's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Letters outside the city "

Submitted by Brendan Cleary

Dear Mrs. Fournier


I have only just arrived in the city of Diminuer this morning and I have already sold three packages. Though I think I could easily double my profitability if I was allowed to know what I was selling. I’m forced to use vague generalities to sell the product and it has led many would be buyers to have second thoughts. Strangely, for the three people who made a purchase, I didn’t even need to try, they simply took one look at the product and asked how much. So it seems like there is some brand recognition, but is that enough to make this profitable? Please, I want to help this product and Marmon Industries to the best of my ability, and without any knowledge of Marmon’s TOP GADGET the only good I am to you and your company is as transportation for your cargo. Please respond ASAP.


With tenured excitement, M.G. Lall


PS This is my first time doing anything related to salesmanship so if it is common practice for the sellers to not know anything about their product, I apologize profusely for not knowing this and grant you permission to disregard and/or burn this letter if you are in such a disposition.


PPS: Could you please send another note elaborating on my role here, the note that I found on my person was rather vague, and I would appreciate some sort of extra explanation.  



Dear Mrs. Fournier


Salutations! My first night out on the city was wonderful; the lights are so glaring and ubiquitous that if it weren’t for my own body I wouldn’t have known it was night. Speaking of sleeping, I have some troubling news to report. Please don’t be alarmed, but I have failed to find a safe place to rest and am currently sleeping in an abandoned float from a long ago festival. And because I have been instructed to give all money to you through the communication slot, I have no income to speak of and have been living off people’s negligence and goodwill. I am certain that you have already given me a nice vermin-free all expense paid room to live in and I have simply been unable to find it. So could you obliged me and either buy me a room or, if its already paid for, tell me where it is? Also, I sold three packages today, same as yesterday.


PS Once again if it is common practice for sellers to live a vagabond like lifestyle then by all means, ignore and/or cut out with dull scissors that part of the letter. The rest of my letter is very much valid though. I am very hungry.


PPS Still waiting on a reply with that first letter. No rush.


With weathered but sturdy optimism, M.G. Lall


Dear Mrs. Fournier


Greetings. I am still living in the float but I no longer have to suffer alone. As it turns out, there are a group of women and men living in the float with me. While they were living in the body of the swan, I was living in the eye. What a shock it was to see them come out of that rusting creature’s stomach! They have been kind to me and provide me with companionship and sustenance. While I haven’t asked, I wonder if you sent them. My current conditions may not be ideal, but I’m glad I’m not alone. Well, I was never alone, I’ve always had you, and even though you have still not responded and I am sure you are reading this and are proud of me. But I wish you would send more to me than just the location of the day’s potential buyers. You will be happy to know I sold another three packages today, one of them, a man wearing two half’s of two different vests, simply grabbed a package of TOP GADGET closed the door, and left the money on his doorstep without a word. We may have a small user base, but at least they’re enthusiasti! By the way, can I ask what will happen when I run out of merchandise? Will you send more or will I be relieved? Don’t misunderstand me, I am perfectly fine with doing this for the rest of my life, but I wouldjust like to know if I will be.


P.S Please forget and/or spit on the last part if once again, it is customary for sellers not to know their length of service.


Dear Mrs. Fournier


DAUGHTERPILE (a member of the very kind charitable group of people living on the swan float that I’ve learned were not sent by you) told me that sellers usually know what they are selling. Please verify.


P.S If possible


M.G. Lall


Dear Mrs. Fournier


Weekly Report #1


Day 1: Units sold: 3


Day 2: Units sold: 3


Day 3: Units sold: 3


Day 4: Units sold: 3


Day 5: Units sold: 3


Day 6: Units sold: 3


Day 7: Units sold: 3


Average Units Sold: 3


Minimum Units Sold: 3


Maximum Units Sold: 3


Total Units Sold: 21


M.G. Lall


Dear Mrs. Fournier


On the matter of customers, I am starting to suspect that the same person is buying one of my daily sales. While he may not look the same, frequently using fake moustaches, cheap wigs and the like to hide his appearance, it is almost certainly the same person. The strangest thing is not that he’s trying to hide his apperance from me. No, the strangest thing is that every time I sell to him, he’s at a different house. Is this normal? I would very much appreciate if you took time out of your busy schedule to respond. Thank you.


PS: If I once again made an idiotic blunder due to my own ignorance please divert your eyes and/or put this letter in your freezer and forget about it. Then again if this is common knowledge, isn’t it your job to inform me and save me from said idiotic blunders? 


