Short Story: Dead On

This is a short story I wrote way back in 2010. It’s probably not very good, but that didn’t really matter to me at the time. What mattered was the experimentation and the experience. I set myself two objectives:

1.) It must be in letter or correspondence format (mostly because I’ve never done that before), and

2.) The ‘story’ must have a particular science fiction conceit (you’ll see what that is by the end of the story, hopefully).

I am sharing it here so you, my audience, and I can see where I was ten years ago. I must get into short stories again. Most of my time, as you know, has been devoted to longer project with various levels of success. But, as I am between projects at the moment, this would be a good time to develop short fiction muscles again.

If you like my old stuff and want to see more, please leave me a like or a comment – there’s more where this came from.


Dead On

Dear Ms Farnsworth, I am glad we finally cleared things up and that we completely understand each other. It has taken you a long time to see the truth, but now that you do … well, let’s just say I was right. Dead on if you could excuse the pun.

It has been a difficult decision, but I eventually brought myself to write this letter. Things have become difficult for me, you understand. Tomorrow may be clear as day, but yesterday can be far more ambiguous. It is a condition which I have lived with for some time. An occupational hazard, one might say – and an unforeseen one at that.

My life changed when I met you, Ms Farnsworth. I may even go as far as calling it destiny. You will soon reveal the cure which I have been so desperately craving – if you haven’t done so already.

I thank you now.

I chose you, Ms Farnsworth, only you. The effects would not have been the same with anyone else. I want you to know that.

In each life we make choices we regret. One must, however, be prepared to face the consciences whatever the cost. As you are a person of considerable integrity, Ms Farnsworth, I believe that you would not hide from the truth.

As for your last question: I did what was necessary for both of us to be free of darkness. I mightn’t have been completely aware of everything, but some basic part of me knew what had to be done.

I leave you with some advice: Don’t use the backdoor. The living room window is better.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

12 June 2089


Dear Dr Damous, I believe that your letter was meant for another Ms M Farnsworth. I am Megan Delia Farnsworth of New London. You’ve included my full address, perhaps the true recipient gave you the wrong address or your system messed it up.

I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Good luck with future letters.

Megan Farnsworth

Apartment 408

Tower 48X

New London

17 June 2089


Dear Ms Farnsworth, I am sorry you feel this way. I meant no offence. However, your tone was completely uncalled for and the insults to my person were frankly childish.

I only mentioned your sister’s death as you mentioned it to me in a prior letter. I did not dig into anyone’s personal life.

I only shared my revelation with you and the next minute I’m branded a psycho. I never meant to cause any distress.

You are the only one asking the questions, there is no doubt about that.

There will be no need to take matters further, I assure you. We can deal with this in a dignified manner.

As I said before: I mean no harm.

My fullest apologies,

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

13 June 2089


Dear Dr Damous, it seems that the postal system has let you down once more. I am the wrong Farnsworth.

Perhaps to prevent future mishaps, you should check your friend’s address or complain at the post office.

I hope you’ll forgive me for reading your letter. (I’m the nosy sort). It seems that you and the ‘other’ Fansworth have had a bit of a fight. I hope things don’t turn out too badly as you seemed such good friends in your fist letter.

I noted the date on the letter to be only a day after the first one (I get mine late, it seems), so you wouldn’t have received my first response yet. Hopefully you got everything sorted.

Best of luck,

Megan Farnsworth

Apartment 408

Tower 48X

New London

19 June 2089

PS: Spooky about the dead sister though: my sister was murdered some years ago. Guess bad things happen to other people too.


Dear Ms Farnsworth, it has all become clear to me now! This seemed so strange to me, but after some thought, I’ve realized my mistake.

It’s all a question of timing and – to some extent – location. I need to find myself, so to speak. All of this is truly my fault and I apologize. One cannot run from one’s own ills – not always.

All of this became clear with your knowledge of my lecture on the 29th. And the cat.

We can work this out, you know. One day we will see eye to eye.

In time both of us will see why things happened the way they did. Everything happens for a reason, Ms Farnsworth, the trick is spotting these reasons while one is wading through the events. Hindsight will serve us well in this regard.

I only wish that you would calm down, I meant no harm. As for your address: I’ve always sent it to the same one. To my knowledge it hasn’t changed. Then again this could be another faux pas on my behalf.

Until next time,

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

16 June 2089


Dear Dr Damous, this is getting really strange. Your letters are still coming through my post box for some reason.

We really need to sort this out, Dr Damous. I will send the next envelop from your address back unopened. We cannot keep spamming each other with mail.

I realise that you wrote these messages some time ago and that they probably took a long time to get through. I don’t mind going down to the post office myself and sorting it out.

Anyway, it seems that you and the ‘other’ Farnsworth have sorted things out.

All of the best,

Megan Farnsworth

Apartment 408

Tower 48X

New London

20 June 2089


Dear Ms Farnsworth, here we are again…

I can always reiterate that I do not have time for these shenanigans as I am a very busy man, but I know that this will be ignored. This must be one of the most elaborate pranks our department has ever cooked up.

Although, if it turns out that you are not linked to the department, I shall have to take things further. It seems to me – Ms Farnsworth – that you are in desperate need of psychiatric assistance. The reasons why you chose me as your target is beyond comprehension.

I never made any allegations concerning your possible compliance in the homicide case in Boston, ten years ago. I have studied the case file after I received your previous letter and have discovered that your father was found guilty of the crime. However, your determination to bring it up again and again would indicate some feelings of guilt. My trust is in the law and thus I do not contest the court’s ruling, but I will – nevertheless – report your mental state to the appropriate authorities if this continues.

