Early Risers - Pt I: Qebh


agzaiM werdnA.


You know, as cliche as it sounds, I remember it like it was yesterday.

The screeching tires. The shards of glass tearing away my face. My legs buckling with the metal.

It wasn't the physical pain that burns the most when I remember. It was in those last few seconds, before I slipped away, looking at her face, knowing her soft skin had grown cold already, but unable to do anything about it. I was either in too much shock, or my spine had snapped. It didn't matter in the long run, I didn't last much longer. Right before I went, I felt a little better, knowing she had gone quickly and painlessly.

And to think, all this could have been avoided had I just hit that damn deer. I swerved, she screamed, it flipped, and we were crushed.

There's not much more I remember after that. Vague impressions of Qebh, peering through some form of veil, and giving me an offer I couldn't refuse. Then it was if I was sitting in the backseat of my body, watching someone else rip the sides of off the car using my hands. Watching as they ran, full tilt, to grab onto the wheel of that plane. And then waking up, in the Sinai Peninsula, covered in bandages, surrounded by strange people chanting strange verses.

On the one hand, I apparently can't die. On the other, I've lost Jessica. I knew she was there, right beside me, after the crash. I even asked Qebh about it, before we "merged." He said there was someone else in the car with me, and that I'd have plenty of time to find her later. Now we both know how horribly true that was.


I just couldn't imagine it, living forever without her. Qebh, once he had fully integrated himself into my head, said it was harder than I could imagine. He told me of Tem, how he was eternally separated from her. Each time he traveled to Duat, the underworld to you and I, he would ask Anubis of her whereabouts and well-being. Anubis never spoke a word, but every time he would ask, he would bring his raft close to A'aru, the blessed fields of the Egyptian afterlife. And every time Qebh believed she was there, ever denied to him because of his existence.

When I met Anubis, I found him an imposing figure, even more so than Qebh remembered. I didn't ask many questions, because I had the feeling Anubis was a being of few words. Whether this was more of Qebh's memories, or my initial reactions to the Jackal headed demi-god, I'm still not sure.

When we passed Amenti, something stirred in the back of my head. I imagine it was Qebh's growing excitement. He knew where we were going, the blessed fields, where even if he wasn't whole, he could at least lay eyes upon Tem again. His excitement grew and grew, until finally, upon stepping off the raft, I had to ask, "Where is Tem? Is she well?"

And then, Anubis spoke the only words I've ever heard him say. In a voice so old I'm sure flowers would wilt upon hearing it, he said, "In time."

I had no idea the meaning of this, and naturally Qebh thought this meant that after the ordeal that was to come, he was to finally reunited with his long lost love.


The trials before the Judges of Ma'at were over with quickly enough, and after deeming me worthy, I felt they urgently wanted to send me back. But Anubis simply raised a hand, and took me aside.

He brought me before a large hole in the floor of A'aru, to Amemait, The Devourer. A dark spiral, culminating in a point of pitch black, Amemait was the most terrifying thing I had ever laid my eyes upon.

There, Anubis took hold of my hand. He placed it on one of the veins of pure nightmare and fear that radiated from the center, and along with the pain and suffering of thousands of lives, I picked up a horrible thing. It was Tem, or at least a dark memory of Tem's. She was watching as the raiders sacked her small house, as they bludgeoned Qebh nearly to death.

I heard Qebh scream, but that didn't stop me from asking the question which had instantly burned itself into my mind.

I had to know if Jessica was down there too, with the nightmare thing. I turned to Anubis, and with what passed for a tear in Duat, I asked, "Jessica... Is she..."

But Anubis stopped me with a finger to the maw of his Jackal mask. He shook his head no.

I wasn't relieved yet. I needed to know, "Will she ever..."

Again I was stopped. Anubis placed his hand on my shoulder, and looked straight through me to Qebh. I'm sure now that he said something to him, but at the time, I just felt chilled under the glare of those hollow canine eyes.


Every time I return, I ask Anubis, "Where is Jessica? Is she well?' But there have been no answers, no side trips to wherever she may be. I doubt Anubis even knows.

Once I asked one of his cowled friends. She said she would look into it for me. I still haven't heard anything from her.

Every once in a while, I'll feel a chill, or as though I'm being watched. I wonder if that's Jessica, but more often than not it's a window I left open.

I've searched out mediums, psychics, and ancient occult methods for communicating with the dead. I even learned how to travel to Duat without dying. After I learned that things of great emotional importance often turn up in the lands of the dead, I went through reams of paper writing her letters and then burning them, in the hopes one might reach her. But still, I have not been able to find her.

I fear I may be too late. Maybe she's already joined Amemait. Perhaps she sits on the wall of some city of the dead, burning herself out so that others like her may see. Perhaps she is someone's hammer, or pen, or shoelaces. I just don't know.

So now, though I may not have a tear through my soul like so many of my kind, it often feels as though I do. Qebh, on the other hand, seems to burn with a new intensity. He'll never let me give up on Jessica, and won't be satisfied until we've found her. He's not about to have me lose her, the way he lost Tem.

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