BOX 2013

Cover Art by Brendan Swogger

Cover Art by Brendan Swogger

The little wooden building on Main St. was an oddball with the others. It was deteriorating, covered in moss and dirt, and was very small, squeezed in between the others, which were tall, new, and freshly coated in a generous amount of paint. Despite its unusual state, it hardly went noticed. Perhaps it was because nobody was really looking for it, or maybe it was because nobody really knew what it was.

Robert Weaver noticed it. He came from out of town, and was a county boy. He grew up in those kinds of towns where everyone knew each other, and the only other people you saw were the ones that drove through going to a more desirable destination. Robert lived with those small, deteriorating, moss-and-dirt covered buildings. So, when he saw the little shop sitting there, tucked in between the big, fancy, city towers, he felt like there was a little piece of home that followed him there.

The door creaked open, revealing to him the interior of an old, run down antique shop. The walls, like the outside, were wooden and partially rotting. The light was low, but the few dusty bulbs hanging from the ceiling were bright enough to see by. Around the small room were a number of scattered objects. Robert stepped farther inside and let the door close behind him.

He peered into the dust and grime, looking into the history that was presented in the objects before him. His eyes filled with astonishment and wonder. His curiosity struck, and he was pulled closer to a table that was scattered with an assortment of objects, one of which was a hand-woven doll. He looked at it through squinted eyes, examining every detail.

The doll was woven from a thick twine-like string, with every part accounted for. The eyes were a realistic painted glass, and every finger was woven to precise measurements. He looked it over, admiring the maker’s handiwork, then moved onto the next object. This was smaller than the doll, but equally as fascinating to the eyes. It was a skull, carved from what looked to be a kind of pale wood. As with the doll, no detail was left out. Every tooth, chip, and crack was neatly carved into the smooth structure.

“Good evening. Are you interested in one of the items?” The voice of an older man came from behind him, though it did not startle Mr. Weaver. He was too enthralled by the items on the table to be disturbed by any sudden words.

“Oh no,” he said, moving his eyes from the skull to an ash tray that gleamed brightly with silver. “I’m very impressed though. I’ve never seen anything like these before!”

“Yes,” the man replied, walking up behind him. “Our items are very rare indeed. Do you have any questions I can answer? I know everything here like I know the inside of my own kitchen.”

Robert turned around to face the man, who now stood only a few feet from him. He was older, appearing to be in his mid-80s. His hair was fading in the middle, the rest on the sides white and thin. He wore a blue sweater and a pair of khaki pleats that creased over his brown loafers. The man smiled a slightly toothless smile at the younger man, leaning in closer over his cane.

Robert smiled back. “Actually,” he said. “I was wondering…” He turned back to the doll. “Where is this from? It looks like voodoo, but it seems too detailed to be.”

The old man leaned over Robert’s shoulder, peering at the doll he had purchased himself in a year far before then. “Ah,” he exclaimed, the memories flooding back. “That is an ancient Mayan doll. One of the most valuable and well preserved. It was woven by a priestess for the king’s son.”

“Amazing! It doesn’t look a day old.” The old man chuckled silently at this. “How do you keep it in such good condition?”

“That, my friend, is a trade secret,” the old man joked. “Excuse me, I don’t think that I caught your name?”

Robert turned around and introduced himself in a polite and sophisticated manner, standing up straight with an outstretched hand and using his full name: Robert Jamison Weaver III.

The old man shook his hand vigorously. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Weaver. I am Herman George Reynolds, but I would like it very much if you just called me Herman.”

Robert smiled at him, and asked him what any mannered person would ask when meeting someone for the first time. “So, Herman, what exactly do you do here?”

Herman laughed and leaned back on his cane. “Oh, well, I traveled for a very long time in my life and collected a large amount of items over the years. So I decided that I would open up a shop and see if people might like to own some of these treasures.”

“Well, I’m glad you did. You wouldn’t happen to have any more items for a, uh,” he laughed to himself. “Smaller price?”

Herman smiled. “Well, have a look around. I think there may be some items over on the shelf behind you that may tickle your fancy.” He pointed to the right at a shelf filled with small stone items, and little metal instruments. Robert turned around and happily strode over to where he pointed, gazing over the items.

“Tell me, Robert.” Herman interrupted the steady stream of oohs and ah’s coming from Mr. Weaver’s direction. “Do you have a taste for the weird?”

Robert stopped and turned around, looking at the old adventurer with a twinkle in his eye. “Call me strange,” he replied. “But I do enjoy some things that may be deemed out of the ordinary.”

