Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Mario V. Farina
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Janet Carson had gone to a rummage sale at the Cult Club in downtown Graystone. Inside, she had walked up and down the aisles looking for something interesting to purchase. She came upon a simple pale blue cup that looked like it might serve well for soup. But the price on the tag was too high. The club wanted five dollars for it. She was willing to pay a dollar, and wondered why the price seemed exorbitant. She called one of the workers to come see what she was interested in. An older man, of approximately eighty-five, smiled genially and asked, “What can I do for you?”
“This cup is worth a dollar maybe. Why are you asking so much?” The man took it from her hand and examined it. “Oh, I didn’t know we were selling this. It’s not for sale!”
“It’s being displayed here, and I’m interested. I want to buy it!”
“We should not have put it up for sale” said the man. “Someone made a mistake. It has special qualities that we don’t want to lose.”
“You can’t keep it from me,” Janet said angrily. “It’s being offered at a price of five dollars and I’ll pay that!”
“It’s not for sale!”
“It is for sale. It’s mine!” She rummaged through her bag and pulled out a crumpled five dollar bill. “Here’s your money!”
The elderly man did not respond. He handed the cup to Janet. “Good luck,” he muttered!
At home, Janet’s husband, Jerry, was having some left-over coffee at the breakfast table. “Look what I bought,” said Janet excitedly. “This cup has special qualities, but I don’t know what they are.” She handed it to her husband.
“Well, it’s a little large, but it looks like it can be used for coffee,” he said. “I don’t see any special qualities? What’s so special about this cup?”
“I don’t know,” she responded. “I was not able to have them reduce the price, and I paid five dollars for it.”
“Let me be the first to try it,” said Jerry. He reached to the nearby counter where a coffee maker was located and picked up the carafe which had not been totally emptied. He poured all of the remaining contents into the cup which filled it halfway. As he was about to take a first sip, he exclaimed, “Whoa, what’s this?”
“What’s what,” asked Janet?
“There’s a picture inside at the bottom. This is amazing! The picture shows you, sitting at this table, having breakfast. There’s a bowl in front of you, a box of cornflakes next to it, and a small carton of milk. You have a spoon in your hand.”
“You’re joking,” laughed Janet!
Janet looked and saw exactly what Jerry had described. “This is impossible,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t tell the man who sold me this thing, who I was, where I lived, or anything! How could this cup show a picture of me?”
“I’ll empty it,” said Jerry. He rose from the table, went to the sink, and dumped the coffee into the sink. He came back to the table with a puzzled look on his face. “The image is still there,” he muttered. “I don’t understand this.”
Janet washed and dried the cup. The picture was a little lighter but still visible at the bottom. She put it on the drain board. “I think it was some sort of trick photography,” she murmured. “I’m not going to worry about it.”
The mysterious cup was forgotten for the rest of the evening.
The next morning when Janet got up, Jerry had already risen and was in the living room reading the paper. Janet thought about the strange cup and took it from the drain board. She glanced inside. The picture that she and Jerry had seen the previous day was gone. Reassured, that this was not a mysterious cup, she put it back on the drain board and had her breakfast. Breakfast that morning consisted of a bowl of cornflakes and milk. Later, she realized that, at some point, while she was having breakfast, she had produced a real-life image of herself having breakfast. The cup had predicted this image!
That evening, they were sitting in the living room watching TV. Suddenly, Jerry rose from his seat, and, acting on a hunch, walked rapidly to the kitchen. He came back with the mystery cup in his hand. He handed it to Janet and said, “look!”
Janet glanced inside, and gasped. There was a new picture there. It showed Janet, stirring the contents of a pot at the kitchen range. “This thing seems to be telling us what’s going to happen the next day,” he uttered slightly above a whisper. “I think it’s showing what you will be doing some time tomorrow. I need to know whether what it’s showing is inevitable. Please, do not go anywhere near that range tomorrow. I’ll do the cooking.”
Janet agreed to this bizarre request.
