Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: The Letter (i)
By Ed VanDeMark
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Matt was more than a little perplexed. It wasn’t that he’d done anything wrong. It was more that someone knew the whole story and took the time to make an accurate record.
He mused out loud. “Why would anyone do this?” More to the point, who would do it? It had come in a plain envelope with no return address. No one signed it. It was just this crazy letter. It was posted with a flag and Statue of Liberty $.39 stamp that wasn’t even cancelled.
It was already past midnight and he had an 8:00AM appointment with Dr. Raymond. “I hope she can assure me that I’m not going crazy.”
He’d read it, how many times? As he thought about it he said. “It must be at least 50 times.” He’d tried to throw it away twice but something inside of him made him rescue it before the trash went to the curb.
He had to get some sleep tonight. He hadn’t had a good night’s rest since the letter arrived nine days ago. “Who’s doing this and why? How could they know we would be camping on the island? We didn’t even know that until we beached the canoe.”
The island was a nameless wilderness fifteen miles from the tiny village of Beckett. The only part that wasn’t covered with dense undergrowth was the beach below the bluff. He and Josh had pitched their tent about 20 from its 30 foot high wall. They talked around the campfire well into the night and had awakened at first light. They’d taken their time getting things packed up. Then Josh thought he saw an eagle. He wanted to find where it was nesting. The two of them fought their way through what seemed like a mile of berry brambles. That’s where Josh fell into the mouth of a deep cave. All of this was in the letter.
It had taken Matt several hours to recover Josh from the cave and get him back to Beckett. The clinic there treated his friend and sent him by ambulance to the hospital in Morgan City. Josh was transferred two days later to the University Hospital; he was still there and still unconscious. Who ever wrote the letter knew all of this as well, but how?
The other part that confused him was why the letter spoke about those four dead fish near where they’d beached the canoe. Seeing dead fish on the shore of a big lake isn’t unusual. Sure they had noticed them and Josh had even commented on them. According to the letter he said. “These guys look almost good enough to eat.” As best Matt could recall this was a direct quote.
The letter was more complete than the police report. It had details that he hadn’t remembered to mention to Sgt. Lockwood. It even gave the compass direction from their starting point to the cave. He knew that they’d walked into the sun but he didn’t know their path was 94.4 degrees east. This was stuff that nobody but God would know.
He sat on the edge of the bed. “I’ve got to put this stupid letter down and get some sleep.”
Matt had said a bunch of short prayers asking God to bring Josh out of his coma. He’d even promised he would go to church every Sunday if Josh recovered. That was a big deal because he’d only gone to church on Christmas Eve and Easter since his mother gave him the right to make his own decisions. That was over 20 years ago, but now he felt compelled pray. He wouldn’t just pray; he had to do it the right way, on his knees with his eyes closed and his hands folded. He didn’t know what to say but he knew at that moment that there was nothing more important. The floor drew him like a magnet and he knew that it wouldn’t release him until he’d finished saying everything. In fact he realized it would hold him there until he’d heard everything God had to say to him.
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