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Shepenopet's Curse


Melissa Williams sat before her mirror brushing her long, curly blonde hair. She stopped for a moment to look at her eyes. They were a beautiful shade of green, unlike anybody else that she had ever seen. As far as she knew they were unique. They made her feel special. She didnít know why but she had a bad feeling about today. That something terrible was going to happen.

After she finished brushing her hair, Melissa put on a little makeup. She packed up her things for school, not that she was going to be in school. Today was her field trip to the Museum of Civilization. Her ancient history class was going to see some new artifacts that were brought

back from a dig in Egypt. Melissa liked the fact that she wouldnít have to go to class all day or listen to Mr. Spangler for an hour.

Mr. Spangler talked very slowly and in the same tone all of the time. Even when he was excited he droned on. Melissa had never heard him speak in another tone. Over the past two weeks he made Melissa wish that she was in a different class.

Melissa changed from her robe into a pair of black jeans and a red blouse. She took one last look in the mirror and went downstairs. Her mom was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a coffee.

"Iíll see you when you get home," Mrs. Williams said.

"Bye, Mom," Melissa said.

It wasnít very far to the school from her house, only a couple of blocks. She walked slowly to the school, not in any particular rush to get there. The school was an old brick and mortar building with several portables around it. This was the last year that it would be used. Next year there would be a new, larger school.

When Melissa got to school, her friend Karen was waiting for her. Karen OíBrien was about Melissaís size. The girls often shared their clothes. Karenís eyes were a baby blue and her short hair was red and curly. And she had the most freckles Melissa had ever seen. Her parents moved to Ottawa from Ireland when Karen was a baby. She didnít have the Irish accent but her parents did. She was wearing a blue skirt and a white top.

"Hi Karen," Melissa said. "Are you ready for the field trip?"

"Iím looking forward to it," Karen answered. "Arenít you?"

"Iíll be happy to miss the day of classes," Melissa said. "Iím not sure that Iím going to have a good time. Iím not very interested in ancient Egypt."

"Whatís wrong Missy," Karen said. "You look totally bummed."

"Itís nothing," Melissa said. "Donít worry about it." Yet she was worried about it. She knew that something bad was going to happen but what? Was there going to be an accident?

The girls walked to their home room and took their seats. They sat beside each other like they did every chance they got. They shared most of the same classes and most of their friends would move to let them sit beside one another. The girls were the best of friends. For Melissa, the feeling that something was wrong was growing.

Mr. Spangler was sitting behind his desk at the front of the class. Mr. Spangler was old. He was probably close to retirement. His hair was thinning and a soft silvery color and was slicked back. He wore thick glasses that obscured his brown eyes. Mr. Spangler wasnít a bad teacher. Melissa just wished that he would show some emotion when he talked. He had a way of making the most interesting subject boring. It was hard to remember anything that he said.

"I have a bad feeling," Melissa said to Karen. "I think something terrible is going to happen today."

"What can happen?" Karen asked. "We are only going on a field trip to a museum."

"Class," Mr. Spangler said. "Mrs. Colby will be going with us to the museum. She is waiting for us at the bus. If you will follow me."

Mr. Spangler led them to the bus. Melissa and Karen sat beside each other in the front

seat. When the whole class was on the bus Mr. Spangler got on and counted to make sure everybody made it.

Melissa looked absently out the window of the bus, trying not to think about the feelings that were welling up inside of her. She sighed softly as the buildings flashed by. She didnít like riding on buses. Melissa found buses crowded and she couldnít wait for her birthday next month so she could get her learnerís permit. Something in the window caught Melissaís attention. She could see her friend Karen reaching for her ribs, probably to tickle her.

"Donít even think about it!" Melissa said.

She liked Karen because she could be mischievous from time to time. Not just the straight arrow she was in class. The girls had been friends for longer than either of them could remember. Fortunately they were in most of the same classes this year. Last year they were in different classes and Melissa found it incredibly boring. This year was off to a pretty good start, other than Mr. Spangler almost putting her to sleep.

"How did you know?" Karen asked, dropping her hand into her lap.

"Didnít I tell you?" Melissa answered, with a little laugh. "Iím psychic."

"Give me a break! Iíve only known you all my life. I would know if you were psychic."

"I saw you in the window." Melissa turned and looked back out the window and sighed. "I really donít like buses."

