All eyes were on the prize, an Egyptian crest. The emblem appeared to be made of gold. There was a picture engraved on it, a man with a ram’s head holding a screaming child above the Nile.
Jeremy Elliot planned on purchasing the mansion as an anniversary gift for his wife. They didn’t have any property on the west coast and the Malibu location was the very definition of status. Not to mention the fact they were in dire need of a change of scenery. Last year, they took their protesting fifteen year old daughter to an exclusive Easter egg hunt in upper Manhattan. It blew up in their faces when the bus they were riding on was hijacked by a couple of thugs wearing rabbit masks! They had managed to survive the incident but the Easter holiday had seen better days. He hoped a retreat in sunny California would cure those ills.
Jeremy checked his watch. The realtor was supposed to meet him a half hour ago. He needed to be at the airport in two hours. Traffic would be murder. He told himself to calm down. The place was a steal. Some movie star had gone crazy on the property, committing a murder. What’s a couple of extra minutes when he knew he’d be saving close to a million dollars? Sure, the place needed a makeover. The star’s tastes had been extreme, burgundy carpets and black marble floors with a fully stocked bar on every level. There was a four lane bowling alley in the basement and a back yard pool fashioned with stones from Egypt. With tastes so eccentric it was no wonder the man was dead.
A red Mercedes convertible pulled into the driveway and Jeremy knew his realtor had arrived. A stocky grey haired man in his mid ‘50s rushed up and offered his hand.
“Dale Briggs, Property of the Stars. Sorry I’m late.”
Jeremy eyed the man dubiously. Although the realtor was adequately dressed, he looked shabby like he’d been sleeping in his clothes. An earthy scent hung about him as if he used lake water as aftershave. The guy stumbled through the house like a puppet on strings. If he wasn’t in California, Jeremy would have certainly been suspicious.
“Aren’t you supposed to give me full disclosure?” Jeremy asked anxious to tie things up.
“Whatever do you mean, Mr. Elliot? There was a murder. I am sure the tabloids can provide you with any gruesome details you desire. The bank has stated the asking price is non-negotiable.”
“I’m not looking for a better price Mr. Briggs. I’m looking for answers. I want to know exactly how Mr. Grant killed his assistant and where he died. I can’t find that information anywhere.”
“Why would you need this information?”
“Because if this is going to be my place of residence, morbid curiosity compels me to know if the bedroom I’m sleeping in is the place where Seth Grant cut his assistant’s head off!”
“There was no beheading Mr. Elliot.”
“I know that! I was told they both died of some kind of drowning but you get my point?”
Dale Briggs nodded.
“So, tell me what I need to know.”
“Very well, Mr. Elliot. Seth Grant murdered his assistant with a pitcher of water.”
Jeremy raised an eyebrow “You mean he drowned her?”
“No. It was water intoxication.”
“Water intoxication? That’s absurd. I’ve never heard of anything so silly.”
“I’m surprised you’ve never heard of water intoxication Mr. Elliot. Andy Warhol died from it. Egyptian slaves died from it when the pyramids were being built.”
Jeremy scoffed at the thought. “Such a strange way to die, how did he give her so much water?”
“He forced a funnel down her throat.”
“Christ! What kind of god gave him that idea?”
The relator raised an eyebrow “Poseidon or would you prefer Neptune?”
“Not funny, Briggs. Where did Seth Grant commit suicide?”
“Well, Mr. Elliot. It wasn’t exactly the suicide they claim. Mr. Grant died of something known as ‘dry drowning’. A rare occurrence, when water is introduced into the lungs and the larynx closes. The diaphragm cannot be filled with air so the person suffocates while trying to breathe.”
“Horrible, suffocation while breathing! How in the world did that happen?”
“It was theorized Grant took a swim a short time after the murder. Adrenaline may have played a part in his accidental intake, the delayed effects of the injury were not known until it was too late. He was taken to the police station where he blamed, Khnum, the Egyptian God of the Nile for the deed.”
“Khnum? God of the Nile, huh?”
“That’s correct. Mr. Grant believed Khnum was living in his swimming pool. He died handcuffed to a chair in a police interrogation room while the detective in charge was using the restroom.”
“So, he died at the police station and blamed the murder on an Egyptian God?”
“That’s correct Mr. Elliot.”
Jeremy reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a pen “I’m ready to sign.”
Four days later the happy family finally arrived at their new ‘summer’ home. Apprehensions about the looming Easter holiday appeared to be in the past as the conversations centered on the future.
“What an amazing anniversary gift!” beamed Melissa as she burst through the front door.
Tasha rolled her eyes at the emotional façade.
