#SpookyShowcase: Fabergé by J.J. Menna
Welcome to the 9th annual #SpookyShowcase, a Halloween artist and author showcase. A full schedule of submissions can be found here so you don’t miss a single entry for THESE DEADLY CURSES. Now, on to today’s submission!
FABERGÉ by J.J. Menna
“What do you think? Isn’t it pretty?”
There were a number of words which came to mind, but pretty wasn’t one of them. Alicia wasn’t even sure what she was looking at. It looked like a Fabergé egg, but she had never seen one so macabre-looking.
Macabre? I guess so.
“Where did you get it?” Alicia asked as she looked over the egg her girlfriend, Chrissy, was holding. “Aren’t Fabergé eggs supposed to be expensive?”
“It depends what you get,” Chrissy said as she placed it on top of their fireplace.
It couldn’t have looked more out of place. The egg appeared to be made of black hand-blown glass. Which created the illusion something was moving inside of it whenever the light hit it the right way. Although, after taking a long look at it, Alicia could tell there was nothing inside the egg. It was hollow. However, the exterior of the egg was covered in a silver lattice fixed with dozens of tiny red crystal glass circles. At first glance, they almost looked like droplets of blood.
“It’s only pretty colored glass,” Chrissy said as she took a step back to admire the egg. “I got it at the antique shop on the other side of town.”
The name escaped Alicia, but she knew the shop Chrissy was talking about and she had never stepped foot in it. She and Chrissy didn’t make the kind of money to go antiquing. Which begged the question, how could Chrissy afford it? Sure it was, like she said, pretty glass, but pretty glass could be expensive.
“I saw it in there a few months ago and I’ve been saving ever since,” Chrissy said when Alicia asked how she could afford it. “I was drawn to it. Does that sound weird?”
It did, but Alicia told Chrissy it didn’t. If Chrissy liked it and saved to buy it then who was Alicia to rain on her parade? However, she would have to remember to lie whenever Chrissy asked her about the egg because she hated it. Chrissy may have been drawn to it, but Alicia wanted nothing more than to get away from it. The way the black and red glass caught the light unsettled Alicia. She knew the egg was hollow, she could see it, but she couldn’t shake the irrational idea there was something inside of it. Something inside waiting to come out.
It had only been in the apartment for a week and Alicia had already devised a dozen different ways to “accidently” knock the egg over and shatter it into a million pieces. But whenever she found the nerve to do it the look on Chrissy’s face when she first brought the thing home came to Alicia’s mind and she couldn’t bring herself to go through with it.
Even after all of the sleepless nights she was having. On at least three separate occasions, Alicia awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with her heart pounding in her chest. All the while, Chrissy slept like a baby next to her. They were nightmares causing Alicia to lose sleep, but she wasn’t sure what of. All she could remember before being ripped from sleep each time was the image of the egg on top of the fireplace. Its black and red glass shimmering in the moonlight coming through the window.
“Did you get any sleep last night?” Chrissy asked one morning after another sleepless night. “You’ve got some serious dark circles under your eyes.”
“Thanks,” Alicia said in a dry tone as she sipped her orange juice.
“Sorry. Anyway, I should get going or I’m going to be late for work. Are you working from home today?”
Considering the fact Alicia was still in her pajamas and a robe, it was safe to say she wouldn’t be going into work.
“Yeah,” Alicia said, trying to sound brighter. “No one’s going to miss me in the office.”
“Sounds good. I’ll swing by when I’m on lunch. Love you,” Chrissy said as she gave Alicia a kiss before heading out the door.
Once the door shut behind Chrissy, Alicia jumped out of her chair and headed for their bedroom to get dressed. But not before throwing a hand towel over the egg. She knew it didn’t have eyes like a painting or a doll, but she couldn’t shake the feeling all of those red glass circles were following her like the compound eyes of a fly. A million little red pin pricks following her every move in unison.
Twenty minutes later, Alicia was in her car heading for the other side of town. Hoping she’d be able to make it back to the apartment before Chrissy came back for lunch.
“Welcome to Morgan’s Antiques. I’m Mr. Morgan. Do you need help finding anything today?”
The man who pounced on Alicia as she walked in the door looked close to seventy-years-old. His suit was navy blue and was as tall and skinny as him. The image of a marionette came to mind when Alicia looked at him. He even moved as if he was being guided by a number of thin strings tied to his body.
“No. No, I don’t,” Alicia said in an uneasy tone. Beginning to question if coming to Morgan’s Antiques was a good idea.
Fuck it. You’re already here.
“I’m not here to purchase anything. I came to ask about something that was purchased last week.”
