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The Heart-Shaped Locket

by Nicholas Kleinhenz about a year ago in Sci Fi
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An original work of dystopian fiction

"When the heart skips a beat, the soul holds its breath." - Nicholas Kleinhenz

Elizabeth sat on the floor of her grandmother’s neatly decorated home. Nothing in the home was out of place, except for her grandmother who had recently passed away. Her final words still echoed in Elizabeth’s mind: “Take this locket, my dear Elizabeth. It’s the only relic left behind by your mother and father. They always said it was the key to restoring this world, but I never figured out the key to opening the locket. The mystery is now yours to solve.” Elizabeth placed her hand over the beautiful heart-shaped locket which now hung around her neck. The locket was a red heart encased in intricately designed golden vines.

A knock on the door suddenly drew her attention away from her thoughts. “Coming!” Elizabeth shouted with great excitement. She already knew that it was Henry: her best friend. She had invited him, after all. Quickly, she made her way to the door and took a deep breath before opening it. Her nerves were running rampant at the thought of his reaction to her impending proposal. Her heart beat heavily beneath the locket. Elizabeth opened the door to see Henry’s usually cheerful face filled with concern.

Henry stepped through the threshold and wrapped Elizabeth in a caring embrace. “I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Are you okay, Liz?” He had called her Liz ever since they were in grade school together. He always insisted that it was short for “Elizabeth,” but she remembered that he had used that nickname to compare her to a lizard when they were kids.

“Yes,” she replied from within his embrace. “I’m alright.”

Henry pulled away keeping his hands on her slender hips. “I’m very relieved to hear you say that. I know she was the last family member you had left after your mother and father passed away. What’s this?” he asked gesturing to the ornate heart-shaped locket around her neck.

Elizabeth’s eyes began to swell with tears. “She gave it to me. It belonged to my mother.”

“I see.” Henry said with a smile. “It suits you quite well.”

“Grandma said that the locket has some sort of mystery about it and the responsibility of figuring it out would be passed down to me. Here, look at this.” Elizabeth turned the locket around so that Henry could view the backside.

Henry read the words inscribed on the back of the locket aloud, “Only a sacrifice made from true love can unlock the secret of hope.” he paused for a few minutes thoughtfully. “What does it mean?”

“I have no idea,” Elizabeth replied. “but I have to find out. That’s why I asked you to come here. I want you to help me, Henry.”

“Why me?” Henry asked with a glimmer in his eyes.

“Because you’re the only person I trust.”

“Oh,” Henry said glancing down at the floor between them. “well, where should we begin looking for clues?”

Elizabeth thought carefully for a moment. “We can search the house and find some of my mother and father’s remaining belongings.”

“Alright, what are we looking for?”

“I know that I’ve told you about my father’s work as a geneticist before the Great War. What I never told anyone is that my mother was a witch.”

“A witch? Liz, you must be kidding.”

“I’m not.” Elizabeth assured him. “My grandmother used to proudly tell me stories of her daughter doing such fantastical things.”

“Alright, I’ll humor you.” Henry said with a twinge of disbelief in his voice. “Again, what’re we looking for?”

“Some of my father’s notes and my mother’s secret book.” she replied. “Most of the stuff my grandmother kept has been locked away in the attic for the past twenty years. She used to tell me that whenever she passed away I could have the contents of the wooden trunk in the attic. Unfortunately, it’s too heavy for me to carry down here.”

“No worries, Liz. I’ll go up and get it.” Henry said as he ventured into the house to retrieve the trunk.

Elizabeth sat down on her grandmother’s couch and patiently awaited Henry’s return. She gazed out the window at the barren landscape. The setting sun created the most beautiful sunsets through the dense gray clouds that always covered the sky. She could remember a time when she was only four years old – a time before the Great War – when the sky was a brilliant blue color speckled with white, fluffy clouds. Her thoughts led back to a time when grass grew on the ground and trees seemed to grow as tall as the eye could see. That world and the memory of her parents had been swept away long ago.

Henry returned struggling to carry the cumbersome trunk down the narrow hallway. He placed it on the floor in front of the couch with a thud and took a seat beside Elizabeth. “This thing is ridiculously heavy.” he said wiping the sweat from his brow. “It doesn’t appear to have a lock though. The stuff inside must not be very valuable.”

“It’s valuable to me.” Elizabeth stated. “Whatever is inside this trunk is all that’s left of my parents – my inheritance.” She flipped up the latch on the front of the trunk and slowly lifted the heavy lid. As it creaked open, Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears again. Inside the trunk was a few articles of clothing, an old photo album, handwritten letters, various precious trinkets, a sealed envelope, and a black satin cloth that seemed to be concealing something.

Elizabeth flipped through the photo album with a smile on her face. It contained many goofy depictions of her and her parents. Some of the photographs she remembered, but many of them she had long since forgotten. One specific photograph depicted her father, dressed in a lab coat, working with a blood sample underneath a microscope. The photograph behind it was missing, but on the back was a handwritten note that read, “John mapping DNA sequences for genetic replication of organisms, Sept. 2043.”

