“Mummy,” the officer seems to say as he reaches up to her, “can I have some more?”
There is a hole where his mouth used to be. You think of the mouth as a hole, but a door is only a door until it’s ripped off its hinges, and then it’s a hole in the wall.
He doesn’t claw for her. He isn’t trying to snatch or to hurt—none of them are. They aren’t reaching to take, they’re reaching to be given. That’s how she knows they need her as a mother, not as a meal.
Not all of them raise their hands to her but perhaps that is only because not all of them have hands anymore. Or arms. Or even faces. And yet hundreds of them here in this tomb that was a tube station not twenty minutes ago, reach out for her, as a savior, as a mummy.
Until she tells them to stop.
Obedient, they turn away and she imagines them all as showing a sense of shame in the way they look off, like a young man honorable enough to realize his advances have been unwelcome, and to mercifully stop. But she knows better. She knows there is no emotion in any of these reanimated corpses. Their hearts no longer beat, the holes their heads no longer draw breath, their tearducts—those that have them still—have run dry. She is the only one here still feeling anything and the feelings she has, echoing through the chamber out the tunnels from longer ago than she cares to remember, are making her see things, are projecting onto these corpses like the toys of a child whose parents are fighting again.
Why is she doing this? What does she have to gain?
Soon they will come for her. They will find a way, and why shouldn’t they? She never wanted this to happen, either. She has wrought too much rot in this brave new world, so let the crows come to claim her. But now, in this one shining moment before she unravels, let her have this, let her feel this need from these creatures to whom she’s given life. Before they come for her and she loses this feeling again, let them reach for their mummy.
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