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We’ve been living at our current residence for a dozen years. Our neighbor next door was an elderly woman whom we became close friends with. When she moved out the house went to several members of her family.
Last year it finally went on the market and was purchased by a Mexican family. We attempted to be friendly but they seemed very distant.
Without a word they unexpectedly moved out and the house has been empty for the last several months. Although the lawn is occasionally mowed no one has lived in the house.
Then one day the package arrived.
It was about two months ago when the package showed up. I was pulling into the driveway and saw the box sitting there. I didn’t think anything about; just assumed that someone dropped it off not knowing the house was unoccupied.
Two days later the box was still there so I went over to look for a return address. The least I could do was return it to the post office. However the box was blank!
I left it alone not wanting to disturb it. Two more days passed and the box was still there.
Curiosity was getting to me.
I decided that I would open the package and see what was inside. Maybe then I can figure out where it came from and how to return it. But I didn’t want to do it alone.
Tomorrow was my day off so I called my friend Kyle to come hang out. At least when I open it, there will be another witness. A story from two is more valid than one.
Kyle agreed to come over after I dropped the kids off at school. I didn’t tell him about the package.
He might think I’m crazy!
He might be right.
Look at me! Obsessing over a box that’s just sitting there. Why should I care? No one’s been in that house for several months. I won’t bother with it. I’ll just enjoy my day off and not even think about the package.
The next morning I got the kids ready for school. Going out the front door and getting into the car, I looked over and saw that the package was still sitting there. I smiled to myself thinking how silly I was allowing my curiosity to get to me.
When I returned home the package was no longer there!
I was both relieved and disappointed that the package was gone and yes I do admit I still wanted to look inside. But I waited too long and I’ll get over it.
Kyle showed up and we talked about movies and the latest Hollywood scandals. Finally I told him about the house next door and about the package that showed up the other day. I explained I wanted him as a second witness to see inside. He asked where it was and I said it wasn’t there. He seemed disappointed, as he wanted to see inside as much as me.
The fact that Kyle was just as curious as me in made me feel less guilty in regards to looking inside the package. He left and I got ready to pick up the kids.
My wife, Grace, then called to say she was leaving work early. I suggested we go out for dinner tonight and she liked the idea. She also said she would probably be home before I returned with the kids. I then left for the school.
As I pulled into the driveway with the kids, I looked over and saw another package sitting on their front porch.
As I shut the engine off, I stared at the box. The exact size and shape as the other and no identification on it. It could have been the previous one brought back but something in the back of my mind told me that this was another package.
I awoke from my thought as the kids slammed the doors. Grace was on the front porch waiting for us as I got out.
“Grace, has anyone moved in next door?” I asked.
“No honey,” she replied. “There isn’t even a ‘For Sale’ sign.”
“I noticed a box sitting on their porch.”
“It’s probably just promotional stuff from the real estate agent,” replied Grace.
“Of course!” I said. “I just wanted to see what was inside.”
“Well I don’t want to find you going over there,” she said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“It’s not your property and I don’t want you to set a bad example for the children,” she replied.
“Okay,” I said as I kissed Grace on the cheek.
“If were going out for supper, I thought we could see a movie as well,” she said.
“Great idea,” I said. I looked at the package again and then went inside.
We had dinner at a new Italian restaurant. Grace and I had pasta and the boys shared a pizza. We then went over to the Cineplex to pick a movie but most were sold out or had a long line. Bobby, our oldest, suggested renting a movie to watch at home.
At the rental store Sam chose
The Princess Bride
for us to watch and everyone agreed. It’s been an enjoyable evening so far and I’m looking forward to the film.
Coming home I saw the package again but this time it was in a different part of the porch!
It’s only been two hours and the package is in a different position. Someone must have moved it, but who? As the family entered the house I lingered a little outside trying to make sense of what I’m seeing.
Could it be that someone moved it? Was someone else trying to figure out where the package came from? Perhaps the neighbors on the other side moved it; maybe I’ll talk to them in the morning.
For now, I’ll just enjoy the rest of the evening. I know that if I say something to Grace, she’ll give me the long lecture.
Although I was watching the movie with the family, I couldn’t concentrate on what was being said. I could’ve sworn that they kept taking about a package. My mind was reeling and I knew I just had to get out of the house and go over and look inside!
On screen the Spaniard began to fight Count Rugen and was yelling…
“Hello! My name is Package! You killed my package! Prepare to die!”
That’s all I could stand! I excused myself of feeling hot and went outside to get some air. I looked over and the package was gone… again!
I can’t believe it! Not only is this the second time that a chance to see inside the package has come and gone but the package disappeared within the last hour or so! I didn’t hear any car pull up so I know it wasn’t removed but I also didn’t hear a door open and close which is usually harder to hear anyway especially if it’s opened silently.
I stood there staring at the spot where the package was as I got my breathing under control. Second chance gone and two whole weeks would pass before the next one arrived.
For the last week and a half I hadn’t thought about the package. I blocked out all thoughts of the package and even got myself to avoid looking over at the house next door. Then a couple days later it all changed again.
I was out in the laundry room moving clothes into the dryer when I heard a car door shut. I looked out the window, which faces the empty house, and saw the car backing out. I walked into the carport to get a better look; making sure I wasn’t seen.
There was another package on the porch!
This time it was sitting right next to the side door. I slipped up next to my wife’s truck that was parked next to the house. I moved to the end of it to get a better look at the car pulling out and, hopefully, the driver. The car was a black sedan with the windows fully tinted. I couldn’t see inside.
Thankfully it was dark outside so I could stay in the shadows. The drawback though was I had on a white t-shirt. The car began to move down the street but suddenly slowed in front of my house.
As soon the car stopped I slipped back up and in front of the truck. It was a good thing to do because the car backed up to the end of our driveway and sat there a moment. I got this uneasy feeling that I was being watched.
Finally the car shifted and drove away. Quickly I moved to the end hoping to see the license plate. There was none! So much for that avenue. I looked back at the house and the package was gone! GONE!
However, the side door was slightly opened and there was a light on.
“ ‘Come into my parlor’, said the spider to the fly,” I mumbled to myself. Looking at the opened door I decided that it was now or never. If I were to ever find out anything about those packages, I would have to go inside the house. If I didn’t do it now though…
I checked the street once more for the car and then I started over. I had just got into the grass when I heard my wife behind me.
“There you are honey,” said Grace. “I thought you were doing the laundry. Why are you out here?”
As I opened my mouth to answer, Grace looked over and saw the neighbor’s door opened.
“You were going to go inside weren’t you?” she demanded.
“Yes I was,” I responded quickly. I decided that trying to lie would do no good and, furthermore, it might throw her off guard.
I was right! She stood speechless for a moment thinking I would lie my way out of it. I learned early on that lying only lengthens the long lecture.
Finally she looked at me and said, “Come inside.”
I thought. She’s going to give me the long lecture anyways.
Fortunately for me the kids were already upstairs in bed. She had me sit down at the dining room table and then busied herself with menial tasks. That’s right she’s making me sweat it out!
This was an idea I came up with a few years ago when we caught Bobby sneaking back into the house. We’d sit him down, just am I, and delay the lecture. After about ten minutes of what he considered torture, he’d start blurting his confession without prompting!
Now here I sit as a victim of one of my own inventions waiting for
Twenty minutes passed which felt like an eternity to me when she finally sat down at the table.
“How long have we been married,” she asked.
Okay, this is different. Usually she started the lecture with “How many times…” But this is not good.
“Fifteen years this fall,” I replied.
“Right,” Grace said. “And we’ve been honest with each other the entire time.”
“Yes we have,” I said.
“So even if I forbid you to go over there, you’ll still go anyway right?”
Was this just a trap or could I possibly win here? She knows me all too well.
Finally I replied to her question.
“Yes honey I will go over there,” I said. “I have to satisfy my curiosity. Three packages have arrive mysteriously and disappeared the same way. I even saw a car deliver the third one.”
“Then go,” said Grace.
“What?!” I asked.
“Go over there,” she said. “But do it tomorrow after the kids are in school.”
“You mean it?” I asked.
“I can’t stop you,” Grace replied. “Please be careful and come back to me.”
This last phrase was a promise I had made to her years ago when I was in the military.
I kissed Grace on the cheek and she turned to meet my lips with hers.
“I promise,” I said. “In fact I’m going to call Kyle right now and have him go with me.”
“Are you expecting vampires or something?” she asked with a smile.
I paused at this comment and now I was speechless. Could it be possible?
Grace laughed at my sudden change of expression.
“I’m just teasing you,” she said.
“Maybe I should take some garlic along,” I mumbled. “A mirror too.” I left to call Kyle and let him know of our adventure. It was time!
Grace and I made love later that night and, after she fell asleep, I got dressed and went outside. I grabbed a flashlight and walked next door.
