This certainly was the strangest delivery you’d ever had to make in your career. The box was large enough to hold a body, although by the sounds it made when moving about in your car, small metallic thuds against polished wood, you knew there wasn’t anything illegal in there. At least, you’d be able to use that as a defense in case there was something.
You knew the house that you were supposed to deliver it to; it was, of course, the creepiest one on the block made of black wooden planks with two dead trees resting on a lawn that was overgrown. It was creepy, but rather ingenious; while you constantly received letters from the Homeowners Association when there was a loose leaf on your driveway, nobody in that group was confident enough to approach the house. Unfortunately, as a delivery person, you couldn’t use that same excuse to avoid delivering the package.
There was a bit of a haunting beauty to the house, one that shone in its age and the rotted planks of wood painted over almost half a century ago. You admired it for a while, partially because it was a pretty house despite being so creepy, and partially because the longer you spent outside, the less time you would comparatively spent inside. History was fraught with choices that led humanity to being the dominant super power in the world, but you were certain that this choice you were making here and now was the most intelligent one in all of human history. Nonetheless, you did have to go inside eventually, so you walked up the creaking steps and pressed your finger hard against the sticky doorbell. The sound that emerged from within was something like a cathedral bell from the 1700’s, and you wouldn’t have been surprised if there was an actual system of corroded brass bells hidden somewhere in there. What did surprise you was the woman who opened the door. She was in her late 20’s, wearing only slightly tattered clothing in the form of a t-shirt and jeans, as well as a pair of large bottle glasses with a black frame that sat beneath a multi-colored headband that kept her wild forest of hair out of her face. The bright smile she flashed you revealed a few missing teeth, but it shone bright as day, unhindered by any form of shyness over the missing bones.
“Hello there!” She cried out, opening the door and stepping to the side to allow you entry. As she waved her arm to gesture you into the house, it became clear that her energy and that of the house were nearly opposite in every way, especially since she was a living being while the house was (presumably and hopefully) not, and in a voice sweet as sugar and bright as Sirius A, (the brightest star in the known universe) she began to gush about how glad she was to receive the package when she did, and she thanked you for your help no less than 10 times as she brought you through the front door and into the living room. She asked you for your help, and although you normally would’ve been dragged away by the rest of your deliveries, this time you actually had a bit of time to spare. You agreed.
The two of you worked away at the lid of the box, both of you wondering aloud why anyone would ever have a locked chest, rather than a cardboard box and packaging tape. Eventually, you managed to get it open, and within the box there was... another box. Well, it was a polished wooden container with a sort of winding key, but it was still perplexing why they would waste the cardboard if the delivery itself was already a box. You helped her bring it upright, and together you moved it to the far end of her living room.
It stood about a foot or so taller than you, and that winding key, a bright gold with a small silver... thing at the end of a key as if it would be attached to something was about as long as your forearm. With only those two items, its purpose was unclear. You turned to the woman, who stood with winding key in hand, looking it up and down, and you asked her if you could inquire what this thing was for? She looked back at you with a smile.
“I’m in the business of charity, I give a bit of help to people who need it.” She explained. “I hear the hopes and wishes of people who are struggling, and I put them in a position in which they can experience their desires.” You opened your mouth to tell her how nice that was. “That’s why I brought you here, darling. I’ve been hearing your hopes and wishes for a while, so I thought I would offer you something to help.” You closed your mouth and stepped back away from her, hands up. Again, you asked what this was for, and her smile grew wider as you stepped back away from her. “Silly, this is for you!” Seconds after the words had left her mouth, she made a mad dash to your backside within stunning speed. You felt the back of your shirt be lifted, and then you felt a long cold piece of metal on your back. You didn’t feel it attach to you, but in the back of your mind you somehow knew that you wouldn’t be able to get it off. You heard her speak again.
