A package arrived at my door step today. A cardboard box with a fleur de lis stamped on the side. Inside, nestled in packaging material, a scrap of town paper, an envelope with my name on it, and an old cigar box tied shut with a ribbon and bow.
I’ve always been the kind of person who rips into the presents first, and save birthday cards til later, and I wasn’t about to change my modus operandi now. So I carefully went for the cigar box, sliding off the ribbon so I’d be able to easily replace it later – should I need to regift (an unfounded concern).
Turning back the lid, I saw a half dozen clear glass vials, each capped with a cork, resting on batting. A lone feather, with what appeared to be dried blood at the tip of the quiver, was on top of the vials.
One of the vials had a small clump of reddish brown human hair inside. Two others appeared to have bones of unknown species or body part. The smallest of the vials had what I assumed to be a stack of iridescent beetle wings. Inside the largest was a locust (or oversized grasshopper).
A letter in the envelope clued me into the purpose of this “specimen kit,” with instructions to visit a website and enter the letters on the torn piece of paper. Once I did this, the artifact that was sent to me would appear in the attic of a house accessible to online visitors. (image of the torn piece of paper is above – have fun with that! tip: use all lower caps.)
While the contents of the box were a surprise, the package itself I half expected. A little over a week ago I submitted my name and address to the website for “American Horror Story,” a new F/X series coming out in October. The promise of an artifact from the haunted house that the show centers on was just one of the promotions they’re using to build buzz around the show.
The others include a “prank call” submission form, where visitors can have the show call their friends with creepy messages. Another uses a computer’s webcam to record reactions as footage from the show is streamed. But the most elaborate, and only for the daring, encourages visitors to submit their vital information, including what scares them most, with the chance possibility that one of the ghosts from “American Horror Story” could visit when they least expect it – possibly inside their home. They call these “American Horror Story House Calls.”
These promotions are still running, so if you’re dying for a little scare, take a look.
Horror blog Dread Central is keeping tabs on all the artifacts appearing at other doorsteps across the nation (and then unveiled in the virtual attic).
Here’s a closer look at some of the contents from our cigar box: