Tuesday, 29 September 2009

MULTIPLY United Friends Challenge #183: The Reporter

Sumax's Challenge

The hospital porter wheeled the gurney down the basement ramp and along the corridor leading to the mortuary. Robin’s body was now stone cold. It had been a long two days leading up to this end. Were this a film, there would be a fade-out to flashback and maybe, just maybe, things might have panned out differently. If only Robin had taken the … but it was hopeless to conjecture. The mortuary double doors crashed back into place and the porter and gurney were gone.

Robin can be a male or female and of any age you wish. Create for me a character and a situation which led up to the above ending to your short story. Let your imagination soar. You do not have to use the final paragraph in your story if you do not wish to. If you do use it, it will not be included in the word count.

Word limit: Between 500 and 2000 words. No more, no less.

It was early morning and there was a lot to do today. Robin gave Rosita a last embrace and a kiss and began to get dressed, not really wanting to, doing things you have to do and want to do are just not the same.

“Do you have to go Robin?” she asked “it was so good to feel your arms around me.”

“All good things must come to an end” answered Robin as he was pulling his clothes on “and you know what is happening today.”

“Yes Robin, how can I forget. It is the day when we will at last know what will happen in this country. Whether we can again breathe free air on the streets, or if we are still under the watchful eye of the General’s police and army.”

“Right Rosita and I am now on my way home. The night was wonderful as always, but I have to earn my living during the day so that we can enjoy the nights.”

Robin kissed Rosita once more and left.

He lived on the other side of town, where the foreign population were housed. Working as the foreign correspondent for an international newspaper for some time in this small republic, he had got to know the people, their way of life, and their politics. The Colonel was the man in charge in this country. What he said was law, and if anyone did not agree then they would perhaps be found floating in a river, or lying in a field somewhere in the country. The richer were getting richer and the poorer had less. This was the Colonel’s politics. Today was election day and everyone was obliged to vote. This was also law. This time there was a difference. The Colonel had an opponent: Julio Rodriguez.

As a young man Julio had smuggled himself on board a ship to America. He came from a poor farmer’s family and had seen the way his family were treated by the Colonels regime. Working all day for a piteous wage, they owned only the clothes on their back. All land in his country belonged to the government. Julio was determined to change things, to enable the farmers to work on their own land.

He was lucky in America and worked hard. He had studied law and after some years had now returned to his family and country. He founded his own political party and soon had many followers. It was the first time in this country that the Colonel had an opposition.

Robin had met Julio Rodriguez and had interviewed him for the newspaper. The Colonel was not very pleased as he found Julio Rodriguez to be a rebel and in his opinion he belonged behind bars. After the interview was published, Robin had a visit from General Renaldo Gomez. Robin was warned that any such further interviews would result in Robin being put under house arrest. Robin was not a man to be put in his place by a corrupt government, and his meetings continued with Julio, but under cover of the night and in secrecy. It was on one of these occasions where he had met Rosita, Julio’s sister.

After Robin arrived home he decided to take a shower before going out on the streets observing the developments of the voting. He was just drying himself and his telephone started to ring.

“Robin Chalmers”

“Good morning Robin. Julio Rodriguez here. Have you listened to the radio or watched the television up to now. It might be of interest.”

“No, Julio, but I will switch the radio on.”

He then heard that the Colonel had won the North, South and West sections of the city. The North was mostly inhabited by foreign workers, such as Robin himself, the West was the wealthy part of town where business people lived and the South belonged to the government where ministers and their families were living. This was no big surprise to Robin.

“I have heard the news Julio, but up to now nothing really surprising, the Colonel always had these sections in his hands.”

“Yes Robin, but the East results have not yet been counted. That is where my people live and work, more the country areas, and I think I have a good chance to win. Unfortunately I have just received some bad news from two of my men which might be interesting for an article in your newspaper.”

“Tell me Julio.”

“It seems that in a certain warehouse the Colonel’s soldiers have been collecting voting boxes from the East. They are replacing them with their own votes.”

