Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Family Stone (Chapter 4)

Chapter 4

‘Hold on, wait a second! België? You mean, Belgium? That’s where my grand-aunt lives and that’s where…I can’t…you really expect me to believe this? What happened to your *Domina then? Wasn’t she able to live thousands of years?’
‘She became human again, so to speak. She cut our bonds and she resumed living with the seasons. She travelled, fell in love, started a family, she lived. She’s your ancestor, *Domina Alexandria. You look just like her, except…,’ he points to her hair, ‘*Arcus capillus…’
‘What cap?’ Alex retorts, feeling her hair, ‘oh, you mean the hair colour? HAH!’
‘I apologize, *Domina. I struggle to communicate because I am still processing your language. It took me two weeks to piece correct sentences together. Your black box is very helpful,’ he tells her as he looks back and points at the television.
‘You know, they say everything on television now is rubbish but you just proved mankind wrong.’
Alex stares at Boon. ‘So, how is it that you are here?’ she asks him.
‘I…I don’t know, *Domina. I have as many questions as you do because I remember nothing after. But I did have dreams, if you can call it that. That is why I know what she did in her life…and how she expired,’ he says slowly.
‘Do you feel anything, I mean, do you have emotions?’
‘Yes, I feel everything,’ he tells her sadly.
‘Where did she put you to sleep? She can’t have buried you.’
‘No, she did not bury me on the ground. I told you that she has quite a talent in *magia. She managed to break our bond without harming both of us. She preserved me inside a large black stone which she might have passed down your family line.’
‘Where’s the stone then? Perhaps we can find out what happened to you’
‘It’s in your box…’
‘What box…? Ohh…that box…’ she trails off. She gets up from her chair and half runs to her coffee table. ‘Did I wake you because I shook the box?’ she asks Boon.
Boon, still sitting on the chair, looking back at her, pauses for a thought, ‘I don’t think that was the cause. The stone feels intact.’
‘I guess this is the part where I have to say that I don’t have a choice but to open this box.’ Alex looks at the box, then to Boon, and then back to the box, ‘I require every intelligent fiber of my being to open this effin’ box the way that it’s supposed to be open so I should let you know now that if that box kills me with whatever kind of voodoo or natural cause, I will hunt you down.’
‘I will sit by your side if that helps…’ Boon offers.
‘No, you stay there where you are. No offense, but you still creep me out.’ Alex brings the box back to the dining table and sat back on her seat. She exhales in frustration and is about to get back up when Boon tells her that the combinations she has written down for the past few days have all been tried and tested by him. One of the biggest problems is not the method but the box itself. It was custom made by Alex’s grand aunt. Alex’s facial expression went from nonchalant to annoyance. Boon starts apologising profusely but Alex shook it off. No big deal, she tells him. Relax buddy.
‘I got this,’ she tells him confidently.


