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"The Green Letter" by Steven Hall

"The Green Letter" by Steven Hall 

This story came from the anthology "Dead Letters" edited by Conrad Williams. 

The green letter is a mysterious letter with unknown origin.  No one knows how it comes to be, where it comes from, or how it got there, or even who sent the letter.  Everything about this letter is mysterious.  However some things over time have been established using the scientific method if you will. 

The narrator is the one that is talking about the green letter during the story.  One can only surmise from the way he talks about the green letter and his role in studying the phenomenon that he was a major player in the study of the letter.  In fact the narration is actually a letter in and of itself. 

Somehow a letter in a green envelope appears at peoples homes.  It somehow manages to get through the mail slots without being seen and always around the same time.  CCTV has never picked up anything unusual or captured anything useful about how the letter arrives at someones home.  Neither has a host of other techniques used to try and determine the origin of this letter. 

The letter is always addressed to the same person everytime and inside the letter is written on a plain post-it note.  The letter is simply a list of items.  1 – 10 are bullet points with situations or emotions written next to each point.  The receiver of the letter is then compelled to circle one of the ten.  After they circle their choice is when all the strangeness begins to happen.  The same thing happens to each person who circles the same thing, but different things happen based on what you circled.  The narrator writing the letter talking about the green letter, then ends with what happened to someone who was working on the project that filled in a blank spot.  I won't ruin the end. 


I liked the creativity of this story.  I also liked the fact that it was a story about a letter, which was being talked about inside of a letter, explaining what was going on.  I can assume that the letter was to the narrator's superiors, but it wasn't exactly clear.  I would of liked at least a sentence or two clarifying who the letter was meant for and who would be reading the letter, about the green letter. 

The story also reminded me a little bit about the scene in Harry Potter when all the letter would arrive by owl and find all kinds of magical ways inside the house trying to deliver themselves to Harry Potter.  There is something fun, yet always mysterious, which adds to the mythos about magical letters.

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