What’s in the Box?

Continued from yesterday’s story.

Melanie stood in the chill air, rubbing her arms and generally wondering why she was here. “Five hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars.” She waited next to a toy store that had gone out of business about ten years pre-Brony. Nobody, sketchy or otherwise waited for her. “Maybe I got the location wrong?” She pulled out the folded square of paper, wishing she’d taken her brother’s offer of a smartphone instead of the stupid flip phone she had. The little gold star put her right on this street.

“Five more minutes and I may go see if I can beg a slice from Elard.”

Lights flashed at the corner. They were headlights, belonging to a relatively new BMW. She was no judge of what model it was, but it meant money. She stepped to the curb and waited, hoping she didn’t look like some towny street walker.

The car slowed and pulled to a stop beside her. Its window buzzed down. A woman, judging by the puff of perfume she got, leaned over. She wore a scarf around her head and a pair of sunglasses in spite of the hour. “This box is for you.” Her voice was one of those throaty purrs that made most men go weak in the knees, between Eartha Kitt and Kathleen Turner. It even affected her a little.

She held out her hands. “How do I get my money?”

“He’ll give it to you.” She put the car in park and stretched out with a brown paper wrapped parcel. “He always gives what he promises.”

She grabbed the box, noticing that the woman wore skin tight leather gloves. They looked like fine leather. Only when their hands brushed did she realize that they weren’t gloves. She shuddered and almost dropped the package. They both gasped.

“Don’t drop it for god’s sake.” The woman almost screamed the order, purr moving towards shriek. “And whatever you do, don’t open it.”

“Alright, I won’t.” She started to ask where she needed to take it when she saw the address. It was for some place here in town. And not too far away.

“Get it there in the next thirty minutes or don’t bother. And put it in the person’s hands.”

She started to ask how the man would know when she’d done it. The window buzzed up and the car actually squaled tires as it moved away from the curb. Melanie took a step back and looked at the package’s address. “Two-thirty Healy Boulevard. That’s at least a mile away.” The address seemed familiar. She started walking, thankful that everything had so far been in walking distance. She didn’t have a car.

As she walked she shifted the box back and forth. It was about twelve inches square and six deep. She shook it slightly and there was a sloshing sound and a light rattle. It must be fragile. “Maybe it’s a liquor bottle. Got to be someone’s birthday present.” It was heavy, too. Maybe a brick in there to through the birthday boy off.

She took a left onto Healy. The address was only about a half mile down if she remembered right. Then she remembered what the address was. It was either the free clinic or very near it. She’d gotten her flu shot at the clinic a month ago. She couldn’t remember the precise address of the place, but she thought it was in the two hundreds. She stopped when she saw two-ten and saw that the free clinic was two-twenty.

It turned out that two-thirty was a thrift store. It was late, but she could see that there was a light on inside. She put the box down and started to knock. Then the first misgiving kicked in. What if it’s some kind of practical joke? She wouldn’t get her money and someone would be pissed at her. “I should just knock and run.” Then she remembered the woman’s words. She had to put it in the person’s hands. If it wasn’t a joke, she wouldn’t get her money.

She picked up the box and held it underneath with her right hand. She knocked with her left.

“We’re closed.” A muffled voice yelled from the other side.

“I have a package for you.”

There was a pause. “We don’t take deliveries at night.” The voice was closer, but still muffled.

“Look, I don’t get paid if I don’t give this to you and I could use the money.”

The door opened a bit, a chain holding it closed. The woman on the other side wore skinny jeans and a tie-dyed sweatshirt. She had a nice figure, but had to be at least as old as Melanie’s mom. “Can you fit it through the door?”

Melanie held it up. “It’s kind of too wide, and I’d hate to break it. I think it’s fragile.”

The lady looked at the top of the box and Melanie could swear she gasped. “Damn it.” She closed the door and there was a rattle as she undid the chain. The door opened wider. “Give it to me.” There was heat in her voice.

Melanie handed it over. “I hope you enjoy… whatever it is.”

The lady took it gingerly. “I doubt I will.”

“What?” Before the drawn out syllable ended the door slammed. “Well fuck you very much.” She turned and walked a few steps away. Her pocket vibrated. She took out her phone and saw that she had a text.

“Thank you. Your money has been deposited.”

“How the hell did you get my?”

Before she could finish the question, there was a muffled thump and a drawn out, warbling scream from inside. Melanie spun around and went back towards the shop. The light coming from the windows flickered.

“Oh my god.”

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