Dear Judge John Hodgman,
I would normally never bother a minor celebrity, but I have a warning to pass along.
It may save your life.
Last night I had a rather disturbing dream. It felt prophetic, though I hope it was not. In this dream, the America we both know and love had been replaced by an atomic wasteland, yet, civilization survived in some forms.
For instance, you were still plying your trade as a judge. Post-atomic America was in desperate need of judges (and entertainment), so you were working your way around the country, helping bring justice back to the glowing embers of the Homeland, and where appropriate, reading from one of your works of All World Knowledge.
I ran into you in this milieu. What was I doing there? I am not a judge, nor a minor celebrity, but I too had found a place in this new and terrifying world. My adventures in post-apocalyptic America began as a hiking trip with my brother, but I discovered that I had hidden talents as a “frontier doctor”. (I was especially good with irradiated ant bites.)
We crossed paths at the Best Western, where my brother and I were waiting in line to get a room. We had just escaped a nest of cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers (CHUDs). I had been treating them for rickets (there’s just not enough vitamin C in human tissue), and once the therapy was done, they had decided we could be eaten. (Sprinkled with crushed chewable Flintstone vitamin, as I had suggested.) Lesson learned.
So there we were, waiting in line, and I noticed you, farther back in the line. I thought, “They’re making John Hodgman stand in a line? That’s not right.” I suggested that you and your companion take our spot in the queue. (My brother was not pleased by this suggestion. He desperately needed a shower, having spent some time in the CHUDs’ stewing pot, ‘marinating’.)
I should note what you were wearing, because I found it both strange and charming. I’m not sure what you were up to when the bombs fell, but my guess is some kind of convention where you had been cajoled into COSPLAY. Perhaps you had been doing a skit. In any event, you were dressed as Han Solo. A look you managed to bring off. You had sensibly replaced your fake blaster with a 45 automatic. Your companion was not decked out as Chewbacca, though he was quite hirsute. I do believe it may have been Paul F. Tompkins, though I still don’t understand how his normally dapper appearance could have become so shaggy in just a few years of post-apocalyptic living. He did have a bandoleer, but instead of shells, it was loaded with artisanal sharpened pencils. They looked both beautiful and deadly.
When you got to the front of the line, they only had one room left, with only a single bed. Worse yet, there was no parking spot available for your Winnebago/Traveling Hall of Justice. I remarked, once again, on how it was strange that parking was at such a premium in post-apocalyptic America, what with the preponderance of vaporized buildings and empty stretches of desolate landscape. My brother sighed heavily as I said this — clearly this was a subject that I’d exhausted with him. You, however, agreed wholeheartedly and we had an impromptu seminar about the political-economic underpinnings of the situation. My brother and Hairy Paul F. Tompkins gave each other knowing looks, and rolled their eyes.
Thus a firm friendship was formed, and you suggested that if my brother was amenable to riding on the roof of the Winnebago/Traveling Hall of Justice — don’t forget he was still covered in CHUD marinade, and therefore somewhat odiferous — you could give us a ride to another Best Western, across town, where surely, there would be room for all of us, and the Winnebago too.
Happily we went out to your vehicle. You thought that a tour of the Hall of Justice was in order, and opened the unlocked door. Inside, a giant mutated ferret awaited.
I thought, at first, it was some kind of pet. Then it grabbed you by the neck, severing your jugular, and I knew, no: NOT a pet.
The hairy Paul F. Tompkins threw a perfectly sharpened pencil through one of its red glowing eyes, and I tried to save your life. Alas, this was not a wound where liberal application of duct tape and whiskey was a helpful treatment.
And at this point, I awoke, perturbed. Saddened. Cursing myself for my own (imagined) medical ineptitude, and I knew that I had to write to you. To warn you. If you’re going to tool around in the post-apocalyptic wasteland in a Winnebago — and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, though it wouldn’t be my choice — ALWAYS lock the door.
Good luck and best wishes,
Mark A. Rayner
p.s. I do realize this is a ridiculous worry, because as we all know, the world will drown, not burn, as predicted by Ragnarök.