‘Why won’t this thing slide??’ Alex says, utterly frustrated. ‘I think like I’m missing a step or two…or maybe even three. Oh my god, it’s seven in the morning. Oh my God I can’t feel my back. Oh no, it’s my neck...’she puts down the box, ‘I think it’s time I hit the sack.’ Alex gets up from the chair and went straight to her bedroom. Boon watches her get up from the chair, going straight to her room. He feels infinitely better, knowing someone else knows he’s there, that he exist, that he…
‘Boon, come over here!’
…is there? He lost his trail of thought. He didn’t think twice about going to her and went straight in the room.
‘Yes Domina, what would you require of me?’
Alex has her eyes closed with her blanket covering her. Just as she gets comfortable, the cats appear, flocking on her bed.
‘Sit on the floor, Boon and tell me a story.’
‘A story? What kind of story?’
‘Tell me about why some of the Libras stayed with my ancestors.’
Boon sits on the floor and thinks hard. ‘I think it’s because we thought of them as our own family. Your family has a reputation of being just and serves the people in any way they can. You will be proud if you knew how much selfless acts they’ve done and accomplishments they've reached. *Domina, please pardon me for changing the subject, but I fear for your life. I will never forget those shadows. I know I should not assume but I have reason to suspect that…’
Before he could finish, Boon hears snoring coming from the bed. She must be tired, he thought. He stood up and left the room. He passes the full length mirror in the hall. He pauses and goes back to look at his reflection in the mirror. He’s never tried to assume a human form. His previous Domina did not like it. She preferred that he turns into an owl. Her reason is that he will be safe from harm, if ever she gets caught. Now that he thinks about it, it’s as if she knew something will happen but she was just a child – how could she have known? She is the most intuitive among her family. Boon suddenly recalls how she is known for being the only person who survived being born under those grand auspicious star alignments. She was born under a winter solstice conjunction with a dark rift. The Long Count Calendar that was used by ancient Mayans, Aztec, Olmec & Toltec. The thirteen Baktun cycle. It may also explain her immense power; it’s as if she can control the turn of the planets itself, maybe even the cosmos.
But she was kind. She was the kindest person that he has ever met but she was strict. She ran the family well although she was the youngest among her clans. You could almost say that she was the perfect child and grew up to be the perfect woman. Neither friend nor foe will forget her name. He wonders if she knew that he loved her once upon a time. He does not dare even speak her name. The thought of it pains him, if there is such an emotion to his kind to feel.
Her name…how could he forget? ‘Stēlla…’ he says, with a broken heart.
Boon looks at his reflection, broken by the memories flooding his mind. His face contorted in emotions he could not have foreseen. A flashback of his old life began to play in his mind. He stood there watching, as his old life plays out and he, a skeptical spectator, bound to the ground like a spirit trapped in limbo. He remembers the first time they met. Stēlla, a child, with large grey yellow eyes and with hair, black like the darkest night. He sensed their connection, as if her gravitational pull was pulling the entire universe along. He watched her grow and by the time she was sixteen, people from all over the world sought her council and her Libra. His love for her grew by the day. He thought what he felt was foolish because they were bonded solely for one important purpose – balance.
But he became her confidant, her most trusted companion and she became the world to him.
His memory went forward to that night, the worst memory of his living moment.
‘You have to trust me, Boon. It’s for the best. The last thing I want is for you to die too,’ she tells him frantically, as she drew symbols on the cave floor.
They were in a small cave, above the hills of the coast where they found themselves after running away from the Chaos.
‘I cannot die, *Domina, not when I am with you…please, don’t send me away,’ he pleaded.
‘All will be well if we cut our bond, I promise you. You are the last son of Tellūs and Terra. Do as I say!’ she commands.
*Domina…please…I will protect you!’ Boon hovered around her as she placed a small black stone at the centre and started to chant.
‘No!’ Boon shouts as he felt a pull. He found himself suspended above the symbol. He felt a surge of emotions, feeling a horrible pain as if his spirit was being torn into two.
‘You will wake when you are needed the most, Boon, son of Tellūs and Terra.’ she said slowly, her eyes reflecting the cosmos.
‘Domina…Stēlla…I…’ he stops struggling as he saw tears in her eyes.
‘I know Boon. This is why I have to let you go…’ a flash of flight exploded between them and then, there was blackness.

