Ongoing Series

Short Stories


Authors

Critter Jar

Critter Jar

[WP] The ghosts haunting your house wake you up, because something is scaring the crap out of them and they need your help.

 

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“Wake up, come on. Dammit, who can do physical effects? I can't shake him!”

Derek blearily opened his eyes and yelped as the lamp from his bedside table tipped onto him. Above it, was the transparent face of a woman, hands twisting anxiously. He stared up at her, mind slowly taking in the other semitransparent forms that crowded around the bed.

“There is something downstairs,” the woman said when Derek made no sign of running, sleep-fogged brain trying to comprehend the ghosts surrounding him. It wasn't that he didn't know they were there- the house had always had some weird stuff about it and he saw them from time to time. Since none of them were more than a little startling, he didn't worry about it much.

Her words finally processed, and Derek sat up, resettling the lamp as he did.

“”okay…?” He said, rubbing at his eyes. “What kind of something?”

“We don't know,” the ghostly woman said nervously. “We think it ate Grayson.”

“He didn't come back when he went to see,” two identical girls said in perfect unison. They held hands and looked close to tears. “He said he would be right back.”

Something that ate ghosts. Great.

Derek climbed out of bed and dug for a shirt to go over his pajama pants. “Okay, I’m up,” he grumbled. “Don't know what you expect me to do about it. I barely even see you guys mostly.”

“We think it is the box you got yesterday,” a huge, malformed ghost said around a mouthful of intimidating teeth. He was probably the source of the clicking footsteps Derek heard sometimes. “In the office.”

“That was a box of samples,” Derek told them, pulling his hair out of his face and into a tail. “From Columbia. You people know I’m an anthropologist, right? That’s my work.”

“We know,” the first ghost said. “Usually your items are just interesting. This one is something else.”

“Right, okay,” Derek got the point and didn't think they would let him sleep until he figured out what was going on.

He stumbled down the stairs, a crowd of nervous ghosts trailing after him like smoke. The old stairs creaked under him and he looked up for direction, following where the ghosts pointed.

His office was a little creepy in the dark. Lately he was studying the South American conquest and the artifacts the conquistadors plundered. It wasn't out of the question that something weird was in his latest shipment.

The box was on his desk, and as soon as he got close, it began hopping across the desk, sounding like something was trying to chew its way out.

“What the hell!?” Derek helped and ducked back out the door, beckoning for one of the ghosts. The lady mustered her courage and drifted down to him. “What is that?!”

“I don't know,” she shivered. “But it looks hungry!”

“Can it hurt me?”

“…I don't know.”

Well that was helpful. Derek picked up a ceremonial staff before advancing slowly into his office. There was a thump as the box scooted itself off the desk and into the floor. He poked it cautiously and heard a rattling growl that made him edge back.

Another jab and the box opened enough for a jar to roll out. The neck of it had bashing teeth, and it rolled about, before eight legs emerged and it began scuttling about the office, chittering softly to itself.

Derek watched if run around for a long minute. “That thing eats ghosts?” He checked of the ghost behind him. She nodded mutely, features drawn with fear.

Well, okay. It didn't look too bad. It’s shell still looked like pottery, anyway. Derek grabbed the blanket off the back of his chair and dropped it over the little pottery creature. With a quick twist, it was wrapped helplessly in the fabric. A couple hard blows with his staff brought the muffled sound of broken ceramic.

He hit it twice more for good measure, and looked at his ghosts, who crowded the door.

“Problem solved?” He asked, ready to hit it a couple more times if he needed to.

A tall, stern-looking ghost materialized in front of him.

“It would seem so,” he said with a thick Scottish accent. “Well done.”

“Sure,” Derek sighed, looking at the blanket in his hand. “so how do I get rid of this stuff?”

“It has no more power, with the curse jar broken,” the new ghost told him genially. “Throw them on the rubbish heap.”

“Trash it is,” Derek agreed tiredly. “And then I can go back to bed? No more evil magic down here?”

“Well,” the gentleman started with a wary look out into the living room. “There is the matter of the cursed box that flickers with light in the evenings.”

In Derek’s defense, it was three in the morning and he was exhausted. It took him a few minutes to figure out what the ghost was talking about.

“I am not smashing my TV!”

Old Villains get that way by being very deadly

Old Villains get that way by being very deadly

Power is in the eye of the beholder

Power is in the eye of the beholder

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