“Look at this.” Elizabeth said as she handed the photograph to Henry.

“That’s your dad? He was a real-deal geneticist back in the old world.” Henry praised.

“Here’s one of my mom and me.” Elizabeth said with a grin. “I miss them.”

“I know,” Henry said as he reached into the box and removed the object wrapped in black satin. “They’ll always be with you in your heart. You just have to keep their memories alive.” He untied the knot binding the black satin cloth and unwrapped a tattered black book. The name “Abigail” was written on the front cover above a strange-looking symbol. Elizabeth’s eyes widened as Henry handed the book over to her.

“Mom’s book.” she muttered under her breath. As she opened the cover, a folded piece of loose-leaf paper slipped out and fell onto the floor between them. Elizabeth and Henry exchanged glances and then stared at the piece of paper between their feet.

“Pick it up.” Henry said after a few moments.

Elizabeth did as she was told and read the note aloud:

To our dearest daughter Elizabeth,

If you’re reading this, then I am deeply sorry about the loss of your grandma. I instructed mom to wait until see was passing to give you the heart-shaped locket that she always carried with her. It belonged to your mother, but I’m the one that created it. Unfortunately, alongside the items in this trunk, you have inherited the key to saving humanity from the aftermath of the impending war. Your mother saw this coming using her clairvoyance, but I was quite skeptical. However, I wrote this note because I trusted her judgment. You reading this note means that she was right, after all. Your mother and I worked together to conceal a computer chip inside the locket for safe keeping. The chip contains genetic coding for almost every plant and animal species in the entire world. It took a lot of work, but we did it. I gathered the DNA maps and your mother sealed the locket with a curse. You carry with you your mother’s love and your father’s strength. We believe in you!

Written with all of our love, Mom and Dad.

Elizabeth slumped back on the couch with tears in her eyes. She covered her face with her hands and began sobbing. Henry had noticed her voice cracking while she was reading the letter, but didn’t want to stop her. He wrapped one arm around her and she leaned into his embrace. When she finally stopped crying and looked up at him, her misty blue eyes were filled with wonder.

“I know what I have to do.” Elizabeth said, her voice still cracking.

“What’s that?” Henry asked softly.

Elizabeth reached into the trunk and pulled out an item that Henry had not yet noticed: an old revolver. She held it in her hands with tears in her eyes. “Henry, I’m sorry. I’m doing this for you and everyone else. I’m doing this so that you can all live normal lives.”

Henry grabbed the revolver. “No, Liz, I can’t let you do that. We’ll find another way.” He attempted to pull the revolver out of her hands, but she gripped it tightly. They struggled for a few moments until Elizabeth’s finger was finally squeezed against the trigger. The revolver fired.

Startled, Elizabeth jumped backward. Henry, however, had been the unfortunate one to be shot. The revolver had blown a large hole in the right side of his chest and an even larger hole as it exited the back of his shoulder. He slumped backward across the arm of the couch. Elizabeth’s facial expression turned from shock to pure terror.

“Henry, I’m so sorry! Oh, Jesus, Henry!”

“It’s okay, Liz.” Henry gasped. “It was bound to happen to one of us, so I decided that it should be me.”

Elizabeth hugged him tightly and wailed at the top of her lungs, “Henry, please don’t die!” However, it was too late. The young man’s heart had stopped. His blood covered the couch cushions and Elizabeth’s shirt as she held his now limp body. Suddenly, she heard a faint click from between their chests.

Officer Johnson arrived on the scene nearly ten minutes later. A nearby neighbor in the small community had heard the gunshot and called for help. He knocked on the door, but no one answered. He kicked the frail wooden door, splintering the door frame. A second kick sent the door swinging wide open. The officer breached the door and Elizabeth screamed. Startled, the officer swung his pistol in her direction and fired. The bullet passed through her left eye, shattering one of the glass panes in the hutch behind her.

Officer Johnson pressed his radio button and called for an ambulance. He surveyed the room and noticed Henry’s corpse lying on the couch. As he searched around the room, he noticed the heart-shaped locket lying on the ground next to Elizabeth’s corpse. He bent down to examine it further and noticed the tiny computer chip sticking out of the open locket.

The Chief of Police and two medics arrived shortly afterward. They placed Elizabeth and Henry in body bags while Officer Johnson and the Chief gathered any evidence they could.

“What about this?” Officer Johnson asked, holding up the bloody locket with the chip inside.

The Chief of Police scoffed. “Probably just some electronic love letter or something. Send it to the evidence locker with the rest of this crap and have it catalogued. I think we all know this was a lover’s quarrel. No need to investigate the obvious.” He had already packed up the items in the trunk to take back.

“Are you sure?” Officer Johnson asked.

“Yeah, I’ll write this one up as a murder-suicide and you can keep your job.” The Chief answered proudly.

Sci Fi

About the author

Nicholas Kleinhenz

Aspiring author.

I write horror stories.

That's all you need to know.

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