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An Unexpected Gift

By J Campbell

By Joshua CampbellPublished 4 months ago 14 min read

Chris saw the drone flying away from his apartment and raised an eyebrow.

He hadn't ordered anything, certainly nothing that a drone would deliver, and he came up the stairs two at a time before his crackhead neighbors came out to steal it. Calling them crackheads might have seemed a little disparaging, but Chris had actually come home and found them smoking crack on the front porch, so he thought it more than fair. The Palm Breeze weekly rentals were far from posh, but they were the best he could afford. Chris had a dead-end job that barely paid him minimum wage and hardly worked him part-time these days. He was behind on his rent, looking at ramen noodles for dinner again, and, if he was lucky, he might get halfway through tonight's football game before they shut his cable off.

He bet that Robert was eating well, though, and breathed out angrily as he came to the top of the stairs.

Of course, Robert was eating well. Robert was rich. Robert was a Doctor and not the kind from a hospital. He had a perfect wife and perfect kids and a perfect house and had everything handed to him. Robert had been the favorite ever since that damn test when he was six, and there had never been anything for Chris after that.

Robert was Chris's younger brother, four years his junior, but his parents had always had a soft spot for him. Chris had always sort of been a normal kid. He played outside, watched cartoons, made games with his toys, and never excelled at anything in particular. Chris was an okay baseball player, and he had helped take his football team to state in his junior year, but his studies were never more than middle of the road. Chris was a solid C student, all of his teachers said so, and no one could find much fault with that.

Robert, though, was exceptional.

Their mother had been ecstatic when she got the results of a test he'd taken in school. His grade had participated in one of those IQ test programs, and Robert had scored top of his class. The testers figured he had an IQ of around 194, and, by their mother's estimations, that made him a genius. After that, Chris found himself left by the wayside more often than not. It was hard to focus on someone who didn't seem to want to put in the effort.

The package was about the size of a shoebox, covered in black duct tape, and spray painted to a metallic black that clashed with the tape underlay. Chris picked it up, wondering what he had ordered. When did he have the money to order anything? He remembered the other night when his dinner had been a large bottle of Mad Dog 2020 and a quick trip to oblivion. He had splurged on the largest bottle he could find at the gas station, something to wash down his hotdog and off-brand chips, and it seemed that maybe he'd been doing some late-night purchasing.

He sighed as he brought it inside, looking through the app on his phone to check how much this little package had cost him. His bank account was still in the double digits, his savings barely in the single digits, so everything was normal there. He was glad that he wouldn't have to skip meals till Friday, and his curiosity was piqued as he brought the package to the table.

There was no address on the box or a return address, and he took the box cutter out of his pocket as he opened the tape. Chris expected it to spray confetti or a bad smell, the usual sort of pranks people played, but inside was another box and a note. The box inside was red, about the size of a children's shoe box, spray painted and wrapped in tape as well, and as Chris took the note out, he read over it carefully.

Hello, valued customer.

Inside is exactly what you order, your deepest desire, and a warning. As we discussed, the item is not something to be taken lightly. It will not always grant what you expect, but it will absolutely grant your greatest desire. I've given you a chance to think about this before you proceed and a chance to turn back if you have second thoughts.


There was no signature at the bottom.

Chris read the note over a couple of times, not quite sure what he had here. There were some disreputable people in the area, people way worse than the druggies next door, and Chris really didn't want these people mad at him. He rechecked the outside of the box, hoping for an address or something, but there was still nothing there. He sat it on the table, looking at it dubiously, before taking out the red box and deciding to continue.

Screw it; all they could do was kill him, right?

He cut the tape on the red box, and as he looked in, he found a green box about the size of an oatmeal box with another note.

Hello, valued customer

If you're reading this, then you have chosen to proceed. Very well, I cannot stop you, but you have to be prepared to use it. Before you use the item, take a moment to picture the thing that is your greatest desire. Picture it, smell it, know its feel, its taste (if you can), what it sounds like, and know it as well as anyone can. Open the next box when it is in your mind and heart.


