A short story about three guys who discover a relative's occult artifact. Reviews wanted!
| “I’m so glad you all could make it on such short notice,” Tom said, holding open the front door for James and Gordon.
“Yeah, what was with that cryptic text?” James asked as Tom led them upstairs to his room. “You were really vague but it sounded urgent.”
“Well, it's not really urgent,” Tom shrugged. “But it is really awesome. You know how I had to skip going with you guys to Busch Gardens a week ago to help clean out my grandpa's house? Well, when I was cleaning out the attic, I found something.”
“Something like what?” James asked, interested.
“Shhh!” Tom silenced him, glancing around wildly. “Keep it down! My parents would freak if they found out I took anything that belonged to him. Quick, in my room.” He ushered his friends into his room and shut the door behind them. “You guys know my grandpa was into some… occult stuff back when he was alive, right?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Gordon shrugged. “We only met him once. He seemed normal enough.”
“My parents didn’t want me anywhere near him. My dad grew up with him, before he went all weird. He says that he thinks he was so scared of death that he turned to the supernatural, and that only killed him faster. Apparently he filled entire journals with his ramblings. Anyway, once he died, we went through his stuff, you know, cleaned the house, boxed his things up to burn or give away…”
“What?” James interjected. “Burn?”
Tom laughed. “I’m just kidding. Although if it weren’t for his will and his lawyers, I’m sure my parents would burn some of his things, like his diary and journals. Look, you can't tell my parents I took something from his house. I wouldn’t put it past them to try an exorcism or something.”
“Can you just show us what you took already,” James complained. “You’re killing me!”
“Fine!” Tom snapped, exasperated. “You guys always ruin my introductions!” He opened his closet and took out a wooden pyramid, about the size of his head, and set it on his nightstand. “Behold!”
“It’s a decoration,” Gordon frowned at the pyramid.
“Seriously?” James glared at Tom. “All that buildup, for a wooden… uh… I’m not even sure what that is.”
“It's not a decoration!” Tom exclaimed. “Look!” He turned the pyramid towards them, revealing a worn engraving of an eye.
“Oh!” Gordon said. “It's that thing from the dollar bill!”
“The all-seeing eye,” Tom told him. He knocked on the side of the pyramid. “And it's hollow!”
“So it’s a box,” James raised an eyebrow. “Just what we need. Now we can put our collection of severed fingers in it. Perfect!”
“Oh, come on guys!” Tom said angrily. “Don’t you get it? We're not going to put our stuff in, we're taking his stuff out.”
“His stuff?” Gordon asked. “As in, your grandpa's stuff?”
“Yeah!” Tom responded excitedly. “Just think, there’s probably a crystal ball or something else cool inside!”
James picked up the box and shook. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Don’t shake it!” Tom snatched the pyramid back from James. “Whatever’s inside is probably padded, especially if it's a crystal ball. And shaking it like that could break it!” He carefully set it on his table.
“So how do we open it?” Gordon examined the box. “It doesn’t look like it has a seam. I don’t see hinges anywhere…”
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” James put in. “If this really is some sort of box, which I doubt it is, it's just going to contain useless trinkets. Sure, they might look cool, but they won't have mystic properties.”
“You don’t know that,” Gordon told him. “You don’t know everything that’s out there.”
“Right,” Tom agreed, “and, useless trinkets are still, as you said, cool to look at.”
“Come on, Tom,” James said, exasperated. “Are some tarot cards or a crystal ball worth risking your parents wrath? You said it yourself, they despised this sort of stuff. If there is anything in your pyramid, and I’m not saying there is, you’ll have to hide it.”
“Obviously,” Tom rolled his eyes. “But it's worth it. Now, help me find some way to open this thing.” He picked up the pyramid and ran his fingers over the rough wooden surface. “I don’t feel anything…”
“Wait… let me see that,” Gordon took the box from the Tom. “These sort things are always hidden plain sight. I think…” He felt around the engraved eye. “Aha!” He pressed the center of the eye down. The hidden button slid into a groove, clicking into place.
“Awesome!” Tom exclaimed. “Let’s see if the top comes off…” He tugged at the top of the pyramid while Gordon held it steady, but nothing popped off.
