The steady clicking of high heeled shoes filled the hallway outside of Detective Dandy’s office. After a few moments the silhouette of a woman was outlined on the glass of his door. She seemed to hesitate before knocking. Finally, she rapped on the door, causing Dandy to put down the book he had been studying.
“Come in.” He said. Opening the door, a young woman, probably in her mid to late 30s, with short blonde hair and green eyes stood before him.
“Detective John Dandy?” She asked, looking around the office, as if there was something more she had been expecting.
“That’s me.” Answered Dandy.
“I’m in need of your…expertise.” She said, searching for the right word. Dandy gestured to the empty chair before him.
“Please, take a seat.” The young woman sat down, uneasy. The detective leaned in. “What can I do for you?” he said with a smile, doing his best to make the young woman comfortable. .
“My name is Delilah Ashcroft, I’ve come to talk to you about my uncle, Warren.” Dandy stroked his mustache for a moment.
“Warren Ashcroft, I know the name. He’s a famous adventurer and archaeologist, isn’t he?”
“That’s right. Say, you don’t mind if I smoke, do you?” Delilah asked, pulling out a cigarette.
“Not at all, if it will help you.” Dandy replied. Delilah fished around her handbag for a moment, producing a lighter. Once she took her first drag, she seemed to calm down, her shoulders unclenching.
“So what is it that brings you to me?” Dandy asked after a moment, allowing the woman to relax. She exhaled a puff of smoke.
“Uncle Warren has gone missing.” She said, a look of worry creeping across her face.
“A missing person’s case,” he said. “Have you notified the police?” Dandy asked.
“Well, Mr. Dandy, that’s just the thing, as I said, I need your expertise. The police, they would never believe me if I told them…” she trailed off, biting her lip. Dandy could tell that she wasn’t even sure herself about what she was going to say.
“Whatever you have to say,” said Dandy reassuringly, “I’ve heard and seen stranger things. Go ahead.” Delilah swallowed hard.
“There’s a mummy involved.” She said finally. “And I think…I think there’s a curse.”
“A curse, you say?” Now the Detective was intrigued.
“Yes, you see, my uncle and his team discovered a fresh tomb with a perfectly preserved Mummy. They dug it all up and put it on display at the Natural Museum of History. And, well, that’s when things began to go awry.” She paused for a moment, taking another drag of her cigarette. “You see,” she began again, “members of the expedition began to disappear or…or to die.” She shuddered at the last word.
“You mean there have been deaths already?” Dandy asked, alarmed.
“That’s right. One of the party died in a car crash just last week. And now my uncle has gone missing. The police don’t suspect foul play, but I believe, well, I know it sounds silly, but I think that the discovery of that mummy did something to the crew that found it.” She looked hard at the ground. Dandy had seen this look before, when his clients thought they were going mad.
“Well, it’s too early to say anything for sure, but if you’re willing to hire me, I’ll look into it. I can cover the angles that normal police work will eschew.”
“That’s why I came to you, I knew you wouldn’t think I’m crazy,” she exclaimed, “even if I myself sort of think so.” She leaned back in her chair, relieved at the idea that someone might believe her.
“Of course, I can’t say there will be anything to your theory for sure.” Dandy said. “But I’ll do what I can to find some answers and to locate your uncle.”
“Oh, thank you so much, Detective.” Delilah said with a grateful sigh.
“Just a few questions,” Dandy began. “When was the last time you saw your uncle?”
“It was just last week, about three days ago, at the unveiling of the mummy in the museum. He was so proud. He had made the discovery of his lifetime. And then he just…vanished.”
“And what about the other members of the party, who are they?” Dandy asked.
“I didn’t have as much contact with them, but there were four others: Roger McVay, who died in the car accident, Angela Horn, Cooper Davis, and Lazlo Martin.” Dandy wrote down the names of the party members in his notebook, then smoothed the corners of his mustache.
“Maybe I can concentrate on finding the rest of the team and see what they know.” he steepled his fingers together.
“The museum will have their contact information.” Delilah said.
“That’s good,” Dandy began, “because I’d like to see this exhibit for myself and look around for any clues.”
“So you’ll really take the case?” Asked Deliliah. “Even though it sounds completely insane?”
“Strange and unusual, and some would say, insane, is my specialty.” The Detective said with a comforting smile. “If there’s something to be found, rest assured, miss, I’ll find it.” With a nod, Delilah stood up and put her hand on the doorknob. She lingered a moment.
“Thank you so much, Detective. I hope you find something.”
