“The world at large forces us to be fakes. It forces us to be other people to fit in. Authors have to copy bestsellers in order to have a chance. You have to act different to get jobs. Being individual is almost a crime. When an object is a fake it can be even worse.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Pensitivity’s three things challenge – Felt – Mind – Vision
FOWC with Fandango — Taken
Your Daily Word — Palliate
Ragtag Daily Word — History
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Photo Challenge — Picture above by Ellie Burgin
Artefacts of Abduction
Aspen began her day with a little oatmeal and an hour’s worth of History Channel. Being a historian for the city museum, she did love to catch up on world history. With a show about Queen Boudicca and a recent discovery of gold artefacts been discovered in Norfolk finished, Aspen left for work.
She drove a Fiat 500 and despite applying makeup and doing her hair whilst driving, she did well. The petrol station was always her first stop. She liked to put a little fuel in the tank. She always bought a macchiato too. With her stop made, she had to leave the village and drive the short distance to the city. That’s where things turned abnormal.
Aspen had just taken a sip of her coffee when she felt her mind begin to wander. A daze came over her blurring her vision. She blinked her eyes and tried to shake it off but the feeling only grew worse. A coldness crept over her as nausea burned in the pit of her stomach. A farm gate wavered into view. Somehow, Aspen managed to drive into it and stop.
Throwing open the door, she unclicked her seatbelt and tumbled out into the grasses. Time ceased to exist as hallucinogenic insects and the vision of imperfect daisies seem to ripple in and out of focus forever. Without warning the brightness of the sun bleached her vision. Vacuous, impenetrable darkness filled her mind as she fell unconscious.
Next thing Aspen knew, she was tied to a chair in what appeared to be a storage container. The corrugated space was lit by a lamp hanging from the metal ceiling. She could see boxes and plastic containers stacked around her. There were rats too; the scraping noise was unmistakable.
“About time you woke up, sweet-cheeks. I was beginning to think we gave you too much.”
Aspen struggled against her binds. It was futile, she was too weak to even move them a millimetre. Worse, the effort left her retching and dizzy. “You — you poisoned me!” she managed.
A tall man wearing a black suit walked into view. “No, we merely tranquillized you. There’s something we need you to do, you see.” Coming close, he produced a syringe.
“No — no don’t touch me!” Aspen felt a surge of adrenaline as she tried to break free.
“Have no fear. I won’t hurt you. “The man held her arm and injected her with something clear. “That’ll palliate the symptoms a little for you.”
“Bastard! — You could— have just asked like a normal person. Now, you can go to hell! I demand you let me go — right, now!”
“I’m sorry, I can’t oblige you. Once your job is completed; I will consider it.” The man took out a pipe and lit it.
Strong tobacco smoke left Aspen choking. It was a while before she could regain herself and speak. “Alright, what is it you want me to do?”
“That’s better. I have some artefacts I need you to authenticate. Do that and acquiesce to a few promises and you’ll be taken back to your car unharmed.” The man smoothed her hair and smiled as he passed by. “It would be a shame for anything that happened to you, sweet-cheeks. You’re quite pretty for a historian.”
“And you’re perfectly creepy for a smartly dressed scumbag. So. don’t touch me again!” Aspen scowled at him. She flinched as something fell to the ground behind her.
The man placed a plastic crate on the box and opened the lid. “These artefacts were discovered in a field to the north of the city. They are from the time of Queen Boudicca and —”
“Made in China last week by the look of it.” Aspen looked at the array of torc bands, rings and brooches lying in the box. Whilst doing so she remembered the show on the history channel this morning. “Oh, I see. You know about the recent discovery of the gold hoard. You had this lot fabricated to cash-in on the treasures.”
“Smart lady. You will authenticate these as genuine and then forever hold your peace. Got that?”
“Even if I did. Any historian will dismiss them from a mile away. All I’ll achieve is destroying my reputation.” Aspen told him. The drugs must have been wearing off by then. She was beginning to feel much stronger.
“The people who are going to buy these for a very good price won’t have a clue they’re fake. Your authentication will fool them.” The man produced a sheaf of papers. “Here’s all the spectroscopic analysis, location of find data, and archaeological reports for everything in this box.”
“All forged and fabricated by yourself, I trust.”
“But, of course. I only do the finest work.” The man grinned for a moment. “Now, you will use all this information to complete an authentication report and your job will be done.”
Aspen wriggled a hand. “Might be tough while I’m bound to this chair by my wrists.”
“Quite. I’m going to untie you so please behave.”
“Oh, don’t worry. When you least expect it I’m gonna go ninja on your arse!”
The man chuckled as he produced a knife to cut away the knots holding Aspen to the chair. “I do like a feisty lady.”
“Even when she’s dying to break your face?” Aspen didn’t know why she felt so defiant instead of scared. She was glad though; it was easier to deal with the situation this way.
“Just watch my nose. It’s my most handsome protuberance.” With his captive free, the man handed her the paperwork and a laptop. “Type out your report on there. It’s not connected to the internet so don’t even think about trying anything.”
“Fine!” Aspen began reading all the reports and making notes. She took and inspected some of the artefacts. They were such bad imitations, they left her cringing. None was real gold and even the bronze looked brand-new instead of aged as it should be after two thousand years in the ground.
“You’ve got one hour.” The man stepped from the storage container.
The hollow boom of the locks being applied echoed right through Aspen. Sensibility told her she was never getting out alive. After all, if she uttered one word after today her captor would lose a fortune and be imprisoned for fraud. He’d never allow that to happen, would he?
Aspen typed up a very quick report on the artefacts. She had no intention of making it look any better than this dodgy jewellery. Abandoning the laptop on her chair, she began to look around the container. To begin with, it appeared there was nothing more than boxes and crates of old clothes, ornaments and the knickknacks of life. Toward the back of the container, she found one crate containing something much more useful. It was filled with medieval small arms. Looking through the daggers and short swords, she smiled; these were, without doubt, genuine to the period.
Closing her hand about the grip of a flanged mace, Aspen regained her feet and returned to her chair. She’d only just concealed a mace and sat down again when the locks were withdrawn.
The man entered with a sickening smile. “Have you completed your task, sweet-cheeks?”
“Yes, it’s all done.” Aspen handed him the laptop. “Print it off and I’ll sign and shove it up your arse.”
“That won’t be necessary. My client wouldn’t approve.” The man fell silent as he read the report.
Aspen reached behind her, clutching the mace.
“Don’t bother, I saw you hide the mace on camera.” The man snapped around, dumped her on the floor and took the weapon back. “Nice tr-argh!”
Aspen leapt to her feet, driving one of the daggers deep into his right buttock. She’d guessed he had a camera and used it against him.
Howling in pain, he swung the mace as if the smashed her skull like a grape. Missing the historian, it obliterated the crate of artefacts.
Rolling away from flying debris, she leapt for the doors. With the man right behind her, she burst outside slamming the big metal door behind her. A satisfying crack and scream of pain told her she’d crushed his nose.
Not lingering to find out, Aspen ran for all she was worth. A maze of storage containers spread out around her. Running left and right, she felt herself tiring. Her mind telling her, she would never escape. Then as she was gasping for breath, she came upon the gate and a security guard.
Aspen never made it to work that day. Her boss gave her the rest of the week off. A good thing as every night’s dreams were filled with imperfect daisy’s wavering in the dark, suited men and fake artefacts. The dreams would subside in time and she would return to the museum and the job she adored.
Have a great day!