"I know, " Karen agreed. "It could be worse though, you could be sitting beside Harold."

Melissa looked at her friend and at the same time they both said, "Eeewww." Harold was a very nice, attractive guy and Melissa liked him. The only problem was he didnít know what a shower or deodorant was. There was always a very pungent body odor around him. She looked back at him. The people sitting close to Harold had their windows open, not that Ottawa fall air was much better.

"I hope we get there soon," Melissa said. She tried to get more comfortable but the lumpy green seat wouldnít let her. She sighed deeply and put her head against the window.

"We havenít even crossed the river," Karen said. "It is going to take a while to get there. And donít forget that the bridge is under construction."

"I really donít want to go," Melissa said. "Something bad is going to happen. I know it." "We will be there soon," Karen said when they got to the bridge.

"I hope so," Melissa said.

"At least it is better than listening to Mr. Spangler," Karen replied.

Melissa laughed loudly and then stopped realizing it. She felt as if everybodyís eyes were staring at her. She put her head in her hands and her cheeks felt hot, she was blushing.

"Now class," Mr. Spangler said evenly. "You have your buddy. Remember, donít let your buddy out of your sight. And donít touch anything."

There was a loud, "Awe." It seemed to Melissa that nobody was interested in having a buddy or having to be told not to touch anything. It wasnít like they were in kindergarten, they were in the tenth grade after all. They knew how to behave on a field trip.

The bus stopped in front of the museum and let them off. It was a beautiful modern building that wasnít more than five years old. There were steps leading up to the glass doors.

The class stood in front of the museum as Mr. Spangler talked with the driver. Mr. Spangler escorted the class inside. The inside of the building was even more remarkable. The museum had smoothly polished marble floors and glass walls. Mr. Spangler talked to the clerk at the information desk then turned to his class. "Dr. Lee will be with us shortly," he said.

"I hope he wonít be giving commentary all day," Melissa whispered to Karen.

Karen let out a little laugh. "How are we going to make it through the next four months of him?"

It was Melissaís turn to laugh. "It could be worse," she said. "We could be in separate classes like last year. That was so hard." It was hard on Melissa. She was so used to being with Karen. Even during the summer they were inseparable. Melissa tried to get switched to Karenís classes but none of the students would change places with her. The only time they got to spend together was at lunch time and after school of course. The feeling that something was wrong was persistent. Melissa wanted to leave, she wanted to go home.

A tall, thin Japanese woman approached the class. She had very long black hair pulled back in a braid that went half way down her back. She had striking features that made her very pretty and she was very shapely. "Hi, Iím Dr. Lee," she said. "Iím glad to have you here and hope that you enjoy your stay."

"Hi, Dr. Lee," the class said together.

"We will be going into the basement where we will look at some artifacts and pictures that I have just brought back from Egypt," she said, leading them toward a flight of stairs. "They are still being cataloged so there are a few people down there."

The basement was a stark contrast to the well-lit hall that they came from. Dr. Lee stopped at the end of the hall and opened a heavy oak door. Inside there were about half a dozen

people examining artifacts and photographs that Dr. Lee and her team brought back from Egypt. "Go on in and look around," Dr. Lee said motioning for the class to enter.

Melissa and Karen were among the last two to enter. "I wouldnít think of her as an archeologist," Karen whispered.

"Why not?" Dr. Lee asked

"You just look so young," Karen answered. "And you donít look much like Indiana Jones."

Melissa held in a laugh. Of course Karen would compare Dr. Lee to Indiana Jones, she had a crush on Harrison Ford ever since she saw Star Wars when she was eight. Karen had seen most of his movies, but Raiders of the Lost Ark was her favorite.

Dr. Lee laughed and closed the door. "You are right. I donít fit the profile of a movie archeologist. But I have been digging up things all my life," she said. "I wanted to be an archeologist since I was younger than you. It can be a fascinating career. This was my third dig in Egypt."

"But you do look like Sydney Fox from Relic Hunter," Melissa said. "So youíve always wanted to be an archeologist?" Melissa didnít know what she wanted to be yet. She was smart and could probably do anything but she figured there was plenty of time to figure that out.

"Yes," Dr. Lee said. "When I was young, my parents used to tell me tales of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. I was particularly fond of Egypt. Egypt is my specialty."

