#FridayFlash – The Room and the Box

The walls were closing in. Rick could barely stand it. Time was lost to him, the monotonous red wallpaper kept it at bay. Rick had forgotten his wristwatch, very uncharacteristic, and the first thing he had done entering the room had been to look for a clock. There was none. In fact, the room was almost completely naked. An old rickety table stood in the centre of the room, and behind it a rickety old chair. So he had sat down, placed the box and his gun on the table and lost time.

   Rick knew that he had dozed off, more than once. He wasn’t worried about that, the door had squealed loudly when he had closed it behind him, and it would squeal when someone opened it, plenty of time to wake up and regain composure.

   He thought about opening the box but hadn’t, so far. As his mind slipped away from him it was harder to keep up being a professional. If someone didn’t come to collect the box soon he would open it. And after that, only god knew what would happen. Rick wished that they had put a lock on the box. As it were, they hadn’t, and the only thing standing between Rick and whatever was in the box was a small hook latch. He ran his fingers over the hook latch, the rough texture of iron burned. His senses were jacked up with fatigue and tangled nerves. He tried the gun, ran his fingers over the familiar shape and the steel was ice-cold. He put his hands in his pockets and they were too confining. Somebody had to come soon.

   That cursed wooden box, in this cursed room, where time was stretched out until you could see right through it. Rick put his palms on the box and the surface was oily and cool to his touch, inviting. He would open it soon, he didn’t care what happened.

   Suddenly he heard heavy boots walking up the creaking stairs. Rick looked up at the door. His eyes wide like those of small children on Christmas, so goddamn much anticipation. The footfalls grew louder. The boots came closer, closer, closer. Someone was right outside. Then the footsteps started to diminish until they vanished. Silence settled again. Rick couldn’t believe it. He just couldn’t fucking believe it. He grabbed the lid of the box carefully with the tips of his fingers, why not open the box, he had earned it, sitting in this dead room, waiting for no one to show up.

   He took a deep breath and steeled himself, unhooked the latch… There was a sudden and loud knock on the door.

© Hugo Oddlane, 2014

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