“Remember, my sweetie. No changes have been made.” said Jeremy “I left the decorating to you. The previous owner was a dreadful action film star and a bit of an oddball. Every floor has a fully stocked bar!”
Melissa twirled around in the foyer. “A bar on every floor? How drool! Alcoholism is so out!”
The happy moment was abruptly interrupted by an unexpected doorbell ring.
“We haven’t been here five minutes, who in the hell can that be?” boomed Jeremy.
“Not nosey neighbors! After the press in New York, I don’t think I can take it.” added Melissa.
“Don’t worry, I’ll handle it.” answered Jeremy.
He swung open the door to find a sixteen year old gothic girl standing on the front stoop.
“Who in the hell are you?”
The girl rolled her eyes in response. Tasha quickly stepped between them.
“Dad, this is my friend Claire Patterson. Remember? She moved to LA last year? We’ve kept in touch on Facebook. I asked her to come over.”
“Oh right! Welcome Claire.” said Jeremy his face turning red.
“It’s nice to see you again Claire.” beamed Melissa with a façade as thin as paper.
“Whatever.” responded the perceptive teenager.
Tasha let a huge scowl form on her face, “I don’t know any of these people! The moving truck isn’t coming till Tuesday! I look like shit. I smell like shit. I doubt anyone will like me.”
Claire threw her hands up, “Are you kidding me? You’re a legend already! I told people about what happened in New York, now you own Seth Grant’s house, people are dying to meet you!”
“Who’s Seth Grant?”
“He was a big time action star who murdered his assistant then committed suicide in this house. He supposedly called his agent to tell him what happened, the poor guy ended up in an insane asylum, rambling about Egyptian Gods.”
“Egyptian Gods? Woah! That’s warped. When did all this supposedly happen?”
“Five years ago.” Claire switched to a spooky tone, “The house has been vacant ever since.”
“That’s not funny.”
“I wasn’t trying to be. Everything I told you is real.”
“I’m not so sure I want to have this party.”
“Are you kidding me? Do you know how hard it is to make friends here? You have a story that will hand them to you on a silver platter, I’m not going to let you fuck it up.”
Tasha stuck her tongue out.
“Make all the faces you want, people expect you to be weird after the shit you’ve been through.”
“What did you tell them?” asked Tasha in a curious tone.
“Just enough to make you irresistible. Relax! All we are going to do is have a few drinks, smoke a little weed and swim in your new pool, how bad can it be?”
“It’s a movie opening and dinner. Your mother has always wanted to attend one.” said Jeremy. “I expect to be gone three or four hours. I know you’re hosting a ‘get together’ tonight with Claire. Please use your best judgement. Don’t burn the house down while we’re away.”
Tasha rolled her eyes. “I know dad. Can we please use the pool tonight?”
Jeremy wanted to say no. He’d intended on checking out this pool with the mysterious Egyptian God tomorrow but his wife quickly intervened.
“Of course sweetheart! I unpacked some towels, they’re in the linen closet.”
Melissa hugged her child, “You are getting so big.” She started to cry, “I’m sorry about last year. Those evil men, I’m so glad you’re safe!”
“I’m fine mom, that was a year ago, everything’s ok now.”
“Alright. We’ll celebrate Easter tomorrow.” said Melissa not entirely ready to let her child go.
“That’s fine mom.” said Tasha as she gently pushed her away.
“See you guys later! Don’t be late. Have a good time!”
Forty-five minutes later the guests began to arrive, gothic kids as pale as powdered donuts entered the home with little more than a shrug to their host.
“Are they all zombies like this?” asked Tasha.
“This is California, what’d you expect?” answered Claire.
A wiry gothic boy with long jet black hair approached Tasha.
“Hey, I’m Josh! Do you mind if I make myself a drink, I heard there’s a bar on every floor?”
Tasha smiled. “Sure, pick whatever bar you like, just don’t make a mess.”
Josh smiled back then headed for the nearest bar. Liquor boosted his confidence. He downed a couple of mixed drinks and gazed out the window at the lame pool party. All the kids were just sitting around. Everyone was afraid to swim. They had all heard the tales of the Egyptian God and the haunted pool, there was a reason a kick ass house like this had been vacant for so long.
Josh thought it was all bullshit and now was his time to prove them wrong. He decided to head outside and mix things up. “This is a pool party, why isn’t anybody swimming?” he asked.
“We all know the legend Josh, why don’t you go for a plunge?” responded Claire.
Josh felt his buzz as he eyed the pool. The water was crystal clear, a faint aroma of chlorine hung in the air. There’s nothing to be afraid of, he thought.
