At first he thought it was junk mail. The return address was just an address with no name or heading to clue him in as to the sender.
He was going to throw it away unopened… but stopped himself at the last minute and tossed it on his desk. He would get to it later. His friends were coming over any minute now to watch the game.
He found it again days later as he straightened his desk. He thought about throwing it away again. But he was now a bit curious.
It might be an ad for something he did want to buy but at a discount. Or it might be a coupon that could save him some money so he could use the savings towards a night out with his friends. It had been a while. The new job wasn’t paying as well as he had hoped for just yet. And it was also cutting into time with his friends.
John looked closer at the envelope. It was addressed in blue ink. Hand written, not that printed stuff made to look like a personal letter.
He thought about putting the return address into a Google search on his computer and seeing what was there… but the phone rang and he was, for the moment, distracted.
It was now the weekend again. His friends were over to watch the game and hang out. Tom grabbed the envelope to use as a coaster under his beer. Tom was always doing things like that. They all blamed Tom’s mother for his oddly tidy behavior. She was a neat freak.
After his friends left John thought about the good time they had just had together. It wasn’t a big memory but a good one. The kind you want to look back on when you are old. Comfort, fun and friends together.
Days later, when he couldn’t stand the smell of old stale beer and dried up pizza boxes any longer John decided to clean the place up. He found the envelope again by accident. It had fallen to the floor and had stuck to the bottom of his shoe while he was cleaning. As he peeling it off his sneaker it tore open and the papers inside tumbled out.
The first was just a sheet of white typing paper. Nothing at all on it. It was wrapped around a small card probably to keep others from reading the card through the envelope itself.
He picked up the business sized card and turned it over to read it.
‘Prepare for a visit from Death’ it read in large letters across the top.
‘If you are reading this card you will died quite soon.’ printed medium block letters said.
In smaller print below that was ’This is not a hoax but a curse. Sorry for any inconvenience.’
Smaller still in the bottom corner was printed. ‘Once you have read the words inscribed hereon, nothing can change the outcome.’
John tossed it all out with the rest of the trash and dumped some stale beer on top of it for good measure. Whoever sent it was a jerk.
“John, John, John.” said a voice in a tisk-tisk tone, “What happen to you here? Did you turn on the gas? Or did someone else? Murder or suicide?”
Someone was talking to him. John tried to wake up and answer, but he was still too heavy from sleep. He just lay there not moving, just listening and waiting for either waking or sleep to take over once again, he didn’t care which.
“I’ve seen enough. Cover him back over and take him to the coroner for tests. Sergeant, have you found anything that might tell us what went on here?”
From the next room another voice said, “Lieutenant, I found one of those business sized cards in the trash. Beer soaked from the look of it and the ink was all running. Hard to make out all the words. But it was a definite threat. I bagged it with the envelope and put it in the evidence box. Interesting thing thou… The return address is for the city morgue.” The Sergeant’s voice finished as he entered the bed room where the lieutenant stood over the body on the floor, waiting.
The Lieutenant looked up and said, “Are you okay there Sergeant? You don’t look too good!” Louder he called out, “Get those Ambulance people back in here! I think he’s having a heart attack!” as the Sergeant crumpled to the floor clutching his chest.
John woke up again to a new voice.
“John you disappointed me. I thought you’d pull the card out and pass it around to all of your friends. Have a laugh together before I came to collect all of you. But you didn’t respect the card or the name on it.”
The man wearing a black suit turned around and looked John in the eye. “And you ruined the card so the Sergeant survived his heart attack. The spell wasn’t strong enough to kill after you spilled the beer on it in the trash. You cheated me of more bodies to play with.”
The man reached down towards John and was straightening John’s clothing.
“But, business is business and I do have you here in my parlor now.”
The man stepped back to admire his work.
“As your undertaker I have to say, you make a lovely corpus, but the young usually do.”
He reached up and over to John’s head. “I‘ll just close your eyes now. We don’t want to frighten your guests tomorrow. Funerals are such fun. Well, fun for me anyway. You’re a bit stiff.” And he laughed at his own joke.
“I’ll have to send your friends a little note some other time. There was a multi car wreck with fatalities this afternoon, so I’m a bit busy now. Nightie night.”
And the man closed the casket lid leaving John to ponder his fate alone in the dark.