Intercept

Note: This story was written for this month’s Blog Battle challenge to use ‘intercept’ as the basis of a 1,000 word story.

 

If only he could find some way to intercept the letter from Homeland Security. He had written to them because he no longer trusted that his emails and phone calls weren’t being monitored by Them. As a child of the Sixties he knew that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

He believed that the postal service remained secure, so far, but he cursed himself for not having rented a postbox instead of using his own address. His wife always collected their mail from the converted oil drum on the post at the entrance to their small acreage and she would be suspicious of any change to that routine.

Daily he had to suppress the awful thought that she too might be one of Them, so he hadn’t kept a copy of what he wrote in case she discovered it, like she did everything else. However, he knew what he’d written.

Dear Minister. I have to report a matter that should be of grave and urgent concern to you and your Department. I believe I have evidence to support my belief that forces unknown (hereinafter referred to as They or Them) have infiltrated the Lotto system as a way of funding Their various nefarious activities.

Having researched the matter thoroughly, I offer the following (admittedly circumstantial) evidence.

  1. While the winning numbers are supposedly televised live, they are in fact often pre-recorded to make it easier to slot them into a stations schedule, providing the perfect opportunity to manipulate the results, especially if, as I suspect, sleepers were planted in the gaming authorities many years ago.
  2. The winners of most major prizes are anonymous, purportedly in order to protect their privacy. What it does do is provide a perfect cover for diverting funds to Them. Through off-shore numbered accounts and shell companies the money can disappear without trace in an instant.
  3. I have tracked down those that have disclosed their winnings, only to find that in every case they were no longer at that address. I am willing to hand over my detailed case notes as proof of my diligence in this matter.

I referred earlier to Their nefarious activities. While it will take the specialised resources of your Officers to confirm the breadth of such activities and their detailed operations, I suspect some of the funds are being funneled into infiltrating the labs of vaccine producers. Through the addition of cleverly disguised viruses to commonly accepted vaccines, They are progressively gaining the ability to manipulate the life choices of our citizens. I need point no further than the plethora of reality TV shows and the screen obsession of teenagers as incontrovertible proof.

I await your further instructions. Your humble servant etc etc

As the time for the postal van’s arrival drew ever nearer, his anxiety began to rise exponentially and his wife kept looking at him more oddly than usual, so he locked himself in the gardening shed he called his ‘study’.

Thirty minutes later his wife knocked on his shed door and said “Parcel for you. Marked ‘Private and Confidential’. What have you been up to?”

He quickly swung the door open, snatched the parcel from her hands, slammed the door shut again, and double locked it. His hands shook as he tore the medium sized box open. Inside was a letter, sitting on top of a smaller box. He opened the letter and read:

Dear Sir (I will not use your actual name for obvious security reasons)

We intercepted your letter before it could reach the Ministers office because we have reason to believe it has been compromised.

Thank you for your alertness in detecting the indeed suspicious activities you referred to in your letter. We would like to take you up on your offer to co-investigate with our Officers.

On Monday, September 11, (the significance of that date will not escape a man of your perspicacity) you will call the number listed under my signature. Making sure your wife is listening, pretend you are calling Emergency and say you are having a heart attack. Shortly, a white van resembling an ambulance will arrive at your home and two of our Officers, disguised as paramedics, will put you in the vehicle. You will be taken to the secret location of our offices in the basement of a medical facility. You will receive further instructions when you arrive.

While waiting for the appointed date, please ensure your ongoing security by wearing the hat in the smaller box at all times when you are outside.

 Be sure to memorise the phone number and then destroy this letter and the box it arrived in.

Yours sincerely, Chief of Security.

Opening the smaller box, he found a checked peaked cap. He turned it over and noticed that it had a silver lining and he smiled to himself conspiratorially. Titanium, of course, with its unique abilities to block transmissions. Now he was absolutely certain they were taking him seriously.

Having memorised the letter, he tore up the boxes and the wrapping paper and fed them into the potbelly stove he kept going in his shed for warmth in winter. In his haste, he failed to notice there were no stamps or postmarks.

Good evening, this is ABC News. In todays lead stories, reports of students at a local school behaving very strangely after being vaccinated against whooping cough. And the anonymous winner of last nights record-breaking Lotto jackpot has gone into hiding.

