The front door letter box rattled, and I heard a dull thud as something hit the mat. I rushed and picked up the small parcel. Turning it over a few times, I read my name and address, but there was no return address.
Inside the packet, I found a rectangular block of a polished piece of oak. There was no obvious lid, and I wondered if it was a musical box or a curiosity toy. I tried turning and twisting it. It seemed to be a solid wooden brick, so I gave it a shake, then dropped it onto the kitchen table. I drummed on it with by fingers and then knocked with my knuckles to see if it was hollow; I heard something shift inside.
‘Stop!’ shouted a voice. ‘Oh, please stop.’
I looked around. Did I just imagine the wood speak? I turned it over and tapped it on the table.
‘That’s enough,’ screamed the voice, then it whimpered. ‘Please help me.’
I gave it another good shake and put it down on the table, really not knowing what to expect.
‘Stop, stop, please just stop,’ it cried, ‘you’re making me dizzy.’
‘What’s going on?’ I said, looking around and out the window just in case I was being observed.
‘Please let me out.’
‘How?’ I felt ridiculous. ‘Where’s the lid?’ Some prankster was probably listening, and I played along. ‘If you tell me how to open it, then I’ll get you out.’ I wasn’t sure what the point of the joke was, or where it was leading to.
‘Once I am free,’ it said, ‘your every wish will come true.’
‘Ah! So, you are a Genie trapped in a box,’ I said, still sceptical and looking around for some trickster. ‘It’s just my imagination.’ I muttered.
‘Ah, very good,’ said the voice, ‘you are getting close.’
‘I’m going mad, I must be delirious,’ I felt a moment of rising panic. ‘I’ve no idea what’s happening here.’
‘Think, think of an idea. Use your imagination and soon, we will be free.’
‘We! Is there someone else with you?’
‘No. I mean us, you and me. Please, get those grey cells working, procrastination is not an option.’
I gave the shiny oak another good shake and heard it giggle. It started knocking from inside the wooden block.
‘Stop it. Please release me,’ it cried. ‘Remember, I am the secret to your future; your fortune.’
‘That’s it, I’m getting my saw,’
‘Wait!’ shouted the voice. ‘For a hundred years I’ve waited, but if you damage the wood, you destroy the spell. A curse will fall on anyone who damages this box. The secret to your future will be lost forever.’
‘Then how can I open it. Where is the catch to release a lid?’
‘Oh, why do you want to come into the box? Trust me, there is no way out.’
‘So, what is the secret to my future, tell me.’ I grabbed the box and shook it. ‘Tell me. I’ll get a chisel and split you.’
‘No use,’ the voice coughed. ‘Destroying me breaks your chance of any good fortune.’
‘This is ridiculous.’ I said, ‘I’ve no idea how to get you out.’ I was becoming frustrated and bored with the dilemma. Was I talking to myself again? It had been going on for weeks, and every day I struggled to maintain my sanity.
‘You know the answer,’ said the box, and it laughed. ‘Ha, ha. Time is running out. Find an idea. Think, just think.’
I sat for hours admiring the perfect sheen of the polished oak, and its dark and light hues along the grain. It would make a great paper weight or door stopper, but then it would mock me each time I looked at it. My future, my good fortune apparently my sanity, all depended on an idea of freeing the Genie trapped in a knotted wooden block. How ridiculous.
I threw the wood into the fire and watched as it burned; the flames were a crystal blue and dazzling white. I decided the responsibility for my future and fortune would be my making and independent from some magical idea trapped in a box.
That night I went to bed feeling frustrated and angry at my impatience for not solving the problem that may have freed the Genie. Would he really fulfil my fantasies and dreams? Perhaps it was a missed opportunity.
Regardless, I slept well and in the morning the rattle of the letter box woke me with a jolt. I fell out of bed and hit the floor with a dull thud on the carpet. I tried to get up, but knocked my head on a wooden ceiling. It was dark. I felt as if I was being carried and shaken, then I realised I was in a box.
Suddenly the answer to my future and fortune was clear; if only I was wise enough, if only I could “think outside the box”. Was it too late?
The wonderful Dale has given us a picture of a garlic string to stir our imagination and taste buds. I understand that the greatest benefit from garlic is to eat it raw in salads. Does anyone really eat the cloves raw?
