The Silver Scarab, by Dana Wright
“I hate it.” Desi looked at the tiny metallic scarab and barely stifled a shiver. It was almost Halloween and the costume shop was cleaned out. Getting something together for a Steampunk themed party was a little more challenging than she had figured. Throwing a sheet over her head and strapping some gears around her waist was beginning to sound better and better. The stench of sweat permeated the darkened room and for a moment, Desi felt the constricting sensation of not being able to breathe. The thought of one of the moldy old costumes touching her flesh made her skin crawl.
The gaunt eyes of the sales person followed her, eyes lighting up as she moved toward the next rack of costumes. God, he was creeping her out more than the creepy old coats and Marie Antoinette dresses. Freak.
Her friend and counterpart in crime, Margo picked up the white robes and grinned. “Look! Steampunk Egyptian!”
The giant silvery scarab on the head piece stared at her. It’s beady little bejeweled eyes glinted in the half light of the room and she felt slightly ill. She hated bugs. Hated them. Desi shuddered and turned to look another rack. Anything to get away from that thing. “No way.”
“It’s part of the costume, you idiot.” Margo looked at her and snorted. “Egyptian Princess, you know?” She twirled around, letting the full effect of the diaphanous robes take effect. “You can practically see through them.” Desi laughed and waggled her eyebrows. “Come on spoil sport. If you even want Charles to look at you, you have to wear something hot.”
“I’m not wearing a giant freaky bug on my forehead.” Desi pulled out a witch costume and smiled. The barely there skirt and lavender and black tights would cling to every curve she had. It was perfect. “What do you think of this one? I could find some gears to strap on a broom and I’m all set.”
Margo rolled her eyes. “That is the lamest idea I’ve ever heard. Get in there and try it on. Now. Hurry up. I still need to find my costume and the store is closing in a half hour.” Her grin was infectious, the brightness of her smile dazzling against the olive tones of her skin.
“Alright.” Desi snatched the cursed thing from Margo’s hand and stalked off into the dressing room. “I’m only doing this under protest.” And because I want to get the hell out of here, she thought to herself.
“Just do it. God!”
Desi grumbled, slamming the door to the changing room. Stupid party. Why did she ever agree to go? Because Charles will be there. That’s why. She quickly disrobed, shucking her jeans and tossing her tee shirt on the bench. Unhooking the white robes, she searched for the snaps but didn’t find any. Odd. Her eyes scanned the folds of fabric and found where they separated and pulled them apart. Slipping the dress over her head, she yanked the costume down over her curves snugly, smiling at the image. Margo was right. It was sexy. All she needed was the headpiece to complete the outfit. It would be simple, but the best costumes were. Besides, she wanted Charles to be looking at her assets, not a costume. She angled her head, leaning slightly toward the mirror. Pulling the elastic band out of her hair, she let the waves of ebony curls tumble down her back. Looking into the mirror, her lips curved into an inviting smile. Nice. Charles wouldn’t stand a chance.
The silver scarab gleamed in the half light of the dressing room, all clockwork springs and menacing simplicity. It was a hideous thing. Desi’s hand shook as she picked up the headpiece and slid it over her head. Catching her finger on a sharp point near the scarab’s head, she winced, drawing back a bloody finger. “Ouch!”
“You okay in there? Get a move on!”
“Alright! I’m coming.” Desi stuck her finger in her mouth and eyed the headpiece with loathing. Something about the thing set her off. She didn’t know what, but it gave her the willies. Movement out of the corner of Desi’s eyes dragged them back to the mirror and she froze. What was that? The scarab sat on her forehead, surrounded by silver and lapis stones. It was just a stupid metal bug stuck on a headband. So why did it look like it had just moved? Icy numbness crawled up Desi’s back as she gazed at her image in the glass. The scarab had been facing upwards. Now it was pointing to the side. Desi stared harder, her breath caught in her throat. The cool metal resting on her forehead felt hot against her flesh.
“What the Hell?” she whispered. “No way.”