Mr. Morgan’s head tilted slightly to the side. All of his attention now belonged to Alicia. At least until someone else walked in looking to make a purchase, instead of discussing one.
“You don’t recall selling a Fabergé egg to a young woman last week, do you?”
An eerie grin slid across Mr. Morgan’s face as he bounced back behind the front counter. The kind of grin Alicia usually saw right before the killer in a movie stabbed their next victim.
“As a matter of fact,” Mr. Morgan ducked under the counter to retrieve something. Alicia prayed it wasn’t a knife. “I do remember selling a Fabergé egg last week. Such a beautiful item. Here it is!”
Mr. Morgan popped up from behind the counter with a large leather-bound ledger in his hands.
“Most places nowadays do everything digitally, but I still like to have some kind of paper trail. Know what I mean?”
Not even the foggiest.
“Right,” Alicia said, trying to ignore the grin still plastered onto Mr. Morgan’s face. It was almost as unsettling as the egg back at her apartment.
“Black hand-blown glass surrounded by a lattice of red crystal glass,” Mr. Morgan read from the ledger in front of him. “May I ask what this is about? Nothing has happened to the egg, has it?”
“No, nothing has happened,” Unfortunately, “I wanted to know a little more about it. My girlfriend was the one who bought it last week and I was curious about where it came from. I’ve never seen a Fabergé egg like it.”
“It is beautiful, isn’t it?”
Mr. Morgan almost sounded like Chrissy when speaking about the egg. As if the thing was some treasure from the lost city of Atlantis.
“Unfortunately,” Mr. Morgan continued before Alicia could answer his question. “It was the only Fabergé egg I had. At least, the only one like it.”
“Where did it come from?”
“The estate of Mrs. Elizabeth Wilshire.”
Mr. Morgan paused after saying the woman’s name with an expectant look on his face. Clearly, Alicia was supposed to know who Mrs. Elizabeth Wilshire was. She didn’t. The name rung no bells.
“Anyway,” Mr. Morgan continued after an awkward moment of silence. “She passed away some time ago and she left a number of her treasures to my store.”
Mr. Morgan’s use of the word “treasures” nearly made Alicia roll her eyes, but she resisted the urge to do so.
“The egg was one of them. Purchased somewhere in Eastern Europe. Not long before Mr. Wilshire passed away.”
“When was that?”
“Only a few years ago. So tragic.”
Something Alicia was afraid she’d hear, but she came to Mr. Morgan for information and she wasn’t leaving until she got as much as she could.
“He had a psychotic break,” Mr. Morgan said, lowering his head slightly as if in prayer. “Night terrors at first. Then he claimed to be hearing and seeing all sorts of horrific things.”
“What kind of things?”
“I’m not sure. To make it all stop he drove a knife into his neck. At least that’s what I heard. I’m sorry, but what does Mr. Wilshire’s death have to do with the egg?”
“What about Mrs. Wilshire?” Alicia pressed on. Ignoring Mr. Morgan’s question. “How did she die?”
“Well,” Mr. Morgan continued with a tone of unease and uncertainty. “Well… Well, she suffered from a psychotic break as well. Talking to people who weren’t there. Some people said she would burst out laughing for no apparent reason. They found her in bed with her eyes wide open and a smile on her face. Almost as if she died laughing.”
“And this was all after Mr. and Mrs. Wilshire purchased the egg?”
“Yes, I suppose. You’re not suggesting a glass egg was responsible for their deaths, are you? Because that would be ridiculous.”
It was a little after twelve-thirty by the time Alicia got back to the apartment. The first thing she noticed when she walked in was the hand towel she had thrown over the egg was lying on the floor. Too far away from the fireplace to have simply slipped off. It almost looked as if it had been thrown across the room.
“Chrissy, are you here?”
An answer came thirty seconds later when Chrissy walked through the front door with a bag of take-out in hand.
“Do you usually get dressed when you work from home?” Chrissy asked with a laugh as she walked past Alicia and placed the bag on the kitchen counter. She didn’t notice the hand towel on the floor.
“I had to run a quick errand.”
Alicia grabbed the hand towel from the floor and tossed it in the trash when Chrissy wasn’t looking before scrubbing her hands raw in the sink. The towel had touched the egg and Alicia had touched the towel. She wanted to remove any trace of it on her body. If having it in the apartment was giving her nightmares – and possibly worse as time went on – she could only imagine what would happen if she made physical contact with it.
Chrissy has touched it. More than once. She seems fine, but so did Mrs. Wilshire before she laughed herself into the grave.
