Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Going Bump #4: The Supernatural on Sale

Man.  I am in the wrong business.

I write stories and books and hope for enough sales to make pounding away on this poor battered keyboard worthwhile.  Some days it is.  Some days it isn't.  And that sums up the glamorous, jet-setting life of a writer in all its Ramen-noodle, buy-in-bulk glory.  Muggers not only pass me by but sometimes hand me a few bucks just out of sudden compassion.  Nigerian internet spammers send follow up emails that simply state 'Didn't know you were a fantasy author, forget I said anything, hope sales pick up, signed, Prince Alfonse.'

The only people who have it tougher are the owners of small presses.

But, as I said, I've just discovered I'm in the wrong business.

I thought I'd troll eBay for a Halloween lark, and see if I could find a few goofy 'occult' items for sale with descriptions worthy of some gentle lampooning.  Protip, kids -- that's what writers do to conjure up blog content when they have headaches and the dogs won't stop barking and they're on diets so there's no more comfort to be found in a quick run to the refrigerator.  They make fun of eBay.  It's a sad but universal truth.

But what I've found listed on eBay amazed me.  Confounded me.  Astounded me.

Because it appears there is serious money to be made even here in the 21st century in the magical trinket business.

The first question that sprang to my mind upon seeing some of the items and prices I'll be linking to below was 'Who buys this stuff?'

The second question was 'Why wasn't I told?'

I can snag  faux-antique rings from sellers in Hong Kong and claim they have powerful mystical qualities.  I can hit the local antique stores for costume jewelry rings and claim each contains the spirit of a mighty djinn trapped inside.

I can afford eBay's modest listing fees.

What am I blathering about?

Well, let me part the magical curtains of internet commerce and show you, gentle reader, just what kind of magic your money can buy!

First, let me point you toward this Magical Ring of 6 Djinns, which is said to be omnipotent!  And since it is after all omnipotent, $9,999.99 really isn't a bad price.  Keep in mind they are throwing in free shipping.

What does your ten grand get you?  Well, honestly, it's a bit hard to say.  The item title claims there are 6 djinn (aka genies) contained in the ring.  The description claims an additional 3,111 powerful entities, but since command of English isn't one of the ring's many splendid powers I really can't be sure.

The ring itself appears to feature a pewter or pewter-colored band on which a gemstone of finest hard plastic is set.  An inscription in the reddish stone is either a single character of faux Arabic or Tolkein's Elvish for 'Wilt thee kiss me in the dark, baby?'

But I'm sure the buyer can have the ring transformed into something more tasteful after his or her purchase.  What the buyer, despite being suddenly omnipotent, cannot do is return the ring, because once you buy 3,111 powerful genies, baby, they are yours.

Magic rings not your thing?  Well, perhaps I can interest you in a device which melds magic and technology to bring about your deepest wishes!  I give you the Haunted Psychic Unit Power Paranormal Activity Item!

What is the Haunted Psychic Unit Power Paranormal Activity Item, or HPUPAI?

Depends on your world-view, I suppose.  Some people might see it as a mystical tool for actualizing their internal desires.  Others might see it as the dial from an electric stove stuck onto a plastic box which sports a bit of copper tubing.

But what isn't influenced by your belief system is the price, which is actualized at a firm $999, no returns.

I'd be a little less skeptical if every listed wasn't followed by a sternly-worded NO RETURNS policy.  Look, you either have confidence in your Hanuted Psychic Unit Paranormal Activity Item, or you don't.  Also, the device doesn't appear to be UL Listed, which is a must for anything with dials, really.

Still no takers?  Being omnipotent or having your every wish granted with the turn of a dial doesn't interest you?

Tough crowd.  But okay.  Maybe what you're looking for in a little less intangible.

What you want is this.

No.  Wait.  For the love of all that is holy, back out of that link.  Sheesh, look at the eyes on that thing.  If that isn't touched by the spirit of pure evil, I don't know what is.  Who paints flowers on something's face and then glues a cowboy hat to it?  Look at that expression in the photo.  That expression says 'Yeah, I'm going to wait until you are fast asleep and then slit your throat and roll in your blood and that's exactly what you deserve for bringing this into your home.'  And even that runs you five hundred bucks.

Instead, check this out -- a haunted phone.  The seller isn't sure whether this fine specimen of 2003 telephone technology is haunted by a ghost, a demon, a genie, or the Patron Saint of Grubby Fingerprints, but he's sure that smudge in the faded LCD display is evidence of something.  I agree, but I suggest it's evidence of a household in need of a rag and a bottle of 409 Cleaner.  But heck, it's only $399, so who am I to quibble?

That's probably enough trolling for one entry.  I barely scratched the surface -- haunted dolls, haunted rings, haunted toys, you name it, it's out there, it's haunted, and it can be yours for a price.

Happy shopping!  Of course if you really want something cool check out the Naked Spinning Angry Widow Ghost Djinn Demon Ring of Ultimate Power.

Buy one for your mother!

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