The bejeweled eyes seemed to bore into hers through the glass. Desi watched in horror as the creature began to twitch. Metallic gears hummed to life. The smear of blood near the tip of the pinchers was an invitation; an awakening. Its mechanical jaws opened and closed in anticipation. Desi screamed.
“Oh God.” Desi pulled the headband off with a disgusted snarl, flinging it to the floor. The scarab thrummed. Popping off the band, it landing on the carpet, the sound of metal gears reverberating in the small enclosed space. It’s beady eyes focused on their prey, lunging for her in a violent burst of energy. Clicking and whirring, the creature flew at her, a mechanical nightmare from Desi’s darkest fears. She screamed again, scrambling to get away. Her feet couldn’t move fast enough. The flimsy sandals caught on the long cotton fabric of the gown and she fell, twisted in the folds of the costume.
“What are you doing in there?” Margo’s voice echoed through the door.
Desi tried to crawl, but the thing was upon her, all mechanical legs and gnashing pinchers. “No!” She screamed as she fell, face forward. The creature crept up the back of her leg. Desi tried to shake it off, but it was unstoppable. The fabric of the gown ripped, a loud tearing sound filling the small room. Desi clawed at the door, her screams turning to whimpers. “No!” Desi sobbed, her hand fumbling on the changing room door in her panic. Twisting it with all of her might, she fell onto the carpet in front of her friend, shaking. Fear turned her mind to jelly as the creature began to burrow into her soft living flesh.
“Desi! Oh my God!” Margo grabbed a satin covered costume shoe, batting at the mechanical bug. Sending it flying, Margo tossed the satin slipper and picked up a combat boot and began to smash the scarab. The mechanical sounds of clicking and whirring began to slow, as a high pitched cry echoed in the darkened room.
Margo helped Desi climb to her feet. “Jesus. What was that?”
“It was the scarab. On the costume.” Desi’s voice shook. “Get it off me. Get it off!”
Margo pulled the dress over Desi’s head, leaving her in her bra and panties. She reached to grab her clothes but Desi shook her head.
“No. Let’s go. I don’t care.”
“Where the hell is the manager?”
“Margo! Get me out of here. It doesn’t matter.” Desi stared at the mechanical bug on the carpet, not trusting that it was really out of commission.
“The hell it doesn’t. That thing tried to kill you.”
Desi watched helplessly as Margo stalked back to the dressing room and retrieved her purse and clothes. “Margo. Hurry.” Eyes never leaving the scarab on the carpet, she thought she saw it twitch. “Oh God! It moved!”
“It did not. I crushed the holy fucking crap out of it. Now come on. We’re leaving.” Margo thrust Desi’s clothes and purse into her arms and steered her to the door. “No guy is worth this hon. We’ll do mail order.”
“Excuse me ladies.” The cadaverous form of the sales clerk appeared, blocking their path to the door. His face took on a vicious expression as his hollowed out eyes met Desi’s. Two scarabs crawled out from beneath his suit coat, clicking and whirring to life. “I believe you forgot part of your costumes.”
Dana Wright has always had a fascination with things that go bump in the night. She is often found playing at local bookstores, trying not to maim herself with crochet hooks or knitting needles, watching monster movies with her husband and furry kids or blogging about books. More commonly, she is chained to her computers, writing like a woman possessed. She was a contributing author toSiren’s Call E-zine in their “Women In Horror” issue in February 2013, a contributing author to the Potatoes Anthology Wonderstruck Anthology, Shifters: A Charity Anthology and the Roms, Bombs and Zoms Anthology due in late 2013 from Evil Girlfriend Media. Dana also reviews music forMuzikreviews.com and has been a contributing writer to Pagan Living, Eternal Haunted Summer and Fabricoh Magazine.
Follow Dana’s reviews: Twitter: @dana19018 or on her website at http://danawrightwordscribe.wordpress.com/.
Posted on October 6, 2013, in Issue 10: The Little Magazine of Magnificent Monsters and tagged e-zine, fantasy, genre blender, halloween, horror, monsters, short stories, steampunk, The Were-Traveler. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.