Poll

Vote for short stories

The good guys
2 (12.5%)
Teen at centre of TalkTalk hack bailed
6 (37.5%)
Two arrested for looting Halloween Night.
8 (50%)

Total Members Voted: 14

Voting closed: December 09, 2015, 07:27:43 AM

Author Topic: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32  (Read 3294 times)

Offline AndersW

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 196
WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« on: November 29, 2015, 07:27:43 AM »
The challenge was to write a story based on a newspaper headline but make it so that the events are as different from what actually transpired as possible.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

The good guys

Tristan arrived at Nick’s Tavern at the same time the cleaning lady turned the open sign around and left. He sat on his usual bar stool welcoming  with a deep breath the familiar chlorine smell into his lungs. Old Nick was already there, at his window table, with half a bear in front of him.

Tristan busied himself cleaning his nails with a pocket knife when he heard the old man calling behind him, “hey T? Did you hear about Sid?” Tristan pretended not to care too much, “what about him? Did he die?” He had been waiting for this day for a while now.

“No he didn't die! It’s all over the news, he killed a man!” He spoke the words slowly, thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the story first hand. “You know that room he used to rent? They found Sid’s last tenant there. Dead. Decomposing. Stuck in a wardrobe.”

In the mean time Paul, the bartender, brought Tristan’s everyday breakfast, strong coffee and a shot from the unlabeled  bottle under the counter. The strong smell of the crystalline liquid  made him feel instantly better. He tilted his head back and let it slip through his mouth and throat, feeling the heat spreading down his chest. He whistled, knowing Nick wouldn't need much more encouragement to keep going.

 “Yeah,” Nick continued, “they say the man wasn't paying the rent so he and Sid got into some sort of fight. Sid, they say, claimed he killed him accidentally. And then he didn't know what to do with the body so he just shoved it into the wardrobe and left it there to rot.”

Tristan smirked, “Now isn't that insane? I hope they keep him locked behind bars for a real long time.”

“I’m sure they will, he deserves it. And you think you know people,” old Nick shook his head in disbelief, “all those days he came here like nothing happened. Something is wrong with this world.”

***

At the newsstand Tristan bought the paper and went straight to the page about Sid. He smiled and headed to the the butcher’s shop. The place was full at that time in the morning.

Skinner was talking  to an old lady over the counter. She melted listening to the big man’s sweet talk. Whenever he made that costumer pleasing smile his little black eyes nearly disappeared behind his fat, red cheeks.

His expression changed as soon as he saw Tristan though. He abruptly turned his back to the woman and gestured for Tristan to follow him inside.

Tristan loved the butcher’s back room. There was something about all the blood and raw meat, the sound of the hatchets banging against the wood that made him feel warm inside. They stopped midway when Skinner spotted a desperate apprentice losing a fight to a bony carcass. “What are you doing you shit head?! Are you trying to mince the piece? You're ruining it!” He thundered on the boy’s ear. Grabbing the small ax from his hands he brandished it three times managing three clean cuts through to the countertop. No wonder he could put a man down with a single slap of his hand. He wiped his hand that held the meat on his floral shirt making it look like a battle field after the killing.

They moved on passing a beaded curtain and then the heavy reinforced door to the office in the back. Over Skinner’s chair was a weird black and white photo of him as a child. He sat inside a huge pig’s carcass as if it where a throne. Skinner’s father, his spitting image, stood proudly next to him with a knife on his hand as big as a forearm. The day's newspapers were spread over the desk.

“So it finally happened,” Skinner said, his palms spread on top of the newspapers, “exactly how you said it would.”

Tristan sat back in the chair, “It did,” he said, “I told you that under that suit he’d look just like any other man. And it wasn't that hard to stage either, Sid’s place is a dump. Disgusting,” he said, rubbing his hands as if the sole mention of the filth dirtied them all over  again. “Though I never thought it would take this long for the neighbors to do something,” he continued, “the man was already rotten to the bone when they found him.”

“Yeah, I was considering making an anonymous call myself. How can people live around death’s stench for so long?” Skinner paused, “and Sid?”

“Happy as a bird, he has friends up in jail, clean clothes, free food, a dream come true really.” Tristan replied.