“Told you,” James smirked. “It does absolutely nothing.”
Tom sighed. “I guess you’re right. It's so frustrating, though! We even found the hidden switch!” Gordon set the pyramid back down on Tom’s nightstand.
“It was probably put there just to look cool,” James shrugged. “That’s all psychics and clairvoyants are, anyways. Smoke and mirrors.” He walked towards the door. “Well, I should get back home. I’ve got some homework--”
“James!” Tom gasped suddenly. “Look!” He pointed a shaky hand at the pyramid. The top part above the eye had risen ever so slightly, revealing a tiny seam in the wooden. Purple smoke drifted from the seam, curling across the table.
“What the…?” James' eyes widened.
A lock disengaged inside the pyramid, and the top split into four and slid down the pyramid to reveal a shadowed interior. Maroon smoke continued to billow out of the strange wooden contraption.
“Guys…” Gordon groaned. “I don’t… feel so good…” He toppled backwards with a crash, unconscious.
“Gordon!” James shouted in horror. His head felt fuzzy, and his vision tunneled. He was vaguely aware of himself lurching towards Gordon’s prone figure, and the dull thud of Tom’s body hitting the floor beside him. “Tom…” He croaked, falling to his knees, coughing out the purple smoke. “No…” His vision darkened, and he felt himself slipping away.
James woke violently, gasping for breath, and fell out of the chair he was seated in.
“Mmm,” a voice hummed disapprovingly. “This one… I cannot work with.”
His head was pounding. What was going on? Was he dead?
“Give him a chance,” he heard Gordon say. Gordon? He must really be dead, then.
“I do not give skeptics a chance,” the voice, a woman, he decided, said. “They either believe, or they do not. There is no in between.”
“What…?” James staggered to his feet, almost falling backwards. “Where… are we?” He took in his surroundings, noticing Tom and Gordon, awake and alive, sitting in chair next to his fallen one. James righted his chair and took a seat opposite of a strange, almost middle eastern looking woman. Her face was covered in a purple veil, and only hints of her flashing eyes could be seen. “Who are you?”
“I am the Seer,” The woman responded. “Prophet of the world beyond, blessed with knowledge of the future and cursed to live forever beyond the physical realm.”
“Uh, huh,” James slowly nodded. “Sure. Uh, how do we get back to Tom’s house…?”
“Get back?” The Seer asked questioningly. “You opened the Gate. You have come to me, out of time and space. I must fulfill my duties as the spirit’s medium before they will let you ‘get back’ to Tom’s house.”
“What duties, exactly?” James asked.
“She’s a fortune teller,” Tom said excitedly. “Since we opened the Gate thingy, she’ll read our fortunes! For free!”
“There is always a price to seeing the future,” The Seer intoned. “Even if you do not realize it at first.”
“Look, this probably isn’t even real,” James said. “That gas must have been a hallucinogen or something. I must be dreaming.” He pinched himself. “Ow!”
“You’re not dreaming, James,” Tom told him. “I told you my grandfather was into this kind of stuff! He actually found something that worked!”
“Your grandfather?” The Seer leaned forward. “Yes… I remember him. A good man. He has not visited me for sometime now.”
“Yeah…” Tom shifted uncomfortably. “He’s actually dead. He had a heart attack.”
“Dead?” The Seer laughed. “No. He’s not dead. His spirit would have visited me by now. No, your grandfather is still very much alive!”
“Really?” Tom asked. “Then where is he? Why hasn’t he contacted me?”
“I do not know,” The Seer told him. “I see the future, not the present.”
“See?” James scoffed, standing up. “Fake. She’s feeding off what you say, fishing for information! She’s not an oracle or some mystical vessel of the gods. She’s a nut job!” He rounded on the Seer. “Tell us how to get out of this ridiculous room, or—”
“Silence, knave!” The Seer threw up her hands, glowing with otherworldly energy. James was thrown back against the far wall. “Your underestimate the power of the dead. They are not bound by mortal constraints like you and I!”
“What the—!” Tom and Gordon leapt to their feet. “Did you… James… what did you do?”
