“The First Writing”
The very first known written picture letter (author unknown), or diary entry if you will, was discovered by Dr. Jonesby in an area so secluded as to be seen by other archaeologists as vacant and not worthy of a dig. However, on the outer skirts of the Sahara desert, near an old mud house that was once a great Oasis estate and is now buried under thousands of years of shifting desert sand, no one but the innovative archaeologist known as the “Great Discoverer” would ever have located it. Carbon dating confirms this as one of the first, and only, diary type scripts written in picture language (that would eventually become hieroglyphs) and dates approximately mid-2nd Dynasty. Because of the type of writing as well as the weathering of the text, much of the translated version below has been written upon speculation and perhaps lost some of what was meant in translation. These pages of papyrus hold much conjecture as to their true context and meaning, but have been translated and understood as best as expert linguists could decipher. Either the writer of this unique discovery was quite insane, or he was one of the first humans ever to view the Pet Mer (Sky Friends). Read on, as many “facts” pertaining to ancient Egypt may now be debunked like magic before your eyes.
They would reveal me as foolish, a scoundrel, a liar, if not for the others who also witnessed the extraordinary phenomenon as I on this night.
The gods came to us in corporeal form. They spoke to me—to all of us. I am but one of few for whom they bestowed the honor of their presence.
And so, I must document this grand revelation here and now. This shall be the first I have ever recorded. Where I shall stow it, what its purpose I know not; only that assured events are too important to recall to memory alone.
On this night, merchant business called me away from home and deep into the Sahara, to several nomad tribes, one located a great deal beyond the dunes, perhaps a mere thousand cubits from the Bahariya Oasis, my first stop.
All provisions were consigned within Merkha’s packs: food and cloth—that which I bartered with the nomads—and personal supplies for myself and Merkha: blankets, bread and goat cheese, clothing quite light, and of course water. This would be a two day journey, yet the bulk of Merkha’s packs weighed heavily of that which I would sell and bargain to those whom needed the provisions. My own needs were slight.
I declared my prevailing departure to my family and children and, taking up Merkha’s lead, swifted into the darkness, moving only as fast as a camel’s pace. The cool of the night desert breeze brushed my face in welcome as I began my journey to where a merchant may make what needs possible to provide for his own.
No threat of storm hindered my voyage and the guide for the dead above cleared my path as I trudged the yielding sands.
Quite a few hours on, the desert breeze shifted and provided me that which I needed to guide my way to safety in the darkness. The scent of a distant fire, a drift from an Oasis, and the celebration of linens and victuals of which they would soon gain in abundance upon my arrival. I was the one merchant who traveled such a distance from the Nile to bring their wares and sustain their lives.
I had gone not one night’s journey when I saw it.
Am I awake or did I fall into slumber on the sand and was unawares?
This was my thought. Yet, soon it became clear this was no dream nor mirage—this happened presently and before my very eyes. Like a surreal delusion, it caught my attention with apathetic curiosity.
Merkha halted, clearly considering the same vision as I, which gave me permission to accept my sanity.
A bright flash lit the sky in blinding white and blue. No time passed in which to ponder what my eyes held to be true when the sound stayed my steps. A resonance. A shriek unknown previous to my ears. Loud. Painful.
My packs plummeted to the ground. Merkha bellowed loudly and dropped to his knees. I tumbled onto the sands and covered my arms over my head in instinctual habit. But the light was so bright I could notwithstanding behold its brilliance. The sound deafening despite sheltering my ears with my hands.
Squinting, I dared a gaze upwards and beheld a marvel beyond comprehension. A fire, deep reds, orange and yellow, streamed from the stars, lighting desert and dune, as if Ra brought the sun up too early. And that noise—the flames roared and screeched.
The radiance grew white—more so than the evening lotus petals. And as I watched, it vanished beyond the horizon.
Merkha and I rose simultaneously, both human and camel staring out in awe towards a vast and dark desert, as if nothing at all had occurred. The only consolation of my sanity was the fact that camels did not suffer the same maladies as humans, or at least I was unaware of such.
For a long while I stood, staring, waiting to see, expecting more. But the vast sea of stars returned as before, the sands unaltered. I sighed and shrugged the vision away before moving forward once again.
Sometimes rocks from above came down in great balls of light only to die in the desert, and I was sure now that this was what I had witnessed.
However, I had gotten no more than an iteru when the hiss of sand and wind caught my attention and halted me once more.
This was a sound I recognized.
I quickly prepared Merkha and myself to huddle beneath the blankets I kept tucked away in his packs. I was about to give the command to my camel to down when I heard voices echoing through the vast emptiness of the night.
I turned to my left to see mass disorder as those from the Oasis scrambled in my direction, all bellowing in such confused babble, that I could not make out a word.
Not until they came closer.
It was then I noticed they were running away from the sandstorm instead of readying for it. Many pointed frantically in the direction of the massive rolling particles, and when I looked, I too saw what all the disorder was about.
This was no ordinary sandstorm, of this I was sure, as I had never before seen such lights glowing and flickering within the swirling terrain, as if each particle held its own radiance.
My heart raced, and as the others caught up to me, I grabbed Merkha by his rope and tugged, my attempts to grant him follow met with his stubborn nature. He bellowed vociferously in fear and jerked the rope from my hand, painfully burning a callous to which I paid no mind. He galloped off into the wrath of Seth. I found this most odd, but had no time to ponder it. With the others, I dashed away.
