Supernatural Fiction posted February 14, 2009


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A strange box arrives at the office of a successfu

The Dream Maker

by phild

"Guidry." Cal shouted, staring at the mahogany box on his desk. Beside it, crumpled brown wrapping paper and a cardboard box lay in a jumbled heap. "Guidry, damn it, get in here now." He pushed his sleeves higher on his forearms. His Rolex still felt warm from the zap he received from the box.

Guidry rushed into the spacious office. "Yes, boss. I've got the Peterson deposition." He waved the manila folder in the air. "You want me to leave it on your desk?"

"No. Where did that package come from, Radar?" Cal called his assistant Radar, not only because of the strong resemblance to MASH's Radar O'Riley, but also his ability to anticipate Cal's every need. Radar/Guidry graduated law school six years ago, and clerked for Cal ever since. After several failed attempts at the bar exam, he finally passed it two months ago.

"I'm not sure. It was on Michelle's desk. She asked me to bring it up to you. What's the return address say?" Setting the file on Cal's desk, Radar tried to read the address. A pencil, stashed behind his ear, poked through his disheveled hair.

"There wasn't one." Tall and intimidating, with thick salt and pepper hair, Cal stood over Radar.

"I'm not sure boss. It's a cool looking box." Radar reached for it, but Cal grabbed his arm.

"I'm sorry. Am I not supposed to touch it?"

He stared at the lacquered box, then let go of his assistant's arm. "No, it's okay. Go ahead and open it," Cal said, crossing his arms over his chest and backing away.

"Cool. You know my grandfather had a box just like this on the nightstand by his bed. When I was little I". " He jerked his hand back. "Oh, what was that?"

"Did you feel it?" Cal stepped to the desk, again.

"Yeah, it shocked me. I mean really hard." Radar shook his limp left hand. "That was freaky. I mean like electricity."

"How does your watch feel?"

Pressing his finger against the cheap Timex, Radar said, "It's warm. Oh, man, the crystal cracked. I just got this watch."

The strange box was the size of a cigar box and appeared lost on the oversized desk. It had no carvings, writings, or other markings. Endless layers of polished lacquer resulted in a high shine, bringing the nondescript box to life. Cal leaned over it.

"Man, did it do that to your watch?" Radar asked.

"Be quiet about your stupid watch." Cal studied the box. There were no latches. The hinges must have been hidden on the inside. A thin line, as fine as a hair, marked the separation between the lid and the rest of the box.

"Do you think it's a bomb?"

Cal squinted at the seam of the lid. "No. A bomb would explode when you tried to open it not send out a jolt of electricity. Shut the door."

"Man that hurt." The closed door muffled the babble of the office staff. "What are you gonna do with it?"

"I'm not sure." Cal loosened his tie and walked to the window of his corner office. He had grown accustomed to squashing his opponent's hopes; bending their wills, collecting huge fees from his clients. Awards and photos on the bookshelves behind his desk reflected this. His r©sum© was impressive; too impressive to be fucked with by a wooden box. He tugged on his lip.

"Call Michelle. Find out who delivered this damn thing. Use my phone." Cal stayed by the window.

Radar stepped behind his boss' desk, straightening the Harvard diploma that rested on the build in bookshelves behind it. The diploma stood next to awards and signs of a lifetime of professional achievement. Radar picked up the phone, tapped two numbers, and waited.

"Hey, Michelle, that package you gave me to give to the boss, where'd it come from." Radar tapped on his watch as he listened. "Okay, I'll tell him."

"What?"

"She said it was stacked up with the incoming mail when she got back from lunch."

"It couldn't have come with the mail there was no postmark on it." Cal stomped to his desk and flattened out the brown paper the box had been wrapped in. "See. No postmark, no return address, nothing but the office address."

Radar stopped fiddling with his watch long enough to read the address his boss' manicured finger pointed to.

"You know what boss...that writing looks familiar." Radar studied it.

"It looks like a third grader wrote this." Cal snatched the paper off the desk scrutinizing the scrawl.

"I don 't know it just ...... Hey, you don't think that crazy Lester Boudreaux could have sent this?"

Cal dropped the paper as if it were on fire. "Is it his hand writing?"

"I'm not sure. It looks like his scribble. During his trial, he used to hand me notes to give to you."

Cal backed away. Lester Boudreaux had been the son of a rich client. Arrested for murdering his wife, the police caught him with the body in the trunk. A meat cleaver rode shotgun, covered with is finger prints. He was doused in blood, as was the master bedroom of their home. A long list of spousal abuse charges against him topped the mountain of evidence. Lester's arrogance, paired with his father's deep pockets, allowed him to hire the best lawyer, Cal, and plead not guilty.

