Some tombs should never be opened...
Teen scientist Jane’s latest experiment in living went really wrong.
After a fatal accident, Jane becomes the first modern-day mummy—and wakes up in the Egyptian underworld without a heart. With nothing to help her get into paradise, Anubis, the snarky god of embalming, wants to devour her soul. Then again, Anubis is drop-dead gorgeous, so maybe things aren’t so bad after all.
But a mad god offers Jane a way out of the underworld, and she only has to do the impossible—go back in time and steal King Tut’s heart. Well, every experiment has variables which can end in disaster. Between posing as a priestess, trying to murder the young pharaoh, and being followed by Anubis, who can’t seem to decide if he’s going to kiss her or kill her, Jane has to make a choice: Do the logical thing and steal Tut’s heart, or find a way to save them both...Even if it means rebelling against all the gods of Egypt in the process.
This Entangled Teen Crave book contains life in the name of science, the rage of a vengeful god, love against life and death, and swoon-worthy kisses. Warning: you may find yourself wishing that you,too, had died and gone to the Duat.
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|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
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By Leah Rooper, Kate Rooper, Suzanne Evans
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Leah and Kate Rooper
All rights reserved.
Adventure is overrated.
The cold water bites my legs, and I tremble against the current. I just have to pretend I'm Charles Darwin, sailing off to the Galápagos. Creating a new theory for evolution seems easier than plopping down on the black inner tube, which spins on the waters of Skutz Falls.
"Come on, Jane, this isn't hard," my older brother, Duncan, snaps. "Just sit down."
"But it's moving!" I say.
"Yes," he says. "That's what rivers do."
"Technically, they flow. A combination of gravity, wind, and geographic land folds causes the water to continuously run downward, unless disrupted by a dam or —"
Duncan grabs me around the waist and pushes me into the tube. I've stalled getting into the water so long the tube has heated up to thigh-blistering levels. "No science stuff, remember? Mom said to have fun, not ramble on about gravity and land folds. Okay?"
"Wouldn't want to embarrass you in front of all your distinguished comrades." I roll my eyes and wiggle deeper into the hole of my tube.
"You haven't been outside at all this summer. See that, Dr. Jane?" He points to the sky. "That's called the sun. It's there for us to enjoy!"
I would tell him the sun is actually there due to the nebular cloud and condensation theory, but he gives me a stubborn stare.
"And seriously," he says, "take that T-shirt off. You'll cook to death."
I wrap my pink T-shirt tighter around myself. Squeaky laughter breaks over the rush of the river. Duncan's four friends splash each other and crack beers as they wait for me to get ready. No way will I take it off. Not with them here. One girl stands up from her tube, flaunting a flat abdomen in a floral bikini. Yeah, definitely not taking my shirt off.
Duncan drags my tube over to the rest of the group. The girl tilts her head and gives me a once-over. "So we finally get to meet Duncan's little sister. I'm Laurel!"
Laurel puts her hands on her hips. "You're thirteen, right?"
"Uh, I'm seventeen."
"Oh, awkward!" She laughs. "You gonna join us at VIU?"
"No, I'm going somewhere else." Like the University of Cambridge ... if I get in. My acceptance letter still hasn't arrived. I want to learn in the same place as the great ones who changed the world: the scientific revolutionist, Newton; the father of nuclear physics, Rutherford; and, of course, Darwin. I should be double-checking what classes I want to take instead of doing some stupid summer ritual with drunk college kids.
"What are we waiting for?" one of the other girls says. "Let's go!" They jump onto their tubes and paddle into the current.
"Just relax." Duncan leans toward me, his long, dirty blond hair falling in my face. "Try having fun for once."
With that, Duncan shoves me into the current of Skutz Falls.
"Don't let go!" I squeal as the cold water splashes onto my lap.
Duncan belly flops on his tube. "I'm right here," he sighs. "You're safe."
