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The Mysterious Box

What's Inside?

By Dennis HumphreysPublished about a year ago 14 min read

by: Dennis R. Humphreys (the DreamWriter)

Autumn was here. It's crispness and dampness, delivered a change of color in the trees. It wasn't as colorful as previous seasons. The newscasters assigned the lack of spring rain as the culprit. Others, blamed it on the failure of a strong, early frost. Frankly, Lynette Alfonzo didn't believe any of the talking heads because their contradictions were so rampant. They didn't know what they were talking about, yet they repeated sanctimoniously, experts' reasons for the condition, that also seemed wrong from her experience over the years. The talking heads were hired to look good on television. Others scripting their network moments were just as clueless. Still, it felt good under the covers on such a day, but the alarm woke her from an interesting dream.

There was just enough time to dress and grab two pieces of toast and coffee before running to work. The townhouse seemed empty. Most of the furniture was taken by her husband, when he left two months ago, after their long marriage of three months. He left her with barely anything, having gotten into her checking and savings accounts because the bank let him, since they were married. Both accounts were in her name, with most of the money there accrued before their marriage.

Running to her car, carrying the two pieces of toast with jelly, and a styrofoam cup of strong coffee, she climbed in the old jalopy... something else her husband left her, that had been his. It barely ran. He took the new SUV that she bought and put in both of their names to help his non-existent credit. The old car sounded like an old man, growling and farting when you turned the key.

Climbing into the car, she spilled coffee on her lap. Trying to wipe that up, she dropped the last half of strawberry jellied toast on top of the spill.

“Fucking great! It's going to be one of those days...” she lectured herself, backing out of the parking place to head to work. The car backfired along its way, in the misting rain.

It was raining heavier, as she pulled into the lot at work. Someone leaving from the previous shift at Sinai Hospital, where she worked on the neonatal floor, almost ran into her. Rolling down the window, Lynn yelled at them furiously.

“Watch the fuck where you're going ass hole!” she yelled. It was answered by the driver's arm protruding through the window to give her a middle finger response.

Then she hit a deep pothole, heading for a parking place. It wasn't there before that morning. She thought she'd wipe out a ball joint or at least flatten a tire. Luckily, she had eaten the last of her toast and assigned her coffee to the cup holder. Even that didn't stop most of the remaining coffee from splashing out everywhere.

There were still a few minutes as she hurried through the lobby of the hospital to grab the elevator to the fourth floor. As she ran to the open elevator, there was one person standing in its doorway.

“Hold the door!” she cried, running towards it, but the person inside the elevator just looked at her and shrugged with a smile. The doors closed as she got there. “Mother fucking ass hole!”

The doors opened on her floor and she emerged onto the hall, in a bad mood.

“Good morning Lynn,” snapped the always jovial head nurse, Alicyn Daly. She immediately felt something was wrong. “Is everything OK, Lynn?”

“It's been one of those mornings already,” she answered, as she took off her jacket and hung it up quickly.

“How did you get that big rip in the back of your coat?” asked the head nurse, watching her trying to get settled.

“Mother fucker! I just bought that coat two months ago, before the ass hole left,” she reported while inspecting the back of it, wondering where she had ripped it. “I can't afford to buy another one. The fucker left with practically everything.

“Well calm down. Things will get better. Sit and grab a cup of coffee. I'll start your patients for you. Give me fifteen minutes and you can take over. Take a deep breath... relax... the day will get better,” Alicyn promised.

It couldn't get worse!

“OK I can take over,” she told Alicyn, entering room 419.

“I hear you're having a rough day,” commented a fellow worker, Celeste, who was helping the head nurse wash the overweight patient there, always a challenge, especially when pregnant.

“The only thing to make it better was if I remembered that bitch' s name my husband ran off with, so I can continue cursing her personally,” Lynette told her.

“You mean, Andrea?” Celeste answered, remembering the name clearly, since Lynn went on for three days about the woman, after she found out about her from her husband' s boss. The name was engraved in her cerebral cortex.

Lynette had no idea the marriage was finished. She passed Alex in their apartment that day, as they were both leaving for work, and they kissed goodbye. He doubled back with friends and a truck later, to unload the place. He even took some of her nicer clothes, since she and his new squeeze were the same size. It was three hours into her shift when she got a call from Alex's boss, wondering where he was, and if he was alright to come into work. Then he called back later to say he ran off with the office manager there.

