Guinevere fastened the top button of her dress shirt. Straightened out her skirt, rising a little too high after sitting, and preceded to Mr. Wilson’s office.
“Yes, Mr. Wilson?”
“Did you stack these manila envelopes on my desk?”
“No, and I haven’t seen anyone come into your office,” she said, before passing the large skyscraper window. One hundred and five flights up, it made her nervous. Guinevere leaned over Mr. Wilson’s desk and searched the envelopes for an address or a clue.
“They’re unmarked,” he said.
“Oh? Have you opened one?”
“Are you kidding, unmarked envelopes sent to a newswire? I better call in Homeland Security. Can you get these out of here?”
She paused. “Sure.”
“Maybe you should use gloves?” he said.
Guinevere lifted the empty waste basket and scraped the envelops off the desk using her clipboard.
“There, I’ll get these looked at. Maybe the mailroom knows something.”
Mr. Wilson took a phone call and nodded. She slipped away holding the wastebasket, filled with the twenty or so unmarked manila envelopes and proceeded to the elevator. Her curiosity grew while waiting for the elevator.
She pulled one out and sniffed it. Traced her fingers along the seal, about to rip it open.
“Going Down?” Gregory, the elevator operator asked.
“Ah, yes,” She stepped inside.
Strange, the wastebasket felt heavier. There was an unpleasant odor. It wouldn’t have come from Gregory, dressed top-notch, a very proud and dapper man.
The elevator doors opened.
The waste bin slipped from her hands. What?
The mailroom wasn’t much farther down the corridor but she couldn’t pick up the bin. Taking another look inside, she saw that the envelopes had grown and each now the size of a shoebox. Were they even envelopes to start with?
What if she held some type of expanding bomb? She better hurry. Bending over, she pushed, but it still wouldn’t budge.
“Tommy, “ she called, spotting a mail clerk. “Can you help me get this to the mailroom?”
“Sure.” He ran over. “What’s that smell?”
The odor grew stronger, a humid odor, somewhat like goats on a grassy pasture, earthy.
“Just help push, will you?” she ordered.
“This came in the mail? Shouldn’t we call security?”
Guinevere stood up and adjusted her skirt. “Guess we should.”
“I see you’re struggling.” It was Mr. Hampton, mail-hall security. “Whatcha have there in that waste bin?”
“These came in the mail today. But not like this. They’re expanding,” she said.
Mr. Hampton’s hands fell from his hips. “You need to get back—both of you.” He radioed security for back up. “Way–back, Ms. Martin.”
She did as she was told. Tommy stood in front of her.
“That smell? Is it coming from those?” Mr. Hampton asked.
They both nodded.
And right then, one by one, envelopes began jumping out of the waste bin.
“WHAT-The!” called Mr. Hampton. He pulled his gun.
Two security guards flew from the stairwell and were next to Mr. Hampton, guns drawn.
Pop. Pop. Pop. Envelope landed on the shiny tiles. Pop. Pop. Pop. They moved through the corridor, lining up like ants, and preceded up the stairwell.
Mr. Hampton, Tommy, Guinevere, and two security guards, watched without moving.
“Shouldn’t we stop the envelopes?” Guinevere asked.
Mr. Hampton shook his head out of a stupor. “Yeah, we should.”
But he didn’t move.
The twenty envelopes were fast. They hopped up the steps.
“Are those some type of drone robots?” one guard asked.
“Whose office were they delivered to?”
“That’s probably where they’re going. Make haste!” They all gathered in an elevator and pushed the 105th floor.
Mr. Hampton picked up his radio. “We believe there may be a threat to Mr. Wilson of TechStation. Can Brewster get over there?”
The envelopes had a head start and were ahead of their convoy. But when the group came out of the elevator, they saw them traipsing down the hallway, legs sprouting from the manila envelopes, white and black and brown furry legs like cats?
“Someone sent cats to Mr. Wilson’s office?” she whispered.
The group chased the envelopes and turned the corner to Mr. Wilson’s. The legs had grown larger. Heads had sprouted up, but they weren’t cat’s heads.
Guinevere screamed. A sight she’d never seen before.
Mr. Wilson hearing the noise, stood outside his office, taking notice of the tidal wave approaching him, he slammed the door shut.
Twenty hybrid cat-reptiles crashed into the door.
Guinevere held the crew back. They ducked behind furniture while personnel screamed and hid behind each other, some took to their offices and locked the doors.
“Now what?” Guinevere asked the Mr. Hampton.
The cat-reptilian hybrids turned to Guinevere after they finished sniffing and licking Mr. Wilson’s office door.
The security guards held their guns. The menacing hybrids came toward them. Tongues dripping, hungry eyes growing larger, they too, grew larger, moving forward, step-by-step, until Mr. Wilson’s door flew open.
Standing in place of Mr. Wilson was a large cat creature with yellow reptilian eyes, and as Guinevere focused wings sprouted from his back. “It ate Mr. Wilson!” she shrieked.
The cat hybrids shifted back toward the winged creature. Lifting his wings, they raced toward him and jumped into his arms. Where they quickly disappeared under an apparent cloak.
“Ms. Martin, please take all calls for the week.” The winged creature said, and turned, walking toward the large glass window; the wind blowing papers into tempests throughout the room. He arched over the ledge and jumped.
Mr. Hampton, the guards, and Guinevere ran to the window.
He was gone.
Each looked at the other without words, unbelieving what they’d witnessed. Shredded envelopes were strewn throughout the office. Guinevere picked one up and peered over Mr. Wilson’s desk.
Crumbs, maybe seeds, her eyes followed the trail that led to an open drawer, the locked drawer. Open, she pulled it out fully. A reflection of light beamed up at her. She reached in for the photo.
“Whatcha got there?” Mr. Hampton asked, behind her, mumbling about what had happened.
Inside the picture frame, a large photo of a radiant cat-lizard, the most beautiful creature Guinevere had ever seen. Hidden away in a locked drawer.
Staring at the photo she whispered, “Suppose he went to see her?”
... a collection of ten supernatural stories in the vein of Twilight Zone.
"Rooms with a Chill" by K.L. Hallam