“I’ll be in touch,” he replied. Once Delilah departed Dandy stood up and grabbed his white panama hat and blazer off the rack near the door. With the essentials in hand, he headed off.
When Dandy arrived at the museum, he found the grounds in a stir. Not only were the police there, but reporters were crawling about the place. This, the old man knew, could not be good. He flashed his I.D. and was permitted to cross the yellow tape. In fact, the guard on duty seemed to be more than glad to see him.
“We got a weird one today, right up your alley. Said the police officer.
“Weird how?” Dandy asked. The guard just shook his head.
“You’ll have to see for yourself, Detective.” Dandy entered the museum and looked around. Police moved to and fro, scattered all about. Whatever had happened, it must have been big.
“Oh, Dale.” Called Dandy, spotting his old friend Captain Dale Perkins. “Dale, what’s going on here?” He asked. Dale shook his head.
“It’s bad, Dandy. We’re looking at theft and murder.” Dale put his hands on his hips and sighed. “There was a guard on duty last night, they discovered his body this morning, strangeld.” Dandy let out a shaken sigh. Strangulation was particularly brutal to him, given the amount of force and will it took in order to complete the assault.
“Poor man.” Dandy said, hanging his head. “You say there was a theft as well?” He added after a moment.
“That’s right, a priceless mummy was stolen, and a couple artifacts, a large ring and amulet. Can’t figure out why that’s the only relics they took but–”
“This was the mummy recently discovered by Warren Ashcroft and his team, right?” Dandy asked.
“I see you’ve been keeping up with the papers.” Dale replied.
“A detective always knows the score, Dale.” Dandy said with a wry smile. Dale
waved his hand.
“What do you want to see first, the body or the missing exhibit?” Dandy stroked his chin for a moment.
“Let’s see the body.” He declared. Dale led him over to another roped off area, one that no reporter was allowed to get near. Under a white sheet lay the body of a man in his 50s, Dandy would guess. A look of sheer horror etched onto his face. He let out a whistle upon seeing the deep bruise marks upon the man’s neck.
“Whoever did this was strong. I mean really strong.” Dandy said, looking at Perkins.
“Yeah, our assailant was a real animal. We suspect he snuck up on the guard late at night and overpowered him from behind.” Dandy shook his head.
“I don’t think so, Dale. Look at the man’s face. Whoever attacked him, he must have seen them coming, that’s a look of terror I’ve never seen before.” Dale let out a sigh. The two looked over the body for a moment. Nothing seemed to be missing, the keys were still on the guards belt, even.
“It really is horrible, Dandy. This man died painfully.” Dale said with a grimace.
“Indeed he did. But what for?” Dandy asked.
“Whoever did it wanted the mummy, have a look.” Dale pointed to the exhibit, shattered glass surrounding an open sarcophagus.
“So,” began Dandy slowly, “our killer surprises the guard, strangles him, busts open the glass, pries open the coffin and…what? Carries off the mummy all by themselves.” He said doubtfully.
“Could be more than one of them.” Dale said. Dandy thought about this theory for a moment. He knelt down and examined the broken glass.
“Dale, I don’t think so. I think we’re looking for one assailant here.” Dale looked puzzled.
“And what makes you so sure of that?” He asked. Dandy turned his head looking at the Captain.
“Well, for starters,” he said pointing, “this glass was broken from the inside.
It was a few days before Dandy made any headway on the case. After all, his only suspect, as he only admitted to himself, was a corpse that had been dead for thousands of years. Of course none of the police, not even Dale, would buy this theory, though the only evidence at the scene of the crime seemed to say there was in fact some sort of reanimated corpse walking around. To them, as always, there had to be some other explanation. But Dandy had seen the dead come to life before, and thus this idea was, in the end, just another day for him. Sitting in his office studying the coroner’s report on the guard, his phone rang.
“Detective John Dandy,” he said into the receiver.
“Oh thank God I’ve reached you. My name is Angela Horn. I was on the expedition that unearthed the mummy that’s gone missing. I just hope you’re the right man to call.” Dandy shifted in his seat.
“Calm down, ma’am. Now I know about you. You were working for Warren Ashcroft, who’s disappeared–” Angela cut in.
“And Roger, poor Roger But–” she trailed off, her voice filled with fear. Finally she spoke again. “But I don’t think Roger was an accident. I think it was the curse.”
“The curse of the mummy.” Dandy added.
“Please, you have to believe me. Just this morning Cooper Davis’ home burned to the ground, with him inside!”
“Cooper Davis, he was another of your party, wasn’t he?”
