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Heart of the Matter (Short Story)


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“What are you doing in here?!”


The Downes Museum of History & Anthropology in Talos Island had been closed for hours when Dr. Isaac Palmerton entered his office. The Curator of MesoAmerican collections had always made a habit of catching up on his correspondences late at night, something fellow staff always advised against. Super villains and the supernatural and all that. An outsider to Paragon, he had always arrogantly dismissed these concerns.


Regret and a cold chill now flooded him at the sight of a man comfortably sitting in his own office chair. He was resplendently dressed in tailored wine red three piece and even sitting was noticeably tall. At least 7' but his proportions were even, as if he was simply a larger built variation of man. His skin was coffee brown and hair dark and long, immaculate and well kept, almost regally so. But his eyes were dark and narrow, brown but almost obsidian.


“Dr. Palmerton, I apologize for the intrusion.” The man stood and walked to greet the Curator. “Mayaken Mondragon, from the Mexican Consulate. I had been trying to reach you for the last few weeks but I hadn't heard anything and some of your staff suggested I can catch you after hours.”


“Oh, yes, well I apologize for not reaching back out to you Mr. Mondragon…” Dr. Palmerton nervously shook the man's hand. “But if you would like a meeting it would have to be during regular hours.”


“I assure you that my business here will be brief.” Mondragon clapped a hand firmly on Palmerton's shoulder. “There is an artifact in your collection the consulate was very much interested in for the purposes of indigenous preservation. An artistic piece of obsidian, carved into the shape of a human heart.”


“…the Heart of Malinalco. A rare piece from the cult of Malinalxóchitl found in the village of Chalma. Yes we had it on loan some time ago for an exhibition but it has since returned to the donors. If you would like I can provide some research and documentation on the artifact-”


“That won't be necessary if you can give me information on the donor. I would simply like to speak to them about returning it to its rightful people.”


“I’m afraid-"


“Of what?”


Silence. Mondragon stared directly into the curators eyes.


“…I’m afraid we wouldn't be able to do that without filing proper paperwork through the museum and your consulate.” Palmerton made to brush Mondragon’s hand from his shoulder. “Are you a diplomat or-“


“A regent. And I am afraid that might business is to urgent so weights on the machinations of vultures of civilizations.” Mondragon’s grip tightened. “So, we can either settle this tonight or…is that a Spider?”


Palmerton looked to Mondragon’s hand at his shoulder and saw an inky black spider crawling from his cuff, as if it materialized from the dark fabric of the man’s shirt. Then a second, a third; a multitude of the insects began swarming onto the curator's torso.


Palmerton, so overcome with terror, screamed silently, not even noticing the shadowy spirits form behind Mondragon and proceed to toss the office apart in a desperate search. Mondragon smiled now, his eyes glow a sunburnt hellish yellow.


“Tell me historian, what was it you were afraid of? Being forgotten? Having what was yours taken? All valid fears. As valid as fearing what…comes…next. In ie tlecujlixquac, in ie tlamamatlac.”

It would take doctors several days to determine the venom coursing through the now comatose Dr. Isaac Palmerton. Few would notice a crime as well as a data breach of a donor's name and address. There was some hope for the curator, as on occasion he would slip into consciousness, indicating some chance of recovery. But the words he spoke when he was awake, the only ones to pass his lips, did little to dispel the mystery surrounding his fate. @HorrorFrost

"Already at the edge of the fire...Already at the stairway."


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