Follow me, Follow me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


This book shows what happens if we get too much of a good thing.

Submitted: August 27, 2018

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Submitted: August 27, 2018

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Follow Me, Follow Me

Kent Osborn

 

Jason sat in the lobby of Puriwasi Hostel in Lima, bored out of his mind, tapping the screen of his cell phone with increasing impatience and frustration. He had one more week to kill here in Lima before he flew to New York, and he had checked all the boxes on his Peru to-do tourists checklist. He had seen Machu Pichu, Puno, Cusco, and Huaraz. He had taken pictures of himself alongside llamas, on top of cloudy mountains, taken group photos of himself with drunken Europeans in bars.  He had bought his ponchos, his quirky, colorful Peruvean beanies, tried many types of ceviche and piscos.  He had done it all and now he had had enough of Peru, and wanted to be back home, lavishing in the comforts of air conditioning and a solid WIFI connection.

Jason had come to Peru with desires to put more magic and mystery into his life, but his lack of Spanish meant that he was most comfortable when he was connected to WIFI, and so he spent most of his trip in lobbies of hostels and hotels, surrounded by people who were having a very similar experience as his.

Sighing with exasperation, Jason pressed play to re-listen to the Nirvana unplugged album he had heard way too many times on this trip. When it was over he looked once again at his facebook feed, and saw the same old crap. He looked at his Instagram feed and it was equally lackluster.

“Two more weeks of this?” he thought angrily.  Jason snorted with exasperation as though an ant had crawled in his nose.  When he inhaled his nose detected a new smell.  Usually the hostel reeked of cheap floor cleaner and canned air freshener, but this time he smelled an earthy, sweet and alive odor.

Someone new was sitting next to him.  She was in her mid twenties, slim, and plainly dressed in tan and brown colored clothes.  She was not beautiful to him, but the quiet confidence that she carried was a rare quality nowadays. With deep kindness and sobriety, she smiled at him.  Without being arrogant, she appeared to know things about him that he seldom considered possible

It seemed that she sat in the certainty of knowing deep secrets whose surfaces Jason had pondered for years.  She was wise and perceptive, but didn't make a show of the fact. Jason felt a bit frustrated in seeing this quiet security.  This girl was younger than him, but more mature, self-possessed, and had better self-esteem. He couldn’t stand her calmly smiling at him any longer, and so he started some small talk with her.

“So...how was your trip? Did you go to Machu Picchu?” he asked. To this, she just laughed softly. For the first time, she looked at him dead in the eye, and he noticed how large, black, and deep her pupils were.

“Let’s get you out of this lobby, and off of that damn cell phone,”she said, looking at Iphone like it was rotting meat.  You have that zombie ‘screen eye’ and it’s not too handsome.  It looks to me like you are ready for some magic and adventure,” she said.

“Magic? What kind of adventure?” asked Jason, both curious and resistant at once.

“We are going to go shopping, but not to any store you've been to before,” she said.

“Shopping? That’s your idea of an adventure?” he said in a mocking tone. She continued talking casually as though she hadn’t heard him.

“Your name is Jay right?” she's asked.

“Jason,” he said wondering how she had guessed.

“Well I'll be calling you Jay today if that's alright with you,” she said.

“Sure. Fine,” he said, both alarmed and charmed by her confidence.

“Jay, a month or a year ago I discovered a secret shopping market beneath a train station in the north of Lima, where tourists never ago.

“Shopping market? Look, I can’t go there. I hate shopping, and besides I’m low on money,” he said.

“It won’t take much money at all, and I can assure you that you've never gone shopping at a place like this before. Never,” she said, rubbing her hands together and cracking her knuckles.

“You will see when we get there,” she said.

“But I haven't decided to go yet,” he said. But she smiled smugly at him as though she had caught him fibbing.

“What is this place called, anyway?” he asked

“Mercado de los Misterios, the Market of Mysteries.  It sells the most curious and strange collection of magical oddities you can imagine--candles, herbs, skins, skulls and bones, and things you have never known existed. You can feel the magic in the air when you go inside there.”