M.G. Lall


Dear Mrs. Fournier


We ate lunch on the swan’s head today. FATHERCRUST told me about the monthly float festival. Every month the City is treated to the sight of dozens of bizarre and wonderful moving sculptures made by the art district’s best craftsmen. The populace loves it and everything about it… except for the swan float. You see, every month an unknown person or persons submit the same thing, a large rudimentary Swan Float, and every month it is unanimously hated. Anything not bolted down is thrown, the young compete in a verbal battle of vulgarities aimed at it, other float operators try to sink it, risking their own life and limb to send the swan to a watery grave. Every month the swan either ruins the festival or gets close to. And yet, a identical one shows up every month with nary a word or acknowledgement from the parade’s silent and undefined sponsors. When I asked why, FATHERCRUST answered eloquently and sufficiently “exuberant self destruction from those who think they are above such concerns” I have no idea what that means, but it sounds insightful. The swan is not offensive or an eyesore in any way specifically, its biggest crime is being boring. There are no risks in the swans design. Yet, there is something about the swan, something I cannot really explain, that is utterly unappealing. Its faint and I am sure that its years of inactivity have dimmed its effect, but there is… something. There’s something about its lack of a purpose, it’s pointlessness that just...makes my skin crawl.It may be different for everyone but for me, I hate the Swan’s because I dont understand why they exist. There’s not enough craft put into it to make it interesting or pleasing, but there’s just enough work to it that it’s not laughably bad. The swan is just...there.


Mrs. Fournier, are these packages Swans? Please answer.

Dear Mrs. Fournier


 I will destroy the packages.


M.G Lall


Dear Mrs. Fournier


I will kill the recipients


M.G Lall



To Fournier


I have heard nothing back from you about my previous two letters. Shocking! Do you care at all about your merchandise or clientele? You’re still sending the daily maps. So I know that there’s someone on the other end. I don’t see why I should bother or even continue with this pointless task when you are so apathetic to this whole endeavor.


P.S: If, ludicrously, any of this is common, if indifference to your own business is the norm in the salesman industry, then I want nothing to do with such a profession. I AM DONE






Even though I resigned you are still sending me the maps, so I thought why not put them to good use? My adopted family and me are going to meet with your three customers (How have you profited on such a limited user base?) and have a nice chat about what exactly TOP GADGET is. Well wont that be fun! Maybe it will be enough to raise you out of your stupor and respond! Highly unlikely. I eagerly await your nonexistent response.


Love and Goodwill!


Mada Ganneesan Lall













To Fournier,


I apologize about the vagueness of that last letter, but I have very valid reasons for my anger. Allow me to clarify: I found out Mrs. Fournier! I found out. I know what I am, what TOP GADGET is and yet I am left with even more questions. I now understand why you did not tell; yet, I now hate you even more. I’m going to tell you exactly what I found, to show that I do know and am not just bluffing, and I'm also hoping that maybe I could get some sort of explanation, god know I’ve earned it. Also I'm telling you this because, maybe just maybe you don’t know what is happening here, maybe the reason you never told me is because you yourself don’t know, perhaps you are another cog in this useless recursive machine. But from what I found, I highly doubt any of that.


I arrived at the first house circled on your (I’m assuming it was you, but who knows if you actually exist, I’ve never actually met you, my only knowledge of you comes from the note I was giving when I woke up here) map, with my group of companions in tow. SLUSHSISTER was evident on checking the second or third house circled instead. She said checking the first house was “exactly what THEY wanted” while an excellent point, we were already revved into a frenzy that could only be accomplished by an angry mob, and didn’t want to waste all that energy. After COUSINCLAP rang the doorbell (He insisted that he would be the one to do it) A man wearing two half’s of different vests opened the door. He was wearing glasses this time. They don’t even try, do they? Before he could even produce the money we tackled him to the ground and shunted him into his current residence, closing and locking the door behind us. The house was small and untidy, completely ordinary, except for the tied up unconscious body of the former occupant. We decided it was only fair to do the same to him. While MOTHERHOLE tied him up with rope supplied by GRANDMACLIPPINGS, I investigated the small abode. The only other thing out of place was a small door (half a foot high) bolted into the livingroom wall. It was wooden and intrically carved and while small seemed grand. After reviving the poor sap that owned this house, he explained that he was just as confused as us about the small bolted on door. Curioser and curioser. After an hour or so of letting my associates ruff him up and generally making him as uncomfortable as possible, we began our interrogation. Despite how much we cajoled, he would not budge or reveal anything of note, he demanded If we wanted answers, to let him open the package and show us himself. We were wary but what else could we do but obey. Besides, we had no luck opening the packages ourselves (RASHBABY had tried and lost a fingernail for his efforts). We placed the package at his feet, as if expecting him to activate it by voice. He laughed and a few of us joined in despite ourselves. “I need my hands of course,” he said gesturing to his restrained appendages. We reluctantly obliged “Don’t worry” He said, “I’m not going to run, I want this. I want to show you.” After he was untied he took the package and said to me “I hope after this. The deliveries will resume. You’ve been slacking, I expect better from Marmon”. Now it was my turn to laugh. “What makes you think I’d start again?” He just smiled.


