Margaret sat staring at the bag for a good long time. She had never expected to actually come into possession of it, and frankly she didn’t quite know how to proceed. She opened the book, but any instructions it may have contained were lost to time and the elements. It was just her and the bag now.
The bag shifted.
Margaret stood up and walked around the garage. She fought the urge to throw the bag into the trash or smash it with one of her father’s wrenches. She even envisioned herself clamping it into the workbench vise and going at it with a Sawzall.
But, of course she wouldn’t.
The bag was hers now. Her responsibility. And, Margaret had no intention of shirking her responsibility. Not after all she’d been through. Not after last night. And this morning. And the shape in the alley. Not after all of that.
The bag shifted again.
And, honestly, she wasn’t sure she could even harm the bag if she tried. At least, not what was in the bag. Margaret wasn’t particularly strong, she was sneaky. Sneaky could help you accumulate things but it wasn’t much good in the muscle mass department and the thing in the bag was tough.
To say the least.
As she pedaled home from her . . . experience in the alley, the bag hung from her handlebars and she could feel – or sense – the contents pulling her along, guiding her from street to street, corner to corner. It wasn’t a mental suggestion either, it was a physical tug. If this thing was that strong without touching you . . . well, it was pointless to dwell on abstractions. The thing was hers now, and nothing was going to change that.
A car drove by outside and Margaret stiffened. “Please don’t come home early” she thought/prayed to her father, “Please don’t walk in here and see he like this. I don’t think I could stand it.”
Margaret left bloody footprints as she paced the garage The thing in the bag seemed to follow her as the crossed the room, or maybe she imagined it did. She was pretty lightheaded by this point.
She stopped pacing and stared at the bag. Was she daring it? To do what?
She needed to open it. That was part of the deal.
It couldn’t be as easy as just pulling the string. There had to be spells and counter-spells. Binding charms. Sacrifice. Something.Margaret picked up the book. Since receiving it (and what a thrill that adventure had been) she had practically memorized most of its contents. It was so detailed, with charts and maps and long descriptions of ritual and rhyme. But, it crapped out at the end. There was nothing past the instructions on acquiring the bag. Just torn remnants and water-stained smears of pages.
She went to the workbench and picked up one of the razor blades, the one least-covered in gore. She sat down next to the bag and inspected the string. It was tied in a complex knot. She counted to three. She cut the string.
Or, she tried to.
It wouldn’t cut.
She sawed at the string with the razor blade, growing more and more furious as she hacked and slashed at it. All of her fear was fading and a blind, stupid rage was building in her chest. A couple of slahes caught her on the arm and fingers (hardly noticeable by this point) but she kept hacking.
The string held. The bag held.
“What do I do?!” she screamed to the empty garage, “What else do I do?! Please!” She threw the bag across the garage and broke down in tears.
Margaret sat rocking back and forth, her hands clutching her red bangs, sobs racking her small frame. It was so unfair. She had given up so much for this: her friends, her puppy Bubble, her whole senior year. All in the pursuit of . . . something unknown. Something in a bag. She hated it. She wanted it so bad.
Her bloody hands shaking, Margaret picked up the bag.
“Please open up. Please come out. Please. Please. Please.”
The air in the garage grew thick and humid. The blood running down Margaret’s arms and legs flowed faster. The lights faded. But, the bag stayed closed.
Margaret spread out on the floor. She had tried so hard. She was so tired.
She curled up with the bag clutched to her chest, the way she had clutched Bubble once upon a time. She could swear the bag moved against her. She smiled.
The blood flowed out of her and the room grew cold. Then warm. Then nothing.
When Margaret’s father found her body, covered in lacerations, his heart broke.
The bag opened and hell crawled out.