View Full Version : "The Necklace" (in sections)
08-04-2006, 11:38 PM
I'm going to start posting sections of a short story I've written called "The Necklace" and I hope you have fun with it. Probably will post the first section tomorrow. Thanks!
08-05-2006, 07:06 AM
oooooo,this is gonna be good!
08-05-2006, 02:14 PM
"The Necklace" by Rodd Matsui
Copyright 2006 Rodd Matsui
Let me begin by saying that the mysterious telephone call, with its promise of a profitable short-term job, came after a barrage of bad calls early that morning, the nature of which I won’t go into except to say that after the barrage, I was becoming thoroughly convinced that someone was arranging some plan against me, a plan that seemed to involve sudden simultaneous betrayals on the part of my closest friends. After the last ill communication, I was pretty depressed and preparing not to leave the house that day; the world seemed unfaceable. When the phone rang again, I was hesitant to pick it up. But I did.
“This is Henrietta Phillips,” said the voice, though the hissing static obscured it. “Can you hear me?”
“I think so,” I said. “Can I help you?”
The static seemed to clear slightly, then, “There. That’s better. I have a job for you, if you’ll take it. Can you come up to Annan Woods on short notice?” It sounded like an old woman’s voice.
I told her that I could, and asked the nature of the job and what it was paying. She would only say the matter would be discussed on my arrival, and it would be worth my while.
My occupation is nothing very special; I do odd jobs, fix things, move things, paint. I’ve never had to advertise; work has been a steady trickle ever since I moved to this quiet community. Handiwork will probably never make me wealthy, but I do get by with it; and it is a solitary type of job which allows me to think and ponder things--my inexpensive lifetime hobby.
I grabbed my tool kit and some smokes and headed out to Annan Woods, which I knew was up towards the hilly parts of this area, although I had never had reason to go there. After negotiating a number of increasingly mazelike and narrow streets, I finally came upon the cul-de-sac described to me earlier; at the end of the cul-de-sac there was a large gate of chain-link, beyond it a slim drizzle of blacktop that I supposed passed for a road. The blacktop led to an old two-story house a couple of hundred yards away. This was the Phillips estate. The weeds and dirt that had come to overtake the place told me no one had come to maintain it in some time, though equally apparent was the fact that, some four or five decades past, this rather large area of leveled-out hillside had been home to a wealthy family; in front of the house was a decayed but beautifully constructed courtyard of ancient cement, with raised rectangular structures for flowers to be grown in, and a magnificent fountain now covered with a network of fissures. Even from this distance the place was quite a sight, and I looked forward to getting a better look at it; I got out of my car to open the gate, which had no lock, and drove in.
I parked just in front of the courtyard, and just as I got out of the car I heard the front door of the place squeak open. I turned to see a woman of seventy or more standing in the doorway. She was wearing a long, plain gray dress and slippers, and her hair looked wild, as if she’d just woken up; yet this was a woman of a notable beauty which the years had dampened but hardly extinguished; I observed, for a moment, her proud brow and fine slim nose and strangely piercing dark eyes.
08-05-2006, 02:27 PM
“You are Marcus Baily?” Her crisp voice carried well over the courtyard.
“Yes. You must be Miss Phillips.” I moved slightly towards the front steps.
“Come inside.” She vanished into the house. This woman did not seem grateful for my presence, but I learned some time back that jobs are worked for all sorts of people with all sorts of temperaments, and that one can’t be too picky. I went inside.
The interior was dingy, as I’d expected, and lit with dusty lightbulbs in archaic-looking hanging lamps barely holding themselves together, but the ceiling was impressively high, the hand-carved molding exquisite. There wasn’t much in the sizable livingroom--a couple of pieces of furniture here and there, a large ceramic cat and a few bookshelves. The wallpaper, not too old, was nonetheless starting to bubble and peel. Amazingly, the original hardwood floor was intact and fresh, though it may have been sixty or more years old. I guessed that it had been covered by carpeting for a long time, and that the carpet had been removed fairly recently, for the glossy varnish coat looked almost new.
My employer was sitting in an easy chair near the fireplace. “Sit down, please,” she said, with a slight smile crooking up one side of her mouth. “I’m glad you’ve come.”
I sat down, feeling more at ease. “Now, this job you have for me--”
“It’s a small job,” she said, “and I need someone to do it, though it may not be in your specific line of work. I hope it does not take more than an hour or two of your time.” A purse sat on the floor next to her chair; she bent laboriously and reached into it, producing a small stack of crisp bills and placing them on a table nearby. “I am prepared to pay you five hundred dollars if you succeed in completing it.” She paused oddly.
