The Puzzle Box
by Tim Major
Inside the wrapping is a wooden box, small enough to be held in one hand.
Its weight hints at something substantial within the butterscotch-coloured case.
Kelly’s fingers slip into the indentations along one of the shorter sides. “How do I get inside?”
“It’s a puzzle box,” her father says, “There must be a trick to it.”
She turns the box upside down. Something shifts within. “But who’s it from?” she says.
Her father retrieves the wrapping, which contains no tag. He shrugs and peers at the box.
“Maybe you’ll find out if you open it?”
She watches him warily, but his interest is genuine. This isn’t a gift from him. Her fingers push at the indentations, her nails clipping the almost-hidden gaps between the flush wooden panels.
Her father reaches out but Kelly turns away, hugging the box to herself.
The afternoon flows like treacle. More gifts are offered, and food, and conversation. Kelly shies away.
Her hands are full, the left supporting the box and the right pushing and teasing at the panels.
She is left alone.
Kelly hears her parents’ voices downstairs. They are lowered in concern.
She still holds the box. Her fingers flex, pushing this way and that.
Inside the box, other fingers push, matching her movements.
How do I get outside?
Issue #5 CONTENTS
Keeping it Necroreal
David Van Gough
The Quick and the Dead
The Potters' Field
Shed Shed Shed
Rachel Ann Girty
The Shivering Girls
The Monarch of the Sill Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
The Puzzle Box
Pink Afternoon, Reconstruction
Reflections of a Pissed Off Killown
Tim Major is a 35-year-old writer based in Oxford in the UK. His time-travel horror novel, You Don’t Belong Here, will be published by Snowbooks in September 2016 and his horror novella, Carus & Mitch, was published by Omnium Gatherum in February 2015. His short stories have featured in Interzone, Perihelion, Every Day Fiction and numerous anthologies. He is Editor of the UK SF magazine and The Singularity.
He blogs at www.cosycatastrophes.wordpress.com.