An Unsuspecting Delivery

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A team of individuals band together to complete a common goal. Their hard work rests in the hands of one man chosen to carry out their wishes. What lies inside the painstakingly protected package?

Submitted: July 25, 2013

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Submitted: July 25, 2013

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A cacophony of ringing phones and rushing footsteps echoed through the room. Members of the crew frantically dodged past the others in order to answer the calls before it was too late. They quickly jotted down the pending orders and passed them along the respective lines. The margin of error was slim. The urgency and importance of each action grew along with the darkness brought by the fading sun. After all, this was an industry fueled by darkness. The unwillingness of others to step away from safety and comfort allowed these willing individuals to begin their work.

This crusade began only a week ago. The green recruits still showed signs of inexperience, but the situation demanded their immediate activation. Idle hands were not tolerated. The veterans of the crew occupied an alarmingly small portion of the roster. Although other matters constantly competed for their attention, they still looked for every opportunity to pass down their knowledge and experience to help integrate the upcoming generation. The glory days of a self-reliance and efficiency achieved through a lean, battle-hardened workforce only existed in the memories of those who lived through it. The opening of a new front spread the current force dangerously thin.

One of the more recent orders glided out of the printer and into the hands of Jay, a senior member of the organization. It only took the Montanan native a quick glance at the jumble of letters to understand his duties. He immediately sprang into action with a speed only seasoned veterans possessed. His finesse turned into delicateness while he prepared what he had been instructed to create. Referring to the item as “the package” became an appropriate cliché used by the crew. When he felt confident in the integrity of what was being made, he carefully passed the item along.

The man on the receiving end of the package was endearingly referred to as “The Cook”. The others took various pieces and items and formed just that- a collection of pieces and items. The job of The Cook required him to take this inanimate, seemingly useless concoction of objects and breathe life into it. He skillfully tinkered with what was given to him and added where he saw fit. To complete his task, he needed to apply sufficient amounts of heat to his creation. This molded everything together and solidified this once jumbled mess into a singular item with a singular purpose.

As he released the metal box towards its final stage of preparation, he stared conflicted at its contents. The hundreds of times he had completed this task before failed to stifle the sense of pride he felt. No other task brought as much fulfillment to his life as this did. Even his troubled past failed to overshadow one simple, uncontested truth: he was the best. But among this praise and fulfillment, tinges of guilt crept into his mind. What some saw as a glorious, necessary creation, others saw as a deadly killer. It had no conscience to choose its victims with, and many times gave no warning before it struck. Even the selection of each person appeared seemingly random- man and woman, young and old- those affected almost always felt undeserving.

But ethics was not the discussion for the day- mission completion was the only goal. Upon completion, the package fell into the hands of Franco “The Cutman” Kurkovich. He occupied the final role of the back room activities. He oversaw all shipment preparation operations, and with his blessing, the package was released into careful hands for transportation. From here, the operation saw daylight for the first time. Outside forces received their first opportunity to meddle in the affairs and hard work of the crew.

These facts made Franco uneasy as he hesitantly yelled out for the responsible driver. A younger man, new to the business, excitedly changed directions in order to meet Franco. Kurkovich grudgingly handed over the box containing what so many had worked for. The young man clumsily reached for the box only to have it quickly pulled away.

“Rob, for the last time, careful. One slip and all of this was meaningless.”

“Sorry, sir,” Rob sheepishly replied, “it won’t happen again.”

Franco extended the package towards Rob again. The former suburban kid warily latched onto it with a tight grip that betrayed his calm exterior and exposed the nervousness that festered inside him. A half smirk could be seen on the face of The Cutman as Rob walked away. He had seen dozens of hot new recruits join the crew with a youthful passion, only to weed themselves out through incompetence. Rob was different though. He wasn’t a top recruit and lacked any real experience in the business. Sure he was talented, but logic argued his time here would be short. But Franco was never a fan of logic. Something about the quirky kid gave him the impression Rob had what it took.

Rob read over his assignment for the fifth time. His jitters began to take control as he sat the package down and turned the ignition. One final glance at his objective and he sped off. He quickly distanced himself from the small, tucked away building he just left. The surrounding area contained nothing special, but its normality may have been its greatest asset. Rob’s vehicle merged seamlessly into the oncoming traffic, making him just another log floating down the river. No one gave the gray SUV a second look.

A large part of Rob’s job consisted of safely navigating the roads. A simple traffic violation or fender bender could wrinkle the operation past what anyone could successfully iron out. Not to mention possibly damage the package beyond fixing. Rob’s skill behind the wheel had never been something he questioned, but the added stress of balancing speed and caution caused him to imagine he was on the road for the first time.

A green turned yellow startled him, causing him to slam on his brakes. The car behind him quickly reacted, screeching to a halt only inches away from contact. He glanced into the rearview mirror and saw an angry glare being directed at him. He stared back, unable to break the disapproving stare. A sharp horn startled him from the trance. The adrenaline forced his foot down on the gas and the SUV jerked forward. He checked the package for any disruption, repositioning it into a more secure location. Upon looking up from the distraction, instinct took over forcing him to vigorously tap the breaks as he sped past a police officer. Now was no time for interference of the law- people depended on him.

Calming himself down, he reoriented and continued toward the rally point. Deep breaths flew in and out of his lungs as he weaved in and out of traffic with a newfound precision.

“Turn left!” his GPS called in soft-spoken British accent. He reacted quickly, veering the car into the turn lane and onto the intersecting street. He glanced at his watch and then at the time of arrival.

“Three more minutes,” he thought to himself.

With an end in sight, he unconsciously pressed the accelerator down further.  He zipped down the narrow street and rolled through a stop sign, scanning the horizon for watchful eyes. Confident he was in the clear, he punched the gas one last time to bring him right up to his destination. Rob pressed the brakes as the car pulled to the side of the rode, carelessly resting halfway in the grass. He grabbed the package and jumped from the vehicle only to realize the orders were incomplete.

He fumbled for his phone as he stood exposed in a large courtyard, surrounded by buildings. A passerby stared oddly at him while he called the number on the paper he had been given. He mumbled something to the voice on the other end.

“2-3-5-8,” confirmed the man in a deep tone.

With the final piece he required, he ignored the continued stares and frantically walked across the courtyard trying not to draw anymore unnecessary attention to himself. He repeated the numbers to himself in his head as he scanned one of the buildings again.

“There!” he exclaimed to himself, and quickly changed direction.

He walked up to the large, heavy door and paused. Recomposing himself, he took one last deep breath, and wrapped his knuckles against the finely finished wood. His watch ticked away as he waited motionless. He contemplated knocking again, nervous the answer wouldn’t come. As he lifted his fist one last time, he heard the distinct “click” of a padlock being turned on the other side of the oak door. The handle turned, and the opening door exposed a large, burly man. The man cracked a smile as if he was expecting the young man the entire time. They held each other’s gaze for a brief moment.

Rob broke the silence first with a sheepish greeting and extended what he held in his hands towards the man. Upon receiving it, the man opened the container and peered inside. Satisfied everything was correct, he pulled out a messy stack of cash and slid it to Rob. Once the exchange was made, the heavy door was slammed. Rob counted the cash on his way to his car.

“An $8.00 tip,” he said aloud as he climbed back into his car. He smiled, and set the pizza delivery bag down in the passenger seat. The smell of mushrooms still lingered around him as he sped back down the road. 


© Copyright 2018 Sam Culper. All rights reserved.

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