“Any chance of them checking the identity?”

“No, why should they? They have Sid’s confession and nobody knew the man anyway. He went to live in France months ago. No one even missed him. And they won't relate the event  with the inspector’s disappearance either. We held the body long enough.”

Skinner leaned in his chair and crossed his hands behind his head. “Don't you love it when everything falls into place like that?” He pointed a sausage finger at Tristan, “do you know why? Why we are untouchable?”

Tristan was uncertain of what kind of answer his boss wanted, “because, hum, we’re that good?”

“Yes!” Skinner said, banging his hands closed in fists on his chest, “we're the heroes in this story! We're making this world a better place, one stuck up, nosy, suited prick at a time!”

“Don't you think they'll suspect something's wrong if every fiscal or inspector that comes in here disappears?

“Nah, don't worry. We are too… creative. And good always wins, everybody knows that.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Teen at centre of TalkTalk hack bailed


Really, they should check their facts. Hacks – hmph, they were even mentioned in the headlines but I know what went on, sure doesn’t he live down the road from me? For a start Gerard, not the name used in the newspaper, is not a teen. Also, the TalkTalk scandal had nothing to do with him. Syndicated stories can lose some of their veracity when journos try and tart the copy up as original and now they’ve made it sound like some local schoolboy has managed to crack into a major international communications provider. Yeah right. Luckily for them they’ve bothered to throw in some poor characters from other locations to muddy the water. There’ll be a retraction, or a ‘correction’, probably in small print in next week’s issue.

A hack, lunching on too many glasses of cheap wine and talking with loose lips suffered from script shift. His mords got wuddled up and being four sheets to the wind his copy underwent automatic correction and predictive text. Hmm, we’ve all suffered that. Did you know that predictive text will change the ‘rush hour’ into the ‘push hour’, which is quite ironic?

Anyhoo . . . aforesaid hack, lunching at a freebie in a local drop in centre to encourage people to chat to their neighbours, particularly the elderly who don’t get out much, didn’t think too much of the reporters assembled for this oh, so prestigious occasion. It was either that or interviewing Johnnie Wilson on the latest racing pigeon news – bird flies, scores a time, lands at the other end – hardly a riveting spectator sport with behind the scenes rants of managers or coaches or even a backhander or suggestions of doping to improve performance.  

So, the title should have read ‘Teen at Talk centre where hack bailed’. Of course trying to read back the ill-recorded copy and relay this over the phone as the damned network was down – gotta love technology – bits and pieces had to be repeated and ended up a mess of Chinese whispers. Human error as they call it. Blame the office girl, always an easy target, more than likely a temp who can’t spell and has little imagination or will stick blindly to what she’s heard and take it down verbatim.

Gerard, right enough, did engage in conversation with the reporter. It’s doubtful this constituted an interview as Gerard, one of the carers in the local home, simply directed the journalist to the toilets. Several teens were present, as schools had sixth formers completing elements of their Prince’s Trust obligations. Well, it kicked off. Journo #1 claimed journo #2 was out of order. Journo #2 took umbrage and clodded a glass of wine over his rival. It gave the oldies plenty to talk about.

Some giggled, some were horrified. All of them watched with fascination when it became violent. Neither of the journos would retract the insults they had slapped on the other and after the posturing and threats of handbags, it became serious. Chairs flew, tables were overturned. Lots of noise accompanied threatening gestures and doubts of parentage.

Now, in fairness, Gerard does look young for his age, but he can more than handle himself. He launched at journo #2 after he challenged his authority. To hell with professionalism or health and safety this was one cheeky bastard who needed to be shown the door. While other carers attended to the Zimmer-framed and wheel-chaired audience, Gerard got stuck in.

Journo #1 seemed to sober up and had the wit to withdraw from the debacle but journo #2 wouldn’t give it up. He hadn’t picked up on Gerard’s skill in martial arts even though the moves Gerard made were obviously stylised and from some sort of training. The sixth formers cheered but kept their distance.
The oldies who weren’t infirmed stood by the doorway relishing the spectacle. Rheumy eyes shone with devilish glint as some of the old boys encouraged Gerard to see off journo #2. The ladies backed their man too, balling their fists and telling him to tear his head off.

