My sneeze had revealed to me why Sam and I couldn't kill Memotepp after we were finished killing Youmotepp. Well, that's not exactly true. Truth be told, we didn't kill Memotepp because he wasn't there. That much was a no brainer and I already knew that. More accurately, my sneeze helped me realize why he wasn't there to be killed in the first place.
The revelation wasn't a very comforting one and there were parts that still made no sense, but that was no reason not to trust my instincts. My sneeze-fortified instincts were telling me Memotepp wasn't a mummy. Nor a human. Vampire could be ruled out too, so could werewolf or a Frankenstein. Many of the other things something could be could also be safely ruled out. It definitely wasn't a tree or a goat- probably not, definitely probably not.
My guess was that Memotepp was really a mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands. In other words, Memotepp was Judy.
It had to be true, even though I wasn't so keen on it being the truth. That's the thing about things being true, they don't care about how you feel about them, they just keep on being true in spite of your insistence that they be untrue.
I was starting to wish I had asked Youmotepp some questions before Sam and I burnt him to death just a few hours ago. By the time I had finished wishing that, Sam and I were back in Youmotepp's office. Sometimes it's as easy as making a wish and having it granted. It's an unreliable hook to hang a hat on, there's no telling when a wish might come true, but when they do...boy, do they.
Since my wish was granted it was also earlier today again, right before we killed Youmotepp, before Sam and I went to Little Pete's. I was standing next to Sam, who was just as unnoticed as he was the first time, in Youmotepp's office.
"Hang on a second Sam, I need to ask him something before we kill him again for the first time."
"You time traveling?" Sam asked still unnoticed but neither surprised nor impressed at the prospect that I might have traveled back in time in order to confront my arch nemesis before destroying him and ending over a decade long internal struggle.
I had no idea Sam could talk and stay unnoticed. I just nodded in an affirmative fashion and turned my attention towards Youmotepp.
"Youmotepp, before I kill you I need to know where Memotepp is. I want it straight from the fridge, no sass mouth."
I didn't have time for any of the other dramatic embellishments our conversations were known for. Technically speaking, I suppose I did have the time. I had just traveled back in time to re-murder a mummy after sitting in a diner conversing with Sam for over an hour, so I guess I did have the time after all. What I didn't have was the willingness to indulge in our usual communication patterns.
Time and willingness are two different things. How did I start confusing them?
Did the sneeze knock a gear loose? Maybe it was just a rough day? Wondering about how I mixed up time and willingness was something I didn't have time for. I was happy to be able to see that. I looked at Youmotepp and realized he was talking and I wasn't paying attention. I began to re-focus my attention to where it should have been the whole time.
"What did you say?" I said.
"Didn't you hear me? I said Memotepp called out sick today."
"Mummies don't get sick, you know that."
"Well, let's just say he took a personal day."
"Those are different."
"Why didn't you say that in the first place?"
"I didn't want to."
"Right, why would you? Here's the deal. I'm sick of this shit. Plumb tired of whatever it is that we've been doing. Moemotepp is dead. You're going to be dead soon and so is Memotepp. I can't kill Memotepp unless I know where he is. So tell me where he is so I can kill you and then go kill him."
"I see the nature of your current problem. However, I'm a crime boss, not a mummy location service. Memotepp isn't here today, neither is the rest of my staff. I laid them off months ago, including Memotepp. I'm running this whole thing alone with an enchanted toy cell-phone and a ventriloquist puppet for a receptionist. I have my own problems. I'm almost happy to be killed."
"Times are hard all around, my bar just burnt down earlier today but you don't see me making big speeches." Sam interjected while he and the flame thrower become noticed.
"When did he get here?" Youmotepp said with more than a hint of uneasiness in his voice.
"He's been here the whole time. You just never noticed is all. Pay attention. Now listen, if you don't know where Memotepp is that's fine, can't expect people to go around knowing things they don't, that's ridiculous and causes problems. I have some questions I need to ask and I'm going to ask them and you're going to answer them. We're going to do this the easy way for once."
