Jezri's Nightmare Books

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Curiosity Shop


I missed last week’s Vamplit prompt, which was little shop of oddities. So since this week is author’s choice of oddities, I am going to use last week’s prompt. A while back I wrote a story called The Weddingi Veil. A reader had said that she would like to see what happened from the decision to kill Jason, after all, was that the only choice? So from that, I present to  you…

The Curiosity Shop
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

Cecile pulled into the parking lot of the odd little shop. It hadn’t been there the day before. Glancing at the sign that read simply, The Curiosity Shop, she didn’t question its sudden appearance. She had been looking for it for a month now and had known she wouldn’t find the place in the usual manor, and that it would find her instead.
Opening her car door, Cecile hurried across the lot, afraid the shop would disappear before she was inside.  Once there, she breathed a sigh of relief, her eyes searching the store for the proprietor.  She barely noticed the oddities that lined the shelves and tables scattered throughout the room.
“May I help you?” The voice came from behind her.
“I don’t know.” Cecile’s voice shook. “A friend of mine thought you might be able to help me. She bought something here once.”
“A wedding veil. I remember. How is Laurie?”
“She’s dying.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I’m dying too. We think…well, this is going to sound crazy, but my husband is killing us.”
“And why would that be crazy?”
“Because Jason is dead.”
“Yes, I know dear. I don’t know how you think I can help you though.”
“Because that wedding veil you sold Laurie is the reason he is dead.”
Stepping into the light, the old woman chuckled. The hag’s eyes were milky white and even though she was blind, Cecile had no doubt she could see into her soul. “The wedding veil didn’t kill Jason. That was the two of you and that is why his spirit is seeking revenge.”
“The veil showed Laurie what Jason intended to do! He was going to kill us.”
The old woman shook her head. “There is always a choice. The future isn’t set in stone. The ripples that are made by our decisions change what can happen. Laurie put on the wedding veil, because she wanted to imagine that she was marrying Jason…a married man that she chose to run around with. The veil showed her what would happen IF she pursued that road.”
“Even if she didn’t marry him, she was pregnant with his child. He would have killed her to keep her from telling me.”
“Lie to yourself, but not to me. This store knows your soul.”
Cecile bit her lip, frustrated.  She wanted to scream at the woman; after all she was the one that set everything in motion. If this store truly did know everything, then it knew what would happen when Laurie bought the veil. She didn’t scream though. She had a daughter that needed her. Instead, she took a deep breath and asked, “Can you help me?”
“I can. But it will cost.”
***
Closing the door to her apartment, Cecile leaned against the wall. On the way home, she had looked in the rearview mirror once and seen Jason staring back at her, his eyes black with rage. She hadn’t looked again after that.
“Mommy!” Abby ran into the hallway, her impish smile lifting Cecile’s spirit. Laurie stood behind her, pale, her belly distended. She was due in another week, but Cecile worried she wouldn’t make it. Jason would see her dead before she delivered his child. Unless they stopped him.
“You found it,” Laurie said, motioning to the large package that Cecile carried.
“Yes. But…I had to promise her something. You aren’t going to like it.”
“What?”
“The baby.”
“NO!” Laurie covered her swollen abdomen with her hands and stared at Cecile in shock. “I won’t give up my baby! I did all this for her.”
“She doesn’t want it…”
“Her.”
“She doesn’t want her right away. But she says she is ready to retire. She needs an apprentice.”
“When?”
“She didn’t say.”
Laurie turned and went into the living room. “I suppose we don’t have any choice.”
Cecile set the package up against the wall and instructed Abby to go next door to Mrs. Whitman’s.  Once she was gone, Cecile uncovered the object.
“A mirror?” Laurie’s voice trembled. Jason always showed up in mirrors.
“We have to trap him inside of it.” Cecile positioned it in the middle of the room. The mirror was full length, allowing a person to view themselves from head to foot. Once she had it where she wanted, she placed candles around the room, lighting them.  
“What do we have to do?”
“Stand in front of the mirror,” Cecile instructed. “Then call him.”
“Call him? Cecile, I can’t. I don’t want him here!”
“It’s the only way and it has to be you. The old woman said so.”
“Why me?” Laurie’s voice was shaking.
“Because that is what she said.  Do you want him gone or not?”
Laurie felt her stomach. Her baby was moving. She wondered if she felt her fear. “I want him gone” Standing in front of the mirror she called out, “Jason. Jason, come here. Please.”
Then she saw him, standing behind her. He held a rope in his hand. She felt it around her throat, pulling tight and choking her. Gurgling, she looked towards Cecile.
Cecile stood there and watched. Laurie reached for the rope around her neck. There was nothing there, but she was choking.  Still, Cecile did nothing. Just before Laurie passed out, she stepped in front of the mirror, striking the glass with a glass stake the old woman had given her. Jason screamed as the glass shattered. His soul was now trapped inside the stake.
Bending over Laurie, Cecile held her while she died.  “I’m sorry. She said it had to be, a life for a life.”
When the ambulance arrived, Laurie was dead, her belly no longer distended from pregnancy. There was no sign she had been pregnant. The baby was just gone. The doctors puzzled over it. Televangelists called it a miracle of God. The gossip papers claimed it was an alien abduction.  But Cecile knew the truth. The baby was with the old woman, waiting to take her place in The Curiosity Shop.
Copyright© 2012 Lisa McCourt Hollar



2 comments:

  1. This is definitely one of your best stories, my friend.
    Exquisite!So many twists and turns.

    Blaze

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  2. Wow, there's a lot there--and I sense a history to that curiosity shop. I can imagine it featuring in many more stories than this one and the wedding veil--though I'll definitely have to look into the veil when I have time.

    Very classic dark fairy-tale feel to the old woman's powers and price.

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