The Charm – Chapter 8

(Index)

Jemma feels a hot flush run through her body. Did this strange woman say that in English or did she just understand Thai.

“I’m…sorry…I don’t mean to hurt you. Your necklace, it…”

She stops, confused by her own speech. Her tongue didn’t feel right.

The old woman drools around a gummy insane grin and waits patiently for Jemma to finish rubbing her temples where a headache threatens. Although small and hunched, the Thai lady moves with an aura of strength her years can’t suppress. She darts into the corner to retrieve a stick. Jemma has a flash-back of the brothel owner whipping a dancing girl for talking. She takes an involuntary step back then blushes, seeing the woman lean lightly on the cane.

“Well it’s yours now. I’d better give it to you.”

“No, no. I wasn’t trying to steal it.” Her words change even as her mouth forms them. What was going on?

“You can’t steal what chooses to be yours. The Charm will force you to take it, or me to give it. That is its way.”

The old woman approaches slowly while pulling the necklace over her head, then holds it out, impelling Jemma to take it. The Charm hangs heavily from the simple cord. Innocently. She sees the woman fighting an urge to snatch the disc away as she reaches for it. The Charm twists and flashes a warning spear of white light in the haggard, lined face, causing the old woman to drop to her knees, energy visibly draining from her.

“Already it rejects me, after all these years. It will never be mine again.”

Her voice is heavy with regret.

Another spark flows down Jemma’s arm, flooding her body with a warm glow as the disc is enclosed by her hand. Blood rushes painfully hot in her veins. She shivers and the sensation withdraws. The old lady watches closely, nodding knowingly.

“It touches you inside, yes? It likes your youth. Put it on.”

The words converting from Thai to English disorientates her mind so much it’s easier to comply than resist. The short cord fits over her head tightly, causing the medallion to pass close before her eyes. It twinkles malevolently, thrilling Jemma’s spine with fear.

Somehow she senses something dark and timeless within it.

She reaches to tear the disc from her neck in sudden terror. The urge is instantly and powerfully suppressed by a force that clamps down in all her senses. She calms unnaturally, still holding the Charm. Her fear evaporates and is forgotten in moments, leaving behind a latent curiosity.

Shaking a tight feeling in her head away she inspects her new piece of jewellery perfunctorily.

A complex design had graced its concave surface sometime in the distant past. Many years of wear has faded the pattern to obscurity. Its golden allure dims her awareness again as she stares in it leaving behind a rough, tarnished disguise. Disappointed in its apparent plainness she drops it to her chest and wonders at the low thrum and far away ringing rings through that permeates her core.

“I’ll pay for it, how much…?” Jemma says, positive she is speaking Thai like a native. The old woman doesn’t allow her to continue.

“You will pay a high price, pretty little Missy, but not to me, and not with money. You have touched it. You belong to the Charm now.”

At this the woman shows a hint of regret.

“It may give you good luck at first. It gave me a fine house and much money.”

She trails off muttering to herself then gives Jemma a sidelong look, full of mad hope. “I could kill you!”

“Beg your pardon?” Jemma says, shocked afresh.

“Or, why not kill yourself! Jump from the window!”

The women scuttles nearer, eager to help.

“I’m not killing myself,” Jemma says carefully, backing slowly towards the stairs.

“No, you’re right,’ the old crone says, sounding used up and weary again. “Only one who loves you most can kill you now. You can’t die any other way. The same as I couldn’t die.”

Then she eyes Jemma craftily. “The legend says the Charm can die if the owner dies. It might not have a chance to claim another.”

“Charm? Why do you want it to…die?” Jemma asks, stalling for time. She feels a floorboard crumble under her heels and shuffles sideways instead.

“It is evil! In return for fulfilling my desires it killed my babies… my husband. I punished it by locking us away so no-one else could be hurt. It grew angry. It took away my wealth and destroyed everything it gave me. I starved it and myself for years, but we do not die. It may be weak but…  now… it feeds on you.”

(Chapter 9)

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Published in: on Wednesday, 29 October, 2008 at 7:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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