Trifecta: Rusty: Mechanical Treasure Boxes

Trifecta again!

This week's word is:

1: affected by or as if by rust; especially : stiff with or as if with rust
2: inept and slow through lack of practice or old age
3a : of the color rust
b : dulled in color or appearance by age and use <rusty old boots>
4: outmoded
5: hoarse, grating

Before I go into the story, a small preface: I've been thinking and writing of Lo Maxwell for a long time. He's a boy of indeterminate age- sometimes he's ten and sometimes he's fourteen, and at least in one of my stories he's seven. He's a lone mortal stuck in a different, bloodier, monstrous world, trying to get back to his own but in a very strange sense. Sometimes he's angry, an avenging angel. Sometimes he's sweet. Most of the time he's hungry. This is my fourth Lo Maxwell story, and the shortest. It's not much. 

*and I should probably mention that Lo's dog, despite appearances to the contrary, really doesn't like him much*

Mechanical Treasure-Box

The Mortal Boy, Lo Maxwell, sits in her living room and sips at the purple tea.

“What kind of a name is Lo?”

“A made-up one,” he smiles. He has no sharp teeth; only flat, harmless ones. Human, she thinks, and offers him cookies. They skitter around the plate when he reaches for them, and he drops his hand, squeamish. He looks up at her shyly with those famous blue eyes. Like them sea-glass love charms the mermaids brought to the Rilke Fair, Miss Jones had said, and oh, she was right, he looks delicious.

His dog is curled around his feet; a gigantic rusty thing with four white crescent-moons gouged in its neck.  It makes her uncomfortable.

“Maybe I have some candy somewhere,” she keeps her tone kindly and warm, pretending to be nice.

In the short trip it takes her to find him some candy- sweeten him up, Aramantha- and bring the box, he’s moved over to the window and the screaming sea on the other side.

“This was Jacinda’s treasure-box,” she says, and he comes to watch while she winds it up, sets it in motion. The key spins and the box opens in a whirl of gears and silver. There are doll heads inside, a ship in a bottle, hairpins and dried flowers. “Can you find her with this?”

Lo picks up a hairpin. “She passed through a mirror and into the Other World?”


And then he’s leaning over the box, and she can’t help it: he’s like a drug she has to have, right now. Her eyes become slits and her arms lose human shape, and her mouth of two-hundred teeth is almost snapping down on him, but then she looks up and screams.

She’s heard the stories about Lo Maxwell, who hasn’t?

That he travels with a dog. That sometimes the dog is a mangy rusty thing, but sometimes it’s a man with four bloody faces.

And that sometimes it eats monsters for him. 


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