Soon, however, it became obvious we would not outrun this irregularity. The hissing was that of a thousand cobras readying to strike.
There were at least six of us—I had no time to count—and we all at once began to dig as is our habit, to cover ourselves and allow the sandstorm to pass.
But a man near the back of the group (I could not see him to distinguish his name) called out, “LOOK!”
We halted in our preparations and followed his direction. He was gazing into the luminous tempest, but as we had all stopped, so did the progression of the squall.
I drew in a breath and held it, and as it seemed, so did the others, though the gale had stalled like Ammut stampeding in circles above our heads, ready to take us down.
We were frozen with fear and awe as a most unexpected occurrence transferred.
At the first, it appeared a trick of the mind and then a dance of light within the granules that swirled in a race, yet moved nowhere. And then I saw it; a shadow within the vast emptiness, which was not emptiness at all. Like a dance it stirred, a silhouette darker than the night yet lit by the illuminated granule of moving earth.
Nonsensical murmurs filled the empty air as silhouetted figures emerged, stepping from the churning luminous wasteland, one and then another and another, until perhaps a hundred halted just before the sluggish, radiant eddy of sand.
The inimitable backlight made detail impossible to discern, until one of them stepped forth, into the light of moon and stars and that short light in which our vision had long grown accustom. This aberration from the storm stood tall and looked not too much removed from ourselves, except for flesh that illuminated with pallor, and lustrous emerald eyes. No shendyt, robes, nor clothing suited for desert life attired this stranger.
Whether man or woman, or something else entirely, was not yet discernible. The hair from their heads swept like the majestic falls of the Nile, and brushed the sands at their feet, veiling their attire.
Only a god could offer such a presence, and my thoughts were not my own as those from the Oasis bowed deep to their knees at that moment, as did I.
Why we had been chosen to witness the corporeal coming of the gods escaped us at that moment. Blessed we were to the gods of the Sahara. Friends from the sky.
The motion was slight, yet shared by them all. They bode us arise, and so we did. By this time, we all stood still as monuments to the pharaoh, watching, wondering, fearing all at once.
This god from the storm glided toward us and halted within a body’s length from myself. I swallowed hard the apprehension within my breast.
A slight breeze lifted his extraordinary hair, which shone gold in the light of the moon and the storm, offering a view of his attire at last.
Cloth was my trade and yet I could not discern this particular weave. It clung tightly to his body, making his gender apparent, and yet its luminosity made it seem near imperceptible. As a clothier, I stood dumbfounded.
As all of his peoples, that which enclosed their bodies sparkled, shone and resembled the moon itself.
His gaze brushed over us once before his Bast-like watch fell upon me.
And then words uttered from his lips.
But the language was so vastly unfamiliar, I could not grasp its meaning.
Perhaps speaking would make this encounter more pleasurable, I told myself. And so I did just that.
“Hello,” I said, “welcome to Egypt.”
Once more, he conversed in his foreign tongue. Why the gods would speak in a language we of their disciples could not grasp escaped my understanding.
But all at once it came upon me like an unexpected deluge. The voice in my mind that was not my own, was not foreign yet was at the same time. The voice of the gods, and they had chosen to send their message through me!
I was unsure what to say, so I spoke the only words to come to my mind. “Have you seen my camel, Merkha?”
His eyes gazed up, though his head did not move. Then, as if a thought had struck him, he turned and spoke to another within his group.
From the back of these many strange peoples I saw another, yet with dark hair, also brushing the sands, and within his grasp was Merkha’s lead followed by Merkha himself.
He led my camel to me and I took the lead.
“Thank you,” I stated with a bow.
Why Merkha was led toward them and remained until they returned him safely to me escaped my understanding.
And then something miraculous happened. The one with the golden hair spoke aloud as if trying to understand our language. “Mer-kha,” he said like a small infant learning its first words. “Camel.”
I nodded, and at that moment I relaxed and my fear dissipated. These beings were not to be feared, but worshiped.
They had come from a fireball in the sky, emerged through a sandstorm of light, and my camel was drawn to them like the only water in a vast desert. These were no ordinary beings. These were gods!
I turned and addressed my people.
“Do not fear the Friends from the Sky! They mean us no harm and wish only to aid us, to live in peace among us, and they are hungry.”
I shook my head clear. These words had passed my own lips and yet they did not belong to me. They were words planted within my mind and so I stated them aloud.
One of the Gods had forced the words into me so I may communicate to my people.
This was a most peculiar race. They were nothing to fear. These were gods that had taken a form with which we could relate, and they had come to teach us, to make us better.
How I knew this, I knew not. The knowledge existed deep in my mind, just as the words had. Once more, the Pet Mer spoke through me.
“Our lives will now improve,” spoke the voice through my lips. “Filled with love and great advancement.”
Later Note: Pharaoh Djoser has taken in the Pet Mer (sky friends, as they are now called) as his own. He has declared that they are extensions of himself as the High Priest of the Gods—they have come to aid him, to serve the people as he does and that we are to honor them just under himself.
Through rumor I have heard they drank the blood of animals yet they grew ever weaker, and soon needed the blood of humans to sustain them. This comes into understanding, as gods they serve us and, thus, we shall serve them, even if with our blood. Yet no sacrifice needs to be made and of this I am in awe.
