The Bottle in the Basement


“So these bottles are valuable?” Little Cam surveyed the shelf, the flame of unabashed greed in his eyes.

His brother gave his shoulder a shove. “Yeah. Millions each, but not for us, right? That’s the job, right?”

“Yeah, but Mackie!” Cam started to protest. A sharp glare stopped him.

“But nothing! We finally got an easy job. No haggling with fences. No tripping crazy alarms. No ghost wards, right? Not even a dog-barker. Nothin’. Grab one bottle and go, right? So find it.”

Little Cam was already scanning the bottles, inwardly sighing over the piles of cash they would leave behind, when he saw it. The bottle was dusty as the others, but strangely bulged, like whatever was inside was more than the bottle should hold.

“Found it, Mackie and ain’t it beau-tee-ful!” He grinned and grabbed it off the shelf. When he did, a wave of revulsion ran through him and he nearly dropped the bottle on the bare concrete basement floor..

“Hey, whoa!” Mackie reached over and took the bottle, his hand clad in a thick gardening glove. “You know what’s in this thing? You gotta be careful. Gloves, right?” Mackie tucked the bottle in a canvas sack.

“That’s it. We done it,” he said and turned to leave.

“Done what? I don’t get it.”

“Cam, my brother, we stole the Seventh Seal.”

“You’re saying…?”

“End o’the world, right? Plagues and all that. Bollocks, I say. Lets go get our money.”

In the sack, the wax seal cracked.

I like stories that begin with a little mystery and feature a couple hapless guys about to walk into way more trouble than they imagine. You could consider this the prologue — you know, one of those beginnings where people we barely know have a horrible thing happen to them that sets up the rest of the movie, like the librarian’s encounter in Ghostbusters. On the other hand, maybe these guys are the story and they have to save the world from a bunch of plagues and apocalypses even though all they really want is to get rich so they can quit their jobs and live easy. The beauty of a story this short is you get to decide for yourself where it goes from here. I can’t put too hard an ending on a story like this but neither do I want to. I like that we can imagine different stories from the same starting point.

Play along with the writing prompt here!

(Photo Credit: Hunt_on_Photos_Studio on Pixabay)