The letter was unaddressed, unmarked and generally uninteresting, which was how it made it into the pile of Florian Willamette’s personal correspondence. It could have been mistaken for a plain envelope had it not been sealed. Willamette spotted it right away. It was different from the rest. Understated. He’d been going through a Simplicity phase of late; tired from all the flash and spectacle his work entailed and so the envelope stuck out. The thought that it could be anthrax or otherwise booby trapped didn’t occur to him until after he opened the letter, but then, who would want to kill him?
What he found was confusing and hard to suss out at first. The contents of the envelope appeared to be two unrelated items. One was a single page typed letter in a soothing font that drew the eye. The other appeared to be a still from a TV special about a series of murders. With his face on it. He read on.
Dear Mr. Willamette,
As you’ve no doubt noticed, you have a stunning profile. A shame that it ends up next to this celebrity wannabe. Before you call the police, please note that this is not a threat. This is the future. In an indeterminate time from now, this man will kill you. It will be the crowning achievement of his life and the sum total of his fame. Six other people will die before he gets to you, but none of them will be remembered. They will be called the Willamette Murders in your memory.
You can choose to ignore this letter and go about your life. You can try and prevent these events from coming to pass. You might even succeed. Reading this letter alone might have already altered future events. It is impossible to know. But, the prevention of your murder is not the purpose of this missive. Instead, we have a proposition. If you would like, you can meet this man, your killer. You can talk to him, torture him, enslave him, whatever you wish. All we guarantee is a meeting.
This all sounds outlandish to you and it should. A sane individual would think no differently. However, the proof required is right there in your photo. You will notice it has not been taken yet. The means of contacting us are included below. We hope to hear from you soon.
Calling it outlandish did this no justice. This was insanity. The scrawling of a delirious madman. Willamette threw the letter away without a second thought. For days he went about his business as he usually did. It wasn’t until almost a week later at the cover shoot for the latest puff piece on his work that his feelings on the matter changed. Particularly the suit he was wearing and the photographer’s propensity for profile shots. When he got home he dug frantically through his trash and sure enough, the “fake” TV special confirmed it. He had just taken his memorial photograph. He quickly contacted the senders of the letter.
“Mr. Willamette. We are glad you finally decided to meet with us,” the gentleman sitting across from him in the café said.
“If this turns out to be some overly elaborate prank I am going to sue the organs out of you,” Willamette replied.
“Not a prank, Mr. Willamette. We are men and women of fine taste. Hidden camera shows are beneath us,” he said. The way he said ca-me-ra put Willamette on edge.
“Who are you people?” Willamette asked.
“People with means,” he replied.
“The means to know the future? To know the name and face of my killer?” Willamette asked.
“You seem hesitant. Have you come all this way just to turn down our proposal?” the man asked. He’d introduced himself but Willamette didn’t remember the name. Smith or Smythe or something.
“What exactly are you proposing?” Willamette asked.
“The chance to meet your killer. Pick his brains. Literally or figuratively we leave up to you, but you’ll have to bring your own toys. As I said we only promise a meeting.”
“This is insane. I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here,” said Willamette.
“You got the proof you needed, didn’t you?” asked the man.
“You could have faked it. Could have paid off the photographer and gotten him to use that particular suit and that particular shot. It’s not impossible,” said Willamette. The man drank the last of his coffee and stood.
“We understand you do not like to have your time wasted. Neither do we. If we have no further business, then I will bid you adieu.”
“Wait! Wait. Maybe, tell me more about this man,” Willamette asked.
It turned out his killer’s name was Jeremiah Scott Spencer. Three names. They always had three names, didn’t they? He was born to humble origins but rose quickly to prominent positions in private school. When he graduated from college he tried to make a name for himself but was consistently denied by more talented or more connected people. As his failures mounted, he began to need more and more help from his friends. Loans, places to crash for the weekend, maybe a good word for an upcoming interview. Soon he lost his friends as they decided one by one that he was nothing more than a leech.
He began to grow desperate. With that desperation, a slow burning rage. How could someone like him be struggling so much? Wasn’t he talented? Wasn’t he smart? Wasn’t he worthy of the life? The money? The fame? He sold his looks, his youth, his body, but even those began to leave and betray him. He was rounding out his thirties. No longer the young stallion who could charm anyone and get in anywhere. He was losing hope.
No one knows what finally made him snap. An overheard comment, a contemptuous sneer, whatever it was it pushed him over the edge. He was destined to be a nobody. But he wasn’t going to go alone.
Two days. He would kill the first one in two days. But who? The choice seemed obvious. His old roommate. The first one to give up on him. Well, maybe not THE first. His parents had cut him off long ago, told him to try farming. Farming! But it was his roommate who had started this downward spiral. All he needed was a gun. That’s when the men in fine black suits nabbed him, tied him up and drove him somewhere far away.