Speak Ill of the Dying
Dear Mr. Kadrey,
I am deeply sorry to hear of your illness. This is terrible news. Our families have worked together since the days of our grandfathers, and from our efforts the firm has grown into a nationwide endeavor. And now, to have one of the names engraved prominently on every door without an heir to carry on the work? Even now, even with everything I have been told, I still pray for your swift and full recovery.
However, I must admit that this letter concerns more than my condolences. The disease you have contracted is extremely rare, and, per your own admittance, will soon destroy your mental faculties. It pains me to write this, dear friend, but I must take full ownership of the company before that happens, before you may be driven, in a virus-riddled fugue, to make decisions that will destroy us both. I have already written to the Board, and suspect they will agree with me.
Truth be told, Theodore, I had been planning this move for quite some time, although I did not expect my fortunes to change so quickly. Though I respect you as an associate, you were always too hesitant, too concerned with third- or fourth- or fifth-degree ramifications of expanding that you have probably cost the both of us several million dollars, and for what? The well-being of a planet a hundred years from now that you will certainly never live to see?
I am sorry it came to this, but I believe also that it is for the best.
This is really it, huh? After all those years of rainy, mudslide-filled hiking trips through places literally called “No Return”, it’s a disease that gets you? I’d call it irony, except I think my English professor wouldn’t agree with that.
Well. He would, if I had an English professor.
I mean, there’s probably no point in hiding it anymore, right? Not if you’re dying. Don’t think you could write me out of the will anyways, not if the virus really does what you said. You’ve been sending me money so that I could attend college, but I haven’t been. Not for two years now. Got expelled on a—technicality, doesn’t matter—but I never could tell you. You’d have cut me off, left me without your money halfway around the world and hardly speaking the language.
I can tell you now, at least. So that you know the truth about your own family before you die. Not a nice truth, no, but it’s not one you can change, not anymore.
Love, your son,
We’ve never liked each other. Good riddance.
A former friend
I will not be coming to visit you. So now is the time to say everything I’ve wanted to say all these years. Politeness and the sickening bubble of ‘family unity’ has always stopped me, until now. Won’t have a family to be unified much longer, will we?
Let’s not mince words. I hated you. You were always the favorite child—of Dad, of Mom, of the media who would fawn over you and forget I even existed—and for what? You weren’t smarter, or more charismatic, or a better businessman. Failing upwards until you reached the top, and stuck in the world’s throat.
But now, you will be dead, and it will be my turn to define what it means to be a Kadrey. The first thing I’ll do is destroy everything you’ve built—with my sole remaining claim to the inheritance, without your lawyers, and up against your rat bastard of an associate Kennard, it will be nothing more than trivial to snap your company in half and let the vultures fight among the pieces. Then it’ll be your turn. I know you’ve left me the house and all your papers, and I don’t doubt there will be more than enough to embellish, to rip and stitch together until all the world remembers you for is the shocking mediocrity of the man they once revered..
I hope you know how much fun this is going to be.
Your erstwhile brother,
One month ago, I sent out a missive detailing that I was dying from a rare neurological virus. I told you that I had hidden it, kept it secret in order to maintain an outwards appearance of strength and stability, but that it was pointless to hide it any longer. I suspected many of you knew already of my illness, just not of its severity. But now, as so many of you have come clean to me, I shall come clean to you:
My secret was never that I was dying.
My secret was that I will live.
In fact, I knew that I would survive long before I sent each of you that communication. And I must say, your answers have been truly informative, not to mention revealing. You seek to use my death to advance yourselves, or to escape retribution. I will not delve into details here. Each of you knows what they sent me, and many of you are no doubt regretting what you thought would be your final communication with me.
Tomorrow, I will begin arrangements with my legal and financial team. Today, I have just one message for all of you:
Go to hell. Preferably before I do.