Friday Flash Fiction: The Package
Gordon never thought in his wildest nightmares that he would end up homeless. However, as he shambled down Reno Avenue in Oklahoma City, the summer heat baking him, the thick humid air shortening his breath, he thought randomly about where this road might lead him. He had spent the night under a bridge, his filthy brown and red backpack used as a pillow, and his belly growled at him as it gnawed away at his spine.
The sun had risen not long ago, and since Gordon did not have a means by which to measure time, he assumed that it was still morning by the observation that traffic was beginning to thicken. Somehow he could smell the sub-standard breakfast food wafting along the wind from the McDonalds barely visible in the distance.
He could go for some McDonalds, since his last meal came from a dumpster behind The Spaghetti Warehouse in Bricktown.
He was nearly spun to the curb by a large brown and yellow truck, its rear doors open, and then he heard a thump as a light brown cardboard package fell out into the street near him, sliding to an unceremonious stop. He quickly retrieved the deceptively heavy package, dodging a few cars, and then scurried to the sidewalk again. Before he could look up to see whether the truck might stop, it had vanished around a curve. He stood still for a moment, his eyes scanning the other cars, watching with resentment as they passed him, their occupants not noticing him at all.
It was as if he did not exist, but he had become accustomed to this feeling.
He held the package, a somewhat heavy parcel with multiple stamps all over it and turning it in his hands he saw a return address that was written in a language he did not recognize – possibly some asian characters.
Made in China he supposed.
He had seen a post office two days ago when he had passed it on his way to a homeless shelter, but that was at least a three hour walk through a part of town that had nearly been the end of him the last time he ventured there.
Perhaps there was food inside.
Driven by the most primal of urges, he hunched his upper body over the package as he cradled it in his arms like a precious brown paper baby and looking to his left and right he nearly sprinted away toward an abandoned lot where an old building sat, its windows broken, its faded green paint chipping away from neglected wood paneling.
He pushed his way inside, a couple of multicolored cats hissing and darting out of his way, and he found an old folding table where he sat the package carefully down, looked left and right again, and then let out a deep breath.
Maybe it has some money in it.
The oppressive heat of the small building, almost a shed, made him impatiently tear open the package to find an ovoid metal object about two hands across and three hands long. He picked it up, and it was warm to the touch, its surface reflecting his dirty and worn face. He turned it over, not finding any visible seams buttons or hinges, only a smooth shell that seemed to generate its own electricity, drawing him toward it magnetically.
It vibrated and he sat it back on the table where it began to spin around with incremental velocity, producing a high pitched whine just at the highest end of audible sound. Gordon put his blackened fingers over his ears but it did not drown out the droning roar that was now shaking the paint chips and glass shards from the walls around him. It then balanced on the smaller end and two sections separated from the main body, like two tiny arms, each with four small fingers that floated out at the end of its “arms”, suspended by some force that was not visible.
Gordon fell to the floor and began scooting away against the wall and that was when the package floated up above him, two glowing red dots where its “head” would be, and with a spinning motion, its arms like the tines of a propeller, it shot straight up through the roof and into the sky above, leaving Gordon to stare up at blue sky through a hole in rotten wooden shingles, some of them falling down on the now broken table.
“Guess it wasn’t food” he mumbled.