I clutch the sides of the tube with white knuckles. Typical Duncan. Five summers ago, he forced me to learn how to ride a bike and promised not to let go of the seat until I was ready. Of course, he did let go, and I smacked against the cement and scraped my knees. With its corrosive chemicals, scorching Bunsen burners, and scalpels as sharp as green warbler-finches' beaks, the lab is still safer than the outdoors.
The current is swift but smooth, so I release my vise grip and dip my hand in the cool water. It was a rainy winter, and the river is deeper than I've ever seen it. Despite its name, Skutz Falls is not a waterfall at all, just a long stretch of river with steeply descending rapids during the wet months. It's like a classic Canadian postcard: a dark turquoise ribbon lacing through the forest for almost thirty miles. Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and alder trees tower over us on both sides of the rocky bank.
"How long will this take?"
Duncan rolls over so he lies on his back. "Don't worry, Janey, you'll be back in plenty of time to check the mail."
"Mail doesn't arrive on Sundays."
Duncan laughs. "Which is the only reason I got you to leave the house."
Fact: Duncan doesn't understand that my whole life depends on that letter.
Fact: Floating down this stupid river gets me nowhere.
Hypothesis: I would be at least a couple hundred pages deeper into Principles and Problems in Physical Chemistry for Biochemists if I wasn't here.
Experiment: Endure the trials and tribulations of youth before leaving Canada behind to indulge in scientific revolution with the Cambridge scholars.
Duncan paddles to catch up to his friends, but my tube dawdles behind. At least now I won't have to hear them blather on about Duncan's band or what party they're going to. Thin grey clouds wisp across the sky, carrying a chilling mist. I'll just close my eyes, listen to the river, and not think about the carcinogenic effects of the sun on my pasty skin.
"Hey Jane," Duncan calls, "come to shore!"
I open my eyes just in time to see the sign as I whizz past: WALK FROM THIS POINT ON.
My heart slams against my chest and I fumble, trying to spin around on my tube. Duncan and his friends stand on the bank, their tubes in hand. In front of me, the water foams on the rocks.
A wave of terror wells up my body as I try to paddle back toward shore. "Duncan!" I scream. "I'm not moving."
His friends laugh. "Don't worry about her," Laurel says. "The rapids are never that bad. She'll just beat us down the river."
"Don't leave me!" I screech. My wild paddling does nothing as my tube sails farther away from the bank. "Duncan!"
"Just get out of the tube and swim," another girl yells at me. "Come on, silly!"
I look around. The current picks up, and up ahead, white foam bubbles against jagged rocks. Rapids stretch across the river, plunging downward like watery steps. They crash against the rocky bank, splashing five feet in the air. This is my last chance to get to shore. I wiggle out of the tube, hook my arms around it, then plunge my feet in.
My soaked T-shirt pulls me down. I kick in the deep water, but the current steals my movement. I'll never be able to swim to shore like this. Up ahead, the rapids roar like a beast. I need to get out of the water. I need to be on solid ground. I need to get back on my tube.
A slick rock brushes against my foot and I kick off — pain shudders through the arch of my foot as it digs into a sharp point. I cry out and throw my body over the edge of the tube.
The shore becomes craggy on either side, and I look back. Everyone's getting farther and farther away as I careen down the river, but Duncan swims toward me. I just have to be brave until he can come get me.
The tube swooshes down a narrow gap between two rocks. A strong wave hits me from behind, and my grip slips.
I scream as my leg snags against a branch. My tube spirals again, bouncing from bank to bank. "Duncan!"
I'm flying too fast. Duncan will never be able to catch me. I try to spot him, but mist and trees and shooting water block my vision. I can't hear the water anymore, just the blood pumping in my ears.
"Help!" I just need to ride this through, get off the tube and out of the water.
"Duncan!" I cry. I can't see him, but he must be near. It'll be okay. He'll save me.
I flip, tumbling away from the tube, and hit the water like it's concrete.
Water pounds at my head, my arms, my legs. I fling myself up for air but meet only rock. I open my mouth to scream and water plunges down my throat.
