art by Agata Maciagowska
The Dead Letter Office
by Matthew Marinett
"Here's a good one," Kali said. The left corner of her mouth was curved up like a dog-eared page: her trickster smile. In her hand was a crumpled parchment with ancient letters scrawled messily across it. "'Please strike down this impious philosopher with your mighty lightning.' Unsigned."
Horatio moved beside her and tried to stare over her shoulder. "Addressed to whom?"
"Zeus, of course." She tossed the last parchment away and picked up a fresh letter from the pile, this one on vellum. "Oh, and here, another good one. 'Mighty Ares, vanquisher, lion-hearted, widow's sorrow,' blah blah, 'aid us in our coming battle,' something, something about Egypt and Octavian. This one does go on. Signed Mark Antony." She discarded the letter over her shoulder, chuckling. "Oh well, I'm sure it wasn't important."
"I suppose in the end, it doesn't seem like any of them are." Horatio looked around at the stacks of crumbling paper slouching into the horizon. Once, the letters may have been sorted, but in the eons since then the shelves had caved in or toppled down, and now papers were blowing about in a breeze that swooped in from shattered windows. "Why are we here?"
"To look," she said.
"Oh ho!" Kali said suddenly, drawing up a new missive written on torn paper. "Now, this one is from you." She flashed Horatio a sideways glance, eyes blazing cruelly. "Let's see here. Hard to read. Oh, it's to Venus: 'Please let Kali fall in love with me.'" Kali paused for a moment after she finished it, but her smile hadn't faded. "Well, Horatio, I'm surprised."