An old episode of The Twilight Zone popped into my head about a wooden box which, whoever opened it would receive instant riches, but, unbeknownst to them, whoever was standing on the exact opposite side of the world, would die. If I knew that this living box was going to vomit money all over me as soon as I opened it, but someone I would never know would die instantly, would I do it? I don't know. But it doesn't matter, because there wasn't money in the box.
I completed the cut, somehow (at least for now) blocking out the horrifying moaning sound that was escaping from the slit. I was sweating profusely. Beads of sweat the size of breakup-tears fell from my upturned brow onto the table in front of me, landing in a small drop of the pinkish discharge from the box, thinning it out to the consistency of strawberry Quik. Part of me flinched in defense when I pulled out the blade, perhaps expecting it to explode the second it was opened. As I pulled out the scalpel….nothing. Same box. Still breathing. Still leaking. Hints of light showing through the slit. The only main difference was that now, it was SCREAMING. Too loud to dismiss. Whereas before, I got the FEELING it was communicating with me. But now, it was plain as day. The box was screaming at me. And it hurt my ears. My nose clogged and I couldn't breathe for a moment. But the vibrations also soothed me, and forced my eyes to flutter in a way that was surprisingly relaxing. Its voice caused me to feel as though I was floating. My selective hearing moved the scream to the muffled court of my eardrums, while I sat there, hovering and staring at the cut open lid of the box.
The screaming morphed into a gentle lull, the sound of a human attempting to imitate an air conditioner. The breathing stopped. And I swear the "skin" was even changing colors, adopting a more olive hue. "Was it dying?" I thought. Was the sound of screaming its blood? Was the tape I sliced through its heart? As it sat there, seemingly withering away before my eyes, the single lamp next to the sofa-bed began to flicker, then turn off completely. Next it was the SANDMAN sign outside of my window. Flicker. Flicker…zzzzsst. The TV, which was the only source of light left, followed immediately. Coincidentally serving as an eerily appropriate narrator to what was happening, Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka character filled the TV screen as his group of merry winners descended into the factory's bowels:
"There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing"
And Father Time gave Mr. Wonka just enough time to belt out this last line:
"Not a speck of light is showing…"
And the TV shut off.
For the first time since I moved in this apartment, I was in complete darkness. And though I couldn't see even 6 inches in front of my eyes, I still know what it feels like when something wraps around my forearms. And that's exactly what was happening. Something was wrapping itself around my forearms. Something thin, and fibrous. And there were a lot of them. Because it was pitch black, I can't tell you what it really was. But I imagine if I cut open my wrist from the bottom of my palm to the crease where my radius attached to my humerus, and set my tendons free to explore, and wrap themselves around my other arm, it would feel similar to this.
The tendons from the darkness tightened around my arms and began pulling me toward the box. I planted my feet firmly against the carpet, tilted back my neck, and a full-on game of tug of war was in play.
As I resisted, the tendons squeezed tighter and grew more abundant, edging their way up so that now my entire arms up to my shoulders were covered. The hair on my neck was standing at attention, ready to battle anything that came near it, though it would no doubt fail. You have to admire the nobility that lies in your body hair sometimes. My eyes were starting to adjust to the darkness, but still, I couldn't make out anything feasible. I managed to pop 2 of my right fingers from the grasp of the tendons, and was able to blindly feel around on the table. I felt the cold handle of the scalpel and I clumsily picked it up, balancing it perfectly between my 2 fingers.
Almost instinctively, I flicked my fingers in a backward motion and was able to jab whatever it was that was wrapping itself around me. That tiny jab startled it enough to loosen its grip on my right hand, and I yanked my arm free, fully grasping the scalpel now. In a leap of faith, I randomly stabbed and sliced in the vicinity of my left arm until I felt that grip loosen too.
I heard the sound of a trio of wet ropes being dragged upon a garbage bag, and I knew it was the sound of retreat. The last of the tendons brushed against my fingernails as they withdrew, and a loud SLAM (like a cellar door violently closing) came from the box.
And the lights came on. Gene Wilder's odd looking face returned to the television screen. The Sandman sign chirped back into operation. The fleshy box, staring at me in a mockingly innocent manner. Fuck this.
I swept up the box as quickly as I could. I took 4 large strides to the blood-stained glass, opened the window, and threw the box out, not giving a shit who it hit below…
<>I can't help but be put in mind of the front of berth. Y'know? The blob thing with all the green glowing lights coming out of it? Does that have anything to do with this story? Will we ever know? And also, has he turned into mr box head yet? Or am I not reading it right?!