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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Media (in any form) (11/11/10)

TITLE: Unnatural Selections
By Troy Manning


Inspector Stoddard’s competence was beginning to be undermined by his fascination with reality television. Oftentimes instead of maintaining focus on the pertinent crime footage from convenience and department store cameras, he would spend increasing hours watching the incidental slice-of-life moments they captured throughout the day.

This morning’s programming was courtesy of a smallish variety store called Smartmart. It featured a cashier named Carrie, a clerk named Benny, and a soda jerk named Dallas. Though there was clearly nothing contrived in the way the recordings presented the protagonists, as so often happens with viewers, Inspector Stoddard developed a mild infatuation with the female lead.

The detective first became aware of his burgeoning feelings when a male customer, somewhat younger and hardier than himself, initiated small talk with Carrie while making his purchase. It was entirely likely the candy bar he selected was solely intended as a catalyst to conversation. He almost wished this were the customer who would later pull a gun on her, as that certainly would have quashed any potential for future trysting.
Experiencing a slight nausea at the man’s importunity, Stoddard turned his attention to the simultaneous recording of another camera.

In the center of the toy aisle, there sat a young girl playing so hard with a doll it practically begged her to stop. Stoddard’s heart immediately went out to her as she reminded him of his own daughter, of whom he had but partial custody. He wanted nothing more than to take the girl to Dallas for an ice-cream soda, even though Stoddard didn’t particularly care for his demeanor. He watched as Benny trundled down the aisle toward her looking a little like Harry Langdon on the silent screen. He wished he could hear what he was saying as he could see it was upsetting the poor thing.

The inspector returned to the recording at the front of the store and was surprised to see that Carrie was also quite distraught. He backed it up to see what had instigated her tears. He now longed more than ever for an audio track as he watched the young man talking with Carrie. The bill she received for the candy was obviously of a somewhat large denomination as she used a marker to verify its authenticity. Evidently perceiving this execution of her duty as a deliberate affront to his character, the man directed some ill-chosen words at her then left without waiting for his change. The money must have been genuine, as Carrie made no effort to call for assistance from either her co-workers or the police. Stoddard marveled at how quickly people could become emotionally invested in others they barely knew.

He was about to return to the exchange between Benny and the girl when Stoddard realized time was waning for an initial report on his findings. He reluctantly forwarded the recording to the crime itself.

Although it did display gratuitous content, and he was especially grateful he was unable to hear the words spewing from the rumpled punk pointing a .45 caliber pistol at Carrie’s nose, the recording wasn’t wholly devoid of human interest. In the background an elderly gentleman, not unlike his father, and apparently too hard of hearing to be aware of the goings-on at the register, was trying to decide between organic chips and Funyuns. “The Funyuns,” Inspector Stoddard silently urged him, “definitely the Funyuns.”

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This article has been read 448 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/18/10
This is definitely a different take on the topic. I like how the detective got caught up in the closed circuit TV much like one does with Reality TV. At times I felt a tad confused feeling you were hindered by the word limit. Your characters were interesting and they all drew me into their reality. :)
Noel Mitaxa 11/20/10
I agree that the story seems larger than the word limit allows you, but the crossover from reality TV to CCTV was an interesting approach that you bult with strong credibility.
Edmond Ng 11/24/10
An interesting plot, but would be better if written to 'show' rather than 'tell' the story. Just work a little more to engage the reader into the story and you'll have a good start leading to the next chapters.