I have also learned Pharaoh’s own architect, Imhotep, has been summoned to create a temple to Djoser himself, yet deep within, underground are to be dug subterranean tunnels and chambers where the Pet Mer may dwell and feed in peace.
As they are inhabitants of the night—the sun, I hear, burns them, as they are so pallor in complexion—they shall have humans offer their servitude belowground twice each day.
Journal of Kesi of Giza, Circa, 15th Dynasty
What I should say on this scroll is unclear. Who shall see this one day, if anyone, even more a mystery. But this is my life as it is, and to this I feel I must write. Particularly now, in light of this evening’s events.
Perhaps I should speak of the life I have lived thus far. The life I am sure will end soon.
What the punishment is for killing a human, I know not, for none of us have ever before carried out such a terrible deed. Have the Pet Mer and Pharaoh created such a law for this?
Or should I remove my mind from this night’s events and speak of the other children—these mortals who avoid me, casting their gazes away when I emerge from the tunnels of our unfathomable chambers?
They speak of me under whispered breaths. Most times I can disregard their banters. After all, they do not know I hear them, for few are aware of our abilities.
And yet, when before me, they bow. They know who I am; Kesi of Giza. Daughter of the Gods. And that I am too far dissimilar to them.
Just as they, I was born from my mother, but I play when Ra takes the form of Atum and creates so many tiny lights within the sky. The other children often go in once Ra passes through the akhet, unless they have duties that keep them without.
Though I appear the same age, I have existed for more cycles of harvest than they. I recall the birth of many, and from what Father tells me, I will live to see their passage into the Field of Reeds.
And so, I remain here, in my chamber, learning to write my letters and to read, to understand a language printed, not merely scribed. My assignments must be seen by my tutor and my parents. However, here alone, I speak my secrets to no one but papyrus and ink. Putting my thoughts down, hiding them away, so they are for my eyes only.
What else can I do? It is so gloomy at times, despite my exceptional vision—deep within this ancient triangular tomb structure—designed by a human, yet aided by my father’s people, their knowledge and strength.
Pet Mer. They were termed by the local humans. Sky Friends. Those who came down from the stars so long ago. I have not yet learnt all of the details. I know only that I am half human, for my mother was born to the desert. Yet half god, for my father’s people are deified, as they materialized into the Sahara from the stars long ago.
Since then the humans have ventured down to us when Ra holds the sun above, so we may feed and thrive.
Today was no different. And this is where my troubles began.
I was working my assignment when I heard the call that afternoon mealtime had approached. I hardly noticed the hunger welling inside me, so lost was I in practicing my scripts. And so I emerged out into the damp-stone aisle.
The humans stood lined against the carved limestone of the inner wall, adults and children alike, all dressed in simple white linen—as always.
Many of the mortal children I knew well. I often saw them outside the pyramids when Atum boosted the stars up into the sky.
Mostly, they avoided me. But one, Nekhure was his name, smiled whenever our eyes met, then proceeded with his ritualistic bow.
And this night was no different. He stood motionless, a tight grasp on the hand of his father. But, tonight his father saw the observation Nekhure offered me and wrenched at his hand.
Nekhure’s smile faded, eyes cast down once again, lost by respect, as all humans who come to offer us their contribution.
I sighed. I wished for friends beyond the others such as myself. And Nekhure was always polite to me. He was closer to my age than most of the others.
Though I would never express my inner feelings, it formed an ache within my heart for him to cast his gaze away. To see him bow his head, his straight ebony hair falling over his face and obscuring him from my vision.
It is not easy, being of a divergent race. But it is the station to which I was born. I have spoken to Mother of this desire to be one with the humans, to play in the sun, to take my meals as they do. Mother always displays the utmost of sympathies. But, she explained, that I am “not as the other children. For they were born to serve you, not to be your friends.”
At my frown, she had stated, “Kesi, you are special. You have gifts they can only long for, and so they envy you. They were raised to worship, not to love or associate with the children of the Pet Mer.”
I had nodded and let it go at that, but I knew she understood my lack of empathy for my circumstance. I watched the others engage in recreation, do their chores and whisper secrets that I am never privy to—only the other Pet Mer children understand. Yet they care not in the least. Why do I feel so much more than they?
Time arrived. Time to take sustenance. Nekhure and all the humans who worshipped the “gods from the sky and their progeny” ventured the journey downward to us. I waited my turn, as always.
Offspring always take their meals first, age playing the regulation with which we line. I must confess, I despise this routine. At least twice per day I wait with the others, watching as the youngest ones take their feast foremost. Those who cannot yet walk or talk are held by their Pet Mer parent, who pierces the thin flesh of the human on their wrist or even finger, then allows the sucking his or her pleasure and fill.
As I slowly age, my turn in the line descends. The eldest always feed last, if they feed at all, for I have heard they need not feast each day as those of us who are younger.
As luck would have it on this night, my turn came and my one human friend, Nekhure, was to be my meal.
Though I knew this was as it was meant to be, and that Nekhure would be well enough to feed us another day, it still felt to me as if this was somehow a violation.
I wish to be one with Nekhure, not to view him as mere repast. Humans ate animals, I reasoned as I approached my friend. They make meat and blood their sustenance. And here I needed to do the same; take my meal to keep me alive and moving onward through the ages.
My stomach groaned, my veins throbbed.
Nekhure stood before me.
My parents, the other Pet Mer, and the humans they had taken as mates—even their children, watched. My heart raced as faces all around stared in expectation. My hands shook and the pressure overcame me.