“You mean that a voting fraud is taking place.”

“Yes, Robin, it is. It is obvious that we will not win this first vote, but these votes would mean that the Colonel could no longer govern the country on his own and with time I am sure we would uncover so many frauds that we would be able to topple the government. The voting population in the East part of town is more than double of the rest.”

“I am with you Julio, tell me what to do”

Julio then told Robin where he could meet two of his men who would take him to the warehouse where he could take photos of the swindle taking place.

Robin left his house to make his way to the meeting point. He decided to walk. It was not far and he could melt into the crowds on the streets, in the case that he might be followed. He soon arrived at his destination and met the two men.

“Is this the warehouse?” asked Robin

“Yes, but we must be careful, there are civil guards everywhere.”

Robin saw a fire escape and decided to try that. He was sure he could take a few photographs through the windows. He climbed the metal stairs and the two men stood at the bottom keeping an eye on the surroundings. It was true, there were many boxes piled in the warehouse. He managed to pull up one of the windows and was just preparing to climb into the room when someone grabbed his arm and pulled him through the window.

“Now this is a surprise Mr. Chalmers. I thought you would be in town taking your photographs of our voting day for your newspaper. I don’t think pictures of a warehouse would be interesting for your readers.”

It was General Renaldo Gomez.

“Surprised Mr. Chalmers. Yes I am sure. You know you cannot trust anyone today. Money talks all languages and I am certain that the two men who accompanied you here can now afford to buy some meat for their dinner. Oh no, perhaps it might be that the daughter of one of the men will now be back at home when he returns. It is really surprising how much a father is prepared to betray for the sake of his daughter.”

“General Gomez you are the most despicable person I know. You would sell your own mother for more wealth and power.”

“Unfortunately Mr. Chalmers, my mother is no longer alive, although I am quite sad about that. However, perhaps you might be interested to know that I am not as alone as you think. I happened to meet a very nice person this morning. Say hello to Mr. Chalmers Rosita, I think you know each other.”

Yes, the general had another trick up his sleeve and Rosita was pushed into the room by two of the general’s men.

“I think we now understand each other Mr. Chalmers. You will now give me your camera and go home. There is nothing for you to take photos of here and I am sure your readers will have no interest in reading anything about our elections. What did you say? Oh, Rosita, yes she can go with you. I have no further use for her, although I feel a little bit jealous. She really does have some hidden talents but I think she prefers your company to mine.”

“General, what did you say. Rosita what has happened?”

“Please Robin, let us go” and Rosita was crying.

Robin left the warehouse with Rosita. As he reached the bottom of the fire escape steps he saw that the two men were being transported in a van. They were both dead, killed by the guns of the civil guards obeying the General’s orders.

That night Robin asked Rosita to stay with him, but she said she could not. It was then that Robin realised to what extent the General had taken advantage of her. He knew he had no chance against such a corrupt government.

The next morning Robin was awakened by a knock on the door. Hoping that Rosita was there he opened. The bullet hit him between the eyes and he was immediately dead. He was stripped of his clothing and had no documents to prove who he was. Just another anonymous body lying in the fields somewhere in a foreign country.

The colonel could now celebrate his victory. He had once again been elected as the country’s leader. It was midday and he was standing on the balcony of the town hall in the main square of the town being welcomed by his people. His people knew if they did not welcome him they would be punished. They had no choice.

On the first floor of a building also overlooking the town hall balcony the sun caught the reflection of metal. To be exact it was a rifle. Rosita pulled the trigger and had a direct hit. She caught the colonel between the eyes and he was killed immediately.

In the meanwhile
the hospital porter wheeled the gurney down the basement ramp and along the corridor leading to the mortuary. Robin’s body was now stone cold. It had been a long two days leading up to this end. If only Robin had taken the opportunity to stay with Rosita on that first day but it was hopeless to conjecture. The mortuary double doors crashed back into place and the porter and gurney were gone.

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