Boon looks out of the window, watching the sun shining, listening to the birds singing. But the echoes of her commands, her cheer, her laughter is still in his mind.
‘How is it going, Boon? I thought you were a goner!’ Boon quickly turns and doesn't see anyone behind him.
‘We have known each other for six thousand years and you still forget to look down,’ a voice says from below. Boon looks down and he sees a stout dwarf man.
‘Six thousand years, and I still can’t believe you’re a fairy…ow!’
‘You deserve that! At least it’s easier to kick you than shoot arrows at you! Ha! Hey what are you doing???’
Boon carries him up to hug him, ‘I can’t believe you’re still alive and well! *Amice bone meus, Teg!’
‘I preferred you as an owl! Put me down!’ he says as he tries to get out of Boon’s arms. Boon puts him down, smiling. ‘I missed you too old friend but I have many questions.’
‘I have my own questions as well, but before we begin, we must speak quietly because the *Domina just slept,’ Boon tells him as he leads him towards the kitchen.
‘You already have a bond?’ Teg asks, surprised.
‘Well, no. Not yet. Perhaps.’
‘I don’t understand…’
‘I found myself in this room sixteen days ago. For sixteen days, I tried to adapt to the civilization and finally spoke to *Domina Alexandria. She walked in when I eradicated the shadow in her mirror.’
‘Yes. How did you know I was here?’
‘There was a shift in the cosmos; it was faint and anyone would think nothing of it. But not me, I know your wave. Stēlla made sure you were safe. She gathered us before she disappeared herself. Those were dark years after. Terra is still punishing mankind for their mistakes in the past. But not as catastrophic, mind you.’
‘I was afraid for everyone. I was unaware of her plans.’
‘We were spared by Tellūs. We managed to survive and civilization flourished. Now, it’s just a heap of rubbish. Mankind is not as innocent back then. But the goodness of mankind is still there, rare but when you find it, it radiates and it glows like the warmth of the fire on those cold nights.’
‘Aye, the black box revealed it to me,’ Boon says with seriousness.
‘Black box?’ Teg asks, confused.
‘The black box,’ Boon says, pointing towards the television, ‘I’ve forgotten what Domina called it…’
‘Yes, that’s the word. You know of things too.’ Boons nods towards Teg with a serious expression on his face.
‘I mentioned that we survived, but it doesn’t mean we didn’t progress as mankind did, I daresay, we got even smarter,’ he says, winking at Boon.
‘To know that everyone else is safe is great news indeed,’ Boon sighs.
‘I still have many questions but time is running out. Tell me about the shadow.’
‘I told you everything I know about the shadow. I saw it and removed it from the mirror. Why are you inquiring? Why do you keep implying to me that time is running out – why are you here Teg?’
‘We all know that Alexandria is the direct descendant of Stēlla. But there is something else about her. We felt the wave of the cosmos when she was born. It was extraordinary. Her life wave swimming against the tide of the cosmos, moving the planets in a way we could just dream of. The only time it happened was when Stēlla was born. Alexandria was spared by your mother because she believes that you are already dead. In this age, magic is in the shows, plays, story books, legends and it is not real. Mankind is only safe if they are oblivious to the truth of their own world. How did Alexandria acquire you?’
‘I don’t know. I told you before; I woke up in this room. The stone is in that box she inherited.’
‘I suggest you leave her.’ Teg tells him, looking directly at him, ‘it is not safe for both of you.’
‘Where will I go?’
‘You will come with me.’
‘I can’t go with you. You are disobeying the laws again!’ Boon stands up from his chair, points a finger at Teg, ‘You will not be as lucky as the first time. Terra is not as forgiving, you have to remember that.’
‘I am honoured of your concern but my decision to help you is mine alone. I am too old for a lecture, Boon.’
‘Where will we go?’
‘Perhaps back to the coast, where the ring is. Perhaps, it will ward off your spirit wave presence.’
Boon falls silent. He walks towards the bathroom and Teg stands up to follow. Boon opens the door wide for Teg to see the mess inside.
‘This is what happened to the shadow. What if more of this comes? Who will protect her?’
‘They won’t do anything to her. You are the one they will be after Boon.’
Boon grits his teeth. He wonders whether he was also the cause of Stēlla’s bounty.
‘Old friend, do not think about the past. It is the now you should focus on. Come.’ Teg opens his bag and pulled out an ancient looking doorknob. He pushed in the other side of the knob to the wall. An outline of a door begins to glow. Teg opens the door, revealing a coastal area on the other side.
‘Let’s go.’
‘Could you please give me some time?’ Boon asks Teg
‘Go ahead. I shall wait here.’
Boon slowly made his way towards Alex’s room. He opens the door carefully and quietly, as to not disturb the cats as well. Alex’s still snoring and so are the cats. Their unified snoring sounds like music to his ears. He reckons it won’t be as pleasant to other people though. He went closer to see her face again. They look the same but they are also two completely different people. Their mannerisms, the way they talk, the hair. He convinces himself that it is not Stēlla. Stēlla is gone.
He thought about waking her, telling her he was leaving but instead, he whispers his goodbye to her and the cats. He wants Alex to have an oblivious great life.
As he was about to close the door, he hears Alex call his name, but faintly. He stops and pauses but closes the door behind him.
‘It’s for the best.’ Boon says to himself as he follows Teg who went through the doorway.
Boon hit his head on something.
‘Huh? I can’t seem to go through, Teg. Do you have another spell on it?’ he asks him while feeling the invisible wall blocking his way.
Teg, looking confused, went through the doorway back to the flat. ‘No…it works. Try again.’
Boon tries again and he looks as if he hit a glass.
‘Maybe you should run?’ Teg suggests.
Boon runs towards the doorway and he slams into an invisible wall, falling on the floor.
‘Change back to your original look, the flying carpet one!’ Teg suggests, feeling confused at what’s happening.
‘Carpet? Pshh!’ Boon changes back to his old form, ‘this should work, and I’m transparent…’ he flies onto the same invisible wall.
‘Oh this is not good, not good, not good at all! You told me you are not bonded to her!’ Teg half shouts at him.
‘I do not know how to lie, Teg,’
‘If you are not lying, then you both are in very big trouble.’

