Walt Giersbach

Walt Giersbach's fiction has appeared in Bewildering Stories, Big Pulp, Corner Club Press, Every Day Fiction, �Gumshoe Review, Mystery Authors, �OG Short Fiction, Over My Dead Body, Paradigm Journal, Pif Magazine, Pill Hill Press, Pulp Modern, r.kv.r.y, Short Fiction World, The Short Humour Site, and, of course, The World of Myth.� Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, have been published by Wild Child publishing.�


By: Walt Giersbach
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Huang�s first exclamation wasn�t surprising. �What are you doing here?� he demanded in English, emphasizing his irritation in Chinese. �Ni lai gang shemma?�

The tall � almost two meters � blonde woman answered in English, adding a smile. �Such a prosaic question from an archeologist. You might have asked, �Where did you come from?� Or, �Who are you?� Or �When did you get here?��

Huang didn�t flinch, but he moved closer to the mummy, turning his back as if to defend it from the visitor. �Shao-jye, the museum is closed and you�re trespassing��

�I know.� She nodded. �I�ll only be a few minutes. Just continue unwrapping the mummy and I�ll be gone.�

Huang swore, as if one of his first-year students had misplaced a Chinese dynasty in a final exam.

�Listen,� she snapped. �I don�t have time.�

Something in the woman�s odd accent put him off in spite of his familiarity with English. �I must be alone,� he explained patiently. �This is the mummy of a Tarim Basin man, a perfectly preserved 3,500-year-old Caucasoid I found in Xinjiang, China. This is a sterile, clean room, and you � whoever you are � have the audacity to risk destroying a link to the Caucasians who populated the Uighur area before our people migrated there.�

�His name was Arak,� she said, with a sentimental tone. �He was 198 centimeters tall, blonde of hair, and full of a humor that has disappeared.� She sniffed, as if there might be an allergen in the clean room. �It was wrong, but I�was enamored of him.�

�I�m going to call security.�

�My name is Proctor Ren, Huang Shen-sen.�

�I�m Professor Huang. �

She shrugged. �And I�m out of time. Take the wrapping off his face. Quickly. It won�t hurt him � after 3,500 years.�

Mutely, Huang turned, and against better judgment began cutting the gauze. The cloth came away easily revealing a golden mask, oddly similar to Macedonian masks the museum had on display.

�It�s�fantastic,� he said softly. �The workmanship is out of this world.�

�No, it�s of his world, but beneath the mask now�.� She reached forward, but he pushed her hand away roughly.

�Don�t touch him, woman!� Carefully, Huang lifted the mask and drew in his breath.

The face of the desiccated corpse had a head of blonde hair, a strong jaw and sharp cheekbones. It looked as if he had just fallen asleep � in the sun on Miami Beach. �Sunglasses!� he gasped seeing the small rimless oval glasses.

�I�ll take those,� Ren said lifting them from his face. �He took them from me without my knowledge. I had to wait all this time for you to find him.�

�Are you insane?� Huang gasped.

�No. It would be an anomaly if you revealed that Arak had sunglasses. I would lose my position. Perhaps even my life if my carelessness came to light. Now, I have to go.�

�Wait!� Huang shouted at her back exiting the room. �You haven�t explained��

She paused and sighed. �It was inconvenient losing my sunglasses. As politically inconvenient as you discovering your land was first settled by white Europeans and then Muslim Uighurs.�

Huang said, �I have worked years to find this tomb and its occupant. Imagine Europeans living on the Silk Road.�

�I probably owe you something, Professor Huang. I�ll give you this. If you dig some two kilometers to the east, by the dry creek bed under a bluff, you�ll find Genghis Khan�s tomb. Thank you for my sunglasses. Can we call this even?�

The door closed behind Proctor Ren.

As fast as Huang ran to follow her, the next room was empty, leaving him with a dilemma: Say nothing and become a hero of archeology or explain everything and be committed as a fool. There was no such thing as time travel, just as until now there was no evidence Chinese weren�t the first to inhabit the Middle Kingdom.

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