Set awoke with a mouth full of dirt. Lying in the deep cool earth, he wriggled his body like an earthworm, trying to gain purchase. His eyes fluttering, he knew he was buried and tried to close his mouth. Working his fingers, he gripped the moist earth.
How had this happened? Had his brother finally sought recompense? He felt himself breathing and stayed very still. An unfamiliar sensation flooded into him. Yes. He inspected each of the curious attributes his body was exhibiting. He felt debris fall on his chest as he clawed above, towards the sounds.
He had known Horus to have heka but this was beyond even him. Time and again he had battled his nephew but never seen anything like this. What have you done dear brother? He thought. How clever to inter.
He thought of the dry sheets of sand and his beloved Aur. He thought of home, the cool air and columns ringed in fire and turquoise. Even the pharaoh knew better than to curse his name! How little the living really perceived. Every step they took on kemet was him. I am the black land!
Set rolled onto his shoulder and struck upwards. He could feel cool air above. Under his breath, he began repeating the phrase across his tongue. Long articulating sounds of K…..M…..T.
It was right that he should be buried. Into the terra was fitting. Set freed a knee and began sifting the dirt near his legs. The sounds now brighter, more urgent. Submerge me in my kemet but I will rise dear brother! He felt a breeze and moved his palms, feeling the morning dew.
Set shivered, balled up his other fist. He made punching motions until both his arms were freed from the ground. His fingers now talons, he struck at the earth in long, raking motions. He could sense the dull sounds that awaited above and fought until his head was exposed. Now and then, he would feel the vibrating echoes of a rat or snake as it sauntered past.
Set climbed from the ground and collapsed on his back. Dirt in his eyes, he rubbed at them. Muddy coughs erupted in his chest and it felt like fire. He saw gravestones around him and knew he was in a place used for mortuary practice. He looked at his own gravestone. A dilapidated slab of stone. It looked ready to crumble at any moment.
He pulled his legs out of the ground, his body lurched, as he climbed to his feet. An avenue lay before him. A series of street lamps elucidated the barren road. Recent rain glistened on the concrete giving it a sheen.
One of the lamps blinked twice then went out.
A portent? His eyes adjusted to the darkness and he looked down at his body. A wiry frame, long arms and legs. He would be suitable for the games in this vessel. Dark skin glossy in the moonlight, the Descendant stared down at his wet clothing caked in dirt and wondered if he had, in fact, died.
But there were no indications that he had passed on. Certainly Anubis would have come to shepherd him to the weighing if he had expired. He heard a dog barking and swallowed hard. His heart pumping, the god waited a few beats.
Something rustled behind him. A man stumbled out of the brush and stopped. They stared at each other for a few seconds. Set considered the man. He wore a dark suit with shiny boots. A bulbous hat rested on his head. He had thin features not unlike himself and a face that quickly gave way to shock or disbelief.
“Hey mister, did you just climb outta that grave right there?”
Set glanced at the disturbed earth. “Just so.”
“Are you dead then?”
That is the question. Set thought.
The man took out a flask from his left inside jacket pocket and handed it to him.
“Are you not having any?” Set asked.
“Mister, you look to need it more than I do.”
Set took a long pull, clearing any remaining dirt from his throat. He considered the man’s query.
“I’ve seen alot of strange shit in this city. Can’t say I ever seen a man crawl up from a new grave though.”
Set stepped back and regarded him. I can’t be the only one. He thought.
“Where are your priests?” He asked.
“Temple priests. Where is Heka?”
“Who? I don’t know any hecha. I don’t speak spanish. But there are Catholics, Jews, Buddhists all around the city.I’ll show you where they are. Gimme five dollars. I’m a tour guide.Give me five dollars and I’ll take you to hecha.”
Set didn’t respond.
“You sure you ain’t undead?”
He made to leave and that’s when the stone came down cracking into his skull. The man crumpled. Set dragged him behind a tree, when he was sure he hadn’t been detected, he stepped back and put the bulbous hat on his head. It fit perfectly.