12 Jan “The stranger said that I could keep the contents of the box if I could describe it” – Creepypasta
I was allowed one peek inside the box, and then I had to describe the contents with complete accuracy to the man. If I could, without the slightest error, I would be allowed to keep the thing or things inside. The box, he said, would remain with him, and another copy of the item which I could possibly possess as my own would be newly generated by the box itself.
The man had approached me almost out of thin air; I hadn’t actually seen from where he had come. I’d been walking home from work, and had passed through a derelict apartment complex, scheduled to be torn down, but until then, tenanted by the homeless. A logical assumption about the man’s origins would be that he was one such person, but his clothes—which were all in great condition—bespoke of a comfortably wealthy life, not one of squalor. He wore a nice collared grey cardigan, crisply ironed black slacks, and shoes that, despite the rain-sloshed ground, looked freshly polished. His face seemed to belong to someone in their early sixties, and yet he moved with a dexterity and grace more befitting someone my age. There was a certain showmanship about his gestures, as he first introduced himself, and then gave me the spiel regarding the small black box.
Now, ordinarily I would’ve thought a well-dressed man prancing about in the rain offering promises of value within a strange box to be a lunatic; or at least some recently unhinged suburbanite. And while the man’s eyes were alive with fiery excitement, they were also clear, focused; not the glazed, cloudy look you’d normally expect to find in the eyes of a deranged man.
For once, I had actually heeded the morning’s forecast, and had brought with me a thick raincoat. I wore this, and the rain’s unyielding sheets felt no colder to me than a building’s air conditioning; so I humored the man and agreed to his proposal. He paid no attention to the rain, and had presumably dwelt beneath it without issue for some time, considering his sudden interception of me. I nodded to the box, he outstretched it towards me, and propped open the lid.
Inside, almost to the small, perfectly square rim, was a sort of semi-liquid substance, or semi-solid composition. It was like a black jelly, and trembled slightly despite the man’s perfectly steady hand. It was translucent, and through its murky surface I saw what appeared to be an even blacker gem within; a core or heart suspended amidst the substance, which somehow radiated a light, or emitted something similar to light, despite its totally black form. If somehow shadows could be lustrously cast, that gem’s radiance was just such a phenomenon. Just as the lid was clamped back over it, the thought came to me that the jelly surrounding the gem was not itself black, but colored that way by the Stygian luster of the gem within it.
“Well?” The man’s voice sounded eerily clear, despite the harshly audible fall of the rain upon the pavement around us.
I felt vaguely unsettled, although I couldn’t bring myself to pinpoint why. The feeling had come instantly, upon the introduction of the idea that the gem could in some way discolor whatever it touched. I have no education in minerology, spectroscopy, jewelry, or any subject which might explain the phenomenon occurring within the box; and yet I felt, with a bizarre and rationally unfounded certainty, that the gem was in some way inimical; its properties unnatural.
Leaving out the last bit regarding my suspicious thoughts, I related my observations to the man just as I’ve described them here. He listened intently, neither commenting nor providing any facial expressions which might foretell of my success or failure. Once I had finished, he stood erect—he had leaned over intimately close while I spoke—and brushed away some rainwater that had settled on the lid of the box. Then, producing a smile that was both reassuring—to the casual gamer in me—and yet deeply unsettling in some vague way, the man nodded in confirmation of my accuracy. I smiled back, mostly out of learned habit to do so when one is offered, and he motioned for me to hold out my hand.
I removed my left hand from my jacket pocket, and kept the right concealed in its own, wrapped around my house keys. That smile, and the man’s general behavior—including his still unexplainable appearance—had triggered an instinctual alarm within my mind; and I was willing, if not adequately prepared, to defend myself.
The man brought the box towards my hand, slid the lid back, and waited for me to grasp the gem. For some reason, the involved motions seemed to progress slowly, even though I hadn’t hesitated and the man hadn’t drawn the box away. When my fingers finally plunged into that black—or, as I suspected, falsely black—jelly, I felt a sensation of warmth, which I’ll admit was the opposite of what I had expected. The feeling glided up my arm, stopping just at my shoulders. I was somewhat unnerved, but not entirely alarmed, and wrapped my fingers around the gem.
It was solid, and felt a little brittle, so I gently withdrew it. Its slightly liquescent casing gave easily, and did not cling to the gem. Once it had been deprived of its core, the liquid’s black color faded to a softer grey, and I was given the impression that some inhuman yet undeniably existent life had been stripped from the substance with the removal of its heart.
The man, still smiling, put the top back on the box, pocketed it, and turned to walk away. I asked him what I was supposed to do with it, and he called out, without turning to face me, “Nurture it, in darkness if you have any sense. But don’t coddle it, you mustn’t depend upon its warmth. And when it’s re-grown its placental casing, show it to someone whose day needs a little blackening.”