At that moment, a number of thoughts went through my mind concerning the nature of the job. She saw my eyes widen, I think, for hers did, and she smirked a bit. “You have a fertile imagination,” she said, “but I want you to find something, something very dear to me, and as soon as you possibly can. It’s something I’ve lost--a necklace of pearls, with a large emerald teardrop.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “Is this necklace somewhere inside the house where you can’t get to it? It seems like a very simple thing to find.” I almost began to say something about the payment being ridiculously high for the task, but kept my lips shut. The money of insane people spends as well as any other.
“It’s true. You don’t understand.” She got up, and walked stiffly over to a large front window overlooking the courtyard. “A long time ago...” She paused, and took a breath. “A long time ago, I had a sister named Claire. She was very beautiful, far too beautiful for her own good, and mine. You see we were always in competition with each other, and we always quarrelled. This was more of a nuisance and a hindrance than anything else, and I would have forgotten our problems--if only she’d just let me have Anthony. Anthony was a stockbroker, a fine man, and quite handsome. I fell in love with him the night we met at a party.”
I interrupted to ask how these things related to the task at hand. “Let me finish, and you’ll see,” she said, somewhat sharply. “Anthony and I had been seeing each other for just a few days when Claire began her attempt to take him from me. And she succeeded, distracting him with her audacious charms, and tempting him with revealing gowns she would wear only on nights when he came to see me. I soon realized I had to take action if I was to keep Anthony for myself. I began behaving defensively, and eventually our arguing drove him away from both of us. The necklace I want you to find is my only memento of that time, and bitter though my memories are, I cherish it deeply.”
“I’ll find it,” I said reassuringly.
She looked at me for a moment, seeming doubtful about whether to go on, then bade me to the window. “Look out there. Do you see how the road goes around that bend?” The blacktop road that had brought me to the house veered off to one side of it, and continued around the hill the large house was built on. “No one goes out that way; the hillside’s eroded and the paved road, what there’s left of it, is dangerous and slopy. Around the bend and apiece down the road is what remains of another house, a guest house. Claire lived in that house for many years. She and it were destroyed in a fire in nineteen seventy. Please don’t listen for sympathy in my voice, because there isn’t any.” I was finding all this a bit much, and she noticed this, but she continued: “Now, I have had this necklace since nineteen fifty-five. I’ve always kept it in a lacquer jewelry box. About two years ago, I woke up and discovered it missing. I searched high and low in the house, to no avail. Do you know where I found it?”
I said I hadn’t a guess.
“Outside, on the road--off towards where the road goes around that curve.”
“That’s very strange,” I agreed.
“I brought it back inside the house. It stayed there for a couple of months, and then it disappeared again. I went looking for it in the same place, and found it further up the road--and closer to my sister’s house. A few months later it happened again, and I found the necklace yet closer to her house. It was all I could do to take the necklace back, for I shudder at the thought of even seeing the ruins, and try never to go near them, and I never set foot in them.
“The necklace disappeared again this morning. I searched all along the road, going as close as I could to the place--but I couldn’t find it.” She sat down again, and presented this in summary, her eyes gleaming: “I am sure my sister means to do me harm, and to take from me all that I enjoy in this life. But I will step no closer to the house than I have, because I am equally certain that she is there, you see!”
“You believe the necklace to be inside the ruins.”
“Yes, and you must get it back for me, before she takes it farther away...farther, where it cannot be retrieved!” She seemed very excited now, possibly because I was making an effort to take her story seriously. And I was certainly serious about considering the job. The way the stack of bills sat on the table, it was understood that I was not be be paid until the task was accomplished. Herein lay the conflict, because if the situation she described was imaginary, then there was no necklace to be found in the ruins, I would return empty-handed, and I would not be paid.
Hell to it, I thought. I’ve come all the way here, and I don’t see how climbing around that bend and taking a glance around will do me any harm.
“If it’s out there, I’ll come back with it. Don’t worry,” I told her, and started for the door.
Outside, the sun continued to blaze brilliantly; I saw some storm clouds off in the distance, and the breeze indicated they were probably coming in this direction; but they looked to be hours away, so I was not concerned with rain impeding my progress. I was actually looking forward to the hike, and, judging I wouldn’t need the tool kit, decided then to leave it behind.
I turned to find my employer standing at the front porch. A faint smile glimmered on her face, and in spite of how I felt about the job, it pleased me to think that my acceptance of it had somehow brightened her day.
“I’ll be on my way,” I said.
“Be careful. Please,” she well-wished.