Chris looked at the red box and was glad that he had read it before waiting. What the hell was this? With every box he opened, he was more confident this was not something he had ordered. That said, he was also more sure that it was something he wanted. His greatest desire? What was his greatest desire? Money? Power? Prestige? The more he thought about it, the more he realized what he wanted.

How many nights had he lain in bed and wished for nothing so much as a button that made his brother never exist? How often had he watched his brother play the violin, show his parents a test, or talk about how well he'd done at mathletics and wanted nothing so much as to walk into traffic? It didn't help that Robert was also not afflicted with the acne or the braces that many of his peers had. He was handsome, effortlessly fit, and many of Chris's girlfriends had commented on the fact that he was so much better looking than Chris.

Chris knew what he wanted, but could he do it?

He opened the red box and found a yellow box about the size of a bracelet box and another note.

Hello, valued customer

If you are reading this, then it is assumed that you have taken everything I've said to heart. You have the thing you desire in your mind and are ready to use it. Keep it in your thoughts, keep it close at heart, hold fast to your desire, and then open the yellow box.


Chris had the box half opened when a little voice attempted to assert itself in his mind. Was this okay? Despite getting all his parents' love and attention, his brother had never been anything but kind to him. He loved his big brother, even though Chris had never given him anything but hostility and indifference. How many times had he offered to give him money, not a loan but give? How often had he offered Chris a job at Applied Genetics? "Not quite as nice as the one I have, but even our janitorial staff make a fine living wage." he had said, giving him a look that begged him to accept. Chris believed that the job, like the offer of money, had been an insult, if not pity. Chris wouldn't have any of it from his little brother, especially when it was his fault that he hadn't got to go to college.

Chris still seethed about it, burned to this day about the fact that his current state was all to do with the fact that there had been no money to send him to college.

When Chris was a Junior in Highschool, he was offered a sports scholarship to a small college in the state. It wasn't Yale or Harvard, but it would have allowed Chris to succeed. He could have studied something, could have made more of himself than a register monkey at his local grocery store, and it was all Robert's fault that he hadn't gone. His parents had heard him out, heard his plans, and told him flatly that he would have to ride the scholarship on his own dime.

"We have to think about Robert's future. He will be going to college in two years, and he's studying some very costly things. We're going to have to save everything we have to get him there, and as much as we'd like to give you the same opportunity, your brother's studies have to come first right now. If you can pay your own way, you are more than welcome to go to college, but otherwise, I'm sorry to say we just don't have it to give."

Chris crumbled the letter in his hand as he thought about it. His brother had left for college at fifteen, quite an accomplishment, with no less than five different scholarships to help him get there. They couldn't have given him just a little so he might better his life? How could a seventeen-year-old boy hope to pay his own way through college? They would have made him put himself into crippling debt for nothing except a chance at something better. Chris hadn't even played football his senior year. He just hadn't seen the point anymore, and after graduation, he had slipped into the life he now endured.

Right, bah, it was more than right.

It was time for Chris to get his.

It was time for him to get his due and his chance.

He grimaced as he opened the yellow box, a corner slicing his finger as it caught it on the way past.

Inside was a Blue box about the size of a ring box and another note.

The letter splotched with his blood as he opened it, the little cut bleeding slightly as he read.

Hello, valued customer

This is your last chance to turn back. If you pack the boxes back together and place it on your doorstep, I will send my drone to collect it. There is no shame in choosing to walk away. One's greatest desire is often something no one wants once they have it. You would not be thought less of for returning this package unopened.

If you choose to proceed, however, then close your eyes and keep the full image of your greatest desire in mind. Open the box as you visualize, and when you open the box, the desire will be fulfilled.


