What is inside the box?

Prompt: The Box

The high pitched chink of metal on rock pierced the air. Again. Again. Then, on one especially loud strike, a ray of lamp light flooded the hidden nook. A few more strikes in the same place and the brick crumbled open to a hole wide enough for James to see inside. James lifted his lantern for more light and peered through the hole. “Hang on,” he said. “I see you in there you little bugger.” He struck at the wall again until the three foot by three foot cubby was fully exposed.

The space was empty except for a small wooden box – a red, wooden cube, trimmed all the way around with golden filagree paint. James’s eyes widened and he slowly put his hands around the box. “What on earth?” James tapped the box with his forefinger, but it did nothing. He set down his lantern beside the box and picked it up in both hands. He struggled with its weight as he brought it to his face. A long strip of parchment wrapped around the box creating a seal and preventing the box from opening. All along the parchment, strange symbols were written in red ink that James could not make out.

James turned the box in his hands, looking for any sign of its purpose or origin. All he found was the image of a woman’s torso, crudely drawn, with some kind of blindfold over her eyes. “Very peculiar,” James said. You shouldn’t be here at all should you?”

“How’s it coming down there James?” A voice called from far down the crypts where the other excavators worked. “You find anything?”

“No,” James called back. He turned to the box and ran his thumb over the seal. “I’ve found everything.” His hands shook as he pulled out a pocket knife and held the blade above the dry parchment. “Alright. Let’s find out then shall we?” James punctures the parchment with a pop of dust and ran the blade all around the seal. A low rumble shook the crypt.

“Wow, what was that?” The voice called again.

James dripped sweat onto the box, working to wiggle the lid free. “Come on you damn thing.” He tugged and raked and pried at the lid until it finally started to come free.

The stale air fractured around James as the lid started to come up and a low hum shook the superstructure.

“James! James, what’s going on down there!” The voice was far away then, and the Box swelled to twice its size in James’s hands. Then a great sound, like sucking through clenched teeth, absorbed the crypt and darkness spread.