Lester had too much money and time on his hands and experimented with many things, including drugs, and for the years prior to murdering his wife, voodoo. He didn't just dabble in it; he immersed himself in the culture. Stories circulated about wild parties including animal sacrifices.
Cal uncovered a tennis instructor who Mrs. Boudreaux might have had an affair with. Although he never proved it, it left enough of an impression to get the sentence reduced to second degree murder, avoiding the electric chair.

Lester should have kissed Cal's feet, but instead, he spit on Cal and shouted a curse before being dragged out of the courtroom by two bailiffs. Cal remembered the anger on Boudreaux's thick, dark face. He had seen this reaction on defendants before, but never one of his clients. Since then, he never thought too much about Lester Boudreaux as the appeal languished.

"I can't be sure, boss, but it does look familiar."

"Why in hell would he send it to me?"

"Probably blames you for him going to prison and wants to mess with you. I spent a lot of time with him preparing for the trial. I got to admit boss, of all the clients I've seen you take on, none ever gave me the willies like that Lester Boudreaux. I've sat at the table in the courtroom next to dozens of killers over the years but that Boudreaux fellow; he scared the shit out of me. Pardon my French, boss."

"This could be from anyone, not just Boudreaux," Cal said.

"But why does it shock you when you try to open it? It's like it's full of electricity." Radar took the pencil from behind his ear and, eraser first, pushed it toward the box.

"What are you trying to do?"

"If it's electricity this pencil shouldn't conduct it." Radar's hand shook and a bead of sweat dropped off his face onto Cal's desk. The eraser touched the box. No shock ran through it, but smoke rose from the eraser. Before Radar could pull the pencil away, the box began to shimmer. Its image wavered, as if it were about to disappear. Snatching away the pencil, the box settled to its original state.

"Holy cow. Did you see that?" Another drop of sweat dropped from his nose to the boss' desk. "It was like that Star Trek thing when they beam somebody off the ship. Man, I thought it was gone"

Cal, like his assistant, stood frozen.

"Boss you don't think that crazy Cajun put some kind of mojo on this thing and sent it back here to even the score with you, do ya? My grandma would tell us stories about the voodoo lady that lived down the road from her when she was a little girl and --"

"Enough with the voodoo crap. Hell, Boudreaux doesn't have a score to settle with me. I kept him from the electric chair. He should be sending me a case of champagne."

"That's not how he sees it. He blamed you every time a piece of evidence came out against him. You didn't watch him during the trial because you were asking questions or listening to them. But, every time something went bad, he'd look at you and mumble something in French, then pull out that little black bag he kept in his pocket and rub it. That was the creepiest man I've ever seen."

"We need to destroy it. We need to take a sledgehammer and smash it to pieces. Wrap it up in the cardboard box it came in and dump it in the trash."

Radar picked up the paper. It was typical brown wrapping paper that could be purchased at any Walmart, and wrapped with tape that was probably available on the same aisle. He placed the paper back on the desk and picked up the cardboard box it came in. A piece of wrapping paper, the size of a playing card, had been affixed inside of the cardboard box.

"Hey, boss, I think you missed something," Radar said, pulling the card out and staring at the weak scrawl on the back. "I think it's for you." The paper wavered when Radar handed it to Cal.

Cal's hands settled on the dry, rough scrap of paper. Black ashes, scars of fire, clung to one edge, and the smell of burning leaves permeated the office. Cal put on his reading glasses.

'I know you did the best you could for me.
nside the box is what you've always dreamed of.

LB'

"What's it say boss?"

Cal handed the note to Radar and returned to the window.

"I knew it. That guy's crazy with all that voodoo stuff." Radar stared at the box. "What do ya think's in it, boss?"

"I don't know."

"What you've always wanted. What have you always wanted?"

"I have everything I have ever wanted." Cal turned away from the window, his arms crossed over his chest.

"We should open it," Radar said.

Cal continued to tug on his lip. The box had the upper hand on him. It pushed him into unfamiliar territory; indecision, and Radar didn't help rambling on about voodoo.

"Honestly, Radar, whatever is in there is of no value to me. I have everything money can buy and some things money can't. I think Mr. Boudreaux is playing a game; and I do not engage in games, especially one a murder wants to play. I just as soon throw it away as look at it."

"What? You're not even a little bit curious about what's in it?"

"There is nothing in this world that Mr. Boudreaux could give me that I don't already have." Cal hesitated, his eyes squinting at the box. "I'll tell you what, you open it, and whatever its contents are, it's yours." Cal walked to the edge of the desk, staring at his assistant.

"Really?"

"Yes. You can have the contents and the box itself. If you want it?"

Radar looked like he had just won the lottery. His smile became big and wide.

"What can I open it with?" Radar glanced around the room.

Cal opened his desk drawer. The drawer's contents were organized into compartmentalized sections with everything in its proper place. He took out a wooden ruler and tossed on the desk.

"This should work," Cal said.

Perspiration glistened on Radar's face. He picked up the ruler and gave Cal a nervous smile.

