Chayen processed a longer study of the pristine necklace. The young man hadn’t gazed at such a splendor in all his privileged life. The amulet appeared to shine in the simple cottage room. The treasure was nestled within a purple velvet lined, stone jewelry box resting on a wooden table. He had been privy to the many exquisite necklaces on the collars of his immediate female family. Chayen understood that this one was something awe inspired unlike anything from a high end jewelry store. The amulet at its dark green center radiated with some type of unseen power of confidence. The tempting jewel had been nearly the last thing he expected to have found in the abandoned house, second to the aged woman who offered it to him.
“C’mon, Chayen, ma boy. Put’t on fo’ a looksee. I’va clean’d ta lookin’glass fo’ ya ta git a betta’ look.” The old woman wove her words with a thick, focused confidence. She spoke with an identical amulet around her neck.
“I don’t know, man. All of this seems so, so damn weird. I could’ve sworn this place wasn’t here when I first looked through the treeline.”
“Oh, but’cha loves powa’ and dis amulet ‘ill give ya’ll ta powa’ ya could wan’, Chayen. Me time is ova wit’it, don’cha know. Pud’t on, I da’es ya. O’ mayba ya ta sca’ed?” She looked at him coyly, playing every word note like a virtuoso at the concert of her life.
His tycoon father had taught him that showing fear was a transgression for the common people. Chayen didn’t feel phased by the woman’s verbal manipulation. His curiosity of the necklace’s sense of power enticed his bravado. He believed his cunning to be too smart to fall for her game.
“And if I don’t like it, I can take it off and leave without anymore bother from you? You’re not, like gonna call the cops on me.”
“Honey’doll, ya put’it on fo’ a secon’, takes’a quick looksee agins’ ta lookin’glass and I promiz ya won’ wanna take’it off.”
Chayen reluctantly extended his impeccably, manicured hand. The crone intensely watched him, waiting to rebuff any possible hesitation. She felt elated as the circle was almost complete. He touched the unending chain link. The rounded metal pieces felt warm to his finger’s touch. Several, intense visions flashed through his mind. Castles. Courtyards. Knights. Thrones. Him sitting before his loyal subjects. Power. His fingers accepted more of the chain’s weight. The amulet followed suit, dangling in the air. Chayen was enthralled with what she was offering.
“Yas, gut boy. Put’it on and let’sa see what’cha looks like in da lookin’glass.” Her kelp, green eyes burned with an intensity of a thousand years needing this him to fully comply in the moment.
Chayen found himself unable to assemble words into a cohesive sentence. He focused on the power that poured into his arms as he held her gift. As a billionaire’s son, he knew what wielding power was like. His servants obeyed, his middle class relations groveled and strangers cozied up to him for access to his father. None of that power was even close to the the look of defeat on the district attorneys’ faces. Each one thought they had his extensive list of reckless homicide cases won, only to have his father pull the necessary strings making sure the cases were thrown out on various “technicalities.” To be king of all the land was real power that was too seductive for Chayen, even if relegated to a vision.
“Yas, yas, ya’olding ya destiny. Go’on.” She said seductively through misshapen teeth. The hunched crone circled him as she whispered encouragement. He didn’t notice the walls slowly thinning as if becoming made of cardboard.
The skeptical young man held the prize before him, hypnotized at the relic. The visions became more perceptible. He now wore the ornate robe of a religious emperor overseeing the rule of a large city spanning farther than he could imagine. His people followed every command in terror. Willing citizens took up arms in a grand coliseum and battled each other for his sole entertainment. Subjugated women and men provided all the pleasure his body could imagine. When he had his fill of carnal wants, each person became haphazardly disposed of at his command.
“Chayen, ma boy. You’a so close. Make‘t ‘appen. Make ta fisions comes ‘live. Pud ta n’cklace on and gaze atta lookin’glass.”
She began to believe that the end of her nightmare was about arrive. What was once her heart began to beat as it hadn’t done since the time of her evaporated youth. Centuries of holding the amulet’s curse was about to come to an end. The crone wasn’t able to remember much of who she had been before being held captive by immortality. She retained vague memories of once being a barren, young woman who had been seduced by the possibility of carrying a child. An old crone, much like she was now, had tempted her with visions of birthing all the children her heart could want. She had long ago put on the same necklace and watched her life in the looking glass with a large household of happy children.
The young man held the necklace tight, with each side of the chain in his hands. He looked at her in the dimly lit room. Her lips turned upwards at the corners. She flashed a long forgotten smile of glee. Chayen slipped the chain over his head, past his immaculately faded hair cut. The heavy amulet settled upon the silk of his custom fitted shirt as the chain rested on the back of his mocha neck.
“Yas, yas, yas. Now’cha see, see inta ta lookin’glass.” She said with elation, knowing that her entrapment was soon done. A solitary tear, more dust than water, edged downwards across her wrinkled cheek.
The emotionally overwhelmed Chayen stood motionless as the still air taunted his final decision. His home instituted sense control swept deep within a cultivated need for glory and power. He reveled in a sense of dominance which dwarfed that of his impotent, money driven father. An unending, almost deity-like command over his inferiors maturated within his soul.
