I never met my Uncle Elbrazzor. His passing was the first time I ever heard of him. I guess he was the black sheep of the family. From what I gathered from my relatives, he had a bank account that went into the millions, but yet he always wore raggedy clothes, lived in a shack, and always smelled like a pile of walking garbage. My family held a cheap and quick funeral for him. I got the feeling they did it out of obligation rather than out of love. During the service, I heard whispers of the millions of dollars my uncle saved up. Some of the family members even pondered who would inherit such a fortune.
Without a moment’s notice, I was dragged to the reading of the will. Everyone looked surprised to see that Uncle Elbrazzor hired a lawyer to handle his estate. Even I was shocked since from what I was told my uncle said he despised lawyers and described how they were all evil to the core. The man wore square-shaped glasses, kept his gray hair in a ponytail, and wore a blocky silver watch around his wrist. He also had a rich, soothing voice, the kind that could be used for an audiobook or the kind that can make the phone book sound epic.
“I, Joseph Elbrazzor,” he recited, “Being of sound and mind...”
The family chuckled at this statement. The lawyer waited for them to calm down before continuing.
“Willfully, and voluntarily entrust my fortune, my estate, and everything therein to my beloved nephew, Albert Vanderbuilt Elbrazzor.”
Everyone gasped. My heart nearly skipped a beat. What was I going to do with a house, his trinkets, and his money? In one day I went from a broke college graduate to a millionaire!
“There’s more,” said the lawyer.
We all listened practically on the edge of our seats.
“Before Albert can claim his inheritance; he must find a note hidden in my estate and follow its instructions to the letter in two weeks. If he should fail, then my estate and everything therein shall be divided equally and given to the family.”
He went on to describe how the money was to be divided but I was thinking about my uncle’s conditions. Note? Two weeks? What was he hiding in that death trap of a house? Why me?
At the end of the reading, the lawyer handed an envelope with the key to my uncle's house. My family begged me not to go through with it. They reminded me how crazy my Uncle Elbrazzor was and that going along with his scavenger hunt would only lead to trouble. But I wanted to know more about him. If finding my uncle’s note would allow me to know more about him or why he always acted the way he did then it was worth it.
Early the next morning I arrived at my uncle’s house. The roof was caving in while the grass came up all the way to my knees. I carefully traversed my way to the front door, afraid that my feet would fall into an ant bed, a deep hole, or even in animal waste.
The steps leading to the door were warped beyond repair and each one looked like it could break under the slightest bit of pressure. I slowly placed one foot on the first step. It gave out a long rumbling creek, but to my relief, it didn’t break! I sighed before quickly walking up the steps.
The paint on the door already began to peel. The doorknob looked so rusty I was afraid a single turn would turn it to dust. I tried to look in the house through the windows, but unfortunately, they were all boarded up from the inside. I took a deep breath, pushed the key in, and turned the knob.
As I opened the door an overwhelming stench hit me like a freight train. Nothing came close to the house’s nauseating scent. I lifted my shirt over my nose and trekked forward.
Piles of garbage crunched under my feet. I feared a simple flick of the switch would send the whole place ablaze. Instead, I resorted to using my phone as a flashlight.
A dark-gray cat looked directly at me with yellow eyes. I don’t remember my family saying that Uncle Elberazzar said he had a cat. The poor thing looked like an old man itself. Patches of fur fell from his flesh and his right eye appeared foggy.
“Hey there, little guy!’ I said to it.
The cat only blinked before walking into the hallway. I followed it, taking note of the cat droppings that riddled the floor. Guess my uncle never taught it how to use a litterbox. The cat came across a hole in the wall and squeezed itself right through. The hole might have been a tight squeeze for the cat but there was no chance I could fit through such a small opening. I noticed next to the hole stood a door leaning to one side.
I opened the door and I was taken aback by the rows and rows of documents tapped onto the wall. I expeted my uncle was a conspiracy nut, but the whole room seemed to be overflowing with newspaper clippings, web pages, and online articles.
In the far back of the room stood a molding desk with a laptop and printer resting on it. I lightly tapped the space bar. The bright screen nearly blinded me! Thankfully, I didn’t have to scour the desk for a password. Maybe my uncle thought Microsoft would lock him out of his own computer.
Only one application was opened, a web browser. I never expected my uncle to be connected to the web. If he could afford to pay for internet and electricity, then why couldn’t he pay to keep his house from falling apart? The browser displayed an archaic website. I’m talking about web design that went back to the days when Yahoo was the Google of its day. The psychedelic black and blue background made me feel sick. Walls of text were surrounded by tiny jpeg and gif images.