*Domina – mistress
*Arcus capillus – rainbow hair
*Magia - Magic is the claimed art of altering things either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult natural laws unknown to science
*Amice bone meus - My good friend
(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.)  

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Family Stone (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

He does not reveal himself to Alex. Perhaps, it is because there were too many strange and wonderful things to learn about in that small space she calls home. The kittens and their adopted mother delight him. He has never seen cats with such short, stubby legs.
He can feel a strange but familiar energy around him. He suspects that this energy is one of the reasons why he can manage to get around without being ‘summoned’. 
He hides where she can’t see him. He watches her cuddle the cats and how good she is with them. He thought of a woman in his past, how good she was with all the animals she encountered. Even the dragons listened to her when she commanded them. He felt embarrassed how she sometimes walks around with very little clothes. When she leaves the flat, it was his turn to cuddle the cats and talk to them. They were quite a chatty kindle. They told him how she rescued them. They remember being very hungry and very cold. They feel very lucky. Their adoptive mother tells them to go play and not to bother the nice floating blanket too much.
Boon goes towards a standing lamp by the front door. He touches it and it lights up. He quickly pulls away his finger from the bulb and it goes off. Interesting, he thought. He follows the wire connected to it and he stops at the sockets. He touches it and the electricity surged through him in surprise.
‘That was some…he listens, watching the electricity go through him, ‘’ He goes towards the TV. He touches the corner of the screen and it switches on, much to his surprise. He got so scared that he flew back and hides behind the sofa. There are people inside that black box, he thought nervously. It’s been centuries since he had to rescue anyone. He slowly peers at where the TV is. He sees that people are dancing and laughing inside the box. He wonders if they are happy being inside the large, black box.
He slowly goes towards the TV, watching whatever was on the screen. Boon takes in information that is given to him, floating in front of the television, mesmerized.
On the second week of hiding from Alex, he learnt how to enjoy watching television, surf the Internet by watching Alex every night when she does, enjoy the day become night and vice versa. He learnt that all is not peaceful in the world. Wars are still raging and there are more human beings in this planet. But where he is now is good. This is peaceful, he thought.
Just as he settles at this thought, he senses an old danger. He shot a look towards the bathroom door. Ariel informs him about the presence inside the bathroom they felt once in a while. The kittens are brave and are hissing in unison at the door. Boon wades towards the door and slowly opens the door.
It creaks as it opens.
He sees the shadow hiding inside the mirror.

Alex is walking home, tired from work and just wants to go to sleep. No dinner or she will regret sleeping with a full stomach. She opens her front door and she hears –

‘LUMEN*!’ he commands and a shot of light burst in the bathroom, a scream can be heard from the other side of the mirror and it evaporates. The mirror starts to crack and it shatters to pieces.

Alex runs towards the sound of the voice, picking up a large umbrella on the side on the way.
‘OH MY GOD! What the hell…!’ Alex sees the floating blanket in her bathroom. She sees her bathroom mirror on the floor. The floating blanket sways around, facing her now. Her eyes felt like it was going to pop out of her eye sockets. She is feeling a surge of different emotions all at the same time that she suddenly feels numb.
‘Please, do not be afraid, Domina*. My name is Boon,’ he tells her.
Boon stares at Alex who looks like a statue, pale and silent.
Then she falls on the floor.
Boon flew towards her and realizes that she just passed out.
‘It was a better reaction than I expected…’ he tells the cats. The cats meow in unison.

