Hardly anyone wandered into the basement—it served as the basement for the entire complex, and people knew better than to store things here that they knew they would be needing anytime soon. But Balki and Mary Anne spent nearly an hour searching through all of the boxes Larry had left there.
"Gosh, Balki… How many sets of self-help tapes does Larry have…?" Mary Anne asked, after opening a box of tapes and seeing some on top of the stacks.
"He says he don't use them anymore…" Balki replied. "But I'm sure some of them have to be music, right?"
Mary Anne took a look.
"Books on tape… more books on tape… even more books on tape…" she informed him as she went through the box.
"Oh, po po… He and I are going to have a discussion about this, let me tell you…" Balki said, with a shake of his head. "No, wait… I can't do that…"
"Why not?" asked Mary Anne.
"Because Cousin Larry wanted me to stop worrying about the mirror and the curse…" he said. "He won't like it if he finds out that we were looking for it…"
"Well, if he does find out, it won't be from me…" Mary Anne promised, opening another box. "Let's see… A few holiday decorations… some books… a piece of glass… a set of cufflinks…"
"What was that you said?" asked Balki, wide-eyed.
"A set of cufflinks--"
"A piece of…" Mary Anne trailed off, picking up the fragment. "…Glass… Balki, this is from a mirror! Is this the one we're searching for?"
"I don't know…" said Balki, taking the fragment from her. "I don't think Cousin Larry said there was more than one mirror. This must be it! Oh, thank you, Mary Anne, thank you!"
Mary Anne just grinned, pleased that she had been able to help. And Balki was looking much more cheerful now than earlier today.
"Now…" said the Mypiot, checking his watch. "It's 9:00…" He swallowed hard—it would already be dark.
"Larry and Jennifer should be back any minute now…" Mary Anne said.
"I have to go to the cemetery and break the curse before Cousin Larry finds out what I'm doing…" said Balki. "There… There's going to be all sorts of things in there…"
"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" she asked.
"I'm… I'm sure," he decided. "But… just in case something happens to me, and I don't make it back… There's something I need to tell you, Mary Anne—something that you absolutely have to know."
"Yes, Balki?" she asked, holding her breath for a heart-wrenching confession of love.
"…I want you to have Dimitri," he said, his voice cracking as he hugged her.
He did not see the blank look of disappointment on her face.
"Of course, Balki," she said, with an inaudible sigh.
Balki was out the door and had hailed a taxi, heading off towards the nearest cemetery only five minutes before Larry and Jennifer had returned.
"How did it go…?" Mary Anne asked.
"It was actually an enjoyable evening," Jennifer admitted.
"See? I told you that there was no bad luck involved…!" said Larry. "Speaking of which, what's Balki up to? Is he still looking for any last surviving fragments of mirror?"
Mary Anne froze.
"Uh… Balki who?" she asked, saying the first thing that came into her mind. Jennifer gave her an unreadable glance.
"He's looking in the storage cellar, isn't he…?" Larry sighed. He headed in that direction as Mary Anne started biting her fingernails in nervousness.
"Mary Anne…" said Jennifer. "Do you know where his quest for a mirror shard took him?"
"Oh, he found the shard…" said Mary Anne. "He left five minutes ago."
And now Larry froze in his tracks.
"You let him go!?" he asked. "Mary Anne, don't you realize how late it is!? He could trip over one of the stones or something!? Did he say which cemetery he was going to!?"
"All he said was that he wanted me to have Dimitri if he didn't come back…!" she said. "There was no stopping him."
Larry slapped his forehead.
"Fine…" he said. "I'll just have to bail him out of whatever trouble he's in… just like I always do…"
"Maybe he's not in any trouble…" said Jennifer. "If all he's doing is touching the shard to a stone, he should be in and out of there in minutes…"
"…Unless something else comes up…" said Mary Anne. "Oh, why did I let him go like that!? I should've insisted that I go with him--"
"Well there's nothing we can do about that now," said Larry. "You girls stay here; I'll go find him. There are a few things I need to tell him."
"Go easy on him, Larry—he was only trying to help…" said Mary Anne.
"If I had a dime for every time he tried to help, I wouldn't have to go to work a day in my life…" Larry replied.
