J Trevor Robinson
The Mummy Of Monte Cristo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
From Chapter 1 – Arrival in Marseille…
Morrel hobbled across the deck on his wooden leg, grateful that the harbour was calm. He had lost the leg twelve years earlier, during the darkest period of Europe’s history: the Dead Plague.
Beginning in late 1787 in Eastern Europe, a mysterious event set in motion a terrible perversion of nature. The source of it was a tightly-guarded secret, but something spread across the continent which turned men, women, and children into walking corpses, hungry for human flesh. People called the creatures many names: undead, revenants, ghouls, zombies. Whatever the label, the Plague spread like fire and raged for seventeen years. One bite from an undead transmitted the infection; if the victim could avoid being devoured completely, they were doomed to become a zombie themselves.
Morrel had just avoided that fate in 1803, when a zombie concealed itself in the shadows beneath his front porch. Cold hands had clamped onto his ankle, and the zombie’s teeth passed through his boot to tear off a chunk of the flesh and tendons beneath. Morrel had only just been able to put a bullet through the zombie’s head when he fell. The quick action of his neighbour, a doctor, resulted in his losing the leg beneath the knee soon enough to prevent total infection.
He found Edmond supervising the crew from the upper deck. The crew responded as well to him as they ever had to Captain LeClere, and he handled the responsibility well. Morrel had seen many young men in their first command position turn to arrogance, but Edmond gave his orders respectfully. LeClere seemed to have taught him well. Morrel beckoned for Edmond to follow him to the captain’s office and waited for Edmond to close the door.
“M. Danglars tells me that there was an unscheduled stop,” Morrel said. “Can you explain it, please?”
“Of course, but it is a delicate matter,” Edmond said, standing at attention. “I wasn’t certain whether to log it before talking to you first. It has to do with Captain LeClere.”
“LeClere ordered the detour?” Morrel asked.
“In a way, sir. When he was dying on his bed, he sent everyone else away. His last request was that we deliver a letter to Marshal Bertrand at the island of Elba,” Edmond said. “The crew were allowed to come ashore as far as the beach, and I was taken to see the marshal alone.”
Morrel stroked his chin, surprised by the young man’s words. Omitting the visit from the logbook was prudent; Elba was the prison of Napoleon Bonaparte.
When the Dead Plague reached France in the summer of 1788, King Louis XVI and his court showed little concern for the commoners and instead focused on protecting themselves. The people revolted against this indifference in 1789 and overthrew the monarchy in a grand Revolution. Napoleon, a Corsican commander in the French army, organized his troops to subdue the worst of the undead uprising within France and earned the country’s adoration. The revolutionary government made him first a general and later their highest rank of First Consul.
Seeing an opportunity to increase French power, Napoleon led the army across Europe. Wherever he went, he wiped out the undead and demanded that the countries he liberated become vassals of France. Weakened by the Plague, they submitted to French rule. Finally, in 1804, he found something in a region of Eastern Europe which would one day become Ukraine. Napoleon never publicized his actions there, but because of what he did, every zombie in the world was destroyed in the same instant. He returned to Paris and gave himself a new title: Emperor.
All was not well for Napoleon, however. Royalist aristocrats who had survived the Revolution remained in exile, working among the new vassal states to stir up resentment against Napoleon and reclaim their former positions. The end of the Dead Plague did not end Napoleon’s ambitions, and he continued to expand his empire; in 1812, he overextended himself with a disastrous attempt to invade Russia and gave the Royalists their opportunity. Humiliated by his Russian defeat, Napoleon returned to Paris to find a coalition of Royalist-backed rebel forces waiting for him. He was forced to abdicate his throne, and the monarchy was restored with King Louis XVIII. Napoleon was exiled to Elba with his marshal and six-hundred men in his personal guard, and allowed to rule the native population there as a king.
“Sir?” Edmond said, bringing Morrel’s thoughts back to the present. Morrel realized he hadn’t spoken for several minutes.
“You should be alright,” Morrel said carefully. “As you said, the landing was made at LeClere’s request; no judge in the country would convict you for a dying man’s last wishes. As for the letter, I would not expect trouble. The postal service already carries news to and from the island, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”