Alex is dreaming. She’s dreaming about opening the door of her house – pause. The shot of light from her bathroom – pause. Someone shouting something – pause. She runs in her flat, everything is slow – pause. A transparent blanket with holes as eyes, looking at her – pause.
‘My name is Boon…’ it says and flashes of the envelopes, letters, the trick box and suddenly she is at a large property, in an open field and there’s a humungous gate that goes up the hill and it looks like it forms a ring – it goes back to the letter which says, ‘Trust Boon.’
Alex wakes up with a start; she’s looks around her, gets up and drags herself back to the nearest wall. She notices she still has her bag with her. She opens it, fishes inside her bag and pulls out a pepper spray can. She uses her bag as a shield.
She looks around. Silence in her flat except for the usual traffic outside. She wonders if she dreamt it all. She thought that this is stupid. She decides to be quiet and crawl to the other side of the room. Quietly. She crawls to the sofa’s side and peeks out. She sees the floating blanket. She quickly hides behind the sofa.
‘Shit, shit, shit,’ she thought then she pauses, she peeks out again from the sofa.
Her cats are playing with it. What kind of voodoo is this, she thought.
‘Domina*, I hope you are feeling better…’ it suddenly speaks. Alex yelps and hides behind the sofa.
‘Don’t come closer, you…you thing! I have spray! Pepper! It will hurt you!’ she threatens.
‘Please, Domina*…’ it pleads.
‘My name is not Domina*! Why do you keep calling me that?’
‘Oh yes,’ it says, as if it remembers something important. Alex hears shuffling from the cats and she instinctively crawls back to where she was by the wall.
‘It’s Latin; it means ‘mistress’, ah, would you like me to look different? Because it seems my look is quite outdated in preference.’
Alex feels suspicious but intrigued, ‘What do you mean look different? You mean physically?’
‘Yes. I can change to look human so you won’t feel too frightened of me.’ Alex heard a soft sound of wind blowing through leaves, and then she hears footsteps. She was about to put up her can when a naked man steps out from the sofa and stood right in front of her.
‘Is this better for you, Domina*?’ he asks, looking for approval.
Alex drops her pepper spray can.

‘I apologize, Domina* for the, er, indecent and accidental exposure,’ Boon says to her, bowing to her while he’s kneeling on the floor. He’s now wearing her favourite cat patterned pyjamas.
‘Stop it now,’ she says blushing, making a sandwich, her back facing him, ‘you didn’t know.’
She sits on the nearest chair; place her sandwich in front of her and her favourite knife. She still wasn’t sure about this guy, or whatever he is. ‘Sit and explain.’
Boon sits opposite her. Alex tries not to blush and busies herself with her sandwich.
‘There was something watching you in the bathroom mirror,’
Alex almost chokes on a piece of sandwich, coughing. ‘What?’
‘Your cats told me…’
‘My cats? You have got to be kidding me…’ and as if on cue, the kittens jumps on the table and sits next to him. She sighs loudly, still chewing, ‘Go on…’
‘Your cats told me that they’ve felt its presence once in a while, I managed to hunt it down easily and kill it. It won’t bother you again.’ Alex knows he is telling the truth. She cannot explain it. Either she’s going nuts or it’s a huge prank – and if it is, she’s going to kill that person. Slowly. Alex gets up from her chair and picks up her bag from the floor. She sits back on her chair and fishes out a fresh pack of cigarettes. She lights one up and inhaled deeply.
‘Tell me something dude, who the fark are you?’
‘I’m Boon.’
‘The same ‘Boon’ that I got letters about…what kind of fool do you think I am?’
‘I assure you, Domina*…’
‘Who hired you? What kind of prank is this? Is this a TV show coz I’m not amused…’
‘You inherited me.’
‘Did you send the letters?’ Alex asked slowly.
‘No. I have been asleep, Domina*. My previous…Domina*, kept me alive all these time. She is your ancestor.’
‘Wait…what, hold up, buddy. This conversation is getting too long, complicated and pointless. If you are what you really are, then tell me what you remember from the very beginning; not when you woke up to this present day. I’m talking about the day you were born. Speak.’
Boon looks down on the table and sighs.

