Other Stories in this issue

Hate Mail

by James Kester

About the Author: James Kester composed his first short story, ‘Twenty Balloons,’ at the age of nine, as a gift for his mother, who found the characters a bit thinly-drawn, and felt there were several problems with pacing. He studied to be a journalist, but quit when he was not permitted to use the ‘gonzo’ style. He currently works in a hospital (unbeknownst to the staff).


Retired banker Roger Hammond stares at the crisp white rectangle on the desk, and feels a shudder run through his aged frame.

The letter has been printed in twelve-point, italic ‘Times’ on a single A4 sheet of white paper. Folded neatly into three, it concertinas open before him, resembling the beginnings of some awful stairway. Whether up or down he can’t decide.

The letter consists of just three words. His first name, at the top, and below this: Tell someone.

It arrived on his mat a few minutes earlier, along with the usual angry demands from the utility companies and the copious drifts of junk mail. His ginger Tom had been sniffing beside it and mewling to be let out. When he opened the door, rays of summer sun had slanted through the gap and alighted on the corner of the generic brown, unaddressed envelope, and he’d immediately known that something was wrong.

Tell someone.

Staring at the words, his mind enacts a kind of time travel, whisking him back through the corridors of memory to a night in October, 1984 … A hotel room, a mocking giggle, a young woman—a girl really—her face puffy and clown-like with make-up, the bed-sheets pulled back, exposing the stained mattress beneath …

He banishes the image. Then, with a flurry of rage, tears the letter into pieces. The scraps flutter like falling blossom. He leaves them where they fall.

Story Comments

Aug 17 - Rick Massey Boone North Carolina

HATE MAIL is an excellent story. Great formatting. Love the twist at the end. I am ashamed to say I did not see that coming. Superb. Rick

Aug 18 - Derek McMillan

I enjoyed this story. I find cats can often communicate in unexpected ways and I like the way this was woven into the story b

Sep 17 - Jay Cole

Good story

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