“You weak bitches really think some punk Egyptian God is going to drown me?”
The group was silent, everyone but Tasha looked away. He caught her eyes and winked.
“Well, fuck you all then!” screamed Josh and he dove into the pool.
Josh swam through the clear water. He touched the bottom and decided to pull a prank by sprawling himself out and pretending to be unconsciousness.
“Hey! He’s not moving.” said Josh’s best friend Mike Wallace, a short fat kid with spiky hair.
There was an enormous splash as several boys and a few girls jumped into the pool to save Josh.
Just as they reached his body, he rolled over in the water and started to laugh.
“You dick! You tricked us into coming in here!” screamed Claire.
Josh grinned back. “It worked, didn’t it? You bunch of babies! There’s nothing to be afraid of!”
The other kids felt stupid and reluctantly joined in. Drinks were poured and music blared.
The teenagers started to splash around and have fun.
“This party is definitely improving!” cried Claire between splashes.
“I know! I am so happy!” wailed Tasha.
Josh gathered a couple of boys at the shallow end of the pool. “Let’s have a race underwater to see who can touch that crest on the deep end first.”
“What about the others?” asked some skinny long haired kid with bad acne.
“Consider them obstacles.” answered Josh.
“What do we get if we win?” asked Mike.
“Fifty bucks.” said Josh. “My old man pays me to go out so he can get busy with his new wife.”
The boys all nodded their heads in agreement.
“Alright, let’s do it.” said Mike.
The boys lined up at the edge of the pool, one hand clasped to the side. All eyes were on the prize, an Egyptian crest. The emblem appeared to be made of gold. There was a picture engraved on it, a man with a ram’s head holding a screaming child above the Nile.
“On your marks, get set, go!”
The race was on. The group streaked full throttle towards their shimmering prize while the rest of the party goers remained unaware of the chaos about to ensue.
“Hey! Something just brushed past my leg!” said Tasha moving away from the pack of boys.
“What the hell, is this some kind of a race?” asked Claire speaking to no one in particular.
Josh and Mike were neck and neck. The crest was in full view, seemingly dancing in the reflecting moonlight, enticing them to touch it.
Josh grabbed a quick gulp of air then forced his body down towards the crest.
Mike was next to him in a flash but Josh was faster, he touched the crest just ahead of his friend.
Josh was giving Mike the finger when the crest unexpectedly dropped away! A black hole appeared in front of them. It was about the size of a garbage can lid.
Mike swam up cautiously to investigate. A spear suddenly flew out of the darkness and impaled him. Blood mixed with water as Mike’s corpse began floating to the top. Josh moved to help his friend and caught a glimpse of a figure leaving the hole!
It was the Egyptian God come to life! A man’s body with the head of a ram began swimming towards him. The eyes of the God glowed red. He could feel the malice in its inhuman face!
Josh burst through the pool surface, “Quick! Everybody out of the pool!”
But it was too late. The bottom of the pool suddenly felt strange to their toes, the ceramic tile replaced with the muddy floor of the Nile!
The water level lowered as they sunk down into the mud. Vegetation appeared out of nowhere and began populating the pool. The temperature started rising as the water began to boil. The helpless children became a human stew fit for a god!
“Sorry Tasha!” cried Claire just before she exploded. Her remains dropped back into the boiling pool like charred cutlets of meat.
Tasha shrieked. Her eyes turned white as poached eggs then popped out of her head, falling helplessly into the bloody broth she now stood in.
Josh took his own life with Mike’s femur bone. He knew there was no chance of escape. Khnum was known to show no mercy.
The God watched his death with glee. Soon his flesh milk would be ready for consumption. He would be assured a longer existence, his servant had done well.
“Has everything been to your liking, my Lord?” asked a voice.
Khnum turned to face his servant Dale Briggs.
“Yes.” answered the God.
“What shall I do with the owner of this house and his wife?” asked the servant.
“Nothing, the unexplained will drive them mad. Offer to sell the home when they are gone.”
“As you wish my master.”
Dale Briggs stared at the God. The Egyptian deity had treated him far better than Seth Grant. The arrogant action star had been foolish, sending him to Egypt to procure decorations. His time in the asylum had given him time to think and apply for a real estate license. The God’s offer had been too tempting to reject…
“Leave me.” Commanded Khnum.
Dale Briggs nodded. It was time to find another family stupid enough to purchase this property.
Khnum turned to face his flesh milk. The aroma of boiling blood and broken bones was intoxicating. Nothing was better than feeding on the suffering of others! The salivating God pulled a special straw made of Nile reeds out of his tunic and began to drink.