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Bloody Luggage (sample)
Tinney S. Heath
It was in York that we first realized the luggage was possessed. Not that it hadn't been making a bloody nuisance of itself ever since we landed at Heathrow, but its more sinister aspects, its sly malevolence, the sheer hulking evil of it eluded us until York.
In retrospect, it seems likely that our bags, so accommodating and gracious as we packed them at home in happy anticipation, had managed their insidious transformation into satanic Samsonite somewhere over the Atlantic. It only makes it worse that all three of us cheerfully paid the airline for each bag beyond our first one. The change must have occurred well before we shuffled through Passport Control in London and reclaimed them—certainly well before they ingested their first tea towel or Cadbury bar.
Perhaps we were too naive and trusting. Still, one can hardly expect three intelligent, sensible women on a well-earned and much-needed vacation to find themselves hounded and harassed by their own baggage. I was particularly appalled at the callous maliciousness exhibited by my own new matched set of tapestry suitcases, but when all is said and done, I think there is little doubt that Wendy's big blue suitcase was the ringleader of it all. It started with Big Blue, and ultimately it ended with Big Blue.
I suppose we should have realized we were in trouble when we first collected the bags at customs in Heathrow. I do recall thinking it odd that the officers' drug-sniffing dog shrank back, whimpering, as we labored past with our overburdened trolley. But nobody stopped us, so we proceeded with some difficulty to the point beyond which no trolleys may go, and thence, loaded down like overachieving Sherpas, to the tube station. Thank God for wheels on the bigger bags, though even when artfully stacked and rolling, the luggage was nearly impossible to maneuver, especially on the escalators.
Granted, we had far too much with us to be able to manage it gracefully. Each of us had apparently assumed that the others would be traveling light, and we had also allowed enough room to bring home a few modest souvenirs. The result was a formidable pile of suitcases that would have been a challenge under the best of circumstances. Going the wrong way at Kings Cross station at rush hour was not, as it turned out, the best of circumstances.
Details of the next hour are a hideous blur in my memory. The amount of baggage we had, even in an innocuous and inert state, would have made the long trek against traffic to our train an ordeal, and upon reflection, it is clear that our luggage was already asserting its newfound malignity in subtle ways. The first manifestation, had we only had the wit to recognize it, was undoubtedly the first stirrings of a compulsion to engage in what we later came to call, inadequately, Shopping.
Why else would three sane women, already overburdened, have added to their collection of possessions two tea towels, a Toby mug of Margaret Thatcher, a bottle of English lavender, a paperback about the royal family, a Royal Wedding souvenir plate, a miniature ceramic Big Ben, and a packet of digestive biscuits, while still in the train station?
Still, at this early stage of events we were unaware of the problems to come. After superhuman effort we finally managed to hoist the bags and our newly-purchased packages aboard the correct train. Big Blue brought up the rear, arriving on board as all three of us tugged at various handles and straps, just as the doors closed and the train started moving. It took us another ten minutes to distribute bags and packages, and even then two suitcases remained in the aisles, for there was nowhere else to put them. We settled back into our seats and rode in glum silence, moodily staring out the windows, until the train pulled into the station at York.
As we dragged our bags off the train, I was sure they had gained some weight, but I didn't say anything. British taxis are commodious, and it was such a relief to let the driver handle the bags for us that we finally began to relax and enjoy looking around at picturesque York as we were conveyed to our B&B. The break, however, was all too short.
We trudged up the three flights of stairs to our room, weary and out of sorts. The room was pleasant enough and cheerful, with frilly white curtains, but it took us two trips to get all the suitcases up the narrow staircase, and with every step they got heavier. Understand, they didn't just seem to get heavier—they did get heavier. By the time I made it to the threshold with Big Blue, it was all I could do to heave it—him—through the door, where he toppled onto the other bags, which were already in a heap in the middle of the floor. We, in turn, collapsed on the beds.
For a few minutes nobody spoke. Then Cheryl hoisted herself into a sitting position and glared at the pile of bags. "Bloody luggage!" she snarled, and aimed a vicious kick at Big Blue.
If her kick had connected, I could have understood what happened next. She might have upset the precarious pile of baggage and precipitated the accident. But I saw it all, and so did Wendy, and both of us will swear that before Cheryl's foot came anywhere near Big Blue, the bags unsettled themselves with lightning speed, in such a way that my heavy backpack full of guidebooks leaped forward and landed hard on Cheryl's left (non-kicking) foot. She howled, aborted her kick, and clutched her instep, rocking back and forth in pain.
Wendy climbed over my big tapestry bag to get to Cheryl. She hugged her gently. "There, there, it'll be all right. I have some ibuprofen in my purse." She rummaged through her handbag, while Cheryl sniffled and I got cautiously to my feet, thinking to impose some sort of organization on the mound of baggage so that we could move around the room safely.
I reached out to grab Big Blue by the handle and recoiled, involuntarily letting out a small sound of distress.
Cheryl stopped whimpering and looked at me. "What—what is it?" she asked in a hoarse whisper.
"Wendy, what's the combination on your suitcase lock?" I demanded, shrinking back from the bag and sitting down on the bed again.
"What did you leave it on when you locked it?"
"I didn't lock it," she said, puzzled. "You can't until it's past security, or they'll just rip it open. And we've had it with us ever since we picked it up in Heathrow. Why are you asking?"
I summoned my courage and leaned forward to peer at the lock again. It hadn't changed. "It distinctly says 666 now," I told her, trying to control my trembling voice.
Cheryl and Wendy gasped. We looked at each other, panic rising like a mist in the room. Cheryl leaned forward hesitantly to see for herself, lost her balance, and tumbled off the bed, landing face down on Big Blue. She scrambled up as if the bag had scorched her, stepped on her injured foot, yelped, and sat down hard on one of the few patches of floor not covered by suitcases.
"Wendy, what's your middle name?" she said breathlessly.
"What? Cheryl, are you okay?" said Wendy.
"What's your middle initial?" Cheryl insisted.
"D. For Denise. You know that. Wendy Denise Evans. Why?"
"Then the monogram on Big Blue should say WDE, right?"
"It does," said Wendy, looking at Cheryl as if her sanity was suspect.
"No, it doesn't. Look at it."
Wendy and I both maneuvered into positions where we could see. Sure enough, Big Blue, rather than proclaiming his owner's abbreviated identity, was clearly spelling out WOE in gold-tone block letters.
Wendy gave a low whistle. "It did say WDE. I know it did. I've had that suitcase since graduation. I'd know if it had been monogrammed wrong."
Cheryl hugged her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth, sobbing quietly. "It's giving us a message, I know it is," she whispered.
That was when we first began to realize that the luggage was possessed.
Cover design by Laura Unger, all rights reserved.
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This page created 13 December 2011
Last update 21 March 2014