Tires came to a screeching halt as the van in question came to a screeching halt. "What's that van doing?" asked the eerily ghostlike neighbor, Yeardley Ghostlike Grayburn. "Coming to a screeching halt," answered Yeardley's neighbor, who was unnamed and preferred it that way. "Must be important," said Yeardley. "Must be in a rush." "Must be delivering something important." "Looks to be a delivery van, yes." "I suppose it's the cargo that's important." "Not the van." "No, I doubt that van's important." "Could be." "Could be." ************** The doorbell rang in the manner most doorbells ring, with a "bing bong" or a "ding dong."Â One of those.Â The man ringing the doorbell had no idea what he was delivering, although he did very much know he was delivering something.Â He was basing this knowledge on his job, which was that of a delivery man. The delivery man was not wearing a name tag of any kind, but you should know his name was Ted just to make things easier for all of us.Â Ted rang the doorbell again, not because the package was too heavy (it was lighter than most of that day's delivered packages), but because he had many other packages to delivery before he could get home to his wife, Medusa.Â That's not a dig at his wife, she just happens to be Medusa. The door finally opened to reveal a well-dressed man in his early 30's.Â I say "well-dressed" because he had successfully dressed himself.Â His clothes, on the other hand, were ripped and stained from head to toe. "What?" asked the man that was well-dressed in filthy clothes.Â He had clearly just awoken and was not prepared for any sort of social interaction. Ted (the delivery man) held up the very light box for the door-answering man to see. "Package for you," Ted said. "I didn't order a package," replied the door-answering man. "Probably not," Ted replied.Â "But perhaps you ordered the thing that is in the package?" "Well, what is it?" "It's light." "I have enough lights," said the door-answering man as he prepared to become a door-slamming man. "No," Ted explained, "I mean the weight of the package is low." "Where'd it come from?" Ted glanced at the return address.Â "It says it's from Aunt Warlock." "Do I have to sign for it?" "Yes." The door-answering man slammed the door.Â Ted shrugged, walked back to his delivery truck, tossed the package in the back, and drove off. ********** "It couldn't have been that important," Yeardley pointed out.Â "The man didn't even seem to want it." "Obviously," chided the unnamed neighbor.Â "Otherwise he would have taken it." "Yes, and then perhaps we might know what was in the package." "Certainly not something important." "Certainly not." *********** Ted returned home just in time for supper.Â With him, he carried the undelivered package from earlier.Â He placed it behind the refrigerator before his wife could see him with it.Â His wife, contrary to what I said earlier, was not Medusa.Â She was simply a normal every day woman who happened to be horrible.Â That "Medusa" remark was a dig.Â I was digging at her. Medusa, as you probably won't find out later, lived down the street. Ted finished covering the undelivered package with their state-of-the-art refrigerator.Â He glanced at the table, which was set for two. "Package hidden," beeped the refrigerator. Ted let out a sigh of relief as he sat down in the chair labeled "husband."Â He called to his wife who was not Medusa and told her that he was home.Â He waited as footsteps thumped down the stairs and his wife appeared. "Where do I think you've been?" shrieked Ted's wife, Succubus. "At work, dear?"Â Ted asked, softly. "You were not at work!" Succubus shrieked again.Â "At least I don't think so...." His wife paused. Thunder rumbled. "Where have you been?" Succubus asked. "At work, dear," Ted spoke softly. Succubus sat down in a huff. "Good," she said. "That's where you were supposed to be." "That's why I went there, dear," he replied, not quite sure why he was taking a tone with her, on today of all days. "Don't you take that tone with me!" she shouted, suddenly standing again.Â "Why would you do that, on today of all days?" "I'm sorry, dear," He told her.Â "I don't know why."Â He took a sip of tepid water, cleared his throat, and began to speak again. "Happy-" "Package still hidden," beeped the refrigerator. The room would have fallen completely silent were it not for the beeping hum of the refrigerator.Â Â Succubus looked at Ted.Â Ted looked at Succubus. "An undelivered package?" she asked, her voice icy hot, or fiery cold or whatever. "It's n-n-not my fault," Ted muttered.Â "The guy didn't want it." "I don't care if the guy didn't want it!" She countered.Â "We can not take in an undelivered package!Â We have enough trouble feeding the kids!" "I know, I know, I just-" "No!Â You are to take that package back tomorrow or so help me, I will make you open it!" The rest of the meal was silent (except the humming beeps of the refrigerator) and there was assumed agreement that Ted would try delivering the package again the next day.