Marty kept his eyes open as they hurried through the community merriment. A loudspeaker interrupted the music, announcing the beginning of the parade, which meant the Sugar Skull Zombie Society’s float would soon start to move – and it did. The zombified young men jumped onto the moving red, white, green, and orange rose-petaled platform and, out of breath, began dancing, waving, and throwing candy and other trinkets to the waiting small children. Fonz got the “evil eye” from his mother and he was sure he’d be answering to both of his parents later, Marty or no Marty staying with them.
Marty had an elevated view of the crowd as they slowly moved through it. The beast must have had sense enough to leave the party now that it had been spotted earlier. He couldn’t wait to get back to his aunt and uncle’s place to try call Jean and share what happened. Why, of all times, did he forget his phone today? Also, he still hadn’t heard back from her with any answers to his questions. He knew she was busy, but had she become too busy for him?
They finally returned to the hacienda around midnight. Uncle Ricky and Aunt Rosa seemed to have forgotten their lateness to the float. Both young men were relieved and quietly headed for their rooms.
“Alfonse, will you stay behind please? We want to talk with you for a moment.” said Uncle Ricky. Aunt Rosa stood quietly behind her husband, a little too-still, her eyes looking out the window.
Oh no, thought Fonz, when he calls me that I know I’m in big trouble. “Sure, Papa!”
Marty went up the wide wooden staircase as quickly and smoothly as he could. Once in his room, he pulled the pieces of the costume he still had on off. It was 7 a.m. in Cairo right now, and Jean was an early riser. He dialed her number, his thumbs tapping excitedly. The phone went through its lengthy connection process and then began to ring. Ring. Ring…
“Marty, is that you!? There’s so much I have to tell you!” Jean said, excitement in her voice.
Marty was thrilled to hear her voice. He wasn’t sure whether to push forward with his news or wait to hear what hers was first. Jean decided for him.
“We’re leaving for Thebes this morning! Our team is waiting for the bus to pick us up right now! We are going to do an excavation where the bones were found!”
Marty’s voice again caught in his throat. Was this the right time to tell Jean? Wouldn’t his sighting of a live monster overshadow her triumph of going on a dig for old, dead bones?
“Your dream is coming true, love! I’m so happy for you and so geeked to learn what you find. Please keep me in the loop on this. You still haven’t answered my questions that I emailed you.” said Marty.
“Oh, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you. As soon as our professor got the green light, she’s had us preparing to go. I promise, once we get settled in at Thebes, we can try a zoom call. We’ll be at The Thebes Hotel in Luxor, thankfully, instead of in a dusty tent in the desert. Amazing considering the disaster the country has been through that they will still put us up in this posh place. More amazing is that it is still standing after the quake!”
“Jean, it is so good to hear your voice. I miss you more than words can say.” said Marty.
Jean made kissing noises into the phone, and said, “Not as much as I miss you, my pet.”
There was a moment of quiet on the line, where they were feeling the love for each other.
“You’d better get going and double check you’ve packed everything you need. Don’t forget your phone charger!” said Marty.
“OK. Talk with you soon. Love you!”
“Love you too!”
After the call ended, Marty went through his phone’s photo gallery, looking at the pictures of he and Jean, so much in love. Those pictures felt like they were taken a lifetime ago.
Marty jumped in the shower, then fell, exhausted, into the soft cushioned bed with its soft cotton sheets and went instantly to sleep.
He was screaming. He felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. Looking at his arm, he saw blood rolling like so many rivers. He felt the teeth in jaws that moved back and forth to get a good grip on him. Then he felt himself being lifted off of the ground. He heard the air-displacing whoof of wings beating their drums of his death…
To read the beginning of the story start here.