On the following day, Janet did, indeed, stay away from the range. That is, except for one brief moment, when, without thinking, she went to stir the pot containing stew that Jerry was cooking. Too late, she realized that she shouldn’t have done that. She understood that, because of her inadvertent action, they knew no more about this cup did than they had the day before.
That evening, they were in the kitchen. With some trepidation, they looked inside the mystery item that they now referred to as the thing. They were horrified. There was a picture inside that showed Janet lying on the floor in the kitchen, in a pool of blood!
“This is awful,” said Jerry with a voice engraved with terror. “This must not happen! It seems to be indicating that you will suffer some sort of accident,” he said to Janet in a frightened tone.
“This thing must not have its way. We have to defeat it,” responded Janet!
Jerry stared at the picture. “This is interesting,” he said. “In the picture, you’re wearing a watch.” He went to the den and picked up a small magnifying glass on the computer desk. He brought it back to the kitchen and examined the image in the cup with the glass. “In the picture, it’s 7:30, on your watch,” he said. “I know something we can try.”
“That scene,” began Jerry, “we’re going to create it artificially. You lying on the floor with fake blood around you. This way, if this thing wants to predict what’s going to happen, it won’t be able to because we’ve already set up the view. But our version will be harmless!”
“You said the time on my watch was 7:30. Suppose the prediction was for 7:30 in the morning?”
“The way we’ll handle that,” said Jerry, “is by pulling the crown out of the watch, thus stopping it. We’ll restart the watch after 7:30 a.m. has passed.”
Janet said, “Why restart the watch at all? If tomorrow passes without 7:30 ever showing on the watch, then the cup’s prediction can’t happen!”
“We can’t take that chance. Remember what happened with the pot on the range. You accidentally stirred it, thereby confirming what the picture was showing. I think the better plan is to create the view that the picture shows. That way, this thing cannot make a 7:30 picture because we’ve already done it!”
“The dress in the picture is the one I’m wearing now. How can we make the fake blood?”
“Do you have some red dye in the laundry room,” he asked? “I think I saw some.”
“Yes, I’m glad you noticed that. We can mix a batch of liquid that would consist of only ordinary red-dyed water.”
“And you know what will need to do next?”
“Yes, just before 7:30 p.m., we’ll spill a quantity of that water on the floor and I’ll have to lie in it for a while.”
“Yes, but for only a minute. At 7:32, we’ll be able to resume our normal activities.”
“Just for good measure, I’m going to lie in that stuff for at least ten minutes!”
“Yes, as they say in the courtroom, time is of the essence. The times that we’re talking about have to be exact. One little mistake on our part, might make that fake blood turn into real blood!”
The next day Janet and Jerry got up early, stopped Janet’s watch, and made the imitation blood. After the 7:30 a.m. had passed, the watch was reset to the correct time. The day passed normally until evening. At around 7:20, they spilled the bogus blood on the floor in the kitchen and Janet lay in its cold wetness. Seven-thirty came and went. After another ten minutes had elapsed, Janet got up from the floor and went to the bedroom to change clothes.
“I think we fooled it,” said Jerry.
“I just happened to think of something,” said Janet. “Maybe that thing was playing a joke on us, and we fell for it!”
“I’m not sure of what you mean.” Jerry replied.
“Don’t you see, the scene we saw in the cup could have been the one that you and I just created!”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Jerry commented. “If what you’re saying is true, that cup has intelligence! I don’t want it around. Tomorrow I’ll go with you and we’ll we take it back to the Cult Club. We won’t even ask for our money back!”
“OK,” said Janet. “But first, I’m wondering what tomorrow will bring. Let’s look.”
The cup was retrieved and they looked into it. At first, there was no picture; then one began to appear.
“Look,” exclaimed Janet excitedly. “It shows me looking into it. I’m wearing my light red jacket and white scarf. I’m smiling. I’m obviously seeing something pleasant. We can’t take it back now. The cup has already shown that we’ll still have it tomorrow!”
“I believe we may have become that cup’s prisoner,” said Jerry