This story is by Blue Skye and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
We found the amulet on June 16. It was a day I would always remember, and never forget, even if I had a severe case of amnesia, or was knocked out multiple times. It was a day like no other. It changed you. Shaped you. Controlled you. And now you are lost to its power.
We were the best of friends, you and I. We would win every race, achieve any goal, outwit any couple. But when it came to the race against time, we lost. On June 16, we were skipping pebbles and eating ham sandwiches. You started to talk about your day, from when you woke up in the morning, to when you scraped your knee when you ran here, to the creek. I threw another rock. We watched it skip twice before it sank underneath the surface. And then you saw it. “Look!” You cried, pointing to the glint of an object far beneath the surface. “I wouldn’t go in,” I remember saying, but still you waded toward the glittery object covered by stones in the deep end of the creek. You dove in, and I remember holding my breath, even though I wasn’t the one under water. I called your name, and then you resurfaced wearing the object. It was a necklace. And it held an amulet.
I remember you wading back, and there was this sort of wild glint in your eyes that made me stop in my tracks. “Isn’t it beautiful?” You marveled and held it up the faint glow of the sunset. I’ll admit it. It really was beautiful. The amulet was ruby, covered in a thin web of gold that worked it’s way upward like a spider web. “What are you going to do with it?” I asked tentatively, “I’ll keep it of course,” You said. Your eyes never wandered from the stone. “We should head back,” I said, looking up at the sky. The sunset had painted the sky fiery red and bashful orange, warm cream, and soft gold. It was when I looked back did I scream. That glint in your eyes had turned into a firestorm. Literally. Waves of molten fire lapped the waves, hissing and sputtering. Your body was ablaze, crackling embers of heat flying from your body and melting the rocks it landed on. I remember seeing the forest behind light up like a million bonfires. The heat scorched my hands as I took the picnic blanket from the pebbles and tried to fan out the flames. You were cackling. Fire curled from your hands. I saw steam and wind and flames. I lost it. I grabbed the blanket and threw it in the creek, diving in myself. I waited until the blanket dripping and sopping wet and threw it over you. You screamed. It was the most terrible sound I had ever heard. A sound full of agony and distress, and it might have killed me to know I couldn’t help you. I think I might have died that day. You cried my name. You were back to normal. Your hair was dripping wet, and your lips were blue. I took your hands and realized they were covered with blisters. “Take the amulet off-” You said desperately, “Take it off,” and so I did. Or at least, I tried. The amulet was stuck to your skin, still hot as if it were on fire. “Take it off!” You sobbed. Steam curled from where it was. But I couldn’t. I was crying too, and my tears did nothing except evaporate when it touched your skin. “I can’t,” I whispered.
We returned home. When your parents asked about the heat radiating from your body, I told them you had been out in the sun too long. It was believable. Your skin was tomato red. I was on my way home when I was stopped by a man. Literally, again. It had been a really strange night for me, and I didn’t even show the slightest hint of surprise when I realized I couldn’t move. I was stuck in place, mid-stride. I couldn’t even move my eyeballs. “Look at me.” Someone hissed to my right. “Oh, right sorry.” I heard a snap, like a broken piece of celery, and suddenly my head could move. I was face to face with a man. He had a hair full of greasy obsidian black hair, an unnaturally pale face, and beady yellow eyes plastered on a shallow face. “Listen.” he hissed again. “Your friend is in grave danger. I know you don’t know who I am, or what I am, but you have to trust me. I threw that amulet in the creek for a reason,” His breath reeked of stale cheese and onions. “There is an antidote, however. But you will need to act fast. That ruby, Mors ignis, or death fire, will slowly take over your friend while they sleep. You have until sunrise when the dew on leaves are fresh, and the first rays spill over your friend while they sleep. He grabbed and shook my shoulders, although I couldn’t move. It was awkward. When he pulled back, I noticed a crescent ring on his finger, tinted silver from the moonlight now rising. “You have exactly twelve whole hours. Now move if you value your friend’s life,” I could walk again. I turned around to face him, but he was gone. I closed my eyes. “This is a dream,” I said to myself. “Just do what that creep says and you’ll wake up,” My hand suddenly felt three times heavier. When my fingers uncurled, a device was in my hand. A map. There were three items on it. An obsidian gem, a gold gem, and a green gem. There were glowing white arrows that pointed in three different directions. I followed the first one.
It led to a cave full of wolves. I could feel all the blood leave my face. There was crimson colored blood dripping from their teeth. The carcasses of other animals were laid around their feet. Not to my surprise, they spoke. “What do you seek?” They all asked together. “A cure for my friend,” I asked. “She was bequeathed with Deathfire.” The wolves separated revealing a raven black one. Her eyes were made of obsidian, matching the gem on my map. “You may take it.” She said in a graceful voice. “But with great power comes great consequences.”
The second led to a pond. I sighed. It looked toxic. It wasn’t green, or yellow, but it had a dangerous feeling. I knew something was waiting for me beneath. It was the color of the galaxy. Hues of purple, black, white, and blue swirled around like a black hole. I shoved the stone in my pocket and kept in.
It was shockingly cold. I was face to face with a serpent if it even had a face. It’s one, singular eye stared me down. “Face the truth.” It said, “And accept the consequences.” My mind disappeared.
I went through a series of torture while viewing those images. “Your friend is a traitor.” The serpent said. “An enemy. Do you wish to go through all this for them?” I reached in and grabbed his golden heart. “Yes.” I breathed and shot to the surface. I was dry. In my hand was a tiny beating gold gem, twin to the one on the map.
The third was you. We were in the middle of the forest. “Stab yourself.” You smiled. Next to me lay a sword. “This is fake,” I told myself. I shoved the blade into my heart. Green ooze traveled down the sword. The blade did not pierce. “You have proven yourself loyal and willing to sacrifice,” Stimulation-you said. “Congratulations.” There was a flash of light, and I was back in front of creepo. The gems were in his hands. He was shaking. “At last.” he moaned. He swallowed them. “Thank you for freeing me!” He cried, and his body glowed electric blue. His ring fell off and clinked to the ground. When he landed, his hair was the color of a rose, and color blossomed in his cheeks. “But-But the cure!” I cried. He laughed. “You are dreaming my dear.” He said, smiling. “I have been trapped in the dreamscape for eons, and you gathered the ingredients to wake me up. Now wake up. “
I woke. “Did you really fall asleep?” You smiled. “Wha-?” You laughed. “My god you did. Was my retelling of my day really that boring?”
I smiled weakly but turned my head, just to see the blisters fresh on your hands, the glint in your eyes, and the ruby dangle from your neck.