A small box peers at me from inside my mailbox. Although I wasn’t expecting any parcels, I pull it out and give it a good look. The box is wrapped in plain brown paper, and the little logos on it which proclaim it fragile and sensitive to water are straightforward enough. But all of the writing is in what appears, to my untrained eye, to be Chinese. There’s a series of numbers scrawled across the top, but other than that, I see no way for my English-speaking mailman to have known it was for me. Assuming it was for me. It could be anyone’s package….
Wait… Is the package humming?
I set the box gently on the ground and back away quickly, fully aware that at least one of my neighbors is probably watching.
Neighbors! I bet one of them put the package in my mailbox, just so they could laugh at my reaction to it making noise.
Except, as I look around, I see no evidence that anyone is paying any attention to me. I got home at the same time as usual, and checked the mail before going in, just like I always do. So whoever did it should be here now, shouldn’t they? What kind of joker doesn’t want to see the results of their prank?
Assuring myself that it’s just a recording, I pick the box up again and carry it toward the house. The humming had stopped, but it resumes as the package is moved. It must be something with a motion detector.
I put the parcel on the table inside the door, on top of all the mail I haven’t felt like dealing with yet. My shoes come off, as does my thick winter coat.
As I move around the house, my eyes keep going back to the box. Should I have left it outside? What if it’s a bomb? Who would send me a bomb, though? I don't have enemies; the idea that I might is completely laughable.
Knowing it’s going to drive me crazy until I open the silly thing, I grab a kitchen knife and slice through the packing tape.
Inside, there’s a piece of paper with more Chinese writing on it. Below that, is a wooden cage. And looking up at me from inside the cage is the cutest little critter I have ever seen. It’s only about the size of a squirrel, but the cage just barely fits the poor thing.
My chest clenches at the thought of leaving the little guy in such a confined space, but I’ve seen Gremlins too many times to open the door before finding a translation for that piece of paper.
Image prompt from Mediengruppe Bitnik
via Bliss Morgan's Nightmare Fuel Project