Writing Prompt: “Next time you’re shopping, try ‘Uncle Blarff’s Cursed Items and Furniture Emporium’. Low, low prices for great, great deals!”
Uncle Blarff’s Cursed Items and Furniture Emporium.
Pan shrugged as she read carefully those words above the shopfront, imprinted in the most garish sort of red her eyes had ever had the displeasure of viewing.
I’ve heard about this place. They’re always playing that god-awful advert on the radio… “Hi I’m Uncle Blarff, and here at Uncle Blarff’s…” ugh, barf.
The shopfront didn’t look particularly cursed, though Pan wasn’t exactly sure what cursed looked like. There was a large window with a cardboard cut out sign that read “seventy five percent off” with the words “up to” in the smallest possible of fonts. A heavy, lilac curtain hung behind the sign obscuring the view of the shop itself from the outside. There were a few fairly uninteresting items on display; a desk lamp, a statue of Cesar, a poorly painted shelving unit and a small pocket diary. Again, nothing that looked all that cursed to Pan.
Might as well take a look inside. What’s the harm? It’s not like I’m supposed to be anywhere…
Truthfully Pan had about four different places she was supposed, five if you counted back in bed. It was her Grandmother’s birthday, which accounted for two of the four places she was supposed to be, the first being at her Grandmother’s for the birthday celebration and the second being at the bakery to collect her Grandmother’s ninety first birthday cake. She had also promised to meet Fran and Aspen by the old cinema house, they were going to rummage through the ruins and see if they couldn’t dig out some old film reels. Lastly, but by no means leastly, she was meant to be seeing her doctor, and in just under twelve minutes at that. It was to her doctor’s surgery that she’d been walking when stopped to read the garish red print above this quaint little shop.
Pan walked toward the shop’s door, and as she did so the curtain seemed to twitch, but when she turned to look there was no one there.
Just your imagination. She told herself, and with her hand on the door she pushed her way inside, the little bell overhead ringing to announce her entrance. The more pressing matters of her day would have to wait…
Inside the shop was just as depressing as outside. A lonely chandelier hung unlit from the ceiling, the light of the shop instead coming from various torches left inside glass jars. There were half a dozen bookcases to the back of the elongated room, where yet another lilac curtain hung. To the side of this curtain there climbed a spiral staircase giving way to the floor above. The front desk and register were vacant, a note had been left next to a bright silver bell reading; ring for assistance. And a second note had been left next to this first reading; I’m happy to help if you’re happy to buy. And a third and final note next to this read; no shirts, no shoes, no refunds. Pan gave her shoes a quick glance, but thought nothing of it. At least she was wearing a dress and not a shirt.
The first item that caught Pan’s eye was an end table, about three feet tall and missing an arm. There were drawers on the front that seemed to be shaking, but Pan decided this was just her eyes playing tricks on her.
They don’t like me much, my eyes. Once upon a time they had actually tried to crawl right on out of her head, and so it came about that she had to wear goggles almost exclusively as eye-wear, just to keep the damn things in their place! Of course when she slept she could exchange the goggles for an eye mask, but the easier option was to leave her eyes in a glass of warm milk, safe until morning.
Pan left the end table in favour of a smart looking tumble dryer, but had she stayed around to toy with the drawers that shivered and shook she wouldd have found they were impossibly long and capable of storing any thing of any size. Though those drawers had a tendency to take what wasn’t their’s, and things that went in rarely ever came out… a troublesome fact when you consider the end table had a keen taste for the feline variety of pets. Poor Mr. Whiskers.
Now this, this looks cursed. Pan eyed the tumble dryer with a queer fascination, announcing it to be the very epitome of what it means to be cursed. And what it means to be cursed is to be mildly inconvenienced in the most trivial of ways. She lifted the hose of the dryer, strangling the white tail as if it were a snake.
“Where do you take ’em, mister?” she questioned, fighting the hose as it tried pointlessly to wrap itself around her leg, “The socks.” Pan whispered, “Where do you take ’em? You can tell me.” she brought the hose up to her eye and peered down the hollow throat of the thrashing paper snake.
