CROSSINGTALES

short fiction mailed to random strangers all across the world

  To O. B., Belarus

Ten years between them could not stop their love. Inseparable from day one, they ate, played, slept in the sun together. He quickly outgrew her in size, but never in heart.
Her left eye went first, claimed by cataracts; by the time he was four she was blind. He brought warm towels to her in winter; she never stopped showing him affection.
But when spring came round she stopped eating, and one day they took her away to the pound in a basket. He sat by the window, waiting and waiting for her to come back, but she never did.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-73151
To M. H., Netherlands

When I told him I didn’t love him anymore, he defenestrated me.
“Defenestrate” is my favorite English word. It means, “to throw out of a window”.
That would cause significant problems if the window were, say, on the top floor of a 50-story building.
Fortunately, the window I was defenestrated from was not on the top floor of a 50-story building.
Unfortunately, it was on the top floor of a 70-story building on a cliff on the edge of the colony overlooking a busy traffic bypass.
It’s a good thing I’m a mutant, and I can fly.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-73150
To S. H., Finland

“This book. It is unspeakably terrible.”
“I know. I can’t imagine it would have crawled out of the slush pile, had circumstances been different.”
“I do not refer to the writing. That alone is execrable enough, but the things it teaches would terrify me, if I were capable of it. Obsession, control, sick fantasy… Absolutely vile.”
“It gets worse in later books.”
“Later books? That implies that there are more.”
“Tell me you know about them, Michael.”
“Raphael, unlike you, I am–”
“Okay, save the lecture, I get it. There are several books in this series, and they don’t get any better.”
“I assume that they are indecently popular.”
“A lot of children like them. Young girls.”
“How many of them are they?”
“Numbers? In millions, probably.”

The book thumps shut in concert to a heavy sigh, and Gabriel looks at his brother. “Say what you want about Lucifer, but he very much knows how to make a good deal for himself.”

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-73149
To Z. S., China

「生日快乐」,她说。
她手中拿着一粒和仙丹差不多的小东西。「是药吗?」他问。
「是时候。是人家卖给我的时间。」
「你在说什么呀?」
「你每次都说不够时间出门、去看电影等等。卖给我的妇人说,这应该有十个小时多的时间,那我门今天该有点空去逛街吧?」
「可是这是别人的时间。我。。。」
「哎呀、你的想法为什么一直那么过时?是人家要钱、才会去卖自己的时间。是他们自我决定的心愿。象我们有钱买时间的人、你说有什么错?」
「但是时间的价值是个无所了解的东西。我们生死之间只有注定的一段时间。真么能称象丹丹的物品一样、用钱去买卖?」
「哎呀、已经买了、没办法了。那我们就好好的去利用这些时间吧。」她轻轻给他一个吻。「不要浪费别人的时间。」


(Translation:)
Happy birthday, she said.
In her hand was something small and round, like an elixir. Is it medicine, he asked.
It’s time. Time that somebody sold to me.
What are you talking about?
You always say you haven’t the time to go out and catch a movie or anything like that. The lady who sold me this capsule said there’s a good ten hours in it. That should give us enough to get out for a bit, yes?
But this is somebody else’s time. I can’t…
Gee whiz, why you’ve got to be so old fashioned? People sell their time for money, it’s what they want. And people like us have the money to buy their time. Tell me, is there anything wrong with that?
But you can’t put a price on time! It’s all that we have between birth and death. You can’t trade it like a vulgar commodity.
Oh for heaven’s sake, it’s already paid for, nothing we can do about it now. Let’s go make good use of it, she said. Kissing him gently, she added, Let’s not waste other people’s time.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-71792
First attempt to write a short story in Chinese, a language I’ve always struggled with. The recipient seemed to like the story, so I think I’ve done alright! 

To Z. S., China

「生日快乐」,她说。

她手中拿着一粒和仙丹差不多的小东西。「是药吗?」他问。

「是时候。是人家卖给我的时间。」

「你在说什么呀?」

「你每次都说不够时间出门、去看电影等等。卖给我的妇人说,这应该有十个小时多的时间,那我门今天该有点空去逛街吧?」

「可是这是别人的时间。我。。。」

「哎呀、你的想法为什么一直那么过时?是人家要钱、才会去卖自己的时间。是他们自我决定的心愿。象我们有钱买时间的人、你说有什么错?」

「但是时间的价值是个无所了解的东西。我们生死之间只有注定的一段时间。真么能称象丹丹的物品一样、用钱去买卖?」

「哎呀、已经买了、没办法了。那我们就好好的去利用这些时间吧。」她轻轻给他一个吻。「不要浪费别人的时间。」

(Translation:)

Happy birthday, she said.

In her hand was something small and round, like an elixir. Is it medicine, he asked.

It’s time. Time that somebody sold to me.

What are you talking about?

You always say you haven’t the time to go out and catch a movie or anything like that. The lady who sold me this capsule said there’s a good ten hours in it. That should give us enough to get out for a bit, yes?

But this is somebody else’s time. I can’t…

Gee whiz, why you’ve got to be so old fashioned? People sell their time for money, it’s what they want. And people like us have the money to buy their time. Tell me, is there anything wrong with that?

But you can’t put a price on time! It’s all that we have between birth and death. You can’t trade it like a vulgar commodity.

Oh for heaven’s sake, it’s already paid for, nothing we can do about it now. Let’s go make good use of it, she said. Kissing him gently, she added, Let’s not waste other people’s time.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-71792

First attempt to write a short story in Chinese, a language I’ve always struggled with. The recipient seemed to like the story, so I think I’ve done alright! 

