The Curse of the Fuwa, Part 2
So here is part 2 (final) of the short story, The Curse of the Fuwa
* * * * *
“There's no such thing as curses,” Stan said stoutly as they stood together on the sidewalk three days later, after the water had gone down, looking at the wreak of their home.
The yard was a gigantic mud puddle There was no sign of the neatly trimmed grass. The stakes for the tree they'd planted when they moved in were gone. The tree the stakes had supported lay almost flat in the mud, with one branch sticking up as if crying for help. Streaks of dripping mud coated the underside of the forlorn branch. Mud coated the outer walls of the house, up to just above the window sills on the ground floor. The roof was gone, consisting of nothing but the occasional rafter and a few boards pointing at various angles at the sky.
“This is a disaster.” Bev wiped tears from her cheeks.
“It'll be okay.”
“We're cursed. I know it.”
Stan patted her back as he went to greet the inspector walking over from next door.
They followed carefully behind the inspector as he approached the house up the driveway and on the walk using a stick to find the solid foundation beneath the mud.
“We'll have to check the wood, to make sure it's still solid,” the inspector said as he poked at the wood with a pick he'd pulled from his pocket. He continued probing the mud covered floor with his stick to make certain he they wouldn't fall through. “Be careful, only step where I step. The floor may not be stable anymore.”
Stan followed the inspector. Bev stopped in the front room.
The couch, chairs, low table, all the furniture was coated in mud. Basically it was all trash now. The books and bookcase were coated in mud up to the level of the rest of the house. Two shelves above the line of mud sat the clear box with the small silver figurines. I seemed to Bev that they were mocking her with their cheerful molded features and cavorting positions. The figurines alone stood above the wreak and ruin of their home.
“We have to leave, now,” the inspector said as he herded Stan into the front room.
Grabbing Bev's arm, Stan dragged her from the house. “Hurry.”
“Now what?” Bev asked as they stood back where they'd started on the sidewalk by the street, staring at their home.
“The inspector discovered termites. They've eaten the wood near the foundation.” Stan ran his hands through his short brown hair. “He says the whole thing could collapse.”
“Air, water, and wood,” Bev murmured. “All that's left is fire and earth.”
“What?” Stan asked looking confused.
“Earth, air, fire, water, wood. Five rings, five colors, five areas of the world, and the traditional five elements that make up the world. Each of the figurines represents one of them.” Bev waved one hand at the soggy, muddy mess that was left of their house. “We've had air with the tornado, water with the flood, and wood with the termites. All that's left is fire and earth.”
“Well, if the whole thing burns down that'll save us some argument with the insurance company. But I can't see how earth could cause a disaster.” Stan kissed her cheek. “There's no such thing as curses. The tornado and the flood were both natural disasters. Easy enough to explain away. And we found out about the termites because of them.” He hugged her close with one arm and motioned to the neighboring houses with the others. “And none of our neighbors has those figurines, yet they're still having the same troubles we are. So I don't think there's any curse we should be worrying about.”
* * * * *
They had to wait for the engineers and inspectors to finish their work to decide what should be done about the house. The end result was that the house could be reworked and restored. Eventually. For a lot of money. They now needed to start arguing with the insurance company.
A week later they were again standing outside their home. The street had been cleaned. The driveway as almost uncovered. The walkway from the driveway to the front door showed through the mud where many, many footprints had tramped back and forth over it. The tree was now firmly trapped in the drying dirt of the yard the one branch wilted and sagging dispiritedly toward the ground.
The insurance adjuster was just coming out of the front door. He slammed it closed behind him.
There was a low soft rumble, followed by a loud cracking, then a roaring. The inspector dashed through the dirty yard away from the house.
Bev and Stan watched in numbed shock as the right-hand side of the house toppled and crumbled, disappearing into the earth.
The only part of the house left standing was the left-hand wall of the front room, right by the corner of the house. The bookcase stood undisturbed next to the wall. The clear box looked strangely clean and untouched sitting on the shelf. The sunlight glinted off the silver figurines frozen in their merry dance.
“We're going to need to bring the inspectors back,” the insurance adjustor said.
* * * * *
Subsidence caused by the flooding was the verdict of the engineers. A sinkhole. Though one woman insisted that it was in fact a pseudokarst not a true sinkhole. However it was called made no difference. Most of their house had fallen into the earth.
Again Bev and Stan were standing in front of the ruins of their home. Another insurance adjuster followed behind the geologist as the two approached closer,very cautiously, to the remaining wall of the house. Near the bookcase and the still untouched glass box with silver figurines.
Their neighbor, Dave, walked over from his house. “How's it going?”
“They're trying to decide if anything can be saved, or what needs to be done,” Stan said.
The adjuster and geologist had reached the standing wall and were peering around to what used to be the inside of the house.
“It's hopeless. We're cursed,” Bev said.
“Sorry,” said Dave. “We just got the okay for electricity again. It should be coming on any time now.”
Just then a flash and crackle, nearly an explosion, came from the depths of the wreckage of their home.
Flames burst up leaping over the ruins of their house. The adjuster and the geologist took a moment to realize what was happening, then they started running away.
“I think they turned the electricity on in the wrong house,” Stan said in a strangely calm voice.
Dave pulled his phone out and ran to a safer distance to get the electricity turned off.
“Well, that's all five.” Bev reached over to hold Stan's hand. “Air, water, wood, earth, and fire.”
“And I think we're rid of the figurines, finally.” Stan sighed and squeezed Bev's hand. “I think it's over. At least we can start fresh.”
The adjuster trailed behind the geologist, winded from his short run. He held his side as he wheezed. “I'm not sure what happened.”
“I think the electricity was turned on in the wrong house.” Stan motioned to where Dave was speaking urgently into his cell phone.
“Sorry.” The geologist frowned at the flame engulfed remnants of the house. She shook her head. “It looks like you won't be able to get anything back out of it.”
“I managed to save this.” The adjustor held up a clear box with five dancing figurines. He extended it to Bev.
Bev pushed it back toward him. “You keep it. As a souvenir to show around the office. This'll be one to tell about years from now.”
“Absolutely,” Stan said enthusiastically. “We're going to start fresh. You deserve it after all the work you've done here.”