Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Last Letter

by J. Eckert Lytle

Dear Annabelle,

It's been some time since I've written. For that I apologize. I can only hope and pray that this letter reaches you.

We're on the front lines of this hideous little war Earth started with this planet. I have yet to see the face of our enemy, but they possess a dreadfully strange weapon we are unable to comprehend or deal with. All week the men have been mysteriously disappearing by some bizarre means I dare not even imagine. It all started with Major Willis. One minute he was drinking a freshly brewed cup of tea. The next he was gone. Only his hot cup of tea remained, undisturbed.

With every disappearance comes an intense, all-consuming darkness much like a black shroud settling over us, devouring all light including the twin moons and stars. Then a loud, throbbing drone is heard; like a thousand cicadas ascending in scale and increasing in intensity until hitting fever pitch. It's at that point when one or two of us vanishes, ending up I know not where or under what circumstances. We had 250 men late last week when we arrived. Early this morning we're down to a mere handful. Just an hour ago my friend, Specs, was reading a book when he vanished. The only thing left was his open book and his wire rimmed glasses. We're suppose to get reinforcements by midday, but the way things are going it'll be too late.

I really don't wish to frighten you, so I'll change the subject. Focusing on you and your beauty is my only hold on sanity. When the droning begins I try to put it out of my mind by remembering our trip to Coos Bay on the Oregon coast, and our late night walks on Sunset Beach. If only I could relive those moments. Radiant you were with the moon reflecting off your golden tresses. The following day we spent at Shore Acres in the Japanese gardens. The many shades of green brought out your translucent emerald eyes. Joyous was that day as we strolled through the colorful rose gardens, around the great pond, and down the secluded path to the out-of-the-way beach where you pulled me into a thicket of Manzanitas and gave me my going away "gift." The rest of the day we spent crabbing at Charleston Harbor and at night in The Mill Casino where you had a lucky streak at the blackjack tables.

There goes the drone again, growing louder and louder. I'm holding my breath. It's all very maddening. I almost wish I would be the next one to go, so I wouldn't have to go through this anguish anymore.

It stopped! I can breathe again. I wonder who got it this time. It's like an alien version of Russian roulette.

If you receive this letter I just want you to know that that weekend was the best in my life. It's like my whole existence culminated in that weekend. My only regret was that I didn't marry you when you brought it up. I had some "noble" idea of waiting until I was discharged from the military before I'd take a wife. Kinda stupid wasn't it?

Whew! This letter is getting long. This is the most I've written in a while, but it's the most I've ever loved anyone. There I said it! I love you... Will you marry me?

There goes that alien droning again. It's driving me insane. I've got to focus on you and that night on the Oregon coas


2014 J. Eckert Lytle

Bio: John has worked in mills, in sales, and his own businesses. He's toured Europe by different means (bicycle, hiking, and an old VW). He's been in a garage band, been a gold miner, and a scuba diver. He's been writing for ten years and has well over 300 rejection slips.

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