I found something odd at work today. While I'd rather not divulge the precise nature of what I do (for the obvious reason: it allows those who make their work tracking "Runners" to find me with greater ease; this has a negative effect on my life expectancy, y'know?), I will say this much: when I sat down at my desk this morning, I found something odd in the top drawer. An envelope; not addressed to my alias, but to, well, "AM".
As for the envelope: no symbol, no logo; nothing. No stamp, so this was obviously hand-delivered. I put the envelope back in the drawer, and waited until work was over to look into it further. I asked my boss about whether he knew anything about it, and he said that he hadn't heard anything; I nodded, and replied that someone else in my division had been having a problem. He laughed, and told me to tell my "friend" that she should deal with it on her own time.
Nevertheless, when work was done, I waited until I was alone in my office. I laid the envelope on the desk, felt it; bubble-wrapped, and there were several humps inside. The contents, presumably. I used a pen-knife to flick open the top, and carefully prodded each lump from the envelope. Four lumps.
Three of them were just balls of bubble-wrap; decoys, presumably. The fourth, a black box-like object, wrapped, too, in that constant wrap. I cut it away, and laid the cuboid on the desk. I don't know how to describe it; I am not an expert in textiles. Soft to the touch, it swing upon on a set of hinges. Before I did so, I noticed a slip of paper hanging out. I pulled it out, and read the note enclosed.
Setting the red-inked note to one side (a different side to the growing pile of bubble-wrap and envelopes), I placed my fingers along the seal between them; a single nail went in, and then I heard an ominous creak. My neck jerked up; someone had entered the room - the janitor, presumably. He looked around, saw me, and smiled.
"You're the last one?"
"Yes, sorry, do I need to leave?"
"Nah, love, 's fine. Just lock up when you're done."
He threw me a set of keys, which I caught handily. With a too-saucy wink, he turned around and walked back out of the room, while my heart tried to cool itself. Have I adjusted to the "civilian life" so easily, that a single dramatic release of suspense is enough to make my heart start pounding in my chest? It's pathetic.
In any case, I put the keys next to the note, and placed my fingers back onto the divide; a single nail went into the gap. A slight push downwards and without a sound, it swung open. There, on a bed of even-softer material, sat a doll, no longer then my index finger. Looking back on it now, it looked like a crude mock-up of me; across the face, a crude copy of my mask, cracked and chipped. The hair was made from string, which looked like it had been forced in through too-small holes; the clothes ramshackle and only the crudest imitation of how I had dressed myself before moving in with Vanitas.
In hindsight, perhaps I should have noted that "cuboid" and "box" were poor descriptives of the items. Given the design of the interior, and the shape of it in general, "coffin" would have been more appropriate.
The mask looked as if it could be removed; I used the same procedure as I had with the coffin lid. Fingernail under, lift. The mask fell away (there were some small latches on it, which were released when I removed it); on the back of it, I note, was another shape. A circle, with the letter A laid within. Not sure what that's meant to mean. In any case, the "face" behind the mask caught my full interest; unlike the rest of the doll, this seemed lovingly well-crafted. A replica of the human eyeball within a head; the only parts of the head that were attached to it were those which were needed to make it not look abnormal with the mask laid on, I'd imagine. A grey eye, and a black iris. Remarkably lifelike, it stared intensely straight-ahead. Given the angle I'd be holding it at, it was looking straight at me.
I found myself shuddering -- accursed "civilian life" -- as I put the eye-doll back into it's coffin, clumsily laying the mask over the head as I did so. I put what I needed to into the bin, took the coffin, locked up my office, and went home.
As I got home, I found Vanitas walking around; massive bags under her eyes, and she looked at me with two bleary ones. "Hiya," she smiled. I took the coffin out of my pocket, and showed it to her. She looked straight past the coffin, and straight at the slip of paper that came with it. Her eyes lit up a little as she did so.
"... okay, <name removed>, I'm going to ask you a very serious question now, it's very important, please don't lie to me."
"What is it?"
"This, this thing. It's, how can I put it... I had this guy who I dated once. I dumped him, and he's been stalking me ever since, it's really creepy."
"How is it relevant to," I gestured at the object in my hand, "this?"
"Well", Vanitas tapped her teeth together a few times. "He did stuff like this to me all the time. What I eventually learned was this: don't worry about it, ignore it. It'll be fine, he's just trying to weird you out."
"Why's he going after me?"
"I guess he found out that you lived with me, or something. Look, in future, just don't touch it if you see something else like it. Report it to the cops if it happens again, maybe they'll listen to you."
That conversation - especially the last half of it - isn't exact, but it's close enough to get the gist. Vanitas took the eye-doll off me and took it outside; I'm guessing she threw it away or something. It weirded me out a bit, that's all.
That boyfriend of hers... he's pretty obsessed, I think. There's such strange people in this world; we could have a thousand years to see the planet, and you wouldn't scratch the surface of the wells of people and personalities you find strewn throughout. Or so I think, anyhow.