“Yes, and now he’s dead. That only leaves Lazlo and, if he’s even alive still, Warren. Please, Detective, you have to do something.” she said frantically.
“I’m only a detective, and a detective needs all the pieces of the puzzle to figure out just what’s going on.” he said. He didn’t want to frighten the woman anymore than she already was. But the truth was he had very little to go on. “Tell me,” added Dandy trying to smooth the conversation over, “what do you know about the artifacts that went missing from the museum. According to my source there was a ring and an amulet.”
“An amulet!” she cried.
“That’s right, what do you know about it?” Dandy asked.
“It must be the amulet of Amon. We discovered it in the tomb.”
“The Amulet of Amon?” Echoed Dandy.
“It’s–it’s said to reanimate the dead. It’s supposed to give the wearer some sort of supernatural power. It all seemed like mumbo jumbo until…until I started thinking about this curse.”
Reanimate the Dead, Dandy thought to himself, this case becomes more and more unlikely and yet…things begin to add up.
“Please Detective, you have to do something. I’ve read about you in the papers, I know you believe there’s more out there than makes sense in a rational world. I know you’ve seen it.” she implored
“In fact I have experienced it many times, unfortunately.” He paused for a moment. “Can you tell me where you’re staying in case I need to get in touch with you again.” There was only silence.
“I’m–I’m staying at a motel just outside of town, I can’t go home. But I’ll contact you in a few days.”
“I understand,” he said. There was a click on the other line, Angela had hung up. Dandy sat for a moment, reflecting on everything he had just learned. He was deep in thought when a shadowy figure appeared before his door. The figure loomed, unmoving.
“Who’s there?” Dandy called after a moment. But there was no response. Slowly the door opened, revealing a bandaged hand creeping its way into Dandy’s office. At first Dandy couldn’t make it out, but then the door flung open wide and, standing there in the doorway like a giant, was the form of an undead mummy.
“Good Lord!” cried Dandy, springing up from his chair. The Mummy lumbered into the office, its arms outstretched. It made a horrible growling noise, low and steady. Dandy backed himself against a wall, desperately looking around for some way to fend off the walking corpse. But still the mummy grew closer and closer.
“Amon, I presume.” said the Detective, bullets of sweat forming on his forehead. The undead thing lumbered forward, aiming its decrepit hands at the Detective’s neck. Dandy gulped hard.
“Big fan of strangling?” Asked the Detective, loosening his tie. Luckily the mummy was slow and missed him as Dandy sidestepped toward the door. The old Detective noticed that, on the mummies left hand some of the bandaging had come undone, and it was this detail that gave him an idea. Dashing for the door, Dandy stood in the port way, taunting the mummy.
“Come on, come one, band aid breath.” Dandy shouted. He stretched out a hand and grabbed the loose bandage from the Mummy’s wrist. It felt like it might just disintegrate if he were to pull too hard, eons of time weakening the disgusting wrapping. Carefully he gave a tug and more of the gauze came loose. He put it in the doorway and slammed it shut. He could see the shadow of the mummy tugging to get itself free, but for the moment, the dreadful thing was trapped. Dandy leaned his back against the door for a second, but it was a second too long. The other bandaged hand shot through the glass, shattering it and grasping for Dandy’s throat. The Detective shot back against the opposite wall quicker than he had guessed a man his age could move. In his haste he realized he had lost his pale grey blazer to the mummy’s grip. The Detective looked at the broken glass on the floor, then to the hand desperately trying to reach him.
“I, uh, must be going.” he said, tipping his hat to the mummy. But now, strangely, the mummy seemed calm, unmoving with the blazer in its grip. To Dandy, however, the placid nature of the strangling monster did not mean much. Like a man twenty years younger, the Detective dashed off in the direction of safety. Once out on the street he fumbled desperately for some change to use on the nearest payphone.
“Hello, police,” he cried, trying to catch his breath, “this is detective John Dandy and there’s an assailant in my private office, send help right away! 315 Dual Spires Drive.” He cried. The voice on the other end assured him there would be police arriving in a few short minutes, and for Dandy to stay calm. The old man looked around, the Mummy was nowhere to be found.
When the police finally showed up, guns drawn, Dandy followed them up to his office. Aside from the broken glass and a completely ransacked room, there was nothing to be seen.
“Whoever was here is gone now, Detective.” Said the nearest officer, holstering his weapon. “Did you get a good look at the attacker?” he asked, looking around the trashed office.
“Believe me son,” Dandy said, kneeling to the ground. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” And there, in his hands, was a dusty old bandage that had been caught in the doorway.
