Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)
TITLE: The Phantom Condemner
By Marita Vandertogt
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He drags a gnarled finger across the paper tearing it into two ragged pieces, the rest of his hand curled in a fist. “Bah,” his breath carries the word up under his nose, making it scrunch, then twist to the side. “Bah,” he repeats, pushing thin rimmed glasses up to his eyes, blinking in disbelief.
“Who could write such nonsense? Argh.” The word gargles in his throat. He takes the nib of his pen and slashes it across the shredded paper. Red ink stains his fingers, turning them purple, then brown. “My eyes have seen enough. Balderdash.” The clock ticks an even rhythm as he shuffles scruffy slippers across the food stained floor to the refrigerator.
“Protein.” The word slips from his tongue, along with a drop of saliva, glistening its way down to the floor in a small splat. “I need protein to continue my task. Or sugar. Yes, sugar. Sugar will work much better.” The door flies from his hand and slams shut. He moves to the cupboard and pulls down a package of unopened cookies. “This will do. Ah yes, the perfect fuel to keep me going.”
He carries them back to the table, and rips the top, spilling the first layer to the floor. “I’ll be back for you later.” He says with a smirk that never really leaves his lips. One hand dips into the bag, the other picks up the red ink pen and begins again.
“Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes. The grammar is atrocious. The character ridiculous. Unbelievable.” The pen scoots back and forth across the sheet, almost with a mind of its own, then stops. There are no more words. The story is unfinished. “No no,” he moves his head, back and forth, back and forth looking for something that isn’t there. “No no. I was just beginning. Just beginning.” Frustration growing in his voice, as it fades into the distance. With that, his image disappears slowly, leaving Laura sitting in the chair, holding a red pen, beside a bag of cookies. Her mouth is still chewing the sweet chocolate chips from the centre of the cookie. Her red ink stained fingers tapping the table.
“This doesn’t work. I need to change the point of view. No no. I need to delete this paragraph and replace it with....” the red ink pen is moving again, fast and furious. Her cell phone jingles a tune into the air and Laura picks it up, still scratching red marks.
“Is it ready yet?” the woman’s voice on the other end is anxious, restless, the words clipped with annoyance.
“Not yet, but soon. I’m almost there.”
Meanwhile the old man with the gnarled finger snickers in the background of her brain as her red ink pen continues its work while the clock ticks seconds in rhythm, using up time.
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