The Box's Pandora part 23

“So, what do we do now?” I asked Jake as we walked down the sidewalk.

Today, neither of us had to work, so Jake and I were spending the day playing tourist, walking around downtown and checking out the shops. It was a nice and relaxing day so far, and it gave me time to think.

“What do you mean?” Jake responded, perhaps wondering if I was asking about which shop we should go into next.

“We’ve been laying low here for a few weeks,” I explain. “And we’ve started to save up a little money, so we have more options. So, what are we going to do now?”

Though I didn’t say it, I was a little worried that Jake and I were getting complacent. We’d made a few friends here and were starting to get comfortable. I was a little worried that if we didn’t come up with some kind of plan soon, then we might never do so. As nice as some of this was, I didn’t to spend my life as a waitress in some diner.

“I don’t know,” Jake admitted with a sigh. “I guess we could try doing a little research on the Kraesse family…”

“Google doesn’t have a lot on them,” I said. I’d already tried searching on Alexander Kraesse, and the most I found, were a few references to businesses they owned. Nothing that seemed useful right now.

Jake nodded agreement. “Too bad we don’t have access to any world class hackers, or we’d have more options.”

Unfortunately, our resources were extremely limited at the moment. Dora and Cliff had probably stashed a lot of weapons and resources, and had a lot of contacts, though that didn’t do Jake or I any good, since we didn’t know where any of them were. Even Theressa, would have had a lot more knowledge and experience to work with.

“At least we don’t have to worry about Tom anymore,” Jake mused.

“You can say that again,” I responded with a chuckle.

Astrid had done as she’d promised, and spread the word about Tom, telling everyone that he’d been caught drugging women, and that she’d seem him drunk and making threats around the diner. Since one of the regulars at the diner was a deputy, whose daughter was one of Tom’s victims, things hadn’t gone well for the man, especially after he was caught stealing a boat at Thompson Lake. Now, he was behind bars for the time being, and he’d apparently ‘fallen down some stairs’ on the way in.

I was about to suggest what other ‘accidents’ I hoped that Tom suffered, when a shop caught my eye. It was an old antique store, and that kind of thing had never interested me before. However, I’d recently gained a whole new appreciation for antiques, or at least, for the power that some of them could hold.

“Let’s check it out,” I said, already going for the door.

The moment I stepped inside the door, I felt a faint tickle on the back of my neck, as though all the fine hairs there were standing on end. Almost without thinking about it, I took a step forward, towards one specific end of the shop. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to go this way, only that I did.

“This is interesting,’ Jake commented, only to give me a look of surprise. “Did you see something you’re interested in?”

“Not yet,” I answered, though I felt a strange certainty that I would find something.

There were a lot of antiques carefully placed on the shelves and alongside the walk paths, and they came in a wide variety of types. There were bits and pieces of furniture, toys, and numerous odds and ends that I couldn’t even identify. I looked over the selection, but none of that caught my interest, so I continued moving towards the back.

Then, I abruptly stopped, causing Jake to walk right into me. However, I barely noticed that. My attention was firmly locked on the item in front of me, one that I ‘knew’ was an artifact. I could feel the urge to put it into the box.

“What’s wrong?” Jake asked, giving me a worried look.

“I think the box has been talking to me again,” I responded, keeping my voice quiet enough that nobody in the store would be able to overhear. I scowled in annoyance, because I hadn’t even realized that it was messing with me until that moment. “I found an artifact.”

Jake gave a startled look and then looked around. “This lamp,” he whispered, putting up an antique brass lamp, which looked like a genie could come pouring out at any moment.

“No,” I responded with a shake of my head. “This…”

I reached out and carefully touched the frame of an antique mirror, which was shaped like an oval. The frame itself was made from some kind of smooth white material, which I suspected to be some kind of bone or horn, and which was intricately carved, so that it resembled vines and flowers. As soon as my fingers touched the frame, I could feel the tingle that rushed down my spine, confirming that this was indeed an artifact. If that hadn’t been enough proof, the box itself was now screaming at me, demanding the artifact.

