What Happens After Abracadabra by LisaMay
Acrostic short story contest entry
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.|
Before I have time to blink twice, there is a puff of purple smoke and the container turns into a small wooden box, nestled temptingly amidst my laboratory paraphernalia beside the stuffed and mounted specimens – testament to my ability in taxidermy – on the desk in front of me.
Carved from mottled timber, the box depicts a geometric-shaped building rising above writhing jungle growth and embossed portraits of unusual animals, the likes of which I have never seen before, are partially revealed within the foliage designs.
Dangling from the metal band encircling the lid is a robust padlock, covered in verdigris.
Expecting my breaking-and-entering task to be difficult, I rummage among the items on my crowded desk looking for a suitable tool to dismantle the padlock.
“File… tweezers… maybe a wrench?” I mutter to myself.
Grabbing a pair of large pliers, I make short work of the rusty lock and lift the lid of the box with trepidation while holding my breath.
“Holy Methuselah!” I exhale, as my young heart races with the thrill of such an unexpected addition to an otherwise boring day.
Inside the box is a piece of creased parchment, which, when unfolded, turns out to be a detailed map of a location in Meso-America, with comprehensive notes about the strange animals depicted on the carved surface of the box.
Joy floods my very being as I realise the implications of what an incredibly fortunate opportunity I am holding in my hand: that of becoming rich beyond my wildest fancies, something I have lusted after but never yet achieved through either my trained profession or my scribblings as a part-time writer, and, surprisingly, neither my undercover wildlife smuggling activities nor, as yet, my trophy-hunting tours bagging endangered species.
“Karen, I’m off to the jungle,” I call out to my long-suffering secretary – appealingly apparelled in a zebra-striped ensemble – who has been sweeping up the maggots wriggling from last week’s acquisitions.
Leaving my lab in a frenzy of anticipation after Karen makes my flight bookings with Chimichanga Charters, I dash home, pack my equipment, arrange to have my cat, Wotzername-7, put down so I don’t have to worry about feeding her, pat my stuffed big-game animals goodbye, and depart on my avaricious adventure.
Mazatlan is my first destination, to pick up Sasha, a fellow writer who could do with a thrill, but she is too busy watching Netflix and tells me she disapproves of my quest anyway.
Not put off by having to undertake the final leg by myself – and frankly, I don’t want to share the glory and the loot – I travel farther south alone.
On arrival at the small town indicated on my treasure map I decide against hiring a guide, in the interests of keeping my nefarious intentions secret for the aforesaid mentioned reasons of celebrity and big bucks.
Poised on the cusp of wealth beyond dreams when I obtain at least one of those strange beasts and sell it to an unscrupulous collector, I book into a private spa resort run by the local indigenous tribe, where I rack up an enormous account being caressed by a bevy of beautiful girls dressed as prairie dogs; then after my dinner of turtle soup and spider-monkey stuffed tortilla – the ambience enhanced by the melodic song notes of colourful caged birds – I slip away to my lavish room and fall peacefully into a dreamless sleep with the map tucked securely under the velvety fur of my jaguar-spotted pillow.
Questions no doubt will be asked in the morning about the stranger in town, but I intend to deflect the locals’ curiosity by saying I am an inoffensive writer seeking inspiration for a FanStory prompt, about romantic holidays in exotic locations by grandmas who love gardens, puppies and God – which has actually been on my mind lately as I want to beat DragonSkulls in the next contest with that theme, although I must admit that I know more about cats than puppies and have never understood women or God.
Rested, refreshed and re-provisioned, I continue my journey that morning.
Stifling heat saps my energy during the day and progress is slow – the hunting equipment in my pack is heavy – but according to the map I should be able to reach my destination within a few hours.
This means that I will arrive after nightfall, but as a full moon is due there will be sufficient light to make my way.
Undeterred when I notice red-tinted, glowing eyes in the jungle along the way, I reason calmly that they belong to the strange creatures I have come here to overpower, capture and kill, something I have had much experience with because I so love being around animals – stroking their glossy stitched fur, looking into their oh-so-cute glass eyes – as inspection of my personal taxidermy collection would show.
Vexed by the slow progress, I nevertheless remain buoyed by the excitement of thinking on how to spend my forthcoming illicit riches.
With the moon pouring its illumination through the gaps in the twisty branches of the jungle foliage, I am just able to read the instructions.
“X” marks the spot on the map clutched in my eager, sweaty hand.
Yellowed with age, the map’s lettering is barely discernible, but I pace out the required distance and check again, reading that I have to climb to the ancient rock-slab at the top, where my quest will yield up its obscure mystery, as promised from the parchment page of the past.
Zigzag stairs approach the upper zone on the ziggurat-shaped building, so – impatient to arrive – I zoom up them on speedy feet and at last reach the zenith of my search, whereupon I am ambushed and zapped by zombies who, snarling and slavering through gnashing teeth, unzip my flesh so that my dripping blood and pulverised bones mingle with those of all the other over-zealous zoological ‘raiders of the lost park’ sacrificed before me on the rock-slab altar surrounded by the ancient animal Totems, which I now recognise – before my splattered brain oozes over my staring, gouged-out eyeballs – as the carved figures on the little wooden box.
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