They called us ‘Libra’, or in English, ‘Balance’ – but that is what they call us when we have bonded with a human. We have been around since Tellūs, Earth to your people, was born, who is our father. Terra is our mother, the one you call Mother Nature and we are the result of that union. We are the balance in everything, Light, Dark, Growth and Decay, whatever you can think of.
It was simple in the beginning. It was beautiful.
For the next four thousand years, we fought wars with them, even killing our own kind to protect our human. Our purpose of order became secondary. Many of my people, drifted and died, letting the wind carry them off or being one with the sea. If you hear an echo, it’s a memory of one of my people. If you see an unexplainable phenomenon, it’s my people, reminding you the tragedy, when our lives were once great. Our collective memories were in limbo in Tellūs until the end of time. Terra, heartbroken of her dying children, wasn’t as kind to mankind and her wrath was great. There was a great flood, to name one. She killed and wiped off almost all of mankind. My Domina’s family saved a handful of people. They decided to separate and save who they can save. You will find that there are historical proofs of people who talk about a flood – those were the survivors and my Domina’s family were the ones who protected them.
We all lived in peace and harmony for another three thousand years until they attacked my Domina’s family members.
You have to understand, the few Balance that stayed with humans were treated as outsiders. We let our humans live for thousands of years. But don’t think that they were treated as gods. They were feared and hunted.
My Domina* lived in the coast of Helike peacefully. She gave medical treatment to the poor if they were brave enough to seek her. One day, we felt it. Our mental connections to our family members disappeared, one by one, their life lines were extinguished. Soon enough, they found us.
They called themselves Chaos. They killed everyone on the island by causing an earthquake. It is still not clear to me how they did it but it happened. But they underestimated my Domina’s natural talent. She summoned a tsunami, submerging the whole island. It was her way of burying the dead. We managed to escape in the coast, undetected. We settled between the countries you call België and Nederland. From there; she told me that she will make me sleep. The last of my people, the only living son of Terra and Tellūs – will sleep and wake when he is needed.
That was in the winter of 375 BC.
Domina* Alexandria, I find myself awake, in the year 2012, does this mean – I am needed now?

*lumen – light

*Domina – mistress
(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.)  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Family Stone (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2

‘How’s the new apartment?’ Alex’s Dad asked. It sounded as if it was a difficult question to ask.
‘Dad, you’ve asked me that all week,’ she chuckled. Her Dad is such a softie. He always feels the need to protect her but he doesn’t impose any rules of any sort on her. Alex still has dinner with her parents every night. It’s not that she can’t afford it but she wanted her parents to adjust to her new living arrangements.
‘Well, if you both must know, I am still settling in. The kittens have made themselves at home and they have their own corners,’ she informs them happily.
‘Dear, you should get a new boyfriend or people will start calling you, ‘Crazy Cat Lady’!’
“Too late mom, I had that nickname since grade school,’ Alex laughs.
‘By the way, I got this envelope in the mail! Alex opens her bag and shuffles through the contents. She manages to find it and waves it around for her parents to see. ‘THIS. This was among the pile of letters that weren’t mine. BUT,’ she looks at her parents’ undivided attention towards her. She likes it.‘But it had my name on it. No return address and, get this Mom, no stamp!’ Her mom brings her hands to her open mouth as if Alex just told her some ghost story.
‘Well, that’s strange. May I see it?’ her Dad asked. Alex hands it over to him. Her Dad is a local cop and he inspects the letter as if his eyes were made of magnifying glass.
‘Nothing out of the ordinary,’ he tells them as he sniffs it and licks the envelope on the tip. ‘Taste like paper.’
Alex’s Dad opens the envelope and takes the letter out to read it.
‘Trust Boon’?
‘Yeah, you know anyone named Boon, Dad?’ Her Dad shakes his head. ‘Mom?’
‘No, I don’t know anyone named Boon.’
‘Maybe it’s one of those charity envelopes from the neighbour, could be,’ her Dad concludes.
‘I guess…’

Alex is tired. As she brushes her teeth, she remembers her parents talking about her grand-aunt passing away about a month ago.
Grand Aunt Hera lived quite far. In fact, she lives in Belgium. Her lawyer contacted her parents, telling them that he’s sending over documents and things that she’s signed over to them. Before her father can ask what the items are, the lawyer named Mr. Santiago, told him the contents are not be to discussed over the phone and that he will contact them shortly after they receive the box.

‘A box of inheritance,’ she tells herself in the mirror. I wonder what could be so mysterious that they couldn’t talk about it over the phone. She gurgled and wiped her face clean. She left the bathroom and turned off the light, not knowing that her reflection was still standing in front of the mirror, watching her leave.
In less than a week, the box arrives. Her father did not open it until she got home from work. It was all she thought about while she punched holes in papers and folders. She practically ran home.

