The Necklace

The Necklace Louise Sorensen July 31, 201

Here’s another story for Chuck Wendig’s FridayFlashFiction at terribleminds.com.  The  challenge was ‘Fleamarket’.                    

               The Necklace   Louise Sorensen   July31, 2011

Mike pulled another petri dish out of the incubator, set it under the microscope and peered into the eyepiece. The monitor in front of him enlarged and recorded the images he was seeing.

“Stacey bought a really cool necklace yesterday,” he said to his lab mate Pete.

“Oh?” Pete replied, peering into his own microscope.

“Yeah. At a flea market, of all places. It’s Steampunk.”

“Steampunk?” Pete said, turning a dial.

“Yeah. You know. Steampunk. Victorian. Gothy. The pendant has a strip of blue on it that lights up. No batteries. Googled it… nothing. I told her she should take it to a jeweller or something… find out how they do that.”

“How they do what?” asked Pete.

“The necklace. The pendant glows. No obvious energy source. She said she saw it and just had to have it,” Mike said.

“Is it radioactive?” Pete looked at his partner. Mike frowned. Pete turned back to his microscope.

Stacey wandered the aisles of the flea market. She was almost ready to leave when she saw a couple standing at a jewellery case.

“Sorry Babe, it’s too much,” the man said. His tee shirt had ‘Born to Raise Hell’ on the front. His jeans were new.

“But it’s only thirty dollars, Artie,” said the woman. She was younger than him, tightly packed into black pants and a short red halter top.

Stacey pushed closer to the counter and looked in. She saw a silver chain with a small pendant; a dull glass stone surrounded by a glowing blue strip. Her heart leaped.

“Excuse me,” she said to the clerk. “I’d like to see that.”

The couple watched as she held the necklace in her palm, turned it over. There were no batteries or anything to explain the blue glow. She put her new purchase on and smiled as she marched past them.

“Here’s an interesting growth pattern,” Mike said, leaning in to have a closer look. “I’ve never seen them grow so tall in the dish.”

“What are they, termite cells?” Pete smiled.

Stacey stared up at the high rises as she walked to the jeweller. Stopping in front of a store window she admired the glowing blue pendant at her throat. A cloud settled overhead, blocking the small amount of light that made it down between the towers. She buttoned her jacket a little higher, then hurried on, her heels clicking on the sidewalk. Traffic increased as she got closer to the city center. Horns blared. Cars and trucks rushed by spewing diesel and exhaust.

“Yuck. This one’s overgrown,” Mike said. “It’s amazing how they never establish a balance; they just multiply until all the nutrients are used up, then they die.”

A man broke from the crowd and bumped Stacey on the left. She stumbled and regained her balance. She looked up and recognized him from the flea market. “Hello…“ she said. His face held no expression as his eyes went to the pendant.

“Establish a balance? What are they, rocket scientists? They’re microbes. They follow a growth curve until they use up all the nutrients in their environment and then they die of starvation and poisoning from their own waste. Put it in the autoclave bag,” said Pete.

Someone crowded Stacey on the right. She glanced over to see the woman in the black pants and red halter wearing an amused expression on her face. Stacey looked from one side to the other. “What…?” Her eyes searched all around for help. People streamed by without raising their heads from their handhelds. Time stretched.

“Yeah, I’m almost there. Was it milk, bread and eggs? No eggs? Okay…”

“No I do not want to talk about it. If you paid any atten..”

“Yes, that’s right… a two for one sale… top quality…”

A white plastic bag floated by on the hot air currents generated by the speeding vehicles.

“You ever think these specimens suffer when they‘re autoclaved?” Mike said.

“Steamed to death under pressure?” laughed Pete. “Why would that hurt?”

The man grabbed the pendant and yanked. Stacey stumbled forward into him. He braced his other hand on her chest and yanked harder. The silver chain broke. Stacey opened her mouth to scream; the flood of pedestrians jostled them as it flowed by. The man and woman pushed her against the stream to the edge of the sidewalk. As it passed, a delivery van belched black smoke in her face.

“These little buggers are so screwed,” Mike said, dropping the overgrown petrie dish into the autoclave bag.

The couple heaved Stacey into the path of an oncoming truck.

Mike chucked the spent specimen bag into the autoclave, closed the door…

Stacey stared into the headlights and the fast approaching grill.

…and pressed ‘Start’.

Lights out.

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About louisesor

As I say in my twitter profile @louise3anne "I am a part of all that I have met..." from one of my favourite poems, 'Ulysses' by Tennyson.I believe that we are ALL a part of all that we have met. You can also find me on FaceBook.
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9 Responses to The Necklace

  1. oldestgenxer says:

    Okay, that was pretty cool. I may have said this before, but I enjoy synchronicity. Of course there’s a mystery–and dammit, I want to know why the necklace glows!
    Poor girl…

    • Louise Sorensen says:

      Thankyou. It was an experiment. First time I’ve done it. I think I’m getting better with practice.
      Also, you bring up a good point. Is it OK not to explain why the necklace glows? A simple ” she felt a shift in weight as she held the pendant. Some kind of kinetic machinery that energized the glow…”
      Is it important to the story why the necklace glowed? Did I, as my teacher used to say, “wheel a cannon onstage and not fire it”?
      I can’t see the answer from this close, but I will try to leave fewer unshot cannons in my stories from now on. Thanks : )

  2. tara tyler says:

    holy crap!
    great juxtaposition! (and thx for giving me the opportunity to use one of my favorite words!)

  3. I like this a lot – the interweaving of the two stories, the little chronological jumps. Very cool.

    Like oldestgenxer, I’m also wondering about the glowing necklace. Not so much the mechanics of what made it glow, but rather, was the glowing important for the story? You made a point of emphasizing the glow, but it never seemed to come up again. Just wondering.

    • louisesor says:

      Interesting question. I’m not sure the glow was important to the story. Although it may have had more influence or power say, than a rusty old penny on a string.
      I had seen a steampunk gadget a few weeks ago on twitter, a zip drive, to be exact, and kept thinking of that as I wrote. Perhaps I’m the one who was fascinated by the blue glow. I do like shiny objects.
      People will rob and kill for no good reason at all. I just gave them something that glowed. Next time, I MAY either explain the glow, or have my character robbed and killed for a rusty penny on a string. No promises. : )

  4. Gripping story! I especially loved the dialogue and descriptions.

  5. BA Boucher says:

    Loved it. I love being uncomfortable with a narrative strain. Bouncing back and forth. Awesome, awesome stuff.

    And no you don’t need to explain the glow. Sometimes it just is. Like Pulp Fiction

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