My chest spasms as my body rejects the water inside me. I need air. Everything is pounding, hitting, hurting. My lungs are ready to rip from my chest. I need to get out, I need to breathe.
I hit something hard — a bludgeon to the back of the head. I don't need breath anymore, or a heartbeat — it's slowed to almost nothing.
I need to —
Well, I need to do something. I can't seem to remember quite what it is. I'm warm, and my blood dilutes in the water, forming a giant black opening that sweeps over to devour me.CHAPTER 2
The Book of the Dead
Awakening. A strange feeling stirs through my body and pulls on my fur. I open my heavy eyes.
The feeling creeps through me, choking and taunting. Somewhere, a mummy is being created ... but something's gone wrong. Slowly, I stretch my paws and draw in the twisted scent. To find its source, I must leave the world of the dead and journey to the mortal land.
I stand and great waves of sand cascade off me. I look around at the purple fog that leaches through my underworld. It is time to leave the Duat for the living.
I follow the strange scent into the mortal land, across the vast sea, into the far north, where moist trees curl their way through concrete palaces.
Before me lies a building of iron and chemicals and white light. The feeling is strong here. I drift through long halls to a small room. Even if one of the mortals were to walk by, they could not see me. Here, no one believes.
I change my shape. This place is built for man, not animal, and I want to see more than legs and low cupboards. On the walls hang bland English letters with complex calculations explaining things I know upon feeling. Dark mirrors steadily hum.
What could possibly require my attention here?
Whispers drift out of a corner of the room. I turn to see a young man sitting on a chair, knees pulled up, curled over a book. His words strike me in my chest. Everything in this place is foreign but those words are timeless and sacred and all I really know.
"Thou shalt come forth into paradise, thou shalt pass over the sky, thou shalt be joined unto the starry deities."
"Honestly, Jonesy," an old man calls out. He is haggard, a white coat hung on thin and pointy bones.
"I brought you here for forensic DNA analysis," the old man continues, "not to ramble on about some mythology class you took."
"I actually have a minor in ancient Egyptian mythology and culture, Dr. Giles. Another reason I'm so interested in this project." The young man, Jonesy, places the book down and walks over to the blinking mirror.
I gaze at the book the man left behind: The Book of the Dead: An English Translation. A growl rises in my throat. I've seen the words countless times, but not like this. An insulting imitation. Those precious words should be inked carefully on papyrus, placed with the dead to guide them.
And yes, I can feel it clearly now. There is death in this place.
"This is extraordinary," Jonesy says. "We're recreating an art form thousands of years old. We're like modern-day priests of Anubis, summoning the very presence of Egypt."
What a fool — this is a mockery of me, not a tribute! They have brought only death, with the imitation of something sacred.
"Yes, yes, but I've got enough of a headache without you going off about nonsense. Come on, let's see how our project is coming."
I follow them through a metal door into a new room. The strange feeling that sought me out all the way in the Duat washes over me, for here lies its source. A body, an awakened soul.
I walk toward the body on a table — a young woman, naked, with a trail of stitches across her chest. Her lower abdomen is cut open, green plastic surrounding it for the scientists to reach inside with latex fingers. I grit my teeth. This is not how one is prepared for the journey to Osiris. If only this were Egypt, centuries ago, when I sat with the mortals as they died. I would wash her with water from the Nile, pack her skin carefully in natron. I would wrap her with white bandages to preserve her body, so she may walk and dance and breathe in the Field of Reeds, just as she had in the mortal world.
A smile breaks across Jonesy's face. "I can't believe we're doing this. We're about to create a mummy! A real mummy."
My hands tighten into fists. This is no mummy. This is an experiment.
I force myself to close my eyes, to concentrate on the girl's soul. Yes, she's in this room. Perhaps Jonesy awakened her with his carelessly muttered words, or perhaps it is just the beginning of the mummification itself.
I should leave. The dealings of mortals in a distant place are beyond my concern. It is for the best. A dead girl from this land has no place in Egypt's paradise.
Or ... I can finish the prayer and guide her to the Field of Reeds.
