This week the Terribleminds challenge was to take two words from the given lists &, using them as the title, write a story from that title. Last time this challenge came up I wrote a pretty fun western (fun to write at least). As always with the list challenges I randomly generated a few combinations; Dead Boy's Curse, Scarlett Gunslingers, Amaranthine Promise, Junkie's Breakfast. All of which had great potential but none of them were really speaking to me.
I saw the potential combo of Unlucky Beetle and the idea of Don suffering from bad luck was too entertaining to pass up. Also I've been wanting to experiment with adding magic to the 'Baugmann & Baugmann' universe, so I used this as an excuse. If anyone isn't familiar with the past stories/adventures for Don & John You Should Start Here
I'm going to try to not make every Friday story about these two, but since I'm tentatively using them as the basis of my first novel, expect to see more of them in the future.
B & B – The Unlucky Beetle
“Have you filed a report yet?” John asked the museum curator.
“Yes, the officers have already cleared the scene.” The man shook his head, “I thought to call you because…”
Don tuned them out, knowing John would get any pertinent info. Looking around the remains of the exhibit it was hard to tell what had been damaged during the burglary.
‘Rather than what Michael’s tromped over.’ Don thought, nudging some broken glass with his shoe.
The display case had held an entire collection of antique jewelry, apparently notable because no one had been able to nail down exactly where it had come from. Now all that was left were shards of glass and crumpled ID placards.
Don noticed a gleam of light coming from the far corner of the display. Reaching out he picked up a small golden beetle, about the size of his thumb.
‘Why leave this behind if they took everything else?’ He wondered. ‘They couldn’t have missed it, the case was picked clean.’
Holding it up to the light Don tried to get a closer look but hissed when the figurine cut his finger.
John looked over as the beetle hit the floor. “You ok?”
“Damn thing bit me.” Don said, scratching at his hand.
“It couldn’t have bitten you it’s…” John trailed off, staring at Don’s hand.
They both stared as Don’s scratching revealed a black tattoo of the beetle forming on his skin.
Don's curse filled the office as he leapt from his seat.
John looked up from the couch. "What's wrong?"
"My damn mug broke,” Don said, shaking spilled coffee from his hands, “that's what’s wrong."
John turned back to his books, "It's just a mug Don."
"I don't care about the stupid mug, I care about the hot coffee all over my pants." Don said.
"I warned you something like this might happen." John said.
Don scratched at the beetle mark on the back of his hand. "Tell me you've found a way to fix it?"
Shaking his head John said, "Nothing so far."
"You're the one with magic, can't you just wizard this away?" Don waved an imaginary wand.
John shook his head, "You know it doesn't work that way. Besides, I'm an empath. I need time and resources for spells outside my range."
"So spell this damn thing off my hand." Don held out the beetle mark.
"I don't think I could.” John sighed. “We need to get the brooch back to the collection to get rid of the curse."
Don huffed and grabbed a smoke from his pocket.
"Please don't smoke in here." John said reflexively.
"Oh for-“ Don threw his hands up. “I'm going for a walk!"
He stormed out of the office slamming the door hard enough that the glass cracked.
"God damn it." John heard Don mutter.
As Don stomped down the hall John heard a crash and a thud followed by a terse "God damn it!"
An hour later Don staggered back into the office holding his hand out looking ready to cut it off.
“Get. It. Off.” He ground out.
John took in his partner’s appearance; coat torn, tie missing and pants stained with more than just coffee. Carefully clearing his throat he spoke.
“I might have an idea.” He said. “But you’re not going to like it.”
“At this point,” Don said, flopping down at his desk. “I don’t care.”
“Well,” John pointed at an open page, “I think we can track the magic causing your bad luck back to the source.”
Don glared at the mark, “The beetle is still at the museum.”
“That’s just it,” John’s eyes lit up the way they always did when he explained magical theory. “The beetle isn’t the source. The curse is designed to punish anyone who removed that item from the collection. It was probably left behind because the original thieves didn’t want to take the risk.”
Don rolled his eyes, “I’m going to assume there’s a point here?”
“The collection is the source of the magic, Don.” John said.
“So you want to use the curse that’s on my hand-“
“To track the rest of the collection. Exactly.”
“What’s the catch?”
“There’s a…” John hesitated. “There’s a strong chance that this will make your bad luck worse.”
“Exactly how much worse?” Don asked.
“Your curse will feed off my tracking spell, and the closer we get to the collection the stronger my spell will become.” John explained.
“The worse my luck will get.” Don finished.
As Don sat considering their options, a sharp creak came from his chair before one of the legs gave out and dumped him on the floor.
“Ok.” His voice floated out from under his desk. “Let’s do it.”