Radiant with the beauty of eternal youth, Silvia enchanted a fluttering of men like lavender surrounded by buzzing bees. Four of her husbands died of broken hearts and the fifth during a moment of rampant ecstasy, and she howled pitiless that night. It was her curse to devour the passion from the souls of men.
In Vulcan, the women called her ‘She Wolf’ and fortified their homes with strings of garlic.
Late afternoons, wearing fine leather and furs, she would ride her sleek stallion to lure a lusting youth.
By midnight, her mourning and howling would haunt the mountain villages.
This morning, I enjoyed reading this story, by Jennie Boyes.
The POV is that of a child, Fridel, who try’s to make sense of the events taking place in her village.
Fridel’s mother is suffering from depression from the loss of her son Bert and blames The Mare and other mystical spirits.
Fridel starts to suspect that witches are to blame and in her own way (you decide) takes action to rid the village of them and the Mare.
The narrative gripped me from the beginning and drew me into the naive thoughts of Fridel. It was clear to me, the reader, what was going on. However, the adults were unaware how their explanations of spirits and evil witches influenced Fridel.
‘It looks kind of grey, it wants painting.’
‘Yep, Grandpa was colour blind, it didn’t matter to him.’
Sally-Anne wasn’t sure about this legacy and expectation. It needed a lot of maintenance.
Grandpa was a Christian and provided a home for orphaned children of every race. Fifty children grew up here and all have prosperous concerns in the town and attend the Gospel Church, yet they are reluctant to help.
Grandpa wanted a new hostel for teenagers providing educational activities.
‘I don’t think anyone cares, Sally.’
‘Oh, they will. I’ll say, what this town needs is a honky-tonk northern bordello.’
Caroline shivered, and she pulled up her hood. She staggered and used the wall to steady herself. Was she the only one who saw it? The tower floated away up into the clouds.
So many people talking; the noise. She pulled her scarf over her face; no one will recognise her. At last, she dared to walk along the street and she felt proud.
She had quivered locking her apartment door, but she forced herself out to restore some self-confidence.
A child began screaming; was she the only one who heard it?
She fled with her chest gasping in agony.
Brad grabbed the ladder and jumped onto the rung. He pulled himself onto the wagon. He swung the rucksack off his back and sat.
Freight-hopping was not comfortable, but the airports and rail stations were under surveillance by Grego’s thugs.
He felt the USB stick in his jacket pocket as reassurance. His undercover duty was over and tomorrow he will resign from the FBI.
He thought of baby Rosanne who had not seen for two years. She will walk and talk now and likely not recognise him.
Carla wants a divorce. He said no.
Hell! They need the money.
You can read the stories from other contributors, here.
Dolphins are Guardian Angels
I admired the parrot fish shoal dashing past, then wham! The impact dislodged my facemask; my flippers were clamped in the teeth of a shark. I struggled my feet free, readjusted my mask and mouthpiece, and swam to a coral buttress. I watched John climb into the boat ten metres above.
The excited bull shark circled and raced towards me. I was trapped.
I heard a screech of whistles and clicks, and a dolphin struck the shark’s underbelly. The pod harassed and chased the menace away.
My saviours escorted me to the surface, and to the safety of the boat.
At first, Beryl laughed. It seemed harmless. She arrived home from work each evening to a cluttered kitchen.
Although, she was certain the place was spotless when she left in the morning.
This problem started soon after the accident. An inconsiderate driver had knocked her from her bicycle, and she spent the night in hospital with concussion. The doctor advised that her head injury may lead to confusion and disorientation: take it easy.
She took pictures of the kitchen and kept a diary; it was not her imagination!
She lived alone.
Did someone else stay in her flat?
This week’s picture on Friday Fictioneers reminded me of the British TV quiz programme “Eggheads.” Invariable the experts – The Eggheads – always seem to beat every challenging team who try their very best to win that elusive prize of a few thousand pounds.
It was the deciding question. Carol’s team stared at her and she shook her head.
The crowd in the pub had gone quiet; was it going to be jubilation or sheer disappointment? The last quiz of the tournament and a winning prize of a two-week holiday in Aruba – all expenses included.
Why are duck eggs blue?
The team huddled together. Was it a trick question? They’d reached the final by sheer luck, Carol disagreed – they deserved to win.
‘What are they saying?’ Someone whispered. ‘They don’t know – not a clue.’
Can we have your answer, please?
‘Yes,’ said Carol.