And then I did the unthinkable.
Within Nekhure’s ear, I spoke. “I do not view you as subservient to myself.”
And with that my small fangs pierced the thin flesh of his throat. Though generally we only took the wrist, I had been close to his ear in order to whisper and, wanting none to know I had spoken to him, I chose the closest route with which his blood throbbed at the surface of flesh. His head tilted back, his moan was apparent to all.
The warm sweet flavor filled my mouth quickly. More hastily than the wrist ever offered. I drank, I swallowed and I sighed.
I could barely comprehend the gasps that echoed from stone and rock, passed from those both human and not. Behind and around me.
We do not drink from the throat, echoed the commands within my mind. I had not known why, but yet once again, it is as I was taught.
At that moment I understood the reasoning. Even within the haze of ecstatic rejuvenation, all at once it became clear. How quickly the blood flowed, as if the Nile spat it from its depths.
Oh, how wonderful.
I had experienced nothing of its ilk.
But then, beyond the elated tunnel of bliss I heard the voices.
Kesi, no! Stop!
A drop of warm crimson escaped my lips. I felt its descent. I heard it. I even smelt its decadent perfume as it died within the sands at my bare feet.
Never spill blood when feeding. Each drop is precious.
I could scarce grasp what had transpired. Only that the chill dank air of the underground struck me as a powerful sandstorm that stampeded my body.
I was dragged away from Nekhure.
Through the burrow that was my vision, I saw him collapse—a boulder that tumbled from above. Had I taken too much? Would he now die a mortal’s death? These thoughts sat idle in my mind, but prominent was the unsatisfied hunger. My head swam with confusion.
I heard a voice reverberate from the tomb walls.
“She killed him! He is dead! Oh, by Ra’s light the Pharaohs shall never feed us again. We will starve!”
A swarm of bodies moved in, the chambers echoed so loudly with bellows, I could not hear a single decipherable voice. It was not me the swarm hovered over, but Nekhure.
Before reality could take me into its cold grasp, my mother embraced my arm and drew me from the carnage I had caused. I followed, carefully drawn along as if pulled by a snail rather than a horse. Once within, I was placed upon my bed, my body obeying without question.
And now I sit here alone, writing my secret words, waiting to hear if Nekhure is alive or dead.
“Friends in Death”
I await my fate within the empty echoes of my chamber. My heart beats fast within my breast. My palms sweat in fear and anticipation. Surely, I shall be executed for my crime. We do not kill humans. They feed us, they worship us. They fulfill our every need.
If anything, we should bow to them, yet they bow to us. And now—I may have taken a sacred life. Sacred to me at least.
Nekhure is…or was my friend. My only human friend. No, I refuse to think he has passed to the Field.
My mind wanders backwards now, to the nights he remained without, just so we may talk and share our tales. He is the only human to which I have recited thoughts of my heart and what transpires for me each night. The life of a half breed human and Pet Mer.
I recall the night we met in earnest, and to think on it makes me smile even now.
The harvest was well onwards and all the Nile folk remained busy by day, pulling reeds for papyrus and linen for clothing. Harvesting foods to feed during the times when Peret gives in to Shemu.
Nekhure, son of a farmer, labors hard by day while I slumber. Usually, slaves and farmers are well within by the time my family and myself venture out.
However, one evening when the large moon lit the desert in its silver glow, I came about to the Nile’s drying banks. Mud and clay had begun to form around the edges of the great river of life. It was not difficult to notice the slumped form of a young human male sitting on a rotting tree stump not far from where the river waned. All around was scattered the evidence of day by day labor, tools set out to repeat chores come Ra’s return.
I opened my mind and allowed this human’s emotions to freely fill my perception. Beyond the exhaustion of a difficult day under the beatings of the sun, I sensed a pain I could not comprehend.
Should I approach? He did not know I watched him. Human senses—so inferior to our own. Yet, his pain reached to me and I discovered that my empathy drew me towards him.
I stood directly behind him by the time he was aware of my presence.
He started and spun on his rotting tree, pieces of it breaking off and crumbling about his white linen clothing, soiled from the day’s chores. He stared up at me as if I were one of my father’s race; an alien from the skies above. A god who gave his people more than they could achieve on their own. More than their dreams allowed.
“Hello,” I stated, to ease his mistrust. “I am Kesi of Giza.”
He scrambled to stand so quickly, the stump he had rested upon became an instrument of awkward introduction. His bare foot caught a limb and he nearly fell face first into the mud. But, he caught himself with astonishing quickness for a human and, once before me, bowed deeply.
“My apologies, my goddess,” he blurted. “I did not know you were present. Please excuse a lowly human’s incompetence.”
“Rise,” I stated then. “Please. And my name is Kesi, as you may call me.”
He bowed again. Habit—taught to humans just as many rules were taught to us. I motioned once more for him to rise. I needed to make him comfortable, not to view me as above his station.
“Is this a comfortable location to ponder?” I asked, and before he could answer, I sat upon the tree stump as he had been positioned only moments before. “Please…sit.”
Hesitantly, he lowered himself beside me. I could easily feel his apprehension. He lowered himself slowly, as one, beside the daughter of a god.
I had been determined to ease his trepidation. And so I began with simple talk.
“Tell me of your day,” I said, and offered a slight smile of encouragement.
