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by Justin von Bosau 10 months ago in monster
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Mr. Kinney's package

Matthews was sitting on the dead man's couch when I got there, and he'd even propped himself up with two pillows. It looked rather comfortable, aside from the blood dried into the other half of it.

"Well?" I asked, and he looked up at me without much urgency.

"Hey, Liz."

"Facts of the case?"

Matthews threw his arms up, shook his head, and dropped them again. He stared forward at a small end table, and I followed his gaze. A frown take hold of my eyebrows.

The table was clear glass, muddied by specks of dust, age, and the ghostly remnants of fingerprints. In the center was a package, squat and brown, about as wide as a moving-box. It looked like normal cardboard, a bit gammy from the rain outside. The top was folded up tight, but the tape had been peeled off; it had been opened and reclosed.

The far side of the table was splashed in drying umber, continuing on from the couch.

"Facts," Matthews said, then he took a deep breath and let it out. "Twenty minutes ago, the neighbor in number 24, Mrs. Genevieve Simmons, called the police department to report that her neighbor had screamed."

"Not 9-1-1?"

"No; the house belongs to a Mr. Ambroise Kinney, who apparently had night terrors. However, he usually stuck his head out to tell Mrs. Simmons he was feeling quite all right, and this time did not."

"I see."

"Since he's in his 80's," Matthews continued, hands folded in his lap, looking almost contemplative, "she assumed he must've fallen and hurt himself. Or that a robber broke in."

"Well," I said without any commitment to my tone, tracing the blood from the couch to the table. Another frown crossed my face; the side of the box and part of the lid were splashed and drying. Kneeling down and pressing my head almost to the floor, I examined under the table--but the glass beneath was opaque; not wanting to confirm if the cardboard was soaked in red.

"That's all I have."

"Did you search the house?" I asked, standing and looking at Matthews again. His ambivalence disturbed me, and he nodded with as much ease as a parent hearing a child's babbles.

"The rest is empty. Tidy; Mr. Kinney kept things in order. Dishes are put away, the bed is a bit ruffled where it was slept in, there's nobody hiding in the closets or behind any curtains."

"And the doors and windows?"

"Locked." Matthews glanced over towards the front door, which was a heavy brown wood. I had gone around the driveway to check first for any signs of footprints, disruptions, anything. The back door had been ajar; Matthews had poked his head around from the couch, just beyond the kitchen archway, and motioned me inside.

I didn't doubt him, but nonetheless walked over and tested the door. It was locked. I looked at the windows of the living room; all of them shut down tight against the rain.

Which left the table, and the box, and the blood. In the silent house, I could hear a clock upstairs, ticking without worry.

"What's in it?" I moved back over, steeling my jaw for the worst. Matthews looked at it, then at me.

"I was waiting for you to get here, first. If it's something-- well."

"I appreciate it," I replied drily, then looked at the blood on the couch. It didn't seem to lead anywhere else; it splattered the cushions and the seat, a great red uneven circle, and rolled down over the floor--

Moving over, I checked behind the cushions. There didn't seem to be anything there. Nor did there appear to be blood pooled underneath the couch when I knelt down and looked.

Matthews stared at me while I did, and it was getting on my nerves.

"Did you already look down here?" I asked him, keeping my voice measured but unable to stop its crispness.

He nodded. "There's no other pooling, or indication of a trail."

"Yes," I said, my annoyance with him slipping away as bewilderment took hold. There was enough blood to indicate a grievous injury; a serious, probably life-ending wound. It trailed over to the box; as if--

I paused, looking up at Matthews. He stared at me like a mounted fish, but underneath his expression there was an alertness. He was nervous, I realized. I looked towards the box again, and Matthews' gaze followed.

The side of the box was splashed in red. The bottom was impossible to discern. The top was folded and the cardboard offered no view inside.

"Pieces?" I asked, keeping my voice neutral. My stomach had dropped like a rock against my knees. I sniffed sharply, but couldn't trace any gore.

"No idea," Matthews said.

"Return labels?"

He shook his head, and I walked around it carefully. There did seem to be a shipping label, tucked in on the back, but it had been waterlogged by the rain and torn at until the only thing that remained was tacky glue holding streaks of pure white.


Tick, tick, tick.

Matthews looked at me again. I took a long breath, running a hand over my head. The rainwater was dragging my hair down, and when I got back home, I would be taking a long, hot shower.

"Maybe it's just an Amazon package full of jelly," I said without much humor. Matthews didn't pretend to smile, and I knew we both were waiting for the other to move, to open it.

Taking a deep breath, I brought out my phone and turned on the flashlight, leaning over the package and looking through the small spaces in the cardboard. Behind its folds, there was nothing but darkness.

Matthews sat up, looking at me grimly. I met his gaze, then leaned back, fishing a pair of gloves out of my pocket. I try not to touch anything, normally, but this necessitated it.

"What are you doing?"

