Dear Mr. Pickles,
Two months ago I figured out who you really are.
I’m not sure you even know who you really are, Mr. Pickles, but that’s okay, because I do.
I figured out who what you’ve really been trying to tell me, too. All those lessons about “keeping the tomatoes ripe” and “maintaining healthy soil”…I know now.
It’s the people with the backpacks, the ones who pass through town every summer. They aren’t what they appear to be, are they, Mr. Pickles?
I ask that playfully, because of course you already know the answer. You’re the one who told me.
The backpackers carry antennae and radios in their packs. They act disassociated from one another, but that’s a lie. They’re all part of the same thing.
Mr. Pickles, you’ve been warning me for years now, and I’m sorry I only just now picked up on it. I was a fool to be deaf to your real message.
It took that stint in the hospital to help me see the light. I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
That’s what they always try to do whenever somebody starts to see the truth. They try to chain their brains with labels and medication. I was stronger than that, though. I played their game and escaped, and now I’m free.
Weeks of sitting in that white room gave me time to think of everything you told me all those years, and I realized you’d been trying to say something else. You’d been calling to me to be the one to stop them.
The time is running short now. There are more backpackers than ever…more antennae, more radios…ready to call the invasion down.
Or perhaps “call the invasion up” is the better way to say it? Just semantics, of course, but all in good fun.
I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve taught me and what you’ve said, Mr. Pickles, and I’ve decided to make you proud tonight. I’ll not just stand by and let this happen. You called on me, of all people, and I’ll honor the trust you’ve shown.
I’ve got one of the backpackers in my garage. I lured him here with promises of food and shelter. He couldn’t refuse without giving away his game. He had to continue to appear to be a hapless backpacker and not a monster, so he came, and when he got here he found a surprise waiting for him.
He’ll be awake soon, probably within the hour. It’s hard to say because they aren’t completely human.
I think the antennae and the radio in the backpacks have some kind of emergency system built in, because I’ve dug through all his stuff and found none of that higher technology.
They’re good, Mr. Pickles. They’re very good. I was almost persuaded to believe he was just a backpacker after all, but then I remembered everything you’d said.
He’ll be awake soon, and then I’ll get my answers. I’ll bring the whole goddamn conspiracy down, if I can. If not…then I guess I’ll die nobly, at least.
That’s why I write you now, Mr. Pickles. I wanted to let you know that I tried, no matter how things turned out. I did my best to do what you trusted me to do, to put to life all your lessons.
And I wanted to thank you. I will not let you down.
He’s waking now, Mr. Pickles. I have to go. I will do what must be done.
No matter how things turn out, thank you for all that you’ve taught me.
If not for you, I might have died just another blind, stupid human being, asleep to the real world screaming in rage around me.