“It’s no use.” she sighed, “You’ll never tell me your secrets,” she turned to walk away, dropping the hose, but stopped to look back for just a second, “will you?”
The hose didn’t reply, instead it lay there, silently waiting to wrap around another juicy looking leg.
What by all the Gods is that? Pan adjusted her goggles, a not-so pleasant grin creeping across her cheeks.
That was a chair, but that was ordinary chair. It’s body had been formed from an alligator’s, the head of the creature making for the seat (the alligator was of course asked if it would like to become a chair before manufacture began… the alligator had said no). The arms of the chair were unnecessarily large wheels that allowed it to move forwards and backwards. There was a single cushion on the seat (positioned between the alligator’s eyes) that had been sewn together from pencil shavings and discarded book marks. This was not a chair that looked at all comfortable, and that made Pan want to sit upon it even more.
As she swam towards the chair through the shop’s collection of bizarre and ornate objects she managed to knock over a priceless pair of yellow rubber gloves. They dropped to the cold boards of the floor with a soft thud from where they seemed to stare at Pan’s shoes, in as much as gloves can stare. And, Pan thought, the gloves looked awfully sad (in as much as gloves can look awfully sad).
A niggling voice in Pan’s mind whistled for her to pick the bloody gloves up! But she ignored it, and carried on instead towards the chair.
No, really. The voice insisted. You should pick those gloves up before they… oh, it seems you’re too late.
Back from the front of the shop the silver bell rang out. Ding-ding. Pan whirled round to see who had rung it… I didn’t hear anyone come in. To her own amazement she saw a rather angry pair of rubber gloves perched upon the counter top. She looked back to where she’d left the awfully sad looking pair, and sure enough they’d disappeared.
“I did try to warn you.” it was the niggling voice from inside of Pan’s head, only it wasn’t inside of Pan’s head anymore.
High on a flat shelf of the most ordinary looking unit sat three goldfish, carved from quite possible the ugliest looking wood Pan had ever seen.
At least it’s not tortoise shell. Pan thought, adding, or ivory at that.
The goldfish were some sort of homage to the three wise monkeys.
See no evil.
Speak no evil.
Hear no evil.
One goldfish had its fins pressed over its eyes, another’s covered its mouth and a third had its fins pressed into its ears.
Wait, do goldfish even have ears?
“You should get going now, before Uncle Blarff comes on down.” the goldfish with its fins over its ears nodded to the door. Then the one that couldn’t speak tried to anyway, managing only to produce a sickening sort of wet and muffled scream, whilst the one with its fins over its eyes simply grimaced.
“What happened to the gloves?” Pan asked the deaf goldfish, “Wait, you can hear me?”
The deaf goldfish nodded, and so by that reckoning it can’t have been all that deaf after all. “I can hear you, Beta can see you, but Charlie can’t talk… thank God for that at least.”
“Ah, so you must be Alpha?”
“I’m sorry?” the Goldfish looked confised.
“Alpha. That is your name, isn’t it?”
The not-so deaf goldfish looked up unnaturally at Pan, “My name is Gordon, if you must know.” it tried to scratch its chin, failing horribly on account of its fins being stuck in its ears, “Why on earth would it be Alpha? What a peculiar name.”
“Never mind.” Pan waved away the questions, and just as her voice softened to silence the sound of footsteps could be heard, coming down the stairs.
“Child, you need to leave.” Gordon nodded again to the door, Beta’s grimace widened, Charlie’s muffled screams grew wetter… louder. “Now. If Uncle Blarff finds you here…” the footsteps had reached the bottom of the stairs, “Run!” Gordon cried in a whisper.
Pan turned to run for the door, but she was already too late.
“And who might you be?” a hoarse voice croaked from somewhere in the shadows as slowly a figure came into light and to life before Pan’s very eyes, “Was it you that rang my bell?”
Copyright © K R Perry 2019