I started for the ruins, trying to keep the image of the money in my head, and resolving to think no more about the questionable aspects of this task until I was well on my way down the road and unlikely to turn back.
08-06-2006, 07:00 AM
So far,so good:)
08-06-2006, 09:51 AM
keep it coming, started out as a good read, enjoying it so far, of course now i'm going to be nagging you for each installment :D
08-06-2006, 12:36 PM
I'm working on it, next section will be posted soon. Thanks!
08-07-2006, 07:16 PM
I noticed something as I went around the curve in the road: The bird songs appeared to vanish abruptly, as if shut off, and were replaced by a peculiar silence broken only by minor gestures of the wind. As I walked, somehow, the silence settled in as a dominant element of its own, and I felt truly alone with my thoughts. I observed the road ahead, which was breaking up as the woman had told me. Much of it had fragmented and rolled down the incline; and the road at one point had indeed become slopy under untold seasons of rain, making it necessary to hug the hillside as I crossed this part. At the bottom of the hill two hundred feet down were thorny-looking shrubs I had no desire to be with.
Past this particularly dangerous area the road regained itself for a bit and then vanished under a layer of hard-packed earth. Now I was left with a dirt road which continued beyond the paved road, which I had no objection to; and, yes, looming in the distance was a dark gray squarish shape nestled amongst some bushes.
I felt some nervousness as I approached the place, but this soon vanished.
I had imagined the house being nothing more than some blackened dirt and splinters, and was surprised to find that much of it remained; it had been a one-story affair with several rooms, two of which had been burnt completely away off to the east side; some smoke had traveled out the windows of the intact rooms, staining them. At least there would be something of a house to search.
My anxiousness to take care of business is probably to account for what happened next. I slipped in some soft, muddy earth, I think. I do remember something about a large rock coming up at my face.
Some time later, something stirred.
I opened my eyes, immediately aware that my forehead throbbed, and that I was soaking wet and cold. I lay uncomfortably in an outcropping of tall grass. It was dark, and raining!
I contemplated the sharp rock that had almost killed me, touched my forehead, saw dark liquid on my fingers, mixing with the rain. I felt around on the ground, certain I would come upon the rock I had fallen on; but I couldn’t find it.
I had slipped just feet away from the house. Cursing my stupidity, I got up, stumbled over to the house and leaned against it until the pain in my forehead subsided slightly. Then I found a door and stepped inside, trying to make out, through the darkness, any details.
I had no flashlight, but I did have a lighter, and, trying to relax, I thought that now might be a good time for a smoke. Most of my cigarettes were damp but I managed to light one, then turned the gas dial up to full and flicked the flame on several times, pointing the lighter in different directions to get a better idea of the surroundings. The room I was in was empty, but there was a single open door connecting this room to more of the house. I moved through the darkness towards the door.
At a point that I thought was about the midpoint of the room I felt myself beginning to go unconscious again. There was the perilous sensation of my legs beginning to fall out from under me, and I held my arm out, to help control the fall, and presently I found myself on my back. It was then, as my head slowly cleared, that I heard the sound of hard shoes tracking across the floor, and rather fast. And then I heard a door shut.
I must admit that I had no idea exactly what was happening, but I was forced to consider three very disparate possibilities. It was possible, if I took the woman’s story at face value, that I had heard the spirit, or ghost, or whatever, of Claire Phillips. And it was possible that my employer had somehow, and I had no idea how, come across the distance to search for me. And this was logical, for it must have been hours since I’d left. The third possibilty was that the sounds of the footsteps and the closing door had been hallucinations brought about by the injury to my head.
And then a moment later I remembered how the woman had said that she avoided the ruins at all costs...and I remembered the money promised me, and began to think that perhaps there was a good reason why the sum was so high. A fear inside me began to grow incredibly real.
08-09-2006, 06:40 PM
When's the next installment???
08-09-2006, 07:10 PM
In about five minutes!
08-09-2006, 07:13 PM
Originally posted by crabapple
In about five minutes!
08-09-2006, 07:14 PM
For a moment I panicked silently, wrestling with the urge to bolt up and get out--and finally decided, squinting in the darkness, that I must collect myself and light the lighter. I did, leaving the flame on for several seconds.
The door in front of me was now closed.
And then I scolded myself. I was always so gullible. I began to contemplate the possibility that this might be some kind of bizarre practical joke, perhaps even orchestrated by more than one person. The situation couldn’t be the thing I was imagining it was. I refused to accept it. I let the lighter go out as I approached the doorway with plans to relight it as I opened the door, to surprise my tormentor or tormentors.