This so-called proof that you mentioned is an interesting thought. It may be made up as you yourself said. None of the case files mention any witnesses confirming your whereabouts during the time of the murder. The officer investigating the case seemed to skip over it. I can only surmise that he would have been content with any sort of ‘company’, if you follow me.

If you continue harassing me, I would feel obliged to point this out to whomever it may concern. This is by no means ‘blackmail’, Ms Farnsworth, merely a friendly warning.

I hope this is the last I hear from you.

Regards

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

18 June 2089


Dr Damous, I don’t know who you really are or what you are trying to achieve!

The police are just a phone call way. If this continues I shall have no choice but to call them. They know who I am, Dr Damous: I was moved to New London for a reason.

Anyone one with enough knowhow can attain a case file, Doctor. The information isn’t actually classified so there are no surprises there. I still do not know where you found my new address (perhaps that is a matter for the Utopia PD to figure out?).

What happened to my sister in Boston ’79 is in the past. The case is closed and I am still living with the repercussions of seeing my father sent to jail. You have no right digging into my life. You are a sick, sick man.

This ‘proof’ of yours is no more than clever speculation and has no basis in fact what-so-ever. There were no witnesses – yes – but it was a quite night, as all Monday nights were in the seventies.

I do not need to explain myself to a mad man.

Go to hell!

Megan Farnsworth

Apartment 408

Tower 48X

New London

23 June 2089


Dear Ms M Farnsworth,

You’re telling me. This certainly is getting strange. I guess you could say this is the worst postal mix up I have ever seen.

There seems to be a misunderstanding: you said you’d return my post unopened. I’m afraid to inform you that you are sending me the wrong letters and not the other way ‘round. I’d appreciate if you could sort this out, Ms Farnsworth, as I am dreadfully busy at the University. I’ve got my hands full with preparing a Nostradamus lecture for the 29th.

I’m sure we’ll sort this out.

Regards

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

19 June 2089

PS: You keep entering your dates wrong. The last letter I got was dated the 24th which is five days from now. Check if your software is up to date (we can’t always blame the Gates family).


Dr Damous, I’ve done some digging of my own. I know where you live, I know where you work and I even know which restaurant you frequent. I know the names of your closest friends and how many times you feed your cat each day.

You see, Doctor, two can play this game. You can harass me as much as you want and I’ll bring it right back to you.

I’m not going to the police (we both know why). I’ll deal with this in my own way.

That lecture of yours on the 29th – I’ll be there, you can bet on that. I’ll watch you; I’ll follow you, because I want you to know that I’ve noticed. I know who you are, Damous. You’ve made yourself a dangerous enemy.

We’ll see who goes crazy first.

By the way: it was very clever of you to find out which room I’m staying in. You work fast.

Forever until the end,

Megan Farnsworth

Room 78B

Utopia Inn

26 June 2089


Dear Ms M Farnsworth,

There seems to be a lot of confusion around this. The postal system has let you down, I fear. Then again, there doesn’t seem to be another Dr Damous or even another Utopia University for that matter.

It seems that your letter is in fact meant for me, but you seem to be responding to someone else’s message.

Best of luck,

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

22 June 2089


Dr Damous,

Letter after letter of unintelligible trash. You are a real piece of work – it takes one to know one.

What sort of psycho are you? Bombard a woman with nonsensical letters and see her breakdown and confess.

A smart man would have stopped a long time ago. You, Damous, you just could take a hint. You want to push and push.

Well, you’re not going to get away with it, you hear me?

See you soon, you SOB.

Megan Farnsworth

Room 78B

Utopia Inn

27 June 2089


Dear Ms M Farnsworth,

It seems you’ve sent your letter to me by mistake. There might be some sort of glitch in the postal system.

I meant to attach your letter, but I seemed to have lost it. I was certain I opened it this morning. Please forgive me as I do get confused sometimes. I’m an old man who can hardly tell you which day of the week it is. I have a condition that affects me in this manner.

Best of luck with future letters.

Regards

Dr Alfred Damous

The Department of Astrology and Divination,

Utopia University

25 June 2089


Dear Dr Damous

It has taken a lot of courage to bring myself to write this letter. It seems silly if you think about it, but I hope that you would already have read this letter.

It has been a lifetime since it all happened. I was a different person back then, but still I feel the darker side of me lurking just beneath the surface. However, I seem to be able to control it now – thanks to you.

In your last letter (or your first letter, as things have turned out) you said that I cured you, but I feel that your abilities also had some effect on me. You took the demonic rage with you as you passed. It must be something like that, because I can’t find any other way to explain it.

It took some time for me to figure things out, as you yourself have said. I found the letters again and the truth was clear to me. You could see the future, Doctor, and it seemed that you couldn’t always control it. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to live in the world where the things you’ve experienced hadn’t happened yet.

By the looks of things, you predicted my letters before I wrote them. It is all backwards in a way, yet each letter is so intrinsically linked to the next or preceding that they are an unbreakable chain of mail. They are a universe of their own.

Why did you do this? As I write this question, I realise that you have already answered. You knew all along.

I am now a widow (he died in the war – it was nothing to do with me I assure you) and I have three grown children. It has been a happier life than most. Some of it is down to you, sir.

I would have liked to have said so much more, but there has just been a knock on the door. If your advice is any indication… Let’s just say I can still fit through the window.

Rest in peace

Megan Farnsworth

23 Barkshire Place

New Paris

17 September 2113

The End

Top Image: The Sorceress (1913), by John William Waterhouse [Public Domain]

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