Here's my contribution to the contest. Best I could do in two days and 500 words. Hope y'all like it. Feedback would be greatly appreciated.
(word count 497)
THE SLEEPLESSNESS OF A SNAKE-OIL SALESMAN
W.G. Schrub sat up in his bed, unable to sleep, and looked at the surface of Earth above him. He could never sleep without first checking the books.
Tonight, he had forgotten.
His thin fingers brushed back his last lock of white hair and then slid over the smooth, computer panel next to him in the dark, and pressed the
glowing INPUT key.
He spoke, a deep, raspy speech, into the mechanical air above him. “Computer, show me last month’s profit margin.”
The screen came alive with soft numbers and hard facts; hard facts that reflected in his hard eyes, and made him smile. He climbed out of bed,
suddenly invigorated, grabbed his quilt, and hobbled into the observation hall outside.
Looking like a mock turtle huddled in a shell of quilt and secret shame, W.G. scowled at the window in the sterile-white hallway, and in the black
spaces between the Earth’s blue glow, found his reflection scowling back at him, mocking as it was.
“Damn you, I beat you.” he whispered.
Even from here he could see the massive cloud formations of impossible-category hurricanes swallowing the planet whole. He had finally pissed Earth
off enough, sucked her dry, and she was a bitch. “Enough!” she said, and there it was...the beginning of the end of it. But he had escaped, and
there the consumers of Earth were, stuck in the middle, awaiting the meteorological boogeyman he had set loose on the world.
But W.G. was the real boogeyman wasn’t he...the one hiding under every child’s bed in the form of some expensive extravagance, or as the red mark
in their parents’ monthly credit statement. He was the inescapable system of debt and death, and in the end was proud of it. He’d find the right
spin to sell to the world, he always did. He always had. Snake-oil sold. Well done.
He raised a fist past his own mocking reflection, out towards Earth herself and screamed inside “Reach me now Poseidon! Reach me now Neptune!
Nooo...not here! Your dominion does not include moon-rock and moon-dust does it?!”
W.G. lowered his fist, and then, for a moment, after the rage of his inner defiance was spent, he thought of his life, and his hard eyes became
suddenly soft, and he cried. A single tear slid down his cheek and touched the corner of his mouth. He stuck out a dry, pointy tongue and licked it up
quickly. The last true bit of salt water he would ever taste.
He walked back into his chamber and the automatic doors sealed behind him. All this thinking had exhausted him, and it was again time for bed.
Hours later, W.G. sat up in his bed, still unable to sleep, and pressed the INPUT key. “Computer, show me the projected profit margins for the next
The screen served up a cozy blanket of numbers, a cup of warm money-milk full of zeroes to lull an old, tired man to sleep.
Copyright 2005 BWB