Author’s Note

The ancient Egyptians believed there were seven parts to the soul which all behaved in different fashion after one’s death, some departing quickly, others resting within the body to emerge at the appropriate hour. The Ka, or Double, of the dead man, for example, did not usually present himself until the mummy was resting in his tomb some seventy days and more after death.

These seven lights and forces, souls and spirits of the Soul, can be characterized as the Ren (one’s secret name) the Sekhem (one’s vital energy) the Khu (one’s guardian angel) the Ba (one’s heart) the Ka (one’s double) the Khaibit (one’s shadow, that is, one’s memory) and the Sekhu (the remains) which is to say the residue of the man or woman’s life that rests in the body while it is being embalmed, a much muted version of the self analogous to pools of water on a sand flat after the tide has receded.

The description that follows is told by the Sekhu of a dead man. It is his remains who speak:

This segment of Norman Mailer’s forthcoming novel appears with the permission of Playboy.


A hook went into my nose, battered through the gate at the roof of the nostril, and plunged into my brain. Pieces, gobbets, and whole parts of the dead flesh of my mind were now brought out through one aperture of my nose, then the other.