It came in the shape of an exquisite transparent aqua blue vase with an opaque milk white interior, the exact finishing touch for the entry of her apartment. The shape would make a dramatic visual statement against the sheen of ecru walls and mahogany plank floor. Atop the antique rosewood letter desk, the vivid color would draw the eye of every visitor.
The elderly man smiled when she handed over the fifty dollar bill. “My wife brought it with her from Greece, been in her family for generations.” He wrapped the vase in layers of newspaper and carefully tucked her purchase inside a white paper sack. Raising grizzled eyebrows he held out the parcel. “She claimed an ancestor carried the precious thing from Constantinople, across the Aegean Sea.” He hesitated a moment. “My wife meant it for our daughter but the Lord only blessed us with sons.”
Cassie grasped the raffia-wrapped wire handles and on impulse, reached out and squeezed his veined hand, felt the fine trembling in his fingers. “I’ll treasure this like she would have.”
The wizened old man’s lips curved into a smile. A gust of heated wind soughed through the aisle of vendors and whipped ebony curls in front of her eyes. Brushing back her hair she caught the flush of satisfaction in his features before he patted her fingers and turned away to answer an inquiry.
Departing the village with the sack suspended from her right hand, Cassie soon transferred her grip from the handles to the bag itself. Six blocks later the sack felt so heavy she flagged a taxi, climbed inside and settled the vase securely against her thigh.
At home she cautiously washed and dried the antiquity. A delicate tracing of etched whirls curled along the edge of the rim where years of accumulated grime had obscured the tiny patterns. In the foyer, she set the vessel on the smooth polished wood and admired the effect. Under the incandescent bulb the vase glowed as though lit from within, reminded her of sunlight on seawater.
“Perfection.” Cassie whispered.
The next morning she readied for her morning run but after entering the hall, her plans collapsed. The urn was a seething mess.
Viscous fluid oozed over the smooth lip of the jar and trickled thickly along the side of the blue-green glass to puddle around the base. Dark as ink, she recognized the ichor for blood. As she watched, a wave of droplets slithered down to join the spreading stain. Under her horrified gaze the fluid coalesced, became something stronger, heavier and weightier. A glint of something white rolled over and nudged a turgid lump. She thought the material might be bone. A tumescent mass of tissue wavered at the vase rim and fell, splatting into the wetness with a soft plop.
Cassie swallowed. Her stomach churned. Panic climbed her throat. Arms crossing her torso, fingers digging into the taut flesh covering her ribs, she leaned low to peer at the morass and a spherical shape rose from the pool. Black threads began to sprout above the protuberance. A bulge of red-streaked whiteness broke the surface and spread outward in a smooth arc. The round shape halved and the upper lifted to reveal an orb.
It was a human eye.
A whistling moan broke from Cassie’s paralyzed throat but the sound carried only a few yards.
The optic, rich and deep as Turkish coffee swiveled and rotated, focused on her and blinked.
Cassie inched back, the soft soles of her trainers making no noise.
The process of creation accelerated. A maelstrom of cruor and gore spun. Osseous matter poked from the distillation. Mass extruded from the vase as though pouring from some ancient fount of life.
Shuddering in deep breaths, Cassie retreated the route she’d come and by the time she reached the halfway mark, a man sprawled on the dainty rosewood structure. He cradled the fragile vase against his chest.
Struggling with shock, she rejected panic and accepted the impossible, faced reality. By the look of things, in another minute the man from the vase could stride the distance separating them and ask for a drink of water.
Or strangle her.
Or throw her on the floor and…do something.
Even with the distance Cassie could recognize his fixated attention never strayed.
Eyes the color of burnt umber, deeply set below slashes of brow, balanced his saturnine features. His skin, the color of late-harvest honey, smoothed over the ripples of his ribcage and curved into the line of his hip and flank. His body was rigid and well-defined, reminiscent of a conditioned athlete.
All good except for the little fact this excellent specimen of maleness had spilled out of nothingness like some monstrous creature of myth.
A college memory clicked. Recall from a class schedule loaded with comparative literature, world religion and mythology produced the nugget of information about Djinns attaching themselves to objects inherited through family bloodlines.
One tiny promise to treasure a dead woman’s artifact and bam, it was like she’d hydrated a package of sea-monkeys and got a bonus human male.
A hot one.
Stepping to his feet, the man positioned the vase on the pristine wood and splayed one long-fingered hand on the wall. His eyes never left her. He staggered forward, muscles sliding flawlessly, each step steadier. Gorgeous, exotic and naked, his smile suggested a need.
She didn’t think he was thirsty.
Pulse accelerated, winded as if she’d run her two mile route twice, Cassie stood transfixed.
The man loomed over her. Sinewy arms snaked around her waist. The heated press of his physique brought a rush of sensation and a palpable sense of synchronized connection inside Cassie. Palms slid along her sides, embraced the curve of her hips. Bent low, lips feathering a trail of kisses up the curve of her throat, he paused at her ear and whispered.
Flash Fiction Challenge: The Flea Market @ www.terribleminds.com