The Letter Box Tradition / Ritual in Dread Romantic | World Anvil

The Letter Box

I take you to a dark room, dear reader. Speak, and one will hear a soft echo. Despite this the room is small, and no amount of light can illuminate its walls. A man and a woman enter, the light behind them almost blinding. When the door closes, the man immediately lights a cigarette.   He is The Engineer, a heap of a man with a grizzled face and greasy hair. He wears a white hard hat with the words E.W.B centered on the front.   His companion, The Carpenter, is the opposite. She is tall and lean. Her hair is well kept. Her complexion is pristine to the point where she almost glows, even in a place like this.   The Engineer is stressed beyond belief. He has so much to do. He has all the time in the world to do it, but people are counting on him. Most of them don't even realize it.   "Good morning," The Carpenter says.   "Yeah," he mutters with a nod, exhaling a lung full of smoke. He flashes a smile. "What's so good about it?"   The woman crosses her arms and returns the smile. "Calm down, it's not that bad." When he doesn't respond, she sighs. "Ready?"   The engineer takes a deep breath. "As ready as I'll ever be."   There's no sound, no dramatic exit. One moment they're there, and a moment later they're gone. In the blink of an eye, they find themselves just a few miles off of the latest settlement in need of their services: Boring, Iowa.

The E.W.B?

The E.W.B. Have you heard of them? They're a strange organization, but capable and exceedingly useful. Can you imagine what it would be like without electricity or running water? The disease, the rampant dehydration… the smell. The E.W.B are an enigma but there are things those who remain can learn about them. They are not a single organization. The E.W.B has branches; departments. For every task, they possess a tool. The letter boxes belong to The Postal Service.   When the world ended, humanity found itself alone. All means of communication were gone. Naturally, this made them more than a little depressed. The whole lot of them sought to connect but when they called out, no one answered. The EWB saw this and said, "Well thats not gonna fucking work." There were many who hadn't yet found a place to belong, many who had no one to talk To. It simply wouldn't do. Enter the letter-box.   The first letter box appeared in the summer just after the end. An "experiment in human connection" conducted by The E.W.B Postal Service, A letter box is a 3x7 wooden crate with a small slit and side compartment. Attached to the top and side is a notice...  
Shall I read it to you?

You have just stumbled across our latest experiment in human connection! Within this box is a safe space to leave your outgoing post. In an effort to better your experience, we've made the process as easy as possible.
A specific recipient or address is not a requirement. Trust us to ensure it gets exactly where it is meant to go and to whom it is best suited for.
The Pen Pal Program:A new feature of the letter box project is the ability to send your mail to a random individual across the globe, provided you can successfully communicate, of course. How does one enroll? You already are! Simply leave a letter or package with the letter box, and we will do the rest.
The presence of a letter box indicates one of two things: There is a nearby settlement that is under the watch and care of The E.W.B.
The location of the letter box is ideal for settlement and equally under the watch and care of The E.W.B.
Letter boxes, and all EWB labeled equipment are for human use, only.

An Impossible Task

The EWB postal service operates nearly two thousand letter-boxes scattered across the globe, or so they say. Most have yet to be found. Still, they always manage to deliver whatever is left in their care, sometimes within a matter of hours.   How do they do it? It's almost a guarantee that spellcraft is Involved but magic is dangerous. They shouldn't be nearly this successful, but they are. Every year, more and more of these boxes pop up, and always around the end of summer.   Every year, more and more people use the letter boxes. Some seek a place to belong. Others merely seek a friend. Then you have those rare few, the ones who use it to call for help…

Is it magic?

Most suspect teleportation to be the key but there has never been a case of loss. They never fail to deliver. This is a problem given that you're more likely to be ripped apart in transit as you are to end up at your destination.   Enchantments could work but that wouldn't explain how they manage to find the recipient, and without an address to boot. Teleportation enchantments are static as well. They only offer a one way trip.   Long story short, Magic is definitely involved, but no one's how or to what degree.
Toby storms out the back entrance of the funeral home. Her thoughts race as she runs, never daring to turn back. Nearby, she spots the treeline of the American Direwood, a dark place that calls to both the forlorn and overly curious.   She stops. She's losing track of time. She has a job to do, after all. They needed her. She turns and ventures back toward town. They need to leave, and soon, but how? She feels hopeless for the first time in months.   As she walks, the strangest thing occurs: A street lamp overhead begins to buzz. There hasn't been power since the fall, save for a few generators. She hears a cheer from down the road.   Bathing in the light of another streetlamp, she sees a man and a woman. The man stands with his hands on his hips, his chest puffed out as he laughs. The woman hammers a nail into what appears to be a wooden box.   Toby gathers speed, nearly running by the time she's close enough to hear them clearly.   "I told you," the man said. "I told you they'd work."   "Indeed you did. More nails if you would be so kind." The woman replied   "Sorry." The man kneels down, takes up the box of nails, and hands it over.   The woman gathers a few nails in her hand and prepares to drive them into the wood. The woman stops and cocks her head.
"We've been found out." The Carpenter says.   Toby takes a few cautious steps forward. "Can you help me?"   The Engineer shudders and shakes his head. "Oh, we don't offer that kind of help. You've got a right big can of worms, don't ya girlie?"   "It's done, I suppose. Good enough for government work." The carpenter nods toward the new letterbox. "Go ahead."   "Beg pardon?" Toby feels her heart race. She notices their attire, work clothes that lack name tags. Instead a small strip of cloth on the chest listed their profession. The woman was The Carpenter and the man was The Engineer.   The two barely address her as they gather their equipment and leave. They wander toward the treeline.   The Carpenter sighs. "We don't work for the government though."   The man chuckles. "Thank God for that, amiright?" He gives The Carpenter a playful nudge, "Leave it. It'll hold just fine."   Toby steps closer, inspecting the box as if it held all the answers. Her hands caress the smooth finish of the red and white wood. It was then her hand caught hold of a notice attached to the box by thin chains. Toby grabs hold of a pen, a sheet of paper, and frantically scribbles down a call for help.


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Huge shout out to Stormbril for his forbidden CSS wisdom! Would not have been able to do this without his advice.

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The Letter Box


Hope you all can read the smoke…


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Jul 7, 2023 10:40 by Catoblepon


Visit Daeliha, Iphars, Khulgran & Shattered
Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
My world Shattered won as the "Most ground-breaking premise new world"!
Jul 7, 2023 12:59

What a roller coaster ride! You have one amazing imagination and the writing chops to make it come alive.

Jul 7, 2023 16:38 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Interesting. :) I'm so curious about the world you've created.   Only for human use, hm?

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 28, 2023 10:28

This is such a unique way to tell a story and I'm here for it!   Keep up the good work! :D

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