the courier pt. 1

as i turned
down the brick road
the sun shied away
the closer i drew
to my destination
the darker
the world around me
seemed to grow
a cool wind
whipped up the trash
into a dustdevil
in detritus
slapping against
the windshield

an ill omen
or just coincidence
i couldn’t say
with any certainty
but as the chill
cut through
my thin hoodie
i felt the urge
to turn tail
and slink away

the shop sat
between
an alleyway
that stretched
farther back
than seemed probable
and an empty
storefront
with boarded up
windows painted
with strange
runic graffiti
the well worn
brass handle
was warm
and slightly
moist feeling
as i pulled
the heavy wooden door
towards me

a bell rang
sickly into the musty
room of curiosities
i looked up
at the strange tone
and saw that
the bells were shaped
into bird skulls
explaining
the odd sounds
emitted

i stood for a moment
gazing at the
assortment
of grotesqueries
placed randomly
throughout
the small room

a jar of eyeballs
in emerald solution
bobbed on unseen
currents
and as i leaned in
the light made
it seem as if
the pupils
constricted
a clever illusion
i thought
as i walked about
looking at
mummified hands
with waxy coating
and the taxidermied
remains of animals
that never existed

candles and herbs
silver symbols
attached to leather straps
tomes long faded
with pages
of unfamiliar papyrus
scrolls
chalk
and various
implements
i could not
wrap my mind around
with spidery words
in a language
that felt like
a migraine forming
if i stared too long

“you must be
the courier”
a wheezing voice
whispered
from somewhere
in the shadows

i leapt
frightened
as if caught
shoplifting
my face flushed
and i nodded

“you read the
instructions”

i nodded again
“to be delivered
at promptly
midnight”

“and”

“and left
unopened
by the courier”

he smiled
“indeed
here, take it
and begone”

he held out
a manilla envelope
with the same
strange writing
and sealed
with a thick
bead of wax
imprinted
with three sixes
which i placed
in my bag
and turned to leave

“boy,
remember the
instructions”

i turned to
respond
but there was
no one there
and i swear
every eye
in the green fluid
was now
staring straight
at me
i practically ran
as the birdskulls
rang out sickly
into the empty
shop behind me.

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