I was about to doze off when the phone began to ring, curious I picked it up. It was my sweet, old friend. Before I could say a word, he began screaming down the phone. "Where is my package? Have you got it yet? Please, tell me you've got it" I tried to calm him down but he would have none of it He began his crazy yelling again. "It's after me, no, that's not right. It's been with me for years. It knows me and I know I'll never escape. You have to take this burden from me, I can't cope anymore. Please!" I just stared down the phone, he sounded frightened. Petrified even But what could I do? I told him that I'd keep an eye out for the package. He made me promise that I'd open it as soon as it arrived, then the line went dead. The phone call had drained the last vestiges of energy out of me so I collapsed into my chair. I felt I deserved it. And today had been an especially exhausting day. So right after dinner, I snuggled in with my bottle of red wine, my recently purchased copy of the latest book on the history of the novel, and the peace and quiet of a September night in the lesser known parts of Chichester.
With a sweet sip of the good stuff, page one. I didn't even get to the first word, when the Westminster chimes of my well-priced doorbell rang.
I went to the door and found nobody there, only a package wrapped in brown paper waiting for me to adopt it as something new of mine.
I have this thing about packages ... I just have to open them ... and when I opened this one, my life did take its turn.
After the phone call, the arrival of a package shocked me to my core. My friend had been terrified, of what, I'm not entirely sure, perhaps what was contained within. I had made a promise though and besides, I had to open it, it's just my way.
The brown paper slid off effortlessly to reveal an obsidian black cube underneath. It was covered with intricate carvings, geometric symbols and runic inscriptions unlike anything I had ever seen. I studied it for a moment, not daring to touch it almost as if I feared it would somehow be drawn in in drowned in the black depths of it's surfaces. It was disturbingly familiar.
I sat down again and looked at it, trying to remember where I last saw it. Then it hit me. My friend and I had found it during a digg in Gozo. The area had been littered in the skeletal remains of human sacrifices and the the digg had been plagued with terrible accidents but we had retrieved the object. My friend had taken it to the British National Museum as part of his magnum opus, a huge exhibit on occult artifacts. I hadn't heard from him since, but I had assumed he had done well for himself, I myself had been busy doing other jobs overseas and I only recently got back. It seemed like things hadn't gone quite as well for him as I had assumed. Now, I was faced with this conundrum.
It sat their silently, almost malevolently. It seemed to suck the light from the room. It was ominous, mysterious and yet utterly intriguing. Cautiously, I reached out to touch it and then I soon learned the meaning of my friends plea when he said 'you have to take this burden'. Ten thousand years of agony and torture poured into my head and I could hear the box laughing as every image, every sensation burned it's way into my soul. I knew that the box would never leave me then. It let me know it's nature only because it was yet another way to torture me, knowing that I could do nothing to stop it.
It was a parasite, an archive. It had existed before the dawn of man, chronicling misery, pain and suffering. It needed a host, something to carry it through the ages, something to provide the sustenance of suffering it needed to survive so it could continue it's unholy purpose.
As I lay there twitching with agony, being driven mad by it malignant, grotesque tendrils of hate as they burrowed through my skull, I could think only of my friends betrayal. And I admired him for it, for managing to stay sane long enough to pass it on to someone else before he was completely destroyed.
I knew what I had to do then, I had to get rid of the box, I had to find someone, anyone to take it from me. I crawled to the phone and jabbed at the handset. It began ringing and the quiet voice of a 7 year old girl answered.
"Dad, is that you? You don't sound so good."