"As I said before, I'm tired of all this. Please just get it over with. It's been five thousand years of this bullshit. Used to be a time when an ancient dead man that's been brought back to life by an unspeakable act of evil could come into a town and expect to have a decent career as a crime boss. This is, hands down, the worst century I've had the indignity to endure. Being a crime lord is difficult enough without having to deal with a meddling hoodoo operator who can't let go of the past. Do I enjoy being your arch-nemesis? There were parts that weren't so bad. Do I need to continue this game in order to feel complete? Not any more. The reasons should be obvious but I'm sure you've been too busy with your own feelings to care about how I feel..."
Youmotepp was launching into his final arch enemy speech. Common courtesy and union regulations dictated that I allow him to go ahead and finish before killing him no matter how intensely boring it was. I was in no mood for this type of thing at the moment but I had to sit through it because of union regulations.
Sam didn't have to sit through this though because as a non-union sidekick/mentor he wasn't bound to union regulations. He aimed the flame thrower at Youmotepp and pulled the trigger, just a little bit, just enough to cause a tongue of flame to shoot out and lick Youmotepp's feet but not enough to really get him going.
"What the hell?"
"Skip to the good part."
"Fine. How can I help?"
"Glad you decided to be reasonable." Sam said as another burst of flame nearly engulfed Youmotepp.
Sam's less than subtle style of fire based communication was all that was needed to get Youmotepp to talk like a normal person for once. Turned out, he really didn't know much worth knowing about Memotepp. So we killed him again and left for Little Pete's.
While we were eating instead of talking about what we talked about the first time, we talked about how I knew Judy was Memotepp.
"It's true, she did bite my face but I don't know how that means she's really a mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands."
"Seems like it should."
"I know. Should be clear as day."
"Then how did you figure it out?"
"I didn't figure it out, I realized it right after I sneezed but before I traveled back in time."
"What kind of sneeze?"
"Why are you even asking that?"
"What was I thinking? Now what do we do? Are their any time travel related issues we need to be aware of? I hate unnecessarily messing with the time stream, never know what you're gonna get. Remember the George Washington thing?"
"Yeah, how could I forget something like that?"
"We shouldn't be able to discuss how we once met George Washington is all I'm saying."
"I agree but that one involved some kind of ray or machine, right? This was just wish based time travel, the mechanics are entirely different. Shouldn't be any problems since I didn't wish for them."
"What's more complicated wishing or time travel?"
"To me or in general?"
"Depends on who you ask, I suppose."
He didn't even ask my personal opinion, which would have been the same as having my general opinion but I didn't feel right about claiming my personal take is the official stance on the matter.
"How are you going to find out if Judy isn't Judy?"
"I'm going to ask her."
"Think she'll play it straight with you?"
"Doesn't matter, the lie-detecting skull that spits fire when someone lies with let me know either way."
"That's a good idea, forgot you had that thing. Simple and to the point. Will it work over the phone?"
"It should, I paid for a bunch of advanced features."
"Well, huh. That'll save some time."
We finished our meal and left the restaurant. Just like before, Sam went to meet Danny so we wouldn't have to pay the late fee on the flame thrower rental only this time he lent me his cell phone first. I went to my office and sat at my desk for a while staring at Sam's phone. When I was done with my staring I called Judy and asked her if she was really a mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands. Before she could answer I put the phone up to the skull's ear hole, just like the instruction book said to do in such a case. The skull lit up like Danny's Flamethrower. I had my answer. I put the phone back to my ear and told the mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands that I had been briefly romantically involved with under disturbing pretenses what would happen if they ever came back to my neck of this dimension.
I could hear the enchanted lie detecting skull on the other end of the line not spit fire so I knew the mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands knew I was telling the truth. I hung up the phone without so much as a witty valediction.
I called Sam's cell phone from Sam's cell phone and spent 12 rings wondering why he wasn't answering. I then realized what I'd done and called his other cell phone, the one he never lends me. This time he answered.
"Hey Sam, it's TJ."
"How'd the thing with the mischievous-but-not-evil, shape-shifting spirit from the fairy lands go? Was your girlfriend really your arch enemy's un-dead accountant?"
"Sneezes don't lie."
"Let's get a drink. I bought a new bar with my mummy money."
"Let's do that."
So that's what we did.