"You mind if I sit in your chair to do this?"

"Be my guest."

A bead of sweat ran along Radar's temple and trickled toward his ear. When he sat down, the soft leather chair embraced him. His hand quivered as he held the smooth ruler over the box.

Cal stepped away. His assistant looked like a mad wizard holding a wand over a magical box.

Radar wiped his forehead on the back of his hand and let out a breath.

"Here we go."

The ruler tapped the box twice. Cal wasn't sure if Radar was testing it or if his nerves were gaining control of him. Cal took another step back.

Radar gripped the ruler with both hands and probed the perimeter of the lid trying to find a spot to wedge it into. The right front corner had a small notch, just enough for the edge of the ruler to slip in. Licking his lips, he pushed up and the lid began to rise.

"Man, this is intense."

"Finish it." Cal snapped.

Continuing to clutch the ruler in both hands, Radar lifted until the lid stood erect. His eyes were wide and full of wonderment like a child on Christmas morning. The smell of burnt wood mixed with a sweet smell filled the office. Dropping the ruler, he popped out of the chair.

"Check this out boss." He moved aside so Cal could see the contents of the mysterious box.

Cal eased to the edge of the desk and peered in.

"No, boss, you have to sit down to see."

He pulled out the chair for Cal to sit, and he did.

"It's amazing," he said, pushing Cal and the chair closer to the desk.

Leaning over it, Cal could feel a pulsing. Burnt twigs and leaves littered the inside along with what looked like a charred cigar.

"Do you see it boss?"

Cal inspected the cigar, wondering why Lester Boudreaux's signet ring was slipped over it, and then the room began to spin.

"Oh, God. It's his damn finger." Cal tried to push away, but Radar clamped a hand on his shoulder, holding him in place.

"No, boss, look at the lid." Radar's voice floated from a distant fog on the edge of Cal's vision.

Cal's mouth hung open and his face drained of its color. A mask of wide eyes and trembling lips replaced the normally stoic face.

"Look at the inside of the lid, boss."

He obeyed the commands that drifted to him from a dark place.

On the inside of the lid, the maker of the box inlaid a mirror. Beveled edges were covered in a strange, swirling script. Cal could see his face in the mirror. But, it wasn't a reflection of his now terror- carved face. The reflection revealed Cal's courtroom face: stone features and blazing eyes, the face of a conqueror. A fog began to dance around the edges of the mirror, blurring the fine script, and then it started to change. Cal's face contorted into a reflection of a funhouse mirror; his powerful features being pulled and twisted in all directions.

He couldn't move. A weight pushed on him, threatening to collapse the chair. He tried to scream but nothing came out. Saliva dribbled out of his mouth and onto his blood-red tie. Trying to shut his eyes, he no longer had control over his facial muscles. His eyes remained open, staring at the contorted image in the mirror. The image began to clear but instead of Cal's face reflecting back at him; the face of Lester Boudreaux stared out. The heavy black eyebrows suspended over pools of darkness which should have been his eyes. The thick lips stretched an evil smile over the broad face. Boudreaux gaped at Cal and began to laugh. The hideous cackle emanated out of the mirror growing in intensity until Cal felt drivels of blood leaking out of both of his ears.

Cal twisted and seized at his desk while Radar stepped back. The box shimmered again, and a wind stirred the leaves inside. The signet ring on the charred finger began to glow a bright white. It built in intensity, the entire box shimmered and glowed sending flashes of light around the office like a crazy laser show. A final explosion of light shot out of the box and all over Cal; sticking to his quivering body like hot napalm. Teeth clenched, he shivered like an electrocution victim. A sucking sound engulfed the room and the hot white light shot back into the box, taking Cal's glowing body with it. The lid slammed shut with a finality. A wisp of smoke hung above it then faded to nothingness.

Radar, stared at the box. After a moment, he smirked. He touched the box and its warmth radiated throughout his hand. He wouldn't fear the box. He wouldn't fear anything anymore. He had made his deal with Boudreaux, and the crazy man had come through. He removed the pencil from behind his ear, tossed it on the desk, and settled into Cal's chair. The polished lid of the box felt as smooth as glass under his fingers. Picking up the phone, he punched two numbers.

"Michelle, if anybody needs me I'm going to spent the rest of the day working in Cal's office. Call the state prison and get me in to see Lester Boudreaux. I'll be handling his appeal now. Yes, Cal gave it to me. No, I don't think it would be necessary to confer with you on it. Well, you can take that up with Cal when you see him again. Now make that call to the prison and order me some lunch, tuna on rye. Oh, one last thing, Michelle, in the future call me Mr. Guidry. I think Radar is gone.

Mr. Guidry dropped the phone in its cradle and picked up the box. A warm, hum radiated across his hand and up his forearm. He smiled and swiveled the chair around. Pushing aside Cal's plaques and awards, he made room for the box in the center of the middle shelf.



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