One young buck from the local grammar school decided to intervene in an effort to restore some order. He launched himself at journo #2 in a move to protect him from Gerard, who had grabbed a walking stick and looked as if he was about to beat merry hell out of the journalist. The young fella landed on top of the reporter and deflected a blow from the weapon. Gerard, in all fairness, had not completed the whack once he saw the schoolboy so it was more of a glimpse than a serious cudgel. As he retracted his arm and apologised to the lad, journo #2 upped it and scarpered – bailed out.

Of course the police were called and eventually everything calmed but the talk session lasted well over the organisers’ anticipated running time and was a terrific success. In the background, journo #1 chuckled and scribbled and quaffed more wine to settle his nerves before he staggered from the venue. He asked a few questions on his way out about Gerard and the valiant teenager who had come to journo #2’s rescue. Perhaps that’s where things became confused.

Now I think about it, Gerard did mention that the ‘rescuer’ was a whizz at IT and had been teaching some of the residents how to use email and set up accounts for auction sites or showing them how to browse for information. But a young fella like that hacking into TalkTalk – sure that’d be nonsense.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Two arrested for looting Halloween Night

Several 911 calls reporting looting were received from the same neighborhood Halloween night. The callers described the looters as tall, slender and dressed like homeless people. It was reported they were taking decorations displayed in yards in the area.

Two squad cars were dispatched to the neighborhood. The patrol officers spotted two suspects. They were wearing rag-tag outfits complete with scraggly wigs topped by broken down top hats.
As the officers approached, they noticed one man had hold of the handle of a child’s wagon. The second man was gripping a small shopping cart.  The wagon and cart were filled with various sized pumpkins, and scarecrows lay across both the cart and the wagon.  
The officers heard one of suspects ask, “Is there a problem Officer?”

 “We had complaints of looting; you two fit the descriptions given. If you’ll come to the Police Station without a fuss, we’ll not have a problem. Leave your transportation, we will drive both of you and all you’re collected down there.  Any objections to that?”

Almost in unison, the two answered, “No problem Officer.”
 
After escorting the two into the squad cars, the officers had the task of stowing the evidence in the car trunks. Later they unloaded it all back into the shopping cart and wagon at the station where it, along with the suspects were escorted inside.

The arresting officers seated the suspects in the interrogation room.

Several police personal had left their desks or delayed leaving going patrol to see this.  They gathered outside the room to watch and listen thanks to the one-way mirror and a speaker.

“Who wants to talk first,” Officer Dylan asked.

“Guess I will,” one of the men said, removing his ratty top hat and scraggly wig.

“First, I need to explain so you’ll understand. Ned and me, we have some acreage a ways out of town. For years we’ve been planting pumpkins, rotating them around the acres. In October, we would haul a load of ‘em into town. Early on we sold 'em along the highway. Later the local stores started ordering from us.

Eventually the stores were buying everything we could grow. We just had to haul ‘em in, deliver them, then collect our money.

“We started getting more orders, so we planted more acres. Each year it seemed we planted more pumpkins than the year before. Sales were good and we were making a good fall-time income.
 
“Then we realize some of our pumpkins were vanishing. Wasn’t no big deal at first. A few here and there, you know, kind of spaced out so it wasn’t real noticeable.

“Until they started getting greedy that is.

“Two, three years ago they got braver, cleaning out near an acres worth,” suspect number one paused, taking a drink of the soda they had offered him.

The second man took up the tale, “We tried catching 'em at night. No matter where we set up to watch, the thieves pillaged from a far part of the patch, picking it clean.
“We had to take steps,” he paused, looking at Office Dylan, before continuing.

“Being city boys, you probably don’t know, but there be good and bad insects for most plants that grows. Two good en’s for pumpkins are bees and spiders.

“So we ordered a slew of spiders from a farmer’s catalog. We had bee hives, so moved them around to better cover the fields. When the spiders came, we sprinkled them among the pumpkins, letting them go where they wished.”

The first man picked up the story again, “To cover our bases, we strung some lines along the edges of the entire pumpkin patch, hooking it to each bee hive, barely tight enough if the line was disturbed it would shake the hive, setting the bees on edge, setting them to buzzing around, protecting their queen.”

