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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: Predator in Disguise
By Betty Castleberry
01/14/08


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Excellent opportunity for a select few. If you are tired of being underappreciated and underpaid, come join our team. Advancements and unlimited income for the right individuals.

Jack had been looking for something better than his dead end job. Being an auto parts salesman paid the bills, but he wanted more.

He put the newspaper down and picked up the phone. A recording gave him instructions on how to proceed for an interview. Grabbing his car keys, he headed out the door to see what the ad was all about.

When he reached the building, a table stacked with job applications and brochures awaited him. The photo on the front of the folder showed a young couple wading in the ocean. Curious, Jack opened the folder. There were columns of figures inside.

A brunette woman approached the table and took a brochure. She looked at Jack. “Do you know what the job is?”

Jack ran his hand across the top of his head. “Sure don’t, but I intend to find out.”

“Me too. Good luck.” She picked up an application and walked away.

Jack took an application and filled it out. It seemed pretty standard until he got to the last set of questions. He found them disconcerting, but answered them the best he could.

A man emerged from an office in the back and glanced around the room. “Sorry I wasn’t out here to greet you two. We’ve had a lot of people in today, and I was seeing to some details.”

He shook the woman’s hand, and then approached Jack. His eyes were piercing, and there was something almost sinister about them. Jack couldn’t look at him squarely. He offered an oddly slender hand to Jack. “Who was here first?”

Jack spoke. “Me.”

“I’m Claven Wardsman. Please come with me.”

Something tugged at Jack’s conscience, but he followed the man into the office anyway.

Mr. Wardsman took a seat behind a desk and motioned for Jack to sit across from him.
The interviewer asked Jack for his application. He studied it a minute, then asked, “So you want to improve your status?”

“Definitely.”

“You aren’t happy in your present job?”

“I don’t hate it, but I know I could do better. I haven’t had a raise in two years.”

“If you should decide to join our team, you won’t have to worry about raises. You will have a steady stream of income that is probably beyond your wildest imagination.”

“Just what does your team do?”

Mr. Wardsman smiled. “I don’t give out details until I’m sure the applicants would fit into our team. Trust me when I say it requires very little effort from you. People are skeptical when I say that, but it’s a proven plan. It does involve bringing others into our team. All you have to do is live your life any way you want to. You’ll have people begging to join.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will.”

“You probably noticed the photo on the front of our brochure.”

Jack nodded.

“Mike and Ella are a young couple who started with us less than a year ago. They’re already making enough income to cruise the Caribbean whenever they want to.”

A feeling in the pit of his stomach was prompting Jack to leave, but he ignored it. Instead he answered, “Does everyone make that much money?”

“No guarantees, but the potential is there.

“I’d like to go over some questions on your application.” He flipped to the back page. “You feel you can influence people?”

“Sometimes.”

Claven Wardsman studied Jack. “I’m not seeing the enthusiasm from you that I would like. Surely the money sounds good?”

“Yes, but I’m feeling very uncomfortable.”

The interviewer‘s face hardened. “What are you having a problem with?”

“I’m already living my life the way I want to.”

A thought popped into Jack’s head and escaped through his lips before he had time to stop it. “Do you know Jesus?”

At that moment, Mr Wardsman’s cell phone rang. He excused himself to take the call. Jack left the office, then peered back inside. To his surprise, the office was empty. There wasn’t any way out that he could see except through the door where he was standing, but Mr. Wardsman was nowhere in sight.

Jack got his application and tore it up. With each rip, a flood of relief swept over him.

He left the building, silently thanking God for his boring salesman job.


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This article has been read 788 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw01/18/08
Very interesting scenario. Glad that Jack escaped this one.
Gregory Kane01/18/08
There is certainly a lot of suspense and mystery here. I suspect however that you have left too many details hanging for the reader to work out for himself. Is Mr Wardsman a demon? Or the leader of some strange cult? I think that either would be possible. Intriguing but maybe a bit disappointing too.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/18/08
While I was glad that your mc made the right choice and even that he witnessed, I was curious to know what the job was.

Your story reminded me of our daughter wanting to leave her job as a banker for a more exciting position. She answered an ad in the paper that held out great promise, only to find that she'd be selling funeral plots. Suddenly banking looked pretty good.
Kristen Hester01/18/08
Chilling! Very good writing. You kept me glued to the page.
Peter Stone01/19/08
Your story had me hooked until the end, and I'm guessing the salesman was some kind of demon or something, with the lack of a door. Would have liked to have known what the disconcerting questions were, though.
Joanne Sher 01/20/08
Definitely chilling - lots of unanswered questions. Darn that word count, eh? Would love to know what kinds of questions they were, and who the guy was, and what the job was. I hope you expand this.
Lyn Churchyard01/21/08
Great story! Starting off with something as innocent as a job interview and turning it into something of a much more sinister nature.

LOL don't you just hate word counts sometimes... that definitely left me wanting more. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 01/21/08
Your title got me here, the rest of the read was great. I sense a Deja vu' sort of vibe here. I'm so glad that Jack got out and away though...if he'd listened to his stomach sooner...grrr! ^_^
Holly Westefeld01/22/08
A very creative tale of the tempter who is always trying to trip us up with dillusions of grandeur.
Sally Hanan01/22/08
This one doesn't do as much for me as your usual writing. I think it's because it assumes that all multi-level marketing businesses are bad and greedy, and while they annoy the giblets out of me, they can help the right individual. Other than that personal preference, it was very well written, as all your work is :)
Loren T. Lowery01/22/08
I have to admit that CS Lewis was a bit more shrewd with his Mr. Screwtape, but I "enjoyed" being a fly in the office listening to his technique. What I really liked, too, was that gut feeling your MC had. Something I know we all should pay much more attention to. That tug - that which shows God cares and trys to pull us away from harm.
Julie Ruspoli01/22/08
Very interesting. Perfect depiction of how fast Satan can leave. Also proves how God is always there to help us. I really enjoyed reading this. Great writing!
Jan Ackerson 01/22/08
Ooooh, creepy! You really set the tone with your descriptions of the interviewer, and Jack's gut feelings. Good job.
Dee Yoder 01/23/08
Sinister, indeed! Glad Jack had the discernment to run from that "opportunity". I guessed who the interviewer might be, but read it again and caught the little hints sprinkled around the story. Very different for you, but your descriptions were right on target.
LaNaye Perkins01/23/08
This entry is chilling and gave me goosebumps when I read it. No denying who Claven Wardsman was. I loved how you gave us just enough information to fill in the blanks. Well Done!
Marita Vandertogt01/23/08
You definitely captured a very sinister Claven Wardsman that left me with a feeling of being in the presence of evil, and you definitely captured this reader with your excellent writing skills.
Patty Wysong01/23/08
I'm so glad he listened to his feelings and walked out! *Chills*
Gerald Shuler 01/23/08
This makes perfect sense in the spiritual realm. Jack's constant inner warnings was all he really needed to not get trapped. I agree with an earlier review, though. It would have been great if we knew what the "disconcerting question" was.
Karen Wilber 01/23/08
Creative. I saw the spoiler so I knew the ending - don't know if I'd have guessed it or not. I just know I've seen the infomercial for this company on TV recently.