In which Earl Marlowe and Doktor Snake visit an old curiosity shop, find some old coins, and Doc falls into a terrifying netherworld…
New Year’s Eve, 1987. London. It was a cold, starlit evening when my voodoo mentor Earl Marlowe (featured in Dr. Snake’s Voodoo Spellbook) suddenly stopped me in the street. We were walking through the back alleys of Stoke Newington in North London.
Earl had something to say.
“We been down hard on our luck all this year,” he said. “How ’bout we change our fortunes around?”
With that, the old Trinidadian voodoo man grabbed my arm and led me down a quiet street to an old dilapidated curiosity shop – which, amazingly, considering it was around 8pm, was still open.
The doorbell clanged as we walked inside. The place was unbelievably cluttered. Cobwebs were everywhere. But I didn’t see any spiders, which was probably a good thing, as judging by the cobwebs, any spiders would likely be the size of a small dog.
An old Chinese man in a dusty homburg hat, and sporting a grey goatee beard – clearly the owner of the establishment – nodded at us.
Earl gestured to the endless piles of junk, in the midst of which, could well have been antiques worth a pretty penny, or three.
“See if anything catches your eye,” said Earl.
Earl was encouraging me to find a talisman, using my “second sight”, intuitively sensing out anything that might prove to be an artefact of power.
We’d done this many times before to find items that would empower our magic. Often we’d take any artefacts we’d found to a graveyard and perform a ritual that involved summoning the spirits of the dead to charge the items with numinous power.
I rummaged through the piles of junk. There was everything from old Bakelite suitcases to watches that hadn’t ticked in decades.
Earl went over to talk to the old Chinese man in a corner, whispering to each other amongst the shelves of curiosities and books. Clearly Earl had been acquainted with him for years. I was a little put out that they didn’t appear to want me to hear their conversation. But I had little choice other than to put up with it, as this was the lot of being a voodoo apprentice. And with somebody as cantankerous as Earl could be, there was little point protesting.
After going through endless piles of junk, the best thing I found was an old valve radio, which hardly fitted the bill as a talisman, although I was still tempted to buy it.
Eventually, though, I came across an old tobacco tin. Looking inside, I found it was full of old silver Victorian thruppenny bits – three pence coins in old British money, way before European decimalisation came in.
Even though the shop was cold, heated only by an electric bar fire, some of the coins seemed warm, unnaturally so considering the chill in the air.
And then it happened…
The old curiosity shop seemed to dissolve, and I was thrown into what seemed to be a dark basement of some kind, perhaps in an old Victorian house. Around me were macabre statuettes of tentacled otherworldly creatures, making me shudder at the palpable balefulness they exuded.
What had I got into? Was it some kind of hallucination? Had Earl somehow slipped psychotropic mushrooms into the coffee we’d had earlier?
I had no idea. But my situation didn’t bode well…
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