GR Cleanup Project. Read in 2011.
Bert Carmody is a hieroglyphs translator, working with a team in Cairo amidst the heat and the stench of the poor city. Though he excels at his job, and thinks he’s the best in field, he is continually passed over for the plum projects which are given to his younger, better looking, and much more charming colleagues. Determined to make his name known, he follows a wizened old native through the twists and turns of the city on the promise of a relic that will make his career. Instead the man leads him to a shriveled up all too common fake animal mummy. He takes it back with him anyway. Big mistake there, Mr. Bert Carmody!
Bert soon realizes that his mummy may not be a fake after all. At the same time, he becomes irate that his nemesis (only in Bert’s mind, of course) Rick has been given yet another plumb assignment. He bitches, moans and whines about his lot in life and finally decides to steal a copy of the work Rick was given to translate in the hopes that he can steal Rick’s thunder by doing the translation properly. Mistake #2, Mr. Grumpy Pants. The translation appears to be a spell of sorts, so naturally Bert reads it aloud not once but three times. Hasn’t he ever watched an episode of Charmed, fergodsakes? Trouble ensues of the murderous kind and Bert quickly finds himself in a heap of trouble.
This is a short novella and I’m thankful for that because honestly I don’t think I could have stomached much more of Bert’s jealous, venomous thoughts. He was just a thoroughly unpleasant fellow to follow around. I was not surprised he was continually ignored because he was borderline rude to everyone he met, including the woman he was crushing on. He’s the sort of personality I dislike most, one who blames everyone else for his woes. Meh. Despite my dislike of the main protagonist this story was well written, the landscape and atmosphere extremely well done and the horror tame and twisty like an old episode of the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside.
Here’s a little bit of vitriol from Bert the charmer.
“Damn it all, Bert thought angrily. He was a better translator, he was going to be in People magazine, he was alive, and she still wouldn’t give him a tumble.”
Bert on cats (or himself?!)
“Bert didn’t like cats at all. Nasty, insinuating, selfish things.”