“Yeah, fucking Andrea,” she responded under her breath so the patient didn't hear. “If I see her on the street wearing one of my outfits, I swear I'll run over her with that piece of shit I'm driving.

“You don't know what she looks like, do you?” asked Celeste, as the head nurse walked out of the door, shaking her head.

The day proceeded, with some annoying little incidents. Backing out of her parking place, she looked forward to relaxing in a hot tub of water, with with drinks, for an hour our so. She planned to climb under the covers with Mr. Jolly for the evening.

Mr. Jolly was a large, gelatinous vibrator her husband got her as a joke about a month after they married. They had known each other for three months when he asked her to marry him. While she was still under the effects of the oxytocin, every new relationship experiences, she said 'yes'. She thought about it as she drove home. I'll never do that again... marry someone, so soon after meeting them. She might not marry again, just shack up with someone. But in today's legal system, they treat living together like a marriage and hold you responsible if the union goes south. Keep separate places, that's the answer.

Slipping off her wet shoes in the hallway of the townhouse she rented for two years before marrying Alex, she started to go into the kitchen to heat water and make her drinks. She was interrupted by her cell phone. It was one of those robotic calls. She realized it a minute after answering it. She hated them, feeling they were deceitful by not informing you they were some kind of automaton. You'd enter a conversation, then realize something was wrong.

'This is the 'Very Special Delivery Service' with a message for Lynette Alfonzo. You will be receiving a package within ten minutes, delivered by our drone service. Please be there. If you can't be, it will attempt two more times over a two hour period and leave. If you are there, merely go to the drone to receive your package. It will verify your identity with our facial recognition software and release it to you. If you will not be present, please push the button on your screen to reschedule,” the message relayed in an unassuming, but irritating voice.

“How the hell did they get my picture to identify me?” Lynette's became irritated again. She was also intrigued by the whole delivery drone concept, she had only read about until now. While she couldn't wait to get ready for her date with Mr. Jolly, the package interested her more.

At the window, she heard the older couple in the next apartment, leave and slam their door. They were talking to each other indefinably. They had been married for forty years and were inseparable, something she thought she had with Alex. She watched, as they walked down their sidewalk. Her attention was diverted, as the woman pointed to the sky, and made some inaudible comment.

Lynette looked. There was the drone. She couldn't hear it because it operated without sound. It was descending quickly with a large package, a cube, perhaps two feet in dimension, hanging below it. As it landed, a text message appeared on her phone alerting her to the delivery. It told her it would wait for three minutes. As she went out the door to retrieve the item, the older couple stood, watching the delivery. Their faces reflected a displeasing evaluation of the event.

“That thing is evil, Lynn. Stay away from it,” said the old man.

“It was sent from the devil with evil intent,” his wife disclosed as she looked.

“I'll be fine,” Lynn called back. Getting closer to the drone, a voice emerged from it.

“Mrs. Lynette Alfonzo? This is your delivery. She felt she was being evaluated by the single light from within a thing that protruded on the top of the drone. It followed her movements. “Mrs. Lynette Alfonzo... your identity has been verified. Please take your package and verbalize your acceptance to me... which the nurse did.

She felt the older couple's eyes follow her to her front door as she carried her delivery into the apartment. Lynn sat it down on the kitchen table and scrutinized it. Who was it from and why? There was no return address on it and no other markings on the plain brown wrapping. That was the shipper's wrapping. There was probably something inside. She only had a few friends and no family. That left her coworkers as the senders.

Still, she was wary. That idiot husband, Alex, might of sent something annoying. Or even that bitch he hooked up with, might have sent her some butchered hog's head to be funny. She could see it now.

Lynette unwrapped it carefully, exposing a plain, shinny black box, with large block writing on the top, that extended from one end to the other... Making It Right Corporation. She had never heard of it. She turned the black box over, to look at all sides. There was nothing else visible on it. Under the corporate name, there was a white circle. The black area inside of it, was screened dull. Within it was a small message... place thumb here. Further identification? Lynn reluctantly placed her right thumb on the area. The walls of the box suddenly collapsed flat, revealing another, smaller drone carrying a package inside. The drone was a carbon copy of the one that delivered this. There was a card with printing on it, by the drone, which she read.

Read this card and its words:

“Enforce the curse and bring to pass,

The punishment for those that ask

Without asking, but by their deeds

Plant a crop of vengeful seeds.”

Read it three times then burn the card until completely consumed. Blow the ashes into the wind... odd message, she thought, as she threw the card onto the table and went upstairs for the night.

