Author’s Note: I was inspired to write tonight, so I sat down and created this short story for you. I wanted to see if I could write the entire thing in 60 minutes, and I seem to have succeeded. However, I haven’t edited it yet, so please forgive any errors and make sure to tell me about them. Enjoy!
I slammed my fist against the door again. “Come on, Dots! You cannot bail on me!” No response. I let out a frustrated huff and banged again. Dots knew I had been waiting to see this exhibit for months, and we both knew that if we didn’t go today we weren’t going to have another chance before it moved on to Montreal. “Dots! Don’t do this to me, man!”
I lifted my fist to pound again when a hand landed on my shoulder. I spun to face a rather-startled looking RA. “Excuse me. People are trying to study.” I deflated a bit and lowered my fist. I’d forgotten that the dormitories enforced a week-long noise ban right before finals.
“Sorry. You Dots’ RA? Have you seen him?”
“Do you mean Jerry Andaren?” I almost laughed. No one had called Dots by his real name in over two years. Not since an unfortunate experiment had literally blown up in his face during one of his stranger obsessions. Since then he’d been left with a permanent line of dark purple specks across his forehead where the goggles hadn’t quite come up far enough. It surprised me that anyone, RA or not, still referred to him as Jerry.
“Yeah. That’s the one. You seen him?”
“He hasn’t left Reichenton Hall all week. One of the professors said he’s been sleeping there.” That surprised me. Dots was a freakin’ genius, but I didn’t think he’d actually skip classes this close to finals. I thanked the guy and trotted over to Reichenton.
Posters for The Worshiper Exhibit were all over campus. News of the oldest-known naturally-preserved mummy had spread like wildfire, and everyone was excited that it was being shown in the museum on the other side of town. That was precisely why I was NOT going to forgive Dots if we missed it. Two-thousand years older than even Ötzi, The Worshiper was an anthropological miracle, promising to reveal more about ancient culture than any other find in generations. Dots had sworn up and down that it was impossible for human life to survive in a climate like the one that would have existed during that time period, but I’d promptly ignored him. Guy was a genius, but you can’t argue with the greatest archaeologists in the world when it comes to things like this. He’d only scowled and muttered under his breath.
Reichenton Hall was quiet, but a kindly older woman gave me directions to the lab that Dots used most frequently. The place was a mess. Scraps of metal, jars, and various other materials lay in heaps, surrounded by printed articles and frantic notes that I couldn’t make sense of. Only a small area had been cleared away, and a hastily-scrawled note sat in its center.
Terry– I figured it out. I’ll show you at the museum.
I was somewhere between angry and relieved. At least Dots hadn’t forgotten about the exhibit. I glanced around at the scraps and papers again, but only shrugged. None of it meant anything to me. I’m a budding anthropologist not… not whatever all of that was.
It didn’t take me long to reach the museum, and I waited outside for nearly an hour before I finally decided that maybe he’d gone inside without me. The inside was packed, but there was no sign of Dots anywhere, and I finally decided that I was going to see this famous Worshiper with or without him. He’d probably be pissed at me, but whatever. Maybe he’d learn to keep his appointments.
A lot of the exhibit was not really new to me, since Dots and I had both seen the articles all over the internet. The medallion was interesting. A small metal disk that had been clutched in the mummy’s hand appeared to be almost perfectly round and shaped through intense heat—evidence that metalworkers of that time period not only existed but had also been incredibly skilled. This medallion, believed by experts to be a religious icon, was partially attributed to the mummy’s designation of The Worshiper. It was also both mind-boggling and incredibly exciting. So much of what we knew about prehistoric culture was being rewritten because of this one find!
However, the medallion wasn’t what I was here for. The medallion was only the sideshow. No, it was the mummy itself, and (more importantly) what it could offer to anthropology as a whole.
Most people know that tattoos are not a modern invention. Even Ötzi has symbols inked into his skin. But while those are generally considered by experts to be the result of ancient medicinal techniques similar to acupuncture, The Worshiper had deliberate and ritualized markings—the oldest-known religious body modifications ever recorded. This single, ancient body was not only introducing us to intelligent life older than any we had thus before conceived, but it could also give us ground-breaking information on ancient customs and ideals! Religion was one of the marks of a highly-intelligent and civilized culture. Imagine the things we could learn from it!
Still casting an eye around for Dots in case he finally decided to show up, I waited anxiously for the line to move forward around the crowded case where the mummified remains were on display. These tattoos were really the reason I’d wanted to come. Though nearly every article about the Worshiper had mentioned them, none thus far had given a satisfactory description other than that they were very precise and made with a thus-unidentified pigment. To see them for myself! This was a chance I’d been waiting for my entire life!
Finally the line moved forward and The Worshiper was revealed. My heart stopped as I stared at the incredibly precise, certainly-NOT religious markings.
A line of dark purple dots across the brow.
Right where the top of someone’s goggles would be.
My hands shook uncontrollably at my sides as a lump caught in my throat.
Dots really had found a way to prove that people couldn’t survive during that era. I wish I’d believed him sooner.