Â No words needed to be said, because the couple had worked out a secret language of blinks and head nods for occasions when they were too furious to speak. "I'm out of ice," bweeped the refrigerator. ***************** Yeardley's unnamed neighbor was not outside at the moment being described.Â The unnamed neighbor was inside, preparing to go outside.Â Yeardley, however, was quite outside.Â He was currently in the middle of washing his car, which was evil (for more information about this alleged "evil" car, please read a Tale To Tell 'Round Midnight not yet written). The sun was shining as Yeardley threw another bucket of suds onto the car. "Afternoon, Yeardley," said Yeardley's unnamed neighbor as he walked outside. "About time," Yeardley commented. "Suppose so." The two stood for a moment.Â Suddenly a great SCREEEEEEECH was heard.Â The two smiled. "About time," said Yeardley's unnamed neighbor.Â They both glanced up to see the delivery van from the day before. "Suppose so," said Yeardley. "Must be real important if he's coming back." "Most likely." "Could it be the wrong house?" "Don't reckon.Â You order something?" "No." "I see." "You?" "No." "Must be real important then." "Suppose so." *************** The doorbell was rung a third time, as we missed the first two listening to Yeardley and his unnamed neighbor.Â It gave a "bing-bong" or "ding-dong"-type sound. Right in between the "bing" and the "bong" (or the "ding" and the "dong") the door opened.Â The door-opening man was standing in the doorway and was dressed quite lavishly, in that he was wearing layers upon layers of filthy, filthy clothes. "Package, sir," Ted told the lavish filth-bag. "I didn't order anything," the man responded, barely paying attention. "Do you have an Aunt Warlock?" "What do you care who my family is?" shouted the man, suddenly paying close attention.Â "You a spook?" "I am not a government official of any kind, sir." "Yeah, but you a ghost?" "I... no," Ted replied, already quite fed up.Â "One of your neighbors looks a bit like a ghost, though." "What do you care who my neighbors are?" shouted the door-answering man.Â "You a spook?" Ted sighed. "Look," he began.Â "I can see where this is going, so how about I just leave this package here and you can open it or destroy it or leave it here to rot?Â How about I just do that?" The door-answering man narrowed his eyes.Â "I gotta sign for it?" he asked. "Yes, ple-" The door-answering man slammed the door in Ted's face.Â Ted briefly contemplated leaving the package there, but he remembered the oath he took to "Do No Harm," and even though he was fired from doctoring long ago, he still liked to apply that oath to packages. He would do no harm to this package. He would try again tomorrow. ************* "Where's dinner?" shrieked Ted's wife, horrifyingly and also naggingly too, probably. Ted had just gotten home and was not about to just magically know where dinner is, because she's supposed to make the dinner, and Ted told her as much, except "Ted" would be "I," there wouldn't be a "had," take out the "ten," change the "was" to "am," change the "s" in "she" to a "yo," change the "h" in "she" to an "o," get rid of the "e" in "she," change the "s" after the apostrophe after "she" to an "r," then add an "e" to the end of the newly formed "you'r."Â Also change the comma to an exclamation mark.Â Like this: "I just got home and am not about to just magically know where dinner is, because you're supposed to make the dinner!" Ted shouted at his mean 'ol wife. That was more complicated than it should have been. The narrator takes a nap. ************* Okay, while the narrator's asleep, I'm going to just tell you what happens, based on notes I stole from his satchel. So basically, Ted keeps going back to the door-slamming man's house to unsuccessfully deliver the package.Â The door-slamming man is probably "smartly-dressed" because he's wearing a filthy lab coat and carrying a broken microscope.Â The two neighbors keep watching and commenting on every attempted delivery.Â Every time Ted comes home, his wife chews him out or something and he promises to deliver the package the next day.Â Eventually the door-slamming man agrees to sign for the package, but keels over just as he's about to put pen on paper.Â The two neighbors make some mundane remark about how important the package may or may not be, or about how dead the man must seem or whatever.Â The man takes the package home and tells his screaming wife that now he really can't deliver the package.Â His wife convinces him to open it himself.Â The narrator has the last few sentences written down in his notes.Â They are the following:
And inside the package was HIMSELF!Â OPENING THE PACKAGE!
The EndThe End
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