I knew that if I waited until tomorrow, I wouldn’t sleep a wink in anticipation of actually going over. I figured on only being over there for about thirty minutes, at the most, poking around. It was all about satisfying my curiosity about those packages.
Besides I’d rather listen to her long lecture than to lose sleep over this whole ordeal. Our fifteen years of marriage can endure this one little discrepancy, right?
The moment of truth was here at last! The door was still opened but the light wasn’t on. I walked confidently across the grass and right up to the door.
No more delays and no more waiting. I entered inside and found myself in the kitchen. Turning the flashlight on I spied several empty wrappers from fast food restaurants. Somebody was living here after all.
The dining room was next and it was void of standard living items. No table, no pictures. In fact all of the rooms were empty so where were the people? And where were the packages?
My heart sank. Each room I explored let to nothing. Perhaps I was hasty ton thing something would come of this. Maybe it’s just a street person who’s using the house for shelter during the day. Maybe it IS a vampire!
I laughed at this thought and made my way towards the kitchen door. As I reached the room again, I noticed a door with light coming from underneath. I thought I check all the rooms.
I opened the door and found a staircase leading down. This might hold the answers to all my questions. I decided to head down.
As I descended into the basement, my mind went back to the last few weeks. All the anxiety of wanting to know what the packages contained and trying to look inside. I’ll probably feel foolish if they contained nothing more than cleaning products but why the secrecy? Why were all the packages unmarked?
As I reached the bottom of the stairs I found myself in a lab of some sort. There was a chalkboard with equations, a workbench filled some electronics and, right in front of me, a large table that held not three but ten packages and all opened.
Ten packages right in front of me! I felt like a child at Christmas. I walked slowly up to the table and, before I reached it, I quickly flashed the light in all of the corners of the basement. Nothing! Paranoia from watching too many horror movies.
I let out a loud laugh in relief knowing that no one would hear me. Then I approached the table further and began to investigate the boxes.
Inside each package was a small electronic device about the size of a clock radio and a slip of paper. The paper has destinations on them.
But not just any destinations. One read: Gettysburg, PA; July 1, 1863; 30 minutes. Another paper read: Cairo, Egypt; 1500 BC; 2 days. Yet another paper read: Southampton, England; April 10, 1912; 6 days. Judging by these papers and glancing at the equations on the chalkboard, these must be time machines!
This must be the reason for the secrecy. Anyone who owned this machinery could alter the course of history to no end! Should I tell my wife about this? Maybe I should call the local authorities.
Nah! I think I’ll just take a little trip into the past first.
Then again, what if
people are the “wrong ones”? What if they actually are changing history, as we know it? I’ll have to find out for myself though I’m not sure how to do it. That is, if they have indeed changed history, I’ll have no idea of the original outcome, as I’m sure the knowledge of the subject will be known by everyone.
Going through the rest of the packages, I come across one that was very specific! The paper read: Chicago, Illinois; May 27, 1933; 4 hours; World’s Fair. I think I’ll get some answers going there.
If my memory serves correctly, that World’s Fair was called
A Century of Progress
; inventions from 100 years. If any answers are to be found, it will be there! I looked over the device and pressed the ‘Go’ button.
The whole room disappeared and then returned looking like a broom closet. A very strange place to end up. I opened the door and found myself in a large room filled scientific displays. It was quite a spectacle and I couldn’t believe I was actually here!
Suddenly a man in a white lab coat ran up to me. It was Kyle!
“Kyle what are you doing here?” I inquired.
“Same as you James,” said Kyle, “curiosity got the better of me.”
“When did you go into the house?” I asked.
“That night after my visit,” he said. “What about you?”
“It would be about two months later,” I replied.
“Isn’t this great?” asked Kyle. “A chance to see the past!”
“But only for four hours,” I said.
“Then we’ll have to be quick,” said Kyle. “Did you leave the device in the broom closet?”
“Uh no, it don’t come with me,” I replied.
“So how do we get back?” asked Kyle.
Four hours passed and nothing happened. We met a scientist who recognized us from the 21st century. He explained that he was part of the time travel devices and volunteered for a “suicide” mission.
Apparently the devices only work properly one time and, after that, you’re stuck in the past. He chose this period as he thought there would be enough equipment to make a crude time device to get back home.
So Grace, when you read this, you’ll know what has happened to me. I’ll close with this promise: I will come back to you.
All my love, James.
The Tip Jar