Friday, October 25, 2013

100 Themes Challenge: Misfortune

     Accidents tended to happen outside the Halloween Emporium, located in what was once an old antiques shop. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was merely small incidents that could happen anywhere, but seemed to cluster around the building. Most people made jokes about “curses”, and a few more serious-minded workers worried that the place would go out of business. But it was generally agreed that the problem was nothing more than a group of exceedingly clumsy people.
     And besides, they usually had it coming in some way or another. One day, for example, a woman in the next shop over had gone into quite a fit when she found out they didn’t have a shirt in her size. She stormed out on very tall heels, and just as she passed the door of Halloween Emporium, one heel broke, and she tumbled over, skirt flying up and giving everyone a show. The owners next door came over and jokingly congratulated the Emporium on dealing with a problem.
     Then of course there was that dumb kid who had stolen some lady’s purse. Went careening down the road, and just as he reached the Emporium, a customer left, the door opening right into his face. He fell backward, still clutching the purse, and was taken away dazed by the police who caught up soon afterward. ‘
     But that was months ago. Now the accidents were becoming less…amusing.
     After all, a flower pot to the head might be cartoonish, but landing on a little girl’s head was not. She was knocked out cold and rushed to the hospital with a concussion. Apparently her skull had been fractured by the blow. Then there was the old veteran who had a heart attack right on their door mat, just as he was about to walk in. All he wanted was to buy an army jacket for his grandson so they could match on Halloween.
     The incidents did not remain on the outside of the store. Inside, the workers were getting slightly spooked for real. Ladders broke at horrible times; one stock boy broke his leg when he tripped over a jack o’ lantern bucket that had somehow found its way in the middle of the aisle as he was carrying a box. A cashier’s nose started bleeding for no reason, and she left to go to the doctor. She never came back.
     Finally, business did start slowing down. People murmured about calling an inspector. Phrases such as “faulty foundation” and “Indian graveyard” were thrown around with equal force. No one could figure out if the problem was mundane or supernatural.
     Things came to a head when the lights flickered out one day. It was a clear, cold day, and no one else on the block had lost power. So the manager grabbed a flashlight and headed down into the old building’s basement to flip the breaker switch.
     A moment later he came back up the stairs, screaming in terror. He ran out the door and kept running down the street. When someone finally caught up to him, he had run for two miles and attempted to throw himself into the river.
     This time, the police actually did investigate. A sane man doesn’t go into a basement, then come back out a madman for no reason.
     What they found in that basement was what closed the Halloween Emporium for good.
     The basement was still filled with old boxes that had once belonged to the antique shop before it had gone out of business. In one corner, a box was open, illuminated by a soft glow. That glow came from an odd medallion, clearly old. That medallion was clutched in the hands of a six year old boy that had gone missing months ago. He sat rigid and still, his eyes rolled into the back of his head. One officer approached, muttering half-finished curses. He reached out to touch the boy.
     At that, an entire rafter came loose and fell directly on him.
     That was it. The entire team of officers fled from the premises.

     They say that in the months following, an investigation was made and the place was closed down, citing safety problems with the building. It was promptly demolished by a construction company.

     I hear they’ve turned that space into a new playground. Funny, though. Kids get hurt a lot there.

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