"I donít know much about the Egyptians," Melissa said. "All I know is the sphinx and the pyramids and mummies of course but I donít know much about them."

"Me too," Karen admitted. "We are supposed to learn more this year. I guess thatís why we are here."

"Thereís a lot more to it," Dr. Lee said. "What are your names?"

"Iím Melissa," Melissa said. "And this is my friend Karen."

"It is a pleasure to meet both of you," Dr. Lee said. "Would you like to see something special?"

"Sure," the girls said in unison. Melissa suddenly felt strange. There was a giddy feeling building up inside of her. She felt as if somebody was calling to her but she couldnít figure out who. She tried to dismiss it.

Dr. Lee led them to a large table with many artifacts on it. On the table was a bronze box. Melissa couldnít see any hinges or anyway to open it. On the front of the box was an indentation that looked like a woman with some sort of weird hat. Beside the box was a little statue that looked just like the indentation. "Run away," Melissa heard a woman with a very thick accent say.

"This is a bit of a mystery," Dr. Lee said picking up the figure and pressing it against the front of the box.

"Whatís inside?" Melissa asked. The feeling that somebody was calling to her grew stronger. She started to feel a little light headed.

Dr. Lee lifted an amulet out of the box. The amulet sparkled in the light and caught Melissaís attention. Her eyes locked onto it and everything else seemed pale. "Melissa," she heard a voice call. She looked around and couldnít see anybody calling her.

"Itís beautiful," Melissa said. She felt drawn to it. Melissa felt that she had to touch it, but she knew that she shouldnít. Still, there was the feeling of danger. She knew she was afraid of the amulet yet it called to her. She yearned to touch it.

"It doesnít look out of the ordinary," Karen said. "Isnít it just jewelry?"

Just jewelry? Would you call the Hope Diamond just a rock? It was breath taking. It was the most beautiful thing Melissa had ever seen. She yearned to touch it, to wear it. But she knew that she couldnít.

"At first glance you would think so," Dr. Lee said. "But, you see this side," she said pointing to a woman with a small throne on her head. Melissa had a hard time following the conversation. The call was growing stronger and stronger. She felt like her head was going to explode because there was so much emotion.

"Yeah," Melissa answered. The feeling that the amulet was calling to her was growing stronger. She knew that she had to touch it but was afraid to. Yet, nothing else mattered, just touching the amulet. She fought of the urge.

"Well, this is the goddess Isis. She was supposed to be the worldís greatest sorceress, among other things," Dr. Lee explained. "There is nothing special about that, but what is interesting is the figure on the other side."

Dr. Lee turned the amulet over and there was a woman with a catís head. "This is Bastet, she is the goddess of cats and represents warmth and fertility. Cats were highly revered in Egyptian society. There have been digs that have found thousands of mummified cats."

Melissa tried to listen as Dr. Lee explained why it was so unusual to see the two figures together. But everything went quiet. People around her were talking but Melissa couldnít hear

them, she could only hear her heartbeat. Then she heard the womanís voice call to her. "Melissa," she said. "Donít touch the amulet."

"Melissa," she heard different voice call. "Touch the amulet." She reached out to the amulet and backed away. "Touch it," the voice said again. Melissa fought the urge to touch it but it was hard. Yet, she knew she shouldnít touch it, that the amulet was dangerous. Melissa felt her hand reaching out to the amulet. She forced it down.

"Touch the amulet," the voice said. Melissa couldnít fight the urge any longer. She reached out and touched the amulet. A bolt of lightning jumped from the amulet to her chest, throwing Melissa against the wall. She felt her head hit the wall.

Melissaís head rolled from side to side, there was a terrible stench in the air, like burning flesh. The feeling that something was wrong persisted. She felt that she was in great danger. "Sheís coming to," Dr. Lee said as Melissa lifted her head and opened her eyes. The whole class was awestruck. They were all gaping at her with their mouths open.

"Whatís wrong?" Melissa asked, trying to get up, but she felt dizzy and fell back down. "Why are you all staring at me?"

"Your eyes," Karen stammered. "Theyíre brown."

"Thatís impossible!" Melissa exclaimed. "My eyes are green. They always have been."

"See for yourself," Karen said, giving Melissa a small mirror that she carried in her backpack.