Above the ABOUT ME paragraph, stood a gif of a lighthouse. I scrolled down to see my uncle’s name in bright red letters. Next to his name was a photograph of him on a yacht. To my surprise, he was actually smiling! Not only that, but his short hair, trimmed beard, and hair legs made him look somewhat handsome. If I were to guess the picture was of him in his 30’s or early 40’s. He looked nothing like the sullen, old man I heard about.
Unlike modern sites, there were no links or directory of his posts. Instead, his oldest posts appeared at the top while the recent post rested at the bottom. His first post was written in 1997, a survival guide to Y2K. Nothing too odd there. From my understanding, everyone lost their minds during that time.
His second post, dated September 15th, 2001, talked about how 9/11 was orchestrated by the Arabian nations to invade America. He listed the rise in Muslim immigrants and the acceptance of Islamic institutions as evidence. His posts only got more disturbing from there. I’ll try my best to summarize his online tangents as best I can.
Basically, he convinced himself that Satan infiltrated the US government. He claimed that every president since Truman went through a secret Mason ritual that caused them to be possessed and carry out the devil’s work. The NSA apparently developed nanotechnology that was distributed to the American people through vaccines. The nanobytes were designed to flow up the bloodstream and into the brain where it would take control of their host. Through radio, the NSA would send instructions to the nanobytes to make the American people do whatever they wanted.
That’s not all though. Since my uncle figured this all out “the government began to spy” on him. He listed several encounters such as; suspicious strangers bumping into him, strange black vans passing by his house, and incoherent whispering outside his bedroom window. In his last post, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first.
“We must all look in the closet of our minds to fight back!"
Closet of our minds? What did that mean? Was it a secret code? Or what this just his mind finally going off the deep end?
I turned around. The cat’s howl sounded close, way too close. The yowling sound came from a small closet in the opposite corner right next to the door. Was that the closet my uncle mentioned in his post? Without a moment's hesitation, I swung the closet doors outward.
I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I almost dropped my phone in absolute horror. Weapons of all shapes and sizes hung on each of the three walls. Meanwhile, the racks were covered with grenades, gunpowder, vials of chemicals, bulletproof vests, and various forms of explosives. There was enough supply to arm a small militia. Did my uncle actually plan to use any of this stuff?
In the middle row was a piece of notebook paper sticking out of piles of vests. I pulled it out and read the contents.
“Dear Nephew,” it read. “This is the note. Your time has come. Follow the instructions I’ve written down below. The time for freedom has come! You are the only who hasn’t been corrupted by the NSA! Do what must be done!”
I dropped the piece of paper down in terror. That crazy old man! He actually wanted me to plant a bomb next to the NSA headquarters to free the minds of the American people! With the NSA gone there would be nobody to send instructions to the nanobytes, therefore, foiling the devil’s plan.
I came to the startling realization that if my uncle lived long enough he would have committed the act of terror himself. And what was worse is that he believed he would be the hero, a savior! He described murdering hundreds of innocent people as a heroic act, and he wanted me to do it!
My uncle's fortune suddenly came into my mind. I imagined what I could do with a million dollars. Then I thought of how my uncle dedicated his whole life to this madness. It seemed to be a shame that everything he worked so hard for, everything he sacrificed, would all lead up to nothing. What type of legacy was that?
But neither the money nor his legacy could distract the fact that he plotted, for who knows how long, to kill innocent people! He’d be no worse than the Islamic terrorists or even the devil he claimed to be fighting against. A sick feeling came over me.
My uncle could have been a great man. Instead of making sure he got the help and attention he deserved the family just tolerated his behavior. Granted, they probably never expected him to go out and commit an act of terror, but they didn’t do anything to shake him from his delusions. They probably enforced his beliefs more than any fake new article or any conspiracy site ever could.
I wept over him. I could have saved him if only I had known!
I couldn’t be in the house a second longer. I found the cat hiding underneath one of the shelves, picked it up, and walked out.
I took one more glance behind. I still thought it would have been a terrible waste to let all of my uncle’s work be bulldozed indiscriminately. I placed the cat down and held out my phone. I took a panorama photo of the entire room, before grabbing my old man’s laptop. I thought maybe I could still preserve my uncle’s legacy. Maybe I could use his story to help other people like him find help.
After placing the blind cat into an animal rescue shelter I made a call to my folks and the lawyer. I told them I gave in my search for my uncle’s note and they could do to the house what they wished. Weeks later I got a check from my uncle’s estate of five thousand dollars. Not exactly a million but it helped. I think an apartment complex stands where my uncle’s house once stood. My family bulldozed over the shack without a moment's notice and sold it to the highest bidder.
Uncle Elbrazzor, if you’re up there, I’m sorry for failing you. I’m sorry for not being there for you when you needed it the most. I just want you to know that nanotechnology or not I still love you, and I'm sorry I never got to know you sooner.