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Mr. Abraham Mercer received a call from the Bodh Gaya holy site in Bihar, India. The monks had discovered a mala left behind by a pilgrim which seemed to have supernatural abilities. Believing it was time his son began to deal with the strange objects of their world, Mr. Mercer sent his twenty-three-year-old son, Jakob, to investigate and retrieve the item.


Jakob embarked on his first mission on behalf of his parent’s business, The Oddities Emporium. He always knew he would become part of the business and had been eager to travel to the exotic and wild places that his father had traveled. He never imagined his first trip would be to a holy site in India.


Once he arrived by plane in India, he rode a train until the tracks ended, then took a shuttle bus to the site. When he arrived, he found that the caretakers had closed the site to all visitors until the problem with the mala was solved.


Jakob met with his contact, Garima, who escorted him to the main site. Upon the steps in the distance, he could see the glittering citrine stones reflected the full sun. Garima stopped well short of the item.


He questioned her about the mala, even though the caretaker who had contacted his father had given him all the information they needed. He wanted to hear it from her personally.


“How long has it been here?” he asked.


“The first instance of trouble was two days ago. It happened so quickly that we weren’t sure what to think. We closed the site immediately with the first incident. It wasn’t until we had cleared the site that we discovered the mala. One of the monks tried to retrieve it, but he is in the hospital now.”


“What were his injuries?” he asked.


“His eardrums burst, and blood flowed from them. His heartbeat is irregular. The doctors cannot get it to normalize. He is older, and his age and condition are affecting him as much as the trauma. We had no way of knowing that the mala is dangerous,” she explained. He could hear the fear in her voice as it shook, telling the story.


“Since then, has anyone tried to retrieve it or come looking for it?” he asked.


“No. The monk managed to stumble away from the mala so that the medical personnel could aid him. No one else has approached it, and no one has asked for it.”


He found it strange that an object like this would have been left behind at a holy site. He didn’t think the bearer of the magical beads had meant any harm. If anything, perhaps they had hoped the pilgrimage to the site would have nullified the powerful effects of the stone. He did wonder how that person had managed not to be affected by its power. He knew how he would combat it, but not everyone had access to the same trove of objects that he had.


He reached into his pocket and ran his fingers over the smooth stones he found there. With each swipe, he felt their vibration fortify his own health defenses.


“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“I dare not go any closer. It is cursed,” she hissed.


“Very well. I will take it from here,” he replied. She grabbed his arm, and he looked back at her.


“I will hold your phone,” she said, nodding at the device in his shirt pocket. His father had told him that the mala reportedly disrupted digital signals. He reluctantly handed his phone to the female he’d just met.


As he approached the mala which seemed to have been discarded at the feet of the large statue, his ears began to pop, and he felt a strange vibration in the air that made him feel uneasy. He’d been around the objects in the shop for a long time, and this was a typical bodily response to something that contained power. However, even with the counter stones in his pocket, he worried that he hadn’t brought enough protection.


Citrine was known as a disruptive stone. Its color varied between yellow to green. The gemstone beads forming this mala were a deep golden color and faceted to reflect light. Tiny prisms of light illuminated the stone steps and the base of the statue. With each step closer, Jakob’s heart pounded harder and harder.


His left hand began to shake, so he reached into his pocket, pulled the two stones he had there, and put one in each hand. The shaking stopped and his heartbeat steadied. The uneasy feeling remained, but there wasn’t a magic to conceal or suppress fear. A healthy fear of supernatural objects had been instilled by his parents, who had been dealing with these sorts of items for over thirty years.


Within a couple of feet from the strand of beads, he heard a subtle cracking noise and couldn’t place its origin until a cracked slowing moved across his vision. The heavy vibration of the stones had broken his lenses.


He didn’t bother to remove them as he moved forward to where he could stand over the mala. He’d brought a velvet bag to place them in that had been spelled by a local witch as a safe container much like the glass boxes in the gallery at the store. However, with the protection stones in each hand, he wasn’t sure how he was going to open the bag, pick up the mala, and put it inside while still holding on to them. Finally, he made the only decision he knew to make.


Reaching down with both hands, he dropped the amethyst stones while grabbing the mala. A blaring shriek pierced his ears, but he pushed through the pain while opening the bag to place the beads inside. In the process, his glasses cracked completely, and the lenses crumbled in a shower of shards to the ground. Jakob allowed the frames to drop to the ground. He was almost ready to abandon his attempt to retrieve the item when something popped into his head.


It could have coincided with his eardrums bursting, but he grabbed the mala and wrapped it around his right wrist. As the beads settled onto his skin, the vibration, the piercing noise, and the uneasy feelings faded away. He felt like he’d been cuffed with a shackle, but it had done the job.


He picked up his frames, the amethyst, and gave a nod to the statue out of respect. Then, he backed away to where the woman stood with a stunned look on her face. She eyed the mala on his wrist.


“I decided that someone had to bring it here, and it didn’t start causing problems until he or she had laid it down. Something about the contact with skin lessens its power,” he explained.


Skeptical, she kept her distance from him nonetheless as she escorted him back to the main entrance.


“Thank you, Mr. Mercer. I admit I thought you were a goner,” Garima exclaimed while she gasped for breath.


“No, ma’am. Sometimes you just have to have a little faith,” he replied.


Once he returned home, his mother held open the glass case marked 27 while he quickly slipped the mala off his wrist to its new permanent, protective home.


Jakob made note of the mala, and its abilities for future uses. His parents never removed the items from the gallery, but he knew that they could be used for good. He just had to decide when and where the best time to use them would be.


His first procurement had been a success. Except for the glasses.


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