Friday, July 11, 2014


Little Old Shop

Jack looked over the card she'd given him once more. The directions were scrawled haphazardly on the back. On the front was simply a phone number and the letters S. C. T. He'd called the number several times and got no answer. How Mary ever managed to find the place was beyond him. She'd said that the directions were those she'd written herself after finding it by accident. Or it seemed like an accident, anyway. How she managed to get anyone else on the other line seemed an impossibility. But at least he had
an address.
Today he decided to ride his motorbike. Over the past weeks he'd found that his sixth sense, his ability to detect those who were different was changing, becoming stronger. His body developed an odd sensation of fire sparks exploding. At first it seemed simply like stress but he was learning to understand when it came and went - when he saw one of The Others -  and he was learning how to keep his responses under control from Trillion. He breathed deeply, calmly. As he passed by streams of traffic he did not find or encounter any of them on the ride there and for that he was thankful. He was still trying to get a handle on his own responses to things.
Turning up S.W. Ankeny street, he slowed to a leisurely pace, looking for the address. He found it sandwiched between two business houses. It was a tiny, rather old, shabby Victorian-style house. Very shabby in fact. He rode his bike up the side walk and parked it at a smart park meter, paid the meter and stood in front of the house. It was early afternoon and the business crowd was out to lunch. It was quite busy and noisy on the other blocks. This one was strangely quiet. He felt outward with his sense to see if he could detect anything odd or unusual. He could detect nothing out of the ordinary. He walked up the small high steps and peeked in. It looked dark inside. Turning the door knob slowly he opened the door and
stepped inside.
Inside the shop burnished scents of incense greeted him. And something else that he couldn't place. An essence of some sort. He slipped through the tiny foyer and onto a dingy looking shag carpet that announced the main room of the shop. It looked dim and Jack gazed at the containers, terrariums, gilded boxes and old cast iron cages. He saw the oddest things in these containers. Plants of colors he could not describe, old dolls that moved and danced to music after being wound up and other, more mundane antiques. Jack, normally would never have any interest in such things but found himself so caught up he didn't hear the figure at the counter around the corner. Gazing at a silver cube balanced on a point he watched in interest as it shifted and rotated its links like a Rubik's Cube. So much so, that when he slowly turned the corner the clearing of a throat made him jump. And he wasn't used to people making him jump and he didn't like it. There was a man standing at the front desk and counter. He was average height and build, on the thin side with brown hair and brown eyes. He smiled cheerily.
"Hello!" He said with a slight accent Jack couldn't place. "What can I help you with today? Are you looking for something special?"
"Actually, yeah." He was feeling a little nervous now that it came to it. "I have a friend who had a box. A, uh, red box. Says it can help you if you run into a lot of. . .problems in your life?" He asked expectantly. The man gazed at him with a question mark on his face. "You know, sort of like a magic box?" he said quietly, feeling stupid.
"Problems? Red box? magic?" The man laughed. "Sounds like a very special fabled object to me. One not normally given out."
"Yeah well, I was just following up on some info she gave me. That's all."
"Nope, sorry. I have a lot of cool things in here but magic boxes ain't one of them."
"So," Jack said, trying to sound casual and knowing he was failing. He didn't care. He was here wasn't he? That was enough. "How long have you been here?" At that the man smiled broadly, seemingly glad to talk about his business and his proud, dusty little establishment.
"For quite some time. Twenty years to be exact. It started with my father opening the shop in July, nineteen- eighty. Oh, take a look around. See if there's anything you like. Anyway. . ." Jack decided to do just that as the man chippered on about how his business was first got off the ground by his grandfather. Jack turned slightly to take a look at the antiques and object d'art around him, some quite fascinating. Jack was looking for red. Anything red that pinged his sixth sense. Nothing was coming up. In fact, he saw no red objects on this floor of the shop at all. He tried to feel for anything strange or off. He felt nothing as he slowly made his way past aisle after aisle and table after table. At first he passed by a music box that suddenly began playing, its top sprouting off the base and a ballerina twirled around furiously. At first the music sounded twanged and mauled, as if wound up to fast, then it slowed down. At the same time Jack thought he detected a sudden jump or buzzing in the air, and for less than a split second the whole world had its lights turned off. It was only a fraction of a moment and normally he would have thought it an odd but passing experience of the imagination. Not this time.
". . .by that time my grandfather, who helped him get the place off the ground passed away and then it came to him fully," said the shop owner. "Oh! What was that?" The man stumbled at the fraction of energy surge and behind the counter Jack saw he had a cane that he was propping himself up on. He tipped and fell over against the counter.
"You alright?" Asked jack.
"Yes, I think. That felt like a large blip that time. The lights went out and came back on. But never mind that. That happens from time to time here. It's a very old house and the electrical wiring is ancient. Makes it kinda finicky in this place."
"Yeah, I see what you mean. My grandma had a house like this. Same kinda problems. Plumbing was old too," Jack said. Something's here. I can feel it. he thought. Whether the owner himself was odd, Jack couldn't tell. He seemed and felt normal to jack's senses. And he saw no red on or about his person. No articles of clothing, no aura. In fact, he couldn't read anything off the man at all and that was a whole other kind of strange. But there was something else now that Jack's senses were able to examine the surroundings from inside. Something was off. That's it! It felt as if he had entered a hideout. A place was  cocooned away from the everyday world for a specific reason. Jack's stomach dropped. Something was hidden here. He couldn't tell if it was hidden from The Others or from regular people. Jack found a small china saucer and brought it up to the counter.
"Ah," the man said appreciatively. "Nice choice. For you mother?" he inquired.
Nosy aren't you? Jack just nodded and smiled and said nothing. The man rang it up, wrapped it in tissue paper than placed it carefully in a brown paper bag and handed his purchase to him.
"Hope to see you again. I don't get too much business these days. The recession and all."
"Yeah well, you might see me again. My mom loves knick-knacks," said Jack. Oh yeah, I just might come again, except not when you expect it.
. . .

