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The Tale of the Water of Living Stone

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This text was discovered on a potsherd in one of the workers’ villages outside an ancient Egyptian necropolis. It contains many puzzling features, including seeming anachronisms, which make it difficult to translate, but the story of dogs lost in a maze that is also in Egypt is nevertheless sure to appeal to a wide audience.

Full publication in the Journal of Egyptology and Hydration Studies will be forthcoming at some point.

 

Once upon a time there was a man who had three dogs. The first dog was tall and his fur was long and golden and he was called Fletcher. The second dog was squat and powerfully built and jowly and she was called Nicole. The third dog was very short, and her nose was squashed very flat, and she was called Pat. And the man brought his dogs with him everywhere he went, for they were very good dogs.

Now it happened one day that this man had to travel across the river to the necropolis, where the great pyramids and the other tombs and mortuary temples are, and the three dogs went with him. And they were following him when Fletcher saw something strange that was half-buried in the sand. He dug it up with his paws.

Pat spoke to him, saying: “What is that thing?”

And Nicole said: “Is it something good to eat?”

Fletcher did not know what it was. It looked like a small jar, but the contents of the jar were made visible from the outside, as if by magic. It was filled with a liquid the color of rubies. Instead of ordinary writing, it bore a strange inscription: xxx.

Fletcher said: “I do not know what it is, but I will take it with me.” He picked it up in his mouth, as he always did when he found something interesting.

And then the dogs looked up and saw that their master must have hurried on ahead of them, for he already was nowhere to be seen. They were all sad and scared, because they did not want to be alone, especially in a place like this one, so far from their home.

Pat said: “He must still be somewhere nearby. It is essential to find him right away.”

Nicole said: “I cannot even find his scent in the breeze-e.”

Fletcher pointed to the strange doorway in the long stone nearby. There was something written in red there, but the dogs could not read it.

Pat said: “Yes, he must have gone in there. Where else could he be? Let us follow him!” And they entered the strange doorway: first Pat, who led the way, then Fletcher, still carrying his strange treasure, and Nicole bringing up the rear and grumbling.

Now the dogs could not know what sort of fearsome place that they were entering. It had once been a huge complex of mortuary temples, with so many corridors that only the priests could find their way through it without getting lost. Then even those priests had abandoned the temple, because of the dangers that lurked within it. This was where the three dogs now went.

At last, after they had been up and down corridor after corridor without getting anywhere, Nicole said: “This is a maze!”

Pat added: “And we are lost in it!”

Nicole said: “I do not know if I have the energy to go on much further.” Her tongue hung out of her mouth as she panted.

Fletcher put down his treasure for a moment and said: “Look up! We can tell where we are from the pyramids!”

Pat said: “In Egypt?”

Fletcher said: “As long as we can still see the pyramids, we know what direction we are facing. We will find our way out of this maze. We just have to focus.”

Just then, the dogs heard a strange sound. One of the walls of the maze was closing in on them! They had to run as fast as they could to get away!

Pat said: “What happened? I almost got squeezed to death there!”

Nicole said: “We must hurry!” She was too frightened now to be tired.

That was only the first trap that the dogs encountered as they went deeper into the maze. Fletcher nearly fell through a crumbling trap door into a pit below. Nicole killed a serpent that was ready to strike Pat, crushing it in her jaws.

Now the dogs came to the very heart of the maze, and a spirit appeared before them. And this spirit said: “Begone, jackals! I will not allow you to come any closer! Stay away!” Then it looked at them again and it said: “But you are not jackals! You are dogs! How did you come to be here?”

And Fletcher spoke to the spirit and said: “We are lost in this maze and cannot find our way back to our master.”

The spirit said to them: “I used to have dogs. I was a prince, and I fought many battles, and I won them all. But I had an enemy who was jealous of my power-c what he has done to me? When I was laid to rest, he took my heart and cast an evil spell on it that turned it to stone. I cannot go on to the underworld with a heart of stone, or my soul will be devoured. I am trapped here forever. That is why I have driven everyone else away.”

Now the dogs felt sorry for the spirit, even though he could have killed them with his traps in the maze. And Pat said: “Is there nothing that anyone can do to help you?”

The spirit said: “I only know of one way to revive my heart. If I could bathe my heart in the water of living stones, it would undo the damage of the evil spell and bring back its vital-t. I could go to the underworld at last.”

Nicole asked: “What is the water of living stone?”

The spirit said: “The water of living stone is made from three fruits, which are the three Xs. The first is the pomegranate, which is easy enough to find. But then there are the blueberry and the açaí. I have never seen them. I am told that they come from the ends of the earth. Who can go there and bring them to me to make the water of living stone?”

Now the dogs were discouraged, for they did not think that they could make such an incredible journey. But then Fletcher said: “I have this strange thing that I found that is marked with three Xs. Could it be the water of living stone that you need?”

And the spirit was astonished when he saw. And when his heart was bathed in the water of living stone, the spell was broken, just as it had been said.

The spirit thanked the dogs, saying: “Now at last I can go and refresh my spirit! Is there anything that I can do for you in return?”

Pat said: “All we want is to find our master again.”

The spirit was troubled. It said: “I do not know if I can help you, for if he came to this place, he may already have been killed by one of my traps. But if he is still

 

Unfortunately, the potsherd is damaged here and the rest of the text has been lost. Presumably the man is not dead after all and the dogs find him again, in keeping with the tone of the story, which is reminiscent of a big summer blockbuster filled with maze-related action and adventure that the whole family can enjoy with an ice-cold VitaminWater.