You visit your local post office after moving to a new town to send a letter to some friends back home. When the postman reads your name his eyes light up with recognition. “I can’t believe you’ve finally showed up! This has been here for ages” He retrieves you a strange looking package.
I blew dust off of the top and tore at the paper. Many different layers of paper had kept it safe on the shelf, though all were old as hell, tattered, and fragile. Underneath, well oiled wood, treated and sealed. I looked over top of the box and stared at the post man.
He shrugged. “It’s been sitting in the back for… well, I don’t really know. The old man died before he got around to showing me the old stuff.”
I set the box down, ignoring the odd rattle inside, and picked up the packing slip. The stamp had decayed to the point of unreadability, and the address had been similarly destroyed by water damage.
“Looks pretty old though; you know any collectors?”
Carefully, I sifted through the paper I’d torn, and put scraps of paper back together, my eyebrow raising with each date. It’d been shipped sometime in the 00s, given the top layer… and then the 60s. 30s. The last century. The century before that, and then some, and then it dissolved into completely illegible characters.
“And this is for me?”
“Yeah,” The postman said. “Like I said, you know any collectors? Looks like someone found and old package and-“
By this point, I was poking at the edge of the box. The wood was vaguely warm. Must’ve been left in a sunbeam, it’d explain why the paper was so tattered. “What do you think it is?”
“I don’t know, I’ve been dying to find out!” The postman said, leaning in. I frowned, and looked up at him. He shrugged, though his eyes remained locked on the box.
“So, what?” I asked. “Just open it?”
His head tilted to the side. “Sure, go for it.”
“Right here?” I asked.
“Yep,” He said, lazily. “Look, it’s a small town, I don’t get to do a lot around here-“
I pressed my fingers against the wood, and against everything that made sense, it grew peculiarly warmer. Then I cracked the lid, now more curious than I’d been before, and the letter I had brought with me fell on the ground.
All that was inside of the box, after I got the latch off, was a single glass sphere. “Huh,” I said.
“Well?” The man said. “What is it?”
I reached forward and touched it, very carefully, with my index finger.
Warmth turned into heat turned into burning, and the entire thing lit up like an LED. I yelped and shoved the box away from me, and it fell off of the counter and hit the ground. “Shit, do you think it’s broken?”
“Oh, lord, let me check!” He knelt down and nudged the box. I waited for a second, my heart starting to pound. What the actual hell had that been?
When the postman surfaced, he had a gun instead of the box. I stared dumbly at it. “What?”
“Guess it’s my lucky day,” The postman said. “I’ve been so tired of pretending to be a post man, chasing this stupid package.”
My eyes were locked on the steely surface. I could see the light reflect off of the revolver, inlaid mother of pearl decorating the hilt. He carried it like he’d been waiting for this for years.
“Well?” he asked.
“Any last words?”
“What’s happening?!” I squeaked.
The postman raised his leg and stomped down on the box. Wood splintered and broke, and glass shattered.
“Taking care of a problem before it starts. Nothing personal, it’s just the way it has to be.”
And I took a step back, and then another, the gun trained on my chest.
“God, I just wanted to send a fucking letter.”
“Sucks,” The man said, and then beneath his foot, the glass broke again. He paused, staring at me, and then turned the gun down to face the ground instead.
He fired once into the wood, and then an arm shot out from behind the clear counter and grabbed him by the leg. Long, thin, black, ebony, with grasping fingers.
I took another step back. Where the hell were the rest of the employees? Where was anyone?
He fired again, and again, and then kicked the box to the other side of the room, and I dove behind the shelves of shipping boxes before he could turn the gun back on me. Wood splintered to the side, and the lights flickered.
Then it exploded and the thing came out of the orb entirely. A dozen eyes gleamed across a vulpine head, teeth as long as daggers, and muscles as mere suggestions for his form. Crawling whispers of hideous flesh flickered, glowing with some inner light and heat. Then all dozen dozen eyes centered on the man with the gun in front of it.
“Well,” The man said, gun still pointed at the creature. I had been forgotten for the moment. “This is going to be hell to explain to HQ.”
I ran like hell through the doors and didn’t look back.