The next day the slime slid down from the roof and landed in a pile in front of their doorstep. This time it was in the morning. They were dressed and ready for work. They stepped outside and saw that it was so much more than it had been the previous evening. The mound was almost as tall as they were.
Part of it moved and they were certain they saw a face in it. The mouth looked like a toothless grin that was big enough to swallow their head.
Wisely, they took a step back and closed the door. They decided to call pest control. Not because they thought it was a pest or that someone else would actually know what to do with it, but because they didn’t know who else to call and they wanted someone to come and see what it was before they thought they had gone crazy.
It was hard to make up something that would get someone to come quickly, but they managed. The pest control came, searched, and didn’t come up with anything. Shaken, but starting to wonder about themselves, they went to work. As long as it wasn’t there when they came back. That was all. As long as it wasn’t there anymore.
When they got back from work, there was nothing there. They grabbed a ladder and checked their roof. There was nothing there. Nothing to roll off right there again. It had to have been their imagination. Maybe they were tired? Maybe they needed a vacation.
The slime slid down from the roof and landed in a pile in front of their doorstep. They might have stood there horrified, if they had had enough sense. As it was, they were too confused about what the mass could be to be horrified yet. They wondered if there was something on the house that could leave behind that sort of residue.
They stepped outside, in their slippers, because they hadn’t been bothered to put on actual shoes. Not at this time of evening, when they were winding down from the day. They walked over to whatever it was and looked at it. It could have been a glob of anything, as far as they were concerned. There was no colour.
Making a face, they decided wisely not to touch it. They would grab the hose and spray it away. It was like a drop of gelatin or something and whatever it was they just wanted to clean it up. They went back inside in order to get on some proper shoes.
Coming out to hook up the hose, they found instead that they couldn’t do anything with it because it was completely gone at that point. The slime had disappeared. They stared, wondering where it could have gone, decided that it had slipped down to the sewer drain somehow and that it was no longer their problem. They went back inside.
She had never liked mysteries. You could only read them once, after all, because once it was over you knew everything and it didn’t matter as much.
This was why she was so annoyed when one dropped right in the middle of her life.
“Wouldn’t you rather the mystery be solved and it not be a problem later on?” her best friend asked as they sat in the police station.
She shook her head. “It’s real life now. Who says it’ll be solved?”
“That’s a bit pessimistic, don’t you think?”
“There was a dead person in my house. Damn straight I’m pessimistic.”
The box hadn’t been opened in years. The damp of the swamp had softened the outside, though the inner metal lining and clasp kept it as closed as ever. The smell was somehow worse than the surrounding waters, though whether that came from the rotten wood or whatever had been stored inside was a mystery.
The lock and hinges were metal, rusted together. Some design shown on the front, at one point, though it was now impossible to tell.
An axe dropped down on back hinge. A bitten back curse as the weapon tried to bounce back up. Readied again, the axe fell back down.
The box, the true box, seemed unmarred. Trying to avoid the wood, heading straight for the hinge, and part of the external shell still fell off, exposing more of the tarnished surface.
This continued for some time, until axe stopped. Given up. The box was left, stuck in the muck beneath it, closed as it had been when it had been found. Still unopened.
Of course, there was nothing inside, so the only thing lost was time.