“Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Well, this is Overlook Drive, and that,” Danny pointed forward, “is 239. And that,” he thumbed behind them, “is 235. So this must be 237.”
“I suppose so. Come on, it’s almost dark,” Jack said as he put the delivery truck into park, opened the driver’s side door, and hopped down to the ground. Danny followed, exiting the passenger side.
Swinging open the back doors of the delivery van, they both stared for a minute at a long wooden box. The pine wood was rough, and had a faint odor of earthiness to it. Almost like it had been left out in muddy yard for too long. The boards were rough, dry, and had been squeezed together so tightly that Danny had wondered if the box might be air tight. Large red letters spelling out FRAGILE had been stamped all over the wood. It had been a struggle just to get it into the van, and it was hard to believe that anything in that box could be fragile.
“Oh, it’s here!” a loud voice squeaked.
They both jumped a little, and looked over at a little old lady standing a few feet away. She had to be eighty years old if she was a day. She wore a pale blue dress that fitted around her like a loose pillow case. Tightly curled white hair sat on her head like the ghost of a cat. Thick rimmed black glasses were perched on her face, held up by a long aquiline nose.
Jack flipped through some papers, and said, “Mrs. Massey?”
“Yes dear! And what are your names?” she asked, her thin lips curling up at the edges into a strange smile.
“I’m Jack, and this is Danny. Ma’am, this is a pretty heavy crate. Can we open it up out here? It might be easier to just take the contents inside.”
As Jack was speaking a thundercloud of disapproval rolled over Mrs Massey’s face. “No,” she said. It was just a single word, but it cut into them like a hot dagger. “I’ve opened up the cellar around back. It needs to go there.”
The thundercloud dissipated as fast as it had formed, and her tone turned almost musical as she said, “Do you like cookies? Once you get it inside, I’d be happy to give you some cookies. I made them fresh this morning!”
“Come on, lets get this over with,” Jack said with a sigh, and they both started to slide the heavy crate out of the van.
The front yard was full of thistle and tall grass. Danny could feel the stickers poking through his jeans like dozens of tiny needles jabbing at his calves. Mrs Massey walked about as slow as one would imagine, which was fine, since Jack and Danny could go no faster with each barely holding onto the ends of the heavy crate.
Turning the corner of the small house, Jack exhaled heavily, and said to Danny, “It’s about four feet behind you. It’s a regular cellar entrance, so we shouldn’t have to duck much.”
“Good thing, ‘cause my arms feel like they’re about to fall off,” Danny grumbled.
Mrs. Massey was all a twitter as they stepped down the stone steps into the cellar. Cool cellar air blew past them, and the breeze felt refreshing as it chilled the sweat that had collected all over their faces. A single bare electric bulb hung in the center of the cellar. The floor was dirt, and while dry, had an overpowering smell of mustiness.
With a heavy thump they sat the large pine box onto the ground. Together they stood up, and arched their backs, stretching out the soreness. Danny noticed that the old woman was standing silently at the bottom of the stairs. There was no light behind her, as if the cellar doors had been closed.
“So,” Danny said with a tense laugh, “how about those cookies?”
“Oh, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have desert before dinner,” Mrs. Massey said, her voice as cold as ice.
Sounds as loud as gunshots rang out in the small cellar as the wooden boards of the box splintered and broke apart like they were nothing but twigs. Dark rich soil spread onto the cellar floor like a spilled ink bottle. Danny opened his mouth to scream as red eyes stared at him. The last thing he saw was a set of shining white fangs.