Damn laptop gods! They're after me again, but this time they're disguising themselves as postmen. Yes, that's right, those sneaky uniformed bastards aren't just going postal in your local shopping centre, they're also cunningly disguised paper-eating demons with extendible jaws who like to stuff my precious mail into their ever-widening maws.
Tor posted me copies of the hardback of Stealing Light something like three weeks ago and they still haven't turned up. Several weeks before that, Tor sent me bookplates to sign and return; they disappeared too, along with copies of books I'd asked Tor to send me. The package finally turned up something like a month late - minus the freaking books. It was wrapped in some kind of plastic bag which stated something like, "we're really sorry we ripped open your package and sent the contents spinning into the black necromantic jaws of hell."
Consider this recent-ish encounter with a chap emboldened with the task of carrying the mail around my neighbourhood:
GARY steps out of front entrance of block of flats, very bleary-eyed, on way to work: encounters POSTMAN, as entrance door swings shut, and nods in vague greeting.
POSTMAN: Well, I can't deliver your mail now, you didn't hold the door open for me.
GARY (looking around in surprise): Oh, sorry, I didn't think. Early.
POSTMAN (stepping away from door): That's all right, I was only kidding. It's Flat ____, isn't it?
GARY: Er, yes.
POSTMAN steps away from entrance. A very fuzzy-headed, early morning Gary walks down block and realises the POSTMAN is a few paces behind. GARY glances nervously behind him.
POSTMAN: I'm just going to start at the end of the block. I'm no' going tae no deliver your mail.
GARY: Ah. Right. (nervously walks on, wondering why the other guy doesn't just ring the main doorbell on his communal entrance like he was going to anyway, and if it's too late to say, why don't we walk back right now and I'll open the door for you. Especially since one thing about such a reassurance is it really, really doesn't reassure you).
For all that, it's only the packages that seem to be having trouble coming through. Far as I can tell, all my regular mail gets through just fine. There've been postal strikes recently (probably demands for more brimstone in the canteen), but surely this can't account for the failure of anything package shaped to ever, ever get to me ...? Perhaps the one postman I know can answer my questions. Jim, are you there ... ? Jim ...? (voice fades into echoing abyss).