This Service Lets You Live Out A Horror Novel — In Your Own Home

by Charlotte Ahlin
Vera Lair/Stocksy

A package arrives on your doorstep (or in your mail room, or at your P.O. box). You don't recognize the return address. But inside you find a letter addressed to you, and a bizarre collection of other papers: some old, smudged notes, a poem, a foreclosure notice, a photograph, perhaps a crinkled child's drawing that gives you pause. And is that... a secret code printed along the bottom of that vintage orphan registry? What's going on here? Have you fallen into some kind of Victorian horror novel? Are you being stalked by a modern-day Lovecraftian cult? Are you secretly leading a double life as a paranormal investigator and no one bothered to tell you?

The answer to all of these questions is, of course, yes. More specifically, though, you have fallen victim to The Mysterious Package Company, a service that delivers beautifully detailed mysteries directly to your front door. These "experiences" arrive over the course of several mailings: envelopes stuffed with clues and puzzles, a package containing a significant artifact, and a haunting story that you piece together yourself. You are the one exploring the remains of this strange old house, or examining the evidence for a shadowy organization. Or, if horror is not so much your thing, you could be the brave explorer hunting for long lost treasure, the studious wizard, or the brilliant scientist untangling the laws of time itself.

Whichever experience you choose, The Mysterious Package Company is an inventive new way to tell a story, unravel a mystery, and thoroughly freak your friends out.

Admittedly, my first experience with The Mysterious Package Company was not so mysterious: my best friend gifted me "Taako’s Correspondence School of Wizardry, Cantrips, & Other Magicks," a selection of wizardly puzzles and prizes from my favorite D&D podcast, The Adventure Zone. The "Taako" box is an absolutely delightful correspondence course for deep seated nerds and podcast trash-people such as myself. The puzzles are genuinely challenging, the audio tie-ins are hilarious, the execution is perfect — but I wouldn't describe Taako's personal brand as especially "subtle" or "mysterious" (especially when he rides around on his semi-spectral, mullet-wearing binicorn, Garyl).

Plus, I already knew that I loved Taako and his good good comedy going into the Correspondence School. So for my next experience, I decided to try something a little further outside my comfort zone.

The Mysterious Package Company

For myself, I chose "Filigree in Shadow," a vintage haunted house tale, which is currently sold out on the site. For my far more easily frightened friend, I went with "Tempus Fugit," a sci-fi story of romance and time travel that runs for $199. Even without the horror element, though, she found her experience plenty mysterious: upon receiving the first letter, a notice that a distant relative had died and left her some very strange inheritance, my friend was so surprised that she called her dad to find out if she really did have a great-uncle Sherman. When he told her that no such uncle existed, they began to worry that they'd been caught up in some kind of scam, and I was forced to reveal that this was all part of a fictional adventure and that there was no actual need to call a lawyer.

It's hard to blame them, though. I ordered "Filigree in Shadow" for myself, and I was still surprised to receive a very official looking letter from "Millennial Dominion Financial"... until they started talking about unusual events that had occurred in a nineteenth-century London house. That's when I began to suspect that this was my immersive haunted house experience, and not an angry letter from the bank.

But my relief was short-lived: inside my package was a genuinely disturbing array of letters, drawings, and all manner of Victorian detritus. Each item was thoroughly convincing, from the aged paper to the cramped, hand-written notes. The more I read, the more I began to uncover a concrete story, with descriptions of events as chilling as any horror novel I've ever encountered. I won't spoil "Filigree" for any of those intrepid investigators out there, but suffice it to say... maybe don't open your package on the same night you marathon-watch The Haunting of Hill House.

The Mysterious Package Company

If receiving your package is the first unnerving fright, then things only get weirder once you start to examine the contents. After all, the thrill of The Mysterious Package Company is not just about getting a cool box full of cool things to keep on your desk and freak out your friends, it's about you uncovering the mystery yourself. You are dropped directly into the story, where you get to de-code those strange symbols and find out what's really going on with that creepy demon book. You get to participate in your own horror novel (or your own questionable wizard school, or your own weird time travel adventure). And you get to pick the next unholy experience for your unsuspecting friend.

So, if you're looking for an elaborate scare, or even just an innovative new way to tell a story, check out The Mysterious Package Company's collection of strange and surreal experiences. You won't be sorry.