MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Death of Salome by Kristina Gehrmann

Fiction
The Curse Breaker

Amanda D. Barncord Doerr

Talia listened as Maris told her how she came into possession of the cursed artifact. Shaking with terror, tears streaming down her white face, her cousin pleaded with her to save her life.

"The inscription says that I had to pass it on to someone else before the second night has passed or the dead witchīs spirit will come for me and take my soul," Maris sobbed. "But I donīt want to pass this curse onto someone. My parents are sick and would probably forget that I handed them this. My sister has twins and barely has the time to rest, much less to find someone else to give it too. My husband and brother are too busy to find people. And the priest wonīt be back for four more days. What am I going to do, Talia? I canīt let myself die. Who will take care of my children?"

Talia looked at the artifact. It was a crudely carved relief of a face in agony, with angry words of doom scratched into the back. "Iīll take it," she said.

Her cousin nearly collapsed from relief. "Thank you!" she said. "You were the only one I knew who would be able to find another person to give it to in time."

Talia nodded and wished Maris a good day. Back at her own home, she studied the artifact again. Who would she pass this curse on to? Suddenly something inside her rebelled at the thought. What right did she have to endangered someoneīs life? How could she justify putting someone in the position Maris had been in. Sure, she was in that position now, but she chose it to save Maris. Talia wasnīt sure she could ask someone else to do the same for her.

Why would someone create something that would endanger innocent people, Talia wondered. What profit was there in it? Obviously the creator was filled with a great deal of hate towards others, but if no one ever broke the chain, what type of vengeance was that? The only effect would be moments of fear and panic from those who received it.

She stared into the carved eyes. Maybe that was the purpose - to create fear. It was in that moment that Talia decided not to pass the artifact on.



On the second evening, Talia prepared herself to meet whatever doom awaited her. She ate her favorite meal and sipped her favorite beverage. She had bouquets of her favorite flowers around. She was even wearing her favorite dress. She sat calmly and studied the carved face with an air of indifference. It was just wood, she thought to herself. Nothing more.

Then a swirl of black energy arose from the piece. Though temporarily surprised, Talia still remained calm. She had considered this possibility too.

"You did not pass me on," an eerie voice said.

"No, I didnīt," she answered.

"Do you welcome death?" the voice boomed.

Talia shrugged. "I figured it was better than endangering other people."

"I AM GOING TO TAKE YOUR SOUL!" it bellowed.

"I know," Talia said. "Get on with it."

"YOU FOOL!"

Talia took a sip from her cup and waited. The voice wailed and cursed at her, but nothing else happened. Finally, she addressed the dark swirl above the carved face. "You canīt do it, can you?"

"I CAN TAKE SOULS!"

"But only if they fear you and I donīt. Thatīs what you really want, isnīt it? You feed off of fear."

"And what are you going to do about it?" asked the voice.

"Starve you."



For months, Talia would spend every evening talking to the face as she watched the black swirl weaken. Then weeks went by without any reaction at all from the artifact. Finally Tallia placed it in her kitchen because she felt it looked better in there. It was in there that Cousin Maris saw it again.

"You still have it?" she gasped.

"Yep," Talia said as she started to boil water.

"And the witch didnīt come to take you?"

"Well, something tried," Talia admitted, "but it didnīt succeed."

"Why not?" Maris asked.

"I guess I didnīt give it enough fear to work with," she answered.

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