‘Alright, are you ready?’ her father looked at her then to her mom then back to her again. Alex and her mother nodded in unison.
‘It’s quite a big box, dear. You think she sent some sculpture of some sort?’ Alex’s mother asks her father.
‘Perhaps, it is. It’s not as heavy as I thought but..,’ he looks underneath the box carefully then carefully putting his head on top of the box, ‘It’s not ticking…’ he teases and laughs out loud. Alex laughs along but her mother was not amused.
‘Alright, alright, let me open it up then,’ he announces. He places the box down carefully and goes over to his writing table. He takes a large cutter from one of the drawers and goes back towards them. He slowly cuts the box on the tape where there was a dotted line, showing where to cut. Alex feels a bit excited about this. What could be in that box?
When her father opened the box, there was another box.
‘Huh…what do you know? A trick, perhaps?’ her Dad looks at her, with an eyebrow raised up.
‘I don’t know. Is grand Aunt the tricky type? Or is Mr. Santiago a bit off his rockers?’ Alex asked her parents. She helps her father take the closed box out of the already opened one. When her father opens the tape, it revealed yet another box.
‘You have got to be kidding me.’ Alex says a bit exasperated.
‘It’s beginning to feel like I’m opening some Russian doll,’ her father tells to no one in particular.
Her mother coughs and her father stammers, ‘I mean a Matryoshka doll…honey, sometimes your mind is deep in the dirt.’
Alex laughs at her parents’ petty arguments and helps her father take the closed box out of the opened box. When they lifted the box off, it revealed a more detailed design but it looked like a regular box from underneath.
‘Do they make such fancy boxes in Belgium?’ Alex asks, perplexed at the detail of the box. She touched it and realized it’s made of wood. It looked old but sturdy. ‘Doesn’t it remind you of those smaller treasure boxes in the movies and stories?’
‘I guess but it’s not exactly your typical box,’ her father says playfully.
Her father starts fiddling with the box. He stalls and pulls a side and pulls the other side in another direction.
‘Oh! It’s a trick box!’ Alex half-shouts when she realizes what the box is.
‘Not just any trick box, it’s the very same one that my grandfather, your great grandfather had.’ Her father was still poking the box in places and she actually wanted to try to open it.
‘Why can’t we just smash it open?’ her mother asks. Her father stops with what he was doing and Alex turns to look at her mother in shock. ‘It was a question, I didn’t say we had to do that,’ she says, shrugging. ‘Go on, dear.’


‘Dad, have you ever opened this box before?’ Alex asks.
‘Never did. Your great-grandfather didn’t let us near the box. It was locked up and sealed,’ he tells her, sweating a little, as he continued to twist the box around.
There was a click and a snap. Alex and her mother hear it and turn their attention to her father.
Her father sits upright and takes a deep, relieved breath. ‘As I said before, are you ready?’
Her father slides the wooden panel off and peers inside. He retrieves a bunch of letters from inside the box. There were three sealed white envelopes with each of their name on it. Her father distributes it among them. There are three other larger and thicker envelopes with no names in it. The first one is about a substantial amount of money left for her parents. Her mother is quite surprised about the news that she looks as if she won the lottery. The second envelope is about the family’s mausoleum in Belgium. She instructs Alex’s father to oversee that she is buried in the family plot safely and to make sure that she is inside the ring.
‘The ring?’ Alex wonders but didn’t ask.
Alex’s father didn’t even question this strange request because he knows all about it. A brief flashback of his youth bombarded his mind, his younger self asking the same question about the location to his own father a lifetime ago. Why is it so far? What is it doing the very edge of the continent?
 He opened the other envelope and he stared at it, his facial expression turning into shock to happiness. ‘Look at this, bub, it’s for you!’ he says to Alex, handing her the papers. Alex quickly took and read it.
She didn’t know what to say.
Her aunt left her money, a lot of money.
‘Was I nice to her?’ she asks her parents, stammering, wondering if she deserves the lump sum.
‘You looked like her when she was young, and you’re always approaching her to play with you when none of the other children wanted to get close to her,’ her mother says a matter-of-factly.
‘I guess I was too young to remember but at least, I know now that I was nice in some way,’ Alex says, still staring at the piece of paper, flabbergasted.
‘She’s written me a nice letter,’ her mother informs them. She reads it to them:

‘Dearest Nancy, I’ve always been quite distant from the family but I do hope you all know that I care about you all deeply. I will not pretend that I have anything in common with you but please do know that I think of you. Alexandria has grown into a beautiful young woman with brains, a rarity in our times. I wish I had enough time to spend with her and perhaps, got to know you more.
With Love, Hera

‘Mine is quite short,’ Alex’s father informs them. He reads it to them:

‘Dearest Sebastian, take care of the family as you always do. You make me proud.
With Love, Aunt Hera
P.S. The miniature trick box is for Alexandria.