But when I opened the door the flame revealed only the next room, its emptiness like the other’s. Outside the rain continued steadily. I stalked in, seeing another connecting door across this room. I approached it. Moonlight came in through breaks in the ceiling, providing just enough illumination to see things here without keeping the flame alight. Did I hear whispering over the rain? A noise? I did think I heard whispering coming from behind this second door.
Certain I was on the verge of discovering what was going on, I flung the door open.
Don’t ask me to explain what I saw more than this, because it might have been a trick of my mind, my imagination. It seemed as though something in the room vanished, disappearing suddenly just as I opened the door, but it’s hard to say what this something was. I might describe it as a sort of murky, cloudlike mass, like a shadow impossibly cast in midair and with nothing to cast it, which disassembled instantly into fragments which leapt back into the corners and crevaces of the room, as though the darkness had been gathered in pieces and commandeered for some purpose of which I was not to know.
Whatever the case, something seemed to be there one moment, and then gone the next.
I stood there for a moment, staring into the dimness.
By this time, I was becoming certain that my imagination and my injury had everything to do with this predicament. I realized now that I had been programmed by the woman’s story, that I had been prepared to expect unusual things to happen, and so now they were. It had only been a breeze that had shut the door in the other room. I had imagined the sound of the footsteps, and it was not difficult to imagine that the din of the rain obscured the sounds of voices.
And then I saw it--a glint of greenish light, coming from the floor.
I approached the glint warily, bent down.
I didn’t want to find the necklace at that moment, because I feared this final validation of my employer’s tale. When I grasped the pearl string and lifted the object up, I knew that it was too late.
I held the necklace up under a shaft of moonlight and saw the beautiful green stone, mounted in an ornate gold encasement and whose outer surface was cut into ten facets, one in the center and the others, smaller, surrounding it.
After debating a moment, because I felt for some odd reason that I was doing something wrong, I placed it in my coat pocket. I knew that, despite the problems I had encountered, my compensation was secure and waiting for me at the house, and I had only to complete the final step of returning; and, fortifying myself with this knowledge, I started for the door I had come in through.
I had little difficulty getting outside, and was very glad to be in the open air again. The rain, which still fell unchangingly, had revitalized the air and charged it with an electricity. I got through the weeds and shrubbery surrounding the house and started back on the path, which was now very slick with mud. I had done it.
I had trudged through mud and rocks for a couple of minutes when I felt something very odd. The necklace appeared to be getting heavier in the coat pocket I’d placed it in, seemed, indeed, to be sinking deeper into my coat. I stopped, and reached into the pocket and pulled the necklace out, hefting it in my palm and scrutinizing its weight intently. The necklace seemed to lose this quality as soon as I began to examine it, for everything seemed normal once again.
I put it back in the pocket and continued on, keeping my hand clenched tightly around it. I was determined, despite anything, to achieve my goal.
08-09-2006, 07:21 PM
The bend lay ahead of me a ways up the path, and made my way towards it. And then I stopped, because I became aware of a strange feeling, a chilling sensation that penetrated deeper than that of the freezing rain all around me. And with the chill came the strange, magnetic compulsion to look behind me. I didn’t want to, yet I found my head was turning, and my body was following. I realized I had no control over what was happening.
Something stood before me in the path. I could not see it; but the moment I turned around I was assaulted, my mind was assaulted, by something I will call an energy, for I have no idea how to classify these kinds of things. I will say that my eyes were drawn to an area five or six feet away from me. And I knew that, in this space, something stood. It was something that was emitting an energy that my mind was receiving and interpreting; and the energy was a communication.
Whatever it was, it was insisting to me very fiercely that it was there.
The space in front of me seemed to throb with a solidity that the surrounding air did not have. And as soon as I recognized this solidity I heard a sound, a truly audible sound, coming from this space, first faint and then growing louder. It was a rasping noise, unmistakably the sound of breathing.
08-09-2006, 07:28 PM
On the one hand I just want you to complete this story all at once,cause when I get to the end I am thinking "already?,damn!"
But on the OTHER hand-it's really quite genius.
Like a really sweet little dessert: small enough to make you savor it slowly and leaves you wanting just a TAD more.
Also,and I have no idea why,but I have been picturing this story like one of those B&W episodes of Twilight Zone:cool:
08-09-2006, 07:36 PM
Oh, that's so nice of you to say. Glad you're enjoying it! I'm tightening up the last bit and will put that up pretty soon.
08-09-2006, 07:48 PM
The sound lingered there a moment, then it started to cruise slowly towards me. My legs felt rooted to the spot.
