Prompt 22: Catch-22 – 501 Prompts

501 Prompts is my way to explore new creative ideas and actually writing them down for a change.

Here’s how it works: I prepare my idea to the prompt and then sit down for 20 minutes straight to write it down. After a short editing session it goes online as it. It’s open to all genres, topics and experiments with storytelling.

From this week on we’ll dive deep into ancient fables.

Enjoy this week’s prompt.

The Prompt

A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Aesop

My Story

Two brutish busts watched over the open office from the pillars flanking Connor’s Kittinger desk. The artist insisted that he had formed them after the most famous pieces of ancient art. Still, all Connor could see where two suffering and twisted wolf-human hybrids. In fact, Connor never liked the sculptures, but he thought them to be quite fitting, given the number of people he had to pull into his schemes to be able to pay the small fortune that they had cost.

Connor spent most of his time hopping between exotic places and public events where he would cheer on his loyal mass of partners. In reality, they were not more than sheep trapped inside the structure of his company.

Today he had to greenlight a new campaign that would nurture the illusion of them getting where he was if they just worked hard enough. It would flush millions into his bank account, leaving most of them stranded in debt. Tricking the poor and desperate was the easiest way to getting rich. He just had to present them a new mechanical bunny to chase after every once in a while.

Steps echoed across the white marble floor. Emma Oberton held her head high and eyes fixed on him when she approached his desk. A cold breeze followed her, and Connor shivered. He made a mental note to himself to tell the secretary to fix the air condition. Then he would fire the guy for letting the district attorney in without warning. He stood up behind his desk but didn’t make any effort to meet her halfway.

“Miss Oberton, so nice to see you. How did you get in here?”
“Your assistant was very eager to let me in once I showed him this.”

She waved a sheet of paper before she slid it across the table. Her gesture held as much threat as if she pulled out a knife to slit his throat. Just a glance was enough to know what it was. Connor was very familiar with the court’s letterhead.

He spread out his arms and put on the fake smile that had become his trademark. “Take as long as you want. I’m sure you won’t find anything of particular interest.”

“I will. Don’t you worry about that.”

Contrary to his expectations, Emma pulled out a notebook and took her time skimming through the pages. Confident, Connor crossed his arms. After an eternity, she spoke.

“Connor Crawford.” Her voice, even though it was barely more than a whisper, was intimidating and made him sit down. “Your time has come. We will judge you and your actions to decide what will come next.”

“What is this? Whatever you’re trying to pull off, it’s not gonna work.”
He smiled, faking his confidence, but a sense of insecurity took hold of him. Was daylight really fading, or did he imagine that?

“The examination begins now.”

A low grumble and cracking emanated from the grotesque busts as they came to life. Slowly their heads turned towards him. Connor watched in disbelieve as their maws snapped open, turning their expressions into an even more tortured scream. Cold and lifeless eyes examined him. He shrunk under their weight.

The female one spoke first. “There is no compassion in his heart. Only greed and lust for hunger. He would stop at nothing to further his own interest.”

The male one chimed in after. “He’s a liar and a thief. Countless people suffer because of him. Families break apart, friendships turn into toxic shackles while he sits on a throne of stolen gold.”

Every response he came up with felt like it would get stuck in his throat and suffocate him.

Emma closed her notebook and concluded with the distant resolve of a professional. “The judgment is clear. Your soul will have to suffer the consequences of your actions.”

As soon as she spoke her verdict, something pulled at Connor, clawing at his mind, dragging him in hundreds of different directions. Terror threatened to drown him, and his knuckles turned white as he tried to hold on to his desk.

“Wait, wait!” he cried out. “How about a deal?”

It stopped if only just for a second. Emma cocked an eyebrow as if she had expected his pleading.

“You give me a task, and if I can complete it, I get to go free. How about that?”

Emma shrugged with a gentle smile. “Find someone who’ll vouch for you.”

Connor tried his best not to show the sudden burst of confidence returning to him. Convincing people of the wildest lies had made him rich after all.

“You’re only allowed to speak the truth.”

Her words lingered in the dense air of the office long after Emma was gone. His hands cramped and hurt because Connor still hadn’t let go of his desk.

Slowly the realization settled in.

<< Last Prompt | Next Prompt >>

Did you like what you’ve just read? Make sure to let me know and leave a like or a comment! Stay tuned for weekly updates to stories or new ideas by subscribing to my blog.

Sign up to my New Release E-Mail list and never miss the release of a new novel.

Thank you for your support!