I stared at him. “But- Wait, what? I don’t know anything about this… this… thing! How am I going to sort it out? You sort it! You know about it! You won’t even tell me what you know, how am I meant to do anything about it?”
He gave me a superior look. “Well you could stop whining for a start. Maybe you shouldn’t hold that, you’re too easy for it…”
I held the box away from him as he reached for it. “No. I am quite capable of holding a box. What do you mean, I’m too easy for it?”
“You’re-” He made a choking noise. Wonderful, the can was ‘stopping him talking’ again. Honestly, at this stage I was starting to look for the hidden cameras. Talk about over-acting…
“Oh, the can doesn’t want me to know what I am, huh?” I asked.
“No, which means you need to give me that box right now.”
“No. You were right, this is my fault and I should deal with it. I’ll just go and, I don’t know, pour this down a sink or something.”
And then I was on the ground again.
“What is wrong with you?” I roared at him and he stood with the box, “Tackling me doesn’t tend to turn out well, in case you hadn’t noticed!”
“Worked that time,” he pointed out, “Couldn’t let you carry it if you were talking about opening it. I’d have to be suicidal to let you do that and, tedious as talking to you is, I’m not quite there yet.”
I got up, dusting myself off. “Let me guess, if I open it whatever is in there gets out and kills us all?”
He made a disgusting noise, sounded like he was going to get sick. I jumped back in alarm and stared at him. He had begun nodding furiously.
“What the… Oh! It would kill us all.”
“It didn’t want me to say,” he coughed, “It really went to town with that block…”
“Violent thing, isn’t it?” I asked, secretly congratulating the thing in the can on causing him pain.
“You have no idea.” He stopped suddenly. Just stopped moving completely. I’d put money on it that he wasn’t even breathing. For a moment, I thought it was actually going to try and kill him and panicked. Putting him in pain was one thing, that was entertainment, but killing him meant I had no one else to blame if everyone did end up dead.
“Are you okay? Hey-” Cue realisation that I didn’t know his name. “Hey, you, are you okay?”
He backed away from me. “It already had you.”
“IT HAD YOU! The… the thing! It was in your head!”
“It was what now?”
“It can- can-” He gave a roar of frustration and threw the box across the room. “That’s better. It can control minds, basically. And personalities. It’s already done something to you.”
I remembered my sudden sympathy for the can in the line and it occurred to me that I might not have been as clueless as he clearly thought I was. Oh no… If it was… Oh no… I was going to have to step up the acting… “I doubt it has.”
“Oh no, it has. I know.”
“And how would you know that the thing has messed with my head if I don’t even know?”
“Because I’m special,” he said cheerfully, going to retrieve the box.
“Oh, you’re that all right,” I muttered under my breath.
“My family is in charge of preventing that thing getting out. So I have skills to help me do that. I know when someone’s been influenced.”
“Great, now you’re telling me you’re the guardian of the can and you have some kind of supernatural powers to help defeat evil. Right. Have fun there, I’m leaving before I start to actually believe this.”
“Guarantee you’ll have to believe it if you go outside,” he said with a smirk, carrying the box towards me.
“I’ll take my chances.”
He just laughed as I strode out through the door and along the corridor.