Thursday, May 14, 2015

Liberty #50: Supercat

The lost tomb of Ahnkamhet was located about forty miles south of Cairo. Ahnkamhet only ruled for a few years before he was mysteriously murdered. He was buried in his unfinished pyramid, which was then dismantled over the years for use in other tombs and pyramids. Only the foundation remained above ground, the tomb was below ground and forgotten.

The foundation had to be uncovered from underneath several feet of sand and Alex Turk and four other archaeologists from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute were one of the few invited to view the mysterious tomb.

“Welcome, Mr. Turk,” a man greeted the Institute archaeologist with his arms spread apart. “It is an honor to have you here. I am Dinesh Malouf.”

“Please, the honor is ours. This is an amazing opportunity and we are thrilled that Egypt has allowed us to come in and collect heirlooms for our museum,” Alex thanked Dinesh, shaking his hand.

“Follow me. We are just about ready to open the passage to the tomb,” Dinesh led the men to where a group of Egyptian archaeologists were gathered at a wall. “We found a weak spot here so we are thinking there was an entrance here.”

“There used to be a pyramid, shouldn’t there be an entrance on top?” Alex asked.

“There is but it is filled with tons of sand. The underground entrance is easier, quicker and safer,” Dinesh said. He led Alex and his team down the makeshift stairs to the underground entrance. Above the door was a stone with hieroglyphics carved into it.

“What does that read?” Alex pointed.

Dinesh glanced up. “Ah, it reads ‘Powerful cat,’” he replied. “We actually have been saying ‘Super cat.’ It just has a better sound to it.”

“It does,” Alex agreed. “Why does it say that?”

“Based on legends, Ahnkamhet considered himself a savior, a hero and more than a god. It is said that when he was murdered, his last words were a curse that a sand monster in his image would avenge his death. From what we can tell, that never happened.”

They pushed the door open and stepped in. The underground tomb had been untouched for centuries and was unblemished. The sarcophagus was wide open in the center of the room on a decorative slab. There was several doors scattered in the tomb along the wall.

“Ready to get started?” Alex and Dinesh led their teams to the door to their left, directly behind Ahnkamhet’s sarcophagus. Again they pushed the door open to reveal what looked like a decent portion of Ahnkamhet’s fortune. Coins, challises and numerous other gold items filled the room. Personalized gold vases detailing Ahnkamhet’s life were the only thing unique in the room. Dinesh and Alex sighed and led the teams back into the main room and then started over to the next room.

One stayed in the room and slowly walked to the corner that was curiously not at a ninety-degree angle. When he got closer, he saw that the corner held another door. “There’s a door in here,” he shouted and Alex and the others came back in.

Alex looked above the door and saw the same hieroglyphics carved above this door. “Get that door open but be careful. We don’t know what’s behind it,” Alex ordered. Two men pried the door apart and they all cautiously walked in the small, triangular room. It was a plain room, no hieroglyphics, no gold, only a five foot pedestal with a bracelet on it in the middle of the room. The pedestal had hieroglyphics on it as did the bracelet. The bracelet had the same marking that the stones above the doors had.

“What does it say?” one of Alex’s team asked.

“Something about power,” Alex said. “I can’t read it very good. Dinesh?” Alex went to pick up the bracelet but then hesitated.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about hidden rooms but it’s odd that one would be nearly empty,” Dinesh said as he approached the pedestal. Alex stepped to one side to let Dinesh read. He looked at it for a few seconds and spoke, “It says this bracelet contains the power of Supercat but it also mentions the curse and a trap.”

“Powers? Does wearing the bracelet make you the next pharaoh?” Alex chuckled.

Dinesh chuckled as well. “Try it on. It was probably just Ahnkamhet’s favorite accessory or something.”

“What does it mean about a trap?” a member of Dinesh’s team said.

“It doesn’t say. It just mentions a trap. I can’t imagine a trap in here still working after five thousand years,” Dinesh said.

Alex carefully picked up the polished gold bracelet and held it close to look at it. A rumbling began and the ceiling began cracking and pieces started crashing to the ground. Everyone looked up and then at the bracelet. Alex slid the bracelet on his wrist as the ceiling collapsed on top of them. Alex then started growing hair all over his body. His clothes changed into an Egyptian tunic and shendyt. The tunic was brown and had the hieroglyphic cat embroidered on the chest. The shendyt went down to his knees and were dyed a pale red. Alex’s hands and feet had turned into paws and he had become a six-foot-tall cat.

Using great speed, Alex tried rushing the men out of the room that was collapsing and back into the main room with the tomb. The small triangular room became nothing but rubble which was then filled with sand from above. “Is everybody all right?” Alex said as he stood over everyone. They all stared at him with their mouths slack. “This must be the powers mentioned on the pedestal,” Alex looked down at what he was wearing and his four paws.

“Powerful cat,” Dinesh said in a whisper.

“Supercat,” Alex corrected, smiling so he showed the small feline teeth. Alex took one last look at himself and took off the bracelet. He immediately changed back into his human form and his own clothes. He continued to hold onto the bracelet. “What
do we do with it?”

“I…I don’t know,” Dinesh began. “Something with this kind of power can be very

“I can take it back to Chicago. We can catalog it and place it in storage. We can even just keep it in storage until we are sure everybody who knows of its existence is dead,” Alex suggested. “We can put a warning on it saying it’s very fragile and shouldn’t be worn. I don’t think anyone would slip it on but we should still attach a warning.”

“Keep it safe,” Dinesh pointed at Alex. He, Alex and the two teams headed out of the underground tomb. “There is no telling what could happen if that bracelet falls into the wrong hands.”

