Thursday, 27 October 2011

STC - Unfinished Story

Our writing challenge this week was to craft a story based on the pun "celery stalk-ers." I went for a Dick Tracy esque detective plot (with all characters being celery rather than human) and quickly realized that I am not quite the thinker for a crime story, and that the one that I invented refused to end. I was aiming for two pages and at the start of my fourth, stopped/ran out of time. I couldn't get it to land, but here it is for you in all of it's raw glory. Please enjoy the plenteous puns!

  It was a dark and stormy night. Everything in Apiaceatropolis had slowed to a stop... that is, everything except the crime that never rested. The crime that, like a burning ulcer, had consumed all joy and hope in the hearts of our city’s citizens. A city that once had flowers on every street corner and showed goodwill to all who entered it’s gates; now a city littered with the dismal slime of greed and contempt. Some say it started when the longtime mayor Smarty Pants retired and appointed in his place a greasy newcomer: Slim Pickens. Some say Slim had spent a bit too much time in the cooler. Some say he had buttered the mayor up, or put him in a sticky situation to get himself appointed. Some say he was starting to rot from the inside out. I don’t know. All I know is that things went south when Smarty left; and that Slim’s public statements are a little too bendable to be called upstanding. One thing for sure is that Slim’s longtime girlfriend Sulty Omosis and right hand man, Myco Tocsin are seen together frequently at the bar Celeriac, which also happens to be the hub for the gutter trash, slug eating, rotten killer - The Man.
  Because of all this, this mushrooming villainy I’m working late again. Because of this malfeasance my girlfriend Crispy Trueheart is home alone again tonight. Because of this infelicitous turn of events I was forced to change my name, leave my home, and take up a life of crime in my own way. Who am I? Cellar E. Stalker’s the name. Sluthing’s the game.
  Two nights ago a tall, thin woman showed up at my office. Usually, I work for myself, asking and answering my own questions, but her son was two days missing. The seventeen year old had been working all day (at an upstart guttering business) and never came home. After some questioning I was interested and stumped. This was the kind of boy seventeen year olds used to be. Responsible, dependable, kind. He worked to support his mother and younger sister. There was nothing out of the ordinary and nothing to suggest him as any kind of target. Then she said it, a passing mention about the job being new, replacing the person who used to work for the guttering man.
“What’s his name!” I jumped to my feet “What’s the gutter man’s name?”
“I... I’m not sure! Uh, it started with an L... Loo... Loomy. Loomy Num! That was it!”
“Did your son mention anything else about the person he replaced?”
“Not that I recall. Just that Loomy said he was a better worker than the other boy.”
“So he was young! Interesting. Lady, you better get back to your daughter. I’ll do what I can to find your son.” I got up and opened the door, locking it behind her.
  I had seen this type of thing before. A middle man. But it had only been that dog walker that went past the Korean market every day, and the old woman stealing dresses for that famous actress... who would this Loomy Num be stealing boys for? Why would someone need boys? I pulled my trench coat over my shoulders and grabbed an umbrella. I was going to find some answers.
  I used my two-way wrist TV and contacted Crispy the next morning letting her know I wouldn’t be home for a few days. “Be careful Cell. This city’s not the only one that needs you.” The night of searching had been to no avail, other than an idea I had, sitting outside of the Celeriac hoping to see something. When I got in this morning I checked the phone book and there it was: L.N. Guttering. I called. A slightly raspy, but even voice answered and said he could come by to give an estimate around 2 o’clock. With that, I layed down on the cot in my office closet and took a nap.
  Loomy never came. I called the number again on my wrist TV and saw nothing but an empty, messy office... and wheat grass. No! I was lucky enough to trace the number to an address across town and rushed over. The door was broken open and there was Loomy, or what was left of him, laying in a pool of green blood. There was nothing in the office to indicate any family and nothing to really indicate crime except a matchbook from the Celeriac laying by the ashtray on the desk. I had never actually been in the bar before. I had wanted my face to remain unknown to that lot, but if I wanted to stop the crime I was going to have to face it.