Melissa looked and blinked in disbelief. "How?" was all she could manage to say, with her mouth wide open. Her beautiful green eyes, they were gone. In their place were soft brown

eyes. Melissa felt like she was going to cry but she managed to fight back the tears. She was so sad. Her beautiful green eyes, gone.

"Iíve never heard of such a thing," Dr. Lee said. "We should get her to a hospital."

"Call an ambulance," Mr. Spangler said.

"Iíll take her," Dr. Lee said. "If that is okay Mr. Spangler?"

"Can I go with you?" Karen asked. Melissa wished that Karen could go with her but knew that she couldnít.

"I donít think that would be a good idea Karen," Mr. Spangler said, with a hint of concern in his voice. "You arenít clear to take her Dr. Lee."

"Then I will take Karen to the hospital in my car and meet you there," Dr. Lee said. "Iím sure they will want to examine the amulet."

"That would not be acceptable. Karen has to stay with the rest of the class. You may come though," Mr. Spangler said. "Mrs. Colby, you will have to watch the class."

It was as Melissa suspected. She wished there was something she could do to get Karen to come along. She didnít want to go alone. But at least Dr. Lee was going. Though Melissa hadnít known her long, she liked Dr. Lee.

"Yes, Mr. Spangler," Mrs. Colby replied.

"Dr. Grey," Dr. Lee said to an older man at the back of the room. "Will you see to our guests?"

"No problem Dr. Lee," he said.

"My beautiful green eyes," Melissa sobbed. "Theyíre gone." What was worse, was that

she was going to the hospital with a virtual stranger. She wished that Karen could go with her. She wished that the feeling that she was in danger would go away.

Karen put her hand on Melissaís shoulder and tried to comfort her. "Iím going to call Melissaís mother," Mr. Spangler said, leaving the room.

"Why did you touch the amulet?" Dr. Lee asked. Melissa didnít know how to say a voice told her to do it. It just didnít make sense.

Melissa thought about it and couldnít come up with a good answer. "I donít know," she sobbed. "I just donít know."

"There must be a reason," Dr. Lee said. "Please tell me, no matter how strange."

"Well," Melissa stammered. "You were talking about Bastet and suddenly everything went quiet, all I could hear was my heartbeat and I felt an irresistible urge to touch it, that it was calling me. That it wanted me to touch it."

"It would seem there is more to this amulet than I thought," Dr. Lee said. "I donít understand it though. Over a dozen people have handled it, yet when you touched it . . . "

"I know," Melissa said. "Have you ever heard of things like this happening?"

"Well, there is King Tutankhamenís curse but Iíve never heard of anything like what happened to you," Dr. Lee answered. "It is a mystery to me and Iím supposed to be the expert."

Could it be possible? Could the amulet have been cursed? Melissa thought about it and it seemed to be the only possible answer. The amulet must have been cursed. But why did it wait for her? No there must be another reason, not just a random curse.

It wasnít very long before the paramedics arrived. One of them had short, dark hair with a well-trimmed beard. The other was clean shaven with dirty blonde hair.

"What happened?" The paramedics with the beard asked.

"She was electrocuted and she hit her head," Mr. Spangler said getting back.

"Help me get her onto the stretcher," the paramedic said to his partner.

The other paramedic helped him get Melissa onto the stretcher and then they belted her in. She tried hard to keep herself from crying. She was so scared she didnít think she could stand it.

"Her mother wants her to go to CHEO," Mr. Spangler said. "If that is okay."

"That is where we are going," the paramedic said.

They wheeled Melissa out to the ambulance and Mr. Spangler followed them. The paramedics lifted Melissa into the ambulance and then started driving to the hospital. Melissa watched it all blur by. Things felt strange to her, like she was looking at things through somebody elseís eyes.

The feelings inside of her were over powering so she closed her eyes and just took long, slow, deep breaths trying to calm herself. It wasnít working so she gave up. After the paramedic was done with her vital signs, Melissa fought back tears and thought about what happened. Maybe it was just a coincidence that her eyes changed color. Maybe it was from being electrocuted or hit by lightning, whatever it was that happened to her. Her chest still tingled from where the lightning hit her.

"Mr. Spangler," Melissa said. "I didnít mean to touch the amulet." The feeling of fear was still strong. It seemed that she couldnít seem to escape from it.

"Donít worry about that," Mr. Spangler said. "Just worry about you."