Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Amulet: Homecoming Part 2

I paused a moment to clear my throat and take a sip of our dwindling water supply. It wasn't fresh, that's for sure, but boiling it (I had learned a few things from TV years ago, my friends) made enough of a difference to at least keep us from getting painfully ill. But it still tasted flat and all together harsh. But water was water... Where was I?
I took a sip and looked at Danny. His wide, cornered-doe eyes pleaded for me to continue; but the fear poorly hidden just below their shimmering surface told me that he was also quite frightened, indeed. I shrugged my shoulders; I asked if he was sure he wanted me to go on. He knew about the Amulet: everyone has at the very least seen its symbols. He nodded. I continued.

I held up the metallic disk to the waning light coming up from the open attic door. It glinted, horrifically in the dimness. Its runes played a angry rose hue across the surface that met in the blackish-rouge 'eye' in the center. There was a sickening vibration that emanated from the thing that I could feel so deeply it almost shook my bones. I was immediately revolted by it; it's shape, its feel, its antique hieroglyphics... all of it. Yet, at the same time, I was oddly attracted to it. It spoke to me. It called to me. And just then I had the overwhelming urge to throw it back in the box and never set eyes on it again. A hand touched my shoulder and I could have sworn my heart stopped.

Danny let out a yelp. It was weird because he never talked. Hadn't ever spoken word one since we'd met. But when he called out, I knew he had to be scared. I set my hand on his knee and comforted him. I smiled; even chuckled a little because I knew what was coming. It wasn't bad. Not yet.
Not yet.
I went on.

Selah stood just behind me. She burst into laughter as she obviously saw that I had turned ghostly white, and my mouth hung open; breathing like I'd just run a mile. I gathered myself, and looked her in the eye. She saw the box I had open, and asked if she could take it downstairs. I cringed a little, and took the glass of iced tea she offered. I didn't know what to say even after she asked a second time. I just stared at her, and the box, dumbfounded. I didn't know why I was hesitating; just a box with a... what? And Amulet of some kind? Why was I worried? And that's when I finally told her: Sure, go ahead and take it. It might have been the worst mistake I have ever made.

Danny hissed in his throat; ya know that sound you make when something startles you and it sounds like you're drinking really quickly from a straw? That sound. I didn't laugh this time. I think he finally understood that what I had found would eventually become why the world we know had become... the world we know.
You see it was that very Amulet that brought on the Scourge. An epic cloud of devastation that slowly, agonizingly coated everything with fixers. The fixers were like some kind of psychotropic drug; a drug so insanely powerful that everyone who ingested was 'fixed', or completely under the control of The Scourge. Then they -the very people we had come to love, and know in our daily lives- became twisted, gnarled, and feral. And they were called The Scourers. They were sent out on nightly patrols, when the sun wasn't piercing through the now unpredictable atmosphere (some days it would intensify the sunlight, others it would block it out completely and the earth would literally freeze) and the Scourers were pulsating with fixers and they would search, relentlessly for survivors. They would devour you whole, and spit back nothing but a shambling carcass of your former self. A new Scourer.
All of this because of the Amulet. The Amulet I'd let slip away.
I let Danny nestle into me, and I continued.

You see, just then I had only a vague notion of the gripping control of the Amulet. I had held it, and gazed upon it; and were it not for my precious Selah arriving just when she had... well, who knows. Worse things were yet to come, but just that minute I gripped its cloying terror in my hands... well I knew. I just knew that this thing was a culmination of every evil, vile, wretched thing imaginable. And Selah was carrying the box in which it lay right down the attic steps. As much as I knew -deep down in my soul- that I had to stop her; had to grab that box and destroy it in any way necessary, as much as I knew this: I let her go. Even then it had a hold on me that I never even conceived. It had already set into motion its own plans. As ridiculous as that sounds, and even though I had no earthly idea how it had come into my possession in the first place, the gears were were already turning. The Amulet was about to spread its disease.
She disappeared below the doorway and into the garage. And I just knew that thing was about to change hands.

Danny once again peered up at me; this time through misty eyes that had begun to run with tears. His lip quivered, and he sniffed a little. But worse yet was his trembling: he felt like a little motor, running silently but churning. He was petrified. And so was I. But I'd learned to push my fright deep down inside. I had spent years telling myself that it couldn't have been my fault; that I was only indirectly involved. I knew this, but it took a long while to accept it. Danny had just found out, and yet, even as he shuddered with horror, he didn't pull away. He didn't flip out and run screaming (I bet he could scream if he wanted to) into the night. Maybe he understood, too. I don't know.

-- To Be Continued--