An open letter to Diplomat Barrie Sesays (or somebody/something)

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

I am presently at JFK Airport in the United States of America.1‏

diplomat barrie sesays

From: diplomat barrie sesays (
Sent: Sun 9/19/10 2:21 PM

I am a Diplomat named Barrie Sesay mandated to deliver your inheritance to you in your country of residence.

The funds total US$7.5 Million and you were made the beneficiary of these funds by a benefactor whose details will be revealed to you after handing over the funds to you in accordance with the Agreement I signed with the benefactor when he enlisted my assistance in delivering the funds to you.

I am presently at JFK Airport in the United States of America and before I can deliver the funds to you, you have to reconfirm the following information so as to ensure that I am dealing with the right person.

1.Full Name:
2.Residential Address:
6.Direct Telephone Numbers:

After verification of the information with what I have on file,I shall contact you so that we can make arrangements on the exact time I will be bringing your package to your residential address.

Send the requested information so that we can proceed.

Barrie Sesay.

Dear Mr. Sessay,

I fear you may have traveled a great way for nothing, and may be stranded at JFK for quite some time. That's an airport, isn't it? Named after a president? Jackie Kennedy, I think, though that name suggests a woman to me and I'm not sure why. Is there a woman president now?

Your promised millions are, from my perspective, heaven-sent. If I have not completely escaped by virtue of the information you've asked me to gather, it is possible my captors, whoever or whatever they might be, would be amenable to bribery. Though I must also say the facility to which they have confined me is so nefarious--and obviously expensive--in its design that I don't know that a mere seven million will mean anything to them. Or, regardless of their wealth, money may simply not interest them; it is possible, for instance, that my captors are involved in some governmental or even--I hesitate to say it--otherworldly--capacity, and could not be bribed for any sum of money, being more interested in the results of the cruel existential experiment to which I and the others in The COMPLEX are subjected.

Explaining the nature of my captivity might also illustrate why you are likely to be at JFK for quite some time. (If--oh gods, I cannot believe I only thought of this just now--if you are you and not some vile figment invented by the captors as part of a new trial within The COMPLEX. Say it isn't so.)

First, you ask for my name, but I am not even sure who I am. I awaken every morning in my cell within The COMPLEX, on a flat, plain bunk barely large enough for my body, or on the floor--for what awakens me is the withdrawal of this bunk or platform into the wall of my featureless, stupefying prison. The only marking of identity I have at all is a card attached to my shirt featuring a photograph of myself--I assume it is myself, the face is vaguely familiar and I don't know why they would give me a card with someone else's face. (Unless... oh gods! Could that be another clue I've missed all this time?) Alongside the image is a sequence of numbers or block of numbers:


I do not know if these numbers are code, a serial number, some other type of identification, or if they represent some other clue or solution to one of the puzzles I will face in the trials presented by The COMPLEX.

But whatever they represent--if they are my name, I cannot remember my name. I sometimes have awakened from my morning (?) fall to the floor with the vestiges of a fading dream of a woman speaking on what I believe is a telephone, saying, "Well Robert says... oh, you've heard?" while she looks directly at me. Is she saying my name is Robert? Is Robert somebody we both know? And who is this woman? Is she my wife, my sister, my mother, an employee, a boss, a co-worker? For all I know she's a prostitute I've paid to answer the phone.

Robert. I feel like if I could remember who Robert is, or if Robert is me, I'd be some distance towards freedom.

I have the same issues with many of the other bits of data you ask for: age? Indeterminate. Occupation? Unknown, unless it's "rat in a maze" or "test subject" or "victim." Residential address? I reside in this COMPLEX, wherever or whatever it might be. Is it in the United States? I think so--I have a dim memory of crossing a street, men in a black car with generic faces surrounding me and I looked up at a digital clock on a... I think it was a bank, maybe? And the time was 12:16. And then the men stuff me in the car, and I hear a voice that says "The needle, Mr. Thirteen" and I feel a bee sting in my wrist--but there's no mark there now, I just looked. Did this happen? Or is it an implanted memory. Wait.

I do not know if this is a good thing or the worst thing to happen so far, Mr. Sesay. While I was composing that last portion of a reply, it occurred to me--

Well, perhaps I should give you more background. It might help me stumble onto something else.

