A Curious Box

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just an odd little short story, hope you like it.

Submitted: July 08, 2009

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Submitted: July 08, 2009

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 It was immensely enticing to me from the moment that I had set eyes upon it, all of my wanting and greed focused singularly upon it and only it. "It" was a small decorated cube of unknown origin. It was about 3 inches cubed with many patterns engraved upon each of its 6 marvellous facets, each appearing to be at least of some different signifigance, if not entirely different workmanship alltogether. The general of each sides motif seemed to have a strong correllation with a particular color, and perhaps geometrical pattern. One side was decorated with an intensely brilliant green hue, which just seemed to "jump" out of the patterns with which it so artfully intertwined and melded, the engravings themselves being quite mesmeric and concentric, only being augmented by this bizarre, almost alien, tone of color that could not quite be describe with words of any credibility or sanity. The side of the cube reverse of this was many jagged angular peculiarities wrought with odd parallellism and cruelty, and the color mashed within its foreign looking lines was the most calming shade of purple, staring into it I was almost lost a good many times to slumber, only catching myself ever so briefly before nodding completely into sleep. Another side was probably the most basic and easily ensighted, and this was a side simply full of squares one inside another and the color in between was a celestially gleaming copper.
The side opposite of the copper was one of indescribable darkness and woe, almost so much that I felt to stare into this blank patternless void for one more moment, was to lose my eternal soul into the bleakness of misery and chagrin forever, to call this color black cannot even begin to describe how dark it really is. The last 2 sides shared similarity in pattern, with wide, bold, swirling lines and deep attention to contour and shape, but they did not share any similarity in color, one side which was a very profound and intelligent shade of blue, and the other being the oddest in the fact that this shade of red depicted on the cube was far from remarkable, and viewing the cube from this (and only this) angle, made it seem almost as some sort of plain trinket, perhaps a paperweight or some various knick-knack found in a flea market or low-rate antique store.
 It had only been moments since I had set eyes upon this cube and I coveted it so, that I knew something was amiss, but would not allow myself to see it, and continually perseverated upon the item which was a near infinite fixation. As I studied each line and element of individuality the cube offered me, it seemed that more and more notations of observance crossed my mind, and it seemed as if I could stand there in that one spot forever, never resting, eating, drinking, or even blinking, and the cube would always offer me new possibilities of study and excitement. It was now quite to my annoyance, almost even anger, that I was approached by the shopkeeper, who obviously saw my interest in the cube. It also then occured to me that I did not know where I was and had forgotten where I had previously come from. The shopkeeper spoke in a monotonous, nasally tone of voice that was somewhat disagreeable, but then looking at the slouching, slovenly, unkempt, half simian, qualities of his person, became less of an obeisance and more of a pity.
 " I see you've been looking at that cube for a long time mister, I'd guess you're interested in it, huh?"
Hesitating not a split moment I immediately and sharply blurted "Yes!".
 "That came from some guy in England, he was a collector of all sorts of oddball stuff, and he died a few months back." I averted my gaze on the object for a moment to listen to part of his explanation.
 " I have a buddy over in England that owns an antique shop too, only it puts my little hole in the wall to shame, he deals in real big stuff now," The man slightly grunted and plopped himself down onto a nearby stool that was near the cash register. " Yep, we used to be partners, and then he went over to Ireland one time to cash in on one of those estate sales and ended up buying a whole shitload of jewelery and gold and stuff.... God, stuff must have been worth hundreds of thousands, and he got it for next to nothing. Anyways, not being completely an asshole, he signed over his half of this antique shop to me and he still sends me some odds and ends from those estate sales, stuff that he just can't get rid of quick enough, he sells it to me. I guess I can't complain though, he does treat me good and all, it's just that I should have been the one on that plane and he talked me out of going, almost as if he KNEW that all of that fortune was just waiting for him over there."
 Much unlike my normal self, who was usually very personable, chatty, and polite, I was at this point calculating only my acquisition of the cube.
 " Hey, spare me your life story, pal. I just want a price, plain and simple, OK?" He flashed me sort of a rude glare for a moment and then looked at the cube.
 " 50 bucks," He spat obnoxiously, I wished not to barter with him, only to procure the cube, I pulled out my wallet and gave him 3 20's, leaving immediately without my change.
 " Hey, you want a receipt?" He yelled, but by then I was down the road staring deeply into the wonderful mysteries and fascination that lay within the cubes 6 faces. I did not remember where I was going, so I sat down on a bench that I had passed by, presumably one by a bus stop, because I noticed there were many people standing about near the street seemingly in anticipation of something.
