(Click here to catch up with Part 1)
Postage Due, Pandora - Part 2
Katie uttered a small grunt of disgust, and flung the marble across the room, where it happened to go through the door, into her bathroom. She hurried after it and slammed the door, hoping it wouldn’t be able to roll underneath. Her heart was racing. She waited a few minutes to see if the eye would come back. It was silent, except for her mother’s muffled singing coming up the stairs outside.
She went back to the bed and sat down. She picked up the box and lay back to study it. The inside was black velvet, much like her other jewelly boxes, but this stuff was darker than anything she’d ever seen before. It must have been an illusion, but she couldn’t see the bottom of the box. She held it up to the light, and still the blackness persisted, and seemed to go on forever.
Katie’s train of thought broke off suddenly, as she heard her door open; heard the knob twist, and the catch release. She heard the door swinging open. She looked up, and saw that in fact, her door remained firmly shut. There was a soft thumping sound, like footsteps in the shaggy green carpet, and they seemed to be getting closer. Now she could hear breathing. It was the slow, heavy sighs of something very large. She heard a rough scratching as the something pushed its thick hide through her open door. (IT’S CLOSED, her eyes insisted). The breathing was louder now. She could hear her own breathing too, as it was now coming in short panicked hitches. (But there’s nothing THERE.) An image formed in her mind, of something that walked on two feet, and was made up of the bald and stretched pink skin of a recovering burn victim. Where this came from, she didn’t know, but as soon as she thought it, she knew it was true. There was a monster in her room, and it was making its way toward her. (But the door is CLOSED – the DOOR IS CLOSED – there’s NOTHING THERE!) Her mind was wailing now at the contradiction before her.
Thump. A huge and meaty foot hit the floor inside her room. Thump.
Katie screamed, and bolted upright. The breathing stopped. The thumping stopped. The door was still closed. Her heart was pounding. No, stupid – your heart is thumping, get it? Katie closed the box, and shook her head. This was all a little too weird for her. She’d have to have a long, serious talk with Stephen when he got back.
The bathroom door shuddered. Katie looked around, and saw the eye, now wedged firmly under the door, and shaking the door violently, trying to get free. Its tiny black pupil was gone, and the silver iris stared at her, the stare of a dead thing.
Katie screamed at the bedroom door, “MOM?! MOM! HELP ME!”
There was no reply from downstairs. The bathroom door was rattling on its hinges as the eye jerked and shuddered, working its way out of its temporary prison.
Then, nothing. Seconds passed. Katie could only hear the pounding of her heart in her ears. She looked at the door, and the eye was gone. Everything was still, she couldn’t even hear the music from downstairs anymore.
“Mom? MOM?” Where was she? “MOM?” Katie felt six years old again and separated from her mother in a department store. She felt small, lost and afraid.
There was no answer. She heard the doorknob start to turn again. “NO,” she said out loud, shouted out loud. With a queer doubling of her vision the room blurred in front of her. A moment later the sensation passed, and everything suddenly seemed normal again.
Nothing. There was no such thing as a disembodied eye that moved and rolled on its own. It was ridiculous. Sudden movement caught her eye, and she jerked her head to see her own pale reflection staring back at her. Her own eyes looked red and, touching her cheek, she realized she’d been crying.
Katie jumped slightly at the sound and spun around to look at the bathroom door. Nothing there.
She decided she’d had enough. Time to go downstairs, help Mom finish dinner and forget all about this. Smoky clothes be damned.
She turned her door handle. It was locked. She jerked at the knob again and again. Behind her, the bathroom door began to shake again. The hinges were starting to rattle. Incredibly, the force was starting to shake them loose.
Suddenly, there was a new sound. It was a soft scraping at her feet. She looked down, and saw a plain white envelope, with “Katie” scrawled hastily on it.
She tore it open and read:
Your father and I have been quite unhappy for some time now, about seventeen years, give or take.
We’ve had long discussions about this, and we’ve decided that the best thing to do is just start over. We were never cut out to be parents. Hopefully we’ve faked it well enough that you won’t end up on drugs or homeless, but in any case, it’s time that we get on with our own lives.
We didn’t want to leave you completely helpless, so here is some money to get you started on your new life without us.
Hope it’s a good one.
Mom and Dad.
P.S. We sold the house. You have until tomorrow to get out.
P.P.S. There is nothing in the box.
Click here to go to Part 3
Click here to go to Part 3