“Magic? What do I look like I am, ten years old? I don't fall for that superstitious stuff--never have, never will.”

“Very well, then you aren't afraid to go, I'm sure. You don't have to buy anything, if you don't want. It'll just be a very…interesting day trip. What do you say?” Jason scratched his eyebrow as he consider the proposal, glancing down at his overheated cell phone.

“Who are you anyway?” he asked. “I don't think you told me your name,” he said.

“My name is Trillium.”

“Trillium?  Really? Well, you definitely have made my day more interesting already and you are right—being cooped up in this hostel on my phone is getting very old. Ok, Trillium…I will join you. Let’s go to the Market of the Mysteries!” he chuckled, rolling his eyes. Trillium serenely let him stop laughing as though she had all the time in the world. They sat for an awkward moment in silence.

¨I'm going to use the bathroom and I'll be ready,” Jason said. She nodded and folded her hands on her lap as she waited.

When Jason came out of the bathroom he noticed Trillium had removed a small clear bottle and was unscrewing the cap. Jason squinted his eyes and noticed the strange lettering and an obscure painted picture on the bottle. The girl splashed a little of this on her hands, rubbed them together, and brought them near her face, inhaling slowly five times. She capped the bottle and replaced this in her bag and looked at Jason. She was taller than him both physically and energetically. Jason felt both intimidated by her and also reassured to be walking in Lima with someone so confident.

Trillium remained silent most of the bus ride. Her mind seemed to be focusing on matters of another space another time, the manner of which Jason was far from understanding. For brief moments on the bus ride, she would feel inspired to hold her hands in strange gestures as though she were speaking in sign language with unseen beings, or protecting herself from presences that Jason could only imagine.

When they got off the bus half an hour later, they walked quickly past small markets and cinderblock homes with corrugated stainless steel roofs. Jason struggled to read some of the signs written in Spanish. They passed women selling fruit in baskets, children selling plastic bags filled with soda and juice, teenagers selling hand-cracked nuts from wheel barrels.  Behind trash dumpsters they saw homeless men huffing chemicals from brown paper bags, coughing, sneezing and laughing in turn.

At one point a shoeless, shirtless bearded man, caked in dirt, emerged from behind the dumpster, speaking quickly and erratically to Jason in Spanish. He kept frantically pointing at Jason, reaching his out a jittery, stretched hand to him, apparently asking for money or imploring some sort of help.  Trillium grabbed the small bottle from her pocket, unscrewed the cap and poured a small amount in her mouth. She raised one hand and started to count so that the bearded man could see her. When all five fingers of warning were raised, she closed her hand into a fist and and sprayed the liquid from her mouth towards the man.  He instantly fell to his knees and started to whimper like a child. She pulled a small apple from her pocke and laid it in his lap before they left towards the large painted sign: “Mercado de Misterios”.

As they walked through the market, the vendors snapped to attention as though waking from a deep dream. This was a part of town where foreigners were seldom seen, and they looked at Jason like he was from another planet.  Most of the people just silently stared at him, some whispered, some laughed, and a few whistled at him and hooted. Even the mangy depressed dogs stared at Jason, wagging their tails and seemed excited to see someone from a strange, faraway land.

The lights of the market were dim, and most of the vendors had a candle lit, casting flickering light on their wares. Most of the light only went so far as to illuminate their products, leaving their faces in eerie shadows.

Jason notice the items in the market were grouped in special areas.  There was a part of the market that had rows of incense, soap and perfume, another had dice, tarot cards, and games in ornately carved wooden boxes,  and there was a section specializing in bones, animal skins and hair. Another section had crystals, stones and what appeared to be bags of dirt or clay in many different colors. At the end of the market, a small bent over man was selling tattered books that look like they contained magic spells and recipes. After they had walked through the strange market Trillium looked at Jason and with her eyes she was asking him if he wanted to go back. Part of Jason wanted to run back to the hostel as fast as possible, but something even stronger in him wouldn't allow him.

