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Fiction

I hear the doorbell. I hear a voice. I hear plop.


I'm assuming it's a package. Is it a package? Why would it be a package? I haven't ordered anything, have I?


I go to my laptop and sign in to my account.


Email or mobile phone number:

XXXXXXX@yahoo.com


Password:

XXX-XXX-XXXX


I click on Orders.


Nothing.


The last thing I purchased was a non-ticking light-up clock for bed. My old one was dim, loud. The ticking... the ticking put me on edge. The darkness... oh, the darkness hurled me off it.


Tick. tick. tick—


But enough. The point is I haven't ordered anything since then. And yet, here's a package at my door. I check my recent account log-ins. Could someone have hacked into my account?


I think someone hacked into my account.


I check my phone for any "suspicious activity" notifications. None. It's already 7:00 p.m. What have I done with my day? I need to make dinner. I have work in 10 hours.


Tick. tick. tick—


On second thought, maybe no one hacked into my account. Maybe this was hand-delivered. I think back.


I think of something.


Last week, I got into a disagreement with the new neighbor, Edward. A spat. Let's call it a little spat.


He's a rather quiet man, from what I can see. A lonely, quiet man with a large dog. Loki? Logo? I can't remember its name. Anyway, sometimes, he lets the dog around his front yard without a cord.


I like dogs. Please believe me, I like dogs. But this dog has snarled at me on several occasions. Once when I approached my car parked near Edward's house (I don't like to park by my house in case I'm being followed) and again when I knocked at Edward's door to return the hose I borrowed.


I'm not talking about barking. I'm talking about snarling.


I like to take brisk walks now and then, but I haven't lately. I've stayed in my house when I'd otherwise have walked around the cul-de-sac.


Isn't that wrong? I think that's wrong—to keep inside for fear of the neighbor's dog! I didn't move to the only cul-de-sac in town without curbs to be mauled to death by the neighbor's dog. There are kids around, too. I know Beth wants Edward to do something about it. It's only right.


And so, finally, the other day, I said to Edward what I'd been thinking. What others have been thinking for months!


"He really should be on a leash."


The quiet man suddenly became not so quiet. He had a vein in his head that swelled how big, it could have broken through his skin. The nerve! I figured out a little too late that he was not quiet for being meek or mild. He was like a time bomb sort of quiet.


Tick. tick. tick—


Could he have left this package for me? What about the voice? A delivery man would announce himself. Would Edward? Maybe he would in order to seem like a delivery man. No, that's all too painstaking for a man like Edward. Plus, I've kept an eye on him since our quarrel. Why? Well, I don't want to bump into him again, exactly. And the dog. Maybe in a month or so. I also worry he's been watching me.


My stomach's like a stone. Hard, heavy. Like the plop. I think something's in that package. What is? Something. I'm not sure what, or I wouldn't be asking myself these questions. Something bad. Edward was very upset. Why are you so concerned? Why do you want to know? I'm sorry, I don't mean to call you into question. It's just that—


I'm not going to open it. I'm not going to touch it. It can't be good. A bomb? Poison?


Tick. tick. tick—


No, both are too predictable. But then, maybe that's it. Maybe that's the trick. To catch me unawares, on a Tuesday of all days. A warm, old, medium Tuesday in August. Perhaps "the" day.


What do I mean by that? Well, I know enough to know "the" day will arrive. The one when it all turns. When the other shoe drops. The inevitable occurs.


I'll call the police to come to get it. I won't say it's a bomb. It might not be a bomb, although Edward does have a workshop in his garage, and he is awfully quiet. Maybe Logo's his guard dog.


I don't want to alarm the police. I've learned in my 37 years of life not to jump to the worst conclusions.


It might not be a bomb. It could be anything. It could be anything...


Tick. tick. tick—


I'll check it for misspelled words. And is there a return address? Hold on, I'll look from the window.


....


Everything appears fine on the labels, but it looks slightly lopsided. Is it lopsided? I think it is, but I can't tell much from this angle, and my door has frosted glass on it. I could check to see if it's lopsided? Find out if there are any odors or stains. No, I can't handle the package. No matter what, I can't handle the package. Perhaps, I'll let this alone? It could be a gift. My birthday is coming up. I'll leave the package there for now.


No? You want to know more? To see what's in it, do you? You do. Are you the one who sent the package? Why else would you be reading this? Why else would you want so much to know what's in it? You want me to open the door. You'd like to see what happens next. You'd like to know whether your plan is successful.


Okay, I'll do it out of spite. I'll open the door and get that package, unwind it, grip its contents. Isn't it all the same whether I open the package or don't? If it's not this package, there will be another package. And another. Another.


Isn't it all the same whether you get me or Edward does? Or someone in the middle of the night...


Tick. tick. tick.


Waiting for that second in the dark...


Tick. tick. tick.


When I calm myself to sleep...


Tick. tick. tick.



November 28, 2021 21:24

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3 comments

Lore Ax Horton
19:02 Dec 05, 2021

Dang!! I REALLY wanted to find out what was in the package... I'm so curious about your writing process. Are you a raw writer? One who writes without thought, plot, editing? Do these stories just medium themselves through you? Whatever the process...I'm envious. I adore your work. I've structured my entire life in a way that maximizes my time to think, read, write. Your stories delight me. Thanks for being a published writer!! Keep up the entertainment, please.

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Nix ♞
02:31 Dec 06, 2021

Gee, thank you, Lore! I appreciate your feedback. Truthfully, I just run with my first thought and let everything roll out.

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Lore Ax Horton
17:18 Dec 07, 2021

Your writing is so good Nix!! Keep it rolling please oh please. I'm all excited because your work leaves me wanting more! More from the stories themselves, and more stories. Thanks for sharing your process. I suppose I thought I recognized the style as it's similar to my own. But...when it comes to publishing I get lost in editing. Keep it raw!

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