THE BEL AIR STONE
by Ethan Gibney
“What do you know of the Bel Air stone?”
She pops her lighter open, then closed. Open, then closed.
“Not a jot.”
“The stone was found in England in the 1800s, in the possession of a dead man. No one knows who the dead man was, or where he came from. This is partly because he was found wearing nothing but the stone, and he’d lost his head.”
“No, he had no head.”
“Miraculous cure for headaches.”
“Hush. Over time, the stone has gone through many owners. As far as we know, only the first of the owners was cursed, but we’d like a little more information than that. And that’s where you come in.”
“You want me to get it?”
“Why the ‘Bel-Air’ stone?”
“Why is it important, or why is it called that?”
She just waits.
“We hypothesize that the stone may have belonged to the founder of our order, as the victims of his rituals tended to be found in a situation similar to the headless man, though with different stones. It got its name because it was traded among a series of notable celebrities in Bel Air, during and after the Korean War.”
She stands. “Anything else I need to know?”
“Don’t get caught.”
When asked “where do you hide a stone that was probably owned by a cult founder and has been involved in at least one beheading?”, the answer is fairly obvious.
In a safe, in a vault, behind a secret door, in an unmarked basement of an extremely secure household in a neighborhood has irregular (but frequent) police patrols and streets that are all straight lines so thieves can’t take advantage of confusing curves.
The problem is, once she’s worked past all that (thanks to some carefully cast spells and defensive wards), she finds the safe empty. The door swings open and, whoops, nothing there.
Behind her, a man clears his throat. She turns and finds a man with an ill-fitting bowler and a worse-fitting suit, holding a gun and the stone.
“Looking for this, dear?” he asks. “Did the Skull send you?”
“He did.” He didn’t, she’s never heard of the Skull, but it seems an important critter of whom to be aware.
“Yeah, well, you can tell him that McAllister has no intention of letting him get his bony little paws on the stone. I’m not interested in helping him bring the cops down our operation.”
“He’s not going to like this.”
“You’ll let me go, though?”
“Nope. Your ghost can tell him.”
He raises his hand, pulls the trigger.
Blood and bone burst from the back of his head, the bullet having been whisked to the wrong place right after it fired.
“This, children, is why we check for magic before we shoot people.”
She bends over, grabs the stone.
“Now let’s see if we can’t find out who this The Skull is.”
© 2017, Ethan Gibney
Enjoy this story? Perhaps you'd consider donating.