He felt like he couldn't leave until he purchased something and he didn't want a knickknack or some touristy trinket. He felt there was something in this market he needed, something he had traveled all this way to obtain.  He wasn't superstitious he said, yet now some force seemed to be gripping him. Unable to resist the urge, he reached into his pocket and removed a handful of coins.

“I think I'll buy a little something, something to remember this place by, you know,” he said.

“Oh you want to buy a knickknack, do you?” she asked doubtfully.

“Yes that's right you know...a  keychain or…” he said, trailing off his eyes going instantly to the exact item he would soon purchase.  Walking by earlier he had spotted it out of the corner of his eye. His subconscious mind had made a mental note of it and wouldn’t let him rest until he had it.

After so much aimlessness wandering in Peru these last few weeks, Jason could not distinctly feel this certainty and direction. Trillium saw this.  She saw his sharp, clean-edged confidence, and for the first time she felt attracted to him.

Jason proceeded directly to a table that sold small brown perfume bottles with writing on them. Though there were nearly 100 bottles on the table, one stood out to him as though it were glowing. He grab the bottle and held it up to the candlelight. The label said Sigueme, Sigueme.  He lifted it up to the candle light and Trillium smirked at it.  

¨It says Follow me Follow me,” she said. Jason whispered these words in Spanish twice to himself.  Jason glanced at the vendor behind the table, but for lack of light could not see the face. All Jason could see were her gnarled, strong hands, folded on the table. Her hands were rough and rugged, but  the clean, smooth fingerprints, filed with care gave her an air of elegance. Jason tried to see the old woman's face but could only see her eyes, glittering and reflecting the light.

“Sigueme Sigueme.  Muy buena,” the old woman said slowly in Spanish. “La conoces?”

“El no habla espanol tanto,” Trillium said.  She looked at Jason.  “I was telling her you don´t speak much Spanish.  She is asking if you know about the Sigueme Sigueme plant.” Jason shook his head and looked at the old woman´s glittering, mischievous eyes again.

“Do you know it's spirit? Do you know what it does?” she asked.

“No señora, please tell me,” Jason said.

“This is a plant that makes what you want...want you. It is a magnetic plant that pulls what you want towards you.  It works like a flower attracting bees.  It seduces....patience and confidence.”

Jason thought of a few things he wanted, but at the top of his list was intimate rendevous with attractive women.  Not a woman, but various sexy women. Jason thought about how on his trip he had pursued attractive women  and had little luck, and now at the end of his trip he was hardly even trying to speak with them.

“Sigueme Sigueme…” Jason said with enchantment.  His eyes grew wide for a moment like a spellbound child, and then the doubting part of his mind arose.  “Bull shit.  It said.  Go back to the hostel and just watch a movie and drink a beer.  This is crazy and stupid.”  He looked again at the bottle and the old woman's twinkling eyes. He was tugged between logic and magic, feeling the coins getting warm in his sweaty palms.

“How can I tell that it works,” he asked. “The old woman released a soft chuckle that made her eyes wet and glitter even more. In the candlelight. She removed her handkerchief and wiped her eyes, pointing at Jason.

“You,” she said in Spanish, Trillium translated. “The fact that you are you standing there, talking to me is how you can tell that it works. I used the Sigueme Sigueme to lure you to me.  Here you are,” she said, both delighted and a bit angry to have been taken in this way.

“Yes,” she said. “I saw you walking by.  I saw you were a foreigner and you I knew you had lots of money.  I wanted some of your money. So I opened the Sigueme Sigueme whispered my desired manifestation: you.  Ten minutes later you were here.”

Jason touch the bottle, and instantly felt more alert like he had taken a strong cup of black tea. He uncapped the bottle and smelled inside. It smelled both like cheap cologne and like magic--like fresh air entering an open coffin,like a woman entering a men's locker room, like a puddle of water in the desert, like a fresh rain on dry yellow grass.

