The Box

Jennifer Clary worked at Regan National Airport as a security guard.  One of the many airports in the D.C. and Baltimore area.  It was a year after the 9/11 attacks, and like all other airports, it was on tight security.

Jennifer found a huge wooden box in the waiting area while on her daily patrol. A large suitcase in an airport is usually no cause for alarm, but this was a hulking, ornate trunk with odd symbols carved into the wood.

Jennifer asked the TSA agents if they saw anyone who checked in with the chest and if any of them cleared it through security. None of them remembered the trunk or anyone checking in with it.

The box beamed with a scarlet light, making the carved sigils glow, black tendrils snaked out the lid, and a low voice whispered from the box:

They summoned me a year ago, with fear and blood. I will feed upon ruin and use man’s hatred to turn this nation to ash.

“Clary, I’m going to need to call the bomb squad over to take the box.”

She nearly jumped out of her skin and grabbed her taser. She turned, and Officer Mullins stood behind her. A serious old man with a tight buzz-cut.

“Yes, Sir,” nodded Jennifer.

She glanced behind her. The inky shadows and crimson light had disappeared.

“You need to cordon off the area. I’ll clear the rest of the building,” said Mullins.

Jennifer went to work clearing the few people in the waiting area. She put yellow security tape and waited for the bomb squad to come and take the box out.

Once again,  the box glowed scarlet and dark vines came back and snaked over the box. Something in the trunk pounded to get out as black flies buzzed around the trunk. A scream caught in her throat as one of the black tendrils curled around her ankle.

Security cleared out the rest of the airport when the bomb squad came. Sweat had soaked through Jennifer’s uniform, and her heart pounded.

As a technician examined the trunk as the inky tendrils wrapped around him, pulling him to the ground.  Coughing violently, he fell to the floor, writhing in pain. The rest of the squad backed off, and an EMT ushered Jennifer out of the building.

They went outside into the crisp October air. Police and emergency vehicles surrounded the airport. Media vans with news anchors were outside reading statements about a bioweapon left at Regan National Airport.

A hazmat crew from Fort Detrick rushed towards the box and quickly ran it out of the building. The creature inside laughed maniacally.

A young EMT hurried Jennifer to an ambulance, where they checked her for poisoning and signs of illness. The doctor was cold and exacting. He told her to stay home in quarantine for the next week. He told her to call immediately on the onset of symptoms.

Jennifer went to her small Nissan and waited in the traffic, ready to leave the airport. She dialed the knob through static and found a news station. The lead technician of the bomb squad had died of some mysterious poisoning or bioweapon. There were reports of another biological attack with Anthrax, though Anthrax didn’t kill that quickly. A hazmat crew came to clean out the entire airport and closed Regan National to the public for the rest of the month. News anchors reported the incident as a terrorist attack.  The National Gaurd would take over airport security until everything calmed down.

Jennifer clicked off the radio, her car clearing through the gridlock. Relieved she was finally going home. She still felt the tendrils around her ankle, writhing around and reaching into her veins. She would call the Doctor tomorrow. All she wanted to do was to leave the chaos and rest.

I live in the hatred of humanity. I am the beast that feeds on darkness and hatred. You can not rid me so easily once I have touched you.

Jennifer’s skin chilled to gooseflesh as the words echoed in her head. She pulled into a local Shell Station to collect herself. After a few deep breaths, she went to the register to buy gas and some hot cinnamon coffee to chase away the chill.

Chimes on the door played pleasantly as she left the station. As she walked to her car, tremendous pressure knocked her off her feet. Her blue blouse became deep crimson with blood, and her breath turned into labored, whistling gasps for air.

The bullet had hit her out of nowhere. The scarlet light returned, and vines enveloped her body, pulling her underneath the ground.  Everything faded away to a dull, throbbing red and then to black.

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