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My head was pounding as I sat at my desk. Deadlines approaching for my article for the local tribune. As I finally began to type into the blank space sitting before me I heard a *boom boom boom* knock on the door. I checked the time. It was only 10 p.m., but still too late for any company, and I wasn’t expecting anyone. I went to the door and looked through the peep hole. No one stood on the other side of the door, but I saw a small package. It was about the size of a shoe box and it had my name ATHENA typed in large all caps on the front. No return address. No “From so and so.” Just “ATHENA.”

“Jax!” I called to my mini Labrador Poodle mix dog. He had been deep in slumber but he came sluggishly walking to the door, his six years of age just starting to show a little gray in his face. He gave me that pissed off look he always has when he is being bothered while trying to sleep. That “this better be good and I better get a treat” look.

“Yeah yeah, sorry to wake you, princess. Will you just take a sniff outside at this package before I bring it in? I’m not sure what it is or where it’s from and I’d feel better if you checked it out first.” As if Jax understood every word I’d say he slowly moved toward the door and waited for me to open it. He sniffed it, nudged it, and shrugged, giving it the all clear, so I grabbed it and brought it inside.

As I look at the wrapping on the box, it looked just as unassuming as the top. Brown craft paper covering the whole thing. My name was the only thing on it. I decided I should open it up at my desk so I could lay out anything I might find inside. As I turned it over to slice open the paper I realized it had a small black insignia on the back. I couldn’t quite make out the shape, but it could’ve been a foreign alphabet. I never had studied languages well in school, and nothing beyond the romance languages. I grabbed my scissors and cut off the emblem before I continued to rip open the package.

It was a plain shoe box, the same brown with no writing, so I opened it up to discover what was inside. “Jax! Come and lay over here by me, will ya?” I called him over. Just in case…and I felt an extra desire for his company in the uncertainty. As I lifted off the top of the box I saw a letter sitting inside on top of another box. I pulled out the letter and began to read it.

“Dear Ms. Honar,
It is with my pleasure that I sit down to write this letter to you. My name is Sir Huxtable Bedford and I am writing you in the hopes that you are willing to help me with a project. A good mutual friend of ours has referred your name to me, and he highly recommended that I come to you with my request sooner rather than later. I don’t want to offer too many details now because it is a highly sensitive case and it is quite private. Instead, I am sending you some pieces that are pertinent to the project I am working on. I believe that these pieces will give you all the information that you need to decide if you are on board with the project or not. Please take a good look at these pieces, and give me a call when you have made your decision either way. You may reach me at 678-543-2190, and ask for Winston when you call, do not use my real name. If you are interested, we will set up a meet up point to discuss further details of the case and your involvement. If you are not interested, I will send someone to retrieve the box and we will pretend this exchange never happened and I will not bother you any further. Thank you kindly for your time in reading my letter and exploring the contents of this package. I sincerely hope you are up to the challenge and willing to join me on what will most certainly be an exciting adventure.

Be Well,

Monsieur Bedford”

What a strange letter, and an even more bizarre request. Who would I have as a mutual friend with this Mister Huxtable “Winston” Bedford? So many questions floated through my mind that it made me dizzy and I needed to re-read the letter while petting Jax just to make sure I wasn’t in dreamland.

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