The old, stale voice of doubt arose in his mind once again.  “Don’t fall for it.  You aren’t that desperate and dumb, are you?  Don’t waste your money.”  But this time when it's spoke it did so in a quieter and less confident tone. The voice of doubt was now doubting itself. Jason glanced over at the other vendors, and their clients, noticing how different they were from this old woman.

The other vendors whistled and shouted at their potential customers like they were dogs, pushing products at them like baby rattles, shaking them frantically.

“Buy this!  Buy it!!:  Their approach was too forceful and most potential customers were annoyed by this and ignored them. Jason contrasted them with the old woman sitting before him, her hands folded calmly, her body at ease. He could see her body rise and fall with her deep, measured breathing. Suddenly, Jason believed her completely.  The grumpy voice of doubt muted completely.

Jason handed her a few Soles coins and looked at the bottle in a new way, the gaze of a satisfied owner.  “Gracias,” he said, pocketing the bottle and looking at Trillium.

“Wait,” the old woman said, reaching her hand out towards Jason. “Hand me the bottle before you leave,” she said.

“Why,” Jason asked, glancing at Trillium. But her eyes told her to listen to the old woman, to follow her instructions. Jason handed the bottle to the woman who set it on the table. Lighting a match, she search for something beneath the table. Soon she removed a large wooden pipe. She filled the pipe with dark tobacco and lit another match and began puffing on it rapidly. The tobacco made a soft, wet popping sounds as her thick lips lips tightened around it.  

From the light of the burning tobacco, Jason could now see her face more distinctly. Her face was nearly identical to Trilliums, just wearing more wrinkles and moles. He opened his mouth in shock, wondering if these two were mother and daughter. As she got the tobacco going, Jason studied her her more closely.

The old woman wore a tall brimmed hat that had turquoise and coral beads embedded in its leather. Two long,  braids fell neatly down her back.  Her hair was jet black, and he wondered if she had dyed it. Her face was square shaped, the jawline strong and masculine, yet her lips were plump and very feminine. Her large, sunburned, hooked nose appeared even larger next to her small, squinty black eyes. Her shoulders and arms were clearly strong, even beneath the thick poncho that she wore.

“What's your full name,” she asked, still puffing on the pipe. He had been studying her so closely he was surprised by the question.

“My name? My name is Jason Anderson. Why do you ask?” The woman held up one finger to tell him to be quiet. Holding the pipe with her teeth, she unscrewed the lid from the bottle of Sigueme Sigueme and puffed the pipe deeply.  She blew the smoke into the brown bottle as she whispered some incantations and then Jason's name. She repeated this two more times, blowing the smoke inside the bottle so that it rolled and twisted on top of the liquid.

“Put your hands together like this,” she said pressing her palms together in a prayer-like position. She grabbed both of his hands and blew smoke inside of them. She then dipped a matchstick into the perfume and held it over his hand until one golden, glittering drop fell, splashing on his palm.  

“Ruby your hands together and then breath in as slow as possible,” she said. Jason did as instructed and smile at the woman after this was done. She did not smile in return.

“Tell him he must be very careful with this perfume, she said to Trillium. If he uses too much then he will have problems. Too much of a good thing.Trillium translated this and then there was a silence.

“Tell him that when he uses it, all he has to do is open the bottle and then whisper what he wants to manifest, and then place one drop on his palm and inhale slowly three times. If he uses more than one drop he will be overwhelmed by too much of what he asked for.  That is all.”

“Muchas gracias, Senora,” Jason said.  The old woman nodded to him and then sat deeply in her chair, tapping out her pipe on the table leg as though to say their conversation was over.  

Walking out of the market, Jason appeared ten pounds lighter and ten times happier. The wind blew in his sails as he thought how eager he was to try out this perfume. He and trillium spoke little during the ride home.  When they arrived at his hostel, he hugged Trillium. “Well you were right, I have never been to a market like that.  Thank you for giving me such an interesting afternoon.”

“Remember what she said, the old woman,” she said.  “Respect this magic.” Jason nodded quickly, his hand gripping the bottle tightly in his pocket.  Nodding he said, “Thanks again!”