“M-My day, it is like any other, My Goddess…Kesi.”
“And what is any other day for you?” I asked, still smiling.
“Oh! Pardon!” He placed a hand to his heart, a gesture of apology. “I forget you remain below during the day… It is nothing with which to trifle. I am up with Ra tending to the needs of my family first…”
From there, Nekhure explained to me his days, as I asked questions and begged for more detail so I may imagine his life above. We spoke then of his family and his social class, friends, and beyond. Never once did we speak of me, nor my life belowground, which pleased me greatly.
We talked until I felt the tingle of pending daylight upon my flesh. Like an unwelcome visitor, it came on too quickly.
I stood and excused myself. I needed him to understand I left not because his company was inadequate (for it was not), but because I was due at home.
From that night forward, Nekhure and I understood one another; a bond between human and immortal I imagined was shared between my father and mother. As well, the other Pet Mer/human matings. So many came through as whispers within the tunnels. Yet, never before had I understood.
Many nights thereafter, Nakhure and I met on the rotting tree, for that was our solace. Our special place.
Will I ever again see that tree in the same way, I wonder now.
Please do not allow him to die by my wrong doing!
I sat upon the slab of stone in which I slumbered during most daylight hours. The linen bedding crumpled upon the floor became my own solace as I drew them over myself and hid within their flimsy fibers as if they could protect me from my fears.
When Father entered the chamber I scarce heard, nor felt, his approach. I was well hidden within the succor of linen wrapped about my body like a boa strangling a rat for its meal.
Slowly and with caution, I lowered the linen from my face, peering over the cloth with tear-filled eyes. My father stood beside my bed, as usual a somber and stoic expression graced his all-too-human features.
“Kesi,” he stated slowly, as if avoiding the inevitable. His shoulder-length blond hair, so dissimilar to all the others, was cast about in disarray. He lowered himself beside me and I looked up, into the green eyes that could only be gotten from Bast herself.
I closed my own eyes. Perhaps if I could not see, I would not hear the truth. Nekhure had passed on and I would be punished severely, of this I was sure.
And then I felt the warm hand upon my knee, a gesture of love and acceptance and my eyes gazed upon my father once more.
“It is all right, Kesi. The human lives.”
My sigh of relief echoed from stone and the linens fluttered to the floor as I sat up and threw my arms about my father’s shoulders. “Oh Father. This is such good news.”
Father’s cold idiom for someone I treasured created a twitch in my stomach that took me by surprise. This was no mere human. This was Nekhure. My friend. I drew my arms away.
“Kesi?” My father asked. He cocked his head at me and I was more than aware that he understood my discontent.
Quickly, I composed myself. Father could easily sense my emotion. Of this I had learned when I was quite small.
“I am overwhelmed with relief,” I stated, hoping he would not sense my untruth. I forced a grin and wiped away the tears that stained my cheeks.
My father’s expression grew stern. “Kesi! It is imperative that this never happen again. You have made way this one time. But again and—”
“Yes, Father,” I interrupted. “I understand. And I vow.” I lowered my lids in hopes he would think it mere shame at what I had done. In truth, I wanted to see Nekhure myself, to apologize and to be sure all was well between us.
My ruse was a success. Father rose to his feet. “You may resume your regular activities now,” he stated before exiting my chamber.
I needed to see Nekhure immediately. Once I was sure Father was well away, I rushed out and into the tunnels. I slowed only when my bare feet touched the sands beneath the main chambers, the long narrow passage dark now as all lanterns and torches had been snuffed after the human’s departed. We needed no such lights and they made the tunnels smoky and difficult to take breath if left to die on their own.
Most everyone—Pet Mer, their children and humans—who existed belowground had either gone above to night chores and meetings at the palace or away to visit friends and even to the festivals and evening agora markets.
All humans sent to feed us had gone back to their lives, their homes and their beds.
My heart ravaged my breast as I shuffled along, careful of my footfalls in the event anyone had remained behind. After what had transpired, I no longer wished to see anyone, much less explain my intended location.
How would I see Nekhure now? He had ventured on home with his father and sure slumbered, particularly after his unpleasant encounter with me, in his own bed.
He would never speak to me again, of this I was sure. I had nearly taken his life. Why would he want to be my friend still? To him, I wanted only the red nectar that flowed within him. But this was untruth. I wanted more—I wanted to be his ally, a companion. My need to see him now grew ever stronger as I made my way upwards into the ever narrowing aisle toward outside. The need was so strong I could scarce contain it. I had to see Nekhure. No matter what the cost to me, I had to know he held me no ill will. That he would still be my friend. My only human friend. At this moment, my only friend!
As I turned the final corner, I heard the sounds. They came from without yet echoed down into the funnel of the chamber. A quarrel, passed from one to another. The language a collective merge of Egyptian and Pet Mer. I halted with my back against the stones, just within hearing range.
Apparently, this argument had gone on quite some time and was continuing still. Its subject was clearly about myself of course.
Though I did not recognize every voice, my mother and father’s urgings were clear. I caught the angry voices of some who wished a more severe punishment upon me for drinking as I did from a human who serves us. My parents fought vehemently for me and insisted in their trust I would never carry out such a feat again.
My shoulders slumped and my heart wept. I could not make it out this way, for this conversation could go on well into the night, and the fire I smelt told me the human mates were well on their way to a feast that Khamudi succeeded Apepi I at Avaris. I would not make it out this night until all had come in to slumber—at day’s rise.
