Tuesday, February 9, 2021

An Unfinished World in 13 Items

  1. Ugly .65 caliber horse-pistol. The gun's gilded butt is dented from someone wielding it as a hammer.

  2. Long thrusting sword with a ring pommel. The sharkskin on the grip is worn soft, and most of the steel has blued with age, but the edges have been carefully maintained. Repeating text has been etched around the pommel in tiny spidery letters: JUDGE NOT JUDGES JUDGE NOT JUDGES JUDGE NOT JUDGES JUDGE NOT...

  3. A black mask in the shape of a skull. Steel core, thickly lacquered, with a sturdy ribbon to keep it attached. Fitted for one specific face.

  4. Who Is He And How Shall We Know Him?, a poorly-translated pamphlet about the Messiah. Some of the particularly incomprehensible sections have been crossed out and rewritten with a pen — unfortunately, the editor wasn't any more fluent than the author. The margins are filled with objections and cross-references, in several hands, arguing several mutually exclusive points. The cover is stamped EDUCATIONAL COPY - DO NOT BURN

  5. Three finger-sized sticks of dynamite in a waxpaper packet sealed with food-safe glue. The block-print label advises the packet be stored away from heat and ignition sources, and provides a cheatsheet for blast radii in different conditions.

  6. Handful of fat coins made from tempered glass, with flecks of gold leaf trapped inside. When held up to light the seemingly-random pattern of gold casts shadows on the ground revealing who minted the coin and when.

  7. Hipflask bearing a scuffed recreation of the classic al secco oil mural Nosam's Cabal Slays the High Priest Jonathan with Burning Knives. Contains eight ounces of strong applejack. 

  8. Packet of boiled-sugar candies flavored with ephedra. 

  9. Tin labeled POWDERED OPIOID-IPECAC, containing a few dilapidated handrolled cigarettes stuffed with frankincense and damp with clove oil.

  10. Carbide lamp with changeable lenses of colored glass. A tally of twenty-three marks has been kept on the back of the lamp, labeled "porters lost".

  11. An anatomically accurate model of a heart carved from dolomite. Luminiferous white fluid leaks from the cut surface of its valves. The heart beats every forty-five seconds, keeping perfect time in all conditions.

  12. Wooden board with lettering in black paint: "JOSHUA CONGSHEN PREACHES HERE TODAY". Attached to a bit of wire so it may be hung in different places.

  13. Set of tarot cards, well-thumbed. All of the trumps have been removed, with the exception of the Tower, the Hanged Man, the Hermit, the Hierophant and the World (which depicts an inverted pyramid shrouded with shadow).

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