Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #12- Note Worthy

I’m tardy this week. I wrote an entire story, almost a thousand words and had to dump it in the bone yard. Couldn’t come up with an ending. It happens. This story literally popped into my head as I looked at the mailboxes lining the street on my way to work at oh dark thirty this morning. Bus ride in, lunch time and bus ride home, edited and read to Goldilocks and Baby Bear. They gave it two paws/thumbs up.

“You’ve got mail”

“You’ve got mail,” the computer voice announced.

Jeff clicked the icon and opened his email. His hand was shaking.

 

DO IT TONIGHT!

 

Sweat broke out on his forehead. He had to act before he lost his nerve.

It had all started off with a simple message last year.

 

THESE SHOES ARE ON SALE.

 

He almost dumped the message in the trash. The picture showed the very shoes he had been eyeing for weeks, but on his meager clerk’s salary it would take months to save enough to buy them. The sale was an incredible sixty percent off. He would have to make some sacrifices, but it was worth it.

It was several weeks before he received the next message. Men’s suits on clearance, easy credit terms. He found three that were stylish and flattering with manageable payments. The week after a message announced the opening of a new hair salon, free haircuts to the first six people in line. The stylist talked him into a completely new hair cut.

The next day at work Cindy Maxwell actually smiled and said hi. It was the first time she had said anything to him in the two years he had worked there. He almost spilled coffee down his shirt.

Later, he overheard Cindy mention a play at the local dinner theater. It had been sold out for weeks. When Jeff checked his email that evening, he was shocked to see two tickets for sale on Craigslist. He called the number and had the tickets in hand within the hour. He was more than a little suspicious but decided not to question his good fortune.

The next day, Jeff sauntered into Cindy’s cubicle.

“Hi Cindy.”

“Oh, hi Jeff.”

“I, um, well I wanted to know if you wanted to go with me to see ‘The Player’s Game’ Friday night. I hear it’s really good.”

Cindy stared at him as his heart pounded in his chest.

“I’d love to, but it’s sold out. I couldn’t find tickets anywhere.

Jeff pulled the tickets from his jacket.

“I found two online. The show’s at eight so we have time to have dinner first – if you want to.”

“That would be great,” Cindy said, her eyes sparkling. “And I know just the place.”

They exchanged information and agreed Jeff would pick her up at six o’clock. The remainder of the week was a blur for him. On Friday he received another email.

 

SHE LIKES YELLOW ROSES.

 

A chill hit Jeff and he shivered. For the first time he looked for the sender’s email address. He had assumed it was some type of advertising company. The ‘From’ line was blank. He dug through his inbox and located several of the previous messages. None of them showed a sender’s address. In spite of his apprehension he ordered a dozen long stem yellow roses from a florist near Cindy’s apartment.

The evening exceeded all of Jeff’s expectations. A lingering good night kiss on the porch turned into several hours of heartfelt conversation punctuated with more kissing. Their date was the first of many.

The messages guided Jeff to sign him and Cindy up for salsa dancing, a cooking class and a couple’s winery tour in Napa. Ten months later they were married. Her ring was suggested in an email.

The week after their honeymoon Jeff received another message.

 

YOU NEED TO MAKE MORE MONEY TO KEEP HER HAPPY.

 

He was in line for a promotion and deleted the message without a second thought.

Two day later his inbox flashed with an urgent message:

 

YOU CAN MANIPULATE THE FERGUSON ACCOUNT TO INCREASE YOUR COMMISSION. NO ONE WILL KNOW.

 

He stared at the screen as if he could change the words by sheer force of will. When that failed, he hit the delete key. Droplets of sweat beaded on his forehead and ran into his eyes. Rivulets coursed down his back causing his shirt to stick to his skin. Before he could shut his laptop another email appeared:

 

DO IT OR SHE DIES.

 

Jeff’s stomach knotted as he opened the financials for Ferguson. In five minutes he added six thousand dollars to his commission. He prayed the messages would stop. They didn’t. Within a month he embezzled nearly a quarter of a million dollars from numerous client accounts, exposed a coworker who was having an affair and sold part of his company’s marketing plan to a competitor.

 

*****

 

YOUR WIFE IS CHEATING ON YOU. KILL HER.

 

Jeff rushed to the bathroom and emptied the contents of his stomach into the toilet. Cindy would never – they were madly in love. Maybe he had been a little distant lately but his life had gotten a bit complicated. He deleted the message and it was replaced by a series of photos. Cindy and another man in a hotel room – his boss! Still more pictures, different men, different locations. Some were friends and coworkers, most were strangers. His nails dug into the palms of his hands as he clenched his fists. All the chances he had taken, risked his job, jail – and this was how she thanked him? The message had it right. She had to die.

He grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stomped up the stairs. Cindy sat at her vanity with her back to the door. Jeff raised the knife and aimed for her back. She turned and his forward momentum was stopped by a thud and a burning sensation in his chest. As he collapsed his dying mind registered the gun in his wife’s hand.

*****

“Detective, look at this.” The CSU tech turned the laptop on the vanity so the other man could read the email message displayed on the screen.

 

YOUR HUSBAND IS COMING TO KILL YOU. GET HIS GUN FROM THE CLOSET.

 

“Somebody saved her life,” said the detective. “Who sent it?”

“No idea. There’s no sender address, not even a server signature. She has a whole file full of messages like this going back almost a year.”

2 Thoughts on “Ray Bradbury Challenge #12- Note Worthy

  1. Edward Owen has done it again! As always, GREAT story, Ed!! Sorry I haven’t been visiting your blog lately. As you know, I’ve been a little preoccupied…and, admittedly, a little embarrassed. You’ve done well to keep up with the Ray Bradbury Challenge and I’ve been a TOTAL slacker! I’ll have to pick it up again sometime, but I might not be doing it once a week. You’re doing GREAT!

    Best,
    Arial ;)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Arial. You’re like my own personal cheerleader, at least I know one person is reading it :) RBC will be here waiting when you are ready. Let me know if I can help you with anything. Talk to you soon.

    Edward

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