An Ancient Art

By Rotwang

Claire glanced at the man.

"What ?" She asked him, looking away from the window display she was dreamily looking at.

"I am very sorry to disturb you, but I am a bit lost." He said with a pronounced English-Arabic accent.

"Where do you need to be ?" She asked, but then she suddenly closed her eyes and reached for her chest as the pain ran through her body.

"Are you all right ?" He asked.

She gasped, coughed and teetered. The man had to grab her to prevent her falling. He picked her up and put her down on a bench.

"Thanks." She said weakly.

"You are very ill, no ?"

"I'm dying actually." She slowly regained her color. "It's only a matter of time."

"I am very sorry to hear such sad news. Especially from such a beautiful woman." He said.

"At least I won't have to worry about wrinkles and gray hair." She said getting up to a sitting position.

"Will you be all right ?"

"It's only minor, I'll be okay in a minute, but it gets worse every time."

"Is there really nothing doctors can do about it ?"

"It was too late when they discovered it. Operations would have been useless." She breathed in deep and lay her head back. "Lungs, heart, kidneys, all are falling to pieces. Inside I'm a wreck. I could die tonight or tomorrow. But I'm bothering you..."

"Not at all, I have time to spare and a willing ear."

"It's been a miserable life, really, I had this little job as a secretary. The only thing I had going for me were my looks and they aren't going to save me now."

"It is always a great sadness when beauty is lost." He said.

"Yeah, they should be able to preserve it forever, like the mannequins over there. They have it good, they get to look good forever and people come to watch and admire them." She sighed at the end of the sentence and felt a sudden tiredness. Before she could say a word, she collapsed.

"Where am I ?" She gasped feebly.

"I took the liberty of having a cab take you home." The man said.

"I'm dying." She said coldly. "I can feel it."

"Yes, you are, only a few hours left." He said, gently rubbing her face.

"I don't even know your name."

"Hassan, but my true name is Ati, it's an old Egyptian name."

"Claire." She forced herself to speak despite the pain.

"You spoke to me of those mannequins."

She nodded ever so slightly.

"I can perhaps help you. Are you familiar with mummification ?"

"Pharoes and stuff ?"

"Indeed, I am the descendant of a family that has kept the secrets of mummification since the dawn of times."

He rubbed the hair out of her face with his dark hand and put it on her burning forehead.

"I have a potion that would keep you the way you are. It hasn't been used for centuries, since the potion is so ancient, it has gone off a bit."

He smiled at her and continued.

"The secret of mummification was indeed eternal youth, but it was granted to only a few chosen ones. If a person would use it now, he would live forever, but would be like a living statue. But you wouldn't mind ?"

Claire managed to nod faintly.

He undid the top of the vial and tipped the content of the potion over her lips. A few drops slipped into her mouth.

It had a chilly, crisp taste like liquid crystal.

She looked up at Ati and smiled as the pain subsided. She felt her stomach tighten as the liquid reached it and it spread through her body.

The blood in her veins slowed and her breathing became shallow. She blinked once and her eyes froze. And then her heart stopped.

She waited for a few moments but she was still alive and conscious. She could see Ati's face above her smiling at her. He brushed the hair from her face and caressed her cheek. By now her skin was growing harder and her nipples tugged at her bra, making her all giddy inside.

Ati picked her up and posed her before her.

"And now for what the ancient Egyptians called Hekau, or magic."

He began to speak ancient Egyptian words and a tremor went through her body. She could see the skin on her hands smoothen. She also felt the rest of her body change.

He carefully removed her dress and removed her lingerie.

Pulling a strange organic-like object from his pocket, he gently placed it over her pussy who quivered for a split second and absorbed the object. It entered her and she felt it move inside her, slowly like a gently caress. The sensation was quite incredible and she felt a deep relief. And then he ran his dark, tanned hand over her vagina and smoothed it out, molding the flesh like clay.

He picked her up and placed her in front of the mirror. She stared at her new gorgeous naked form. Her eyes gleamed with excitement.

Ati smiled and watched her. "I'm sorry, but we need to complete the illusion."

He grabbed his traveling bag and pulled out an old-fashioned folding razor. He prepared some shaving foam and applied it to her body.

Claire wanted to sing as he caressed her and felt intense joy.

When Ati was finished she was completely hairless.

"You know, back in my day, people used to shave themselves. Not only priests, but men and women. It protected them from pests and the heat. When they went out, they wore wigs."

He rubbed her smooth skull. "You remind me of a woman who died thirty-three centuries ago."

Ati held his fingers to her face and looked in her eyes. "She was the most beautiful woman in the world. Perhaps you have seen her bust ?"

Claire realized who he was talking about. She remembered him.

Ati saw the look in her eyes and fell on his knees staring at her. "No, it cannot be !"

Claire could not look down and stared at herself. But behind her face, behind the masks of a thousand lives she could see her own face. Crowned, a queen. The most beautiful of women.

"I have lied to you, my name is not really Ati. That's what you called me. I am Echnaton and you are Nefertiti."

The part of her that was Claire wanted to deny it, but she knew it was the truth.

"I have searched you for eons, and now I find you again !" Echnaton got up and stared in her eyes.

He raised his arms and intoned. "Aton, God of the Sun. I am your son Echnaton. Hear me, for your light is pure ! Grant me one final wish !"

Claire felt warm and felt the light of the sun burst into the room, but she realized it was impossible. The sun never shone like this, ever. The blinding light warmed her until she felt as if she was on fire.

When the light subsided, she saw Echnaton standing in front of her in full pharaonic regalia. Suddenly she realized she could move again and watched her body. She ran long dexterous fingers over her dark skin and looked at herself in the mirror.

"My queen !" Echnaton said.

Claire or Nefertiti woke up in the arms of Echnaton. She breathed deeply and enjoyed the sensation of being able to breathe without pain. The memories of a thousand lives danced in her mind and the part of her that was Claire still could not believe it. The man she loved lay besides her and looked infinitely happy, perhaps for the first time in thousands of years.

She slipped from his embrace and went up to the mirror to admire herself. With her exotic looks she could become a fashion hit. But the light in the mirror grew brighter and brighter.

She took a step back to shield her eyes.

A face appeared inside the mirror. "Echnamun, I call you by the name that you abandoned !" It said in an unearthly voice.

"Amon-Ra !" Echnaton woke up and stared at a god's face.

"You summoned Aton ! How dare you !"

"I wanted Nefertiti to live ! She does not belong in Osiris' underworld."

"You have defied the gods once more, you must be punished !"

Echnaton got up. "I do not fear you, evil one."

"Perhaps I am evil, but you will not escape your punishment !"

And in an intense flash of light both lovers vanished.

"Look, the sensors indicate something below us."

The robot woman showed the readout to a male robot and waited for his reaction.

"Fascinating, an ancient temple we missed all this time !"

A gigantic four-legged robot lumbered under the hot sun with its aggressive ultra-violet rays.

It sucked the sand away in minutes until the door of the temple was revealed.

The robot woman walked up to it and using her mechanical muscles lifted the huge slab with ease.

Both descended into the temple.

"Look !" The male robot said.

The female robot walked up to it and watched the two statues of Echnaton and Nefertiti.

"They are so perfect, they look almost alive."

"It will be the masterpiece of the humanity museum." The male robot said.

"After ten-thousand years we still find such beautiful artifacts." She said. "Pity they all died out."