by Molly Mermelstein
Capt. Patrick Johnson stared out the window at the dark, hungry waves
tossing the boat. The lamp swung recklessly above his head. He reached
up, steadied the lamp, and continued reading the will and testament. After
Mr. Martin Barios' death, the will had been read, but no mention of his
riches was found.
The glass table clattered against the brass frame. A great jolt knocked
the oil lamp to the floor under the table. Slowly the fire spread and
grew. Capt. Johnson ran to the sink and got a jug of water to douse the
fire. He hurried back to the table and froze. The jug fell from his hands
and shattered over the floor. The light under the glass had thinned the
will. Faintly, in Barios' handwriting, it read "Destroy the Pendant."
By now, the water from the jug had seeped into the rug and began to fade
the flame. Johnson grabbed a pen and quickly jotted down the message.
Barios' pendant was a small crystal ball with a cast-iron frame. Like
a locket, it opened to reveal the back wall of the pendant. The back wall
was covered with a slate of tiny prisms that caused rainbows to appear
When he died, Barios' pendant was found sealed shut with a welding iron.
What was once a beautiful array of colorful light was now a crystal ball
with a neatly welded side. Even more mystery lay in Barios' death. After
he was proclaimed dead, his heart still beat, blood still flowed, his
body was alive. He, however, was gone, His thoughts, soul and being were
gone. Barios' body was buried, alive, but he was not.
Johnson remembered that policemen had stated that Barrios was found clutching
the pendant near an open window. Despite the arm's possession, police
found no evidence to say that he was meaning to throw it out, 15 stories
above jagged rocks in his beachside apartment. But where was it now?
Johnson took a kettle off the stove, and poured coffee into his mug. He
sat, sipping and staring out at the restless sea. Suddenly, Johnson felt
a shiver up his spine. Someone was in the room. He whirled around and
saw nobody but his cabin door swinging open and a young maid standing
politely in the doorway. "Letter for you guv'nah"' she said in her Cockney
accent. "Thank you, dear," he replied, relieved that she had no intention
of harming him. The maid left him alone in his quarters.
Johnson sliced the envelope with a silver letter opener and poured its
contents onto the table. This is what it said:
I would like to inform you that Barios' apartment was robbed last night.
We were in pursuit of the thief until we reached Seashore Cliff. We ordered
him to stop, but he drove the car right over the edge. His body was found
washed upon the shore with a few stolen items. Lost items include Barios'
wallet, keys, wedding ring, pendant and wristwatch. We searched the coast
but found no sign of any of these items. We will keep you informed with
any other clues that come up about your brother, Martin Barios' death.
Johnson read the letter over again, to be sure that he did not miss a
thing. He folded it up and placed it back in the envelope. The pendant
was gone. It was destroyed like Martin had asked in the will. Then someone
must have seen the message as well. The thief must have seen the will
and sacrificed his life to destroy the pendant. The other items were to
cover it up. But why? What had the thief known about the pendant that
told him to die for his cause? Suddenly Johnson grabbed the letter and
searched the content frantically. Alas, there was no mention of the thief's
identity. Slowly, he dragged a map toward him and studied it. Seashore
Cliff was only around Cape Corning, about 20 meters from the ship's course.
Johnson rose from his chair and walked sternly out of the room towards
the bridge. A bolt of lightning flashed through the sky as he climbed
the swaying staircase towards the lookout.
"You there," he called to a sailor. "Turn her around port 45 degrees and
head for Seashore Cliff. "Aye captain," he answered and spun the wheel
causing the great ship to slowly change directions. Johnson stood next
to the sailor in the lookout, peering through the rain-covered glass at
the heaving waves. Cape Corning was clear in front of them, setting out
into the sea like an arm reaching for some distant shore. The ship rounded
the bend and cowered under the great cliffs in front of it. The anchor
was lowered to keep the boat from being smashed into the rocks. Johnson
took a dinghy to shore and joined a group of police officers gazing at
"Johnson," Officer David Parker said, solemnly, shaking his hand. All
along the shore, men searched for lost items. Johnson debated whether
to tell Parker about the will or not. He decided to keep quiet for now.
"The thief," Johnson started, "Who was he?"
"Reverend Richard James," Parker answered. "He married Martin and his
wife. Johnson produced a piece of paper and jotted the name down so he
would not forget. "Do they have any other connection?" questioned Johnson.
"The pendant, I believe," he replied, "was passed down to Barios on his
wedding day. An heirloom from friend to friend. It came with this note,"
Parker said, quietly taking a crumpled piece of paper and handing it to
the captain. It read:
Keep this for me,
let no one touch it,
Beware the darkness --Richard
Johnson folded the paper and handed it back to Parker. "You keep it,"
Parker replied. Johnson placed it in his breast pocket. "Captain" called
a sailor from Johnson's ship. "The tide is changing. We'll be stranded
if we don't leave soon--." "I must be off,"Johnson said, turning to Parker.
"God speed," he replied as Johnson left for his ship.
