Disclaimer: This work is of pure fiction and any resemblance of the characters and settings to real life persons, events, circumstances, etc. is purely coincidental. The following story is completely fictional.

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Cabinet of Curiosities
by Sam The Ham



      The Cleveley house was built in 1864 and had the notability of being the first house with electricity in the country. The family had made most of its money in lumber and had a pretty tight grip on the town, owning most of the buildings on Main Street. However, they had also helped establish the town park and funded most of the school and library construction. Several generations lived in the house until World War 1. One son died in 1917 when the ship he was a passenger on was sunk by a German U-boat. The second son joined the US army and was killed in the last few hours of the war. The now elderly Cleveleys secluded themselves in their grief and by 1932, when Mrs. Cleveley passed away, the house was willed to the town.

Much like the dog finally catching a car it has been chasing, the town had no idea what to do with it. For a while, it was used as a hospital to treat patients with polio, but after 1960 it was abandoned and left vacant. The people who could afford such a place had no reason to move to the town and when Bed and Breakfasts started to become big business the town still lacked any desirability. It almost seemed like magic when somebody finally expressed interest in the now dilapidated building.

Adam was more of the opinion it must be due to some government grant. But, he hadn't bothered to look into it for his school report. The eleven-year-old boy was just happy that the Cabinet of Curiosities would be opening at the end of September. His entire class was going to go on a half-day field trip there. He expected to have a nice time. It should have been a nice time.

The bus ride up there sucked. Three kids took a seat where they were not supposed to sit despite what had been assigned by the teacher. This meant he was stuck with kids who were not his friends. Being the smallest of the three, he was sandwiched between Janine, a tall girl who was little bothered by thoughts and Rod who looked like he had eaten one of his classmates which might explain why he was a double asshole. He wasn't so much of a bully, just an asshole. For the whole 15-minute trip, he slowly spread himself out gradually taking more and more of the seat, physically pushing Adam towards Janine who had wanted to be on that end because one of her friends was sitting right across from her. They didn't shut up the entire time. Caught between the ever-expanding blob and the yacking mountain, he felt like a ketchup pack under somebody's foot.

Arriving at their destination Adam took a deep breath. As soon as he was off the bus he spread his arms enjoying his freedom. They were almost immediately ushered into one large group standing in front of the building. The teacher started talking and handing out the worksheets. Adam tried to convince himself he wouldn't need to do all the work, but since he was the only one interested in looking over the sheet, he figured he probably shouldn't hold his breath on that hope. As he was looking over the questions there was a soft pop and he looked up onto the porch. A man dressed in fine but odd clothing appeared. He wore a top hat, had a cane and a cape.

Bowing low he spoke, “Welcome to the Cleveley Cabinet of Curiosities. For those of you, who have not had the pleasure of gazing upon my collection of curiosities before; allow me to explain what you are about to experience. You see it was not uncommon for wealthy individuals to have a cabinet in their house. In this cabinet they collected curious books or unusual finds. Perhaps, some of you have such a thing, a box kept under your bed of curious items you have found through the years. With time these became more elaborate, more interesting items were desired, a mammoth's tusk or a piece of pottery for example. Having a rare or unusual item became a form of status. By the time of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of cities, the cabinet of curiosity once kept in a private home exploded into the public. The cabinets of curiosities became a business in themselves and for a small fee; you could gaze upon the collection. Of course, these weren't just museums. You see there became an aspect of show to them. It was no longer acceptable just to have a piece of a mammoth’s tusk, perhaps they would have a baby mammoth frozen in ice and before your very eyes the ice would melt and it would start to move. This was all trickery of course. Eventually, they gave way to museums. However, once you walk through these doors you shall step back in time. Now I assure you everything inside is quite real and we have made an effort to concentrate on the more unusual side of History. Enjoy your trip back into the past.”

Then with another puff of smoke, the man was gone.

Adam looked down at his paper. The first question was: why was it called the Cabinet of Curiosities. "Either of you two wants to fill in the first answer?"

“Your handwriting is so much neater than mine.” Janine said with a smile.

“You can do it.” Rod answered.

Adam mentally rolled his eyes and started filling in the answer.