I did not want to consider the unspeakable things that were about to happen, only allowed my dread of them to motivate me. There was only one thing to do. I knew what it wanted. I pulled the necklace out of my pocket and flung it at the thing advancing on me. Finding my legs free to move, I turned and ran and didn’t look back.
It took me, at the speed I was running, only a minute to reach the house. I scrambled instinctively over a number of rocks which might have tripped me had I not been in such an electrified, such a totally aware state. The moment I turned and ran, I knew that my life depended on my immediate flight away from this place.
I felt my dread subside gradually as I rounded the bend and saw the large house. The rain appeared to be subsiding too. I had escaped.
I slowed down and approached the place. The lights were off, all the windows completely dark.
And all of a sudden, I was consumed by a feeling--not an alarming one, but one that arose instantly and which was startling at that moment. I had sensed the quality of the silence that hid beyond the murmur of the fading rain. I knew I was alone; I knew that, when I got to the front door, I would find no one inside.
I went up the front steps, opened the door, and went in.
Inspecting with the cigarette lighter as before, I found the floor bare; all the furniture was gone; the floor looked much older than it had before. I saw with astonishment that a number of the floor boards were broken in or missing.
I stepped outside, placing my lighter back in my pocket and resolving not to let the dawning horror paralyze me. When I got in my car, I averted my eyes from the place and trusted and hoped that nothing further would go wrong this night. I started the car up, turned it around on the road, and got myself out of there.
For several days following, and my friends will tell you if you ask them, I went into seclusion. During those days nothing seemed solid around me; I spent most of the time sitting and thinking. Sleep was fitful when it came.
Though I do not profess to understand the nature of the events which befell me, I do believe that, when I was experiencing them, I was exposed to some unknown type of energy, the effect of which stayed with me for some time after the exposure took place. I believe that my consciousness, my mind, intersected with that infinite aspect of reality that modern science does not yet understand, that realm in which people’s intentions, their desires and apparently their personalities continue beyond their physical end. The Henrietta Phillips I had talked to had proved to be illusory, but I had talked to her, had somehow received a phone call from her that morning. I find it disturbing that during my period of seclusion, I was awakened two or three times in the night by the ringing of the telephone, which I answered each time to find only a dial tone. During these occasions I noticed that the telephone never seemed to ring more than a moment after I’d come awake, seeming to cut off, or fade off, shortly after I opened my eyes.
I was also plagued by dreams of a frightful nature, though this surprises me not, since they were usually odd, distorted recollections of my terrifying trek across the muddy hillside path. In these dreams I was always trying to make my way back to the large house, running in fear from an invisible thing that was chasing me. But this did not go on forever. As the days passed the frightening dreams, at first vivid, became vague, and the time I spent trapped in them became shorter and shorter.
Interestingly, too, I noticed that with each successive dream, the thing chasing me seemed to weaken: At first it was always just behind me, but I noticed, each time I had this recurring dream, that it fell back more and more, as if unable to keep up.
At some point I decided that my mind’s unwillingness to forget the experience must be blamed, at least in part, for any lingering aftereffects, and that I must put a conscious effort into blocking such thoughts out. This turned out to be successful, and my life did return to normal, as I learned again to grapple with the blessed problems of ordinary days and nights.
08-10-2006, 10:21 AM
08-10-2006, 10:38 AM
Absolutely freakin' awesome!!
08-10-2006, 11:25 AM
Originally posted by hammerfan
Absolutely freakin' awesome!!
Originally posted by novakru
08-11-2006, 05:48 AM
I am impressed.
Other than the ending being too normal for such a suspensful story-I really enjoyed this!
You are very creative:cool:
08-11-2006, 07:18 AM
Well, hopefully you had a couple of distracted moments, a little fun.
08-11-2006, 09:47 AM
That was a great read, very original, thoroughly enjoyed it
only 1 small problem...we can read faster than you can write :D
Looking forward to the next story, how long are you going to make us wait for it?
08-11-2006, 12:21 PM
It was a great story! The writing flowed very smoothly, and I really enjoyed it a lot.:)
08-11-2006, 01:18 PM
You guys are awesome.
If you want the audiobook cassette version of this story (in 3D stereo with music and sound effects!), PM me and I'll tell you how you might go about getting one.
09-14-2006, 11:21 AM
Bumping just for the heck of it.
09-15-2006, 02:45 AM
Originally posted by crabapple
Bumping just for the heck of it.
LOL, it's still here, and still a good story, i'm waiting patiently for the next one ;)
09-15-2006, 11:38 AM