Jason went right to the bathroom and opened the bottle.  He whispered “Sex with sexy women,” into the bottle and hungrily dumped almost a teaspoon in his hands and rubbed them together.  “Can’t have too many of them,” he whispered with a snicker.  He heard his own dry laughter as though it were someone else’s--a desperate, creepy old man.  

He opened the bathroom door to find three tourist women waiting for him, all of them smiling at him, batting their eyelashes and stretching to display their curves. “Wow this stuff really works, he thought eager to go out on the streets to see it in action.

As soon as he opened the door outside, the women were gazing at him, some more attractive than others. They all clearly wanted to remove his clothing and have their way with him. Jason walked on, chuckling with exciting. He was tempted to pick out one of the women he had seen, and told himself to wait for the sexiest woman he could find.  

As continued on, he noticed more and more women become angry at him when he did not return any indication of interest. They looked like they would preferred him dead rather let him be with another woman. At first this was flattering, but soon he found this unnerving and even frightening.

Jason was a large man, but a group of women could overpower him. Yesterday, this prospect would have been a funny thought, and today it was uncomfortable. As he kept walking he grew more tense until eventually he felt an urge to leave the streets and hide until he saw a very attractive woman, on seeing him she puffed up her lips and played with her hair.

“Excuse me, ma'am,” Jason said, “Would you like to get some ice cream with me.”

“I'll go anywhere with you,” she said. “Anywhere.” Jason was tempted to bring her directly to a nearby hotel, but his conservative upbringing forced him to bring her to a restaurant instead.

As soon as they entered, all all of the women looked up at him, and all their faces made the same transition, from excitement to anger. They looked at the woman Jason was with like she was afraid a rabid dog, using foam out of her out of festering wounds. Their eyes all said the same thing. How dare you be with that...thing?  Their collective glare was so strident that Jason stopped in his tracks and he looked at the woman next to him.  “Would it be OK if we just went to a hotel to relax instead?” he said.  The woman appeared very much in agreement.  She swiftly opened the door behind them to let him out.

Right next door to the restaurant was a hotel-- a bit fancier than what Jason might have chosen himself, but he wasn't about to deny this woman her choice. As they walked inside, the receptionist and manager, both female, looked at Jason and the woman next to him with envy and rage, but the need to be professional trumped any potential breach of conduct.

After registering and paying, Jason and his date went to the room. Opening the door revealed a maid who was fixing the sheets on the bed.  She was bending over suggestively and then turned around eagerly to see if Jason had been staring-- which he had. The cleaning woman seemed very aroused by this and looked at the other woman with the eyes of a competetive lioness.  Her narrow eyes said “He wants to be with me more than you can't you see?” The women were glaring at each other with spite, but this was interrupted when the hotel manager and receptionist came upstairs, their shirts unbuttoned and their breast protruding.

The other two women, seeing this, became competitive and did the same with their shirts.  The women closest to him slashed the air with their clawed hands, their fingernails digging into his arms and back, drops of blood falling to the carpet.

Crying out, Jason jerked back, edging to the window behind him.  His eyes scanned about in desperation, searching the street for help.  The tornado of crazed women drew closer to him, blood, hair, and bits of clothing shooting out in all directions. They seemed to be devouring each other and as they drew closer to Jason he knew the same would happen to him.  Jason wrenched open the window and saw a nearby police car with its windows and he yelled, “Hey!  Help!  Ayuda! Ayuda! Policia!”

In less than 30 seconds he heard the hotel door open with slam.  Feet stomped up the stairs, getting louder as the police drew closer.  The door crashed open and Jason felt a wave of relief--that was interrupted by a jolt of dread--when he saw that the policemen were not men at all but two very large and intimidating police women who looked eager to join the tornado of hungry women rather than to help him escape the room. The women had paused on seeing the police at first, but now saw that they all share the same predatory intention.