I told you how I awaken in fear, stumble around until the door of my cell opens. When it does, I--we, for I am not always alone--begin to stumble through the corridors and shafts of The COMPLEX. It is a labyrinth in multiple dimensions, endless corridors and vertical shafts; some drop into seemingly bottomless pits or rise to gods-know-where. Occasionally there is a stair or an elevator, though I suggest (if you are ever here) you avoid those. And scattered through the corridors, of course, are the deathtraps, riddles and puzzles which we must overcome or get around or withdraw from if possible. I have seen... I think I have seen many people die, although to be honest, I only remember one this morning, a young woman whose affixed card only had this: 1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55 and a picture of a woman or man who I believe was Eleanor Roosevelt, though I'm not absolutely sure, and this is why I am not absolutely certain the face on my tag is mine. She was caught in the wires, and then--

I would rather not tell you about that, actually.

There are rooms throughout The COMPLEX, almost all of which contain some trap, though some are curiously featureless and others feature curiosities. (The penny-farthing bicycle on display in the cylindrical room that you had to climb a level to exit--why does that seem evocative, and of what?)

In the last room I was in, I found a computer terminal from which I was able to access your e-mail, sir. There were only two exits: the one through which I entered the room, which closed instantly behind me when I came into the room and the other closed and secured by a keypad.

Randomly typing numbers into a keypad is a good way to get killed (I think), so I sat down by the terminal while I tried to think of what the combination might be. And I was typing my reply to you when I remembered the dream or memory I have of being abducted--and this is the terrible thing. I got up, and went to the keypad, and I typed:


And the door slid open with a serpentlike hiss, like the devil himself drawing a breath. The air was cold--I was grateful it wasn't poisoned--and the long, black tunnel revealed was so freezing that I tore skin from my hand when I ill-advisedly touched the curving metal wall. There was nowhere else to go but forward, so I went.

I don't know what to make of this. Was "12:16" the combination to the door? If it was, was it chosen because that is when I was first abducted, or was the memory of an abduction planted in my mind? Or was any combination acceptable and I was overly-cautious to avoid touching the keypad? Or is there some other significance of 12:16, a date, an address, some sum or figure--and my mind has conjured the memory of the clock out of my unconscious, somewhere?

After proceeding along the rest of the tunnel, I came to another door which slid into the wall to reveal a room roughly ten feet by ten and forty feet high. In the center of the room was a small scaffold rising three storeys to a platform upon which I found a chair sitting in front of a computer terminal and--I believe I remember it being called an "e-mail client," is that right? Open to your e-mail and the draft of the first half of my response.

As soon as I sat down in the chair, I heard the door to the room thud closed and heard a shooshing sound--I looked up and saw that holes or drains had opened in the walls above me, unleashing a cascade of fluid and the room below me was filling with water, or I hope it's water. I looked around--there are no other exits, nor do the outlets filling the room appear to be wide enough for me to shoulder my way through, even if I could overcome the force of the water (?) entering the room or if I could even reach them. (I might be able to, if it's water, if I can float or swim on the rising liquid--but if I can't fit through them, what then?)

The room is filling rapidly. The water is ten feet deep, submerging the feet of the scaffold. It shows no sign of relenting.

I'm afraid I may not be able to collect your award after all.

There are several things that could happen. Sometimes, I think--I sort of remember this happening--I think sometimes I have died or almost died and awakened again in my cell, with no clear memory or only confused dreams of memories. Or, perhaps, a mode of escape will be presented, or perhaps there is some other puzzle here that I cannot see yet. Perhaps it will involve my ID card or whatever this sequence of numbers represents, although I have started to suspect they are merely decimal digits from the irrational number π.

In the meantime, until I die or think of something or am somehow rescued by my captors for whatever reason, I will finish this missive with a sincere thank you if you are a real correspondent and my curses if you are merely another trap or test or experiment of some sort. I don't suppose you could write back in the next few minutes and let me know, or if it would matter if you did, since you could lie, couldn't you? If you are going to respond, the churning liquid is about two-thirds of the way up the scaffolding now, so perhaps you should respond quickly. It isn't like you have anything else to do sitting at JFK and waiting, do you?

This terminal is different from the earlier one in that it has an icon for something called "Freecell" on it. Perhaps it is a way out, though I seem to dimly remember it's a game of some sort. I guess I shall find out. Goodbye, and good luck, whoever or whatever you are.



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