Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cotton Candy

Be warned . . . this is unrepentant, unapologetic cotton candy, so grab a mouthful and enjoy!

Assassin's Treasure

I loved Nisha to death. But his charms drove me crazy. His gold rabbit foot was missing from around his neck and I knew it didn’t matter what I said, he wasn’t going down without it. “You sure you didn’t drop it outside?”

“I had it when we came in.” His blue eyes scanned the darkness that pooled between shafts of moonlight. “We shouldn’t be here.”
I got down on my knees and felt around on the splintered wooden floor. Brittle leaves crumbled under my fingers just before I came across something hard and cold. “Nisha?”

He spun around. “What?”

Getting up, slapping the dust from my jeans, I said, “Want your charm or a lucky kiss?”

He snagged the gold necklace from my grimy fingers and crammed it into the front pocket of his jeans. “I’ll kiss you later.” A shiver ran through him. “We’re not alone. Can’t you feel it?”

“I feel something,” I said. “But it’s too hard to be in the spirit world.” I nuzzled his neck.

He gave in and let me kiss him before he whispered against my lips, “Do you have your knives?”

I raised my hands and flicked my wrists. Two ten inch blades shot out, gleaming in moonlight. “You ready?” I said.

“No.” Nisha looked up at the jagged holes in the roof. “We should come back when the sun’s up. Why didn’t your grandfather just leave you money?”
“He did,” I said, going past him, flicking my knives back into place. “It’s down cellar. And we’re getting it out before my brothers lawyer up.”

“Vance?” His voice was a trembling whisper.

I whipped around. “What?”

“There’s someone behind me.”

There was nothing, just Nisha’s pale face and wide eyes. “Quit spooking yourself.”

He was breathing too fast, working himself into a panic. “Let’s wait in the car till morning.”

This was going to be harder than I’d thought. “Remember our bet?”
“It didn’t include ghosts,” Nisha said in a harsh whisper.
He was right. But I couldn’t risk leaving him alone. “I’m upping the ante,” I said. “You go down with me and I won’t take a job for six months.”
Nisha was a tough negotiator. “Nine,” he said. “And then nothing but local work for three months.”
 “Done,” I said. “Stay close.”
The basement door was where I remembered. We went down creaking steps and almost made it to the bottom before Nisha whispered, “He’s behind me again.”

I got to where the last step should have been and bashed into a door so hard, I nearly broke my nose. Nisha slammed into me. “Back up a minute,” I said.

“What’s wrong?”

I ran my fingers over the door that shouldn’t have been there, made myself take a deep breath, then retraced the shape I’d found. “Give me your rabbit’s foot,” I said.

“I need it. We’re in a haunted cellar.”

There wasn’t time to argue with him. The door at the top of the steps was swinging shut. “Now. I mean it.”
He handed it over and I pressed the charm into the shape I’d found on the door. It opened into a coffin-sized room. A single candle hung from the wall in the grip of a stone claw.

A cold, ghostly hand pushed me. I flew to the floor. Nisha crashed down beside me.

My cheek was brushing up against solid gold. If we got nothing but the treasure chest out, we would be millionaires for life. But it got better. Diamonds, emeralds, gold nuggets, and silver coins glittered in the candlelight.

Behind us, the door slammed shut.

Nisha shoved a scrap of parchment at me. “That better be a clue to the secret way out.” He glanced at the door. “I don’t see any doorknob.”

I held it under the candle. It was my grandfather’s writing. “Dear Vance,” I read out loud, “I know it’s you, because you always were a greedy boy. If you can read the map at the bottom of this here note, you’ll find your way to ten times what’s in that little jewelry box setting beside you. If not, you’ll be guarding my treasure forever.”
I glanced up at the candle. It was burned down more than halfway, and under my grandfather’s sprawled name, there was just blank parchment.

So. . . where's the treasure? Leave me your best guess. I'm dying to know . . .

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