Lynette woke up to her alarm lying next to Mr. Jolly. She smiled as she looked out the window to a sunny day. After dressing, she skipped down the stairs to the kitchen, for her typical breakfast of jellied toast and instant coffee. She glanced at the drone on the table. It bothered her she didn't know who sent it, or why. She woke up thinking about it during the night. Out the door. and to her car, Lynn ran. Amazingly, the car started right away without hesitation, and as she rode through the lot it seemed void of its normal, embarrassing sounds. It was an uneventful ride to work without any spills to wipe clean. As Lynn entered the parking lot, she waved at the man who almost hit her the day before, leaving the lot. He was exchanging insurance information with someone he had side swiped.

When Lynn got to the fourth floor, she hung her coat up on the door hook, admiring the touch-up job she did with several safety pins.

“You have a present here from room 420. She went home already this morning and wanted you to have this,” said Alicyn, handing her a box with a note on it.

Lynn took it and read the note, saying this was just a simple thanks for being so kind. When she opened it, there was a brand new coat inside. Lynn was beside herself having exactly what she needed.

“Hey, looks like karma has a way of making things right,” commented Celeste as she walked into the station.

“By the way, do any of you know who sent a package to me yesterday from a 'Making It Right Corporation'? asked Lynn.

Three nurses looked at her and admitted they didn't. Now she had no idea.

All day the mystery plagued her. The more Lynette thought about it, the more inconclusive she was. The preoccupation affected her work, making stupid mistakes and forgetting things.

“You've never been off inventory, Lynn. What's the matter?” the head nurse asked as she double checked her.

Talk about a turn-around-day though from the previous one. Even the scratch off lottery ticket, Lynn bought yesterday afternoon revealed a two hundred dollar win for her. The most she had ever won was five dollars two years ago. Yeah, things were going well with an hour left of work, when one of her coworkers told her she had a call at the desk from Alex... the asshole. Everyone thought he was anyway, and not just because he left Lynn.

Alicyn watched her employee as she listened and spoke sparingly to her husband. Tears began forming. She was angry too and said something obnoxious before slamming the phone down. What was noticeable before was now pronounced, as she began sobbing loudly at the nurses' station.

“Is everything alright, Lynn,” asked the head nurse, as if the question needed to be asked.

“No... everything isn't alright,” Lynn replied, “that asshole... he actually asked for money. He said I owed him for the time he gave me.”

“The arrogant ass! Listen, there's only an hour left on your shift. You need to go home. We'll take care of things,” the head nurse advised.

“Are you sure?” she asked the head nurse, as she put on her new jacket ready to go. It was better than the one she ruined. “You guys never sent me that package from 'Making It Right'?”

“No... I've never even heard of the place. Is there any significance to it?” the nurse asked her.

“Not that I know,” she told her, heading to the elevator.

Entering her apartment, Lynette went to the kitchen table. She stood, looking at the drone. It was almost insect looking, being all black and shiny. She picked up the card and read it a few times, thinking to herself and flipping the card against her other hand.

“Oh what the hell. Maybe this was someone's idea of a stress reliever for me,” she told herself. She read the words on the card three times as instructed.

“Enforce the curse and bring to pass,

The punishment to those that ask

Without asking but by their deeds

Plant a crop of vengeful seeds.”

She turned on the gas flame to her stove. Holding the card, she ignited it, turning it until it was almost completely consumed. She allowed it to finish by placing it on the edge of her stainless steel sink. A single, thin wisp of smoke arose from the remains. Lynn, held her left hand at the drain's edge, and brushed the ashes into it. Walking to the front door and onto the small concrete porch, there was a slight wind. Lifting her hand she blew the ashes into the breeze. As she did, the wind accelerated perceptibly. Something went crashing through the window to her left. It was the drone, leaving her apartment. She watched as it sped off with the wind, over the roofs of the other apartments across the street. Glass and parts of the window panes were lying on the ground and on the small yew bushes, planted in front of the window. 'Great... I'll have to pay for that!' she complained to herself.

Inside though, things were fine... no broken window. She looked again outside. Things were back to normal there. Nothing was broken.

Then she went to the kitchen to inspect the the drone, but it was gone. She wasn't imagining it. Only the packaging remained. When she picked up the black box and looked at it, there was nothing on it... not even the name, “Making It Right Corporation' .

The drone appeared to be operating independently now but what was it up to? All sorts of purposes congealed in her mind. Did someone bless her or curse her?

Short Story

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