Author Topic: Unit 65: Plain Package (Final version)  (Read 944 times)

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on: 04:45 PM, 12/ 8/17
The sound of sheet metal sliding against other sheet metal was mixed only with the grunts of a few people moving boxes and soft radio chatter. My storage unit stood open in front of me, containing, well, exactly what one might expect: About a dozen plain packaged boxes with hand drawn labels on them, an old silver painted disassembled metal bed frame, a mattress wrapped in plastic and a white vanity that had been collecting dust.

I looked over my shoulder as I made my way into the unit. No one was watching me, but I couldn’t shake that feeling.  I could see some people milling around their own units and clearing them out. I kept an eye on them for a few moments.

Ever since I lost my last job and started this new one, it felt like I was being watched constantly. My work encouraged me to have a good sense of who was watching me and who could hear me. My sort of work will do that to even the most stable minded of people. It always felt like someone was out to get me.

Even though I wasn’t working, it always felt like I was. But I was willing to put up with that sort of paranoia: the pay was good, if a bit inconsistent. That reminded me that I needed to stop at a hardware store on my way home to pick up a few things for work tonight.

I started to walk into the unit, pulling my coat tighter. “Ay, fuck me tits it’s cold.” I grumbled quietly, “It’s only October an’ I can feel me toes goin’.”

“Everything ok?” A somewhat gruff voice came from behind me, I looked over to see one of the cops standing there, he couldn’t have been older than me. He was bigger though, somehow. He must have been as tall as I am at 6’2”, but much broader than I. I imagined he played football at one point.

I felt a tight feeling in my chest, my breathing felt like it picked up and caught in my throat at the same time. It made speaking harder than it needed to be.

“No I am fine, just thinkin’ ‘bout where I’m gonna put all this stuff when I get it home,” I said with a forced smile.

“Alright well. Let us know if you need help or somethin’,” He said as he walked further down. As he walked off, the tightness in my chest started to subside. It let me exhale the breath I was holding.

I turned back to the task at hand. I was alone, but most of this stuff was pretty light. A box of ‘luxuriant china’, as my wife said (I always thought they looked fuck ugly). There was a box with some old video games in it (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was my favorite of them), a few DVDs and a few accessories in it. Things like an old computer steering wheel, a few remotes and an old keyboard.

One box caught my eye though, and I felt the need to go through it. On the outside of it, someone, probably me, had written ‘Angus’s’. I opened the box up and found only a few items. It was an old chess set, themed after Wizards and Warlocks, a cassette tape that was the full Master of Puppets album that my dad gave me and three CDs. They weren't full albums, instead they just were mixes. I couldn’t remember what was on them and I wasn’t in the mood to find out. The box had a few other things but nothing jumped out at me.

As I was closing the box, the police officer from before walked into the unit. He didn’t look too happy to be forced to walk back my way.

“Apparently,” He said with a slight annoyance in his voice, “we need to be helping people put stuff away. Ya sure this’ll all fit in your car?” He said as he jerked a thumb to my car, a Dodge Journey.

“Yea, should be fine,” I said, feeling that same nervous tightness in my chest. “Seats are down and we can put stuff on the mattress.”

“Alright, well, let’s move that first,” he said as he walked over to it. Of the 12 boxes in the unit, I hadn’t put any into my car.

I walked over with him, grabbing the mattress from the back side to carefully lift it and start moving to the car. That’s when I saw it, and I felt my heart fall into a stomach full of butterflies.

It was a small, unmarked rectangular box. I couldn’t remember why I hid it behind the mattress but I could remember that if the cops opened it, I’d be in a lot of trouble. My pulse quickened as my breath caught. I felt like I was frozen in place.

“You gonna move this thing or not?!” The gruff voice snapped me back to reality.

“Uh. um. Y-yea, sorry. Just uh. Thought I saw a spider! Bit afraid of the crawly buggers.” I said as I quickly shuffled forward, trying to find any reason to look somewhere else.

It took only a minute or two to move the mattress and load it into the back of my car. Once it was on the car, I had to restrain myself. He may not ask questions, but what if he did? Whatever was in this box. This wasn’t worth dealing with at all. If I walked too fast would he say something? If I went right for it, he would say something wouldn’t he?

We both turned to walk back into the unit. I tried to casually make my way towards the box on the floor that was behind the mattress. I didn’t have a chance, he had walked over towards it and the Box labeled ‘Angus’s’. He bent down to grab the small box. I thought my heart might beat out of my chest as he touched it.

He placed it on the other box, picking it up as well. He noticed I was looking at him, “You got somethin’ to say? Somethin’ I need to know about it?” My heart was drumming in my ears as he spoke.

“Ah! Oh, um, no. I was just goin’ ta pick that box up is all. But, if you got it,” I felt like my throat had collapsed and I was having to force these words out, “then it’s all good.” I nodded once or twice, turning to face the vanity. “Maybe we should move this first.”

“Well, I’ve already got this. Let me set it down first.” He had started walking towards my car. The small box on top bigger one was starting to slide around with each step. The shiny duct tape must have made it slide easier.

“Hit him. No one else is watching,” a small voice said, right next to my ear. It made me jump in place, but with his back towards me he didn’t see it.

I started to pull the vanity closer to the car. It didn’t have a mirror so it should fit over the mattress easily. I stole a quick glance over to the officer. As I did, I saw the small package drop to the floor. It had slid off the box and was sailing to the floor because of the careless cop.

My heart fell back into my stomach, almost like it belonged there now. Surely it would break open and something would spill out. Mentally, I was ready to rush him and jump into my car. I wasn’t sure I could overpower him. I wasn’t the strongest of people and he probably could out shoulder me easily.

Not like it mattered though, the package had just squished against the concrete and nothing else was heard from it. Nothing leaked out, nothing cracked, no noise what so ever.

“Here, I’ll get that.” I said as he stepped over the package. I quickly scooped it up and put it in my passenger’s seat. At least it was secure now and hopefully he didn’t ask about it.

The rest of the time loading boxes didn’t feel nearly as eventful. It happened in silence, and every time he got near the car, I could feel my hands tremble slightly. Part of me wanted to just open it now and see what was inside. I was so distracted with what it could be that I barely noticed that car was loaded with the rest of the boxes, the bed frame and vanity.

“You only had one unit right?” He said with a hand resting on his belt.

“Yea, jus’ the one. I’ll be on my way then. Have a good one,” I replied as I took a tentative step to my car.

He just grunted a goodbye and left. All the pressure in my chest released at once, and I exhaled like I had just breached the surface of water after falling in. I hope he didn’t hear that.

I turned to the unit and slid the door closed. I didn’t think I was gonna miss the noise of sheet metal rubbing on sheet metal any time soon. I got into my car and placed the package in the passenger seat. As I started to drive out, I carefully placed a fingertip against the tape.

“...Nah, I’ll open it at home, jus’ to be safe.” And then I drove out of the storage facility.