“Five seconds wind down time.” She said, and gave the key on your back one powerful turn. You twisted about with a glare and yelled at her, demanding that she tell you what she’d done, but you weren’t two words in before each sy--lla--ble came out one at a time, slow--ing down as your move--ments be--came jerk--y as if you were stuck in 2 frames a se--cond in an an--im--ation. What’s more, the seconds between your movements seemed... empty. Time had passed, but they were foggy, like you had been asleep for a short moment before snapping awake again and continuing. Your words glow slower, and you moved slower as well, but they were no longer in control. You repeated the same syllable over and over again, and you began to lurch into a bent position, bending over further until your arms were laying limp towards the ground as your back arched. You had just enough about thought to panic over what was happening to your body, and then... nothing. You were there, but all there was, was a sense of... existence? You could hear the woman speaking to you, or about you, but the second her words passed through your ears you couldn’t be bothered to remember them. It was like a weighted blanket, hanging over you and making the entire outside world evaporate.
You felt the woman poking around on your back. She was messing with the winding key, and then she was able to effortlessly lift you, and the glass box. She placed you and the box beneath her arms and walked up the stairs as though you weighed nothing at all.
When you finally came to, you were in some sort of attic, and as the winding key turned, you found your thoughts resuming from where they were before. You turned to her with the same expression, the same pose, the other half of your sentence slipping out of your mouth. You could feel that fury in your chest again as you watched her smile at you, but after just a few seconds you- felt- like- your-- words--- were--- slow--ing--down----
Your body slumped over again just as it had before, and just as it was before, the only thing that existed was the moment you were in right then. Everything before that felt as though it hadn’t existed at all. You felt the lady kneel down beside you, and although her words slipped in and out of your mind, you felt as though they were important, like they were moving right into the depths of your mind as you slouched with a blank expression and hanging arms. You couldn’t seem to remember the words, but somehow you knew what they’d meant, what she’d told you, even if you couldn’t say what it was.
She wound up your key again and as you rose from your stupor you found that the words that were leaving you before were nowhere to be found. In fact, you couldn’t remember what you’d been doing before. Without that knowledge, you simple decided to stand there, hands clasped together over your waist, and looking forward with a smile. It wouldn’t do, to have someone walk in and see a pouting expression. When mistress stepped over to you, you waited until she spoke.
“How do you feel, dolly?” She asked you. You couldn’t even control the words leaving your mouth.
“Dolly is ready to serve.” You answered. You weren’t sure if those words were being forced out of you, or if that had just been what you’d wanted to say anyways. “My timer is set to one hour. Time remaining: 58 minutes, 17 seconds.”
“Good dolly.” The woman sang, her voice rising with joy. She then grabbed you by your cheeks and moved your head around. Your muscles couldn’t resist her pull, but you were fairly certain that you wouldn’t want to fight back anyways. Mistress looked at you, examining your body from top to bottom with a scoff. “What dreadful clothes. If they’re not going to pay you a living wage, they might as well dress you in clothes you enjoy. Now, dolly,” she began to address you, “tell me, what do you want to be called?” Your preferred name slipped through your lips without the slightest hesitation or restriction, and she nodded with a smile. “And what would you like to wear, a tuxedo, or a dress, or something else?” Again, the answer slipped through your lips. There was only a slight hint of discomfort, but you knew that you didn’t want to withhold that information. Mistress nodded again. “Oh that would look lovely on you, and I have just the attire.” She stopped for a moment to admire your still form, watching as your eyes were glued to whatever was straight in front of you, whatever that may be. “Now then, dear, I have a bucket of laundry that I must have washed and dried by the end of the day. Go slip the washing into the machine and report back to me when you’re done, understand?”
“Yes mistress.” You said. You still wore the same smile that had been plastered on your face for as long as you cared to remember. Although you didn’t remember what you had been doing before the past few minutes, you knew that there was a sort of sensation about this job that felt relaxing. You moved with long and exaggerated motions out of the attic and down the stairs, ready to work for mistress until you would have to be wound up again.