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Timothy Johnson, 02 Jul '12

        Of the children in the Howard family, Emily came first, in the hot summer of 1874; Jasper was second in the winter of 1878. The two children grew up in the sizeable and aged home the Howard family had inhabited for as long as anybody knew the ancestry exited. Much like any others of the time, the children understood their place within the family, when they weren't under strict supervision at school they were in the care of an equally stern nanny.

        The only real time they were alone in the day were the occasional times the nanny took a twenty minute walk to the grocers, having trusted Emily with keeping the young Jasper in line. This she relished and Jasper, being quite the opportunist, took it upon himself to test his sister's resolve on every such occasion. He was always small for his age and not nearly strong enough to out-muscle Emily, who had no trouble in restraining the wriggling child up until around his ninth birthday.

        The nine year old Jasper had enough strength in him to escape and hide in one of the many unused rooms. Most were empty, some had an unmade and unused bed or a few empty drawers in. One spring day in 1888 Jasper was running from his sister after such an escape when he found himself in a room he didn't fully recognise. The children had been in most of the rooms within their house, though there were a handful at the end of one wing they had been instructed to stay out of. They had always dutifully obeyed their father and avoided the forbidden rooms. Jasper thought about leaving the room as quickly as he had arrived, but he knew his sister would find him and reveal his accidental trespass to their father. Best to stay hidden.

        The scrawny boy eyed the contents of the room from behind the door, stacked dusty boxes and unknown furniture covered by cobwebbed drapes. Jasper didn't know it but he was the first person to enter that room since before his sister's birth. Having looked around the room Jasper saw one box that was not like the others. An ornate wooden cube stood in one corner of the room with no other boxes stacked on top of it it was the only one Jasper could be sure he could examine without bringing a pillar of ancient objects crashing down on top of him. He walked quietly over to the box, not wanting Emily to hear his footsteps.

        The strange cube was embellished with intricate patterned carvings, there was no obvious lid, lock or hinges that Jasper could see. He wiped the dust off the top clumsily with his sleeve and sneezed as a cloud of dust engulfed his face.

        "Jasper?" Emily had heard the sneeze.

        He froze and held his breath to avoid inhaling any more dust.

        "Jasper" Emily called out again, she did not know where he was.

        Jasper sighed in relief and looked back at the top of the box, it was a bas-relief depicting a strange scene. Jasper could tell that in one corner there were four men with their heads turned and hands raised shielding their view of what filled the remainder of the space. An enormous shape, Jasper had no idea what it could be, it seemed to have many arms and huge wings. Jasper thought it looked quite funny.

        He ran his fingers over the box as he examined the sides. As he crouched down he bumped one of the adjacent towers of boxes, in an effort to rebalance his fingers grappled into the bas-relief and pushed down hard.

        He found his balance with a clunking sound from inside the box, his hands had pushed the relief downwards and activated some mechanism inside. Jasper pulled his hands away and stood still, naively hoping he hadn't broken anything.

        The box continued making sounds, chick-chick-chick, then finally a loud clatter as one of the side panels fell outwards and onto Jasper's feet. He carefully bent down to look inside. There was a book, an old journal, leather bound with extra pages sticking out of the sides. He could not contain his curiosity, he snatched up the book, jammed the side panel box the box back into place and ran to his room where he hid the book under his mattress.

~

        That evening, after everyone else was asleep Jasper lit his lamp and pulled the journal from under bed. The pages creaked as he opened the journal's front cover.

        "This is the journal of Dorian Howard. It is the year of our Lord, 1873, and I have just married my sweetheart Henrietta. Together we have made some startling discoveries, they are chronicled in this journal."

        Jasper knew he was holding his father's journal now. He thumbed through, reading short sections every now and then, there were sketches that he found more interesting. The journal described his parents activities in Ethiopia, they were archaeologists and had uncovered an ancient tomb.

        "Today we gained entrance to a new chamber in the tomb, this one is unlike anything we've seen in tombs of similar ages. This shaman knew some powerful magic if the decorations are anything to go by, they appear to depict some kind of demon being appeased by the occupant of the tomb during his afterlife."

        Jasper flicked forwards a few pages.

        "I believe we may have upset the balance of power between the shaman and the demon when we uncovered this tomb. The weather has been getting more and more unpredictable and out of season, as well as a number of strange reports from the village. The villagers are scared and want us to leave. I have more work to do."

        The sketches and handwriting were growing more shaky as the days pass, Jasper skipped forwards again.

        "I am now certain that we have angered the demon. There is an incantation in the tomb that I believe will offer the demon a soul. I do not know whose soul will be sacrificed, I suspect it will be my own. I alone can read the text so I must try."

        The following page contained incredibly neat cursive, Jasper compared it to the writing at the start of the journal, it did not match, it was more elegantly calligraphic.

        "It is done. What I have set out to do has been accomplished. I will leave with my new wife, Henrietta, in the morning. I will use this body and she will bear me an heir."

Jasper heard something at his door and looked up, a dark figure stood there with deep red eyes.

        "Jasper." The figure had a snake like voice that chilled Jasper.

        "Papa..." Jasper began to protest feebly.

        "Come son, it is time you learnt what you really are."

Comments · 2

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  • Timothy Johnson said...

    A bit of a bad twist and ending, I realised too late that the story wasn't going to go anywhere within the word limit.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    The ending did let it down a bit, although still very creepy!
    Felt like a quite familiar tale but I enjoyed it - shows that originality doesn't matter as much as the quality of the storytelling.

    • Posted 5 years ago