 " Hey man that thing looks cool, can I see?" A young man presumably in his early 20's reached out his hand to try to grasp my precious cube, which I snatched away instinctively, returning him only a look of pure malice and hatred that must have been reserved for the incurably insane, which I must have appeared to be at this point. The man looked at me cautiously and backed away and waited quietly for the bus. I then realized that I might too take the bus to my destination, if I knew where that destination might be. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet, and picked through its many cards and pictures and bills, until I found my license. It was a slightly worn New Hampshire drivers identification, and it stated my street address as "135 Woodbury Ave. Portsmouth, NH". I boarded the next bus which was appropriately close to my location, as it were the summer months a few miles of walking surely would not hurt me. I paid the appropriate fare and sat down in the seat that I could find furthest away from people and I slipped the cube into my coat pocket for the time being, to protect it from random gagglers and riff-raff, I knew that I would soon again have opportunities to gaze into its otherworldly lustre and beauty. I got off the bus within a few miles at my stop and saw things there that looked very familiar to me, but at the same time distant, like a memory that was fading away right as I looked at it.
I walked about half a mile in a direction that seemed vaguely familiar and eventually came across a set of apartment buildings with a sign near the front, "135 Woodbury Ave." and I knew that this must be the place. How odd that my mind was so fixated on this thing that I could not even remember where I lived. I walked further toward the apartments and innately seemed to know which one was mine. Maybe I wasn't going crazy after all, maybe I was just tired from a long shift at work which I should have went to bed after, but instead had to go out to that junk shop because a friend told me that it had a bunch of cool cheap stuff. I should just go inside and go to bed, after I wake up rested I will feel all better.
 I walked inside my apartment which, asides the strange out of place feeling in my head, still feels like home to me. I slip off my shoes at the mat near the doorway and take off my coat and place it on the hook. I walk toward the bedroom but feel as if I am missing something important. I walk back toward my coat and pull the cube out from the pocket in which it was concealed. I bring it into my bedroom with me and place it atop my dresser as I take off my pants and shirt which I fling with inprecision at the laundry hamper, the clothing lands half-in and half-out of the hamper. But that is the least of my worries now, for now I should consider getting some sleep. I lay down and pull back the blue velvety covers over me, but they do not comfort me. I toss and I turn and I thrash but cannot get comfortable. I close my eyes and try not to think, but cannot get even remotely tired. All that I could think of was that cube, and how I just wanted to study it some more, to look upon its oddly spaced linear signatures of design and unfathomable colors. I reached from my bed up onto my dresser and grabbed the cube from up there and brought it down into the bed with me. I laid there on my back for what seemed was a few minutes staring at it, but was perturbed from my perusal by a ringing telephone. It shocked me for a moment, as I did not expect a phone call, and in my particular frame of mind at the moment, was quite unaware that telephones even existed at this point in time, I delayed in picking up the receiver because I did not quite remember what to say. After a few rings my answering machine picked it up, " Hello, you've reached Michael Belmont, I'm sorry I'm not in right now, just leave a message after the beep."--BEEP--
 " Hey Mikey this is Al, where the fuck are you? It's 10 am and last I knew you've been coming into this store at 8 am for the past 5 years, I was wondering when your schedule changed to 10. Anyways Mikey if you're sick or somethin' just give me a call, OK? I don't appreciate you not calling if you know you're not gonna show. Anyways I'll call you later."  I figured right then and there that I had better get to work ASAP, I didn't bother calling Al back, but got dressed and headed straight for my door, until I realized that I didn't remember where I worked. I sat there and racked my brain for a moment and could not for the life of me remember my location of employment, just a blank. And then I had a marvellous idea: the caller ID! I scrolled to the last number displayed on the caller ID box and it read back "Market Basket". It then jarred my memory that I was an assistant manager at Market Basket Supermarket. It was only a short distance from my apartment so I jogged there quickly and apologized to the manager, citing a late night of drinking as the reason for my tardiness. Al was quick to forgive though, chuckling at my supposed misfortune, and sent me right to work.
 Work, however, was particularly challenging that day as my mind dazed in and out of consciousness into some sort of oblivious fixation for the cube. After being at work for a mere 3 hours I voiced to my boss how sick I felt and that I wished to go home, as I was a very responsible and hardworking employee that had served my company tirelessly for many years, there was no debate to letting me clock out early. I left the parking lot within sight of the building at a slow shuffle, as not to appear to have an overabundance of energy, but as I got a bit further my pace quickened and eventually became a full-bore run until I reached the footstep of my door. I unlocked the deadbolt quickly and accurately and entered my bedroom, disregarding my practice of putting my coat on the rack or removing my shoes before walking on the floor. I sat upon the head of my bed and reached for the cube, when much to my shock something happened that I did not expect, one of the sides, the green one to be precise, pushed partially up off of the cube. At first I thought it broken and I was quite upset at the situation, but then I noticed that the side of the cube was supposed to open up, and the cube turned out not to be a cube at all, but instead a box! I gingerly pulled open the flap of the box to see if there was anything inside, upon opening there was a small ball of pseudoplasmic floating multicolored light, swirling and pulsating as if suspended in water, but with closer inspection, was ethereal and massless, it was quite inconceivable how this ball of light was suspended in mid air, remaining in a stationary position, without having mass to adhere it to the laws of physics and gravity. It was substantially more mersmerising than the outside of the box, and I dare say that every color ever that was ever created or even could possibly be created, was contained inside of this box, I also noted the prescence of a warm aura around the ball of light, but the ball itself was not hot per se, just the same ambient temperature that seemed to surround the ball within about a 2 foot radius, probably approximately 120 degrees farenheit.
