The bundle arrived at the post office without a return address. It was marked for delivery to Mrs. Maryanne Criton on Beaker Street. All proper postage was paid, but there was something about it that didn’t sit right. It was odd, to begin with, for someone to mail a bag rather than a box, even when the contents weren’t breakable and would not be damaged by bending. It was odder still for the cloth of that bag to be of such high quality. It was not, perhaps, odd that the bag itself was stitched closed, not when it was expected to be in the mail and would otherwise be at risk of the contents spilling out should it land at an inconvenient angle.
When the bag arrived at the facility, it caught in the sorting machine. This was an annoyance for everyone, as it meant the machine had to be stopped and someone sent up the conveyor belt to free it. The bag itself was undamaged, despite the wrangling required to set it free, but the stoppage resulted in the bag coming to the attention of those in change.
“It should be opened,” the postmaster said. “There’s no telling what could be in there. If they’re ignoring the guidance for packaging, they’re likely ignoring the instructions for what can and cannot be sent through the mail.”
“We can’t just open packages willy-nilly,” the assistant postmaster said. “That’s a federal crime.”
“It’s not willy-nilly. It’s on reasonable suspicion. And we’re allowed to make checks to ensure the packages aren’t contaminated or anything like that.”
“I still think it’s a bad idea.”
The post master was, it seems, correct in that they were allowed to open the package. But the assistant postmaster was more correct, in that it was a very bad idea. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the postmaster was the highest authority consulted in the matter, and therefore the bag was opened.
Officials took scissors and cut the very fine stitches at one end of the bag and carefully opened it in a well-ventilated room. There was nothing inside. Or, at least, nothing that could be seen. For inside the bag was nothing of a material sort, nothing that could be damaged by folding or even held in a hand. Inside the bag was a curse, and the postal officials had released it in an unintended location.
Whatever it was the sender had against Mrs. Maryanne Criton, it would have to go unaddressed for the moment, as her punishment was instead delivered upon the four people in the room: the postmaster, the assistant postmaster, the head security guard, and clerk Clara who always carried a sewing kit had had been asked to assist them in resealing the bag should it contain no contraband.