To J.M., USA

She knew something was wrong the moment the train doors opened: The smell of yakitori, rich and thick, greeted her where there should have been sterile air-conditioning. Instinct took her forward, and instinct was defied when she was presented with a restaurant instead of a train interior.
She tried to step back out of the glitch, but someone from behind shoved her forward. “Don’t push!” she snapped, but too late— both feet were in, and she heard the door shut behind her.
"Oh," said the young man who had come in with her, realization finally sinking in.
She flung the restaurant door open. It was a street, at night. No train platform. Shit.
A hard glare for the young man. “I told you not to push!”
He at least managed to look chastised. “Sorry.” A pause, and then: “So, where are we now?”
A waitress came up, smiling. “Table for two?”
Anette looked at the waitress, then back at the young man, and sighed. Not my day, she thought.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-65058
My postal service lost the first postcard I sent with this ID, so I sent a second one with a crossingtale. And a PAR AVION sticker. And a return address. Just in case. (It worked…)
To Wolverine, USA

Oh, that! It’s my newest display item. You like it? I saw it while I was out shopping a few weeks ago. Impulse buy, which seems like a stupid idea now that I think of it. Considering that it was one of those blind items, I could have gotten something completely ugly. 
But nevermind, I got a fantastic deal out of it! Just look at it! It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? The skin’s so beautiful, and they’ve tinted the eyes just right. The detailing on the clothes is fantastic, it looks just like one of those porcelain dolls. And it cost a lot less too, not that you could tell, looking at it. I’m really delighted with it.
It’s too bad I don’t have a larger display case for it. You know, when I first brought it home, it kept pounding the glass and crying to be let out, but lately it’s gone very quiet. I think it’s beginning to like it in there.
I hope it lasts long enough to outgrow that cabinet.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-71411
To T.A., Austria

"It doesn’t look good," the ranger said. "Grizzly tracks."
"And this was the last place the hiker was seen?" the cabin owner asked.
"Apparently."
Further down the hiking trail they found more signs: a scrap of clothing, lying torn. A blue shirt. Yes, the hiker had last been seen wearing one.Then a bone, bloody and chewed. The cabin owner exhaled. 
"Wait," said the ranger.  "That bone’s not human."
They walked further on, the air now tainted with deathsmell. There were signs of a great struggle and more partially eaten remains. Some still had brown fur attached.
Finally they came to a clearing where no birds sang. The figure hunched over the bloody carcass looked lazily up, showing glistening red teeth. The ranger reached for his gun, and those teeth formed the shape of a smile.  “Hello,” the hiker said. “How may I help you?”

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-71412
To E.K, United Kingdom

Aim. Relax. Breathe out. Trigger.
Across the white expanse the staggering figure dropped in a splatter of red. “Good shot,” Lin’s partner whispered, and she nodded in thanks. The reanimates hunted by scent, not sound, but under these conditions she preferred to speak as little as possible.
They scanned the horizon for more. Two hours till dawn and warmer temperatures. The winter months were no longer safe. The virus had adapted.
Timo tugged at her sleeve. “You have to burn my body,” he said. “It’s to make sure.” Yesterday he told them stories of Simo Hayha, a WWII sniper and hero back home. It was the most Lin had heard him speak since he had become their guide around the solar stations in this foreign land. It scared her.
"Your shin is broken," she said, "Not your back. Don’t be ridiculous."
Privately, they all knew that the rations wouldn’t last back to Krasnoyarsk. If it was just her and Ade..
Timo pushed something heavy at her. His pistol. “Do it.”
She pushed it back. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Ade nudged her. “Got more coming.” Vague straggling shapes in the distance, distinctly bipedal. They raised their rifles.
Aim. Relax. Breathe out. Trigger.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-69141
To C.C., Denmark 

The house had never sat right with Nina. It was too large, too ornate, even for the neighborhood it resided in. An endless supply of flashy cars rotated in its driveway: Porsche. Ferrari. Maserati. She saw new ones all the time.
She had only met the owner once, a tall man with too many teeth and glassy eyes, whose skull seemed to be made of skin. “I see you around,” he had said through the rows of his smile. “You live here?”
"I work down the street. You like cars?"
"Ah, my beauties. Here, a man can only have one wife. In some places, a bit more. But he can have as many cars as he wants." Stroking the bonnet of a yellow Porsche he (had) invited her in, but she had walked away, fast as she could.
She told the police that she and her friends had broken into the house because they’d smelt something bad. The fire that had burned it down, an accident. 
But their secret website told a different story: A pieced-together collection of makes and models, archived news articles about missing women, long-lens photographs of the grounds. And what had started it all: Nina’s picture of engine-oil drippings, in a colour strangely resembling blood, reading: “HELP. END IT. IT HURTS. PLEASE”
The police found no trace of the tenant amongst the ashes, amongst the bones of the missing women. It’s what fire does to arachnids, after all.

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-69298
To E.V., Netherlands

They had been told that the big crowds were going to the city, and so they followed them. With all their possessions on their back they looked just like the holiday-makers.
In the carpark a bus pulled up at the pavement and someone swung the luggage compartment open, hungry and waiting. The boy looked at his older sister. “Is this one ours?” She looked at the travelers loading their bags, and nodded.
The bus pulled away from the airport. Twenty minutes passed and there was no sign of the city. The buildings grew sparse, but still the bus passengers said nothing. The children stared out at the window as the distant hills appeared to grow. “Where do you think we’re going?” the boy asked.
His sister settled into her seat with a smile. “Let’s find out.”

http://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/SG-68732