Prompt: A group of apocalypse survivors hunker down in an old suburban home to ride out a storm. There is a knock at the door. On the front step is an Amazon package with a note apologizing for the late delivery. Inside the package is something that will tear the group apart as they fight over it.
No muscles move, no eyes tear away from the battered door. Anticipation weighs in the air like the dust blowing in through the cracks in the walls, and the opaquely lit windows. There aren’t clocks or a way to tell time, but after a while, Kenzie, the youngest of the group, stands, moving around Thomas and Margret, and goes to the door.
“Wait,” Margret whispers. “Don’t open it, yet.”
“Why?” Kenzie asks, turning back. “No one’s there.”
“You don’t know that,” Thomas says. “It’s still day. She could’ve set a trap.”
Kenzie faces the door again. “Trap or not, I’m going to take a peek, at least.”
“Kenzie—” Margret rushes forward, but she’s already opening the door, dust sifting in with the wind.
Door closed, the three huddle around the box. The new box. Untarnished. Not even bent or misshapen. A large black smile covers its side, blue-and-black tape binding it.
“‘Sorry for the late delivery!‘” Thomas reads aloud from the note that was stuck to it. “‘The Amazon Team‘”
“Amazon?” Kenzie says. “Wasn’t that a place? Woods or something?”
“Yes and no,” Thomas pockets the note. “If I remember right, it was an online store.”
“Yeah!” Margret chirps. “They had so many things… Food, toys, medicine, computers, books…”
Their eyes wander to the box.
“So what’s in it?” Kenzie asks.
The bleary light outside now dark. Margret lights the last half-finished candle, sets it by the box. They hunker in the dim circle of illuminance.
“Still could be a trap,” Thomas says. “She could’ve put something inside.”
Kenzie shakes her head. “No way. There’s no boxes like this left. Everything’s dust now, or going to be soon.”
“And,” Margret says, “She doesn’t know we’re here.”
“She knows,” Thomas says, flatly. “She always know. It’s just a matter of time when she arrives.”
“Whatever,” Kenzie spits, reaches for it. “I’m opening it.”
Thomas snatches her knobby wrist, throws it back at her. “No one’s opening it.”
“Then why did we bring it inside?” Kenzie barks, rubbing her wrist.
“We didn’t, you did. You didn’t listen.”
“We’re a group. My actions are yours, and I didn’t think you’d be such a pansy about it. It’s just a damn box.”
Thomas’s eyes narrow, cracks shooting across the dried dust caking his skin. “If it’s just a damn box, then get rid of it.”
“But it could have food, a weapon, a tool. Something that could help us!”
“Quiet,” Margret says, tending to the candle, nearing its holder. “Or she’ll hear us.”
“It’s a trap,” Thomas says again. “And that’s final. When day breaks, we’ll bury it outside and be done with it.”
Kenzie curses, stares at the ground.
The candle goes out, casting the room in pitch darkness.
Wind howls against the creaking house, dust crawling over walls, burying them deeper.
“Just let me open it,” Kenzie whispers.
“No,” Thomas says.
Kenzie rolls over, stinging eyes flutter open. Thomas sunk in a pile of dust drift, his pronounced chin resting on his slowly rising chest. She stares for a moment, two… Realizes what’s missing.
She sits up. “Where’s the box?”
Thomas’s head snaps up, he rubs his eyes. “What?”
“The box,” Kenzie repeats. “Where the hell is it?”
Thomas gets to his feet, scans the room. “Margret’s gone, too.”
“Seriously, Margret?” Kenzie curses.
Half-filled footprints lead to the cracked open door, dusty light falling in.
“Shit,” Thomas spits.
Shielding eyes with hands, they climb the dune the house sits at the bottom of. Beyond is level, fissured dust hardened by years of heat. Margret sits a couple yards away, box open before her.
“Margret!” Kenzie calls. The wind’s picking up. She coughs and spits out brown phlegm. “What’s in it?”
Thomas’s beelining towards her, Kenzie staying put.
“What’s in it?” Kenzie says again. Thomas’s almost to her.
Margret reaches inside, lifts out a round black object. The size of her palm. Reminds Kenzie of a puck. Marget goes to press its top, but Thomas reaches her, snatching her arm and throwing it back. He heels her in the face, grabbing the puck before she falls.
“Should’ve…” Kenzie hears on the wind, as she takes off towards him.
Thomas turns to meet her as she leaps onto him. He drops it into the dust, and they crash to the ground, rolling. Kenzie digs her nails into his face and he drives fists into her ribs. She tears his collar, digging fingers deep. He swings towards her face, but she ducks under it and bites his neck. Dust and flesh and blood intertwine as it coats her tongue, but she hasn’t tasted anything in so long. Unfazed, she bites down and rips her neck back, taking a chunk of sinewy meat with it.
Blood bubbles out, soaks into the dust under him. Wide-eyed, mouth agape, he aimlessly stares as Kenzie stands. Watches as she trudges to where he dropped the puck. His limbs go numb. His world darkens, darkens, goes black.
“All this for a damn puck…” Kenzie muses, lifting it towards the sky. She glances over her shoulder. Margret’s unconscious, already half-submerged in dust. Thomas’s glossy eyes are empty. Faces the object again, then presses the button atop. A ring of blue lining its edge illuminates, the vanishes.
The wind stills, dust falls like snow. The tan sky darkens, but slithering shadows appear within.
“Shit,” she says, looks back at Thomas. “Guess you were right.”
Metallic tendrils break through, beaded with blue globules of light. They root to earth, burrowing into the dust. A massive form appears in the center of the tendril towers, lowering past the clouds, hanging above Kenzie. An enormous black smile covers its rounded front, and blue and black strips of metal crisscross its frame. Something somewhere says her name, and a ring of blue-white light lines the strips, similar to the puck, and the smile… The smile begins to open.
Read my previous prompt, “Propelled Into Space By Rainbows“
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