“Are you okay?” Chrissy asked as she dug into her lunch. “You look like you’re in outer space.”
“A lot on my mind with work. That’s all.”
The idea of telling Chrissy what she had uncovered at Mr. Morgan’s crossed Alicia’s mind ever since she left the antique shop, but the more she considered it the more it sounded like a bad idea. Chrissy loved the stupid egg and there was no way she was going to believe any theory about a glass egg being directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of two people. Mr. Morgan was right, it was ridiculous.
It doesn’t matter if it sounds ridiculous. It’s the truth, said a voice in the back of Alicia’s mind.
“Alicia, seriously. What’s wrong?”
Snapping out of her reverie, Alicia turned to Chrissy and found her girlfriend staring back at her with a look of both irritation and concern.
“Where did you go earlier? What errand?”
“I went to Morgan’s Antiques to ask about the egg,” Alicia said. Realizing it would be better to tell the truth than concoct some lie. “I wanted to know about the previous owner.”
“What about her?” Chrissy asked with a perplexed expression. “She died a year or so ago and left some stuff to the shop. So what?”
Not the response Alicia was hoping for. And certainly not the tone she expected from Chrissy. She almost sounded insulted Alicia would ask a simple question or two about the egg. As if Chrissy was trying to protect it in some way.
“Do you know how she died?” Alicia pressed on while trying to ignore Chrissy’s tone. “How her husband died?”
“They both had a psychotic break. Her husband was seeing and hearing things, and to make it stop he stabbed himself in the neck. And she was found dead in bed with a smile on her face, like the Cheshire cat. You don’t think that’s strange?”
For a moment, Chrissy seemed to be considering Alicia’s question. She stared back at Alicia with a look of real intensity.
“Alicia, what are you saying? You’re not making any sense.”
“I’m saying the egg’s previous owners died under mysterious circumstances shortly after buying it. Almost as if…”
Alicia left the thought unfinished. She had said too much. More than she had intended on saying, but it was too late. Chrissy was now looking at her like she had escaped an insane asylum.
“You know you don’t have to make up a story about the egg if you don’t like it, right? Tell me you hate it. It’s fine. I know you do. You look at the thing like I brought home a pile of dog shit and plopped it on our mantel. But you don’t have to make up some bullshit story.”
It was like being trapped in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Alicia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Although, to be fair to Chrissy, she must have felt the same way. After all, what Alicia was saying was crazy, but it was true. She knew it was. The only problem was she couldn’t convince Chrissy of the truth.
“You’re right,” Alicia said. Deciding she’d be more blunt about the whole thing. She and Chrissy usually communicated better when they were blunt with each other. “I don’t like it. It’s ugly. It doesn’t go with our apartment at all and it gives me the creeps. Something about it isn’t right.”
“Do you hear yourself?”
“Yes, I hear myself and I know I sound stupid, but there is something up with that fucking egg.”
“Like what? It’s haunted?”
The smart-assed remark wasn’t necessary, but it was more or less where Alicia was heading. What else could explain what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Wilshire? Not to mention, all of Alicia’s nightmares over the last week. Even Mr. Morgan seemed to be thinking the same thing.
“I don’t know, but we should get rid of it. I don’t want it in the apartment. I don’t feel safe with it here.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Chrissy rose from her chair and walked over to the egg with her index finger pointing right at it. “It’s a fucking glass egg. You sound crazy. What is it going to do to you?”
Force me to jam a knife in my neck, or yours.
“I mean it, Chrissy. Get rid of it. I don’t care how much you spent on it. I don’t. I won’t even be upset when you tell me. I’ll even give you the money. I don’t want it in the apartment. We’re –”
Before Alicia could finish speaking, Chrissy grabbed her bag and headed for the door. Evidently, she had lost her appetite.
“Where are you going?” Alicia asked as she followed Chrissy to the door.
“Back to work. Hopefully when I get back you won’t be babbling on and on about haunted eggs and the dead rich ladies who owned them.”
Not a word was spoken between the two girls when Chrissy got home from work later that night. Although, Alicia did try to speak to Chrissy a few times about the egg. She even tried to have a conversation about something other than the egg, but Chrissy ignored her as if she wasn’t even there. As if she was all alone in the apartment.
Deciding it would be best to forget about the whole thing and try again the following day when Chrissy had cooled off a bit, Alicia went to bed and prayed she’d be able to fall asleep. A few hours of sleep was all she wanted.
It was almost one in the morning and Alicia was still wide awake. Chrissy had been fast asleep for well over an hour. It was a wonder their upstairs neighbors weren’t complaining about the snoring. It was so loud Alicia could hardly hear herself think. But there was something she managed to hear over Chrissy’s snoring.
