The artifact was created millennia ago,
Born of an ancient sorcerer’s experiments
With his dark, soul-sucking magic
He shaped it in a single night from clay
Into a black, polished sphere, two feet across.
The sorcerer believed that life was a curse;
He spent his days grief-stricken,
Lost in melancholy and crying spells.
He yearned to craft a mighty tool
That would grant joy by touching it.
Without enduring happiness, he thought,
The world would never know peace.
His heart felt heavy as he sat down
To fashion this wondrous thing,
A miracle created from his own despair.
But the spell with which to enchant it
Required a momentous sacrifice:
It needed to be powered by three souls
That had belonged to vestal girls,
And those poor, lost souls would be cursed
By being trapped inside the sphere’s core.
No one would miss the orphans he picked.
They were fresh, pure and unspoiled by sin.
He took them to his home, where he lived alone.
He fed them well and clothed them warmly.
He made them happy. They laughed and played.
He loved them with all his heart.
The sorcerer wrote, saddened, about a girl
Whose eyes had glowed like molten gold
As she looked up at him with love,
But the old man pushed a sharp dagger
Deep into each of their innocent hearts.
He had no choice but to make them pay
For their crime of living on Earth.
They cried out for help, but no one came.
Their cries echoed through time and space.
The sorcerer cut the hearts from their bodies,
And their blood spilled on his black sphere.
He thought that the sacrifice of a few lives
Justified the happiness of many more.
As long as anyone was touching his artifact,
They would never know sadness again.
The sorcerer retired to solitude for weeks.
“Oh, my dear girls…” The old man wept.
He remembered their gazes, so tender and kind.
He came to feel like an unforgivable monster,
And every day, his tired heart ached
As if a different monster were stabbing it.
When the artifact was complete,
It glowed like a black pearl in its sheath.
The sphere had sealed those young souls,
And its creator’s sadness faded away quick:
Those who touched the polished sphere
Found themselves in a strange mindspace
That made them feel warm and secure.
It gave them a feeling of being complete.
No matter what life they had led
Or how much or little they’d earned
Through their suffering, the artifact
Would grant anyone a momentary sense
Of perfect bliss and fulfillment.
But over time, the souls got worn down.
The sphere would one day require new ones.
Its creator wished to never kill again,
So he imbued the artifact with a spell
That would absorb lost souls as needed,
Which rendered the original sacrifices
Kind of unnecessary.
Long after the sorcerer died of old age,
His gift for all mankind seemed lost.
The artifact’s existence was forgotten
Until archaeologists unearthed his workshop.
Although the sorcerer had documented his work,
Historians believed he had made up a fanciful tale.
A prominent scholar opined, “The artifact
Was simply an excuse to take innocent lives.
The sorcerer was a sadist, a psychopath.”
“The sorcerer was a genius,” said another.
“I don’t care what you say.”
In any case, there were too many unknowns.
No one could prove that the sphere had existed.
However, the artifact did exist;
It had rolled somehow into a ravine.
The farmer who found it called the press,
Eager to divulge its secrets to the world.
“It’s true!” he shouted. “This thing is amazing!
I can’t believe this. I feel so good!
It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Oh, wow, I feel so calm and contented.”
The sphere glowed faintly, as if it knew
That someone was looking at it now.
For decades, the artifact rested
On a shelf at the museum of Rijdenhart.
People from everywhere came to marvel
At the artifact that granted happiness.
The polished sphere became a cultural icon.
Artists painted scenes of it in action.
Writers wrote books about it.
Poets sang songs of it.
Philosophers pondered its meaning.
Prophets ranted about it.
Rulers debated its use.
Some people tried to destroy the artifact.
Far more intended to steal it.
There was even a cult that believed it was holy.
The authorities knew it was a matter of time
Until they lost control of such a wonder,
So they hid it away where it wouldn’t be found.
Rumors circulated about its whereabouts.
People claimed to have seen it in foreign lands.
It was said to be in a vault in a bank in Switzerland.
It was rumored to be hidden in a cave in Tibet.
It was also said to be in a secret chamber in China.
Some believed it belonged now to a private collector.
In fact, the artifact is stored
In an inconspicuous warehouse
Where it sits in a box on a shelf.
Only scholars with special clearance
Can study the sphere or even look at it.
But they became familiar with the last souls
That the artifact had absorbed along its way.
One of the girls was murdered
When she was twelve years old.
Daphne was her name,
And her hair was the color of flames.
She loved to play the piano,
And she played it so well
That her father, a famous musician,
Hired a band to accompany her.
The crowd went wild
As her fingers flew across the keys.
Those notes were like fire,
So beautiful and pure.
When her parents entered their apartment
On that fateful day,
Daphne’s bedroom was bloodied and gory.
Her young body lay on the floor,
Dead from numerous stab wounds.
Her murderer had long fled.
No one had seen anything suspicious.
The murder weapon was never found.
It wasn’t long before the case was closed,
And no one learned her murderer’s identity
Except for Daphne herself.
One of the girls drowned
When she was thirteen years old.
Her name was Julia,
And she loved to swim in the sea.
She often dived deep underwater
To explore the wonders of the ocean floor.
But on that fateful day,
A storm suddenly blew up.
The wind howled and the rain poured down.
Although Julia tried to reach land,
The strong currents pulled her under.
Her pale arms reached for the sky
As the waves crashed over her head.
Her mother’s tears turned to ice
As she watched her daughter
Drown in the raging tide.
Minutes later she drowned as well
In those dark, cold depths.
A fisherman ended up finding Julia;
Her corpse had floated to the surface.
The body was bloated with water,
Her skin was grayish-white,
Her limbs were purple and swollen,
Her eyes stared blankly upward,
Her lips were blue and still.
One of the girls was trampled
When she was seven years old.
Her name was Eudocia.
She was the daughter of a soldier
Who fought for the Roman Empire.
In the streets of Alexandria,
On that fateful day,
A chariot hurtled down the street.
The horses were lathered and sweaty
As they galloped furiously.
The wheels clattered against the cobblestones,
But Eudocia was thinking about flowers.
The girl had always been fascinated by them.
“When I grow up, I’ll become a great artist,”
She had told her father recently.
“I want to paint pictures that are so lovely,
You’ll forget all about war.”
“What do you mean?” he had asked.
“I think I can make the world more peaceful.
Flowers can heal a broken heart.”
Eudocia replayed this dialogue in her mind
As she absentmindedly crossed the road.
The driver didn’t stop to help,
He just kept driving away
As the girl was dragged through the mud
And the wheels left bloody trails.
Her body was covered in bruises,
Her bones were crushed and broken.
Eudocia’s father wept,
Then took her body home
And hanged himself.
It took a team of parapsychologists
A large number of ouija board sessions
To figure out this information
I just told you.
One of the historians touched the sphere
Far more times than he was allowed.
He became obsessed with that sense of peace.
The day before his clearance was revoked,
The historian used the tip of a knife
To engrave on the sphere each girl’s name.
If you are sick and tired of this life,
Touch the artifact and know
That you will never suffer again.
Your troubles will disappear.
You will feel complete.
If only that cursed thing‘Three Trapped Souls’ by Jon Ureña
Was available to buy,
You’d always know what to do
On a lonely day.