Once they were inside the house it was actually kind of cool. There were some more traditional items that you sort of expected to see, such as an old painting of the owners or a rifle from the Civil War. Then there were the more unusual things. Apparently, selfies were almost as old as the camera. There was a photograph of a woman standing next to a camera and the little caption underneath it said first known selfie. Janine took a picture of herself in front of the picture, two selfies in one. There was even early Photoshop. They were pictures of very well-dressed people holding their own heads or somebody else's. Apparently it was a form of entertainment, along with unwrapping mummies from Egypt. Yeah, the past was weird. The photo that surprised Adam the most was a little girl, maybe three-years-old, riding a crocodile.

It would have been better if Janine and Rod helped him to fill out the sheet. A lot of the answers were mostly just observations. Name three ways children entertained themselves in the past; find a job that doesn't exist anymore and so on. It was almost like a scavenger hunt. Janine wasn’t very interested in anything and Rod wasn't much help. He couldn't even convince them to try out the Sťance table. He was able to watch some of his classmates doing it, but could only read about how it worked. It was hard not to think people were just a little dumber back then, but then again it wasn't like his two partners were towering intellect.

About an hour into the trip, Adam was pretty much fed up with his partners. He showed them that the paper was filled out and they all went their separate ways. Adam decided to wander back outside towards the stables that had been converted into a garage. It had both horse-drawn buggies and early cars on display. The building was heated but barely. Most of his classmates preferred the comfort of the house since there was only one group out there. They didn't stick around for very long allowing him to read about the cars there. They had everything from the model T to steam-powered cars. He was reading about that when he heard a voice from behind him.

“It wasn't exactly ecological, but it was a different era.”

Adam turned and saw the man who had put on the whole show when they first arrived. For a second he tried to remember his name but couldn't. He couldn't even remember if the man had introduced himself.

“I guess.” Adam said. “But I heard they had battery powered cars back then too.”

“Yes, very difficult to get your hands on one of those. Of course, they were quite dangerous considering all the acid if there was a car accident. The problem with those was fire. You can see how much wood they used in them. Internal combustion became cheaper and it was probably the safest of the three back then.” The man said slowly walking up and standing next to him. “Where is your group?”

“I finished the assignment, so we split up.” Adam said turning his attention back to the car. It had been restored and the paint was almost a mirror surface. He could see himself and the man in it.

“Interesting word choice, did you do all the work?”

“Yeah, I always get stuck in groups like that.” He had noticed that pattern whenever he didn't get to choose his group. “Sometimes I think the teacher does it on purpose just to get their grades up.” His school had an unofficial no fail policy. At least that's what he had overheard.

“And all your friends are they still in their groups? Or simply do you not have any?”

Adam shot a glare over at the man. He had friends, at least kids he could hang out with. Who was he to say thing like that anyways? “Piss off.”

The man smiled and before Adam could look away, the man had raised his cane. By removing sand from the handle he revealed the small jewel embedded in it. “Now, that's not polite. Tell me more about yourself.”

Adam tried to walk away. He didn't want to talk to this man, but for some reason he found himself frozen in place. “What?”

“Tell me about your friends. Are you close to them?” The man's voice grew soft.

The world seemed to get a little blurry for Adam and he forgot about wanting to walk away. “They’re my friends.”

“Do you really feel like they're your friends? Will they miss you?”

Adam didn't think as he answered. “No, I'm convenient. I just get along with them.”

“What about your family? Surely they care about you.”

“They care about me, the one they think they know.” It was hard to see anything now, other than himself and the man. It was almost as if a deep fog had rolled into the room.

“And what don't they know?” The man said seeming to disappear as Adam felt himself being stretched forward almost pulled towards the cane.

Somehow Adam found the ability to speak. “I’m gay. I've known it forever. They're not going to like that.”

“You might as well disappear.” The man's voice came from everywhere even though he couldn't be seen anymore.

Adam started to think it was a good idea to disappear. He was about to close his eyes when something happened. Running through the fog a boy appeared. He was dressed strangely. Like some of the pictures he had seen from the 30s. Adam's mind was aware enough to realize that didn't seem right.

The boy ran up to him and placed both of his hands on his shoulders. He started to shake Adam. “Wake up! Don't listen to him. You don't want to disappear!”

