The Delivery by Nicholas Truesdell

It was the dead of night and snow fell upon the ground in excess. Michael walked outside to make sure nobody was in the area, but the darkness made it impossible to tell. It was so dark outside that one had to carry a light source of some kind to see anything. This was exactly what Michael needed, nobody would be disturbing him on a night like this. Anyone sensible would be inside for fear of being beset by thugs. It wasn’t strange for it to be shaded at night, especially in winter, but very rarely did it ever become so utterly black.

Michael walked slowly to the living room. His house was arranged in such a way that one had to walk through the kitchen to get there. This suited him just fine, he needed something from the kitchen anyway and this would save time. He walked past the refrigerator, the stove, the sink, and stopped at the knife rack.

The knives were all in place and were ordered from smallest to largest. The different kinds of knives were separated by the various levels of the rack. The highest rack held the small knives used to cut vegetables. These didn’t suit his needs. The middle rack held longer knives used for sawing bread, and harder fruits and vegetables. These would work, but would make the process longer, something that needed serious consideration. The lowest rack held butcher’s knives. They ranged in length, but even the smallest of these knives looked fearsome. These would also accomplish what he wanted, but would end it quickly. Indecision racked him, so he settled on the longest knives from the middle and the bottom rack. With a knife in either hand, he left the kitchen and walked into the living room.

If someone had taken a picture of this moment it would look like a horror film, but in reverse – a film where the victim held the power. Michael stood at the entrance of the living room, and in the centre, tied to a chair, was a man. The man in question was unconscious. He wore a UPS uniform, was clean-shaven, and his hair was neatly cut. The look of normality was merely a façade for what really lurked beneath. That night, the man had come to his door with a package delivery. Michael’s parents had told him not to open the door for anyone while they were away for the night, and he obeyed. He told the man that his parents weren’t here to sign for the package. The man then asked if there was anyone else who could sign for the delivery. Michael told the man there wasn’t and that he could come back around eight the following night when his parents would be home. Then the man left, or so he thought. It was already dark enough at this point that the man only had to walk a few yards from the house before he vanished completely. The darkness swallowed up the dim light from the porch. Michael felt guilty that the man would have to waste his time tomorrow returning, but there was nothing he could do. With the man gone he got back to watching TV.

It wasn’t long before he started to hear a light scraping noise from the entrance. Muting the TV, he listened to it for a few seconds until it abruptly ended. When he was home alone at night, every little sound seemed to be magnified, deliberately teasing him. Michael was relieved when the noise ceased. But another noise replaced the scraping. Heart pumping, he began to panic. The slight squeak of a door opening echoed brashly throughout the house. He told himself over and over again that it must be his parents getting home early, but even so he reached for the taser his dad kept in the end table next to the sofa.

The door didn’t close, or at least he didn’t hear it close. Michael could hear faint squeaking moving towards him. What had been paranoia turned into a real threat. He wanted to grab the phone and call the police, but was frozen petrified. All he could do was angle the taser so it couldn’t be seen in the dim light of the lamp on the end table. If he was in a situation where he had to defend himself, the element of surprise might be his only chance. It couldn’t have been more than a minute before the deliveryman stood in the door of the living room. Fear stretched every passing second. After staring at each other for a few brief moments the man spoke.

“Run, it will make this much more fun.” He hissed like some sort of serpent, sinister and elongated. Paralysed with terror, he couldn’t move, and instead only watched as the man slithered towards him. When the man was just a few feet away from him he mumbled, “You’re no fun,” then he dashed to cover the final few feet in an instant. All Michael could do was bring the taser up to waist level and push the button. He seized up briefly and then collapsed. Once the terror had subsided he drove the taser into the man a few more times to make sure he was unconscious.

For a minute, all he could do was look at the man who tried to attack him. He wasn’t even sure why the man had done it, but he knew that no matter the reason, this man was dangerous and needed to be restrained. He brought a chair from the kitchen to place the man in and brought down a few socks and shirts to use as ropes. With materials in hand, he proceeded to lift the man into the chair and tie his arms and legs securely. He stirred as Michael did this so he tasered him once more.

With the man secured he reached for the phone to dial 9-1-1, but as he looked at the man and thought about what he would’ve done if he hadn’t stopped him, he wondered what he should do. The longer he looked at his face, the more he seemed familiar. Suddenly it came to him. It had been in the news that a serial killer was in the state, that he had already raped and killed five teenagers his own age. He shuddered at the thought that he could have been the sixth victim.

I have a notorious killer in front of me, and I will decide his fate, he thought. But what is best? After countless years of adults telling him to call the police if he felt threatened, he wanted to just do this and be done with it, but something stopped him. What will happen to him if the police come? His dad was a cop, and so he assumed he’d be taken to prison, put on death row and await his fate there. But why wait? Why can’t I just do what will eventually be done? Suddenly, anger filled him. And what if he isn’t put on death row? This man deserves to die. He doesn’t deserve to spend months, if not years, in prison waiting to be killed after what he’s done! He went to get the knives.

The deliveryman was still unconscious, so he had time to decide what to do. He had a knife in both hands, and the phone in front of him. Killing him would be an act of vengeance, but he couldn’t kill for this reason alone. If he let him live and called the police, the man would be taken into custody, put in a cell and wait to be killed. During that time the families of his victims could visit, vent their hatred and make sure he was prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This would be justice in the eyes of the law and the public.

The alternative would leave Michael accountable for his death, forever. What would happen to him then? He was fine with being sent to jail if it meant the man couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. There was also the possibility that he wouldn’t be caught. His parents wouldn’t be back until late tomorrow night. He had access to a car. He could bury the body in the desert. He could attach weights to it and dump it in the ocean a few hours away.

But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t Michael’s place to judge him. Maybe it wasn’t his decision, his choice. Drowning his thoughts in a sea of questions, Michael was interrupted. It was just about then that the man woke up.

“Please,” the man whimpered. “Don’t.”