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The Death Mask of Tijaboo
written by: Daniel S. Liuzzi
The pair of Forensic Anthropologists gaze silently in admiration and trepidation at the artifact that was flown in this morning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This ancient and unusual item is said to be the Death Mask of an ancient living god named Tijaboo. Tijaboo is not only a name but a word from a dead dialect that is until recently being explored. The forgotten language is believed to be a primitive version of Bantu possibly spoken by the earliest Human species in that part of the world before fading away with the birth of more current ancient languages. In recent discoveries one word seems to appear the most, Tijaboo; originally thought to be a primitive version of “And” but recent breakthroughs have shown that the first half, “Tija” meant “bringer” or “deliverer of”. Further studies that began two years ago discovered that some surviving texts found throughout ancient sites in Africa (mainly Egypt and Sudan) show that Tijaboo was respected but at the same time greatly feared, this makes sense since last year Professor Richard Mentz made a breakthrough in research of the ancient dialect and discovered that “boo” meant “destruction” or “Plague”. This now sheds light on why this person was loved and feared, Tijaboo meant “Bringer of Plague” or “Deliverer of Destruction”. Surely with a name like that anyone would love or respect that person or being out of fear.
The two Anthropologists carefully inspected the mask that was delivered to them from their colleague Professor Mentz who traveled to the Congo in search for more on this Tijaboo. The Mask surely looked African in origin; it had the same size and construction as the Death mask of Tutankhamun that was removed from the mummy of the pharaoh except this mask was made from carved Malachite, a green stone that has a cosmic oil slick pattern to it. The face on the mask was abnormal looking with a disconcerting glaring face that seemed to be splitting to reveal of shouting face beneath with a gaping mouth and sunken eyes. The skill used for carving this mineral was beyond the years the carbon dating showed and the tools that were used to make it were also well beyond the time it came from. The mask was the only item retrieved from the burial site located deep in the mountains buried by the jungle, there was no body but the mask showed that it was not just a mask, but a container of sorts believed to possibly be holding ashes or skeletal dust of the once living God. The mask was removed from the box it arrived in using a winch system and set sitting upright on its flat bottom as it is rolled through a high powered X-ray machine.
Professor Mentz’s research and study into Tijaboo has uncovered stories and legends surrounding this individual. The way the texts were written confirmed that Tijaboo was in fact at one time a living person who people worshiped for reasons unknown but it was suggested in a story that seems to be seen in all texts that spoke of Tijaboo, who came from the sun and was buried for a millennia before he emerged and first breathed in the air of this world and expelling air from the other world and with his first breath he cleared jungle of its beasts. After which people gave him gifts and offered praise but if they offended him he breathed in their faces and they were no more. Tijaboo also seemed to have a liking to decapitate those who oppose him by removing their heads from their bodies with only the power of words and he would keep them alive if he chose to. This lead many to fear him and wish to flee the mountains where he lived until a conglomerate of warriors battled him and forced him from the mountain where they removed his head before he could destroy the world. The texts usually end with saying that in the mountains Tijaboo remains buried in the ground in death as how he came to life. Mentz kept a lot of his research to himself since any and all discoveries made involving Tijaboo would be to his credit, a discovery that opened more mysteries surrounding Mentz himself and not Tijaboo, as Professor Mentz was said to have vanished in the jungle with a guide and some local volunteers after the mask was removed from the tomb. Some suspect foul play involving local War Lords or Gorilla poachers.
The X-ray shows some appalling truth to the pre-ancient legends surrounding this living God, a skull of a severed head was inside the Malachite mask. With the aid of the X-Ray the pair of Anthropologists discovers a mechanism that assists in opening the mask. Once the mask was removed from the machine it was taken to a table that was small enough to lay the mask down on but sturdy enough to support its weight. The seam of the mask was found and carefully was probed with tools that were thin enough to infiltrate the seam till it made contact with something along the seam that slid out the way of the tool as it slid along. With an internal clicking sound from within the mask, the two Anthropologists look at one another.
“Ready?” the one sighed in excitement to the other.
The other nodded, “Mentz would have wanted to see this himself.”
“I know. He would have wanted this.” The first one said as he carefully pulled open the mask.
Inside the mask was loosely wrap linen that must have survived over the years due to being sealed inside the mask, underneath would be the head of Tijaboo. The two researchers look at one another as the one slowly pulls away the loose linen to unveil a face of true terror with wide eyes peering back at them and a gaping mouth which the sight froze one of the researchers and causes the other to flee from the lab screaming in insane terror up the hall and stairs leading out. The head inside the mask with its face now peering out was not of Tijaboo but of Professor Richard Mentz himself! In curious terror the researcher pulls the rest of the linen away with a shaking hand to confirm Mentz’s death was decapitation but only to step back in horror to see that there was no signs of cutting, hacking or gore on his neck, his neck looked like it was naturally never attached to anything at all with no signs of stitching or scaring. To add to the horrific turn of events, the eyes blink a couple times and the mouth closes before the eyes look at the remaining researcher and his lips move with no sound but the lips spell out a message.
The living head of Professor Mentz mouthed, “Tijaboo now walks among us!”
Daniel had two poems published in the June 2011 issue of the Taj Mahal Review and in the past contributed to Far Horizons E-mag.
Daniel is inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, HP Lovecraft and Vince Flynn.