29 thoughts on “Intercept

  1. Just love conspiracy theories and this one has proper grabbed that aspect. Wasn’t there an old film back in the day called They Live? Or something like that. You had me recalling that by using Them and They… although I believe it was special sunglasses and not a titanium rimmed hat!

    But who here has intercepted what? Is it really homelands security or the Them our paranoid protagonist fears. Sometimes stories just need a shade more than 1000 words.

    Great writing Doug.

    Like

      • It was almost a cult film at the time. Alas as with many it hasn’t aged well in terms of modern cinematography! As a fiction writer I have to “believe” in conspiracy theories…way too many prompts come from those zones 😳

        Has it got legs? I rather think many a short story has when readers start conversing about it and then digress into other avenues. Both Rachael and myself tend to write short and the short wants to write big…if that makes sense!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d say that counts! All great works begin with chapter 1. Obviously with yours the first question about a reclusive man in a country property…possibly surrounded by walls or stiff hedges… is what’s he hiding? Red rag to those known as They surely!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Can I order that hat on Amazon? 😀 I love the transition from his suspicious nature to complete trust. That I think, is the best highlight of your story. Well done! THEY are sneaky (and I think they have a rather ruthless sense of humor!)

    Liked by 1 person

      • I enjoyed this short piece!
        Also, I didn’t get the sense that you are a relative newcomer. 🙂 Are you now? And, personally, when it comes to comments on your short stories, what do you prefer? I love to give tailored feedback that is either encouraging or helpful (whichever I’m best suited to give per story or experience). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been a dilettante scribbler on and off (mostly off) for much of my life. However retirement has allowed me to start experimenting on a more consistent basis, to push out my boundaries on subject matter and to risk appealing to audiences beyond kith and kin (who tend to be either supportive or silent). I believe one of the keys to writing growth is helpful critique. That allows me to learn whether the story I believe I have written is similar to way the reader has interpreted it (i.e. am I communicating what I meant), whether the language and imagery is resonating in the way I planned and whether the themes/genre are worth continuing to explore.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Helpful critique. Yes.
        So, to make sure I understand: based on your experience and purpose, you find any comment about how the story made the reader feel or what they got out of it useful? The interpretations of various readers tell you if you have accomplished your writerly goal. But that said, you don’t much care for fluffy/feel good comments that won’t offer insight into reaching your goal. Sound about right? I always strive to be helpful where I am able.

        Like

      • Lol We need to know the truth to improve. Of course, the truth can come wrapped in nice stuff. (But I think I might die in Australia. We have very few scary buggers that could kill a gal here in Eastern Washington!) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol! Oh, Doug, this is so very, VERY well done! Love the conspiracy within a conspiracy, the trust grown from suspicion, and the paranoia that leads to a righteous sense of accomplishment. All without leaving home! Such a brilliant manipulation of perspective coupled with a profound understanding of human nature. I cannot express how delightful it is!

    (Psst… watch out for those white coats in the ambulance; they aren’t always who you hope they will be. But the padded rooms aren’t all that bad… 😉)

    Like

  4. If you love conspiracies, then there’s nothing not to love in this story. They’re all there! Apparently I’m little behind on how to stop Them from reading my mind, however … still using aluminum foil! I perked up even more at the end when we learn there’s no postage on the box. Is this your hint about one more interceptor?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel like I read this before. Since I don’t see a comment of mine on this, here it goes now.

    The hat was definitely a great piece of humor. Well written in.

    I suspect the wife is capable of more than we might be giving her credit for.

    It was nicely crafted in the sense that it held my gaze. I wanted to know what happens to our main character. While it serves as a great short story, it could also be a start of a longer one.

    The only problem I had with this was that “He” (our main character) didn’t notice the lack of stamps or postmarks. Wouldn’t that be the first thing you’d look at? Did he not see anything potentially dangerous in the fact that his letter was intercepted and now They were trying to take him away?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Goldie. Ah, zealots do not always check their facts in their eagerness to believe. They are often very proud boys. And of course all wives are capable of much more than we know. The fact that mine is looking over my shoulder as I type is entirely irrelevant.

      Liked by 1 person

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