Day 9 of Flash Fiction Month.
The prompts I used today were:
Dictionary prompt: solander (noun) – a protective box made in the form of a book, for holding such items as botanical specimens, maps, papers, etc.
1. “That’s definitely NOT the way to properly set off fireworks.”
2. Snails where snails should not be
3. Every album by a metal band (heavy, dark, gothic, etc) is actually a grimoire
And yet again, there’s Led Zeppelin references.
Last week, a Hungarian couple moved in across the street from me. The morning of their arrival, they came in two fully loaded trucks. And that was Saturday.
Sunday morning, they set up a garage sale.
I was one of the first people there, then came my next door neighbour Mary, then came a few of the Johnson children, then came Todd Foster.
The Hungarian couple were selling foreign wares and goodies; they had boxes and boxes of books and vinyls, a couple of odd ceramic animal sculptures and dishes, racks of robes and other colourful clothing and more ornaments.
There was a table full of empty black solanders in pristine quality. On each box, they’d written odd and unusual names such as “Tome of Toadstool”, “Guide to Ozymandias”, “Book of the Living” and “Pandora’s Box”.
“Pandora’s box, huh?” Todd uttered as he stood next to me. He was clutching a vinyl of Led Zeppelin’s “IV” and a book titled Gardening 101. Todd Foster was a collector of novelty objects and knick knacks. He scuttled about the neighbourhood where you were sure to find him at any garage sale, flea market, Salvation Army and pawn shop. He’d occasionally introduce himself as “Todd Faustus” for his love of collecting knowledge. Mostly, the kids called him “that one hoarder guy”.
“Yeah,” I said. “I suppose they’re cool and catchy names.”
We stood there in an awkward silence till Todd Foster reached out and grabbed “Pandora’s Box”, headed straight towards the Hungarian couple, paid for his items and left.
I didn’t think much of it. I myself bought a simple brass tie pin which I wore to work on Monday and it did manage to garner a few more compliments than I was used to from my co-workers; I think even the cute receptionist noticed. I just thought it was a lucky day.
Tuesday evening as I made my way back from work, I saw Todd up on a ladder picking at the side of his house. Todd’s house looked like any other house in the neighbourhood only that day it looked as though it had caught a sudden and very aggressive growth of moss or mould or something like that. Nobody believes me but I swear to God, that black mass was moving. Slowly. I knew something was up when he pulled a chunk off and, clear as day, it left a residual thick string of slime. He cursed loudly and then he turned to look at me. I stepped on the gas pedal.
Wednesday midnight, I woke to a booming sound. It had been overcast the entire day but I could have sworn that was not the sound of thunder. Maybe I was dreaming.
It happened again on Thursday. I was definitely not dreaming.
It rained Friday night and with the weekend ahead, I decided to stay up and figure out what was going on. I sat next to my bedroom window and watched the rainstorm. At around 11:43pm, I heard a quiet riff. It was muffled by the rain but it was music. Then I heard a melodic voice singing inaudible words that grew more imperceptible as the showers intensified. Then there was lightning but no thunder. They came in flashes of red and yellow and burst like fireworks in the great celestial skies. I texted my next door neighbour Mary but she didn’t reply.
I stopped by Todd’s house on my Saturday morning run to see if the mouldy, mossy thing was still there but it was gone. Todd stepped out of his house in a robe, a powerful guitar solo playing behind him as he shut the door. He muttered a faint “morning”, stuffed a couple of things into the garbage bin and stepped back into his home, shutting the door and the increasingly powerful guitar solo behind him. “Pandora’s Box” stuck out the garbage bin.
“Well, we can rule that one out,” I said to myself. I put my earphones in, played “Black Dog” on my phone and carried on my morning run.