The words penetrated Adam’s hazy state. “What?”

“Listen to me. My name is... Matthew Johnson.”

It was an obvious effort for the boy to remember. “I had polio. I was sent to a hospital. They treated me there as if I was just another patient. My parents never came to see me. I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted to forget about me. They found me being cornholed once. It was with my best friend. I think they were glad when I caught polio. They wanted to forget about me. That was how I felt all alone. That's what he does; he finds the people who feel alone and makes them disappear. He sucks our energy and uses it or himself. The younger the more he can get. You are not as alone as you think. I realize that now. Wake up!”

Adam blinked having only understood some of the words that were spoken. The he started to awake, still only able to think simply. “You are gay? Do you like boys?”

A light clicked on in Matthew’s eyes and he smiled. “Yes, and you can find someone. You can find someone who will make you happy. I had someone like that once and maybe I would have had again if I had waited. I gave into him. Don't listen to him you're not trapped here yet.”

“That would be nice.” Adam said mostly to himself.

Matthew stared at him for half a second before pulling in close and kissing Adam on the lips. He pulled away after a second. “You will find someone to kiss.”

Adam's eyes widened at the contact and the fog lifted a little.

Matthew stepped back and pulled off his shirt. The boy quickly stripped down showing off his naked body. “You will see someone like this one day.” Matthew said before stepping forward and starting to pull at Adam’s clothing. After a moment, Adam couldn’t help feeling a bit excited. Then he felt Matthew hug him and another naked body against his own. “You will feel someone like this.” Matthew said before kissing him again and then slowly going down his chest and over his stomach with his mouth. As he did, Adam felt a mix of emotions, like embarrassment and a little hesitation but excitement was the strongest. He could feel his penis become erect. It was small and hairless. He had fantasized and masturbated about this for years already.

“This will be real one day.” Matthew sat on his knees before opening his mouth and taking Adam’s short erection between his lips. Adam felt Matthews’s warm mouth wrap around his penis and a second later Matthew's tongue swirled around it. Matthew’s mouth started to pull back until just the tip was inside. He felt the tongue play with his tip before the mouth started to slide back on it. The longer Matthew went on the more the fog started to lift. From the corner of his eyes, he started to see other people but none of them noticed him. He realized that they were surely in the fog. Most of them didn't even seem to care.

Matthew continued bobbing his head up and down. Adam felt a hand on his butt. A finger slipped between his cheeks and he felt it toy with his hole. Slowly it made a circle around there before pushing inside. Adam sent his hips forward at the unexpected sensation. It was wonderful. There was a crawling creepy sensation heading up his spine that exploded into an orgasm. Even through the feeling was enormous, he heard Matthew’s words. “You will have someone to give you this feeling and have someone to give it to.”

Adam stumbled suddenly back in the garage. He would have fallen backwards if a vintage car wasn’t there for support. The man there was equally taken aback. He had dropped to a knee only being supported by his cane. Adam could still see the jewel just between two of the man's fingers. A flash of anger raced in his mind as he thought of Matthew and all those other people he had seen wandering around in the fog. He darted forward, snatching the cane away from the man who desperately tried to hold on to it.

“Give that back to me boy!” the man hissed.

Adam didn't bother to answer. He looked around and swung the cane against the Model T once and then again and again denting the car. He raised the cane above his head and brought it down against the car's hood. By then, the man was back on his feet rushing towards him. But as he brought the cane down one more time, the jewel broke and an unearthly shriek made Adam cover his ears. The cane rolled off the hood and clattered to the floor. He turned to look at the man and was shocked at what he saw. The man was still coming towards him, but he was aging right before his eyes. His smooth features became wrinkly and his dark hair turned grey in an instant. Then he froze, his fingertips shriveling up and his eyes sinking back into his head as he collapsed to the ground. Within seconds of hitting the ground he had crumbled to dust and even his clothing started to decay.

Adam’s heart was pounding. He had to lean against the car he had just vandalized to prevent himself from falling. For a second, there was silence and then he felt a kiss on his cheek. He turned his head to see if anyone was there, but no one was. He raised his hand almost still feeling the lips and he smile. Then he realized where he was and what he had just done. He figured it would be best to be far away from the car when someone discovered the damage. 

The End.