 Once night fell I approached the despicable place. Ordering a bloody mary I sat at the bar staring at my glass. On the way over I turned on my Corne inner ear eavesdropping system with the intention of listening instead of looking. The couple in the corner booth were talking about some risque pollinating they planned to do later. The guys around the celevision were betting on the juicing match. One hour. Two hours. Nothing. I had gone through three drinks and was getting ready to leave when a stumpy man in a white jacket walked in and quietly addressed the bartender “I have those supplies you ordered. Want me to take them to the kitchen?” When the barman walked out with the white jacket I moved toward the bathroom, ducking into the security office instead. I quickly reached around the guards head, putting a ranch drenched cloth over his nose rendering him unconscious. I didn’t have long, but in here I could see what every camera in the place saw. There was the main room, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and.... a gym? I’ve never heard of a bar doubling as a health club before. The guard was coming to and if I had any hope of keeping my anonymity I had to go. I sat back down in front of my bloody mary and told the intoxicated man next to me that there was a place down the road that was doing half price peanut butter shots and he took off out the door at the exact moment the bartender was coming back in and the security guard, still a bit dazed but furious, burst out of his office. They both set off after peanut butter guy. Now was my chance! I patted the salad shooter under my coat and headed back down the hall. No gym. I swung through the kitchen. No doors, no gym. Then I remembered the white jacketed man going outside. I walked around the block and into the alley behind the buildings. The bar had no back door, but then something caught my eye from behind the dumpster. A staircase. No one was posted at the door and it wasn’t locked. No private sign, no keep out. As quietly as I could I descended the steel stairs and looked around the corner. It was the gym. There were weight benches and treadmills and what looked like a yoga class in the back room. Every machine had someone on it, and every person was wearing what looked like a kind of wetsuit... but wait! What were those tubes at the cuffs of the sleeves and pants? They went loosely from the suit into the floor and seemed to be draining a opaque liquid. Just then I felt something creamy on my face and everything went black.
My eyes opened on a white room. Sulty and Myco were there. So was the security man from upstairs (still sporting a slight smear of ranch on his cheek). Slim was sitting in the corner with his head in his hands and Crispy was sitting next to him. Oh no, Crispy. How did they know? I tried to keep my face blank.
“I see some bumbling do-gooder finally stumbled into our gym.” The guard almost hissed. He was a yellowy, stalky man.
“I’d wager he didn’t stumble. What do you think Sulty?” Myco said cooly.
“Maybe he was just looking for his girly friend! He probably missed her.” She returned in with a childish tone, glancing at Crispy. Crispy didn’t move.
Slim raised his face, smiling “Well, now that he’s here, why don’t we give him a tour? If he’s good, maybe we’ll introduce him to The Man himself!”
  They jerked me up and took me back out to the main room. From closer up I could see that those were most definitely tubes going from the runners and lifters and benders. They were all young boys, and they seemed exhausted.
“Wondering about the tubes huh?” Grinned Sulty. They took me down more stairs to a room with a giant tank in it. The tubes ran from the ceiling into the tank and at the bottom were workers filling bottles with the clearish liquid.
“Sweat.” Said Sulty “Nasty sweat. Who would have guessed it could be so valuable?”
“You’re running a sweat shop!?” I gasped
“Hit the nail right on the head.” Myco elbowed me.“We add sugar and sell this stuff as a super beverage! People think it can do anything - Weight loss, energy supplement, even make you more attractive! A miracle drug!”
“Androtestosterone.” I breathed.
“The one and only! A steroid released through sweat... aaannd highly addictive!” Sulty chirruped happily.
“And you use the young boys because...”
“It’s so concentrated in them!” She said, then moved closer “But older men work too..”
  They put me in a tubed suit and took me back up to the treadmills.
“How do you keep these boys here?” I asked, nervousness growing in my fibers.
“They want to stay” said Myco “They’re good boys, and they don’t like seeing other people get hurt... or killed.”
They set the machine to 6mph, tossed me onto it and left. After an hour I was tired. After two I was stumbling. With all this time to think I still couldn’t understand: How were all these people connected? How did it all start? What did Slim hope to get out of all this... but maybe, maybe he was the middle man. Maybe Slim wasn’t doing this all for himself. Maybe Slim hadn’t empowered The Man, but the other way around. Maybe it was The Man behind all the destruction the whole time! Slim didn’t look exactly happy to be in that white room. He looked troubled. Was he falling out of The Man’s good graces?
 After five hours they came back and took me to the white room again, the same faces filling it.

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