And so, when the others slumber, I shall venture out. Ra shall surely protect me. And under His watchful eye I shall see my beloved Nekhure. I shall be assured he is well and that I have done him no harm.
And, most of all, I shall procure my place within his heart.
“Death of the Sun”
This was the night my world changed forever. Nothing will remain as it was. Who, and what, I am has become clear to me. And I am not sure I accept it.
The day is well on as I write this with singed fingers that can barely hold the instrument for which we record our life.
Even deep within the earth’s shadowy layers I can feel its heat. Father and Mother have sternly expressed more than one time that I cannot venture out into the sunlight, for it would harm me greatly.
Always a question and curiosity, I convinced myself this could be no more than a ruse to keep the children of the Pet Mer “in line.” To assure we remain as they want us; worshiped by humans and fed continuously. Aided by Pharaoh.
“Kesi,” said my mother, on this terrible evening. Nekhure and his family had long ventured away to their home dwelling. “There is nothing you can do for the human now but to forget this event had ever taken place. Do you understand?”
I nodded to appease her. In actuality I did understand, yet they knew not my connection and past with my mortal friend. I needed with all the desperation in my heart to see him still. But they held me trapped within the chambers as they feasted outside and so I had waited until dawn, when all had gone off to bed.
I cared not about the small tingles of the sun. I had felt it many times when I had ventured home late. But had it taken my life? No. A bit of a discomfort was all.
I would see Nekhure. I would speak to him. And Ra’s light would not stop me.
My mother could come and go as she pleased, I thought. So why could I not do the same? I am, after all, her daughter.
And so, as Father and the others slumbered within their stone tombs, I cautiously followed the great path towards the bright rays that wept slowly within the narrow funnel to the tomb.
How could something so beautiful cause me harm?
The sand beneath my bare feet shifted and begun to warm as I moved upward. Thus far, I felt only exhilaration. No pain, no sting and no harm came to me. I was almost upon it. I could see Ra’s strength in all its glory and I was more determined than ever to feel his power upon my flesh.
And then, the slow tingle. The tiny hairs on my arms stood upright. I took this as a good sign. Ra blessed me. Ra loved me. Just as he did the others. Why would he prevent me from romping with the human children, even if they aged and I did not?
I could be with them at last, be one of them.
I pushed onward. I reached out my right arm, into the light that streamed within and touched the limestone of the structure’s entrance. So warm and comforting.
The sounds of the children without played in my ears. Yes, I could be with them. See Nekhure in his world.
I picked up my steps, determined now to be within that warmth, to be bathed in its grasp.
So lost I was within my own delusion, I scarce felt the pain. I reached the entranceway and realized only then that my arm flamed with excruciation. Yet still I pushed forward until I stood outside. In the sun. Just like the others!
Yet the pain became all too obvious as throbbing searing heat spread throughout my body. Why was I seeing things in shadow? I thought, as my vision faltered. My eyes. Sharp, profound and burning. I heard the groan issue from deep within my throat as if it came from another.
Through the mist of pain and searing light, I saw one of the human children, Bahram, dash towards me. All was near dark within my mind and eyes, yet I was quite aware of the force of a yak pounding me back into the darkness. Away from the agony. From there, all turned to black.
As I awoke, Father and Mother both stood above me. At first, my mind bore confusion. Why were Father’s green eyes dull? Mother’s brown eyes shimmered with tears?
I closed my own eyes then, for the pain became clear and obvious. They had been correct. And, I was sure, they now felt to punish me for my err in judgment. Once more, it was proven that I was not like the others. That I could not be part of their world—unless they chose to be a part of mine.
I opened my mouth and the voice that issued forth was hoarse and unfamiliar. “Why does Ra hate me?” I asked.
My father gazed toward my mother and sighed deeply before turning back to me, lying as I was on my slab, deep within the darkened chamber of Khufu’s pyramid.
With a single nod, my mother bowed her head and moved from the chamber, leaving my father and I alone. He sat beside me, and I knew there was more—information he had yet to disclose. And I was about to learn the secrets of the Pet Mer, of being the daughter of an obscure race.
There is little more painful than the realization that the deity you were raised to worship does not love you. Or worse, does not exist at all?
I had heard from youth, “Ra protects you. Ra loves you. In Ra’s embrace, you will never have to worry.” The same held for the other gods. Each tale differed, yet their existence held purpose in our lives. They made us understand their subsistence as well as our own.
But tonight, Ra betrayed me. Burned me as I stepped out before His presence. And I wanted to understand why.
I could scarce speak, yet my father, Sefu as he was termed by local humans, always foresaw my thoughts.
He sighed deeply and I could see well within his dark green eyes (such a confliction to my brown) a pain I had not witnessed in the past. The pain, as I was to learn, of truth.
He spoke not a word for the longest time, and though it ached me to speak, I felt I must. My curiosity as to his thoughts was too great to let set on a dune.
“Father,” I croaked, my voice unrecognizable, even to myself. “I have learned well of the gods, and their protection, in my studies. Ra is of the sun. Ra is the all powerful. He should protect me, should he not? Or am I mistaken in his love for me?”
“I think it is time,” said my father, ”That you learn each side to this tangled tale.”
My mind became like a web of spiders confused in their destiny. I thought Tutor had taught me all I needed to understand in life.
