Reading time: 5 min
Derek shuddered as he examined the metal plate sitting on the hardwood floor. It was solid copper and two feet in diameter—large enough to stand on.
“Well, that’s just creepy,” he remarked at last. “Creepy but only a story.”
Claire flashed a smile. “Though that would appear to be the case with such an outlandish tale, I assure you it’s true. The plate is cursed. I’m an archaeologist specializing in artifacts like this. It’s what I do.” She paused for a moment. “Besides, I’ve tested it myself.”
Derek raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? Isn’t that dangerous?”
Claire laughed. “I thought you didn’t believe me about the curse. Now you’re concerned about danger? Which is it?”
“Just being cautious is all.”
“Well, while you’re being cautious, I’ll demonstrate the plate’s power. Wait one minute and then try to move my arms. When you’re satisfied the story is true, lift me off the plate.”
She kicked off her heels and stepped barefoot onto the copper plate. Derek’s eyes opened wide as the plate began to glow a pale green. As instructed, he waited a minute and then tried to raise one of Claire’s arms. It didn’t yield even an inch. He struggled with it before trying the other one—also completely immobile.
At this point, Derek grabbed his girlfriend and lifted her off the plate. After setting Claire down on the wooden floor, she began to move again.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“I don’t believe it,” he exclaimed. “It’s real.”
“Yes, it certainly is,” replied Claire. “And it’s authentic—ancient Sumerian and 6,000 years old.”
“What happens if someone stays on the plate?”
“That’s the fascinating part,” said Claire. “After about an hour, their skin hardens and takes on a sheen—almost like lacquer. They can be removed from the plate until the two-hour mark with no lasting effects. The longer someone remains on it, the longer it takes to regain full movement, but they recover eventually.”
“What if they hit the two-hour mark?” asked Derek.
“Then the effect is permanent. Removing the person from the plate no longer changes that. The victim’s body is fully hardened like stone and will remain so forever.” Claire paused a moment. “Although, they’re still fully aware of their surroundings. It’s a sort of immortality, with a significant trade-off, of course.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” remarked Derek.
Claire glanced at a clock on the wall. “Well, I need to go. I have a class to teach at the university.
Assuming my bus is on time, I’ll be back at 3:55 sharp. Feel free to hang out if you like.”
“Sure, will do,” he replied.
She kissed him, grabbed her backpack, and headed out the door. It was 1:55.
Derek sat on the couch, eyeing the copper plate on the floor. Claire hadn’t been joking about its power. As he pondered the implications, his fear turned to curiosity and excitement. Claire said she’d be back at 3:55 sharp. What if he stepped onto the plate at 2:00? He could get the full experience of the curse, and she’d walk in the door and rescue him with minutes to spare. The idea gave him chills. He tried to dismiss it, but it kept returning—as if the plate were daring him to act on it.
Five minutes later, he stood naked behind the plate. He figured the nudity would add a sexy element to his little adventure. He’d almost certainly get laid as soon as Claire got back. He scribbled 2:00 on a scrap of paper, set it on the floor for Claire to find, and then stepped onto the plate. A chill ran through his body, and he couldn’t move.
Time passed quickly as Derek stood, naked and helpless, on a 6,000-year-old cursed plate from ancient Sumeria. Various scenarios began to run through his head. What if a student wanted to talk to Claire after class? Or what if she missed her bus? The possibilities both terrified and thrilled him. It was 3:42.
A short time later, Derek’s excitement had reached a peak. If Claire didn’t return and lift him off the plate in a few minutes, he would be a piece of furniture. The danger excited him, but he was also getting concerned. It was 3:56.
Claire was late. It was only by a minute, but Derek had little time to spare. His excitement evaporated as another chill rushed through his body. What had he done? Why did he have to tempt fate? It was 3:58.
At that moment, the door opened, and Claire walked in. She dropped her backpack on the floor and stared at her naked boyfriend standing on the copper plate. Her eyes flicked to the paper on the floor and the clock on the wall.
“2:00, eh? I assume that’s when you stepped onto the plate. And it’s 3:58 now—only two minutes to spare. That’s cutting it close, Derek, don’t you think?”
She walked around him a few times, admiring his immobilized body, before looking at the clock again.
“Well, it’s 3:59. I should remove you from the plate before the effect becomes permanent.”
Derek waited for Claire to pick him up. He wondered how long it would take before he regained his mobility. He also wondered if Claire was as turned on as he was by his complete helplessness.
But she just stood there, staring at him, as a devious smile blossomed on her lips. Derek didn’t like the look of that Cheshire cat grin. It was 4:00.
Then, to Derek’s horror, Claire sat down on the couch and just looked at him. The smile remained etched on her face. It was 4:02.
Finally, she spoke. “The two-hour time limit is surprisingly precise, but I’ll wait a little longer.”
Derek stared at her in disbelief, but she didn’t get up. She just kept smiling. Soon, it was 4:15.
“All right,” Claire said. “That should be long enough.”
She walked over, wrapped her arms around Derek’s waist, and lifted him off the plate. She set him on the floor and stood back, admiring her new possession.
“An excellent choice of pose, Derek. Very close to Michelangelo’s David, if I’m not mistaken. Some of the others selected the same position.”
Derek began to wonder who the others were, but Claire didn’t keep him waiting for long. She pulled out her phone, tapped a few times, and held it in front of Derek’s face. Nude men stood in neat rows stretching the length of the floor in what looked like a warehouse.
“Welcome to my collection, Derek!” she exclaimed. “Today is an exciting day! Thanks to you, I now have two hundred human artifacts. I’m a collector at heart, so I can’t resist an opportunity like this. I’m sure you understand.”
Claire looked him in the eyes and laughed.
“You men are so predictable! You can’t resist the thrill of a little danger. And getting naked? All you guys do that, too. It makes it more exciting, I suppose. At any rate, it saves me the trouble of cutting your clothes off your bodies, so I appreciate the thoughtfulness. Well, hang tight for a few hours. I’ll take you to meet your new friends tonight.”
Claire walked into the kitchen, humming to herself. Derek stayed behind, of course. He belonged to history now—another victim of a 6,000-year-old ancient Sumerian relic.
Copyright 2022 Olivia Quinn
A while back, I read a story about a cursed plate that immobilizes its victims and eventually petrifies them if they remain standing on it. I imagined tricking people into standing on the plate and then collecting them as artifacts. Maybe I’m a little strange, but that’s exactly what I would do if I had one. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, so I had to settle for writing about it.