The next day, sitting in his ransacked office, Dandy flipped through the newspaper. Suddenly he bolted upright, having spotted an obituary. Angela Horn, age 37, was found dead. Drowned in a motel pool. The police chalked it up to an accident, but Dandy knew better. That made three of the excavation team dead from what were labeled “accidentes.” This was too much of a coincidence and, being a detective, Dandy did not believe in such a thing. Was she the latest victim of the Mummy’s curse or was there more going on than he could see? Dandy grimaced, another life that could have been saved had he acted a little quicker. He folded the paper and placed it squarely on his desk. He stared out the window for a moment, trying to connect the pieces. Was someone controlling the mummy with the amulet of Amon? Could it be Warren Ashcroft, who had so suddenly disappeared? Or perhaps the illusive Lazlo Martin, who had yet to come into the picture. Looking to the door, he saw Dale Perkin’s face framed in the broken glass.
“Come on in, Dale.” Dandy said, motioning for him to enter.
“Looks like someone really did a number on your office here, bud.” Dale said, opening the door.
“At least I got away.” Dandy replied. Dale took the seat opposite his old friend.
“So, it was the missing mummy, huh?” Dale said finally.
“Amon.” Dandy said. Dale stroked his chin for a moment.
“Your line of work is a dangerous and strange one.”
“So you believe me?” Asked the Detective.
“Well, I don’t know about that…”
“Then why did you come to see me?” Dandy asked, irritated.
“Well, you mentioned you talked to Delilah Ashcroft and we can’t seem to find her anywhere.”
“She’s gone missing, too, huh?” Dandy said, stroking his mustache. “You know, Dale, there was something off about her…it was her finger…”
“Her Finger?” Asked Dale.
“Never mind, it’s nothing.” Dandy responded. “So it seems everyone has gone missing that’s tied to the mummy. Missing or dead, that is.” he said with a frown.
“What are you going to do, Dandy? You’re on a case and you can’t get paid for it unless you find Delilah Ashcroft.” Dale said, putting his hands behind his head.
“I think we have bigger things to worry about than my getting paid, though,” he looked around the office, “I do need the money to clean this place up.” He tapped his forehead, thinking. “Dale,” he said slowly, “I think she was the key to the puzzle and I let her get away.”
“How do you figure?” Dale asked.
“I’ll have to explain later, I’ve got a hunch I need to follow right now.” He said, exiting the room, leaving Dale sitting there confused.
Standing outside 439 E. Elm street, the Ashcroft residence, Dandy observed the house with his hands in his pocket. He had gotten the address from the fat yellow pages he kept in his office desk. The homes on Elm Street were in a neat little row, and 439 was a picturesque yellow house with red shutters. It didn’t look like the kind of house where anything could go wrong. After a few moments of looking around, he approached the front door. He couldn’t see any signs as to whether anyone was home or not, but he tried the knob, it was open. He slowly entered the home, but just as he did the door shut behind him.
“You got here sooner than I thought you would, Detective.” Said a voice from behind him. Without turning around, Dandy cleared his throat.
“Delilah.” He said coolly. She walked out from behind him, standing confidently with her hands on her hips.
“That’s right. What gave it away?”
“It was the ring finger.” Dandy said curtly. “When you came to see me, I noticed something strange about your finger. It had a stripe of white on it, as if you wore a ring on it all the time, but then it was gone. I couldn’t stop thinking about that detail, so I started to wonder, what if you were married. And what if you weren’t Ashcroft’s niece, but his wife?”
“Ha, that’s not very much proof to go off of, Detective.” She said, shaking her head.
“That’s what I thought, that’s why I got this.” Dandy pulled a folded piece of paper out of his jacket pocket.
“And what’s that?” Delilah asked.
“It’s a copy of Warren Ashcroft’s will. I pulled a few strings, called in a few favors, and got a copy. It very clearly names you, Delilah Ashcroft, as the inheritor of Warren’s fortune should anything happen to him.”
“Very clever, Detective. Very clever.” She said, clapping slowly.
“It’s a classic motive, of course. But why pretend? Why come to me acting the part of the niece? Not simply for my sake, I hope.” Dandy said. Delilah smiled.
“Oh that.” She held up the Detective’s blazer, the one the mummy had ripped from his body. “I had to slip the ring of Amon onto you. See, the Mummy, he’s awfully possessive. He’ll do anything to get his jewels back.”
“Young lady, you owe me a blazer.” Dandy said, staring at the tattered jacket.
