Highly Commended Story - Out In The Box
“Out In The Box” by Harshita Anand, Indian School Wadi Kabir International, Oman, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Harshita Anand is an enthusiastic girl, who loves to actively engage in various types of sports, such as football, basketball and badminton, and in addition to that, she holds a black belt in karate. She has varied interests, ranging from science to music. She has won many medals for public speaking and debates as well. She has an artistic bent of mind and loves spending her free time sketching. She is an avid reader, who makes lots of stories, essays and poems. Her stories usually have a twist in the end as she absolutely loves to see the shock on the readers face. Her favorite genre of books is mystery and horror, and she one day aspires to be famous author.
Out In The Box
I always had a dream of exploring a place, which was apart from every other. I wanted to see a place, with huge waterfalls, falling from the mighty heights of the large mountains, surrounded by tall trees, and skies, which were filled with vibrant different shades and colours. I knew, this wouldn’t be possible, as my family weren’t very well off, and I lived in a place covered with dryness. I knew I’d be staying in this blistering haven for the rest of my life…or so, I thought.
My friends always made fun of me, saying stuff like “the guy who wanted to be transported to another world by a box, is now delivering boxes”, a reference to me becoming a delivery boy, who handed over peoples’ packages to the rightful owners. I never really took them seriously, and continued working as a responsible young lad, transporting cargo from one house to another. Werry St. is too quiet, and I deliver the packages in silence, but occasionally, when people came out of the house, I liked seeing the smiling faces of young kids, waiting for their mail to be given to them. I saw them running towards their mail sheds, as soon as they heard the sound of it opening.
The 22nd of June, amidst the scorching hot summer, I thought was a day that would go by normally. Driving down Werry St. on my cycle, I saw the kid who every day, came out and shouted, “Mr. Package delivery man! Have you gotten a parcel from San Diego, from a person named Jenny Anderson yet?”, and I would reply with the same old phrase, “My dear boy, the day this highly awaited package arrives at the office, I’ll personally come and hand it over to you.”
I cycled past the long trees, covering Mrs. Henryson’s mansion, glad not to be chased by that short yet ferocious creature, with a name tag around its neck. The weather was pleasant, surprisingly. I could travel out in the open, without suffering any 3rd degree burns! The location I was sent to now, was a bit far from the main city. Not a big deal. I had been there plethora of times. I enjoyed the cool breeze, as I drove past all the houses, which were now becoming scarce. The package to be delivered was pretty huge, big enough to hold a full-grown adult. It had two holes on one of the sides of it, and peering in I only saw darkness. I wasn’t allowed to open or look inside the package, unfortunately, and I was dying to see what was inside, but all I could do, was make assumptions. This was the last one to be given, and after this, I would’ve been free.
I was said to be very imaginative, as I would create intricate situations for myself, but the house I saw on the given address was out of anything I could imagine in my mind. It was small shed, covered with dried leaves, isolated from everything. I couldn’t see any vehicle nearby, or for that matter, even life form. Nevertheless, I walked up the place, with the box in my hand, to what seemingly looked like the front door and knocked on it.
I knocked on it again.
“Umm, Excuse me, this is the mail man with your enormous package!”
I eventually figured that the person wouldn’t be home or was sleeping at 3pm in the afternoon. I kept the parcel near the door and turned around to leave, when suddenly, from inside the house, I heard a sound.
“Youngsters nowadays, have no virtue of patience! All busy on their gadgets, waiting to get back home.”
The old man, who was maybe in his seventies, opened the door and looked at me. “So you are that impatient lad who can’t wait to head home. Mind if you helped a frail man like me take this in?”
“No problem, sir” I said hesitantly.
The house was very shabby with no source of light visible. I dragged the box in, while that man glared at me. The cubical cardboard, surprisingly, was heavier now. It also felt slightly wet, even though there were no rains. A strange stench arose from it, but weirdly enough, my curiosity increased. He beckoned me to keep the box next to the torn sofa, and I obliged this orders.
“So you youngsters now put a price tag for helping people?”
I kept silent.
The man sighed.
“Can’t help it can we? This generation is soiled! How much is it? Twelve dollars you say?”
The old man checked his pockets, which were empty. He gave me an angry stare, and disappeared into another room. I waited, patiently, for him to return. I whistled to a tune and looked around.
“What a dirty old living place. How can someone stay here!” I thought to myself.
Oddly enough, when I looked back at the box, I noticed it had moved from its original place. I went closer to it. I saw that the side with the holes in it was completely drenched, and that’s when I knew something was wrong. But I wasn’t allowed to open it! If I lost my job, who would pay for my living? As I thought about these, I saw something black spreading over the cover of the box. My curiosity got the best of me and I opened the packaging.
A beam of light blinded me, and I felt my limbs being pulled by the box. The last thing I heard was the old man’s voice telling me how this generation deserved it.
I woke up. The first thing I did was touch my limbs. They were still intact. I let out a sigh of relief, as I noticed how dark it was. I felt very claustrophobic, and I tried to spread my arms apart, but I couldn’t. I saw two holes on the side and looked through it. Outside, I saw the huge waterfall, tinted red, falling from the mighty height of the large mountain, along with human figures, surrounded by dried up tress, with something hanging from it, and skies, filled with vibrant shades of maroon and red. I poked my finger outside the two holes, and felt the cold cardboard. I was being pushed around, by a person whistling the last ever tune I whistled. I think I understand why we aren’t allowed to look into packages.