A Box Within

First place winner of the June-July Hidden Power Competition. Sometimes it takes an outsiders view to make real a life so tragic and flawed, that once shown its true colours revitalizes a need for change. It shows that sometimes the greatest power man bestows, is the ability to change their life for the betterment of something far more valuable.


4. The Interview

The palpable silence was broken only by popping from the fizzy drinks, and of course the humming of that strange metallic box. Claire rubbed her forehead as her headache reached maturity, the pain setting in deep and blinding. 

"What life are you offering?" Claire said quietly, fighting through the pain. "You said you're here to change my life, how?"

"That's not up to you to decide. That's also my job, in a way. It's in the fine print as such." Irvine said as he continued to stay unnaturally still, that smile starting to get on Claire's nerves.

"Stop speaking in riddles, it's too damn early and I'm too hungover for this," Claire said loosing her patience. "Just do what you're here to do then leave me."

"But you asked me to be here," he said. "Not directly of course, you didn't know I even existed until about twenty minutes ago. But you forced me to show up by the life you are leading. It was only a matter of time really."

"'The life I'm leading?'" Claire said, offended. "Is mine so different to anyone else's? I'm just having fun, I'm eighteen, its perfectly acceptable to go to parties."

Irvine chuckled. "A year ago you were asked by your future's adviser what job you'd like to have. Do you remember what you said?"

Claire squirmed, "something about psychology I think, I wanted to help people."

"Exactly," he said, picking back up his drink, then hesitating. "You were advised to go to college then university. Yet, here you are." He gave in to his temptation and drank the Fanta, cringing with pain he put it back down again.

"Plenty of people don't get their dream jobs."

"Most people at least try."

"Why should I bother?!" She said loudly, standing up fists clenched. Immediate head-rush forced her back down into her seat. 

"How many sexual partners have you had?" Irvine said after a pause, his smile growing.

"What has that got to do with anything? What kind of interview is this?"

"What about names, do you remember their names?" He pressed on again, noticing her lack of response he delved deeper. "What about the name of the last person you shared your body with? The father to your child?"

Claire smirked, "you're wrong, I don't have a kid." She took a sip from her drink in victory.

"Not yet, it's still inside of you," he laughed, "didn't you know?"

Saliva built up in Claire's mouth, a sickly horrible taste as she began to retch and heave, the desire to be sick was intense but nothing came out.

"You really didn't know? It's only four weeks gone, you can buy a test later if you don't believe me," he said, his eyes gleaming. "I'm never wrong though, and you might want to save your money."

Claire's vision began to fade and her breathing increased, she was having a panic attack and began hyperventilating. Irvine reached out a pale hand and lightly touched hers. She recoiled, but felt immediately better. 

"This box and what lies inside is here for you and your child, it's an escape from this lie you're living. But it will not open unless you want it to," Irvine said, his face serious. "You can hear it calling for you, can you not?"

She nodded, shaking and holding her drink close to her chest. Claire didn't need to think anymore, the shock of the news had spurred on something within her. Without a second thought she reached out to the now screaming metallic box and with both hands pried it open. A flash of light and a high pitched screech resonated around her, as the light faded she was finally able to see what exactly was in that mysterious box. 

Irvine smiled on with glee behind the blinding light, his teeth shining in the glare. 

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