Remember those books? I loved them when I was a kid. This one was my favourite:
I even got into the role-playing inspired ones in my early teen years. Sure, they might not have a lot of literary value, but as a kid they were a lot more fun than pretending to be a Hardy Boy or a hobbit.
To segue, I decided to use this blog partially as a place to put my short fiction for the time being, just so that I can practice writing regularly (when I'm not working on novels, that is). I wrote a story today, but I found that once I got near the end, a dozen or so possibilities popped into my mind and I couldn't decide on a definitive ending. Therefore, I would like to leave the ending of the story up to YOU, my (few but loyal) blog readers! I will write a reasonably short ending to the following story for each suggestion I receive, with a limit of one per person. If this turns out to be fun (and if at least one or two people show interest) I will probably do this more often.
Without further digression, here is the first part of the story:
"Doing the Right Thing"
“Brian, we’re going to get fired if they catch us,” Alethea whispered.
Brian ignored Alethea’s feeble protest and turned the key in the lock. “Come on Alethea, live a little.” He didn’t bother to lower his voice. With a gentle tap of his boot, the service entrance to Surplus Supplies lay open.
“I can’t believe they gave a key to you, of all people,” Sara said from behind Alethea. She and Alethea stepped into the stock room behind Brian.
Brian shrugged as he flicked on his flashlight. “You mean you can’t believe they made me manager. Remember, we can’t leave the stock room.”
Alethea crossed her arms and sighed. “Are you sure there aren’t any cameras back here?”
Brian wondered why Alethea had bothered to come if all she was going to do was complain. “I told you, I know where every camera in this store is.” He flashed his light around the room, quickly scanning the box labels. “Now make yourself useful and help me look for the stuff. Mark could have stacked them anywhere.”
Sara took out her own flashlight and began to look around. “Hopefully he didn’t stack the boxes way up high.”
“Relax; I brought the lifter key, too.”
Alethea sat on the floor as Sara and Brian looked around the vast stock room of Surplus Supplies. “You guys, I just realized something. If we get caught, we’re not just gonna get fired. We’re gonna go to jail.”
Sara flashed her light in Alethea’s face. “Did you forget why we’re doing this?”
“But it’s stealing,” she insisted.
“It’s not stealing if they’re just gonna throw the stuff out.”
“Guys!” Brian yelled from across the stock room.
“Shh!” the girls replied.
“I found them,” he said in a quieter voice as he crisscrossed his light on a group of boxes. They were stacked innocuously on the middle shelf. “Looks like we’ll need the lifter after all.”
“Just get the stool, Brian,” Sara suggested. “The lifter is noisy.”
“The boxes are heavy, Sara,” Brian replied. He tossed the lifter key at her. “Go get the lifter.” The key bounced off her chest and jingled as it skittered across the cement floor.
“Fuck you. Get it yourself,” Sara said. “Or quit being a pussy and climb up there like you used to when you were just a stock boy and not a lazy-ass manager who had to use the lifter for everything. It’s not like the stuff is fragile and we’re burning the boxes, remember? Just climb up and shove ‘em off the shelf and we can carry them out to the truck and go.”
Brian began to clamber up to the second shelf. “I’m not as spry as I used to be,” he muttered. “The lifter would have been easier.”
“The lifter would have taken twice as long,” Sara replied. “Start shoving.”
Off in the distance, permeating the silence and the walls of Surplus Supplies, a siren cried out in the night.
“Oh my god, you guys!” Alethea exclaimed. “What if they’re coming for us? We have to go, now!”
“Will you relax?” Brian demanded as he kicked a box bigger than his torso off the shelf. It landed on the concrete floor with a thud, denting one bottom corner. “There’s no way anybody else knows we’re here. Besides, that’s an ambulance siren, not the cops.”
“Actually, it’s a police siren,” Sara corrected. “Keep ‘em coming, Brian. I’m gonna start hauling ‘em out to the truck.” She turned to Alethea, who was still sitting on the floor. “Alethea, since you decided to come you can at least make yourself busy and help me carry these boxes out.”
“But Brian said they were heavy,” she whined.
Sara clenched her hands into fists and tried not to yell. “That’s why you’re going to help me carry them. Sometimes I wonder why Brian even hired you.”
“Mostly for her looks,” Brian called out as he kicked another box off the shelf.
“Speaking of getting fired...” Sara muttered as she lifted one of the boxes off the floor. “You know what? Never mind, Alethea, these are lighter than Brian made them out to be. You can just sit there and whine until we’re done if you like.” Sara left through the service entrance, hefting a box almost as big as she was.
“I wish you wouldn’t say things like that in front of others,” Alethea said as she traced a pattern with her finger on the floor. “People are going to think that I...didn’t get hired based on my abilities.”
“Well, you didn’t. Or did you forget your interview already?” Brian kicked the last box off the shelf and it burst open. Baby clothes spilled out of the box and scattered across the floor.
“Nice shot, Brian,” Sara said from the entryway. She walked up to one of the jumpers that had fallen out of the box and examined it. It was white and orange, and the words ‘Drama Princess’ were printed on the chest. “I still can’t believe they were gonna make us throw all these out just because they bore a resemblance to a popular brand.”
“Well, Surplus could get sued for selling them,” Brian replied as he began tossing the jumpers back in the box. “But it’s still too much of a waste. I mean, there are women’s shelters that could use these, you know, and people who can’t afford to buy their children proper clothes.”
“But it’s still stealing,” Alethea insisted as she picked up one of the jumpers and felt the material between her fingers.
Sara rolled her eyes. “Look, it’s not like we’re doing this for profit. We’re not stealing these so that we can sell them, or use them for our own benefit. If we don’t do this, the clothes will get destroyed in the compactor tomorrow morning. This way, they can go to help people in need, and Brian can come in early and claim that he already sent them through the compactor and nobody gets hurt. We’re doing the right thing, Alethea.”
Alethea chewed on a fingernail. “Well shouldn’t we throw something down there, just in case somebody checks?”
Brian and Sara exchanged glances.
“Hmm, maybe there’s more than just a pretty face underneath all that makeup,” Brian said with a smirk. “Let’s just throw this broken box of clothes down. It’s gonna be hard to give away this many boxes anyway. Help me out with this, Sara.”
As Sara and Brian threw the last of the scattered clothes in the box and lifted it, Alethea walked over to the garbage compactor and switched it on. Brian peered to the side of the box to see Alethea staring down the chute.
“Oh my god,” she gasped. “I think there’s something down there.”