Novel #19

To Be King led, later on that year, to another Egyptian-themed novel. Sobek clocks in at almost 79000 words. It tells the story of Sobek, Egyptian crocodile-headed god, who comes to modern-day Australia in order to claim his son. Simple, really.

We start in ancient Egypt, where we see a pharaoh crowned who was a priest of Sobek, from his rise to his fall at the hands of Sobek. Fast forward a few thousand years, and a young Australian student finds himself on an archaeological dig in Egypt, where he uncovers – and steals – a small mummy. Back in Adelaide, Sobek comes to claim the mummy. Between Adelaide and a temple built in suburban Melbourne, in the end Horus tries to fight Sobek, to take him away from the world of men, but to no avail, as Sobek, ultimately, triumphs.

That sounds pretty bad, but this is one of the few long stories I enjoy. I think I got into the heads of most of the main characters well, and made them different enough from one another, and I like to think the situation I put forward is a unique one. It is written in a very pulp fiction style, and I think my style is starting to show through more and more by now. While the ellipsis is probably too prominent, it has been curtailed somewhat.

This one was only submitted twice. One rejected it with the standard “does not meet our present requirements” form letter. The other rejected it with, “Sorry, you’re too late, no-one cares about ancient Egypt any more. Write a vampire or werewolf story and get back to us.” (I’m paraphrasing.) Oh well, like a couple of others I still hope Sobek can find a home some day.

 

Excerpt

[4] Inside The Temple

Luck.

That was all he could put it down to.

For once, good luck had befallen him, and for once he was able to take full advantage of it.

Two weeks before he had been just another university student doing his post-graduate Masters degree in biology, studying crocodiles with Professor Samuel Harmer, one of the world’s foremost herpetology experts, in the swamps of Australia’s Kakadu National Park. And now he was here…

He could scarcely believe it. He had been in the right place at the right time, helping the professor complete a survey on numbers of young in the enormous national park. Just another in a group of five post-grad students doing exactly as they were told. That was all. And then the phone call had come to the professor as they sat around the campfire. And he had simply asked them all if any had an up-to-date passport and could travel within the week.

Only Grant Cooper put his hand up, having accompanied his father on a business trip two years before to Hong Kong.

And so now he was here.

The professor had needed an assistant for something he considered truly amazing, and so he had left one of his two PhD students (neither of whom had a passport either) in charge of the survey, had travelled back to Adelaide with Grant, made all the arrangements, and they had then flown to Egypt. Three days in Cairo, then a hellish ride to a place called the Fayyum where they had been holed up in what was termed a luxury caravan while the paperwork and official forms were filled in, and permission was finally being worked out.

But today was the day. A stern looking official from the government department in charge of such things was talking with the esteemed academic at the moment. And Samuel Harmer was conversing in Egyptian (at least, that was the language Grant assumed they were using) very fluently, and the look on the face of the man in the dull grey suit seemed impressed. And then a smile broke over the bearded face and he extended a hand which the professor shook eagerly before a pile of documents was handed over. And the middle-aged Australian academic walked across to the student.

“All ready?” he asked.

“For what?” the young man responded. “You haven’t told me what we’re doing here yet.”

“Haven’t I?”

“You said we were going to look at crocs. That’s it!” Exasperation was growing within him.

The professor laughed. “No. No, I haven’t really, have I?” he chortled. “Well, I have been asked to come here to investigate the possibility of the discovery of a new breed, or sub-species, of the Nile crocodile. And you are to be my assistant.”

“A new species?” Grant whispered in awe. A nod was all he received in reply. “But… but if they asked you to come here, why the delay? Why not just let you get on with it?”

“You have to understand the way places like Egypt work,” he explained not unkindly. “It’s not like Australia. Government departments rarely talk with other government departments, and the Department of Antiquities rules over everyone else. And where we are going is under their jurisdiction. It has been them who have delayed. It is only the University which has ensured we are even allowed on the site. But we are now going to see for ourselves if these claims are true. Are you ready?”

 

Rejection total: 93 + 2 = 95

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