The tall man with the scraggly beard walked up to Larry Handberg and made his offer. Take this briefcase onto the plane, leave it at the airport in Las Vegas, I’ll give you two million dollars.
“Is it gonna blow up or something?” Larry asked, sounding more amused then concerned.
“It’s not a device of violence,” Scraggle beard said.
“Can I open it and see what it is?”
Scraggle beard snickered and said “Yes, if you cannot resist you may peek inside Pandora’s box. Just wait until you’re on the plane before you do.”
Larry had been in a slump for the past 8 months, unemployed and living with his mother. He was on his way to Las Vegas with his last bit of savings, hoping to hit a jackpot so he could support himself while he finished writing his book.
The scraggly bearded man amused him, and he really was curious to see what he was expected to transport. Two million bucks, he could write 10 books with that much money to live on! He knew it could be drugs, but hey the guy already made it through the security check. Larry, at the ripe old age of thirty-six, had never had too much excitement in his life; maybe it was time he pressed the action button.
He accepted the mans offer, and boarded the plane.
A bead of sweat trickled down Larry’s temple as he waited for the plane to begin take-off procedures. This was crazy. Was he really doing this?
A stewardess noticed him sweating and gripping a briefcase with white knuckles. She stood up from her station and walked over to his seat.
“Is everything okay sir? You look nervous.”
“Oh, I uh, I don’t fly very often, it makes me a little jittery,” Larry said, blushing.
“Can I put your briefcase in the overhead compartment for you?”
“Oh! No, thank you,” he stammered, “I’m going to work on some charts while we fly.”
The stewardess gave him a long, stern look, and then smiled.
“Just let me know if you need anything sir.”
The plane was making its way towards the runway now, the captain giving a greeting over the intercom. Larry sunk into his chair, feeling like he would be relieved when the plane was in the air and he could check out his cargo.
The man with the scraggly beard walked out of the Seattle airport. He boarded a bus and sat in the farthest seat in the back. He began chuckling to himself. His chuckle turned into a wheezing laugh, his face beginning to turn a pale red. Louder and louder he laughed, until it was a bellow emanating from his gut. The bus took a turn on a road unseen by mans eyes, and travelled into the tunnel of darkness to a lair where death lingers.
As the captain cackled the speed and altitude over the intercom, Larry looked around at the other passengers. A woman reading a book, an old man snoozing, a child watching a movie, everyone minding their own business. Now was as good a time as ever he supposed.
He pulled the briefcase up onto his lap and clicked the brass locks open. Inhaling a deep breath, he slowly pushed the top of the briefcase.
A wave of blackness hit him, and every sense went numb. As he looked around searching for something to focus on, the light came back in a flash. Only things didn’t look right, everything had a slight transparency to it. And everything was frozen in time.
Before Larry had a chance to comprehend what was going on, a voice erupted from the briefcase.
“Larry Handberg, I offer you you’re greatest desire. You will write, your voice will inspire nations, you will forever change the world with your muse, and for this you will lose your element. Your core and your soul will be mine, and forever you will torment in death’s grasp. You will receive a briefcase and your freedom when your work is done. What say you?”
Larry looked on at the blackness inside the briefcase, eyes widening to the size of tea saucers. He was so gripped by the offer, his heart turned a deep black before he had a chance to answer. Laughter thundered from the briefcase.
Upon his return home, Larry bought a typewriter with his savings. He began to write, aggressively, passionately, editing and typing until his fingers bled. The hunger to write overtook him, until he was gaunt and malnourished.
Year after year, bestseller titles added up in the name Larry Hangberg. He moved on to essays, science reviews, political journalism. His views changed the world, and when war ravaged the east it was his influence that triggered the deaths of so many innocent people.
When Larry’s work was done and he received his briefcase, he passed it on to a plump woman in her forties. He gave his instructions and his offer. He walked out the front doors of the airport, and boarded the bus to nowhere, a deep chuckle rising up inside his stomach.