Jason found himself backing up to the window and bristling with the fight or flight instinct of a cornered animal. At the height of this panic, Jason whirled around and kicked the glass window, shards falling down upon the steel fire escape stairway below. He leapt out and landed with a crash on the steel stairway.  He started racing down it as though the building truly was on fire and about to explode.  

When he reached the bottom, he had to leave to jump down to the street--a good twelve-foot drop. The impact of this hurt his legs badly, sending a bolts of pain up his legs, knees, and thighs.  He winced and shouted a few swear words.  His mouth closed quickly as he soon heard all of the women running down the fire escape, and would soon pounce upon him.

Jason was once again to pray and the Chase was on. Jason darted through the alleyways, main streets, sidewalks, over bridges until he was panting and his face and ears were red, his heart and lungs throbbing with the pain of exertion. Just when he thought he couldn't carry on any further, and was going to collapse Jason had a feeling of familiarity.  There was something about this neighborhood.

A smile of recognition and relief spread across his face as he saw the market. He was back at the “Mercado de Misterios”. Maybe the old woman was still inside and could help reverse the curse that had been plaguing him so.  Darting inside the market, he glanced over his shoulder to see the predatory women were still chasing him. Jason raced in the market, dodging shoppers, hanging snake skins and bags of beads and bones, potted plants and cactuses, and piles of stones and crystals.  His visions was spotty with the weakness and exhaustion of so much running, but he still was able to spot the old woman from a distance.

“Senora! Senora! Ayudame!” he yelled. He didn’t know what else to say in Spanish but the drowsy, knowing smile on the old womans face suggested that she knew all too well what had happened. “Ayuda...Ayuda…” he said weakly, sweat dripping in fat drops onto her tablecloth.  He looked at her with a mixture of disappointment and approval. Jason looked over his shoulder and saw the women were fast approaching, their eyes devoid of pupils, glowing white with demonic, maniacal hunger. Jason wrung his hands and then brought them up to his chest in a prayer posture.

“I can help you, Jay,” she said in English, which startled him.  “But the help I can provide will also hurt you.”

“Trillium?” he asked, head spinning.  

“In a way yes,” she said.  “I can take many forms.”

“But you can’t be two people...Nevermind!  Help me!” he said.  She held up a small brown bottle that looked similar to the Sigueme Sigueme. “This one is the opposite of the one you bought.  This is called Dejame Dejame, or Leave Me Leave Me.  This will turn away those wild women...but it will also keep all women away from you for a period of two years or so it's like an attraction antibiotic, killing off all romantic magnetism.  

“I don't care.  Just give it to me,” Jason demanded.  “He grabbed the bottle from her hands, uncapped it, and dumped the whole bottle on his head, the liquid soaking into his scalp, soaking his tshirt.

In his eyes, the outside world took on a faded, grayish blue color, and all warm colors were sucked dry around him.  The Dejame Dejame perfume had an instant effect--the fast approaching women stopped dead in their tracks, and shook their heads in confusion, as though waking from a deep sleep.

The women looked at each other in aloofness and confusion and suddenly turned around and left the market as though they had forgotten why they had entered in the first place. All the other woman in the market looked at Jason like he had done something disgusting, like poop in his pants. He looked at Trillium who smiled at him.  She looked like herself but was wearing the old woman’s clothing.

“When you do not respect magic, you must deal with the consequences,” Trillium said. “Yes, for two years that should work.  No woman will want to get close to you at all.  No woman--except for me, that is,” she said with a monstrous smile. As he looked at Trillium, her face got older, scarier, and more seductive all at one.  She removed a bottle of Sigueme Sigueme and whispered into the bottle.  “Jason will love me passionately,” she said, and poured one drop on her hand and smelled the perfume.

“No!” Jason said, reaching out for the bottle in attempt to stop the process. But he was too late.  By the time he reached the old woman his arms were wrapped around her neck and shoulders and his face was pressed to her’s, his lips passionately kissing her wrinkled, hungry lips.  


© Copyright 2018 Kentucky. All rights reserved.

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