Jack rode his bike back there again in the night. He parked the motor bike two blocks down this time and walked softly toward the little old house.The night was hot but the cool air coming in made it bearable. He glanced over his shoulder, expecting to see someone jump out at him, like red shoes, for instance. He'd caught a glimpse of a man yesterday with that red aura essence around him like a dirty halo in the super market. His senses were getting stronger. He'd felt ambivalent about it but it was one weapon he had against the bastards.
As he came closer to the house he slowed his pace. The windows were closed shut tightly and all the curtains drawn. However, he detected a dim light in a window on the left side of the house. Looking around to make sure he wasn't seen, he slipped in beside the house. He could certainly feel it now, where as before it was like a lukewarm whisper. There was a power source emanating from deep below this house. It was like a hum of energy that he could feel rather than hear. The night was silent except for the crickets and the occasional car rolling down the street.
He got close to one of the windows hoping for some glimpse of something he was not sure what he was looking for. A fleeting, terrifying thought occurred to him of the blackish red car that nearly ran him down a few months ago. Focus, man! He thought he detected a shadow passing through a room in the back of the house. Faintly he heard footsteps. He crept toward the back of the house and toward the back door. He wanted to find something else to report back and still wondered if the shop owner was lying to him. He crouched down, beginning to wonder what he was looking for. He didn't have long to wait. His senses detected a massive, burst of energy ,a disturbance that felt to him like an earthquake. It lasted maybe five seconds but it was enough to bowl him over to the ground. A sweat broke out and he gasped for air. Jack stayed put, locked to the ground, his heart hammering for what seemed like an eternity. The last embers of sunset had disappeared and it was starry night now. He looked up and heard the back door slowly opening. Though his bones felt heavy he lunged up on his feet with all his power and stumbled out of the backyard and down the street. He found his motorbike and rode off.
He would have no answer for anyone about whether the red box came from that place but something was hidden there, something big! And perhaps that old man really was a liar. Come to think of it, Jack couldn't quite remember what the man looked like. It was like his face disappeared from the memory like mists in the afternoon sun. No matter how hard he tried to recall what the man looked like, his features, nothing descriptive came to him. His senses pricked again at this thought. That was strange. He'd at least make a note of that once he got home.
But there was one thing he could remember about the place.
I wonder if I've found the mother portal? I have to tell the others what I've found!

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