I’m not sure what I expected to feel. Titillated? The closure of being able to check something off my bucket list? Spooked at seeing a dead body?
Instead, I felt sad. King Tutankhamen was so small, so delicate-looking inside his glass coffin. It was clear he’d died young, though his features were wizened, his skin turned to ebony.
As the crowds of tourists swirled around me, pushing and shoving to get a better look at the Boy King, I wondered if anyone else felt the way I did—bereft. From the excitement in their voices and on their faces, I suspected not. With sadness weighing down my shoulders, I left the tomb.
I’d wanted to visit Egypt ever since I was a child. It was the first place to infect me with the travel bug, but actually being there was incredibly surreal. My brain refused to accept that I was really there, that anything I experienced was genuine. It was as if my mind was convinced that I was in some elaborate diorama in Vegas instead.
I kept touching things, hoping the feel of the Giza pyramids’ ancient limestone blocks would confirm that, yes, I was really there. It didn’t, and this uncomfortable feeling of unreality is one of the things I remember most about Egypt.
Another thing that struck me is how friendly the people were, how happy they were to see us. At the time of my trip, Egypt was considered a dangerous place to travel, and I’d been worried I wouldn’t feel welcome. To the contrary—Egypt is the only country I’ve visited where people wave at you, eager to welcome you. After coming down with a cough and a sore throat during a Nile cruise, I was surprised when a shopkeeper beckoned me inside and insisted on making me mint tea. During one of my visits to a temple, a group of young girls surrounded me, clamoring to have a photo taken together. The kindness of Egyptians cannot be overstated.
Soothing lentil soup, thick as pudding. Shawarma stands, where the meat is cooked on upright spits and shaved into soft pita bread for the best sandwich you’ve ever had in your life. Riotous celebrations, complete with fireworks in the street, after a winning soccer match. The thick, chai-like smell of the rainbow-hued spice markets. Thick-lashed white camels, outfitted as if for royalty. The Islamic calls to prayer rising over the noise of the crowds. Beautiful women, smiling as they walk arm in arm with their friends. Christians and Muslims sitting side by side. This is modern Egypt.
Though the titular temple in this novel doesn’t exist, I visited enough temples, tombs, and pyramids to get a good sense of them, in one case walking stooped over in the dark until I was deep underground. As god of the underworld, Anubis rules the tombs—his likeness is everywhere, along with other ancient Egyptian deities that would be familiar to many: Horus, Ra, Hathor. However, one temple stood out from all the rest. As I craned my neck back to study the elaborately decorated ceiling, I discovered some startling paintings. Instead of the usual Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs, these beings were wearing round helmets with visors and antennae, much like you’d see on astronauts.
Unable to believe what I was seeing, I stared at the paintings for some time before pointing them out to other members of my group. Everyone was stunned. Could that be what it seemed—evidence of modern space travelers in ancient Egypt?
Once I’d left the tomb, I questioned my guide Hany about the “aliens.” After I’d drawn a crude sketch for him, he understood.
“Oh, those aren’t aliens,” he said. “Those are demons.”
Right. That makes it so much better.
TEMPLE OF GHOSTS
Welcome to Egypt, where the line between god and monster is blurred…
Medium Kate Carlsson has returned from Poveglia with her partner, Jackson Stone, but there’s no time for rest and relaxation. Strange things are happening in Kate’s sleepy Vermont town. Locusts lurk in her kitchen, frogs rain from the sky, and water turns to blood. Even worse, her friend—a noted Egyptologist—has vanished.
To save her town and find her friend, Kate and Jackson must confront an ancient evil originating from the tombs and temples of Egypt. With the help of an enigmatic Egyptian psychic, they will face their greatest foe yet.
About The Author
About J.H. Moncrieff
J.H. Moncrieff’s City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for best Horror/Suspense.
Her work has been described by reviewers as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.
She won Harlequin’s search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.
When not writing, she loves exploring the world’s most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.
To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, go to http://bit.ly/MoncrieffLibrary .