 It was the oddest sensation that I had ever felt, I went within myself, deep into my mind, spiritually aware, but completely incoherent of my actual surroundings, into a deep self pilgrimage, from which I knew not if I would, or could, ever return.I looked down upon an image of myself and I could see through the eyes of my image, I sat in some sort of throne, it seemed to be carved from solid carnelian (I knew the stone well from my geological fancies) with two solid spires of obsidian jutting from amidst the contours of the back. The two spires began a gradual inward curve, which appeared to start a few inches above where the top of my head sat, and ended with the two spires narrowing and leaving a gap of what seemed to be about 5 inches at the top, in betwixt which sat the box. The box appeared to be channeling some sort of painless energy beam into the top of my head.
 I looked outward upon scenery that was otherworldly, I was floating in an ocean of jet blackness surrounded by fluffy sublime clouds. The clouds tunneled into the distance and in their center was what appeared to be the focal point of my visions: It was a memory of me at 4 years old, my first memory that I can recall, and the me that was sitting in the throne seemed as if it was profoundly distraught in seeing it. It was a memory of my father putting me up on his shoulders and running around the livingroom of our house. I was so content and my father was so happy, it was my first, and probably one of my purest memories and my image that I looked down upon seemed to be waving goodbye to it, as if it would never see it again. The beam that shot down into my head from the box above seemed to begin to pulsate, it made my head pulsate and it hurt my head and the head of my image below. Then it was gone and I felt as though it created some sort of void in my brain, as if something was gone forever, but what it was I would never again be able to recall. Many more memories manifested themselves through the aperture in the clouds in front of me, and I am fairly sure to say that each and every single on in succession was erased from the deepest subconscious levels of my being, as if they just never were to begin with.
The memories came and came until it reached the point that is the present and the memories that I looked upon were the ones of me purchasing the box and leaving work and coming home. Then the only image after that one to appear was a face, one hideously malshapen and foreign in familiarity, I believe that this is the only memory that was not erased. It seemed to be a face in that it seemed to have eyes, but hundreds, if not thousands of them and in between them filling in a spot which would have been otherwise devoid of features, was something that appeared to be a nose. There also was a mouth, but it too, looked foreign and atrocious, a big black gaping maw that did not look like it was suited for feeding upon any food that would be familiar to you or I, it seemed to be much more sinister in purpose. It stared at me for a moment, its eyes looking me up and down, as if in want for something, waiting for something that I was now sure that I would be providing for it. Out of the sides of this great mammoth-sized head came 2 tentacles, both long and spindly in appearance, but they seemed very tough and invulnerable on closer inspection. The tentacles reached out toward me from the great distance in the clouds, and I thought to run away, but something told me that running would just prolong what I now believed to be my wicked and inevitable doom. I sat calmly as did my image of me down below as the tentacles clasped greedily around the sides of the box, and plucked it down from the top of the throne. I watched in absolute terror as the tentacles retracted and pulled the box back toward the head of their origin, because my image in the throne below was following close behind it, throne and all. It was as if the force of the box was pulling it in with it and
when the tentacles reached their owner my image was sucked inside of the box the throne remaining stationary near the spot where my image vanished. I continued to look out and still saw the same scenery that I had been seeing, minus the memories that were being conveniently televised to me a moment ago. The clouds that were passing by me began to slow, and began to dull in color, vibrance, and lustre. The jet blackness that lay dormant underneath the clouds became more pervasive, and over amounts of time that seemed like millions of ages of aeons of eternities, the clouds flew by me less and less, fewer and fewer until it eventually became rare that I saw one to break up the monotony of the blackness. Eventually these clouds ceased alltogether and left me in some sort of timeless quasi-abyss that I was not quite sure if it was the most dark, twisted corners of insanity and dementia that my mind could offer, or one of the deepest levels of Hell reserved for only those that made the sinners that we knew of seem like saints. Was I somehow heaven-tossed into this black pit of despair, to psychically rot and turn more and more insane left only to the thoughts of this desolation, all other memories stripped from me? Or was this some sort of test that I must endure as some sort of trial for the box? Time passes by and soon I lose the want to put the pen to paper anymore, soon my sickened brain does not recognize what the pen is for and the paper is just some translucent hologram induced by tireless and neverending insanity and lament. I was doomed to spend the rest of my eternity here forever, never knowing if it is, was, will be, or ever was real. Is my material body still alive? Is this just some weird and over-realistic dream from which I will eventually awaken? I can only hold on to this one small thread of hope, on small sliver of sanity that keeps me from falling over the brink into a raging cacophony of hideous caco-daemonical laughter and torment, mental anguish and complete and utter loss of self-personification, caught helplessly in the thrashing waves of my own sick and isolated brain foetor forever.


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