Liz Monroe’s growing list of complications leads her to a catering card reader. The cards show a grim future, and the reappearance of her incubus stalker leads her to believe the fortune teller is right. However, she’s given a sign of hope and takes it to a graveyard and beyond where she meets some unexpected friends.
Sunday morning. A day of worship and rest, but in my case it was a day of tension and unease. I awoke in my bedroom without having experienced a dream of that myth of a man, but I still felt troubled. On the nightstand sat the locket. My link to this strange nightmare my life had become. I sat up and clasped it in my hands. The gold glistened brightly in the early morning sun that cascaded through the windows. I had to admit the trinket was beautiful, just like the man who gave it to me.
I frowned. “He’s not a man, he’s a monster. . .” I muttered. He was the one who flustered me to distraction and who made me hide things from my best friends.
I clasped the locket in one hand and chucked it across the room. It should have collided with the wall, but about two yards from me it stopped and hovered three feet off the ground. My eyes widened and I ducked when the locket spun around and flew back to me.
It landed with a soft plop on the folds of the covers between my legs. I cracked open an eye and peeked at the object. It lay harmless on the bed and its front face stared at me as innocent as any other inanimate object.
I slid off the bed, careful not to disturb the possessed thing, and crept backward toward the door. The locket trembled and slowly slid across the covers toward me. I gasped, spun around and flung myself through the entrance, slamming the door shut behind me. There was a soft clank as the locket knocked against the wood door. I stepped back and wiped my brow. I was safe from the devil trinket.
That is, until the locket went through the door like a ghost and landed in my hand that I held across my brow. I yelped and dropped the cursed item onto the floor. My feet beat a hasty retreat to the other side of the couch, but the locket slid along the floor behind me. It was a frantic game of tag as the locket chased me first around the couch, then the coffee table, the chair, and finally into the kitchen where the demonic thing cornered me against the cupboards. I glared at it, and its decorative face stared back at me with metallic indifference.
“What the hell do you want from me?” I growled. Still the locket remained quiet, but I jumped a foot in the air when there came a knock on the door.
I slid out of the corner and around the locket to the door. The locket slid after me, always keeping a short distance of two yards behind me. I peeked through the peep hole and saw Tiffany on the other side. She had a puzzled and concerned expression on her face.
I opened the door and gave her a shaky smile. “Um, you’re up early,” I commented. Sunday was when my friend rested for most of the morning before she dragged herself out of bed in the afternoon.
There were black pouches under her eyes that she tried to wipe away. “I couldn’t sleep through your running and yelling. What the hell’s going on in here?” She tried to look around me, but I leaned left and right to block her vision. The locket still lay on the ground.
“Um, nothing. Just-um, just getting some exercise,” I told her.
Her eyes squinted at something behind me and she pointed at the floor. “What’s that?”
I cringed and slowly looked over my shoulder. Yep, she pointed at the locket. “That? Um, that’s just a-um, a family heirloom. You know, just a piece of junk.” I snatched it off the floor and stuffed it into my pocket. That is, until I remembered I was still in my pajama shirt and had no pockets, so I hid it behind my back.
Tiffany folded her arms across her chest and glared at me. “Uh-huh, it looked like a locket, and I’m pretty sure it was heart-shaped.”
I sheepishly chuckled. “Um, maybe?”
She held out her hand palm-upward. “Let me see it.”
“Um, maybe that isn’t such a good idea,” I argued. I didn’t know what would happen if somebody else touched the object of heart-shaped evil. They could be sucked into a portal that led to an alternate dimension where up was down and down was somewhere in Kansas.
“Liz, hand it over,” she ordered me.
I sighed. “Your funeral. . .” I muttered as I held the locket out by the chain.
Tiffany snatched it from me and I was relieved not to have to panic about an inter-dimensional portal. She studied the face and back, and her fingers slid over the priceless jewels. Her voice was low and held an air of awe in the tone. “Where’d you get it?” she asked me.
“Um, pawn shop?” I squeaked.
Her disbelieving eyes flickered up to me. “You said it was an heirloom,” she reminded me.
I slumped my shoulders and sighed. “Fine, it was that weirdo.”
Her fingers clasped the edges of the two parts and she tugged. It stuck. “How do you get it open?” she asked me.
“Um, it’s easy. Here, let me show you.” I eagerly snatched the locket from her before she sucked herself into a portal of hell and tried to pry the locket open with one weak, pathetic tug. As I expected, it didn’t budge but I wasn’t disappointed. “Well, it looks like it’s stuck. I’ll have to get back to you on getting it open.” I hid the locket behind my back and grasped the edge of the door in my other hand. “Now shouldn’t you be getting some sleep? You look like you stayed up all night.”
Tiffany ran a hand through her hair and winced when her fingers caught on tangles. “Yeah. I tried going partying without you and kind of got carried away. Next time I’ll just drag your butt with me, boyfriend or no boyfriend.”
No boyfriend, but she wasn’t going to believe me. “Sounds great, we should do that soon. Bye.” I closed the door nearly on her nose and leaned my back against the entrance. The locket in my hand shifted, and I held it out and glared at the possessed thing. “You’re really trying to get me in trouble,” I hissed.
It stared at me with that innocent act, and I tightly clasped it in my hand and marched into the bedroom. I tossed on my clothes, grudgingly stuffed the evil thing into my pocket, and snatched a slip of paper from beside my computer. It held the address for the tarot card woman. I would see what she could tell me about this evil locket and my unnatural, wanna-be boyfriend.
I took the directions from Google and it led me to the older part of the business district where the buildings were one story tall and made of brick. They were lined up wall-to-supporting-wall with a few buildings separated by small alleys and parking lots large enough to hold one Hummer and a Volkswagen Beetle. The business signs were faded and the clientele glanced at my car as though they were assessing the value of the wheels. The neighborhood gave me second thoughts about parking, but the locket chain that stabbed me in my thigh pushed me onward to answers.
I found the building that the tarot business occupied, and naturally, the address was assigned to the basement. On the side of the building were narrow, concrete stairs that led down to the basement door. I reluctantly left my vehicle and walked down to the entrance, a metal door with a few words of advertisement.
“Madam Curie’s Curiosities and Catering,” I whispered. I snorted. Yeah, that sounded legit.
A doorbell sat in the wall, and I pressed it. The sound of chimes wafted through the door, and in a moment the entrance swung open to reveal a small, strange woman. She was a half-foot shorter than my short height and her silver-brown hair was bundled up in a knot atop her head in a perfect mimic of a turban. Her age was around sixty, and her hands were wizened by cooking and her face wrinkled by time. A brightly-colored shawl sat on her wide shoulders, and she wore a black dress that reached to the floor. A dollop of flour covered the front of her dress.
Her beady eyes looked at me over spectacles. “Yes?” she snapped.
“I was looking for Madam Curie. Is this the place?”
The woman scrutinized me with a more careful eye. “Maybe. What’s wanted?”
“I was wanting to know what she could tell me about this.” I pulled out the locket and held it out to her.
The woman’s eyes widened and she started back. “Where did you find such a thing?”
“It was-um, it was a gift, sort of, but I think there’s something-well, spiritually wrong with the locket. And maybe the guy,” I added.
The woman stepped aside and gestured to a darkened room behind her. “Come in quickly!” she hissed.