Love, Anonymous xxx

A parcel arrives carrying a child's spinning top. The sender is mysterious and the top itself is... well... positively unnerving.

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1. I

There was a number on the box. It was a dull gold colour, embossed on the box's dark mahogany lid. The box itself was lined in a faded shade of red velvet - the sort of thing that might line an old-fashioned jewellery box with large china brooches and pearl necklaces. Only, this box contained no jewelelry of any sort. Instead there lay a small wooden spinning top, cushioned on the velvet. Around the edges of the spinning top were small engravings of flowers and leaves. And, on the box lid, was the letter 6.

Matilda picked up the spinning top and turned it over to examine. ''Who do you think sent it?'' she asked curiously.

But none of us had any idea.

The package had arrived with the morning post and the postman, who couldn't fit it through the letterbox, had had to knock. It was wrapped in brown paper and carrying no identifying information except for our address and a small, second hand stamp.

''Do me a favour, and throw it away,' said Sam curtly from behind the morning's paper. 'We don't know where it's been and you're both too old for spinning tops.''

Matilda threw Sam a disgruntled look which, thankfully, he missed and turned back to the spinning top. I sat down beside her and picked up the wrapping paper trying to identify the hand-writing. I'd already done this about five times though and I discovered nothing new.

''Who would send us a spinning top?'' I asked.

''That's what I was thinking,'' replied Matilda. ''We've only been here a month, most people we know who might give us something like this as a joke wouldn't even know our new address.''

''Maybe we should just put it in the bin,'' I suggested quietly so that Sam couldn't hear.

She shook her head determinedly. ''It's like a code, Alice'' she whispered to me, ''with the six on the box.''

I raised a skeptical eyebrow at my younger sister. ''Or it could be an birthday present for a six year old....''

Matilda gave me a don't-be-so-boring kind of look. ''Even if it was, why would they send it to us?''

I had no answer for that and Matilda seemed to think she'd had the last say for she threw the spinning top dramatically down onto the table-top. It landed on its point and began to spin... very fast, too fast for the casual throw Matilda had given it.

As it began to spin, an eerie whistling sound issued from the little wooden top. It sounded like wind whistling through a narrow gap and immediately made the hair on my arms stand on end. Sam looked up from the newspaper. ''Stop it,'' he said.

Matilda reached out across the table to grasp the spinning top but, as though something has nudged it, the top wobbled and moved out of reach. Annoyed, I leaned forward too but the top fell off the table and rolled across the floor. Sam put a foot out to stop it but again the spinning top evaded capture and rolled away into the gap underneath the cooker. The eerie whistling noise stopped and a silence filled the kitchen.

''Oh well,' said Sam with a slight note of smugness in his voice, ''that ends that.'' He picked up the little box which had held the spinning top and threw it in the bin.

But that wasn't the end, no matter how much I wished it had been afterwards.

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