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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1367627
A chilling tale of obsession and possession, where a newspaper and globe can kill
The pendant
By Mike Day

David slowly spun the globe on his desk, his index finger poised above its surface as the oceans and continents flowed past. With a touch he stopped it, his finger next to Hong Kong and when he removed it a red fingerprint continued to mark the spot. His study was in darkness save for an old fashioned brass reading lamp with a deep green glass shade that cast its light downward. A newspaper lay open across the mahogany and leather surface of the desk, an article heavily ringed in red.

Helen stepped out of the air-conditioned hotel into the humid heat of the tropical night. From the goose pimple cool it took a matter of seconds for her silk dress to paste its self to her back. The street was brilliantly lit, garish signs competed one against another to grab her attention, while high above the towering buildings a gibbous moon hung, pregnant, over the city. She wandered amongst the maze of vibrant shops, until she found herself at the waters edge. Across the bay the lights of the star ferry glowed warmly, almost lost in the rippling, stained glass water at the foot of the neon sky scrappers. 

On his desk sat an ancient looking pendant, made of interwoven gold wires that wrapped themselves in organic patterns around a deep red ruby; in outline the piece was triangular, two long sides with the shorter at the top. The point at the bottom was of a different metal, it glinted silver and sharp in the lamp light.

‘No.’ He said, speaking to no one but the shadows. ‘I won’t be a party to this madness any more.’ He pushed the amulet firmly across the desk.

The ruby glowed with an inner heat, or perhaps merely a facet reflected more light from its new position. Either way its blood red call drew his fevered eye. His hand moved slowly, seemingly of its own volition, towards the trinket. David watched with fascinated horror as his own body obeyed a desire he dare not fulfil.

He pushed himself away from the table, slapping his arms against his thighs as he marched around the room. Despite the cool he was sweating. His face, usually handsome in a distant sort of way, was drawn and prematurely aged. The skin around his blood shot eyes dark, like a drug addict waiting for a fix.

When Tina the maid had brought him his evening meal an hour ago she had looked worried and asked if she aught not to call a doctor.  He had laughed and told her he was working to hard and promised to rest soon. The puzzled look on her face betrayed her sense that any man who inherited so much money should not have to work so hard at anything.

Truth to tell she was right. In the old days he would have been called a dilettante, now the tabloids used the more acidic term, ‘Idle rich’.  For years he had dabbled in this and that, a passing interest in insects that he had pretended was a passion just to keep the boredom at bay, then antiquarian books, fast cars, fine wine and now more recently the dark arts.

He told himself that he was an anthropologist, concerned with what the hidden rituals showed about the human psyche. But deep down he knew that it was just another of his bored little rich boy diversions.

As these thoughts ran through his mind he drifted back to the table. Without thinking he picked up the amulet once again. A look of greedy concentration spread across his face as he dangled it by its fine gold chain over the newspaper. He began to mumble words that he half understood, all the time swinging the pendant gently above the circled article.

Helen lent against the railing; the recital had gone well and she was pleased that the whole orchestra seemed to be getting along. On tours like this it could be a nightmare when it went wrong. Often a Conductor would criticise too many fragile egos or, worse yet, praise one member of a section without spreading the largesse to their fellows. Petty arguments in the confined atmosphere of a tour quickly led to disharmony both on and off stage. But tonight it had felt just right and she had decided that the end of such a perfect evening would be a pleasant walk down by the harbour.

She slipped off her shoes and ducked under the top pole of the metal fence. The other side of the barrier was a long smooth slope made of interlocking bricks; she reached back and picked up her sandals. Slowly with great care she walked down the cool wet bricks until she stood next to the water, it lapped thickly, like black oil just short of her toes. Helen looked out across the water, a puzzled slightly vacant look on her pretty face. With infinite care she stepped into the water, one foot then the other, it covered her ankles, she continued on, now it reached her calves. She stumbled slightly as the water reached her knees and put out her arms like a child playing at being a tightrope walker. The water reached her waist and its chill began to make her breathe harder, then it rose to her chest, out in the harbour the ferry was churning its way across the glossy water. Her pale white shoulders dipped under as small waves wet her face, on she went, water covered her chin, her mouth, her nose and then like a turtle slipping below the surface, she was gone.

Sweat poured from his brow, in his hand the gold and ruby pendant swung languidly back and forth over the paper. His chest shuddered and a series of choking coughs wracked his exhausted body, he threw back his head and gasped for air as the pendant slipped from his unfeeling fingers. David sat back in his chair and pushed one trembling hand through his unkempt blond hair. Standing up he walked shakily over towards the drinks cabinet and poured himself a half tumbler of Irish whiskey. The first third disappeared in one grateful swallow that was followed by another series of wracking coughs. He wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve and put down the glass. Outside the rain was thrashing against the window and he threw back the curtains to watch, desperate to be rid of the vivid sensation of drowning.
Out in the grounds he could see the rain driving in sinuous patterns across the gravel driveway. The Sycamores waved their bare arms at the night sky as the wind played fiercely amongst them.

From his third floor window David suddenly became aware of a group standing out in the rain, each staring up at his window. He could see the truck driver, whose twisted body spoke of a terrible accident, the nurse, whose blood still ran from her open wrist to mix with the rain at her feet, and there in front of half a dozen other equally macabre spectres stood a woman in a black silk evening dress, sea water pouring like a liquid scream up from her open mouth, a pair of golden sandals hanging limply by her side. 

Pulling shut the curtains he staggered back to his seat. Once again he pushed the terrible jewel away and this time flipped the paper back a page, there on both pages were the circled articles, the truck driver in Kansas, the nurse in Holland, and further back all the others. He snatched up the pages and stumbled back across the room. Angrily he threw back the drapes and opened the window, leaning out he shouted down to the silent figures below, ‘See? I didn’t do it! It was in the paper!’
They stared up at him with baleful, accusing eyes.

‘See?’ He shouted leaning further out and waving the paper at the terrible apparitions.

None of them moved.

He pushed himself further out into the howling storm. ‘What do you want?’ he bellowed, fear making his voice crack.

The girl with the sandals raised her free hand and pointed a long pale finger up towards him.

David shuddered and felt his grip on the wet window frame start to slip. Wildly he tried to grab for the frame. Its paintwork was greasy from the rain and his hand dragged uselessly along its length before he tumbled out into the storm.

The sky was bright the next morning, the way only a sky after a storm can look. Tina was standing by the side of a tall policeman as they watched the ambulance men load the body onto a trolly.

‘Do you have any idea why he might have jumped?’ The officer asked gently.
The maid, who only recently had stopped crying, looked at him. ‘Jumped?’ she said clearly confused.

‘Well it’s not certain of course, but we found a newspaper clutched in his hand.’ He stopped, trying to judge if it was wise to continue.

She looked up with teary eyes but nodded for him to continue.

‘Well, it seems he had gone through the paper circling all the stories regarding sudden deaths. It might indicate his state of mind.’ The policeman said shaking his head sadly.

Upstairs a policewoman was carefully searching the room for a note or any evidence of foul play. When she came across the pendant lying forgotten next to the base of the brass lamp she picked it up and immediately dropped it as though it had bitten her; on her finger a tiny drop of blood welled up where its point had scratched her. She sucked it thoughtfully as she picked it up once again.
© Copyright 2007 Mike Day (mikeday at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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