|Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a
gas, gas, gas
October 21 2001 at 9:44 PM
|Harbinger of Death
|“How darling!” Euridyses said, holding up
a doll. “Isn’t it darling?”
“Indeed it is,” said AmAzOn. “What have you got there, Helle?”
“A music box. Listen.” She pulled the knob and a little carousel played “Solstice Night.”
“I love it! How much?” Letheia asked.
“Too much,” said Helle, looking at the price tag on the bottom. “Maybe we should try a different store.”
“But this is the best toy store around,” said Zoni.
“Yes, and I love shopping for the orphans for Solstice,” said Euri. “Especially during the pre-season sales.”
“You’re looking for something special?” asked a dark-haired clerk, approaching them.
“Yes, we are,” said Letheia. “Do you have any suggestions?”
“Well,” said the clerk, looking around slyly, “there are a few special toys that we keep in the back for discerning customers like yourself. Would you like to take a look?”
“Oh, yes!” said Euri. “We’d love to!”
“We don’t have lots of money, you guys,” whispered Helle.
“We’ll just look around,” Zoni whispered back. “I’m dying to see this.”
The clerk led them to a back room. “Take your time,” she said. “If you need me, just ring the bell.” She pointed to a buzzer next to the door, which she shut behind her as she exited.
The shoppers looked around in awe. There were all kinds of glittering, elaborate toys and accessories lining the shelves on the walls and piled on tables around the room. Carved rocking horses… porcelain dolls with shining hair… blown glass ornaments… towering castle dollhouses with furnishings so exquisite that they made any real-size accommodations they’d ever seen seem shabby in comparison.
“This is amazing,” Letheia breathed. “Look at these things.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.” Zoni gently fingered a tapestry of a fairyland scene woven with gold.
“Come over here, look at what I found!” Euri called, waving them over to the corner. There was a large, colorful box, easily as tall as they were, with a large crank on the side.
“It must be a jack-in-the-box,” said Helle. “Can we turn this thing? It’s huge.”
“Let’s give it a try.” They all pulled and pushed, trying to get in sync so it would turn and display what must be the most magnificent Jack they’d ever imagined. Finally they were able to coordinate their movements, and music played as they turned the crank.
At last there was a POP, and the lid flipped open. Out popped a bouncing arm…but instead of a jester, there was a skull. Its eyes glowed and it cackled while emitting a cloud of green gas. The horrified amazons tried to escape, but it was dense and powerful, and they breathed it anyway. Coughing and sputtering, they tried to make their way to the buzzer, but one by one they fell to the floor. Euri was somehow able to make it, and pushed it with her last breath.
The dark-haired clerk opened the door and peered around. She saw the bodies on the floor and smiled. Her eyes were as black as her hair, and she laughed softly as she closed the door again, her work accomplished.