Super_Dave's picture
Super_Dave from the Detroit area is reading Dune, by Frank Herbert April 4, 2019 - 6:26pm

I had an idea for a short story which combines two unlikely elements: mummies and augmented reality. Basically, my protagonist accidentally awakens a mummy's soul by "reading" its name (or ren) with an AR device while beta-testing the museum's new AR tour, and its shadow/silhouette (sheut) follows him around, visible only through his own slightly-damaged device. The mummy's AR corpse follows him outside the Egyptian wing and through the other exhibits, ultimately stalking him across multiple devices and well outside the museum's walls. 

I thought my idea was new and interesting twist on a classic horror trope, but I realize that there's just one problem: if the mummy's sheut exists only as data, then the audience will know that there's basically nothing it can do to physically harm my protagonist. Is there anything the mummy's sheut could do, as an AI or virtual construct, that could harm my protagonist directly or indirectly?

I don't know anything about programming or AR (and to be honest, not a whole lot about Egypt either), so I'm honestly kind of lost here. All I can think of is that it could send him ominous hieroglyphic texts, maybe reprogram his phone or other devices to overheat and beat like a heart, or something like that? Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like April 7, 2019 - 10:08am

I find this idea pretty intriguing, but I also am having difficulty imagining it playing out as is. It seems like a good twist on the "Mummy's Curse", but if such a thing were to exist, I can't figure how it would only be able to interact with the guy via computers. I think it would have to cross over at some point. Maybe the AR allows the guy to perceive the impending doom, but he doubts whether or not there's more to it... until there is no doubt. But at that point it's basically the same ol' Mummy story and might require some other refreshing elements in how it plays out.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman April 8, 2019 - 4:28pm

I think it's going in a pretty fun direction!

For starters, some people who are interested in the paranormal espouse a belief in portals. There are many ways someone can open a portal to something paranormal, whether they mean to or not. Classic examples come in the form of saying Candyman or Bloody Mary X times in the mirror or using a Ouija board, but modern versions might be like watching a movie about a paranormal force opening that portal and allow the force into one's life. So, I think the crossover could be plausible because perhaps AR is one of these portals. Interacting with something in AR is seen, by that entity, as someone calling to it. 

If you wanted to keep the thing confined to the phone, you might consider how an entity might mess up a person's life via their phone. Simple things like blocking messages, calls, etc. More complex like impersonating the owner and ruining their relationships, perhaps even sending illegal or illicit material to the wrong people. Perhaps the phone is mysteriously present (based on digital tracking after the fact) at crime scenes the protagonist knows nothing about. Even just ringing and refusing to be silenced at the wrong times could make for some weird, somewhat comical tension building. Basically, think about the ways a phone can get you into trouble, then do those things. 

You could also think about getting old school. What if the phone is attracting locusts? You wouldn't necessarily need to explain how this works.

You might also look into the "curses" of tombs and the like. There are many, possibly apocryphal, tales about curses regarding disturbing the rest of a pharaoh. I think if you look into those, you'll see some things that wouldn't require direct contact with a physical body, yet would be explained by the presence of the spirit.