10.24 The Package
As we move into summer, I am trying to get myself into some semblance of a better shape. This seems to be the pattern as I hit my late 30s and towards where I am now. During the summers, I am quite active - bike riding, swimming, lots of walking - and in the winter I get more sedentary. With the cold weather comes a bit of extra weight. So, about this time of year, I try and kick into gear and get shed those extra few pounds around my waist.
Last week, I received an email from Dr. Levon Porter, an audiologist who has been in the medical field for over fifteen years. The email came through LinkedIn as a job offer. Levon wrote that after careful scrutiny of my resume, he wanted to offer me the position of Executive Assistant/Errand Runner. I felt that those are two very different things, but I must admit, I was intrigued.
The position was flexible and I could work from anywhere. Under the required skills, these caught my eye: loyal, respectful, and a great communicator, and act as an alternative telephone correspondent from time to time. The benefits listed included high income potential and unlimited growth potential. The email was signed off as: Dr. Levon Porter, Pediatrician. At the beginning of the email he was an audiologist, but I just thought - Why can’t you be both?
I had some extra time and wanted to take off that extra weight, so I figured I could ride my bike around town to complete Dr. Porter’s errands. Make some additional cash while I was at it, after all, this position had high income potential. I replied to the email and Dr. Porter himself, or perhaps one of his other alternative telephone correspondents, called me right away. I was to start the next day. I didn’t have to do anything, just wait for a phone call from a client with further instructions.
My phone rang loud and clear at nine in the morning. I answered and a mysterious voice said, “Is this Dr. Levon Porter?”
“Yes,” I said. “The audiologist.”
“No, the pediatrician.”
“I will provide an address where you will pick up a package. A piece of paper with another address will be paper clipped to the package. Deliver the package to that address.”
I wrote down the address, got dressed, and hopped on my bike. A cool thirty minute ride later and I was at the abandoned Scientology building on Yonge Street. The front door was all boarded up, so I walked around to the back. A window had been smashed and I was able to crawl through. Inside, shafts of light cut across the rooms that had old broken furniture. Chairs missing a leg. Desks missing draws. It smelled like mold and mice feces.
The package sat on the floor right inside the front door. It would easily fit into my bike basket. When I reached down to pick it up, I heard a noise like the creaking of floorboards above me. I froze, waited, listened.
What seemed like a long time passed.
An eruption of noise as several people came running down the stairs from above. The old wooden stairs seemed to be ready to collapse. I ran around the corner into the next room, and hid inside an old broom closet. Keeping the door open a crack, I saw them coming down the stairs. But they weren’t people. I mean, I guess they had to be people, but they weren’t. They were hunched over, arms and legs thin as straws, with crumpled torsos that had ridges running down what should have been their chests. And the eyes, as big as tea cup saucers. Yellow as the sun.
I put my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming.
They stopped in the foyer, steps away from the package, on the other side of the wall from me. I heard them sniff the air.
They continued down the stairs.
I waited what seemed like hours. The sun was going down and I didn’t want to be in this building at night. I burst through the door, ran past the package, and dove through the broken window at the back. Shaking, I jumped on my bike and went home.
That night I went to bed, looking at the world in a different way. I eventually fell asleep. My phone rang in the middle of the night. Without opening my eyes, I reached for my phone.
“This is Dr. Levon Porter, Audiologist,” the voice on the other end said. “You didn’t deliver my package. Open your eyes.”
Hunched over bodies. Crumpled torsos. Ridges down the chest. A dozen tea cup saucer-sized eyes eyed me in the dark. I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out except -