Before I could ask anything else, a great torrent of rain swept through the street, obscuring all sight except for the towering forms of the street lights; and when it cleared, the man was nowhere to be seen. Dimly dismayed, I put the rock in a zip-up pocket within the interior of my jacket, and continued my walk through the occasionally torrential rain. The warmth that had briefly coursed through my arm faded away.
I live with my sister, or rather, my sister lives with me; and through my income alone the rent is paid, the groceries are purchased, and the few allowances of entertainment—internet, Netflix, online gaming subscriptions—are obtained. She can work, but refuses to, typically offering the excuse that because she had a somewhat rough childhood, she is presently unfit to join the workforce until she acquires some sort of counseling. When I offer to pay for these sessions—in exchange for the cancellation of one of the aforementioned services—she says it’s not immediately necessary; and I counter with the need for employment being necessary, and this goes on and on interminably, frustratingly, until I eventually have to go to work again.
When I arrived home, soaked and feeling that I had somehow lost something, despite having literally won an object, my sister was sitting in the kitchen, watching some video on the phone I’d bought her several months ago; the phone she had already grown tired of, and often begged me to replace with its barely superior successor. I greeted her, and she responded by asking what was for dinner. Not feeling in the mood to start up some debate regarding the delegation of duties, I told her she could have whatever she wanted, if she prepared it herself. Lying, I followed this up with the statement that I had already eaten, just so she couldn’t nonchalantly ask me to prepare something for her while I cooked for myself.
The burden of rain, and the immediately related burden of the clothing it soaks, can make one feel unexpectedly tired. As I placed my bag on the table in the living room where I set my things, I realized that I wasn’t even hungry, and really just wanted to climb into bed and rest. The day itself hadn’t been tiring, but the rain and its accompanying bleak weather made the prospect of any other activity unappealing. I ignored my sister’s sour gaze and crossed arms—embarrassingly childish behavior for someone on the cusp of thirty—and went upstairs.
There, I stripped my wet clothing and tossed them into my bathtub to drain, since the dryer downstairs was momentarily inoperative, and I hadn’t the money to afford getting it fixed. I did remove the gem beforehand, and carried it to my room, where I studied it while sitting on my bed. The glow I had discerned earlier while it had been in the box was now absent, as a heart might cease to beat when ripped from its chest of origin. Thus rendered inert, it was fairly unremarkable; like a physically refined though jagged piece of coal. I put it on my bedside table, thinking that I had been duped even though I hadn’t offered anything besides my time, and went to sleep. The man’s words regarding the gem’s dubious ability to produce some sort of growth had completely left my mind during the walk home.
I suddenly awoke to my sister standing over me, her hands reaching for my throat.
I jerked away, almost knocking my head on the wall against which my bed is positioned. She frowned; her hands still poised as if to wrap around my neck. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I asked what she was doing, and she said she had come to ask if I’d order a pizza, because there wasn’t anything in the kitchen that she’d like to eat. I always keep a mental record of the kitchen stores, and knew there were plenty of edible things, and even a few decently palpable ingredients to be found among our measly supplies.
When I explained this to her, she grew angry, and her hands twitched as if she truly meant to throttle me. Then, composing herself in her haughty, petulant way, she turned to leave. But on the way, her eyes caught sight of the gem on my table, and before I could hasten her exit, she reached out and seized the odd rock.
Her eyes were alight with a sudden avarice. In her relative poverty she hadn’t been able to afford jewelry, and I had unflinchingly refused to buy it for her. Knowing that my refusal of this item would result in an intolerable, mind-exhausting debate, I told her she could have it before she even though to ask. Any other person might’ve inquired about its origin, properties, and purpose, but my sister, only thinking to have and take and indulge, spat out a half-hearted thanks and left the room.
Unfortunately, I suffer from the curse of being unable to return to sleep once aroused from it, so I laid awake, mindlessly, only dimly aware of myself and environment. The rain had continued through my short nap, and seemed even to have intensified in the interim. I was thankful that my interaction with the strange man had been brief, or else I might’ve been seriously endangered by being out there. Our small house—which I alone had inherited from my parents but to which my sister had declared herself equally entitled—sat in a perpetually dismal little neighborhood, outside of a dreary, soul-crushing city. It rained frequently, but the variance of intensity, direction, time, and coverage prevented one from becoming accustomed to it. It was always unexpected, always unwelcomed, and always sensorially dominating.
So, lying there in my state of forced wakefulness, I could do nothing but think about—and listen to—the contemptible, chaotic rain.
But about ten minutes later, even that thoughtless peace of mind was revoked, as a scream erupted from somewhere in the house.
