Chapter 1: One

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 764

Shay Ambrose walked down the street to his grandmother’s house on a boring Tuesday morning in June. It was dry but grey, just a normal day for Ireland. Lost in thought about a drawing he’d just started. Shay nearly walked right past the house. On his way in he grabbed the post – bill, bill, bill, letter from Great Aunt Ethel, charity letter, bill and oh! That looked interesting. It was a thick parchment envelope with ‘Rania Bazzi’ written in fancy cursive ink. The stamp looked quite out of place just slapped on the front of the old-fashioned envelope.

“Ma?” Shay called, walking down the hall. “Ma, are you here?”

“Well where else do you think I’m going to be, boy?” came the cranky reply from the living room. Shay came through the door with a grin on his face. God, he loved his grandma. Rania Bazzi was a small but sturdy looking woman in her early eighties. Her dark hair had lightened to grey, but her eyes were still sharp. Her skin was a couple of shades darker than Shay’s, but it was obvious where he got his looks from. They had the same determined chin and sharp nose but there was a softness in Shay’s face that Rania lacked.

Shay swung himself backwards into a chair at the dining table and faced his grandmother. “So, what do you want me to do today?” he asked, his voice muffled slightly on his arm.

Rania hmmpfed at him, “Sit properly, boy. My lawn needs cutting but it’ll have to wait as the mower is stuck at the back of the garage. You’ll have to tidy it up and clear out all the junk that’s accumulated there first.”

Shay shrugged, “Okay. Can I ask my friends to help?”

“If you like.”


Moss was the first to arrive, a mischievous grin on his freckled face.

“Mornin’, Shay.” They hugged, Shay giving him a manly slap on his back before parting.

“Good to see you.”

Lynne and Georgie arrived together not long after. Raven lived further away and so wasn’t there yet, but the volume increased dramatically anyway.

“Eshe! Eshe, come here!” Rania stood at the backdoor looking grouchy.

“Yes, Ma?” Shay called as he jogged over to her.

“Is that nice friend of yours Lyndsey here?”

“Yes, Ma. Lynne is just over there, she arrived a few minutes ago.” Shay turned. “Lynne! Ma wants you!”

“Don’t shout,” Rania scolded.

“Yes, Mrs Bazzi?” Lynne asked. Rania put an arm around Lynne’s shoulders and escorted her into the kitchen.

“She’s going to be gone a while,” Moss observed, jerking his head in Lynne’s direction. Shay nodded. Lynne had once baked Rania balah el-sham for her birthday and she had been besotted with Lynne ever since. Raven arrived then – so silently Moss didn’t see them and jumped a foot in the air when he turned around to be face-to-chest with a wall of black material.

“Jesus, Raven!” he exclaimed, hand on his thumping heart, “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

Raven shrugged, the sun glinting off the metal studs on their leather jacket. “Sorry.”

Raven was easily six foot of leather and metal. One could be intimidated by a person like Raven. They wore a large leather jacket with spikes on the shoulders, black skinny jeans with a chain strung between belt loops and big stompy boots. Raven had their eyebrow and lip pierced as well as multiple rings in their left ear. They had shaved the side of their head last week which was a sharp contrast to the rest of their hair which nearly reached their waist. Raven was definitely a unique individual and stood out at the best of times but here in Shay’s grandmother’s garage they were particularly striking.

“We’re cleaning this place out,” Shay said, jerking his thumb into the depths of the dark mess just as Georgie re-emerged with a handful of spiders in various sizes. Moss – just about recovered from the fright Raven gave him – practically leapt into Shay’s arms when he caught sight of Georgie’s hands.

“Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the sheep in the stable, are you trying to kill me?”

Georgie scowled, “No I’m just freeing the spiders. They don’t like being cooped up in that dusty, murky garage any more than you do.”

“Georgie, they’re spiders they like the dark,” Moss was arguing but Georgie was adamant.

“Guys. Guys!” They both turned to Shay. “We need to clean this out before midnight so get cracking.”

“I’ll put on music,” Raven offered.

Shay raised an eyebrow, “Well only if it isn’t too heavy and doesn’t really swear otherwise Ma’ll be out here.”

Raven pulled a face. “Okay then. If you say so.”

“You can put on whatever you like but you’ll be the one dealing with an angry Rania,” Moss added. Still grumbling Raven set up some music and the sound of Lasagne’s first album filled the gloomy garage. They’d cleared most of the front half by the time Lynne came back out.

“Dosser,” Moss hollered. Lynne just grinned. They settled comfortably into tidying and clearing out when all of a sudden there was a loud clatter and yelp.

“You okay?” Shay called.

“Erm…” Moss faltered, “I think you should come here.” Curious, they all followed Shay into the small space where Moss was standing with an overturned box by his feet. A leather pouch had fallen out along with old newspaper wrapped round some clay figures and animals as well as a strange looking object a bit like bagpipes. It all seemed pretty normal until the navy pouch quivered. Lynne took a step back.

“I’m not touching that,” said Moss with certainty.