Father saw this, for he spoke quickly, “Ra is of the human gods and therefore does not pertain to us.”
“But I am half human, does this not count for something?”
Father crossed his hands into his lap and appeared in deep concentration for what it was he needed to say next. Anxiety built within my stomach as I waited. And when his words did come, they were soft, comforting.
“You know the tales—of how myself and the other Pet Mer came to live here in Egypt?”
I nodded. It was a story recited since near my birth, something I’d been raised to know and know well. The Pet Mer had arrived from another place, a far off star no longer visible in the night sky. My father was of that race. He met my mother, who is from Egypt and is not Pet Mer, but human. This, I had been taught, made me half of each. Though I was unclear what this all meant exactly, I understood enough.
“The humans,” I said finally, “they help us to survive.”
“Yes,” confirmed my father. “But you need to learn why—and how they differ from us.” Now, that was an area of topic that had always remained obscure. For whatever reason, I knew not. I was about to discover that not all I learnt from Tutor held truth within our world, only that of humans. And though my mother, who gave me life, hails as human, I am much more Pet Mer.
“You see, my daughter,” Father began, “the humans of this place, of this land where you live, they do not understand yet much of what is natural within the world in which I hail.”
More confused than ever, I merely stared, unable to utter a sound. Of course Father knew this.
“Here,” he stated, reiterating with a broad sweep of his hands, “they are quite primitive in their science. We aid them in learning by developing written languages, such as you have been practicing. And by using our gifts to build homes for our people to stay safe from the sun’s burning light, as you discovered today.”
I nodded, yet none of my questions had yet to be answered.
“But, there is more to these structures, as one day they shall become a final locality for the pharaohs and kings to see their eternal rest. This is the bargain we made with the humans. They feed us, we aid them in advanced methods of medicine, science, architecture and language. All of this we have taken from the planet from whence we hailed.”
“What happened to this planet?” I asked.
Father’s face fell and his eyes shimmered with tears. “It is no more. I know you will not understand this, but a great rock as large as the planet itself careened too close. The effect of its ripple shifted the orbit of our planet. The sun that gave life to plants and animals there, as it does here, was always to be avoided, but not deadly—not until the shift. The planet, we called it Ishrarth, drew closer to our sun. Night became day, lush forests became the driest of deserts. So much life perished.” His voice cracked with emotion I had never before witnessed. My heart felt heavy for his sorrow.
“We moved and we ran, so many of us burned in the sun, as you did today, only they did not have a human to shove them back into the shade, for there was none to save them, and they were lost forever.”
I swallowed hard as I imagined the scenario Father relayed. Though I knew this had happened many thousands of years past by earth’s calendar, I could see that to Father it was a mere day. The pain fresh.
He cleared his throat and continued. “Those of us who survived ventured far into the mountains where we had built dark compounds and shelters. But, there was little food there. We fed off the blood of the animals on Ishrarth. There were no humans, you realize. Only us and the animals that inhabited the planet. The shelter held us safe for a short while, but we knew, had known for awhile, that we must leave. We knew of earth, for our people had ventured here long ago for research and study. Humans then were even less advanced—almost animals.” His hands bound into fists. “But we studied them. We have for a very long time. Unlike here, traveling long distances through space is within our capability. Our planet was doomed to die as it would eventually collide with the sun—”
“Ra existed there as well?” I asked, interrupting. “Why would he swallow your home?”
Father’s face softened as anxiety melted away. He smiled then and took my face gently within his soft hands. “Oh my daughter, you are so naïve, I almost wish not to take that away.” He kissed my forehead with a whisper’s touch, then placed his hands back in his lap.
“There was no Ra on our planet,” he said then with bold ambition. “We did not possess the concepts of deities as humans do.”
“I do not understand,” I said.
More and more, I could see tension build within his features once again. His frustration at trying to teach me the difference between human concepts and those of the Pet Mer from Ishrarth must have perturbed him greatly.
“This was your mother’s idea!” He all but snapped as if to himself rather at me. “To allow you a human tutor. ‘She is growing up on earth, in Egypt,’ was her argument to me, ‘she needs to learn our ways.’”
Father closed his eyes, shook his head. “I should have insisted, but… well, here it is now. You are a drinker of blood. You are Pet Mer, despite your human half. But, in this place, only human blood can sustain us. The animals here…” he looked around as if seeing beyond many debens of stone that surrounded us. “Their blood is so very different from those on Ishrarth. We tried to exist on them, but we grew more hungry. And weak. It was quite by accident that we discovered human blood here held the same properties for our survival as the animals on Ishrarth had. And so, we must drink human blood for as long as we live on this planet. But… We must not kill! To do so would cause us exposure and great harm.”
This was all fun and interesting to me… after all, I fed daily on the humans from the villages that Pharaoh sent down to feed us.
“But, what of Ra?” I asked, needing to return to the original path of our conversation.
Father’s shoulders slumped and I got the impression he had been avoiding the subject. After a time, he looked at me pointedly. “Kesi, this is too complicated a subject to explain to you at this time.”
“No! You continue with your lessons as things go, and one day, when you are older, we shall discuss this further. But, now, you need rest so you may heal.”
It was then I realized how much better I felt. My body no longer burned with the pains the sun had inflicted. Only small stinging welts remained. Pet Mer. Sky Friends. From another planet. Apparently, also quick to heal from that which could be life threatening.
