Cold. The cold reminded me of Georgetown, my previous home. Chilly, vindictive and unforgiving. It has been six years since the incident but my memory of it seems as fresh as if it had happened just yesterday.
Moving past the heavily guarded mahogany doors, I entered the room. A grand crystal chandelier hung from the mirrored ceiling, illuminating the entire room, royal carvings on the pillars reminding me of one of the palaces in Italy and the busts of distinguished philosophers casually placed in a haphazard manner all across the room with a little DO NOT TOUCH note on each. I had been canvassing the busts when I accidentally stumbled upon a rather bizarre object, a victorian music box. In our village there had been several incidents, some true, others not so much. But there was one particular story which no one knew anything about, it had succumbed to a rumour. According to the rumour, there was a music box hidden in the depths of our village, key to one of the largest treasures in the world. The most powerful people of the world had been looking for it for centuries but none of them had lucked out.
The story went on to uncover a secret society, sworn to protect the people from the clutches of the powerful by making sure that the key never fell into the wrong hands. The sigurers. They were known protectors but nobody knew who they were or where they belonged to. But this was not even the most unbelievable part. It was said that the treasury was under the village church. All that gold just lying there.
“Some things do not need a touch me not note for people to understand that they are not to be touched,” said a voice. I turned around only to see a tall, be-spectacled British man in his late 50s standing in front of me. Although his face portrayed no emotion, his words had an aura of power surrounding them. The clarity and emphasis on each word that came out of his mouth made me shiver a little. I kept on staring blankly at his shoes as he waited for an answer. “Come with me,” and the next thing I knew, I was following the man through tunnels I did not know about, leading us to a small room.
The room was filled with dust and cobwebs along with a few papers lying on the floor. I could see the church from the windows and quite surprisingly, it had the same crest as that on the music box. I noticed the man looking at the music box in my hand. “Where did you find it?” he asked me with his hands behind his back.
“I picked it up near the busts but I do not know what it is. Please take this and let me go home.” my voice was so low that I wondered if he could even hear me. “Of course you can go home. You haven’t seen anything you shouldn’t have, have you?” I shook my head slowly, wondering why he had asked me that particular question. My heart began to race, my mind forming connections between the church and the box. The rumour, the story, could it all be true?
My mind had drifted off to another place when I felt something was askew. My body suddenly felt calm. Too calm infact. My cheeks and gums felt numb, beads of sweat formed on my forehead despite the windows being open. Hiccups. Breathing became a little difficult. I was trying to stifle a giggle. But why? All these thoughts ran across my mind when my eyes landed on the box again. The crest on the box had risen and I could feel a gas coming out of the empty space with my fingers. I couldn’t control it any longer, the pressure was much stronger than me. My laughter echoed through the tunnels, a small smile forming on my captor’s face.
“I guess you will not be going home anytime soon now.” The laughing gas released from the box had made me numb. A dumbing numb. I tried to run away but my efforts were unsuccessful. The after effects of the gas had left me impaired of my basic senses. I could not breathe properly, and I could not fend for myself but there I was laughing in the face of my perpetrator.
Whatever happened in the following minutes might have been a hallucination because my body bore no evidence of me having jumped out the window along with the music box.
The next thing I remember is running. I ran and ran and ran till I felt safe again. The effects of the gas had subsided but I was laughing again. I laughed at my situation, at how silly it all sounded in my head, I laughed at reality and how it seemed too fictional to be true. I laughed till my bones ached. My journey ended upon reaching a small village. A new place where I could see a lot of new things but the most prominent one was a new beginning. An alone yet safe beginning.
Six years since the incident and I still could not go home. I could feel eyes on me whenever I stepped outside, clutching myself a little tighter. At the end of the day the only thing keeping me company was the music box. My music box, making me burst into giggles, making me feel numb and some days that was all I needed.
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