The mailman is stealing my mail.
I know he is. I can see it on his face when he hands me a pile of catalogues and fliers for oil-changes and pet supplies. Or a stack of bills.
I used to like my mailman. His name is Doug. He’s the first mail carrier I’ve ever considered giving a Christmas gift to–cookies or something.
I’ve always been cordial. More than that, I’ve been friendly.
“Oh, Mr. Timmel, I see you’ve got another of those fancy holographic envelopes. Very cool,” he said at least thrice weekly–for over a year.
Now, if I bother to open the door, he smiles at me like a shark.
Doug hasn’t handed me one of those “fancy holographic envelopes” in months. He’s taking them.
I know he is, because his teeth are perfect now.
And he doesn’t wear glasses anymore.
His gold necklace collection, which he wears with him on his route, is getting so heavy he’s stooping.
My next-door-neighbor told me Doug said he wasn’t going to be the mailman much longer. That he was going to retire.
How does a twenty-six-year-old retire from the post office?
By stealing my mail.
He’s wrecking everything. If he doesn’t stop, he’ll kill me. And everyone else.
I’m stealing Timmel’s mail. Been doing it for almost a year.
Those big, silver envelopes with the holographic designs–who wouldn’t be interested?
Timmel’s been getting them since he moved in. They come about four or five times a week. When I started mentioning them, I knew they were something special. Timmel is obviously not a card player. He’s got no poker face. Dipshit.
There’s cash in them. Lots of it.
Usually it comes in hundred dollar bills–brand new. The most I’ve hauled from one of those shiny packages is two hundred thousand dollars–nearly all of it in thousand dollar bills. Have you ever seen one of those? I’ll have to be careful where I spend them.
There’s no return address on the envelopes. The postmark is local.
I have no idea who sends so much money to the little weirdo, or why. Whoever it is, they’re making me rich. I went to Vegas last week–lost seventy grand without blinking. Had the time of my life. And bling? Just check it.
I’m quittin’ though. I’ve saved up nearly ten million. I’m moving.
Timmel definitely knows what’s going on. The fact that he hasn’t done anything about it worries me. I mean, after the first forty grand, I was ready to run at a moment’s notice. The money is buried. My bug-out bag is packed and hidden in the trees behind my house. I slept there for the first month or so, totally expecting the cops to show up at any minute.
When he didn’t do anything, I spent a few months living it up. Lately I started thinking about where the money might come from. And how truly scary it is that Timmel hasn’t called the cops.
That, and the packets of blood that I find along with the cash once every couple of months. Little round pouches with needles coming out the side. Creeps me the hell out.
Timmel doesn’t get any other mail, either. Bills and junk, but no letters from people, no cards. The way he’s looked at me lately…
It took me too long to notice Doug was stealing my “fancy holographic envelopes”. I’d ignored the accounting vouchers. When I went over them, I found millions missing.
I’m worried that Doug could have told someone. I can’t do a thing until I know all the details. Has he destroyed the envelopes? Does he know how we use the post office? What about the blood? Would he be so wise as to have it analyzed? Would he have the ability? Certainly, the police would.
My part of the operation could collapse because Doug loves gold. Ridiculous.
I’ll have a talk with him today when he delivers the mail.
“Doug, if you don’t stop taking my envelopes, I’ll have to kill you.” “Look, Doug, you need to know that the future is at stake here.” “That’s my blood you’re stealing. My body can’t take the chemistry of this atmosphere without my infusions.”
Maybe the whole truth, as simply put as possible. “Doug, all that money you stole was for a private space flight program I’m secretly funding. The cash comes from the future. We manufacture it, but we can’t send a huge gob at once. I’m the heaviest thing ever sent back. If you knew what it took to do so…
“You see, Doug, it turns out that the governments of the world will soon decide that space exploration isn’t worth the money. Then the environment will collapse around them and all of their spending will go to trying to save their miserable lives. After that, humankind degenerates into primitive survivalists. It takes another twenty thousand years to gain the technology to even think about traveling in space.
“Imagine what the future would be like if, at this crucial time, someone invested a great deal of money and knowledge in private space flight. Governments be damned. What if humankind could escape the coming calamity? Say, move to Rainfar 2 or Gaiea in the next seventy years instead of twenty-six thousand years from now?
“Imagine, Doug, if your teeth were still yellow, but in my time, humanity thrived in the galaxy, inhabiting pristine planets that are instead infested by the Grii–giant, poison-spitting lizards out to destroy us. What if we’d been there first? What if we’d known about the Grii before they had space travel technology? What if there were more of us? What if, Doug? What if?”
I’m delivering a silver package to Timmel today. Big fat one. Hope he’s not home.
Mail carriers and time travel! Someday maybe Kevin Shamel will throw together an anthology and that will be its theme. It’s strange things like postcards from 1914 arriving in Kansas in 2007, and other true stories that inspire him. That and old paranoia about the mailman stealing his important mail.