The Book I Will Write #70: The Botched Escape Attempt

flemingTHE BOOK I WILL WRITE by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. THE BOOK I WILL WRITE is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, and was living at the library following a kidnapping episode with The Zeppelin Society. Fleming recruited a library memoir group to help him confront his would-be killer. After a tense showdown, Fleming disappeared, seemingly kidnapped again by The Zeppelin Society.


Dear John Henry,

I almost never read the news because I don’t like to be reminded that anything is happening. Today was different. Someone left a Post on a bench in the 33rd floor elevator lobby, and I had to check for news about you. A shootout involving elderly memoir writers? I wasn’t sure what to look for. Here’s what I found instead:


The Brooklyn detention center received an unexpected visitor from the sky—and no one knew what to do.

At 12:30 p.m., female inmates were milling in the exercise yard when a low-flying black shape appeared over the wall. One guard thought it was an inflatable novelty football. Another asked for permission to shoot at it.

Turns out that wasn’t necessary. As the small, motorized dirigible hovered over the yard, the onlookers were astonished to see a trap door open in the gondola and a rope ladder tumble out.

“Now I really wanted to shoot it,” said one guard. “This was obviously an escape attempt, I don’t know if by aliens or what.”

The inmates were not ordered back inside, and the warden is not saying if regulations were followed. It’s also not clear if the unidentified craft had enough lift to carry away an adult female.

Before the ladder reached the ground, whoever was piloting the zeppelin—human or alien—lost control. The craft bobbed and spun and eventually crashed into the wall. In a scene reminiscent of the Hindenburg disaster, the zeppelin burst into flames and crinkled itself over the high wall.

As of late afternoon, the metal skeleton still lay there like a broken slinky.

No one was injured. The warden has refused to comment on the zeppelin or on the breach of security until an investigation is complete.

I’m not going to call with information, but I have to think The Zeppelin Society was involved. Have you been in contact with them?

I also have to think that the ladder was meant for Ms. Hollymore, and you’re the only one who could have told them about her, right?

So are you back at the Zeppelin Society Headquarters? Please, please, please, let me know!

Also, the escape attempt wouldn’t have worked anyway because Ms. Hollymore’s been released. She’s getting her job back, too. That’s right, the board already met, and I’m being demoted from Interim Senior Editor to Editorial Assistant. I guess it will be good to have something to do again. Those long walks in the park and around the building have been losing their effect, like I was in a movie that should have ended an hour ago. Like, Ah, how do I get out of this endless montage!

Ms. Hollymore’s coming back tomorrow. That should be interesting…

I hope you’re okay. Please let me know. I miss your emails. I miss you.

Annie Lankowski
(For the Last Time) Interim Senior Editor