With a sigh, he headed back out to his car after quickly looking up where the nearest cemetery was.
The weather had been damp recently, so Larry could see the recent tread marks in the water on the road near the cemetery; Balki had clearly just arrived. Oh, it would be easy to let him go on with the whole crazy idea, but Larry wanted to make a point.
Pulling off to the side of the road and grabbing a flashlight, Larry headed inside the cemetery gates. Memorial plaques and stone angels greeted him, as well as flags and flowers left by visitors. The regular headstones would be further into the cemetery, he knew.
Walking further, he shined his flashlight around as he arrived at an area full of headstones and weeping willow trees. Balki should be here if he was looking to break the curse… But where…?
A hand suddenly clamped onto Larry's shoulder. And Larry responded with a reaction that anyone would've done had they been alone in a cemetery with a hand clamping down on their shoulder—a scream.
This, in turn, resulted in another scream coming from behind him. Larry turned on the spot, the flashlight beam illuminating his cousin's face as another flashlight beam landed on his own face.
"Don't you ever… ever do that again…" Larry fumed.
Balki just stared back at him, his face pale. Slowly, though, he blinked back to awareness, and then stared at his empty hand.
"Oh, po po…" he said. "Cousin, I dropped the mirror piece…"
"Balki…" said Larry, covering his face. "Can't we just go home?"
"But, Cousin, I had almost finished…!" Balki protested, getting on his hands and knees to try to find the fragment. "Oh, to be so here and now so far!"
"Balki, I've had enough of this…" said Larry, kneeling to pull the Mypiot to his feet. "We are going home right…" He trailed off as he heard a stick crack from a couple yards away.
Balki looked up, too, forgetting about the mirror.
"…Did you hear that…?" Larry asked.
"I was hoping I didn't…" Balki admitted. "Cousin… You didn't bring anyone with you here, did you…?"
"No… Did you…?"
"No…" Balki replied. "Which can only mean one thing: we are not responsible for this new arrival." Another stick cracked, prompting Balki to get to his feet, clutching Larry's shoulders.
"Whoever it is didn't use the cemetery entrance; I would've seen him or his tracks…" Larry hissed.
"Maybe because he was here all this time…?" Balki asked, in a meek voice.
Another stick cracked, and a shadowy figure began to emerge from behind a tree. The cousins both yelled in unison, turning back the way they came.
"Wait," said Balki, stopping short. "The mirror! I need to get the mirror--!"
"Balki, will you forget the mirror!?" Larry yelled. "That thing is right behind us!"
Balki was cut off by a roar from their pursuer. The figure was still cloaked in shadow, but sounded so unearthly…
"Balki, come on!" Larry yelped, practically dragging him along. Suddenly, Larry stopped short.
"Cousin, why are we stopping? You said you wanted to leave…" Balki began. The figure was still pursuing them.
"I know…" said Larry, beginning to panic. "But I can't remember which way is out…!"
They both glanced behind them nervously. The shadowy figure had slowed down now, approaching them slowly, its arms outstretched.
"Zombiki!" Balki yelled at it. "Leave my cousin alone!" He proceeded to scold the approaching creature in Myposian.
Larry glanced ahead, seeing the fence around the cemetery. They weren't near the gate, but they would have to climb over the fence—the creature was blocking the path out, and Larry didn't feel that vaulting over headstones was a good idea, both practically and morally.
"Balki…" he said, pulling his cousin towards the fence. "Back here…"
"But we'll be trapped like mats!" Balki protested.
Larry didn't bother to correct him; he just indicated the fence.
"We can climb the fence and get out of here," he said. "Do you think you can climb that?"
Balki gave him an incredulous look.
"I should be asking you that, Cousin…" said Balki. "You're not exactly a candidate for Sports Illustrated…"
Larry glared at him, but decided to let it drop.
"When I say 'now,'" he said, through gritted teeth. "We make a break for it."
Balki nodded as the creature crept forward, its arms outstretched, moaning.
"Now!" Larry said.
But as Balki had predicted, he was the better climber of the two. It took him only seconds to scale the fence. Larry was struggling, and was only halfway up when he felt the creature grab his ankle.
