Do Not Open 'Til

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Some boxes are never meant to be opened.

Submitted: December 23, 2014

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Submitted: December 23, 2014

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Stephen awoke with a start.  His heart was pounding, ready to rip itself out of Stephen's chest.  He looked around the room.  The moonlight streamed in from his bedside window, his clothes and other items casting long shadows because of it.  Stephen made slow, deep breaths to steady his pounding heart.  He curled up in a ball under his covers and tried to fall asleep.  He closed his eyes.  Mere seconds passed before he opened them, wide awake.  He sat up in bed.  Reaching over to his night stand, he snatched his phone and looked at the date.  Three more days.  

The next morning wasn't any better.  He got up late and walked downstairs, each step he took wishing it would melt away a little of his grogginess at a time.  It didn't.

Stephen lived with two roommate, Dave and Martha, whom he felt he had known his entire life.  Martha was making eggs.

"Hi honey, I see you're out of bed.  Want some eggs?" Martha crooned.

Stephen grunted the affirmative, his attention too tied up with rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.  When he looked down a plate of scambled eggs and bacon greeted him.  Martha had sat down and was discussing something with Dave.  Stephen didn't bother to listen, it didn't interest him, anyway.  After wolfing down his breakfast, Stephen got up and put the plate in the sink.  He turned to go back to his room and change.  He walked through the living room to go back up the stairs when something caught his eye.  

It was a package, and his name was on it.This made Stephen stop.  He approached it slowly, cautiously, looking around nervously to see if anyone else would dare stop him.  Stephen crept closer, a panther stalking its prey.  He barely made a sound as he approached, back hunched over, hands raised as if to pounce for the kill-

"I see you've found something" it was Martha, making Stephen nearly jump out of his skin, "Remember, do not open for another three days.  See you later, I got to head into work"  She left him there, shocked, wondering what could be in there.  Stephen moved to pick it up, "No peaking!" Martha had called down.  Stephen recoiled and went up to his room. 

Night was starting to approach, Stephen could see the sun delving behind the horizon, leaving a trail of corral and gold in its wake.  All day Stephen busied himself with what could possibly be in that package for him.  He continued to think about it while he attempted to put his pajamas on, backwards.  It was only after Dave pointed this out that Stephen sheepishly went back to his room to rectify his blunder.  

Stephen joined Martha and Dave downstairs in the living room.  Stephen plopped down on the couch.  Dave and Martha busied themselves with some reading.  Stephen busie himself with imagining what could the package possibly contain.  Stephen sat on the couch Indian-style, his fance in his hands as he tried to imagine its contents.  Stephen stared at it, stared at it so hard a lesser package would have combusted.  To an outsider, this juxtaposition must have been amusing; light reading on one end, and an intense death stare on the other.  

Ba-dump.  Ba-dump. Ba-dump.Stephen's eye grew even wider as he heard this.  What was that sound?He looked around at his roommates to see if they too heard it. Ba-dump.  Ba-dump.  Dave turned the page casually and Martha yawned.  They hadn't heard it!  Stephen could feel his pulse race.  

"Time for bed, I think" Dave and closed his book and got up.  Martha followed suit and they both walked upstairs to their room.  Stephen was freed as they said their goodnights.  He shook his head, mumbled something in reply, and tried to strain his ears to see if the strange sound could be heard.  Nothing.  Sighing, he followed them upstairs and into his own room.  He tucked himself into the sheets, and poured over in his mind what he heard until he slipped into a fretful sleep.  Two days left.

Stephen awoke, showered, changed, ate breakfast.  It was like he was going through the motions, racking his brain over this box, this package that taunted him, haunted him.  Night fell, and Stephen was growing increasingly paranoid.  As night loomed down with the setting of the sun, so too did his fervor for cracking the riddle that lay before him.  Stephen was curled up in the fetal position in front of the package.  He rocked his body back and forth, his knuckles ghost white from clenched fists, willing himself not to open it.  Stephen slept there that night.

It was anything but a peaceful rest.  He dreamt of the package that night.  It was larger than before, much larger, taller than Stephen.  All around Stephen were whispers, "Open it, open it!" they commanded.  Fear and ice coursed through his veins, and he relented.  Stephen got up on his tip toes and pushed the lid off.  The lid fell to the floor, soundless.  He reached as high as he could and grabbed a side and yanked it down, tipping it over on its side.  Inside was another box, smaller, but still quite large.  He opened it.  Another box.  He opened that one.  Another box.  He was half crawling inside the second box to dig deeper into the Russian nesting boxes when he tried to reach the bottom box and tipped down into its depths.  The lid shut, swallowing him whole.

Stephen bolted straight up on the ground, in a sweat, head pounding and heart racing.  He looked around frantically.  There was only the one box, sitting silently.  He let out a sigh, tried to catch his breath.  Eventually he got up and headed to bed.  Once in bed he looked over to his phone.  One day.

This was the longest day Stephen had encountered.  Why couldn't he open it now?  He had tried earlier, unsuccessfully.  Martha caught him and slapped his hand, admonishing him that he could wait one more day.  What cruel torture.  Stephen paced in his room, away from Temptation. He fidgeted with his hands, like an addict going through withdrawal.  He hadn't come down for breakfast, nor lunch.  He barely noticed his stomach growling.  

The house was still, bathed in night.  Stephen crept down the stairs, one solid in mind; storm the package.  He slinked down, quiet as a mouse.  He moved toward it silently, lest he wake it up and scare it away.  

Ba-dump.

He inched closer.

Ba-dump ba-dump.

He was nearly on top of it now.

Ba-dumpba-dumpba-dump.

It knew!  It knew he was closing in!  This gave Stephen pause, the sound coming even quicker.  He lowered his ear to the box, feeling it pulse.  It was a heart beating!  Stephen flew back up the stairs in terror, nearly tripping over himself at the climb back up to his room, through the door and under the covers where it was safe.  Stephen stayed up as long as he could under the covers and away from the beating heart.

"Stephen!  Come down!" Martha called to him.  Stephen looked at his phone.  No more days.  This was it.  Stephen slowly got up to face his doom.  Sweat began to bead on top of his forehead with each step down the staircase.  Martha held the imprisoned heart in her hands, a beaming smile on her face.  Stephen inched his way to her.  He could hear the heart beat faster.  

He took the gift form her and looked down at it.  He tore it open and smiled.  

"Thanks, Mom!"

"Merry Chistmas, dear." 


© Copyright 2019 Robin Goodfellow. All rights reserved.

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