Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: The Scent of a Sausage
By Christopher Gearhart
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He knew he needed to get up and get moving soon, but his meager daily ration, consisting of a single Slim Jim and whatever he could forage off the trail, was starting to take its toll. He was weaker than usual this morning, and for the first time in his life, his stomach actually ached for lack of food. But worse than his physical state was his emotional distress over not being able to persude his wife of 12 years to join him. If only he could have found some way to reach her, to make her understand. Connor pushed it out of his mind for the moment and forced himself to get up. He figured he had another fifty miles to go before reaching the White Mountains.
Connor packed up his gear and headed north on the trail. As he slowly nibbled on his second-to-the-last Slim Jim, Connor ran through his mind the events that led him to this point in his life. It all started out with a few derivative brokerage firms filing for bankruptcy. The Federal Trade Commission didn’t regulate derivatives, and most companies trading in them never registered their holdings. This ultimately caused an enormous speculative bubble to form, setting up conditions for the perfect financial storm. Within a matter of two days, the domino effect of failing banks caused every financial institution in the country to close its doors, and the value of the U.S. dollar to drop by 90 percent. Global panic ensued as the economies of every country holding dollar-denominated assets began to fold. By the end of the week, the entire global economy had completely shut down. It made the Great Depression look like a bad day on the Dow.
After six months of worldwide despair, the World Economic Forum, to the astonishment of financial professionals, concluded that terrorists were to blame for the financial disaster. Their plan, which was to be implemented in three months, was to create a new global financial system, based on state-of-the-art microchip technology. It was designed, they said, to thwart any attempts by terrorists to ever again disrupt the global economy. The system called for the implantation of a microchip into the hand of every man, woman and child on the planet. No one would be able to buy, sell or trade unless they had the chip. Each chip would contain a unique identifier consisting of three groups of six digits, enabling law enforcement to identify and locate any person at any time. Any person found without a chip would be assumed a terrorist.
At this point, Connor knew his time was short. Having studied the books of Daniel and Revelation in his bible study group, he knew what this all was leading up to. Despite his most earnest attempts, Connor could not convince his wife that the events that were unfolding were foretold in the bible over two thousand years ago. He realized how crazy it all must have sounded to a non-believer, but he never gave up trying to persuade her. In the end, she became disillusioned with him, believing his Christian friends had brainwashed him. One morning she decided enough was enough. She simply picked up the phone, dialed Homeland Security, and turned in her own husband.
Connor was beginning to fade fast now. He could feel his strength draining from his body with every step he took. He hadn’t had a drink in two days, and his vision was coming and going in waves. He managed another two miles before his legs finally gave out, leaving him a crumpled mass on the trail.
His senses were starting to play tricks on him now. He imagined seeing an old man sitting next to a fire along the trail. And that smell! Summer sausage! Then, everything went black.
When he regained consciousness, he looked up to see the crusty old man in his hallucination staring back at him, waving a piece of sausage on a stick.
“Eat up!” hollered the old man. “God’s got work for us to do!”
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