Chris closed his eyes, thinking of his brother as he prepared to disappear him. He could smell his cologne, old spice, hear his voice as it droned on and on, feel his handshake or one of his hugs, remember the way his voice had changed as he grew, hear his laugh when he was happy, feel his pain when he was sad, and as he thought about it, Chris stopped halfway through opening the box. Was this really what he wanted? How many times had his brother called just to see what he was doing? How many times had he paid for dinner or lunch just to see his big brother? Even as he looked back on the offers, he couldn't really believe that they had been made out of spite.

He hesitated, but as his thumb pulled free, the box lid opened, and he disappeared his brother from his mind and his heart.

He'd come too far to turn back now.

Something puffed up into his face, and he coughed as a freezing wind burnt his lips and cheeks. He could hear something. A child's laughter, a crackling fire, the smell of smoke, a child screaming in fear, the sound of a car horn, and then silence. He didn't dare open his eyes, thinking he had been sprayed with some sort of chemical, maybe even a hallucinogen, but as the seconds ticked on, he couldn't help but peek through his lids.

He was still sitting in his filthy apartment, nothing better and nothing worse.

He looked around, confused, snorting when he thought about how he'd been so taken in. He'd just wasted his time on someone's idea of a joke. Why had he thought something like this would actually work? He knew better than to believe in magic or curses or whatever this was. He let the box fall back into the larger box and went to the bathroom to wash his face.

When he came back, his phone was ringing, and he was surprised to find it was his mother.

She never called unless she wanted to tell him about something Robert had done, and he sighed as he picked it up.

"Hi, mom."

"Well, don't sound so thrilled to hear from your only mother."

Chris had a seat, turning on the tv as he waited for it to warm up, "Uh huh, how's it goin? What did Robert do now? Win the Nobel Prize? Get a raise? Cure cancer?"

She was silent for a few seconds, and Chris had to look down at the screen to make sure he hadn't lost her.

"Who?" she finally asked.

"Robert? My little brother? The protege?"

"Christopher, are you on drugs? You don't have a brother. You're an only child."

Chris let that sink in, trying to dispute her but realizing that it was becoming harder to remember Robert. He was like a distant memory, something from his childhood, and the memory was getting harder and harder to bring to the forefront. The longer he sat there, the less he could recall about him, and he suspected that soon there would be nothing left.

"Right, my bad. I was thinking of something else, I guess."

He and his mother had a short conversation, her asking when he was bringing his laundry and inviting him to dinner, and then hung up after a bored "I love you." Chris hung up and looked around his apartment once more. If his brother had never existed, then why was he still living in this shit hole? Why was he still doing so poorly if he'd gotten to go to college? He looked at the hatrack by the door and realized his apron was hanging from the hook, meaning he still worked at the grocery store. It was like…

He let his mouth slip open, the realization hitting him like a ton of bricks.

It had nothing to do with Robert.

It was him.

This was just as good as it got for him.

As he sat on the couch, reflecting on all this, he jumped as something bumped the door.

He walked quickly, wondering if it was the ghost of… Roger? Reggy? Whoever he was here for revenge or something, and was almost relieved when he saw the manilla envelope, the drone fleeing into the sky.

He brought it inside, seeing the familiar message but not liking it at all.

Dear less-than-valued thief

You have intercepted a very important package that was not meant for you. If you haven't opened it yet, then place it on the porch and leave it for pick up. If you have, then don't worry. My associates will be there soon to exact payment.

Less than fond regards.

Chris sat on the couch, feeling the cold eels wiggling in his stomach, his mind trying to cling to the memories of his brother but unable as the fear took root.

No matter how terrible his life was, there was a silver lining.

He wouldn't be alive to suffer it much longer.

That's when he thought back to his earlier thought, realizing how wrong he had been.

If they could do something like erase a person from existence, then killing him likely wasn't the worst they could do.

fictionmonstersupernaturalurban legendslasher

About the Creator

Joshua Campbell

Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.

Reddit- Erutious


Tiktok and Instagram- Doctorplaguesworld

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