Alex manages to take her jaw off the floor and put down her first letter.
‘What box?’ she asks, curious.
Her father goes through the larger trick box and fishes at the bottom. He pulled out a small box that resembled the bigger box, only this one is more compact. Her father hands it to her, smiling.
‘It’s cute,’ she tells them.
‘I think it’s quite a nice touch.’
Alex picked up her envelope and opens it. Then she slowly closed the envelope.
Her parents are looking at her, waiting for what the letter says.
‘Mom, Dad, is it alright if I keep this for myself please?’ she asks sheepishly. Her parents looked at one another and smiles.
‘Sure thing, hon, that’s no problem,’ her mother assures her.

When she gets home, she locks the doors behind her properly. She likes how she’s got four locks. She locks two of them. The thought of someone breaking in, trying to open her locks and locking the other two every time that person tries, amuses her.
She sits on the sofa and almost immediately, she is surrounded by cats. She cuddles with them for a while, but her mind is still on the letters she received earlier. She sits up from the sofa, opens her bag and fumbles through to find the white envelope with her name on it. She went to her room and retrieves the other envelope she got earlier in the week. She put them down next to each other, side by side on the dining table and sat down on the chair.
It’s the same envelopes.
She breathes in deeply, opens the first letter and put it right below it.
It read: ‘Trust Boon’.
She opens the envelope she received tonight and put it right below its envelope.
It read: ‘Trust Boon’.
It’s the same paper.
And it’s the same handwriting.
‘This is so farking weird, man,’ she tells to no one, ‘A bit creepy but this…’ she fishes in her bag and pulls out the mini trick box, ‘this is fascinating.’
The kittens meow at her and she sighs loudly.
‘I am losing my mind.’
She stares at the trick box for a few seconds. She shakes it gently, wondering if there’s anything inside the box. She listens. She hears a faint ‘thunk’ noise and decided not to shake the box too much.
The only thing she can do is to open this. She has a moment of thought, wondering to herself if she remembers how her father opened the first trick box.
She fumbles with it, wondering where to start. She twists, turns, pulls, slides and listens.


Alex is asleep on the couch. She fell asleep holding the box and the kittens are sleeping around her. She’s been trying to open the box the whole night, she even wrote down the combinations of what she already did and what she needs to test. Her laptop is turned on, the playlist of ‘how to open trick boxes’ is still playing on the screen.
The kittens’ jolts awake at the same time and meow at the kitchen area. Ariel looks at the same spot as the kittens and meows at same area. The kittens go down from the sofa, one by one and sat in front of the kitchen area, their gaze following something. They meow and follow to the right.
Then it went left and the cats went left.
 A white shaped silhouette appears under the moon. It looks like a transparent floating blanket. It turns around and it looks like it has holes in the blanket for eyes.
‘Fēlēs*…pulcher animal*,’ it says. It had a low but kind male voice. The kind of voice that can reassure a frightened child to go back to sleep. It crouches and the cats happily bounce towards it, purring.
‘I hope she doesn’t manage to open that box, fēlēs* or her life will become very different,’ it says. It stands up and looks up at the moon.
‘It’s been a while since I saw you, lūna*,’ he says as he takes in the view of the night, ‘It’s strange how everything looks peaceful here…unlike the old days.’
It floats towards the dining table where the letters are still next to each other. It floats back, as if slapped, looking as if it was taken aback at what it read.
‘My name…they know it. I have not seen my name in centuries,’ it says, sadly.
This time, it was Alexandria who jolts awake. She looks slowly to the left and then to the right. He stood quietly behind her, caught off guard by Alex’s sudden wakefulness. He knows that she’s not supposed to see him yet. He floats back towards the kitchen, merging with the dark shadows of the kitchen. Alex frowns, wondering where her cats are, she looks back to the kitchen and they are all facing her, sitting on the kitchen table. He sees her and it took all his self-control not to come out of the shadows to greet her.
She looks like her, but she’s not her, he thought.
‘You guys better not be hiding some rat or cockroach,’ she warns them, pointing a finger at them. She realizes that her laptop was still showing the clips. She turns it off, gets off the sofa and went straight to her room. The cats follow after her.
‘Arcus capillus*…strange times indeed,’ it whispers under its breath.

Fēlēs* – cats
pulcher animal* –  beautiful creatures
Lūna* – moon
Arcus capillus* – rainbow hair
(Written for 2012 NaNoWriMo.)