“I’ve seen some small mummies in my day, but this Planet of the Miniature Mummies easily blows away all of my previous bandaged-corpse experiences,” intoned Anthropology Specialist Letitia Stone-Stone, looking over the sandy Ulgan Plain.

            Commander Hendricksen turned and narrowed his eyes, looking at Stone-Stone with the piercing, authoritative stare that had made him a favorite with the public speaking instructors at Space Academy.  “How small do you expect these mummies to be, Specialist?”

            Stone-Stone made a size indication with one hand, as though holding a small pebble between her thumb and forefinger.

            “That’s pretty small,” Hendricksen agreed.  He was trying to hide his immense bitterness, the nearly palpable rage boiling underneath his stolid, bronzed exterior, at being assigned to this childish mini-mummy mission, when his fellow commanders were taking on major, regular-sized assignments, like exploring the vast mammoth-inhabited ice-tundra of Velcron 6 or tracking down the insidiously obscure hideout of the marauding, bloodthirsty space pirate known only as Deathbeard.  “Tell me something, Specialist Stone-Stone.  Don’t you ever feel the urge to investigate a life-size mummy?”  Hendricksen couldn’t keep the sneer out of his voice as he gazed at the lithe and well-complected Stone-Stone and her thematically-appropriate mummy earrings.

            “These mummies are life-size, to themselves,” she responded with anthropological rectitude.  “Look!  A mummy has fallen into my trap!”

            Stone-Stone knelt down and extracted a test tube she had buried earlier that afternoon in the dry earth of the planet’s surface to form a miniature glass pit.  She held the tube up triumphantly to the eerie lime-green light of the Planet of the Miniature Mummies.  There could be no mistaking her success: at the bottom of the tube, bumping in repeated frustration against the glass walls in slow-brained bewilderment, was a mummy the size of a medium-length salted peanut.  It was covered in tiny, multi-layered mummy-like wrappings of faded beige gauze, with bandage bits hanging off of it in raggedy unravelings.  Peering through a miniscule space between two stripes of tiny head bandaging, Hendricksen could barely make out a pinprick pair of eerie, kumquat-orange mummy eyes. 

            “Ouch!” cried Hendricksen.

            Stone-Stone looked down at the Commander’s masculine, hairy and uncovered legs.  “I advised you not to wear shorts on The Planet of the Miniature Mummies,” she chided.  Hanging on to a lower portion of Hendricksen’s calf were two angry, remarkably tiny mummies, sinking their centuries-old teeth into his unprotected leg flesh. 

            “I thought you were just concerned about being attracted to my abundant leg hair!” snapped the resolutely masculine Henricksen, who always wore shorts on his missions, as long as the atmospheric make-up of the planet allowed it.

Hendricksen shook his leg vigorously, but the mummies, who were nothing if not resilient after centuries of patient survival in the arid, miniature deserts of the Planet of the Miniature Mummies, maintained their dental grip, sending waves of curse-inflicting pain up Hendricksen’s leg.

            “Where’s your mummy repellent?” barked Hendricksen.

            Stone-Stone rummaged through her Space Command-issued Space Purse.  “Repellent will do you no good now.  Mummies are impervious to chemically induced nausea when they’re avenging a captured fellow mummy.  I will have to vanquish them with a recitation of the Ancient Curse of Tumkin Rah.”

            “They’re impervious to repellent but they’ll listen to a creaky old curse?”

            “Hold still, damn it!  We don’t have much time.”  Stone-Stone was not exaggerating.  She looked behind Hendricksen, who was hopping in a painful, hairy-legged fit.  On the supermarket-sized desert plain, an entire brigade of miniature mummies was approaching them, with the characteristic extended-arm, somnolent-stepping march of mummies on the move.

            Stone-Stone took from her Space Purse a life-sized sandstone replica of the tablet of Tumkin Rah, which was actually extremely small since Rah was himself a long-dead ruler of tiny mummies, who was tall for his ethnic group but still extremely short from a human perspective, and began to intone the curse.  “Saw saw zembo.   Zembo kin saw saw.”

            “It’s not working!” screamed Hendricksen, who was increasingly surprised at the amount of pain that could be caused by mummies no larger than the fingernail on one of his pinkies.  He lifted his hands to the green sky in a spasm of desperation, his mouth open in a panoramic scream, and then fell to the ground.

            “Silly me,” said Stone-Stone.  “They can’t hear the nuances of the curse because I’m reading it in my normal, large voice.  I have to miniaturize my pronunciation.  It’s one of the first things we learned in my Small-Scaled Civilizations seminar.”  Stone-Stone began to carefully reshape her lips to create a tiny, miniature-curse-appropriate opening, but failed to notice, with her mind intent on bringing her mouth down to size, that four inconspicuous mummies had climbed up her jumpsuit and were clambering over her lips to assault her throat.

            “Saw saw zembo,” Stone-Stone said again, this time in a mouse-like, carefully shaped whisper.  But she was barely able to enunciate the first part of the curse when she went into a harsh choking fit.  The small squadron of mummies, small both in size and number, were choking the anthropologist from inside, blocking her esophagus.

            Hendricksen looked up in exquisite pain at the mottled face of the asphyxiated Stone-Stone.  He gaped in horror as she tottered, his final moments filled with a realization of her horrible fate.     

             The last thing she tasted was the musty, rust-tinged flavor of decaying mummy bandages as she gagged fruitlessly, her body tumbling to the dry and ruthless ground where lay next to the similarly lifeless body of her shorts-garbed colleague on the Planet of the Miniature Mummies.

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