I’ve been an avid follow of microfiction author Uel Aramchek (@ThePatanoic) on Twitter for some time, so in time I became a huge convert of North Of Reality where he drops a new piece of interconnected, surreal, and gripping fiction thrice weekly. When he announced his plans for the Patreon-based Cryptofiction, I was instantly enthralled with the idea and have been signed up since the start.

To summarise the project, he creates one work of fiction per month that is produced in a strictly limited supply where each piece is signed, numbered, and hand-mailed to the recipients. The implicit contract with all subscribers is none of us release it, it is meant to only be passed under our eyes and those we choose to share it with in person.

One of the interesting destinies he posits is to “hide them [each letter] in a vault”, which was a situation I giggled at initially, but when that first piece arrived in my letterbox I was struck with uncertainty. I could open it and read it by the gate or retreat to the safety of my room to feast my eyes, but what then? So the mystery would have arrived, so the mysteries hidden in that plain envelope would be solved. Is that really a fitting end to the suspense built up from days avoiding spider bites while fumbling around hoping for this coveted prize to show? I set it aside in a safekeeping box, to work out my decision later.

Four months on and two more envelopes have arrived and I’m still wondering if I’m doing the wrong thing, all unopened and hidden. It seems silly in one respect, I have paid for a service and willfully refused to take part in it as I was in turn served. But it’s taught me more about the value of mystery, and the enjoyment of tantalising knowledge that I am not yet ready to decipher.

I may read these postmarked puzzles at some point, or it may be locked away until I am ash and memory. Perhaps by bargaining with the universe, I can trade knowing the secrets of these pieces of obscured prose for understands that it would otherwise refuse me.