Possession by Holly Sandberg

Isabelle Armstrong looked at the stone in her hand and examined the curves and ridges carved out due to years of erosion from lying on the river’s floor. She recalled the day she stumbled upon it. It was an event she remembered quite fondly. A hot summer afternoon, searching for artifacts with her colleague Carrie Gill, back when they were both new eager archeologists ready to discover the next big thing that would change history and culture, as the world knew it. As she reminisced, a combination of serenity and nostalgia washed over her…

Laugher rang out over the treetops. Isabelle splashed the cool river water at Carrie. They had decided that a quick pitstop to explore the riverbank was a perfect way to relax for a moment during their trek through the Uintah mountains. The sun rays peeked through the green canopy speckling light over the ground and surface of the water. Carrie strolled a bit further upstream, taking in the beauty of nature around them. Isabelle glanced deep down into the water to the bedrock when a glimmer had caught her eye. She crouched to her knees, squinted her eyes, to further distinguish what the item was, it appeared to be about the size of a golf ball. She got even closer to examine it. “It couldn’t be,” Isabelle whispered to herself. She glanced over to Carrie, who was standing about thirty feet away from her admiring the vast forest and mountains that laid before her. Quickly, she brought her attention back to the object, picked it up and slid it into the pocket of her cargo pants.

Isabelle strolled over to the large bay window in her den with the stone tightly gripped in her hand. She admired the timberlands that were on the other side of the glass. She loved living in the forest and appreciated it even more during autumn when the leaves started to change. Behind Isabelle’s home was densely wooded with oak trees with their leaves turning bright reddish orange and evergreens with their contrasting dark green pine needles. She valued the remoteness of her cabin and being fully engulfed in nature. It was quiet and peaceful.

Suddenly, she saw something emerging from the distance, or rather someone. It was the tall, slender figure of Carrie slowly hiking up the path through the woods leading to the clearing where Isabelle’s remote home stood. Isabelle gulped. It had been over three years since she had been in touch with Carrie and had gone public as the founder of the world’s largest scarlet emerald on record. Scarlet emeralds are one of the rarest types of gemstones in the world and are worth 8000 times more per carat than any ordinary emerald. With a standard emerald costing on average $1,800 per carat, this discovery was quite an achievement, to say the least. She knew why Carrie came to her home in the middle of the woodlands. In fact, Isabelle has been waiting to hear from her for quite a while.

Setting the jewel on the credenza in her foyer, Isabelle stepped outside on to her front porch, as Carrie continued to move closer. Isabelle could see the betrayal in her eyes from across the yard. Carrie’s glare was filled with fire, burning through Isabelle attempting to reach deep into her soul. Carrie spoke, in hushed tones, “You know why I am here. You better give me what you owe me.”

Isabelle stared back unconcerned with her presence. “Carrie, I don’t owe you anything. It never belonged to you. I was the one who found the scarlet emerald,” she replied.

“You wouldn’t have even been in those mountains had I not suggested we take that trip together,” Carrie snarled, “The whole trip and the findings were supposed to be collaborative, but you cut me out to keep the fame and fortune all to yourself!”

Isabelle began to roll her eyes. Suddenly, Carrie lunged forward and swung back her arm in an attempt to punch Isabelle in the face. Isabelle ducked missing Carrie’s jab, launching herself forward into Carrie bringing them both to the ground. Each woman struggled to gain control over the other. Carrie’s fist met Isabelle’s nose with such force that blood began to stream down her face immediately. Carrie broke free. Quickly, she stumbled to her feet and sprinted towards the cabin with Isabelle not far behind her. Isabelle was determined to keep the fame and fortune to herself and knew she had to think quickly before the gemstone was stolen from her.

Carrie ran up the steps of the porch when Isabelle grabbed at the back of one of her legs, causing her to stumble, but not enough to fall. She regained her footing and flung open the cabin door rushing inside. She could see the shimmering stone placed neatly on the credenza and hurried over to it. Isabelle stood in the open doorway examining Carrie and the gem. Carrie picked up the stone to admire it for a brief moment when Isabelle had grabbed on to one of the heavy glass table lamps near the door way and raised it over her head. Promptly, Carrie shoved the emerald into her pocket and turned to race out when Isabelle forcefully swung the lamp down on to Carrie’s skull. The crack of her skull bone echoed throughout the foyer. Glass from the lamp shattered to the floor. Isabelle took a step back.

Carrie’s lanky legs trembled, and her entire body began to wobble. She looked uneasy. At that moment, she let out an agonizing groan and collapsed to the hardwood floor. A pool of blood was slowly forming around her head. Within seconds, Carrie Gill was dead. For a moment, Isabelle stood over Carrie absorbing the reality of what she had done. Realizing there was no turning back from what had happed, she bent down beside Carrie’s lifeless body and reached into her pocket retrieving the scarlet emerald. Slightly disoriented, she brought the stone to the hidden safe within her den, placed it inside, securing it shut. She turned towards her liquor cabinet, finding a bottle of Macallan’s scotch and poured herself a full glass. After taking a large swig, she took a deep breath in and exhaled until all the air left her lungs, staring at the mess she had made and the body she needed to dispose of.

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