The Parcel

It is calm, there are no puzzles, the parcel arrives.

It is not so big, perhaps the size of your head.

It is a box, a sturdy cardboard box. There is a stamp on it but the postmark is illegible. You pick it up. It is heavy. You shake it — it makes a hissing noise.

You open it; excited. There is a creature inside. Made of metal. Metal wires. An ornament, like a giant spider made of metal wires. It is not pretty.

You feel disappointment.

Who would send you this? It is not pretty. You put it on the side next to the glasses. You look at it again. It is certainly not pretty.

You move it over near the window. The TV is turned on. You watch it for a while. You watch the metal creature also but it does not move. You don’t have long before you have to leave. You wish you could just sleep.

It is a friend’s birthday. Downtown. Everyone else will be drinking. But you can’t drink — not with the antibiotics. Everyone else will be having fun.

Downtown is bright. The bar is busy. You wonder if you really know any of your friends anymore or if they know you.

You take an antibiotic and crunch it in your mouth just to taste its ghastly bitter taste. You think of the spider creature at home. Burrowed warmly in your house.

The clock on your phone, as if on purpose, drags out every second. Eventually, you make your excuses and leave. Your friend hugs you. They are drunk all right.

You walk home from the tube slowly. Thinking things over. The spider-thing is waiting for you when you get in. It certainly isn’t pretty.

You put it back in its cardboard packaging and put it by the backdoor in the kitchen. It seems to hold some power but you know you should get rid of it. Tomorrow.

Up to bed. Another night sleeping alone. You’re glad you have the whole bed to yourself again.

You wake up. You can’t remember.

Did you have a nightmare?

What were you dreaming?

Did you even have a dream?

You try to remember but your mind is thick with cobwebs. The half-light makes everything unreal.

You go downstairs to get a glass of water and stub your toe. The ugly metal spider is at the bottom of the stairs. How the hell did it get there? You curse it.

In the kitchen the box is still by the backdoor. Wide open. You carry the creature from the foot of the stairs and place it back in its box. Tomorrow, you resolve, you will get rid of it.

Back in bed you cannot sleep for a long time. Thinking things over. Maybe you did have a nightmare.

Eventually it is morning. You have breakfast. You are not hungry but you munch the cereal anyway. Finally, once you have finished eating, you gain the courage to look back in the box. It is empty. As you suspected.

You look everywhere for the spider-thing but it is nowhere to be seen. Was it some kind of symbol? You feel a sense of absence. The label on the box reveals nothing — it is still quite illegible. It is calm, there are no puzzles.