Fiction logo

Do Not Open

A Short Short Story

By Stephanie HoogstadPublished 5 months ago 4 min read
Do Not Open
Photo by Brandable Box on Unsplash

November 8, 2022, 7:11 a.m.

Looking after the dogs while Mom and Dad are away. Admittedly, I’m already pretty paranoid. A package arrived via drone a few minutes ago—isn’t it too early for a delivery? I don’t remember ordering anything, anyway. Did Mom? She never mentioned any packages. I’ll have to ask. Better bring it in before the rain soaks it or someone tries to steal it. That drone must’ve drawn a lot of attention. I didn’t even know drones delivered up here.

November 8, 7:30 a.m.

Mom says she wasn’t expecting anything. There aren’t any logos on the box or a return address. There’s just my name and a note that reads, “DO NOT OPEN.” Who the hell would send me something that I can’t open? It must be some sort of joke. Maybe Dan and Minnie figured out drones? Or Karen grew a sense of humor and made her son help? Or maybe Darren hijacked one from Walmart…yeah, that’s probably it. I’ll just chew him out the next time I see him.

November 8, 9:17 a.m.

I can’t stop thinking about this damn box. Darren’s not smart enough to do this. I looked it up, and I’m not the only one within the past six months to get a package like this. No one’s updated on these people yet, but there are plenty of theories out there: bombs, biological weapons, anthrax…none of them good. I don’t know if anyone has opened their box, but I sure as hell am not opening mine.

November 8, 12: 39 p.m.

I can’t focus on work. I missed breakfast. Every time I go to touch the box, the dogs start growling and barking.

November 8, 3:45 p.m.

Missed lunch. Tried to nap, but sleep eluded me. I tried putting the box out of my sight, but I still see it around every corner, even behind my eyelids. How long ago did it arrive?

November 8, 6:22 p.m.

Skipped dinner. Missed a deadline. Getting extensions on everything. I won’t be able to finish any of my projects until I find out who sent this box to me and why. Maybe I should just open it.

November 8, 7:15 p.m.

The box is ticking. Mom and Dad want me to call the police. I know I should. The dogs are growling at the box nonstop now; the rest of the neighborhood Twilight Bark has joined them. I just—I need to find this out myself. There has to be a reason for it. Someone must’ve sent it to me on purpose, even if I’m not supposed to open it. And let’s face it, will the police really find those answers from a box with no labels?

November 8, 9:00 p.m.

The box is still ticking.

November 8, 9:05 p.m.

Still ticking.

November 8, 9:09 p.m.

Still ticking.

November 8, 9:13 p.m.

And still.

November 8, 9:30 p.m.

I wonder if the box’s sender knows that “The Tell-Tale Heart” is my favorite horror story—was my favorite horror story.

November 8, 10:20 p.m.

If I couldn’t concentrate before, I certainly can’t now. The box has started to vibrate. Whoever sent this, it wasn’t anyone I know. They don’t have the time, patience, or knowledge for it.

November 8, 11:11 p.m.

Still ticking and vibrating. Goddammit, if I don’t open that thing soon…

November 9, 2022, 12:01 a.m.

That’s it, I’ve waited long enough.

November 9, 1:05 a.m.

I’m still digesting it all.

As soon as I lifted the lid from that plain brown box, something—maybe a string—snapped inside, and the ticking and vibrating stopped. I took the lid entirely off the box, and in it I found a note, $50, and some mechanism involving a buzzer and a small alarm clock. When I took out the note, it said:

Hello, valued Swaycash customer! Thank you for participating in our psychological study on the human’s ability to follow instructions. You have been compensated for your time in the amount of $50 (fifty dollars), and no further action is required on your part. Our state-of-the-art nano-cameras have captured your reaction to this experiment in its entirety…

There was more legal jargon, but I have yet to read it.

They recorded me without my consent? This was all just some…experiment? By a company that I bought shoes through once three months ago? I’m too exhausted to even comprehend…

November 9, 7:11 a.m.

I awoke to another drone dropping a delivery at my doorstep. The box is plain and brown with no address. The only decorations: my name and a note that reads, “DO NOT OPEN.”


About the Creator

Stephanie Hoogstad

With a BA in English and MSc in Creative Writing, writing is my life. I have edited and beta read as a freelancer for a few years with some published stories and poems of my own. You can learn more about me at

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Reid Kerr-Keller4 months ago

    Cool format! Hooked me. Really stands out.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.