Herman smiled wide. “Good. Then I think you should see the back.”

Herman’s plan had begun.

Robert followed him behind the counter, ducking through a curtain and into a hallway that seemed too big to belong to such a small building. Herman turned and smiled, opening a door to reveal a set of stairs descending into a dark unknown.

“Did I mention it was downstairs?” he asked. Robert eagerly followed him.

“I don’t take people back here much. Hardly at all, in fact. But I feel like you’re different than some of the other boring old people who come in here for their tea kettles and rugs. You have my taste, my friend. Actually like myself when I was young.”

They arrived at the bottom, surrounded in dark and dust. There was a click and Herman stood at the other end of the room, his hand on a light switch. The room was lit up, and Robert’s eyes widened.

Around the room were various items to be described as macabre at the least. Stuffed animals, eyes in jars, scalps on wooden heads, and long boxes just the right size to fit a body inside. Robert was overwhelmed with two feelings. One told him to run. The other, which slightly overpowered the latter, was a heavy curiosity. He descended.

Robert’s eyes skimmed across every disturbing image presented with a mixture of fear and glee. His mind was burned with images of pickled eyes, images of long, stringy hair matted atop smooth white busts. He viewed a box filled with human teeth, and buckets of pig’s blood, with a perturbed interest. Herman came up behind him.

“Care for a drink?” he held out a foggy glass filled lightly with a clear liquid. “I’m surprised you’ve made it this far. Most people would’ve ran out screaming by now.”

“No thank you.” Robert politely refused it.

“No, I insist,” Herman said, pushing the glass farther towards him. “You’ll need it.”

Robert smiled, and took it. “Do you mind if I ask what’s in those boxes?” He tilted his head toward the coffin like containers.

“Yes. Those would be bodies.” Herman replied bluntly, not at all phased by how suspicious this may have sounded. Richard coughed, surprised by the answer.

“Bodies?” he exclaimed.

“Yes, mummies. From South America mostly.”

Robert was relieved. “Really? Well why haven’t you given them to a museum? They would pay excellent to have their hands on those.”

Herman took a deep breath. “Well these items are down here for a reason. I can’t stand the thought of parting with them. They’re just too amazing to give away. I mean, who else can say they have all this stuff in one place for themselves?”

Robert nodded.

“Would you like to see one?”

“A mummy?”

“Yes.”

Robert stood, looking at the boxes, trying to vision what horrors lay within. “Sure.”

Herman shuffled over to the closest one, placing his hand on the heavy wooden top. Spray painted in black was the number 2012. He shifted his bony fingers to the lock.

“You may want to take a drink.”

It all happened in a matter of about 3 seconds. Robert took a deep breath, and downed the liquid, hardly even tasting the awfulness of the Drano. Herman quickly unclipped the lock and flew back the top, revealing a corpse of a woman, killed last October. And Robert dropped the glass, shattering it on the concrete floor, and fell back, his insides already beginning to burn.

Herman smiled. “Take care of our friend now, Gordon. I’ll get box 2013 in order.”

I, Gordon Freeman, looked up from the screens in the backroom on which I was watching the events unfold. I got up from my chair, going through the door and into the main stage of the basement. Joey walked past me, beginning to unpeel his Old Man Herman mask to reveal his young 32 year old face.

“Everything’s with the girl,” he told me, entering the room which I just exited.

I made my way over to our guest, who was now gagging, trying to drag himself back to the stairs as if he still had a chance. I drove my foot into his back.

“Don’t even try,” I told him. I flipped him onto his back. He was about ready to spew. “We’ve been through this millions of times. Let me break down what’ll happen. In a few seconds, you’re insides will come out. Some out one way, some out the other. I’m sorry we had to put you through that agony, but it saves us lots of time and trouble. We’ll probably still slice open the side and make sure everything’s nice and clean in there. While you’re here, I’ll get to a few things the Drano can’t do, then we’ll wrap you up like a little present and put you in one of these nice boxes. Of course, by that time, you’ll be up there with the big man.” I patted him on the shoulder, and got up just in time to dodge the first geyser of blood and stomach.

I made my way over to box 2012. Inside was the body of sweet Georgia Winfrey, and a few metal tools we used on her. I picked up a few of the instruments: a long thin hook, a curved razor, and a pair of scissors. Robert was vomiting out another load of chunky tomato soup.

Kneeling down next to him in the pool of his own innards, I began to use the scissors to carefully cut off his shirt. This always proved to be a challenge due to the subjects violent shaking. I looked at his face and saw that his eyes were now red and leaking it.

