's 2020 Horror Write-off:

Urgent communication from Walter T. Swingle to George C. Roeding

Submitted by Jacob Roberts

**Urgent communication from Walter T. Swingle to George C. Roeding**

Mailed from Smyrna, Turkey

to Fresno, California

August 31, 1889

Dear Mr. Roeding,

DO NOT open the crate I shipped to you four days ago. I pray this letter finds you before it is too late.

The shipment does indeed contain the legendary Smyrna figs you requested, which you described as “pure golden honey fruit not intended for mortal men.” At the time, I believed the Turks were jealous of me, an American, for exporting their fruit for commercial gain, which is why I harvested them in the dead of night and falsely labeled them as licorice before posting them to you. Only now do I understand the true reason why the locals tried to stop me.

Our ancestors understood too, and warned us through ancient texts. As I have recently translated from the original Aramaic, the forbidden “fruit” in the Garden of Eden was not an apple; it was a fig.

Only now do I understand what they were trying to tell us. A fig, you see, is not a fruit at all.

Under my microscope, I observed that the interior of a fig contains millions of tiny cavities that together appear to form a homogenous flesh, with a texture not unlike the inner wall of a man’s intestine. Most of these cavities were engorged with a small, pulsating sphere. Under the brightest electric lamp I could acquire, I was able to detect the silhouette of the organism growing inside. Its segmented legs and antennae curled around its narrow thorax, and its head was shaped like a wedge. A head designed to force its way into – or out of – something.

You see, I have finally solved the mystery of fig reproduction. Greater minds than mine have pondered how fig trees can propagate in the wild given that every known fig is a female. This insect I saw inside the Smyrna fig is clearly the pollinator, but that is only half of the equation. Where does the pollen come from?

Before packing up and shipping the crate of figs to you, I could not help but taste one myself, as though the fruit was beckoning to me. Its sticky juices ran down my cheeks as I bit into it. As you have probably gathered by now, I can never return home. I would not be traveling alone.

Very truly yours,

Walter T. Swingle

**Letter returned to sender; insufficient postage**