Fear of Death

This is an ongoing series of short horror stories. In them, I will explore random concepts, themes, situations and issues that cross my mind as I develop horror films.

“FEAR OF DEATH” – A ONE-PAGE HORROR STORY BY PAULO LEITE.

It was one o’clock pm in the United Kingdom when it happened. In each postal box of every building or house of every city, no matter how small or large, there was a letter. One for each person living in it. In that letter it was written the precise date, the hour and the cause of the recipient’s death. So it was true: it was written. A few letters had two minutes left. Others even less. So the recipients died without giving it any thought. One got his letter while late to work and never made it. Another just got home to find there was a gas leak. Too late. There was nothing out of the ordinary about those first deaths. Just a piece of paper lying around among the broken glass that no one cared to read.

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The certainty of those letters went unnoticed by quite a few minutes. Those who died almost instantly did not die because of it. They just died and nobody cared. Fifteen minutes later, a woman who was about to leave to visit her beloved father who was recovering well from a heart surgery, opened her father’s letter thinking it was a bill he forgot to pay. He was going to die at one-thirty-six from asphyxiation after a massive blood cloth triggered a sudden swelling of his throat. It could have been prevented, but she thought the letter was a joke in poor taste. She got to the hospital at one-forty-two. He was gone in agony. There were a few dozens of similar cases scattered around the country. Eventually some people took those letters seriously and in a matter of six hours, the television, the radio and the internet were talking about nothing else. Some people couldn’t believe they would live until the age of 129 and die peacefully in their sleep from natural causes. Those were the lucky ones.

Through the internet, a lot of noise, misinformation and myths began to form. Strange stories that the letters were poisonous went viral. Other posts suggested the whole thing was a just a huge advertising campaign from some travel agency. But all across the globe, precisely at one pm, the letter would turn up on mail boxes. Rome, Ankara, Dar Es Salaam, Norilsk, Bangkok, Perth, Honolulu and so on. As expected, in 24 hours, one letter would be waiting for someone. But that was only the beginning. Death could be avoided. All you have to do is not get into that car on September 27th 2018. Or book some other flight. Or just let the cat die up there on that tree. It all seemed so simple. A courageous man who knew he would live until 2069 decided to jump from a building. High winds slowed his velocity by the time he hit a tree and he survived in agony until 2069. In fact, robust as he was, three suicide attempts only made it worse.

A woman in New York cancelled a bus trip to Boston and was happy she survived the day. An airline decided to cancel a flight after all passengers cancelled their tickets and the crew refused to go on-board. It seemed the plane was due to crash. But there was nothing wrong with it. A girl on a gorgeous Australian beach stayed far from the water while drinking Champagne. In five minutes she was supposed to be killed by a shark. The shark was spotted by a boat just a few minutes after her predicted death. The beach was cleared. Some suicide cases went on as predicted. After so much thought and planning, life indeed got unbearable for some.

After many deaths were avoided, the world became slightly more chaotic. People still refused to fly on that airplane now condemned to rot. Cars, houses and boats were left abandoned by those who were supposed to die in them. Parents who did not want to live through the terminal illness if their children simply abandoned them. Stocks collapsed when word got out that the CEO would kill himself in one year and some children got targeted and murdered by those who were supposed to be killed by them some 20 years later. Fear of Death turned the world into a derelict landscape of all things avoided.

© 2016 BAD BEHAVIOR ONE, Lda.

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