I picked up the curved razor. “Let me take care of those for you,” I said. “They won’t get much better.”

Quickly, to avoid any further thrashing or detesting from Robert, I jabbed the point of the blade into his left eye. It’s a strange feeling, and as much of the job does, it takes some getting used to. The eyes always feel like small water balloons. You’ve got to press down before it pops. That’s why I always tried to do it with one swift kick. You didn’t feel the press. Once the eye was on the blade, I simply twisted and pulled it out, tearing the muscles and optic nerve. I did the same with the other.

His screaming and thrashing was calming now, probably due to the excessive loss of blood. This was good, because I needed him as still as possible for the next step.

Putting down the razor, I took up the hook. His nose was already caked with blood. I licked my finger and wiped the edge of his nostril. This was where it got tricky. I took the hooked end of the wire and put it right outside his nostril. Slowly, I sunk it inside, carefully pushing it farther back. I could hear and feel the squish through the sinus cavities. Finally, I hit an end. I wiggled the wire around, pushing it even farther back. Then, I pulled. When the end of the wire protruded, along with it was a chunk of gray mush. I continued to pull, trying to get as much out as I could before it snapped and I had to dive back in.

“Hey, Gordon! He dead yet?”

I looked at Roberts’s chest. It was still breathing, shallow and short. I moved my knee to his neck and pushed down, crushing his windpipe. The breathing stopped. I put my ear against his chest to make sure.

“Not anymore!” I shouted back.

“Alright. Well, hurry up with the small things. We have an hour before we have to ship him off.”

“An hour? Why such the cut on time?”

“It’s about 4 back home. So, if you wanna get back home for dinner, you better hurry your ass.”

The brain snapped, and I had to shove the wire back in to get another load. I think I was a little under halfway done.

“Oh, well then you can make yourself useful. Just cut open the side and make sure everything’s scrapped out the middle. If we want to get this done fast, we both need to work our ass.”

He did as I said and knelt down, carefully making the incision as I pulled another larger chunk of brain matter out.

His hand was now inside the carcass, feeling around and pulling out some half acid burned pieces of gut. First day on the job, I refused to put my hand inside. I don’t hesitate at all anymore. I guess it’s just another thing you have to get used to.

“So, how much you think they’ll pay us for these?”

He didn’t take his eyes off his work. “I don’t know. Probably a couple hundred grand. You know how much people eat these things up in the 2090’s.”

We finished our work about an hour later. I’d say we made pretty good time that day. We loaded that day’s count in the machine. We got 5. For mummies, that’ll pay us about a mil. You may be wondering if our job is legal. In short, no. But nobody seems to care.

Before we jumped back, we closed up shop. The little wooden building on Main St. disappeared just like all the other fakes we set up. Nobody will ever see it again in this time. Today, it was a surprise visit. Nobody really knew what it was, or why it was there. However, nobody seemed to notice anyways.

Copyright © Brendan Swogger 2013

Alright. I’ve finally written something new that’s not a screenplay. Let me give a little background on this little roller coaster of the macabre. I recently went to an exhibit at OMSI. It was the world’s largest collection of mummies ever to be assembled in one place. They were from all around the world, and they were all clearly on display. It was really amazing, and I want to go back. I had never been that close to real mummies before, and knowing they were real people and hearing the stories was haunting. I decided I wanted to write a mummy story. However, I did want to do something different with it. There was another thing I had recently done. That was watch the remake of my favorite horror movie of all time, Evil Dead. Oh my God, the remake was amazing! Completely surpassed my expectations! So, I melded the two. I began to write an Evil Dead, gore-filled mummy story. I wanted to put some twists into it though. I had a vision of an old man in an antique shop, mummifying a person alive. So, I began this way. Then, I had another idea. Who’s the narrator? So, when I got to that part, I twisted it completely around. I hope I caught you off guard. Then, one more idea, sci-fi time travel. I think it ties it together nicely. Again, I hope you didn’t see it coming. I’m glad that I finally got around to writing another short story, as it had been too long. Hopefully another one with come soon! Let me know what you thought! As always, you can follow my blog, along with my Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I encourage you to share this story with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, as I am always looking for new reader’s! Have an idea for a story? Click on Reader’s Request at the top of the page and send me a request! Your story may be used in a future post! Happy Reading! 😉

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About indiealtpdx

Writer for indie.alt and Vortex Music Magazine

Posted on 09/07/2013, in Short story and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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