Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The wish box.

Answers are never simple, even when they seem to be. I believe most people can never be satisfied. There is always something more needed, always something better. They tell themselves things like: “Well when I get that promotion I’ll be happy” or “If I was with her instead, things would be good.” I was like that, never completely content. The grass is always greener as they say.
Then one day I found something, a short cut. A pragmatic escape from the before-mentioned repeating cycle the masses suffer. I, Joseph Hornell, found the box. I could say it was the answer, everything I wanted. But again things are never that simple.
I remember that day. I had been dating Julie for quite some time. She had curiously lasted longer than the others. I had found it fascinating her interest in old things. She hadn’t been preoccupied with all that was new and hip. Instead she seemed to have a nose for old things, thing that felt like old money. I felt that complemented, maybe enhanced my new money, which there was plenty.
We were what she called “antiquing” at some roadside tourist trap.  Nothing really stuck out until we saw it. Towards the back of the shop it stood like a coffin turned on end. I thought it was a small armoire. The carvings were too delicate, too intricate. The ornate designs covered it top to bottom. The thing was wood but darker than mahogany and shiny, almost seemed carved out of onyx.  The place had smelled of dampness and dust since we walked in but near it the air was crisp.
A man stretched and wrinkled beyond his years came over to see if he could be of assistance. He had on a little bolo tie and looked like a funeral director from an old horror movie. I asked how much for the cabinet. He replied it was no cabinet. It was, he voiced very assertively, a wish box. Step inside and all your dreams come true, he said.
Of course I bought it, along with everything else that caught Julie’s eye.  I didn’t pay it much attention until the spring loft party, when Angelo had taken notice. Up until then he had always been one of those almost famous, a character actor.  His personality made up for lack of notoriety, he always seemed to bring the party with him. When he saw the box there was a dozen with him. He laid the flat of his hand against it. Pulling his hand down its side panel he traced the intricate carvings with his finger tips. 
“What is this?” Angelo looked enthralled.
“A wish box.”  I said trying in vain to match his enthusiasm.
“What’s it do?”
“We were told it grants wishes. You step inside, close the door and when you come out you have all that you could desire.” My reply didn’t seem to surprise him.
“Does it work?” he said.
Humoring him and his audience “I haven’t tried.” I replied with a smile.
Angelo pulled the finger hole and opened the door.
 Pointing a finger inside he asked, “May I?”
“Sure, why not.” I answered with a shared curiosity.
Angelo stepped into the box and closed the door. There was uncomfortable silence and then a hum that I wasn’t sure anyone else heard. The sound seemed to radiate from the walls of the box. Then Angelo started to scream. The sound of which made the room fall quiet and my flesh shiver. He screamed and we tried to open the door but it was no use. He continued as we tried in vain.  His screams turned to horrific “no’s” and then to pleading and finally that last tangible thing what sounded like a whimpering prayer. Then his voice faded away into a gurgle and finally silence.
We stood in shock and silence. Then the door swung open. Angelo stepped out smiling. He seemed odd in a slightly frightening way. I joked what a clown he had been but we all knew there was more to it. Angelo and I didn’t talk much after that night. In fact he’s been very busy, starring in one blockbuster after another. Julie believed the lack of contact was because he had become too good for us.
Angelo’s success wore at Julie. So did the monotony of our relationship. I am not sure which one of us decided first, somehow we got the idea in our heads a child was what we were missing. We tried, God knows we did. Sometimes your dreams just aren’t in your cards, and maybe they shouldn’t be. It was a Friday when the doctor told Julie she would never be a mom.  The following night I heard the screaming. I made it down stairs in time to hear her gurgling. When the door opened Julie was not my Julie anymore. She left that night and I have never seen her again.
When she left she took whatever ability I had for social grace. My money was no longer enough to maintain acquaintances. The parties ceased. I hadn’t noticed my solitude; at least it didn’t mean more to me than the loss of Julie.
The box noticed everything; it seemed to call to me night and day. I came to avoid it. A fear for self preservation came over me whenever I stumbled onto it. Like a black coffin or doorway way to the abyss, it stood in the middle of my home and it offered a horrible solace.

One night on my balcony, fifteen stories up I stood wallowing in the memory of Julie’s smile. I stood and contemplated the liberation from this melancholy existence that a leap would bring.  Then I asked myself why should I think of such things, because if I had truly no other alternative than death, then I had nothing to fear of anything. I went downstairs.

The air was crisp almost electrified. The box stood like an ancient monolith in the center of my loft. The obsidian door was open just a nudge. I opened it more and stepped inside. Holding the small interior finger hole I shut the door sealing myself in darkness. I heard a hum.


  1. whether you are a newbie to short story horror tales or enjoy a daily digest of terror…this story will truly make your skin shiver!

  2. AMAZING!!! My heart was racing as I read it. I was riveted and even after the conclusion I wanted more. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I am pretty sure that the room turned colder as I held my breath while reading this short story. Brilliant!

  4. Wow! Such a vivid story. Your writing truly makes the characters come to life. Sam, you are a talented writer. Keep doing what you love!