The bewildered captain watched the sailors pull the anchor aboard. Slowly,
the great ship lurched forward out of the cove. Johnson sighed and returned
to his cabin. Fierce rain pounded against the window pane. He was captivated
by the rhythmic rocking of the ship. Suddenly a great bolt of lightning
broke the almost tranquil silence. Something caught Johnson's eye--a metal
object, tossed by the waves glinted in the streak of light.
Mesmerized by the brightness of the object, Johnson left his quarters
and stood by the railing staring at the thing, tossing in the waves. It
was so close, he could touch it. Suddenly, as though a force drew him
in, his hand shot forward and grabbed the object. Rain trickled down Johnson's
face. He was frozen with terror. It was the pendant!
A shiver ran down his spine. A cold dark fog came in from the waves and
embraced his body. It swirled around him, immersing him in the evil mist.
He tried to call out, but he was suffocated by the dense vapor. The boat
gave a sudden jolt and knocked the pendant from his hands. The fog crept
over to where it lay and seemed to be absorbed into it. There was nothing
left but the pendant quivering on the deck.
Despite the various warnings, Johnson had to know where the fog had gone.
His hand shook as he reached for his knife. Steadying it, he carefully
began to cut away the welded iron. The deeper he cut, the colder the room
became, as if, once again, he was being swallowed by the fog.
Shavings of iron fell to the floor. Only a thin layer of metal remained.
The wind blew through the open window. "Open it," whispered the wind,
"open it." Johnson froze. The unknown force was beyond him. The pendant
fell from his hand and broke open on the floor.
Johnson found himself on a soft carpet at the foot of a small platform.
On the platform was a throne, on the throne was a woman. "Welcome to Tirana,
Patrick," the woman said grandly. "Who are you?" Johnson stammered. There
was sweet laughter. "Of course," she cried, "I forgot. I am Queen Uria
of Tirana, or what's left of it, that is. You see, when my home planet
was destroyed, I sought out a new home. Finding this lovely pendant I
moved right in. Of course I had to do something about those prisms, I
can't stand the light and shininess of them all. So I simply summoned
my dark fog to block them out and now everything is lovely again. "The
Darkness," he whispered, remembering the note given to Barios from the
reverend. Suddenly there was a gasp from Uria. "Oh Dear," she said solemnly.
"I forgot again. You don't know why you're here, do you?"
He did not answer. "You see, all of my servants were destroyed with the
old Tirana, and I was not about to do their work. When I moved to the
pendant, I found that doing the chores was easier than I thought." She
paused and ran her delicate fingers through her long black hair. Her pale
skin made her look like a porcelain doll, one that would shatter if knocked
over. She reached out and took a silver goblet in her hands. She peered
in and smiled. "My servants," she said suddenly--as if he had broken a
trance "would leave Tirana in search of souls. Souls are my food, my source
of energy. Look into my goblet," she said, holding it out to him. He gasped.
White, translucent bodies floated lifeless in the cup. Slowly, she lifted
the cup to her lips. "Souls feel healthy in the bright sun. I don't. they
build my immunity to small doses of light." Johnson sat petrified as she
sipped from the cup. "Your brother knew about me. He knew that whenever
the pendant was opened, I would take another victim. He tried to seal
me in," she said, her voice growing more harsh at every syllable. "I got
him though. Do you wish to see him?" she asked, her voice back to its
sweet kindness. "Yes," Johnson said rather sternly. She clapped her hands,
and Johnson whisked off by the fog.
He found himself in a dimly light room completely concealed. On the floor
lay a cot. On the cot was Martin. "Patrick, he whispered. "We mustn't
talk, I am to weak, just this: Uria's one flaw is in the prism. She cannot
survive in bright lights. When the sun is just high enough, hold the prism
so the light hits her intensely." He slowly reached into his pocket and
brought out a small prism. "Take it." Then he was asleep.
Johnson lay awake all night. Slowly, the new morning sun began to rise
in the east. Dew drops settled on the young buds in the garden outside
his window. She gave me rather nice chambers for a prisoner, he thought.
The sun gleamed the window and fell across the room. An array of color
projected through his pocket and danced on the wall. The prism!
Johnson had forgotten the plan that Martin had arranged. With new-found
determination, he rose from his bed. Uria would send for him shortly.
She wanted him to witness the death of his brothers' soul. He heard a
faint clap come from Uria's thrown room. It was time.
Johnson stood before her, tense, waiting. The sun was near position. Martin
stood beside her, passing nervous glances to his brother. Uria sat on
her thrown, caressing her silver goblet. She began to fix her eyes on
Martin. Her icy eyes swirled slightly. A translucent, white mist left
Martin's body and crept to her eyes. He grew pale and fell to his knees.
He was dying. Johnson had no time to wait for the sun, it was now or never.
He grabbed the prism and held it high above his head. There was a brilliant
flash of light.
Capt. Patrick Johnson stared out the window at the dark, hungry waves
tossing the boat, the lamp swung recklessly above his head. He reached
up and steadied the lamp, and continued reading the will and testament.
It disappeared in a gust of wind.