The Cardboard Box is a scary story about an old man in a wheelchair who is left alone in his mansion one dark and stormy night with no one but a male nurse to take care of him. It is based on an old horror comic called “In The Cardboard Box” from Menace #14.
There was a rich old man named Mr. Winters who lived all alone in a large mansion. His only companion was his nurse, a middle-aged woman who took care of him. She arrived every morning, bright and early and left every night after putting him to bed.
Ever since his stroke, Mr. Winters had been disabled and was confined to a wheelchair. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He wasn’t able to take care of himself. He couldn’t even go to the bathroom by himself.
One evening, the nurse was wheeling Mr. Winters out of his bedroom and into the living room.
“I’m sorry I have to leave you this evening, Mr. Winters,” the nurse said. “My daughter is having a baby and I need to be with her.”
Mr. Winters didn’t reply. He just sat there silently in his wheelchair and listened.
“Even though it was short notice, I managed to find another nurse to take care of you while I’m away,” said the nurse. “He seems like a nice young man. His name is Freddy.”
Just then, they heard the doorbell ringing.
“That must be him,” said the nurse.
She rushed out of the room and when she came back a few minutes later, there was a young man with her. He was a creepy-looking man with a hooked nose and wild, staring eyes. Under his arm, he was clutching a large cardboard box.
“It looks like there’s a storm on the way,” said the nurse. “I’ll have to get going. This is Freddy, Mr. Winters. I’m sure he’ll take good care of you. See you tomorrow morning.”
The nurse left and they heard the front door slam behind her.
Freddy smiled nervously and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Winters.”
The old man nodded and forced a smile.
“Is there somewhere I can put this?” Freddy asked, holding up the cardboard box.
Mr. Winters pointed to the hall closet. Freddy walked over and placed the cardboard box carefully on the top shelf, out of reach.
“It’s a nice place you have here,” Freddy said. “Out in the countryside… No neighbors around to bother you… Must be very quiet out here.”
It was raining outside and the sky was growing dark. Mr. Winters took out his pen and notepad, scribbled a message and handed it to Freddy.
The young man read it out loud. “Please turn on the lights.”
“Certainly, Mr. Winters,” Freddy said as he flicked the switch and the lights came on. “I’ll just have a look for my room and when I come back, you can tell me if you’d like me to fix you anything for supper.”
As the young man left the room, Mr. Winters wheeled himself over to the radio and switched it on. The announcer was in the middle of a breaking news story.
“The police are telling all local residents to be on the alert. There is a maniac killer on the loose…”
It was raining heavily outside and the wind was blowing strong. Mr. Winters turned up the volume.
“This is the worst case of serial murder in the history of the state. The maniac has claimed 14 victims so far. Each one was decapitated and their heads have never been found…”
All of a sudden, a hand reached over his shoulder and switched off the radio. The old man wheeled around and found Freddy standing there with a strange look on his face.
“You shouldn’t be listening to such things, Mr. Winters,” the young man said. “Especially not on a night like this. All these murders… It’s enough to scare anyone to death.”
Just then, they heard the doorbell ringing.
“I’ll get it,” said Freddy and he left the room.
Mr. Winters sat in his wheelchair, nervously waiting. When Freddy returned, he was holding a newspaper in his hands.
“It was just the paper boy delivering the evening edition,” he said. “There’s nothing in here worth reading.”
He folded the newspaper and placed it on the table.
Mr. Winters picked up his pen and notepad, scribbled a note and held it out. Freddy picked it up and read it out loud: “Please make me a cup of tea.”
“Certainly, Mr. Winters,” said Freddy and he went into the kitchen.
As soon as the door closed behind him, the old man wheeled himself over to the table and snatched up the newspaper. When he opened it up, he saw the headline: “Maniac Claims Another Victim!”
Scanning quickly through the article, he saw that the latest victim was a police officer. Like the others, he had been decapitated and his head was missing.
Mr. Winters thought about the cardboard box in the closet.
There was a rumble of thunder and a crash of lightning. All of a sudden, the lights went off. The storm had knocked out the electricity.
The old man folded up the newspaper and placed it back on the table.
Just then, he heard the doorbell ringing.
Quickly, he wheeled himself down the hallway and stopped at the front door. He picked up an umbrella that was standing in the corner, hooked the handle around the latch and opened the door.
There was a policeman standing on the doorstep. The rain was lashing down and a crack of lighting lit up the sky, illuminating his face.
“Good evening, Sir,” the policeman said as he flashed his badge. “We’re doing a search of all the houses in the area. Have you seen any suspicious people in this neighborhood?”
Mr. Winters nodded frantically and beckoned the policeman to come inside. He took out his pen and notepad and began scribbling a message as the policeman stepped inside and closed the front door.
Mr. Winters pressed his finger to his lips, telling the policeman to be quiet. Then, he tore off the note and held it out.
The policeman took the note and read it quietly: “Please help! I think the maniac is in my house. He’s in the kitchen right now. He had a cardboard box with him. I think that’s where he keeps the head!”
“Where’s the box?” the policeman whispered.
Mr. Winters pointed towards the bedroom closet. The policeman crumpled up the note, put it in his pocket and hurried into the bedroom. Mr. Winters quickly wheeled himself back into the living room.
Just then, the kitchen door opened and Freddy came in, carrying a cup of tea.
“There you go, Mr. Winters,” he said. “A nice cup of tea to calm your nerves. All this thunder and lightning… It’s enough to put anyone on edge.”
Mr. Winters took the cup with trembling hands and eyed the young man nervously.
Freddy glanced at the newspaper on the table.
“I see you’ve been reading the latest news,” he said. “It’s gruesome, isn’t it?”
All of a sudden, the door burst open and the policeman came into the room. He was holding a gun.
“You! Step away from the old man!” he shouted. “Get your hands up!”
Freddy jumped with fright and staggered back.
“What?” he gasped. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“I’m a policeman and you’re under arrest for murder!” the policeman said.
“For murder?” Freddy gasped. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t try anything funny!” the policeman said. “I found your cardboard box in the bedroom closet… and the severed head inside!”
“Bedroom closet?” Freddy said. “But my cardboard box is in the hall closet… I’ll show you…”
Freddy hurried towards the door.
“He’s trying to get away!” Mr. Winters shouted. “Shoot him!”
The policeman squeezed the trigger and a shot rang out. Freddy staggered and collapsed on the ground. A pool of blood spread out around him, soaking into the carpet.
The policeman rushed over and knelt down beside the dying man. He turned Freddy over and began rifling through his pockets.
“That’s what you get for killing a cop,” he said. “They’re going to give me a medal for this. My picture will be all over the newspapers.”
The policeman had his back to Mr. Winters. he never saw the old mn rising from his wheelchair. He never saw the old man creeping silently towards him. He never saw the sharp knife the old man was holding in his hand. He never knew what was happening until it was too late and the glistening blade was slicing across his throat.
Later, as Mr. Winters sawed off the policeman’s head, he thought about how clever he had been. He thought about all the years he had spent pretending to be disabled. It was such a wonderful disguise. Nobody had ever suspected that poor, old, mute, crippled Mr. Winters was the crazed maniac the police were looking for…