Secret order of the International Reply Coupon

Today I bring you something silly.

I have been reading a few SF mags in the last couple of years and decided to submit a short story to a well known and respected one in the US. They don’t take electronic submissions and required return postage. Going to their forum after sending I found a thread about forgetting your SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) so I posted a slightly exaggerated version of my day’s adventure. I will reproduce that post here for you now.

Well I submitted today, with the SASE, and it was an adventure I tell you!

I needed that pesky International Reply Coupon, which, according to Australia Post employees in three towns, does not exist. I made several of them very angry while debating this myth with them, and spent an entire tank of fuel. I drove for some hours in my quest until, finally giving in and seeking bread and milk, I stopped at the post agent/store of my village where I live.

“oh, don’t know about those, but I’ll just ring the post people in Sydney for you,” the lady in the shop said.

She found out about them, and then rang around various town’s post offices till she found one. A goal in sight and my first solid lead in hand, off I went.

Some more driving and a lot of time later, the lady that finally sold me the thing looked at me in suspicion as we completed the secret handshake.

“I haven’t used one of these in thirty years. What on earth is anybody doing using this ancient stuff?” she said in amazement that I was, indeed, qualified to enter into this secretive transaction.

She disappeared into a secret room through a magic door that materialized in the wall behind her, and returned with a dusty cardboard envelope thing. Now when I say dusty, This had at least two inches of greasy, mystical, forgotten library skin flakes and dead flies encrusted on it.

She blew the grungy crusted mankmeat from the envelope, and it flew every where, to carry its TB ridden pollutants out into the freedom of the outback Aussie air.

As the dust left the cardboard, it began to glow in an almost mystical way as the magical certificates of postal depravity inside fought to escape their long time prison. She picked up a golden fly swatter and held it at the ready.

Opening the cardboard, she swatted down as several glowing blue certificates fluttered out at supersonic speeds, seeking freedom. She managed to catch two of the blighters with that swat. Picking up her +4 stamp of taming, she struck at one, right where its markings indicated such a spell would be most effective. She handed me the now mollified beast and I dropped it carefully into my package, sealed it up and paid the postage.

It cost $3.30 for that certificate valued at US98c, which I assumed was hazard pay, and happily handed over, my quest finally at an end.

I apologize in advance to the recipient if it zips out and bites them on arrival. I know that taming spell might have a time limit, and I’ve seen how anxious those things were to escape. I hope the post lady managed to catch them all again.

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