Maybe Cecilia watched too many movies, but she had an odd habit of particular movie quotes repeating in her head throughout her daily life. If she was cutting tomatoes, she could hear Johnny Drama exclaiming, “these knives are for shit. You know Vince likes his tomatoes cut paper thin.” In which case, she would then also try to slice her tomato as thin as possible.
"What's in the Box! What's in the box!!" Cecilia thought to herself as she approached a strange package at her doorstep. Why did she seem to think about that horrific movie any time she saw an un-opened package? Most of the time, her head-quotes were lighthearted, but this one was always darker. Then again, it was one of the most quotable movie lines every. Brad Pitt’s as the tortured husband, the spittle flying out of his mouth as he tears of terror slowly creep down his cheeks. It reminded her she needed to take another sick day soon and do a re-watch of David Fincher’s filmography. Maybe liven it up by tossing in some of the music videos he cut his teeth on to start.
It seems like everything is available to be delivered to you and a majority of these packages come thanks to the chief man in sky. Mr. Bezos. Yet most would think he himself would not get packages. Especially addressed directly to him. That's why it was odd when Cecilia received a package for Mr. Bezos. Not from Amazon, but to Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon. Or rather, Syndilate Composites Attention: Jeff Bezos, with her address and apartment number.
The package had arrived while she was at work and stood tilted against her door when she return home, about three feet tall and two feet wide. In her rush to get inside, she fumbled with her keys and lifted the light package inside her door as the typical Seattle rain whipped in from the awning covering her apartment entry. After a shower and change of clothes to rid herself of grease and diner smell that radiated off of her after a long double shift, she returned to box still sitting just inside her door. She walked into the kitchen and poured a glass of boxed wine and inspected the package. She had ordered nothing she could remember, but maybe it was a gift from her parents or that secret admirer she wished she had. You know, the one who left overly generous cash tips and was just waiting to sweep her off her weary feet. But really, it was probably for her neighbor, Joe, or some other generic white guy name. He was always getting stuff. She walked over to the box, which was wrapped in clear plastic shrink wrap. Smart, she thought, as it was always rainy here. She picked it up and carried it into her den and sat it down on her coffee table.
"Alexa, turn on the TV," she said aloud as she turned over the plain-looking cardboard box, looking for the address information. Finally, she found it at one of the top corners of the end of the box.
Attn: Jeff Bezos
1294 Athem Dr Apt 203
Tacoma, WA 98403
"What the hell?" She muttered to herself. First, she couldn't even imagine that someone like Bezos would even get his own packages. I would send them through an LLC or something weird to prevent his address from ever being listed or known. Second, she had never heard of the made up word, Syndilate. Maybe the internet had, and she quickly grabbed her phone to do a search. After a frustrating battle with auto correct (No I don't want SYNDICATE!!!) Google returned no record of a company or anything with that name existing.
What to do? She pondered. If she took it back to the post office and she wasn’t even sure they delivered it, there was no return address or postage markings. She was sure it would just sit there unopened until the richest man in the world swung down the local post office to pick it up. Fat chance of that happened. It has to be a practical joke. There is no way this is actually for him. Another Fincher movie came popped into her head. Maybe this was the start of an elaborate game that rich play to break the mundane monotony of life. Or maybe she was about the star of some new reality TV show. See what happens when regular Joes get packages meant for rich people. She heard the trailer voice say the tagline in her head.
What's the harm in opening it? An internal battle raged in her head, with two voices debating each side.
“It is a federal crime to open someone else mail.”
“But does a package not delivered by the US Postal service still make it a federal crime? And how else would she be able to find out how to return it, if she never opened it?”
“No, it's a crime.”
The tiny angel voice in her head won and she would do the right thing and take it to the Post Office or maybe the Amazon Distribution Center that was only a few blocks away tomorrow morning. She set it on the ground and went to get another glass of wine.
Three more glasses later.
Ahh, what the hell. This had not been a snap decision, but a slow crescendo to the epiphany to open it. After the fourth glass, she got a small box cutter from her kitchen. Then mid way through fifth she slid out the blade and carefully removed the plastic wrap. She stopped at removing the plastic wrap for the time being as a new internal debate raged on. Get another glass or go to bed. It was after midnight and she had been told nothing good comes after midnight.
With a bolt of courage, she pressed on. She turned the box long ways and placed it between her knees and cut the tape at the top of the box and dragged out the flap. She built some kind of dramatic suspense in her mind before finally opening the box. Finally, after a deep breath, she lifted the lid and looked inside to see nothing.
"Well, shit," she said, "No wonder it was so light."
Then something funny happened. The room spun and faded to black as her eyes got heavy. The TV fade out and she was now surrounded in darkness. Her eyes were open, but ensconced in blackness. Her body stopped spinning. It was quiet. After a moment, she heard inaudible sounds. She couldn't feel or see her body. It felt like she was moving and it was hot, desert hot. Suddenly, the movement stopped. More sounds were outside, only muffled. She opened her mouth to speak, but her muscles didn't respond. She tried to move her legs or arms, but seemed like they weren't there. There was nothing but complete darkness.
The sounds got louder. There were two male voices and then doors opening and closing. She was moving again, but slower this time and more deliberate. Someone was carrying her. Maybe there was a gas leak in the building and the fire department was in her apartment, carrying her to safety. She could now smell heat. It reminded her of a summer spent in Arizona. A dry, sandy smell filled her nose. A strange comfort came over her and it was like she was back in Arizona looking out under the night sky, except everything was still black. Now the sounds were much closer, and the darkness seemed to lighten. A small ray of light appeared in front of her like a beacon breaking the darkness and she heard a familiar voice say, "There's blood.."
Then, after what seemed like an eternity, the silt opened and bright, blinding sunlight assaulted her corneas. She made out an audible shudder as her eyes slowly adjusted to the light. And she realized how she knew the voice. Staring down at her was the actor Morgan Freeman. He looked terrifyingly down at her and then off into the distance and back to her. She tried to scream again, but nothing came out. Morgan stood up and took off in an unseen direction. She strained to hear what Freeman was yelling as he disappeared from her view. Finally, it became clear.
“John Doe has the upper hand now...”
Cecilia knew the line by heart, but nothing made sense. With all of her concentration, she forced her head to jerk from right to left. Her surroundings rocked back and forth, and her view of the blistering desert sun fell sideways. In the distance, she saw three figures yelling and bickering. Cries of pain and anger came from one man before she saw the muzzle flash, followed by several more. The shooter marched past the body and towards her. She squinted at the silhouette as the sun set behind him and the mountains in the distance. A moment the figure was standing over her sobbing. He knelt over and picked Cecilia up gently and clutched her tight to his chest. Cecilia smelled his perspiration and guilty. She tried to move her arms, but they were not there. In fact, nothing was there. Cecilia had become nothing but Gwyneth’s severed head.