I can give her breath.
I lean down to the girl and tear the ankh from around my neck, placing it on her bottom lip. Slowly, I part her lips, breathe into her mouth, and say:
"Let your mouth be opened, and loosen the bonds of Set.
I give you my hands, they are placed as guardians.
With that chisel of metal, with which I opened the first mouth of the gods.
Now, lost soul, you may breathe again."CHAPTER 3
Opening of the Mouth
I'm lying on my back, hands crossed over my chest. Only thin rays of purple light allow me to see.
I can't breathe. My lips feel like they're covered in plaster, then they split open with a crack. I cough and cough and cough until my lungs are all but hacked up.
I stand and a dull ache spreads throughout my body, like my bones are rusted pieces of metal grinding together. A dark haze reaches toward me, swirling around my arms and legs. Purple fog shifts in the distance, like a rolling storm.
I wrap my pink T-shirt tighter around myself. It's soaked through, and my dripping bathing suit still clings to my skin. I lift up a strand of dark hair and can barely see the ugly blonde highlights because it's so damp. I have a feeling I'll never be dry again.
"Duncan!" I scream.
I must have passed out and been carried downriver to this place. A dark chill runs through me. I've never seen a place like this before, but it's stranger than that. I've never been to a place that feels like this before.
It'll be okay. Duncan is probably looking for me now, laughing that his little sister has embarrassed herself again. I just have to be brave until he can come get me.
I peer through the haze: still nothing but fog in the distance. There has to be something out there. I take a tentative step. The ground is grainy beneath my bare feet, like the banks of Skutz Falls.
"Duncan?" I swear I see a face ... a young man peering out at me through the fog.
My breath catches in my throat. There is someone there. I can hardly make him out, just a tall and willowy body sauntering toward me. He lifts his head up. Bright gold eyes cut through the dense fog, and I take a step back.
Definitely not Duncan.
"H-hello?" I say, my voice barely more than a whisper.
But the boy vanishes just as fast as he appeared. I turn in a circle, trying to find a fixture among the twists of fog.
Another shape forms and heads toward me. But it's not a boy — it's a dog.
What a curious-looking dog. I think back to all the animals I learned about when I interned for a taxidermist at the museum. Its tail is too sleek to be a fox and too small to be a coyote.
"Jackal," I whisper.
The creature stops and stares at me. Purple light reflects off its glossy black fur and golden eyes. A shiver runs down my spine. Jackals are opportunistic scavengers, and I'm sure I look just right for scavenging.
It slinks forward, a golden sash dangling from its neck. This can't be some random wild animal — it must belong to that guy.
I hold my hand out. "Come here."
The jackal stops and tilts its head slightly. And then it grows.
Its muscles ripple and enlarge with each step. This is impossible. I must have swallowed too much river water.
I rub my eyes but when I open them, the thing is still there, thudding one huge paw in front of the other. "This is a dream," I stutter. "Canis aureus do not have the ability to triple in size."
Its mouth curls open, revealing huge canines. I pull back my arm and clock it in the nose. It recoils — from surprise, I assume, and not pain. My arms are more used to punching numbers than noses.
The jackal sticks its snout in my face and bares its teeth. And then it speaks.
I have absolutely no idea what it said, but that jackal talked. My stomach drops. "W-what?"
I swear the jackal rolls its eyes. Then it speaks again.
"What language is that?" This is some kind of illusion — a trick of the mind. Growing, talking jackals are genetically impossible. "What are you?"
The jackal narrows its eyes. "Only English?" The voice is deep, strangely human.
"Yes, English. Or I can do a little French. What about Latin? Auribus teneo lupum?"
With a sigh, he closes his eyes and growls, "Who are you?"
"Why are you talking?"
He slams a paw upon the ground, throwing up a flurry of dust. "You answer me, mortal!"
Excerpted from Jane Unwrapped by Leah Rooper, Kate Rooper, Suzanne Evans. Copyright © 2015 Leah and Kate Rooper. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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