The thing about receiving a suspicious package in the mail is that, even if you think you know what’s inside it, they’re frightening enough to leave you chilled. Sometimes they’re frightening enough to freeze you completely, to make you stand there in terror and watch the box. And the longer you watch it the more you expect it to start moving. For something to pierce through the nondescript brown paper and come crawling out. You start to imagine it happening and then you’re not sure if you’re imagining anymore.
Or maybe you don’t freeze. Maybe you run. Maybe you slam your door shut, lock it, and go to the farthest part of your home to put it out of your mind. You hope it’ll disappear by the next day but you know it won't. And then you’re trapped in your house waiting for something to happen.
Mary was neither of those sorts of people. When she found a package on her doorstep with no return address listed, she brought it inside right away. Whether it was from who she hoped or who she expected, it didn’t need to be sitting outside where any random person could accidentally interact with it. Wizards tended to send nasty things, fae put traps on everything, and her human contacts were paranoid enough to place curses on nearly everything they shipped. Hopefully, whoever it was had delivered it herself and not charmed some postal worker into doing it. Or, worse, some random neighbor.
As a precaution, Mary placed the box in the kitchen sink. She inspected the outside as well, hoping to find some hidden mark to let her know who it was from. But there was no sigil hidden on a fold or four leaf clover stamp. Not even the charcoal rubbing of a long discontinued coin. No sign whatsoever as to who sent it so no way to know just what it was. Mary cursed and ran to the garage to grab a welding mask and gloves. If this was a trap she wasn’t about to lose her eyebrows or her fingerprints because of it.
The box hadn’t moved when she came back and Mary resigned herself to opening it. She used one of the kitchen knives instead of trying to find the scissors. The paper tore easily, falling away easily. Mary recoiled as a puff of black smoke released and then staticed out like fireworks. When it cleared, a goblin head was sitting in her sink, only a few days old if the mold growth on the skull wasn’t manufactured. Its ears unfolded from where they’d been forced down and they made a horrid slapping sound against Mary’s counter. Like raw chicken being thrown down on a cutting board. Mary gagged and looked away for a moment, contemplating burning it immediately instead of inspecting it further. But that would have been disrespectful to the now dead goblin so she forced herself to turn back to it and give it a proper look.
Based on the light evergreen color of its skin and the barely dulling orange eyes, the goblin was only about halfway through middle aged. There were several torn areas in the ears and on the face that Mary guessed had housed piercings. Whatever had been there had definitely been ripped out, she could tell by the jagged edges and the abundance of dried blood around the areas. So probably on the wealthier side, maybe one of the merchants from Delvwood? Mary couldn’t be sure without the jewelry or a look at the rest of the body but it was her best guest. She took a few quick pictures, the Unseen Police would no doubt need them. Grimacing, she opened the mouth to see if any teeth were missing. There were but she barely noticed as she pulled a folded Ziploc bag from inside the goblin’s mouth. Mary fought the need to throw up as she unfolded the bag and read the note inside it.
We found out about your little informant here. This is your only warning, Seer. Stay out of our business.
The note wasn’t signed but the note was written on specially made paper, indicating it’d come from the Brunswick Society. Those annoying little upstart shits. Mary could have laughed and probably would have if she didn’t feel awful for the poor goblin whose head rested where she usually cleaned vegetables.
Mary removed her gloves and the welding helmet, setting them down by the sink. Then she grabbed her cellphone and called her witch contact a few towns over. “Hey Truesight, what’s going on?” Loraine’s voice filtered through, loud to block out the noises of what was probably another experiment in the background.
“Hey witch bitch, so the Brunswick dicks are even bigger idiots than we thought.” Mary told her. Now that it’d been a moment, the head was starting to stink. Mary plugged her nose and hurried out of the kitchen to the living room to try to escape it. “They just sent me the head of a goblin in a box claiming they were my informant. Problem is, I don’t have goblin informants. I don’t have any informants, not since Guthrad stopped talking to me.”
“Oh shit.” The noise on Loraine’s side suddenly died. Snuffed out completely like a candle. “Was there fizzling smoke when you opened the box?”
Mary nodded then remembered she was on the phone. The smell was getting worse, wafting from the kitchen. “Yes and now I think it’s rapidly rotting.”
“Disgusting. Well, the authorities are going to be at your place in a few minutes then. That fizzle smoke is basically a beacon to those spark-nosed guys.” Loraine said and Mary groaned. She hated when the Unseen Police came to her house. They never wanted to leave. “I would recommend slowing the rotting if you can to help with identification.”
“I took pictures.” Mary told her. She pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut tight. She could feel a migraine building behind her eyes. “I’m out of what I’d need to counter the rot. Someone’s been watching my place for a few days now and I haven’t felt alright leaving.”
“Hm. I’ll give my buddy in the UP a call, he can look around after the head and everyone else has gone. Don’t want whoever it is to know you know.”
“Thanks. I owe you one.”
The distant sound of sirens filled the air and Mary knew that it wasn’t on Loraine’s side, as much as she wished it was. Oh well, the goblin deserved to be collected by the proper authorities in a dignified manner. Not placed in an old hat box wrapped in several layers of plastic that she would then have to carefully drive over to the station.
“I’ve got to go. But listen, I’m gonna call up an emergency meeting of the In-the-Knows to make sure everyone is aware of this. Could really use your help on making sure it’s a protected meeting.” Mary said, tone light but definitely begging. She could do some simple spells but nothing much beyond that. Nothing that would keep those Brunswick assholes from hurting anybody.
“Of course. They threaten one, they threaten all.” See, that was why Mary adored Loraine. “I’ll come over after my UP buddy looks around. Stay safe, Seer.”
“You too, witch bitch.” Mary said. She hung up just as the Unseen Police banged on her door, demanding she open up. Calling her by her first name. Mary sighed before forcing on a pleasant smile and heading for the door. She swore she was going to make the Brunswick Society pay for ruining her Saturday off.