Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Extra (08/29/13)
TITLE: Dark Delivery
By Linda Gage
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“Hey lady,” he snapped, “Yah, gotta pay first!”
Struggling to find change in her purse, instead she tossed a dollar on the ground and ran off with her paper. The kid wasn’t bothered. He pocketed the money and returned to his work.
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ‘Missing person reports on the rise!’ ” On another corner, another newsboy yelled.
A man rushed toward him, just as anxious, but more subtle in his approach. He appeared calm, but was panicking on the inside. Being out of control was not his style. “Hey kid,” his voice strained, “how much for the paper?” It had been years since he had to buy one. He didn’t know the cost.
Knowing that the value of his product had recently skyrocketed he replied, “Usually five bucks, mister, but today, just for you, only three.”
The man had no idea he was paying triple. With trembling hands he took the newspaper, pausing just long enough to look the paper boy in the eye. It was as if the kid was looking right through him. A shrill went up his spine and before he lost his composure, he rushed away with his paper.
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ‘Mysterious disappearances linked to aliens.’”
“What a load . . .” the newsboy thought as he repeated the headline. He didn’t think the woman walking toward him heard it. She was frustrated and struggling. It wasn’t bad enough that the entire world’s internet failed two days ago, but now all the television satellite signals were blocked by an unknown force. If that wasn’t scary enough, now she had to walk 3 blocks in high heels to get a newspaper!
“How archaic is this?” she thought as her ankle twisted again. The kid had a satisfied smirk on his face as he watched her tripping toward him, though he queried to himself, “She doesn’t seem afraid?”
“Didn’t ya hear about the aliens? Read all about it here.” She was mostly bothered about her wrinkled skirt and dusty shoes, but she was also curious about all the commotion that had been going on the past few days. She paid the five dollars, turned around and staggering on those heels headed for her office building, newspaper under her arm.
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ‘World succumbs to terror!’” Yet another newsboy in another city yelled.
The man across the street did not respond to the shocking news as expected. The newsboy shouted right at him, “Mister, did you hear the latest?”
This man looked dejected. He was slumped on a bench with his head hanging down.
“Wanna paper? Read all about the mayhem?” He taunted the distressed man. The man shook his head. The kid didn’t know if he was being rejected or ignored. He didn’t like either. “C’mon man. Read about the world’s unrest,” he mocked, as if the man could not see the riots and frenzy in the streets. Then the kid walked right up to the man and tried to lure him by waving the newspaper in front of his face. In a soft but eerie tone, “C’mon man, read it here. News you can’t get anywhere else.” He wanted that man to sniff the paper and grab it, like a dog with a bone.
The man did not take the bait. He looked at the newsboy and holding a book up in his hand declared, “I don’t need your paper. I know exactly what’s going on. Oh God! I know! Jesus came back, just like He said He would!” Looking up to the sky, he pleaded, “Forgive me Lord!” He grasped his wedding photo in his other hand. “She told me all about your good news and I didn’t believe it!” His voice stuttered. “She’s gone. Now I believe! Oh God, please, please forgive me!”
The newsboy saw the Bible and immediately knew this was not one of his customers. A little startled but unconcerned, he backed away slowly. There were plenty more clients and this newsboy was only one of the millions eager to spread the bad news, in every country, every state, every city, ‘Extra! Extra! Read all about it! ‘You were left behind!’”
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