Cover image:

The Mystery Package

The box wasn’t that big, being about eight inches square, but it was certainly a mystery. I mentally ran through the list of things that I’d ordered recently and hadn’t yet received. Maybe...? No, there was nothing that could possibly fit the bill.

After getting me to sign for it, the delivery guy had handed me the package. Was there a look of relief on his face, as though he was glad to be rid of it? I couldn’t really be sure, but I do know that it was not until he left that I saw the writing.


Do Not Open Until Christmas!


So it had to be a gift of some sort. But who had sent it? There was no name on the outside of the box, not even a postmark that was legible enough to give me a clue. That was okay. I’m a pretty patient sort of person; I could wait. I put it down in a corner and pushed it to the back of my mind. There it would have stayed if it hadn’t been for my flat-mate, Carrie.

Em, you know that package?” she said, looking towards the corner.

The one I’m trying to put out of my mind until the big day, you mean?”

Yep. Sorry, but I think you should know that it’s making a noise.”

We both approached the box with a wariness in our step. Carrie was right; there was a faint sound of scratching. Something was moving inside the package and scraping away at the cardboard.

If I lift it up, will you look underneath and see if there are air holes?” I asked, having visions of something cute slowly suffocating because of my negligence.

Lift it a bit higher, Em.” She stooped down, looked up. “There’s none that I can see,” she finally announced.

Well, that wasn’t good. Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy but I’m one of those people that, if given instructions prefers to follow them. It seemed to have gone quiet. Perhaps we’d imagined it, or maybe it had been something rubbing against the outside and there had been no sounds coming from inside at all.

Come on, Carrie. It says to leave it so...”

The scratching started again. There could be no doubt that the source of the noise was packed away inside.

You’ll have to open it,” Carrie said, walking off and returning with scissors. She passed them over to me.

But... “ I pointed to the red print. No one would be so cruel, would they? Eighteen days to go, that was all. Nothing would survive for almost three weeks. I hated to admit it but Carrie was right.

I positioned the scissors carefully; if I just split the tape we could take a quick look and once we were sure nothing was going to die, we’d reseal it. That way I could at least fool myself into believing that I’d done what was said.

As I began to cut, everything went silent. Both Carrie and I were holding our breath in anticipation of what we might see. I lifted a flap, only slightly, but I could not see anything. It was no good, I was going to have to open it up all the way. A breath out, a breath in, and then I yelped in surprise. Carrie screamed!

Something had leaped from the box and scuttled across the room. I could hear the unmistakable sounds of tearing coming from one part of the room then another. Whatever it was, it seemed to be intent on wrecking our flat and everything in it.

What was it? Did you see?” Carrie asked.

I shook my head. Whatever it was, we were going to have to catch it, and quickly too. “Where is it now?” I asked in little more than a whisper.

We both looked, listened. There was nothing until I heard the sound of a canvas being torn. One of my prize paintings was slowly being torn from top to bottom by something that had somehow got behind it.

With visions of some kind of rat-like creature running through my mind, I edged my way towards the canvas that now hung neatly torn in two. I lifted the side nearest to me and dropped it back quickly when I caught sight of something metal.

Thank you!” Carrie shouted from across the room.

What was she talking about? I looked towards her and she held up a piece of card. A piece of metal, that looked like a two-fingered hand dropped to the floor.

I don’t...” I began, but she held a finger to her lips and pointed from the thing at my feet to the box that still sat there, flaps open.

I picked it up, holding it warily away from me, and deposited it back in the carton. Carrie handed me the card to read, while she set about resealing the flaps.


Dear Sis’

I hope you like your gift.

It is, I think, one of my best inventions

so far – the Gift Opener. Simply place it

down among your gifts and it will take

of the unwrapping. Once it’s finished,

just say ‘Thank you’, and pack it away until

next time.

Happy Christmas,



I looked at the wreckage, silently seething at my brother. But it was my fault. He had put a warning there, if only I’d taken notice. Carrie and I began to take stock of the devastation. It could have been worse, much worse, there was no doubt about that.

But still, I was going to have to wrack my brains to come up with a suitable gift to send him in return.





Submitted: December 08, 2019

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Add Your Comments:


Derina Peng

Good evening. Hully. (Good morning here.) This is a very cute story! Good imagination about what the Gift Opener did. It certainly tried to unwrap everything! I am happy that it didn't turn into a horror story. I guess you are thinking what you try to return to your brother in your next story?

Sun, December 8th, 2019 7:39pm


Ha! I could, I guess, but I doubt it. Thanks for reading this, Derina.

Sun, December 8th, 2019 12:44pm

Mike S.

Ha, a lesson in patience, excellent, Hull!

Sun, December 8th, 2019 7:53pm


Thanks so much for reading, Mike.

Sun, December 8th, 2019 12:47pm

Vance Currie

You are up to your tricks again, Hully. Most readers will have been expecting a horror story--but got a good laugh instead.

Sun, December 8th, 2019 7:55pm


Haha! Honestly, Joe, it did cross my mind. Thanks so much for giving this a read.

Sun, December 8th, 2019 12:50pm


Bravo! Well done. You kept me guessing all the way to the end. Now I want to know what will the return gift be.

Mon, December 9th, 2019 3:31pm


I'd never even considered writing a follow-up. Anyone is welcome to do so, though. I'd love to see what people thought up!
Thanks, ratwood2!

Tue, December 10th, 2019 9:56am

Sue Harris

Ha, love it! Great twist at the end, excellent writing, Hully!

Mon, December 9th, 2019 8:22pm


Thanks, Sue!

Tue, December 10th, 2019 9:50am

Robert Helliger

A gripping mystery thriller Christmas story.
It is great.

Mon, December 16th, 2019 4:48am


Thanks, Robert. I'm really glad that you enjoyed it!

Mon, December 16th, 2019 11:08am

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