The Curiosity Shoppe

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A trip into a dusty world of mystery leads to strange occurrences.

Submitted: September 12, 2016

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Submitted: September 12, 2016

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The musty air stirred lightly as I walked through the door, the little bell above tolling my entrance to the seemingly disinterested shopkeeper. As I took my first steps forward, I gazed around me, taking in the clustered objects piled high on the shelves, boxes, trunks and cupboards jumbled throughout the shop. As in many such places, the air held a stillness and sort of smokiness that seems so stifling... and yet inviting.

I could barely contain my excitement at the glorious find! I have always loved curiosity shops, the way they seem to hold so much history in the random assortment of knick-knacks. Mystery almost seems to emanate from every item, each containing its own fascinating story from times gone by. From floor to ceiling, every available surface was covered in stuff. Jewellery, spear heads, jars of questionable content, knives, books, paintings, everything you could think of. I even saw a gramophone and some old records, sitting on an old chest, a fine layer of dust dulling the little bit of morning light coming from the windows.

I wandered further in, and the strange oppressive feeling of the shelves surrounding me began to take effect as the entrance slipped from view, obscured behind towering bookshelves and mounds of bric-a-brac. It’s always a disconcerting feeling, the musty stillness, but somehow the warmth of the objects around me kept me going as I took step after step deeper inside.
I stopped at every shelf, curiosity turning my attention to nearly every item. Each scratched or marked, pristine or rusted, all with a thin layer of dust. I ran my fingers gently over a locket, the dim light obscuring for a moment the black and white faces of a lady and a young boy occupying its twin frames.

I pulled back my hand quickly as I realised what I’d done and in a timid voice I called out “do... do you mind if I touch the... uh... the items here?”

A gruff voice answered my call in a thick drawl, the sound seemingly coming from everywhere “s’ long as ye don’t break nothin’”.

“I... I promise I won’t” I replied as my hand slid forwards again to touch a thin silvery knife, deep etches along its blade and thin engravings along its hilt, indecipherable to me.

Glancing between the long shelves, partially hidden from view, I saw a small open display cabinet with what looked to be a crystal ball and what undoubtedly appeared to be a human skull. Drawing closer, I confirmed my suspicion. Sitting on a faded violet pillow, with a small bronze amulet draped neatly around it - its’ metalwork rough with age, a clear though oddly shaped star embossed on its surface became visible. The lines crossed one another connecting the 5 points, and in the centre, an oval marked by a strange twisted dash.

Below the pillow and amulet, stood a large book, the thick, leather-bound cover faded with age, faint gold flecks covering its surface. The same crooked 5 point star etched into the cover. Something about the book captured my attention immediately, I couldn’t take my eyes off it and my hand reached forward of its own accord, gently caressing the leather-bound volume.

Slowly, I picked the book up and a strong sensation of being watched crawled up my neck. Furtively, I glanced about, but there was no-one there and the shopkeeper was hidden behind the towering shelves. As I drew open the cover and turned the first page, the feeling increased, but the strange writing on the page pulled my attention before I could glance about again.

Thick curling letters seemed to almost roll across the page in a language, and lettering system I didn’t recognise. As I turned the page again, the letters gave way to strange illustrations in sections of the page, the words seemingly written around them. Lines and intersections sketched with precision drew out magnificent rings and triangles, rectangles and shapes that seemed impossible. I stared at the page as my mind tried to follow straight lines that seemed not to go where they ought; somehow ending up connecting to points they hadn’t before. My sight seemed almost to sharpen at the same time as my mind grew fuzzy and the lines stood stark against the page. The longer I stared, the more dull my mind seemed to grow and the sharper the lines appeared, until they seemed to almost burn into my eyes.

I shook myself, confused, and I suddenly realised that the pages had turned. The final page lay open, covered by a sketch of the same thing I saw reflected in the mirror each morning. My own face stared impassively up at me, sketched in intricate detail.

I yelped and dropped the book with a soft thud, fear spiking through my heart. My eyes darted around as I swung about, looking for the entrance, the faint light of sunset making it hard to see. I spied the shelf with the locket I had touched earlier, the same shelves I had passed, the knife, the gramophone, all arrayed as before, no sign of having moved. With furtive glances everywhere I all but ran for the door, stopping only to glance at the shopkeeper and mumble my apologies as I left.

He stood as he was before, bent over his desk and made no move to indicate he’d heard my murmur, but a soft grunt escaped his lips as I slipped out the door.
The evening air seemed still and clammy as I rushed down the empty street, the thought of my face, sketched in such detail burned into my thoughts.


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