Village fairs and festivals are an expected delight in the quiet rural parts of the country; but night fairs are unheard of. This triggered my curiosity and was something ‘unmissable.’
My journey was a hard drive through a hot day and cold night, but Stonemoor didn’t disappoint. It was everything I’d imagined, from country lanes with tall hedges, to rolling fields and isolated farmhouses; even a hump bridge over a lazy river as I entered the village. The stereotype matched the name perfectly.
Destination reached, I marvelled at a dozen tents circling the edge of a small field, with a handful of people lurking in the shadows, illuminated by moonlight, and gazing at the out-of-towner. Had I the courage to speak with any, I might have enquired into such a strange gathering, but no, I was here for one purpose: something odd for my collection of wonderfully weird. A task complete when I entered the smallest tent and perused the wares of a dark-haired gypsy.
“A box for coins.” He reached between old tomes and ornaments.
Hand carved Turkish oak, with velvet inlay and an ivory trim. A magnificent piece which drew me in, and the transaction was swift.
The people of Stonemoor, if indeed those I’d seen were from these parts, gave a feeling of ill will, and I knew the night was best spent far from their reach. I took the winding road from cold seclusion, stopping briefly to sleep, and arrived home upon the following day.
Guineas, young Victoria sovereigns, uncirculated full crowns, and silver Morgan dollars; sixteen coins placed inside my ‘box for coins’ and set upon a shelf within my study.
I slept in the old worn chair next to my mahogany bookcase, pipe dying on the side table, and dim lamplight taking me to a realm of comfortable dreams.
The next morning drew me back to my new purchase, and my delight upon its opening. Amazement at my discovery; the coins inside had doubled in number. Each of them had a perfect copy alongside it. There was no logical reason for the outcome, so I settled for the illogical. This was no mere ‘box for coins,’ but a thing of magic. There was no other explanation. An artefact with huge money-making potential.
Disregarding the ‘why’ or ‘how,’ that night I placed the thirty-two coins inside the box and closed the lid once again. Settling into my chair, I watched the box until heavy eyes overcame curiosity.
To my delight, there were sixty-four coins waiting come morning.
On the third night, I put all sixty-four coins in the box, as I had before, and went to sleep. However, in my hasty excitement, I forgot one very important detail; to close the box’s lid. Were I to know the rules and workings of the magic, I would have taken greater care.
Whilst I slept, a spider crawled inside the box. Two quickly became four, which then became eight, as they continued to scurry in and out of the box, multiplying in number.
On the fifth day, a concerned neighbour, who was aware of my unusual inactivity, called the police. They had never seen a case like it. A small fortune in rare coins sat neatly in an old box, and four hundred thousand spiders scurried over the floor, walls, and ceiling.
I might have survived my waking nightmare, but arachnophobia was my bane. More than my heart could take.
Six weeks later, the box was sent to auction, where it sold for a pittance to a collector with a good eye. A collector from Stonemoor Village.
James writes stories which are a little bizarre. He enjoys taking readers down strange and seldom trodden paths. Often dark, and always with a twist or two along the way. Comedy, thriller, horror and weird fairy tales. Stories to make you laugh. Stories to make you cry. Stories to make you leave the bedroom light on. But most importantly, stories you will want to share with your friends. But they might not thank you for it. Most of James’ stories would sit on the shelf somewhere between horror and dark comedy. There are also elements of fantasy, a generous dollop of thriller, and a toe firmly planted in the pool of sci-fi. Not that James writes all genres, but rather he writes stories which often mix two or three genres together. Forced to hide under the bed, but laughing whilst you’re there. He is a storyteller with twenty years’ experience in flash fiction, short stories, longer stories and screenplays. He rarely suffers from writer’s block and considers himself fortunate to be the victim of writer’s overwhelm. The ideas keep on coming. Where they come from is a mystery. A mystery best left unsolved. He lives in England, with his wife and two daughters. And a bunch of pets he insisted his girls could NOT have.