“Shush,” I told the box. “Be patient…” To my surprise, the demands from the box seemed to fade.

“Look at the price tag,” Jake pointed out, and my eyes widened. The price tag said that they were asking nearly five hundred dollars for the mirror, which was more than we could easily afford.

“I don’t know what kind of power this thing has,” I whispered to Jake, “but the box wants it.”

My eyes went back to the price tag and I winced. I considered how easy it would be to simply stuff the mirror into the box, and then walk on out of the shop as though nothing had happened, but I didn’t like the idea of doing that. That would be stealing, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. Taking the artifact away from Tom, who’d been using it to rape women, was one thing. This was another.

“Do we have the money?” I asked Jake grimly.

Jake hesitated a moment, then let out an exasperated sigh. “Yeah, we have it.”

Jake obviously wasn’t happy about this sudden and unexpected expense, and neither was I. However, I was pretty sure that I didn’t really have a lot of choice. I had little doubt that the box wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d collected this artifact for it.

Ten minutes later, Jake and I bought the mirror and left the shop, though he grumbled a bit about the expense. I couldn’t really blame him, because that was a lot of money to spend on something that we were just going to put into the box. Unfortunately, the box didn’t seem willing to help out with the expenses.

“There are too many people around to just put it in the box out here in public,” I said, speaking to the box as much as Jake.

“Good point,” Jake agreed. “And since we paid so much for it, I want to at least take a better look at the thing before it goes into your box.”

Once we returned to the house, and the privacy of our basement suite, Jake carefully set the mirror down and looked it over again. It was definitely striking, especially in the fact that the glass appeared to be perfect, without any scratches or blemishes in it. If this thing really was as old as I thought, then the fact that it was in such great condition, might have been proof enough that it was magic.

I rested my hand on the frame and joked, “Mirror mirror on the wall…”

Suddenly, the glass began to shimmer and glow, making me jump back in surprise. However, it didn’t stop what it was doing, whatever that was. A couple seconds later, the glow faded, though the reflection didn’t return to normal. Instead of showing the room we were currently in, it showed a different room. One that was drab, windowless, and completely unfamiliar.

Then, I saw someone sitting on a bed, and as soon as I turned my attention to this person, the mirror zoomed in. A moment later, my eyes shot wide and I let out a gasp of shock.

“Theressa,” I blurted out.

Theressa was sitting on the bed, though she didn’t look like she was in very good shape. She had a black eye, and looked both exhausted and dirty. However, to my complete and utter amazement, she looked alive.

“It can’t be,” Jake exclaimed, looking just as stunned as I was. “I saw her go down…”

While I watched the mirror, the door opened up and a man stepped into the room, carrying a tray of food. He set the tray down on the floor, letting me see that there was another man standing right behind him, one armed with a gun that he kept pointed at Theressa.

“She’s alive,” I whispered as tears of relief began to pour down my cheeks. “Theressa is ALIVE!”

“But they have her,” Jake pointed out grimly. “She’s their prisoner.”

I clenched my fists tightly, so tight that my nails dug into my palms and drew blood. I barely noticed, and certainly didn’t care. I took a deep breath and scowled in determination as I stated, “Then we have to rescue her.”

“We don’t know where she is,” Jake pointed out with a grimace. “We don’t have the resources. And we can’t afford to risk you or that box.”

“I don’t care,” I responded, turning and looking Jake right in the eyes. “We have to save her…”

“She sacrificed herself to keep you and that box out of their hands,” Jake insisted. “You can’t just go running right into their hands…”

“SHE’S MY MOM,” I nearly screamed at Jake, who froze and stared at me with his mouth dropping open. “She’s the only family I have left.”

For a moment, Jake just stood there with an expression of shock and disbelief, before he gasped, “Oh shit…”



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