Shay took a deep breath, “I will.” Slowly he inched forward and touched the pouch. It shook again. Nervously he picked the pouch up and opened it. Inside were five charms on black cords – an ankh, a Celtic symbol, a snake, a whale tail and a skull wearing headphones. Everyone grouped around Shay to get a glimpse of the contents of the pouch.

“Oh,” said Georgie, sounding disappointed. “I thought it was going to be something alive.”

“If it’s not alive–” began Lynne.

“Why was it moving?” Raven agreed. They all turned to Shay. He shrugged.

“Beats me. It’s my grandmother’s garage, not mine. There could be anything in here – she doesn’t share much about her past.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit odd?” Moss asked. “Granny is always telling stories.”

“Nah. Rania’s just a private person. Everyone says so.”

“Can we get back to the moving necklaces please?” Lynne asked, sounding worried.

“Why don’t we go further into the light and lay them all out to have a proper look?” Raven suggested. No one had any better ideas, so they all traipsed outside, Shay in the lead tentatively carrying the necklaces. He lay the leather pouch down and the five of them looked at it. Nothing happened, not even a wriggle.

“I’ve got to say,” began Raven, reaching out. “That this one is–” they stopped suddenly because the amulet their finger had barely brushed grew brighter by the second. As if in a trance they picked up the skull and headphones necklace and slipped it over their head. The necklace grew warm for a split second then stopped glowing.

“Wow,” Georgie said sounding incredulous. Lynne just stared at Raven with a look of sheer amazement on her face and Moss’ mouth was gaping open.

“I wonder,” Shay began, looking thoughtful, “if any of the others would do that?”

Moss shrugged “Well you won’t know if we don’t try.” And before anyone could stop him he’d reached out and grabbed the nearest necklace. Nothing happened.

“Oh,” Lynne was disappointed. “Maybe it was just that one.”

“Or,” suggested Georgie, “Maybe it was just the right person?” She too reached out to touch the serpent in Moss’ palm and this time it shone. Mouth open in amazement Georgie put the necklace on and shivered as it grew warm. “Ooh that burns!” The words had barely left their mouth when the serpent stopped shining and went back to being a dull silver.

Moss, Shay and Lynne looked at each other, no one quite brave enough to be the next to touch an amulet; the mingled excitement and apprehension was almost tangible. The CD Raven had put on whirred into silence as the album finished and Lynne’s voice echoed in the quiet.

“I’ll do it.”

Almost solemnly Lynne stepped forward and hesitated momentarily before picking up the whale’s tail. It lit up and Lynne reverently placed it over her head. Moss and Shay stepped forward together, eyes meeting as if to confirm their choices before picking up the Celtic cross and ankh respectively. When the glow had faded, they all stood there revelling in a sense of peace that descended on the garage. It was Georgie who finally broke the silence.

“Does anyone else feel a little bit…weird?” she asked tentatively. “Kind of…scaly?”

“Weird, yes,” Lynne agreed, “but I feel more sloshy than scaly.” Raven hmmmed in response.

“Raven,” Georgie said slowly. “You look awful pale.” And so they did. Moss on the other hand was flushed and practically vibrating with energy. One of his eyes – normally a dark mossy brown-green – had lightened to the colour of grass on a sunny day while the other had darkened to the bark of a pine tree.

“I feel fine,” Shay assured them. “Not sloshy, scaly, pale or energetic.”

“You look fine too,” Moss agreed with a wink. Shay stared at him.

“Moss, your eyes!”

“What?” Lynne went and dug through her bag before pulling out a small mirror and handing it to Moss. “Jesus Christ! How did that happen?”

“It must have been the amulet,” Georgie supplied helpfully.

“You reckon?” Moss asked sarcastically. “I put on a magic glowing necklace and now my eyes have changed colour, I wonder what it might be? I wasn’t fucking asking, Georgie!” He was shouting at this point. Shay stepped forward and grabbed Moss’ shoulders.

“Hey, calm down.” Shay’s blue eyes were fixed on Moss’ mismatched ones. Under Shay’s gentle gaze and soft rubbing of his shoulders Moss’ breathing slowed to normal and he stopped fidgeting. “We’ll figure everything out, okay?” Moss nodded, and Shay pulled him in for a tight hug.

“Look, something is going on here and I want to know what it is.” Lynne was firm. “The necklaces could be heat activated or something but there is no explanation for Moss’ eyes. That’s not normal.”

“We could ask Rania,” Raven suggested.

Lynne shook her head, “She’s gone out and Lord knows when she’ll be back.”

“Look, we have to clear out this garage so why don’t we just continue on until Rania’s back? We can ask her then,” Georgie said, ever the voice of reason.

They all agreed that it seemed like a sensible plan and other than a brief break for lunch (ham sandwiches for everyone bar Raven because they’re a vegetarian) the group worked steadily until four or so. Rania still wasn’t back but the garage was looking a look tidier than before and Moss’ eyes were somewhat back to normal. Shay shut the door behind them and started off home with the others. He lived the closest, so everyone hovered awkwardly outside his house.

“I’ll see you lot on Thursday so? At the train station?” Shay queried. There was a general agreeable mumble before they continued on.

Submitted: February 02, 2019

© Copyright 2021 MxB. All rights reserved.


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