"Balki…!" he yelped.
Balki glanced back down, and now a fire awoke in the Mypiot. No zombiki was going to get his cousin—not on his watch! He leaped from the top of the fence, tackling the creature, and then immediately climbing back up the fence as Larry reached the top.
With a roar, the creature stood, clutching its side, where Balki had landed on him, and started to climb up, too. But partway up, its foot slipped between two of the metal poles of the fence. With a roar, it fell back down, but its fall was halted as it hung from the fence, its ankle caught between the two poles.
Balki and Larry didn't stop to marvel at this; they both ran around until they found Larry's car and both got inside it, locking the doors and pausing to catch their breath.
"See…?" Balki asked, miserably. "If I had been able to touch the mirror to the stone, the zombiki wouldn't have come to chase you…"
"Balki, that thing was after you, too…" Larry said.
"No, he was after you…" the Mypiot said. "I was the one bringing you bad luck, so I wanted to undo it by touching the mirror shard to the stone…"
"What…!?" Larry asked. "What do you mean you were the one bringing me bad luck…!?"
"You broke the mirror coming from Madison, and then I showed up when you didn't want a roommate…"
"Balki… that has nothing to do with luck; that's…" He trailed off. "Well, I'm not sure what it was, but it certainly wasn't bad luck, if that's what was bothering you all this time…!"
"But Mr. Gorpley said--"
"Oh, Balki…" said Larry, slapping his forehead. "Do yourself a favor… Don't ever count on Gorpley for matters like these. In fact, you should take pretty much everything he says with a grain of salt."
"You want me to have salt shaker when I talk to him…?"
"No…" said Larry, with a sigh. "It's just that you can't believe what everyone tells you, Balki. You're my cousin and my best friend, and I'm glad you came. And you were the reason why I was able to escape from that zombie just a few minutes ago. That was very brave, taking him on like that…"
Balki just shrugged.
"I didn't want him to get you…" he said. "So I made sure you got away."
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'd call that good luck for me," said Larry. "You're not responsible for any of the 'bad luck' that happens. In fact, you've pulled me out of a lot of jams that I got myself into."
"I guess so…" he smiled. He glanced back at the cemetery. "We should come back tomorrow and pick up the mirror piece."
"Balki…!" Larry groaned. Hadn't he gotten though to him at all!?
But Balki glanced back at him, with a smile.
"But of course we must, Cousin. After all, I'm no Jitterbug!"
Larry blinked, and then smirked.
"That's litterbug," he corrected him.
Jennifer and Mary Anne were both relieved to see that they were alright, and even thought Friday the 13th dawned the next morning, Balki pushed his nervousness aside as they headed for work at the Chronicle.
The first thing they noticed was how much grumpier than normal Mr. Gorpley was that morning.
"Wow…" said Larry. "I wonder what's eating him…" He trailed off as Balki's eyes widened in utter horror. "Balki, it's just an expression…!"
But the Mypiot was already approaching his supervisor, making sure that there were no hungry wolves or bears trying to stalk him.
"What are you doing, Bartokomous…?" Gorpley asked.
"Looking for dangerous animals…" the former sheepherder replied. "Cousin Larry said--"
"That's enough…" said Larry, clapping a hand over his cousin's mouth. "We just couldn't help but notice that you seem to be in a worse mood… worse than usual, I mean."
"Oh, did your wife ask for an advance in alimony?" Balki asked, in a muffled voice.
"No, she didn't," the obnoxious man replied. "Just get to work and leave me alone!"
Gorpley walked away, but there was a noticeable limp in his step.
"Gosh, Cousin, maybe some animal did attack him; he walks like his ankle was bitten…" said Balki, quietly.
But Larry's eyes narrowed.
"Yes he does, doesn't he…?" he asked, recalling how the "zombie" had gotten its ankle stuck in the fence the previous night. "But I think Thursday the 12th proved to be just a little bit more unlucky for Gorpley than he expected."
With a satisfied smirk, he went upstairs to submit his rewrite.
Balki just shrugged to himself, singing in Myposian as he got to work. He wasn't bringing bad luck to his cousin; that was all that mattered to him.