"Moving it," I told Matthews. "I'll put it back; I want to see how heavy it is. If we can make an educated guess, we might spare ourselves opening it."

Matthews made no reply, looking back at the blood-soaked cardboard.

Setting my phone on the table, I took another breath, grabbing hold of each side of the box. A wince shuddered through me; low heat bubbling into my fingers where they pressed against the stains.

I pulled the box up--

It wouldn't budge from the table.

I looked at Matthews, and he sat as silently unobtrusive as ever. I heaved upwards again.

The box wouldn't shift at all.

"Is it heavy?" Matthews asked, and I shook my head. It wasn't heavy, that was the wrong word; it was adhered to the glass. There was some suction there. I didn't want to think about it, but a voice whispered that the blood had glued it down.

"Maybe better not to move it?" Matthews said, and I straightened again. "Evidence, and all that?"

"Evidence," I repeated, gazing around the room again. The locked door met my inquiries with a moping silence. "What the hell happened here?"

Matthews didn't reply, which I was getting used to, and when I looked back at him, I found him hunched, elbows on knees, chin on hands, looking at the box. Frustration erupted into me, but it was quickly quelled. Matthews had been here first; he had searched the place. All that was left was the box, and we both knew it, and we were just prolonging the inevitable--

"We could ask the neighbors; see if any of them saw something-- heard something--"

I stopped as Matthews' eyes flickered up to meet mine. He didn't need to speak. We understood each other perfectly.

"Oh, dammit," I mumbled, and in a swift motion, I moved over to the box, curling my fingers under the cardboard flaps and throwing them open.

Wind swept against me--an open window somewhere, I thought dumbly--and then went still. The house settled. The couch made no creaks when Matthews shifted on it, closer to me. The clock upstairs had stopped.

I looked into the box. How couldn't I have? I could feel my eyebrows drawing together, creasing my forehead. I could feel the low drum of my pulse. But I didn't feel afraid; that was the odd thing. My nerves had fled completely, and my fear and caution with them.

The box held nothing. Nothing at all; and that nothing was something. It drew down, impossibly down, down into a pit that fell down, down, impossibly down, beneath the glass table, beneath the basement, beneath the earth underfoot down, and out, expanding out into an endless ocean that lacked anything--

And then the voices rose up.

They came low, and whispering, and desperate. Despairing as the light touched them; weeping from miles off, quietly beseeching with words nobody could comprehend anymore.

There was a scuttling, as of many legs approaching fast.

I moved back, but too late.

From the inky air, a hand reached out, gripping my arm and sliding up it, leaving a streak like tar. A smell like mothballs filled the air, and before I could balance myself, the hand tugged, grabbing hold higher on my arm, tugging and yanking. And it was cold; oh it was so cold; I could feel it, through the coat and the shirt, creeping up my arm, seeping through my chest, its coldness, consuming and numbing--

And then I was pulled forward, as the breath gasped out of me, tumbling head over heels, down into the box, down into a nighttime without horizon. I fell, and the air suffocated my lungs, and my limbs flew out, and my mind fought-- clawed-- out of the cold place. I hit the ground, and lay there, thoughtless, cold, aware of that cacophony of voices under the sound of my heavy breaths.

I felt for my pocket and found the phone. The flashlight was still on, and burst into painful brightness the scene around me.

Eyes and limbs flinched away. Moaning evaporated from nearby lips. And finally someone crawled forward, a shapeless blob of wet darkness, carried by two arms, tugging itself forwards.


The voice was like mushy ice cream gone stale on a hot day. It was Matthews. Two eyes, bored into the center of the pale black thing looked up at me, then up above.

"Go, you must go, you must--"

But I was already there.

Above, far above, near a wriggling tower of black shapes, clutching at precious light, I saw a hole-- the top of the cardboard box. It was blinding--and over it, I saw my face, pulled taut like a mask over another creature, a creature with relieved, weeping eyes, touching itself, its skin, and embracing Matthews' body. I heard the words, "Silky-- oh my God it's so silky--" as they rubbed their flesh against one another.

Then she looked back at me with horror and fear, with selfish cruelty, with cowardly sorrow. She closed the box hurriedly, and the only light remaining was my phone.


I looked back to see the blob that was Matthews vibrating. In the sockets of its eyes, jelly-like tears rolled over its form. I reached out a hand to comfort it, and in the light of my phone, saw that my arm was turning pale black, dripping, oozing away into a shapeless puddle of being.

The phone died years ago. The moaning here is endless. Matthews and I joined together, trying to feel any ember of warmth. When one of us gets out, the other will too. We fought our way to the top of the wriggling tower, waiting, waiting, waiting.

One day, we'll have our flesh back. We won't be doused in this icy cold, this moist, viscous slime. We'll be whole again; we'll be whole, and we'll run our hands over the skin, over each other's, just to revel in how it feels.

Our skin will feel so silky.


About the author

Justin von Bosau

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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