The teams went up the stairs into the Egyptian sun. The sand in the now-destroyed triangular room swirled around the debris despite there not being any wind.

The archaeology trip was cut short and Alex and his team headed back to Chicago. Within 48 hours, Alex had the bracelet photographed, cataloged and placed in a box in a room with thousands of other artifacts from all over the world.

“Did you get the bracelet stored away?” Alex’s assistant Jimmy asked when Alex went into his small office.

“Yes. I got it cataloged with a note saying it can’t be displayed for fifty years under an agreement with the Egyptian government and that it’s too fragile to wear. I covered all the bases so we can just put it out of our minds,” Alex said. “I wish we could’ve stayed in Egypt longer. This may have been the last time we get to take artifacts with us.”

That night, as most of the country slept, an odd creature, similar to Supercat, flew west over the Atlantic Ocean. It was similar to Supercat in every way except it was made from Egyptian sand. Alex awoke a little bit before dawn to an explosion near his apartment. He shot out of bed to a window. He could barely see as the sun was just starting to come up over the horizon but could see many buildings on fire or completely destroyed. Between the rising sun, fires and police spotlights below, Alex could vaguely make out the form. “Supercat?” he whispered. He quickly got dressed and ran downstairs to a group of police officers standing next to a spotlight. “Officers, what’s going on?”

“You should stay inside your apartment, sir,” one officer said.

“I don’t think it really matters, Blansky,” said another. “Some flying madman is destroying the city. We don’t know how to stop it. We’ve called in the military. It’s like he’s looking for something and doesn’t care what he does in the meantime.”

“Looking for something,” Alex muttered. Alex began running off toward the university, having to take detours due to police barricades and debris. “The bracelet led him to Chicago but not the actual location,” he said out loud.

The sun was just over the horizon when Alex got to the Oriental Institute. The campus hadn’t been touched but it was probably just a matter of time. Alex unlocked the staff doors and ran to storage where the bracelet was. It was still in the box and Alex sighed with relief. An explosion rocked the building and he quickly slid on the bracelet and returned to the form of Supercat.

Alex flew out of the Institute and toward the Sand Supercat. Holy God. It’s made of sand, Alex thought upon seeing his twin. Hopefully
a couple of good punches will get rid of it.

Alex prepared to punch but the Sand Supercat caught a glimpse and struck faster sending Alex flying across the sky over the city. He slowed himself and then stopped. “Or not,” and flew as fast as he could back to the Sand Supercat. He collided fist-first into the creature’s chest and they rocketed across the Chicago sky toward Lake Michigan. Maybe he’ll dissolve in the lake…

The Sand Supercat struggled to escape but Alex was flying too fast. They collided with the water about a mile from shore and Alex drove the Sand Supercat into the silt at the bottom. Alex came back up and flew back to the city. He landed next to some police officers who all pointed their guns at him when they saw he was a six foot cat. “Who are you?” one demanded.

“You can call me Supercat. Don’t worry, I’m here to help. I don’t know if that sand creature is coming back but while it’s indisposed, I can help clean up debris, rescue people, whatever needs to be done,” Alex offered.

“There’s an old tenement building that took a lot of damage over on Dearborn. I know they need help with rescues and debris,” the officer said. “We’ll be watching you.” Alex nodded and flew off to the Loop where most of the damage was.

Back in Lake Michigan, the Sand Supercat had dug its way out of the silt and shot out of the water, screaming wildly. It flew back to the city faster than it had left, honed in on Alex and drove him through several buildings and street blocks until crashing through the street into the sewer. It yelled something nearly incoherent in Alex’s face.

It wants the bracelet, Alex thought as he kept the Sand Supercat at bay by holding its wrists. Alex then overpowered it and threw it into a wall. Do I give it the bracelet or try to stop it? Can I stop it?

Alex walked over to the hole in the wall. The Sand Supercat leaped out and grabbed Alex’s neck in both hands. Alex grabbed its wrists again and tried to pull him off. Alex held onto the Sand Supercat’s arms and flew back up through the street and into the air. They flew straight up until the Sand Supercat let go of Alex’s neck and Alex attempted to throw it back down to Earth.

Instead, the Sand Supercat was able to throw Alex down and into a tenement building, causing it to start collapsing. Hearing screaming and cries, Alex quickly flew through the building helping and directing the occupants down the hall and into the street. The brick building fell down, scattering bricks into the street and alley.

“Who are you?” one of the kids Alex had just saved asked.

“You can call me Supercat. Are you all okay?”

They all nodded or muttered in agreement.

“Then I need to go stop that thing now,” Alex said and flew back into the air. He doesn’t even seem to care about me anymore. He’s now just destroying the city. Alex hovered and stared at the Sand Supercat who was smashing into buildings and tossing cars around the streets. Flames roared around Chicago. Screaming, sirens and explosions echoed through the city. As Alex witnessed the senseless destruction his eyes started to burn. Anger welled up inside him and Alex flew faster than he had this morning toward the Sand Supercat. His hand wrapped around the creature’s neck. Heat began pouring out of Alex’s eyes, hitting the Sand Supercat who began screaming.

The heat from Alex’s eyes began turning the Sand Supercat into glass and within minutes, most of the creature was glass and unable to move. Alex continued holding onto the Sand Supercat’s neck and flew over Lake Michigan where he then shattered the Sand Supercat, remnants of glass and sand falling into the lake.

Alex rushed back to Chicago where he helped put out fires and rescue people who were trapped because of the fires of the rubble. Reporters began clamoring to speak to Supercat but he instead flew off. Alex landed behind the Oriental Institute and removed the bracelet. He reverted back to his human form then proceeded to return the bracelet to the box where he put it—ready to use if he ever needed it again.