“The Spirits have given me power over the realm of the living. Skeptics are not tolerated in my presence, but I doubt this one is a skeptic now,” The Seer settled back into her chair.
James groaned, rubbing the back of my head. “Owww… lady, what the heck?”
“Take your place at the table,” The Seer instructed. James complied, sitting back down, grimacing in pain. “Now,” She began, taking out a crystal ball and setting it on the table. “I will show you the future.”
“Wait, wait,” James interrupted. “Okay, so you have otherworldly powers, but how do we know you’ll tell us the truth when you give us your reading? You could be setting us up for failure, or leading us into a trap or something!”
“A valid concern,” The Seer responded, peering into the crystal. “But the Spirits do not tolerate lies. I am bound by them to tell you the truth.”
“Easy for you to say,” James snorted. “Alright then, let’s get on with it.”
“Impatience does not suit you,” The Seer told him, tapping the ball. Instantly the crystal fogged and became a churning mass of vapor.
“Now, I need complete silence. I must have no distractions while I read the future.”
The three of the, fell silent as the woman gazed into the crystal ball. “Yes…” she whispered to herself. “I see…” her head snapped up, eyes glowing through the veil eerily. “Gordon…” she hissed, her voice slithery. “The next few months of your life will be marked by terrible tragedy, and a burden will befall you that you do not want but cannot escape…” she gasped, an awful, gurgling sound, and turned to James. “And you… you will be caught in the crossfire of a terrible war, and will not escape with your life!”
“What?” James shouted, followed by shouts of protest from Tom and Gordon. “I’m going to die?”
The Seer did not seem to hear him, swiveling to fix her gaze on Tom. “As for you, my boy… the road before you is dark and painful. All is not as it seems, for you will play a pivotal role in keeping your world from being devoured by an endless, ravenous darkness…”
“None of this makes sense!” Tom shouted. “What are you saying? What war?”
The Seer screamed, a long, drawn out cry that pierced their skulls, causing them to collapse on the floor in pain. They writhed on the ground, clutching their heads as their vision dimmed.
James woke on the floor of Tom’s room. He groaned, the back of his head throbbing, the Seer’s voice ringing in his ears. “Guys…” he picked himself off the floor. “Guys, wake up!” Tom and Gordon we’re both lying facedown on the floor next to him. The wooden pyramid was closed again, overturned on the floor.
“What…” Gordon stirred. “What happened?”
“Do you… do you remember?” James asked, hesitantly.
“You mean the creepy lady who told you you’re gonna die?” Gordon replied. “Yeah. Ohh, my head…” He put a few fingers to his temple, his teeth clenched. “Am I the only one with a pounding headache?”
“I kinda just figured it was from me hitting the wall so hard,” James said. “Yeah, I have one, too.”
“What…?” Tom rose groggily. “We’re back!”
“Yeah, for better or worse,” Gordon said darkly. “From what she said, I’m not sure we’re going to like what happens next.”
“We’d better start trying to find some answers, then,” Tom stood up, looking at them both. “We need to know what ‘war’ we’ve stumbled into, and the ‘darkness’ that she mentioned that’s trying to destroy the world.”
“Didn’t she say that your grandpa visited her?” James asked. “And that he’s still alive? I bet that if we could find him, he could clear some things up. And his notebooks would probably be a good place to start looking.”
“I agree,” Tom nodded. “My dad boxed those up. Wouldn’t let me go near them. I don’t think he’s gotten rid of them, not yet, at least. We should start looking for them. Maybe my grandpa left clues to he’s hiding in them.”
“Yeah!” Gordon agreed. “Maybe if we figure everything out, we can change the future!”
Watching the house from outside, hidden in the shadows of the forest, was a woman. A woman in a strange robe, her face veiled with purple silk. She smiled menacingly under her scarf. Good luck, boys, she thought. You’ll need it!
Thanks for reading my short story, guys! I didn't really know where this was headed when I first started writing, but I thought it turned out nicely! I'm thinking about making another part to provide more background and context and give a hint to what the Seer was referring to. All reviews are welcome, so don't hesitate to tell me what you did and did not like about the story!