Five Minute Fiction 89
Five Minute Fiction is an ongoing experiment. The goal: To write as much as I can in five minutes, letting the fingers do the work, then go back and clean it up.
This entry is the continuation of last week’s entry.
Return To Sender: Part 3
Mike leaned forward, hands clasped together under his chin as if in prayer, studying the box. It looked harmless enough. Just a small thing, about the size of a deck of cards. He reached out and poked it with a finger as if he expected it to burn him at the slightest touch.
“Go on,” Scott said. “What’s the matter? Scared?”
“Yeah, right,” Mike said with a nervous laugh. Gripping the box between thumb and forefinger he shook it but felt nothing shift inside the cardboard container. “You say that you’ve already opened this, right?” he asked.
“Jesus. What’s your problem? Just open it. Trust me.”
“Alright, but if something jumps out at me I’m going to kick your ass like I did in the sixth grade.”
“Duly noted,” Scott said with a grin.
Lowering his head to the table, nearly eye-level with the box, Mike anchored it down with one hand and pulled at the twine slipknot with the other until it came loose in a puff of loose, dusty fibers. Setting the twine off to the side, he placed a finger on either corner of the loose box top and slowly lifted until the front half cleared the top of the box, exposing a small sliver of shadow. He couldn’t see anything through the gloom. “Is this thing empty?” he asked Scott.
“Yes…and no,” Scott replied. “Keep looking.”
Peering into the void, keeping his attention focused on the thin, inky gap between box and lid, Mike kept his steady gaze focused on the dark, stagnant interior of the grey box.
And then he saw something. Two pinpoints of light, like distant lightning bugs dancing in the darkness, blinking in unison.
A mist, thin at first but growing thicker and more noticeable with each passing moment, began to seep out of the murk, bubbling over the edge of the box and on to the surface of the table like a silent, roiling waterfall.
Mike felt something push against the top of the lid he held between his fingers. A slight, steady pressure, so weak that he barely felt it, but there was no mistaking that whatever was inside that box wanted out. Then the thing began twitching. Vibrating. As if a dozen angry fists were thrumming at their cardboard cage like raining hammers, desperate for release.
The mist bubbling out of the box now covered the table top like low-lying fog in the marshlands of some cliched horror movie. The frenzied pounding inside that finite space was growing stronger and more determined. The lights, at first tiny pin pricks of light floating in space were now the size of marbles, flashing on and off like…
My God, thought Mike, those are eyes.
Inhuman yellow orbs with spear-shaped alligator irises stared out at him from the confining prison of its corrugated enclosure. They looked at him, studied him with cold, unfeeling reptilian emotion.
Mike screamed a strange, strangling sound like a paralyzed man drowning in an inch of water, and closed the box, slamming his palm on the lid. Gripping it firmly in his hand, he reached out for the twine and quickly wrapped it around the box, tying the ends together in a crude but effective knot.
The box stopped twitching, and the mist on the table top disappeared as if cleared away by a sudden gust of wind. “What the hell was that?!” Mike asked, drawing uncomfortable stares from the customers seated around them.
“Yeah. That,” Scott said, still grinning, showing off bits of food stuck between his front teeth. “It’s just what it says on the side of the box. That’s a Monster Ghost. Or at least I think it is. Cost me all of one dollar. Pretty crazy, huh?”
“Crazy ain’t the word for it,” Mike said, tossing the box at Scott who snatched it at mid-arc and placed it back into his jacket pocket. Taking a nervous slug from a glass of water, he wiped his lips with the back of his hand he looked at Scott. “Let me see that comic again.”
Scott handed over his beat up copy of Amazing Adventure Stories to Mike, who leafed through the pages until he came upon the ad once again. Laying the book flat on the table, he smoothed out the pages and examined them. The mail-in coupon was gone, but underneath the name of the company at the top of the page, in tiny block letters, was an address.
Mike grinned, but in his nervous state it looked more like the uncomfortable grimace of someone suffering from a toothache.
“Come on,” he said, standing up. “Pay the bill. We need to find a computer.”