“See, with a mummy on the loose, I knew you’d get involved, old man, so I had to try to get rid of you. Unfortunately, once he had the ring, he no longer needed to kill you. He didn’t follow my orders. Or rather, our orders.” Out from the shadows stepped a tall dark man wearing a glowing green amulet around his neck.
“Lazlo Martin, I presume,” said Dandy.
“Right again, Detective.” Lazlo replied.
“I’m flattered you went through all this trouble to get rid of me, I really am.” Dandy said with a quick smile. But I’m afraid the game’s over, I figured it out. That series of “accidents” all orchestrated by you. All that death, on you.”
“Oh and what,” said Delilah, “and the cops are on the way? Don’t give me that line.” She paused for a moment then motioned to Lazlo. “Just kill him already.” Dandy shrank back against a closet door as Lazlo began to rub the glowing green amulet around his neck.
“Amon,” began Lazlo in a deep voice, “do my bidding and kill this man.” For a few moments nothing happened. Then suddenly a bandaged hand shot straight through the closet door on which Dandy rested. He let out a yelp.
“Stop doing that.” he cried. But it was too late, the mummy had him by the arm, grasping him tightly. Dandy struggled to shake the undead hand loose and ran across the room. The mummy broke the remainder of the door down and advanced across the floor toward the Detective. It’s empty eye sockets bore a hole right through Dandy, who was now trapped against the opposite wall. The Mummy walked, it’s long arms outstretched. Dandy began to feel his throat shrink as the corpse grew closer and closer. Then, by sheer chance he looked down and saw that he was standing right next to the fireplace. Swallowing hard he grabbed up the fire poker from beside his leg and swung it wildly, smashing hard into the mummy, who let out a loud grunt. Bringing the fire poker back for another swing, Dandy realized that the sharp point of the poker had hooked onto some loose bandages. Wrapping the bandages around the tip, like a fork full of spaghetti, Dandy let out a cry.
“Aha!” with the bandages firmly wrapped around the poker, he launched the tip of the tool into the lit fireplace. At first the flames crawled up the bandages slowly, making their way up the arm, then it began to spread quickly, consuming the body and the head. Now in the blink of an eye the mummy was completely engulfed by flames.
“Ah! Amon!” yelled Lazlo, gripping the amulet tightly. The mummy began to flail around widely, totally ablaze. Dandy shrunk back against the wall in order to avoid the fiery monster.
“Do something!” yelled Delilah, furiously pointing at the flaming mummy. But it was too late. The mummy was shriveling up on the floor, crumpling in the flames.
“Let’s kill the old man. Leave him to burn in the flames!” Lazlo said, lurching toward Dandy. But before he could cross the room a shot rang out and Lazlo fell back.
“Lazlo!” yelled Delilah. But her accomplice was alright, it was the amulet that had been shattered by the bullet. Dandy whipped his head around. Standing at the top of the steps was an older man with a white panama hat and a white mustache.
“It’ll take more than a couple of simple knots to hold me, I’m an adventurer, honey, you should know better.” said the man pointing his gun at Delilah.
“Warren, don’t–don’t shoot.” Delilah said, cowering on her knees.
“Now don’t shoot, Mr. Ashcroft,” Dandy began, “we can have them both arrested and tried. Kidnapping and, I know we’ll find out they were behind the death of your colleagues. I’ve got them just where I want them.” Ashcroft slowly lowered his gun and raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t know who you are or how you figured this thing out,” said Warren, “but I sure do like your style.” He said, smoothing his white mustache.
The cops and the fire department showed up just about the same time to 439 E. Elm Street. One to arrest Dandy’s suspects and one to arrest the spread of the flames that had charred the mummy to nothing but burnt bones. As Lazlo and Delilah were escorted into the back of a police cruiser, Dandy put his hand on Warren’s shoulder.
“I’m real sorry about your team. And your Mummy. I know it was the discovery of a lifetime.”
“And look at all the life it cost.” Warren said sadly, reflecting.
“What will you do now?” Asked Dandy, looking at the old adventurer.
“I’m not sure, but I’ll never do another archeological dig again.” he said.The two walked away from the house, away from the police cruiser.
“Well, I wish you luck in whatever comes next.” Dandy said, tipping his hat.
“Same to you, Detective. Oh, and I’d like to give you this.” Warren pulled out a checkbook from his jacket pocket and scribbled something down. He handed it to Dandy, who’s eyes opened wide.
“This should cover the case alright.” Dandy said with a gulp.
“And not to mention,” Ashcroft said with a soft laugh, “a new suit jacket.”