I dragged myself out of bed, somehow feeling more tired than I’d been earlier. The scream had obviously been my sister’s, and I suspected that she had tried to cook something for herself and it hadn’t gone well. But then another scream came, and I realized that she wasn’t downstairs, but on the same floor as me, in her room. Terror crept into my heart, as I sensed the direness of that scream. It wasn’t some dramatic vocalization of exasperation or frustration; there’d been panic, if not actual horror, in that awful cry.
I rushed into her room, praying that she’d left the door unlocked for once. I gripped the knob and threw open the door, but staggered back into the hall upon seeing the scene within.
My sister was sitting on the foot of her bed. Her hands clawed at her bare chest, and her eyes, full of some indescribable horror, stared down at the spot where her fingers were violently digging into the skin. Blood ran down her fingers and dripped onto her lap, but she paid no attention to it.
And, embedded within the center of her chest, was the black rock.
“I tied a string to it and put it around my neck, just to see what it might look like as a necklace, and it just…sank! Sank into my skin! Oh, please help me. I can’t get it out. I CAN’T GET IT OUT!”
Her nails tore at her chest, and bits of flesh went flying. Blood flecked every nearby surface, and her eyes grew maniacally wide. And, inspiring a black horror within me, the gem seemed to burrow deeper with every attempt to pry it free.
Understanding at once the correlation between her panicked actions and the gem’s further absorption, I tried to convince her to stop, but she was inconsolable, insensate, and continued her frenzied clawing and shrieking.
In only a few seconds, a bloody cavity had been made in her chest, and the area around it had been savagely scraped; raw flesh glistening beneath the ivory skin, and yet she somehow was not deterred. Now using her fingers as pliers, she reached into this grisly cavity and tried to pull the gem free, but it only withdrew from the probing fingers, situating itself in an unreachable place. In a moment of morbid clarity, which I suspect precedes death in many situations, my sister looked up at me, crimson-eyed and hideously distraught, and said:
“I think it’s drinking my soul from the inside.”
A light then faded from her eyes; one I hadn’t ever noticed throughout her life until it was gone. Her head fell forward, obscuring that newly made orifice. Despite life’s departure from the body, the corpse still trembled; as if something inside were moving about, or attempting to animate it with its own volition now that the former occupant had left. I watched a new horror be born; a sight of gruesome obscenity, of profanity against life itself. A black sludge first bubbled from the hole in her chest, making the head loll as it burst forth. Then the sludge spread throughout the body with a sickening rapidity; like the sudden onset and proliferation of some infectious disease.
The body then started to violently shake; the limbs flailed; the head bobbed left and right. But the eyes, bereft of life, stared dumbly in whatever direction the head pointed them. In what couldn’t have been more than thirty seconds, my sister’s body was completely encased within a semi-solid shell of that horribly familiar black, jelly-like substance. And only then, when she had been completely armored in the jet-black ooze, did the gem resurface—gleaming despite no light having fallen onto it. It stuck out from her chest, proudly protruding; glowing with some awful life-force.
Some impetus of primal courage demanded that I rush towards this abomination and rip from its chest that sinister gem, and yet my body was immovably frozen in fright. Emotions warred in my mind; I felt compelled to fight, to free my sister’s corpse of this defiling object, and yet in my sane and civilized life I hadn’t ever faced a situation even remotely similar. Before me was something I would’ve thought unreal, if I hadn’t seen it come into existence. Its resistances and abilities were unknown to me.
Before I could dispel my horror long enough to make up my mind towards some action, the blackened figure rose; animated by the dark power which I now knew had existed within that abysmal gem since it first came into my possession. My sister’s body, totally unidentifiable beneath the covering of filth, lumbered towards me; silently, eerily, a necromantically driven automata of corrupted flesh.
Now, looking back on that horrific night, I do regret my cowardice; but I hadn’t any other option, at least not one which would’ve ensured my own safety. Before the slime-coated figure could reach me, I stepped out of the room and slammed the door shut. I then ran into my bathroom, pulled on my still-soaking coat, and fled downstairs. I heard footsteps overhead stomping about, aimlessly, as if the reanimated corpse was attempting to figure out its next course of action. Apparently, its sludge-covered hands were incapable of gripping the doorknob.
Figuring that the rain was a more manageable foe than the monstrosity upstairs, I opened the front door and plunged into the torrential night; forever leaving behind the thing that had once been my sister.
I walked for what might’ve been fifteen minutes, before a thought popped into my head that stopped me short, and reignited the heart-crushing terror which had almost ebbed away.
The man who had given me the gem said that upon its removal from the box, the box would generate a new one by itself. As the rain poured relentlessly, brutally, I shook in place; but not from the frigidity of those unceasing droplets, but from the unsettling revelation that out there somewhere, the man was skulking about; perhaps even offering at that very moment some unfortunately oblivious person the same deal he had offered me.
I decided then to not only forsake my creature-haunted home, but that dismal city as well.