From the author: In time for the holidays, a story written for a White Elephant gift exchange. Naturally, the cosmos is at stake.
[Letter found wrapped around a Dutch Bros. gift card]
My dearest Peter,
I can’t honestly claim that this was a heartfelt gift, and I hope that you understand why. In case you don’t, I’m writing to you huddled under a bridge in a dimension where the sun screams as it burns. I pray that this is at least is a helpful indicator of my predicament.
Everyone that you or I know has forgotten me since I left. I gave them everything to remain in their hearts and minds, for when I am forgotten in your world then I will fade from this one. If that happens, then all is lost. My struggles caused many to forget me over the past two years – such is the nature of being so removed from time and space.
But despite all those who forgot me, you never did. You held on so firmly and for so long that my absence felt cruel in the face of your compassion. You were even understanding when, once my own parents began to forget my face, I sent some of my most precious belongings to them through the veil… while for those long years you remained empty-handed. The objects helped them remember, and they held me in their hearts. You managed to do so with only my memories and your determination, and so I could afford to neglect you.
Soon, I will return – or there will soon be nothing to return to. I told you of the Lidless Eye before I left you, Peter, though I am not sure how much you remember. I have worked tirelessly to thwart its machinations at every turn, and I believe that we are at last at the perilous point where it must crumble or I must finally succumb to my wounds. Even now, I have supplemented my typewriter’s ink with the black blood of the last of its twisted minions in order to type my final letter to you. There is nothing left in this place but it and myself.
Time has not only taken its toll on me and the Eye, however. You had already begun to forget me in recent weeks, and though I thought that I could have this over and done with before my memory slipped your grasp entirely, I find my strength waning on the eve of this struggle’s climax. Your heroic, loving willpower has failed at last, and with it, my power flickers to nothing. I have no more gifts to give; nothing to remind you of me as I cower under this bridge, cold and alone with a wailing alien sun overhead.
Instead I have sent the last gift that you gave me: something silly and insignificant in the face of total cosmic annihilation, but one little item which I had until now refused to part with. I pray that you receive it and remember your love for me. I pray that it works because if it does not, then there will be no home to return to.
And, I suppose, pathetic though it may be… I hope that you remember me even if all my efforts fail. After two years of fighting monstrosities to save a world that has forgotten me, after all this time passed without seeing your face, I want to know that I was still in your heart at the end. Even if you must remember me as the lover who left you and re-gifted his final desperate present, it will be better than nothing. Merry Christmas, Peter. I hope to see you soon.
Yours after the end of forever,
[the page is torn, hiding its attribution]
This story originally appeared in None (Free Content) .