His hands moved lightly, clicking and activating buttons and switches that I didn’t even notice. Finally, after a period of time that felt like an eternity but was really only one minute and fifty-three seconds, he opened the case. And… a toy. A doll fell out with a clack. It was about 10 inches tall and it was… wearing the same uniform I was. The same uniform I couldn’t take off. The man went over to the doll and clapped once. The doll…it wasn’t a doll, no it was a person, the person… started moving. Slowly at first, as if testing to see if it could. Struggling, she got to her feet and turned. She had my face. The man dug deep into the package and took out a dozen identical smaller packages, he also put a miniscule piece of paper in her pocket (Just like the one you gave me) all of which had the logo TOP GADGET, and gave it to the woman. The woman took them, and wordlessly, entered the small temporary door. Then once she had disappeared from sight, the man clapped once, removed the door from its wall, folded it up, put it in his breast pocket, and said to me “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow then” nodded to us, and was no longer there. We departed, sour and confused, denied the righteous retribution we were promised, COUSINCLAP kicked the mailbox, but it was an empty kick, lacking any real viciousness.


When I was eleven me and my parents, on vacation, rented a boat and got as far away from civilization as the wooden paddles could take us. Soon, we found ourselves in a small-forested marsh with curving sandy trees prying themselves out of the water. Dad called it a mangrove swamp. I remember wrinkling my nose at the name. To me, it seemed mean to compare it to such a thing that at the time I thought disgusting and gross. Papa laughed, and asked me if I would feel the same when we visited the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans were where Papa and Dad met after all, “a shining place for two shining people” Dad would often say. I remember thinking that the Mangrove swamp was a special place, that we were the first to experience its wonder in thousands of years. Papa reached to the highest tree (Almost capsizing us in the process) and grabbed a mangrove seed. He gave it to me. When I asked him what I should do with the seed, he told me “You can cherish it forever and hold it to you close whenever you feel sad or scared. Or, you can plant it and create your own little mangrove swamp. But in the end, its up to you.” I don’t remember what I did with the mangrove seed.


I remember that day vividly. What we ate, what we talked about, every moment every interaction seared into my brain. But now, I have no guarantee that it ever happened. My parents, my home, my friends, my town, my heroes, my rivals, my country, my childhood, my failures, my success, my world, my mangrove grove, my mangrove tree, my mangrove seed. Is any of that real? Or worse, did those actually happen to someone else? Am I the owner of second hand memories? Because I certainly did not experience them. I know now, my existence started when I fell out of a package and my existence will end when I run out of packages. Who was the me that bought me? Did she know? Is she still hard at work, unknowingly proliferating herself for some unknowable purpose. What separates me from her? What separates me from the countless me’s I have delivered? How deep does this go, how long does this go? What purpose does this serve? What do you get out of this!! What do any of you get out of this!!! How did this start and where will this end!!! Did I sign up for this d-did the original me sign off on this? Was there ever an original me, ever a template? Ever a reason for this because, unless there is some sort of end game I’m not seeing, this system…this brainless machine, all it does, its only purpose, is keeping itself relevant.


…You may never hear back from me, you may hear back from me in a day. I need some time to think about what I need to do. I know what I am now; the question is if I feed the machine that birthed me.


This would be a perfect time to respond.


Signed, The Swan.





I don’t think you were ever listening, not even from the start. Nonetheless, Mrs. Fournier, you should know that I have decided to continue. But now, I am not doing it to appease you or to feed the machine. I am doing it because I do not want the ME’s in these packages to rot. I want them to have a life to find friends, to discover the world with the boundless energy and naivety that I once possessed. I want the job to become an afterthought, to not define them. I want them to experience joy, to gain new memories that are just as real as their implanted ones. I… I don’t want our lifes to end when the packages stop, because when that time comes, and I know it will come, our lives, so different and expansive, will be a million times more meaningful than the system that created them. I must cut this letter short as I’m late at my shift at the train system, yes I have my own job now, don’t worry, like I said before, your deliveries are still being made. My companions, still as plucky as ever even after such a reality-shattering experience, are delivering them now. The recipients (Still 3!) were surprised at first at the change of deliverer, but got used to it. From the little information they have told us, It seems that they are just as trapped as I am. Now for the last time, I must fare thee goodwill, and I hope these correspondences have made you question what you do, and maybe, if you have the power, giving you the motive to change this. Please, there must be a better purpose in life for us than deliverymen. It may be better than the alternative, but I still don’t like sending them.


Yours, Mada


P.S: You may have noticed I stopped giving you the money, I hoped you have.