A delicate scratching noise from their living room. A delicate scratching followed by the sound of something dragging across the floor. Scratching and then dragging, over and over again.
“Chrissy?” Alicia whispered. Trying not to draw attention from whatever was making the sound. “Chrissy, wake up.”
But there was no waking Chrissy. She wouldn’t be up for at least another six hours. By which point, Alicia was certain she’d be dead or beaten within an inch of her life. She wondered if Chrissy would even notice. If so, would she even care? The image of Chrissy stepping over Alicia’s mangled body to make sure her precious egg was safe on the mantel came to Alicia’s mind as she focused on the sound of the approaching scratching and dragging.
Whatever it was, it was heavy. That much Alicia could tell. At least twenty or thirty pounds. Heavy enough to do some real damage when used as a weapon.
It was too dark to see, but Alicia could remember putting her phone on the dresser on the other side of the room before getting into bed. Which meant if she went for her phone she would have to get out of bed and most likely draw the attention of whatever was in the other room.
But you can’t stay in bed and do nothing. It’s getting closer.
It was getting closer. If Alicia had to guess, it sounded like it was almost at their bedroom door. Which, for whatever crazy reason, they left open.
Of all nights to leave the fucking thing open.
Before she lost her nerve, Alicia jumped out of bed and made a beeline for the dresser. She would have made it if Chrissy hadn’t left her shoes out on the floor. As Alicia reached for her phone, she tread on the shoes and lost her footing. She fell to the floor, but didn’t make it back up.
The scratching and dragging picked up speed and before Alicia had time to react she saw a large shadow emerge from the darkness.
She couldn’t tell how tall it was from her angle, but it towered over her. There was nothing Alicia could do. She was petrified. All she could do was watch as it descended upon her like a tidal wave. Watch and scream her throat raw.
The screaming was what woke Chrissy up.
“What’s wrong?” Chrissy cried as she turned on her bedside lamp. Flooding the room with light and driving out the shadows.
There was nothing there. One moment, Alicia was certain she’d be torn to shreds by some kind of shadow creature and the next it was only her and Chrissy by themselves in the bedroom.
“What is going on?” Chrissy asked as she knelt next to Alicia on the floor.
It took a minute for Alicia to answer. She was certain her heart would give out at any moment and she couldn’t stop her body from shaking while a river of tears ran down her face.
“Th-Th-There was so-something there.”
Alicia pointed to the spot where the creature, ghost or whatever it was disappeared from. Chrissy followed Alicia’s finger before getting to her feet and heading into the living room.
“Alicia, there’s nothing in…”
Leaving the sentence unfinished, Chrissy walked back into the bedroom with a horrified look on her face which Alicia was certain she herself had been wearing only moments ago.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
Without saying a word, Chrissy helped Alicia to her feet and guided her into the living room where she saw what terrified Chrissy into silence.
The living room looked like a wild animal had been let loose in it. The couch, coffee table and every chair had been upended. There were large scratch marks on the walls, ceiling and floor. The curtains had been torn to shreds and the mirror above the fireplace had been shattered. The only thing still intact was the egg, which had been placed on the floor in the center of the room.
“H-How did this happen?” Alicia asked as she looked around at the damage. “I never went to sleep. I would have heard all of this.”
Still remaining silent, Chrissy knelt down to the egg on the floor and looked at it as if she was seeing it for the first time.
“You didn’t do this, did you?” Chrissy asked with a quiver in her voice while her eyes were still fixed on the egg.
“No, I didn’t.”
Grabbing everything they would need, Alicia and Chrissy left their destroyed apartment behind and stayed in a hotel for the night. The following night, they stayed at Chrissy’s parents’ place. And they stayed there until they could find a new apartment.
They never went back to their old apartment. It cost them a fortune – especially after leaving it the way they did – but nothing could force them back in there. Not when the egg was still in there.
They often wondered what would have happened if they stayed. Would they have ended up like Mr. and Mrs. Wilshire? Driven to the brink of insanity before ending it themselves? More than anything, they wondered what happened to the egg. Who was the unlucky soul in possession of it now and what kind of horrors was it inflicting on them?
About the Author
Stories of the macabre were the furthest thing from J.J. Menna’s mind when he was a child, but they found him in the end. He lives in the western suburbs of Philadelphia with his family which includes two dogs, two cats and a rabbit. When he’s not writing stories about ghosts, demons or cursed objects, he can be found on Twitter, @jj_menna, occasionally tweeting about one thing or the other.