There are many people I would like to acknowledge for their invaluable help on this project. But to protect them from elements who don’t understand the meaning of the word “fiction,” I shall leave them nameless. You know who you are so, to all of you, please accept my heartfelt thanks.


New York City, 2007

The letter, signed by one Elik Mangor, arrived in the middle of the night and warned that, unless his instructions were followed, the entire population of planet Earth might be destroyed. Yeah. Right.

1Libby Burgess, executive editor of one of New York’s most prestigious small publishers, pushed the letter and the beautiful metal box it arrived in across the desk toward the slush pile. It wasn’t the first time some kook had tried to get her attention in hopes of getting his mundane prose published, and it wouldn’t be the last.

Still, this particular kook had more cheek than most and something about the whole thing gave Libby pause. He didn’t claim to be God exactly; in fact, he declared there was no such entity. But he did claim to be the creator of our universe and everything in it, all of which could be instantly destroyed by the simple act of turning off his computer.

Not so much because of that loopy claim but more because of the weird, otherworldly feel of the paper the letter was written on as well as the heavy, shiny box in which it was delivered, Libby was just curious enough to have both the letter and the box analyzed.

"The box," her expert announced, "is plated with a thick coat of twenty-four carat gold over a base metal we don't believe originated on this planet. The paper the letter was printed on, as well as the ink used, are also unknown to any scientist here. Both are fireproof and appear virtually indestructible."

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