An Unconventional Companion
I stared at the dark wooden box in my lap. I’d just taken money from a stranger to carry this box on the plane, and I was at an absolute loss.
“Sir, I have to ask you to place carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you,” a bright-eyed flight attendant told me.
I jumped at the voice. Stop acting guilty, I told myself as I slid the box onto the floor. You’ve done nothing wrong.
Unless the box had a bomb.
It’s already been through security, a small voice echoed in my head. And it’s not that heavy.
I nodded. Right, of course it couldn’t be a bomb. I was only getting paid to take a box from Indianapolis to San Francisco. I felt an urge to pick up the box again, and I complied.
Besides, you need the money, murmured the same voice, louder this time.
I really did. A hundred thousand dollars was enough to help me get squared away– to pay off student loans, get a new laptop, maybe a down payment on the apartment I'd been eyeing–
The world is run on money.
It was, wasn’t it?
A few hours in, I drummed my fingers nervously on the box. I’d put it down once more but almost immediately picked it up again. I needed to be holding it. Besides, it smelled good. It smelled… exciting. The scent was driving me crazy now. How had I just noticed it?
I nodded fervently. It was, it was very nice.
I wasn’t addicted, though.
Then put the box down.
I obeyed, sliding the box onto the floor. A minute later, it was in my hands again. What?
Try opening the box.
I shook my head. It wasn’t mine, it wasn’t my business, I didn’t want to get involved.
The box in my lap trembled a little.
My eyes widened. Was it alive? Had I just taken an animal across national borders? This had to be twelve kinds of illegal.
Not alive, no. The voice told me. At least, not in a conventional sense.
I didn’t know what that meant. I noticed the scent was gone.
If you knew, you’d want to get rid of me, just like the last one.
Rid of… you? I looked carefully at the strange, yet nondescript, box.
“What are you, exactly?” I asked the voice.
I am an unconventional companion, it responded.
“Oh,” I squeaked, bewildered. “I guess that’s fine then.”
The box was talking to me in my head. Okay. I was just going a little insane. Which was fine. I put the box down, resisting the urge to grab it and hold it close. The memory of the enticing smell remained.
You’ll pick it up again, the voice said, quieter. They always do.