“Yas, all’ta powa’s yous. Look inta ta’glass!” the crone demanded. Through his fantasy, he was listening to the words of a trusted oracle that was encouraging him to see the reflection his beautiful, new dowry from a fearful dignitary.
Chayen raised his almond eyes at the standing, full length mirror. He saw the greatest of emperors looking back in the reflection. The crone cheered loudly as she danced around the open room. Her body began to recede from decrepit crone to stale, older woman to old woman to middle age woman to a young woman. Her deep wrinkles smoothed across her face. Long, auburn hair flowed where charcoal strands once moved. She collapsed on the floor looking like she before wearing the chain. He was too engrossed on his experience to notice her. An identical necklace to the one he wore faded off of her into the stone box. The box closed on its own, fading into nothing.
“Now, ya, ya’ve the cu’se of ta’ages. Ha! May ta’gods b’as awful ta ya as tey be’n to me.” Her voice struggled the final words from her lips as her emerald green eyes went still. A purple orb floated from her silent body shell into the amulet on his chest.
Sunlight illuminated the woman’s rapidly re-aging body as it lay near his fifty thousand dollar gym shoes. Her rotting corpse had the look as if it was recently exhumed out of a forgotten crypt. Dust danced playfully in the air. Chayen continued to look upon the distorted vision of himself. He was unaware that his form was slowly devolving in place. His curly hair began to shed as the roots detached from his scalp in patches. His vision lied to him, showing a head of thick, majestic hair. His face began to wrinkle at the eyes and mouth, crumpling into cavernous grooves. The once healthy skin texture thinned, tightening against his skull.
Chayen was more impressed with himself than ever before. The vision altered from him being king to emperor to high priest to dictator to authoritarian, supreme chancellor. He wasn’t as concerned about the exact title as he was about immediate compliance. His expressed authority demanded that the people beneath his power feared him enough to obey every command. Chayen lived lifetimes through his visions in the mirror. The molted, physical form transformed into the final shell. An old man aged of several hundred years in minutes stood before the reflective lie, basking in his heart’s greatest desire. He never noticed that his original collared shirt and shorts disintegrated into dust.
Years which passed through the window became decades and finally into a completed century. The mirror suddenly reflected no more visions. Chayen stood back with deflated shock, gazing upon a withered old man wearing an amulet in the dust laden reflection. He stared at himself in confusion. In a moment he went from a young, godlike ruler to standing within the frailty of time. A long, sapphire garment of a thick material rested upon the seat of a nearby wooden chair. Chayen found himself struggling to put the wizard’s style robe over his bony frame. An inner call pressing at his base instincts urged him to the basement. He looked down to see the dusty remains of the old woman, long deteriorated at his feet. Dusty skull fragments, fingertip bones and shreds of hair were all that rested on the bug infested floor. He immediately feared that this would be his fate one day, not knowing this was her greatest release.
The sun’s illumination through the opaque windows began retreating as his legs did their best to hurry out of the cottage’s main room towards an open doorway. The structure began to slowly shake as if responding to an earthquake centered below. A feeling passed through him that time was short. Chayen found a slender set of stone stairs in the back of an empty room. His aching feet shuffled down the stones until reaching a pair of thick basement doors. He used his body to push open a large, oak door and locked the entrance sliding a wooden bar across the entrance.
Birds in the surrounding trees took flight as the dwelling above him began to fold upon itself as if it were in a children’s pop up book. He was unaware that everything in the house became a two dimensional representation of itself. The folding continued until the moss laden top of the cottage lay flat on the ground, concealing its contents and the basement below.
The old man expected the usual, musty scent of a basement. To his confusion, the room smelled of campfire with a tinge of honeysuckle. The elongated, basement room was extensively lined with wall mounted mirrors of all shapes interlaced between them. Illumination from the flaming torches reflected off the the stone laden ground. A full length, standing mirror indistinguishable from the one he had looked into stood by an equally similar wooden chair and wooden table. On the top of the table rested a purple velvet lined stone box, containing an identical amulet to the one around his neck. The torch lit room appeared without end. Chayen’s reflections in the mirrors afar watched his every move. He worked to grasp at what had happened to him, catching only fireflies of thought.
The human concept of time was void in the near dark. Chayen could hear the old woman’s voice taunting in his head. The single vocalization present among the silence. M’time is ova wit’it, don’cha know. Pud’t on, I da’es ya. O’ mayba ya ta sca’ed? Chayen walked from one hanging mirror to the next. Each close up reflection replayed his interaction with the old woman. He watched himself accept the temptation thousands of time, never being able to change his decision. A creeping insanity matured in his mind. Chayen wandered the room’s interior desperately searching for an exit. The middle of the room offered empty space to echo his steps against the sentry like walls. The back end of the basement always evaded his discovery. He had long forgotten the concepts of hunger, sleep, lust and thirst. He took a seat and waited as the woman’s words chimed over and over and over and over.