Tuesday, April 20

Beware of Masons bearing gifts

"Of course it's me, you idiot!", snarled the Vortex with the twist of sarcasm only my brother Marcus could pull off. He rose from his seat and strode towards his side of the portal. "I stole your body before, but now I'm sharing this one! And such a powerful one this is! I helped slay the Hydra once and for all while your wretched alleycat of a son ran back to Babbage with his tail between his legs! To the victor goes the spoils!"

"Back to...Babbage? So that was Koen that took Qlippothic!"

The cat-demon prince shrugged as he lifted the black box. "As I said, that doesn't concern me. But this concerns us both." He pushed the box against his side of the circle floating above Poppa Legba's altar, and sparks poured from the aperture around the sides of the box as it permeated the membrane from the royal crater of Erebus to my side, deep in the swamps of New Toulouse.

Hesitantly, I accepted the gift with both hands. It was heavy, whatever it was. Still hot to the touch.

"This appeared on my throne, Darien. I only know a couple beings in the universe with the magic and the chuzzle..."


"Yeah, that...to pull a trick like that off."

I felt along the edges for a lid or a catch. "Have you tried to open it yet?"

The neko giggled. "Open it? I put it in there!"

A spring-loaded catch, opened form inside. That must be the reason the lib suddenly jerked upwards, nearly breaking my jaw and stunning me. I sank to my knees as Vortex howled laughter. I struggled to regain my focus as he berated me like a schoolyard bully singing "POP goes the neko!" My vision was blurred, making the pale disembodied hand resting in the red velvet inside the box appear to have several sets of fingers.

"You've heard of a Jack-in-the-Box?" shouted Vortex. "This is a Jeremiah-in-the-Box!"

My eyes widened with terror as the hand sprang to life and leaped towards me, latching itself in a choking grip around my throat!

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