. 

I spent an uncomfortable half hour drinking unpasteurized milk with Amos and Samuel, denying everything.  Mistaken identity, I assured them.  I was Abraham Prim, of Barcelona, and this was just a simple case of mistaken Mennonite identity. We hugged as we parted, and they admired my beard.

I returned the next day as Elvis Tanaka of Kyoto, Japan.  It’s risky stealing the identity of someone from another race, but Elvis’ wallet contained a credit card overlooked by my roommates, so I took the risk.

Copying archival materials is expensive, but Elvis Tanaka spent 900 euros to copy nine fat documents so that I wouldn’t have to risk returning to the University each day.  I’d like to think it was worth his investment. 

I recognized Elvis instantly when his tour bus pulled up at the University gates.  Several dozen Japanese tourists accompanied him as he stormed into the library, presumably to reacquire his credit card.  I’ve never seen so many cameras.

I kept my Maglite burning all night as I pored over those documents, searching for answers to questions I hadn’t even adequately framed.  All I got were dead ends, and a reference to the ‘Archivo Rota Soledad’ – the broken archive of loneliness.

Sacromonte came for me in the morning.  “It’s about time,” I told him.  “I have questions.”

“I do too,” he said.  We sat in his office, and he poured me a brandy.

“What is a sopay?” I asked.

“It’s a malevolent,” he said.  “How did you become part of this project?”

“What is a malevolent?”

“Answer my question.”  He picked up a pair of dice and began rolling them in his hands.

So I told him about us, Laney.  I told him about the party back in New Haven, when from across the room our eyes met.  I told him it was academic karma – we both studied sixteenth-century Peru.  I told him that you lured me back to your apartment, not that I was resisting, and that you lured me to Peru.

“What’s special about you?” Sacromonte asked.

“I’m breathtakingly handsome in a classical sort of way.  What is a sopay?  And don’t use the word malevolent.”

He seemed lost in thought.  “A sopay is a demon of an ancient time.  You’ll find them in the folklore of any tribe, though they might be called something else.”

“So a sopay is a demon of ancient Peru?”

Sacromonte sipped his brandy.  “They whispered to men through the centuries; build me a pyramid, larger and larger.  Bring me gold.  In return, your departed loved ones can walk again.”

“Mummies.”

He nodded.  “The sopays live deep within the pyramids.  Their minions – shadowy creatures that can barely be seen – lay their hands on a person, living or dead, and transform them into something undying.”

“So Duran and Cuellar are real – undead conquistadors?”

“They are.  In committing their crime, Duran and Cuellar unwittingly returned the gold to the sopay in that pyramid, gold the Inca themselves had stolen.”

“So they were killed and turned into walking mummies as a reward?”

“A sopay’s logic need not mirror our own,” Sacromonte said.  “What is special about you?  Are you the best in the world at something?”

I didn’t know what to say.  “I’m fluent in Latin.  I can read sixteenth-century Spanish, even handwriting, as if it were typed text.  I am a researcher of uncanny skills.  I have commendations, awards, a Ph.D.  I’ve written two books on colonial Peru.  I find things that other scholars overlook.  What is the Archivo Rota Soledad?”

“I have no notion.”

“Hold on.  What’s your interest in all this?”

“I already told you.  I want what is owed to me.  I want my family’s gold.”

“If you’ve been reading along,” I suggested, “Vasco Cuellar never touched the gold, and when Gumecindo Duran took his share, he left the rest of it in the pyramid.”

“It’s gone.”

“Where is it?”

He shrugged.  “Historians and archaeologists have been searching for centuries, But that sopay grows angrier with each disappointing decade.  That’s why Quiroga assembled the best researchers and built a new team.  That’s why you were chosen.”

“Quiroga?  Who is Quiroga?”

Sacromonte frowned.  “Who do you think you’re running from?”

“I’d say the police.”

“Perhaps, and who do you think owns the police?”

“What are we talking about?”

“Whose harem did you disturb during your daring escape?  Who is it you think everyone is afraid of?”

I stared at him.  “I’m not sure.”

“Gaspar Quiroga y Vela, the Grand Inquisitor; those were his wives.  He chose you to find the hoard.”

“So, an undead Grand Inquisitor has corrupted law enforcement in the process of sponsoring archaeological excavations to find stolen Inca gold.  Is that what you’re telling me?

He nodded.  “And he needs the best people in the world working on it.  He needs you.  Quiroga became something different when he gave himself to that sopay.  And sopay wants his gold back.  It belongs to him.  It sustains him.”

I shook my head.  “No, then why did they come for me at the Archive?  Why did they lock me up in the Alcazar if I was supposedly working for them?”

“Because you found something unexpected, not the hoard, but a dangerous book.  A book long thought to be legend, but if it exists, Malleus Momias is the only thing left that can harm him.”

I had to think.  “That day when your granddaughter saw me, that whole thing about me being damned – that was all some gypsy game, right?  You were just trying to get me to work with you.”

“That’s right.”

“So I’m not damned?”

“Possibly not, but sopays are powerful corruptive forces.  You’re already too close.  The dreams will come soon.”

“It still doesn’t make sense,” I told him.  “Quiroga, or the sopay, whatever – it wasn’t him who brought me onto the project.  It was Laney.”

Sacromonte looked down at the table.  I heard the first notes of the flamenco music outside as the dancers began practicing their moves.

Laney, can we talk?

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Written by williamdoonan

March 25, 2012 at 3:00 am

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