The Midnight Curiosity

Story by M.M.


“Come in, come in! Good sir or madam – or else; we wouldn’t want to assume! Welcome to our humble store. Welcome, welcome indeed.”

“Does one come seeking something, or simply browsing? Perhaps a bit of both? Lovely, lovely indeed… Let us show one some of our wares! We might find what they’re looking for.

“What is it we sell? My, oh my, are we glad one asked! Here at the Samhein Curiosity Shop, we have a variety of wares. Curious wares, if one will. It’s rather on the nose we’ll admit. Every singular item in this store has a rich, very rich, history. Forgotten romance, unspeakable tragedy, maybe a bit of humour even; it’s all there, all there, right underneath their attention, if one cares to look, if one cares to see.

“Would one be interested in this lovely amulet? It once belonged to a queen good sir! Or madam. Or else. Gifted to her by a stranger, from a distant nation. It is said that the bearer is overcome by an insatiable lust for blood. A truest desire for carnage- and only carnage. This has led to many an execution within her royal palace! A sight to behold, the palace. Once lively, we hear that in her old age it had become… Lonely. Silent. But altogether quite pleasant!”

“Nonsense? I see one has the sceptic’s eye! No matter, no matter. Queen Kainé is long gone, after all. She may no longer take offense if one scoffs at her mark. Then how about this!”

“What is this? Quite obvious, is it not? Why it is a fairy in a jar! Fairies are tricky creatures, you see, and capturing one is no small feat; after all- We beg one’s pardon? This is nothing but coloured dust and mite in a bottle? Ah. Perhaps one is right. This jar is rather old, after all, and while fairies live long, they don’t live that long. A shame, however. If it were to die such a lonely pointless demise, we might have chosen a kinder time to end its misery.”

“Are we pulling your leg? There is simply no way! We would never dare, Sir!”

“Or Madam. Or else.

“Hmm? Has something stricken one’s fancy? Ah, one has a discerning eye, we see! The twin lovers of Babylon. What a beautiful item, wouldn’t one agree? Wonderful, appealing, yet upon closer inspection, one might get the read of terror and anguish on their faces, forever locked in the smoothest of stones. We hear that, once upon a time, these two lovely ladies quarrelled over the affection of one very noble man. The fool, however, knew not which to choose amongst these two unrivaled beauties, and allowed them to compete for his affection. It was a different era, you see? One where people still believed in the arcane arts. Each of these ladies thus decided to make use of a curse upon her rival, curse purchased from a midnight merchant. From a distant land though, not us, not us. But curses, one sees, come home to roost. And curses are fickle, and dislike adversity. And here they are, joined at the hand, forever embraced in eternity.”

“Sell it? No, no kind sir, or madam, or else. For this is some of our finest work. We wouldn’t dare part with it. But we understand. We understand indeed. One has very refined taste, we see. And the stench of wrath, envy, and sorrow. Yes, yes indeed. We understand what one seeks at last.”

“Where did we put it… Ah yes. Yes yes. Here it is. A sight to behold, isn’t it? Pandora’s box, one says? Surely they jest. What would be the point? A wonderful object, to be sure, but limited in its lifespan. The box of Pandora has already found its owner, and has already run its course. It is altogether pointless to revisit. Very pointless. For time moves on for all but a few.”

“No no no. This is something else, something altogether different. It has yet to be named, yet we believe a name one shall find, in time. This box, one sees, holds the very soul of its victims. A lock of hair is all one needs. Once locked in the box, the contract is sealed. All one needs to do is whisper through the keyhole, and the prisoner of the box shall experience whatever feelings or horror their warden has suggested them. For souls, you see, are fragile, naïve things. If one speaks to them clearly enough, they tend to drink and swallow their words as if they were gospel. So, if one approaches the keyhole – like so – and whispers, say… “you shall experience agony, beyond belief, as if all your teeth were being pulled at once”, or “You shall experience hunger beyond all reason, yet no food will ever again satisfy it”– or something more mellow of course, may one excuse our flair for the dramatic – so it shall be felt.”

“Interest is piqued! So we see! Payment? Ah worry not for such things. Giving a new life to such items is payment enough. Simply make wise – or unwise – use of the item, and that shall be payment enough once it comes back to us. When shall one return it? Unfortunately sir, or madam, or else, one shall never return, for this is our last day in this place, one sees. But fret not, it will find its way back home.”

“They always will.”

“Thank you sir, or madam, or else. Thank you. Thank you.”

“Now that we think about it, did we not forget a lock of hair in the box of whispers?”


“Ah well. No good to worry about such things now.”

“For here comes our next customer.”

“Come in, come in! Good sir or madam.”

“Or else.”