I lay back on my bed, thoughts so confused I did not comprehend even a beginning to sorting through it all. One thing I was sure; I would be learning much over the next few years, and some of it, I feel, may not be what I wish to hear.
“The First Kiss”
These pages, which I keep tucked away beneath a loose wall stone in my chamber where no one shall find them, have remained there for seven or more days now. I write on them now for I finally have words in which to fill their pages.
Time passed by as always, yet Nekhure remained, whether by his own decision or his parents, away from our home. I had not seen him since the terrible incident weeks before.
Within me, anxiety built. How I tried to stave its effects from influencing my nightly tasks. The humans, they slave the daylight hours, but we slave the night.
Even I, being young and unable to procure the strength for the same grand tasks as my father and the others of adult status, still have chores to attend. More so now, as punishment for my indiscretion toward Nekhure. Humans, sacred to our existence, must never be compromised.
I have been given more washing to do, and deliveries of goods to homes in need of such. No one goes hungry so long as the Pet Mer aid in keeping the Pharaoh’s lands built, free of disease and pleasing for him and those close to his throne.
On this night, however, I finished my chores early and decided to go for a walk along the flooded Nile. The second month of the Inundation was well on.
The night was exceptionally sultry, and I remained well away from the water for, though the various biting bugs cannot harm me, the buzzing in my ears becomes most annoying, as does the swarming around my face.
Due to the heat, I dressed sparsely. In day, humans don full layers to protect their delicate flesh from the great rays of Ra’s sun. I, having no such need, desire only to cover what I am told by my mother need not be shown to all. And so, I donned a small linen tunic, which barely covered the petite breasts I had finally begun to develop, and just enough below my waist to keep me unexposed. Not that I felt any of this necessary, but Mother insisted, in the ‘rare event I encounter a human who happened to be out during nighttime hours.’
And that is exactly what transpired, although it was no mere mortal whose silhouette I viewed against the mist of the life-river.
As I approached, it soon became clear to me who I would soon encounter. The shoulder-length ebony hair and exceptional muscle tone from working the quarries was unmistakable. The figure moved toward me, apprehensive at first and then at a hurried pace.
The moment my mind came to terms with what I was seeing, I picked up my step.
His pace quickened as well.
My bare feet sank deep within the tepid damp sand near the banks of the Nile as I broke into a run.
Soon, my arms were wrapped about his muscled body and his around my slight waist. So tightly we embraced, the doubts my mind had held for more days than I cared to count drifted away. Despite what had transpired, Nekhure still saw me as his friend.
What happened next I did not expect. And yet, I embraced him nonetheless. As he withdrew, the depth of my mind worried he would release me and never return. How wrong I could be.
I felt the warmth of his lips touch mine before I could comprehend what was happening. I had never before kissed a boy. Not like this.
He pressed his sun-calloused lips so hard against my soft pale mouth, that at first it pained me. But that was not to last, for my mind gave in to the realization that Nekhure not only forgave me, but cared more deeply than I had dreamt or imagined.
At this enlightenment, I relaxed and gave in to my desire for him—I closed my eyes and allowed his lips to dominate mine.
For more than fourteen seasons I had seen him wait by the Nile, watching the rising of the tides, growing from a young boy, to a matured human male. He was older than I, though our years on the planet said otherwise. I had experienced the exact rising and falling of Ra from the sky. Yet, he grew a man. I remained a child—at least in body. My mind wanted no different than the others of advanced age. When would it all merge? When would my young body catch up to my older mind? Or would I remain forever in adult thoughts, adult feelings, yet the body of an adolescent?
I knew I would need to discuss this with Father, but on another night. For this night passion seized me in its grasp and refused release.
I did not want the kiss to end. Nekhure’s lips brought me to the brink of the woman I really was, not the child my body stubbornly remained.
When, much to my dismay, Nekhure pulled back, all at once the heat and moisture of the Nile’s flood came on me like the inundation itself. My eyes came open, though I was never aware I had closed them.
Nekhure then replaced his lips with his fingertips, running them along the lips he had just tasted. I closed my eyes with a sigh and parted my lips. I wanted more of his kiss. Wanted it more desperately than the blood that flowed through his veins. The blood I had tasted in a way not allowed by our kind.
I pulled back. “Nekhure…” I sighed. “I harmed you and to this I truly apologize.”
He shook his head, slowly. “Kesi…” his fingertips caressed my cheek then. “Your bite gave me more than I could ever have imagined in my short life. The pleasure I felt offering my blood in such a manner was beyond measure.”
At first, bewilderment overtook me. Did he enjoy being bitten? Drained of his life?
My perplexity must have been obvious, for his explanation answered the questions within my mind.
“The pleasure,” he began, “I do not know how to explain, except that… It was as if we were one. You took my blood, but at that moment I knew what you felt for me. I was within your heart. You care deeply for me, Kesi. I felt it. And you cannot fret, for I am yours for as long as you shall have me.”
He kissed me once more, softly, and then turned away. “I love you, Kesi” echoed his words across the banks of the Nile as he disappeared into the haze..
Now, I sit by my lamp, and alone, I write and I wonder. Was this the normal reaction to taking the blood of a mortal? Would not all mortals be in love with us or us to them if such was the case? This makes no sense to me and yet, I cannot deny the bond between us. What Nekhure and I felt was unique. A precursor. Truly this answered all the questions that had plagued me. Nekhure and I were meant to be more than simply friends…
We were to be one.