Damn, Daniel

The delivery van was a nice model, a Mercedes Benz, and it came with an XM Radio that had so many channels, Daniel gave up after reaching 557. He liked to listen to loud music when he was driving; metal, drum and bass. Anything that’d keep him awake and alert, since driving around the seemingly endless suburban sprawl outside of Las Vegas was monotonous enough to have made him fall asleep at the wheel once already. The van cost something like $50,000 all kitted out like it was, and Daniel knew that $50K was a debt he’d never be able to pay off.

That was one reason he was driving a van instead of going to college, actually.

Daniel drove, and dropped off packages at the addresses pre-programmed into the van’s GPS. Every day, the same routine. Pick up the van at 10am. On the road by 10:15am. Stop for a large coffee at Starbucks. Back on the road by 10:30am. First drop off by 11am. Lunch at 1pm. Drop the van off at 8pm. Go home. Sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

Naturally, he wondered what was inside the boxes he delivered. Sometimes he thought they were sex toys. The generic boxes would be a perfect housing for a Japanese sex doll, like he’d seen online, (Not that he was shopping, just another night diving deep into the weirder recesses of the internet) or maybe some sort of sex swing for a dungeon some seemingly vanilla High School teacher had hidden in her basement. Sometimes he thought they were filled with something more sinister; drugs, guns, or body parts, maybe. Something that would make the $50,000 van he drove around in make some sort of sense.

But mostly, he just didn’t give a shit.

They paid him $22 an hour, which was a shit ton more than he made delivering pizza, so he just showed up, clocked in, drove around, dropped off packages, and listened to music. His parents were ecstatic when he’d saved enough to move out on his own, and now he went home to a moderately sized one-bedroom in a complex seemingly identical to the complexes he passed day after day.

He’d gotten sick of the Heavy Metal station (they kept playing 80’s hair metal, and while he wasn’t a snob, Daniel could only stomach “Girls, Girls, Girls” so many times), and he didn’t feel like he was in the mood for chest-rattling electronic music, so he kept spinning the dial until he hit 558. He turned the volume down; high enough to hear, but low enough that the white-noise didn’t drive him crazy. This high on the dial, it was mostly empty sports stations filled with the ambient noise of a lonely skater on the ice rink or the arrhythmic bounce of a basketball on parquet flooring, but as he got up into the 800s, he noticed the display started to change.

When he got to 853, he almost crashed into another car. He rolled right through the stop sign, and barely heard the blaring horn of the Prius he’d almost sideswiped.

“Damn, Daniel. Took you long enough.”

He pulled over, and put the van in park, and started at the display. The LED flickered from Blue to Green to Yellow to Red and back to Blue, but the words never changed. They just scrolled across the screen.

“Damn, Daniel. Took you long enough.”

When he turned up the radio, all he could hear was breathing.

Steady. Even.

And finally.

“Damn, Daniel. Better get home. Quick, before it’s too late.”

That was when all hell broke loose.

(Continued next week.)

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