It seemed like just an ordinary box.
The wood was old and weathered, the fastenings were heavy brass, and the lid was inlaid with an ornate silver symbol.
My father willed it to me after the state executed him for murder. He left no explanation or instructions, only the small, mysterious wooden box.
At first I considered tossing it into the river. The last thing I wanted was a reminder of the man that had abandoned his son in favor of a life of violence.
But, being the weak-willed person that I am, my curiosity soon overwhelmed me, and I could stand the mystery of the box no longer. Opening the box, however, was easier said than done. Attempts to pry open the latches with my hands yielded only abraded fingers and broken nails.
Screwdrivers were snapped, hammers were shattered, and drill motors were burnt out, yet the contents of the box remained out of reach, encased in a wooden tomb determined not to yield its secrets.
Eventually I gave up, doing what I’ve always done when I can’t get what I want– I told myself that whatever was inside was not worth the effort, and did my best to forget about it. But the box would not allow me to forget so easily, and, one night while I was sleeping, it opened of its own accord.
I awoke to an eerie silver luminescence that filled my bedroom, and a deep sense of pervasive cold that chilled the surroundings to absolute stillness. As I sat up in my bed I was overwhelmed by a sense of unfamiliarity, as if I had been transported somewhere that looked very much like my bedroom, but was home to someone, or something else.
The silver light was emanating from beneath my closet door, lending a sense of unreality to everything that bathed in its pallid sheen; casting odd shadows that seemed to creep and move in the corner of my eye.
I could feel myself standing up, though I had not willed myself to do so, and slowly, quietly, I crept towards the closet. My fingertips brushed the knob, recoiling for a moment from the penetrating cold. Then resolutely, firmly, I grasped it, pulling the door open to reveal the box.
The hinges had sprung open wide; the light spilling forth was piercing and intense. My eyes filled up with the light, and felt as if they would soon burst, yet I could not tear them away. I could feel myself falling, slowly forward into an abyss of silver light that enveloped my horizon and became my entire being.
Just before it swallowed me, the box snapped shut, and I found myself on the floor, my sweat-drenched cheek pressed tight against the cold rough wood of the box.
I pushed myself back to my feet. The eerie silver light was gone, and my room seemed once again my own. Yet something was still not right. The cheek that had touched the box, was throbbing with a burning pain. I wandered into the bathroom and flipped on the light, gasping at my grotesque reflection.
The symbol on top of the box was burned into my cheek. I reached up to touch it, but as I did so it faded. But the brand was not the only souvenir the box has left me with. I can feel a presence in me, an unwelcome guest inside my mind.
I find myself missing time, awaking in strange locales with blood splattered on my clothing. But that is not what worries me the most.
What worries me the most is the call I received from my lawyer yesterday, asking for clarification on the amendment I had made to my will.
He wondered why the only thing I wanted to leave my son when I died was an unopenable wooden box.
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