(As seen in CFW Event #14)
The world where I was born is the same as yours. It’s just made of different stuff – the kind of stuff that makes dreams and myths and legends. You can’t see my world and my people can’t see yours, with the exception of brief glimpses now and then. I, however, can see both, for I am fated to walk the empty space between the worlds until the end of time. It is the sentence that I must pay for my crime. In your world it was Adam and Eve who brought the curse upon humanity. In my world…it was me.
It was a warm sun-misty day in the month of Neem. I walked in the Forest Leighdan, searching for honeyberries. Then I came across a troll wearing a hooded cloak of black. He motioned me over and I went cautiously.
“Don’t be afraid, my dear,” he croaked, “I want to show you something. Look, there through the trees.”
I looked where he pointed and saw a golden box set atop a stump. It was carved with strange markings and glowed like the sun.
“What is it?” I asked in awe.
“In that box,” he said, “Is the greatest treasure and the greatest power known to man. I cannot open it, only guard it until I find the right person to open it. Not one who will abuse the power and the treasure, but someone who will use it wisely. I believe you are the one.”
“Me?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes. I can sense it. I can see it in your eyes. Go on … open it.”
I moved forward and went to stand before it. I reached out, but my hand stilled inches from the box. Something told me not to do it. A warning from my grandmother many years ago echoed through my mind – a warning about a hooded troll and a golden box. She’d said it was forbidden to open the box, that it would bring a curse upon the one who opened it and all humanity. She had said it was forbidden by the Lord for our own benefit and defying the command would bring unspeakable consequences.
Surely she was wrong, I thought, Opening this beautiful box couldn’t be wrong. It must have just been one of her old superstitions.
“Don’t be afraid of greatness,” the troll said, “This is what you were born for. Open the box and see what beauty and power lies within.”
He affirmed my rationalizations and all thought of my grandmother’s warning left my mind.
His words and the lure of the box spurred me on. I reached out with both hands and touched the box. Then in one swift, reckless motion, I lifted the lid.
To my horror, I saw not light and beauty, but blackness, ghouls, and demons, visions of terror and death. It all came rushing out in a black fiendish whirlwind.
I could hear the troll laughing madly as he watched.
Then all at once, they were gone, the box was empty … the deed was done.
Suddenly a man in shining white robes stood before me.
He looked at me mournfully and asked, “What have you done, Pandora?”
© Whitney L. Schwartz