“Are you saying you used bees and spiders to set a trap for the thieves,” Officer Dylan asked.

“You bet your boots we did. Worked like a charm it did too,” both men laughed.

“So, if you caught the thieves, why didn’t you come in and file a complaint,” Officer Taylor asked.

“We didn’t rightly catch 'em. Didn’t recognize 'em either, so how could we be saying for you to arrest them?

“Got to say, the trick we played was a treat for us that night, hearing all the screaming and yelling as they hot footed it out of our fields. They raced off like the bees were on their heels.

“We figured out the area where they lived though. They took two of our scarecrows; you saw ‘em. They were dressed in our old cast off garb, made it easy for us to spot them. We saw pumpkins from our patch too.”
 
The other man interrupted, “See, I watch the law shows on television. Especially those where they check out crime scenes. I learn a lot from them shows.

“That’s how we knew about spraying with a special liquid that shows up under a certain kind of light.

“When people started decorating for Halloween, we drove around town at night, pointing our new bought light at all the pumpkins.  

“We don’t know their names, but if you go back where you picked us up, knock on some doors, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts you’ll spot those thieves easy now cause they got all those bee stings and spider bites. Then we’ll fill out those complaints you want. ”

Their story told, both farmers sat back smiling with satisfaction.

The officers asked them to excuse them for a minute. The officers stepped out and headed down the hall where they found those who had been watching and listening. Among the group was the Captain on duty.

“Well Captain, I guess you heard all that. What do we do now? We know citizens shouldn’t take the law into their own hands like that. But frankly, I can’t blame these two for what they did.”

“Dalyn, we’re sworn to uphold the law, right?”

“Yes Captain, but in this case . . .”

“But nothing! Why are you and these other patrol officers not on your way to that neighborhood, knocking on doors, checking for stings or bites? Bring some people in to be questioned.

“We’ve sworn to serve and protect. That includes the farmers in our area, not just those living in town.

“Now get, all of you. I’ll take care of our farmers myself.”
« Last Edit: December 10, 2015, 12:27:13 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »
You KNOW you want to vote for the winner for the Short Story Challenge.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=58884.0

Offline AndersW

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 196
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2015, 12:36:10 PM »
AAAAaaaand the winner is


Alice, a Country Gal

Woohoo! She gets the honour of hosting the next challenge.

Hats off to everyone who contributed to this little challenge, you were awesome and amazing and your stories made my day brighter. I have no doubt other people thought the same.
You KNOW you want to vote for the winner for the Short Story Challenge.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=58884.0

Offline fire-fly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 97904
  • Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2015, 02:38:48 PM »
Way to go Alice  ;D
I'm A Binge Thinker: Do It A Lot Somedays, Then Not Much At All.

Don't take life too seriously, none of us get out of it alive. >:D


Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2015, 03:17:34 PM »
Congratulations, Alice! :D

Offline heidi52

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13213
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 04:27:27 PM »
Congratulations Alice! You got my vote. Well done.


Offline Laura H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 34448
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 04:32:41 PM »
Congrats, Alice!
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Sticky: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 05:35:22 PM »
Thank you one and all for the nice words.

I have to admit that after looking through some of the headlines of (online) of my local paper this one stood out for me because I felt I could have fun with it, and I did.  ;D

I'll be thinking of something to give others the same positive feeling for the next challenge after the New Year get a few day old.   

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Plain Helvetica

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 390
Re: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2015, 08:37:31 PM »
Well done Alice!

Offline shadowboxer

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 222
Re: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2015, 04:53:37 AM »
Congratulations Alice! Loved to have the chance to read something from you  :)

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2015, 06:23:52 PM »
Thank you PH and Shadow. That one was fun to write, even if I did have to edit like crazy to get my word count down to fit.  :D
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline AndersW

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 196
Re: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2015, 07:17:12 AM »
Yeah, sorry about the wordcount :D
You KNOW you want to vote for the winner for the Short Story Challenge.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=58884.0

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: WINNER announced! Story Challenge #32
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2015, 02:42:08 PM »
Yeah, sorry about the wordcount :D

Hey, it was your call, so all's fair. Besides, no matter where the word count is set, you can bet I'll initially go way over it and then have to edit like crazy.  8)
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi