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Pandora’s Box

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Have you ever had one of those dreams, you know, the ones that wake you up in a cold sweat?  The type of dream that after it’s woken you, you know if you get back off to sleep again you’re going to carry on dreaming it.  And worst of all, this dream re-occurs – about every four or five months you get an action replay.  Well this was one of those dreams and I’d been having it, off and on, for about six years.  What crevices of the mind it came from I know not, but somewhere in my long lost memory there would have been the triggers.

The dream goes something like this.  I’m travelling on a train and there is only me in the carriage.  I don’t know where I am going and there is nobody around to ask.  The countryside out of the window looks familiar but I can’t quite remember where it is.  I feel frustrated not being able to remember, so I get up and make my way to the front of the train.  I go through three empty carriages and on entering the next I see it’s full of people.  I can’t understand what they are saying as they are not speaking English.  It sounds like an Eastern European language such as Polish or Russian but I’m not sure.  I ask a couple of the passengers where the train is headed for but they don’t understand me.  They seem agitated though.  Next second I find myself back in my original seat but this time surrounded by English speaking passengers.  I don’t need to ask any questions as I know I’m heading for St. Pancras Station in London.

Next minute I’m walking along a London street looking into shop windows.  I stop at an antiques shop when I notice a silver casket in the window.  I go in and buy it.  It is about 8” long, 4” high and 4” deep, mounted on four clawed feet, one at each corner.  It has braided edges.

Next, I’m home in my study sitting at my desk.  I open the box and sit staring into its emptiness.  I spot some movement in the bottom of the box and a grey mist starts to form slowly.  It is thin at first but starts to thicken and become more voluminous.  Soon the mist starts to overflow the box and spreads over the desk.  I now notice some shapes forming in the box – long thin worm-like shapes.  The first shakes free of the box and starts to swim in the air, circling the box.  It is about 12” long, an 1” in diameter, and tapers to a point at the back end.  Although worm-like in appearance, it has a small face on its thickest end.  It looks at me with a smile. Not a pleasant smile by any means, but a smile of menace.  Another worm emerges and another and before long there are about a dozen worms, each circling the box, all with the face of a devil.  I sit transfixed.  Two of the worms pull away from the group and dart towards me.  Before I have a chance to move they wrap themselves around my wrists and the chair arms and tighten so I cannot get up.  I’m a prisoner in the chair.

A third worm leaves the others and moves slowly towards me, heading for my face.  I see its sharp teeth as its smile turns into a laugh.  It moves towards my nose and enters my left nostril stretching it painfully as it does so.  I feel it penetrating further and further and shriek in agony as it eats at my flesh in order to proceed.  I beg for it to stop, but it has no effect.  A fourth worm enters my right nostril and begins to eat its way into me.  A fifth and sixth enter my ears and I can feel them eating their way towards my brain.  Two more worms wrap themselves around my legs and the legs of the chair making it impossible to move or kick out and a further two of the evil creatures make their way up my trouser legs.

This is the point when I wake up in a cold sweat.  My heart’s racing and I’m out of breath.  I have to get up and have a cup of tea, for I feel sure that if I drop off too soon I’ll continue the dream.  After about a half hour I think it safe to re-enter the bed and try to sleep, but I normally find it difficult as I can’t shake the thought of the worms from my mind.

The next day the dream leaves my consciousness and I think no more of it until it re-occurs.

A week ago I had to go to London on business.  My meeting ended early afternoon so I took the opportunity to have a wander around. Just off Oxford Street there was a small passageway so for some reason I ventured up it.  There were a number of small shops selling a variety of goods and I took some pleasure looking in their windows.  The fifth shop was an old junk shop and I felt drawn inside.  It was full of bric-a-brac, old paintings, postcards, small furniture items and the like.  I walked up and down the aisles picking up various items for closer inspection.  Then I noticed it, my box, the box in my dreams – about 8” long, 4” high and 4” deep, mounted on four clawed feet, one at each corner.  It had braided edges.  I asked the owner to tell me about the box and he didn’t know much apart from the fact it was silver and was made in the old Bohemia.  I had to buy.

I left the shop and found a place to have coffee.  After placing my order I took the box out of its wrappings and inspected it closer.  There was an inscription written underneath the box but I didn’t know what it said as it was written in a foreign language, presumably Czech.  I knew of a language school near Covent Garden, so after I had finished my coffee I took a taxi to it.  I found a Czech speaking tutor and she kindly translated the inscription for me.

“Interesting,” she said, “the inscription says ‘Do not open, you have been warned’.”

I’m now sitting in my study with the silver box placed on the desk in front of me.  My curiosity is getting the better of me.  Shall I open it?

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