Words of Mass Distraction

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story written by myself for a writing class. The story is about a day in the life of a Word Catcher. ENJOY!

Submitted: October 21, 2010

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Submitted: October 21, 2010

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Words of Mass Distraction
Do not speak unless you can improve the silence Judd laughed to himself as he thought back to his Linguistics teacher.If everyone would heed this proverb then he would be out of a job. He continued to chuckle as he drove down the cobbled backstreet to the office.His small truck rattled and shook with alarming frequency as it struggled with the uneven ground.Guess I should have invested in 4 wheel drive, hah! If he had known he would be living in Joansberg, an old relic of a city in the middle of nowhere, he would have never accepted this job.Saving the people from themselves one word at a time Judd thought without humor.At least he couldn’t complain that his job was boring; that was one thing it was not.
Judd is a Word Catcher.It is a new line of work, but unfortunately a necessary one.The Great Magi Shadimar had been putting on a demonstration in America.He had an intense love for the country and its Bill of Rights.One of Shadimar’s favorite “parlor tricks” was to personify words.He could make words come to life and float around the room, acting out their intended meanings.One of Shadimar’s favorites was EXCITED; it would float in front of Shadimar, quivering and bouncing in place until he could grab it and shove it back into his mouth.Oh man did he sure eat his words Judd thought with small grin on his face.Unfortunately during his demonstration on the First Amendment something went horribly wrong.When giving a visual show of exactly how “free” words could be he sneezed.
Nothing causes as much uproar as the sneeze of a Magi during an incantation.It is not the act of the sneeze itself but rather the involuntary act of shutting his eyes.The first thing an inspiring Magi learns is to never close his eyes, never to blink.Magical schematics aside this caused Shadimar’s little trick to break from its bounds and infect everyone in the room.
Everyone thought it was a great big joke at first, but that didn’t last long.Judd wondered where Shadimar had disappeared to.He made an address in London stating that he would not rest until he figured out how to end the “Word Plague”.That was six months ago and he had not been heard from since.At this advanced point in time every country in the world was suffering from his historic sneeze.
Judd was startled out of his thoughts when he saw the telltale rainbow trail of a spellbound word, known as a Word of Mass Distraction in the business, on the opposite side of the road next to a middle school.It can wait until after I clock in.The chance of it being a harmful WMD is slim to none.He would swing around as long as something more destructive wasn’t reported.
The initial outbreak of the Word Plague seemed harmless enough.The small audience that had witnessed Magi Shadimar’s accident at first thought it was the most interesting and hilarious thing to happen to them in years.Cute little words like LOVE and HAPPY would pop out of their mouths at random intervals.One of the original infected commented that he was “fascinated by the floating words, words like LOVE would try to curl up on his shoulder until he grew bored and shoved it back into his mouth.”It was soon discovered that contact with a WMD would cause the infection to spread.
Judd pulled his car into the only empty employee parking space outside the Word Control office.It was a small building, recently converted by the local city council to a government building from its prior occupation as a pawn shop.Judd could still see the faint remains of “Bob’s Pawn Shop:Cash Only” written on the side of the shabby old building.It looked as though it could use another coat of gray paint.Judd looked bemused at the PUSH sign written in orange letters on the door.I bet the idiot who installed those doesn’t know his left from his right Judd pulled the door open and walked inside.
The outward appearance of a building can at times be deceiving, especially for government work.There was a plethora of computer screens and blinking lights covering every surface.It looked like the inside of a Toys R’ Us after a little kid hit the buttons on all the toys.The unique sounds of the office revitalized Judd, even with its undertones of frenzied panic.The first thing Judd did as he closed the door behind him was to look over to his right to see if Robby had arrived yet.
“Judd! How’s it going old chap?”Judd smiled, Robby never missed an opportunity to make fun of his English accent and origin.He saw Robby wiggle his way out from behind his desk.This was quite a feat as it looked like was trying to create the Tower of Pisa behind his desk with computer equipment.
Robby was a tall man without an ounce of fat on his bones. He didn’t have any muscle either; he was as thin as a stick.His bright ginger hair was tied in a ponytail on the back of his head.There was an air of confidence around him, the same aura that surrounds every good computer technician.
“I saw a WMD trail on the way to work this morning outside the middle school but it flew away before I could figure out what it was.” Judd winked at friend, they both knew that he was just being lazy.He walked over to his small desk to sign in.He was a field agent, not a white collar paper-pusher, and he would not be in the office long.It wasn’t that he didn’t see the importance of his job, not that at all, but it wasn’t like anything destructive could come from the mouth of a child.It wasn’t until a full week after the Sneeze that the true horror of the WMDs became clear.
One of the “Founders” of the Word Plague had been sitting at home, watching a Braves game.At one point in the game he grew incensed and shouted at the TV “That was a strike! I wish I could take a bat to your—” Then he saw the wordBAT floating in front of him.“Oh, that’s not good” the BAT then, true to its name, began flying around his house, smashing every window in sight.The neighbors said they saw the Founder in question chasing a rainbow around his house shouting at the top of his lungs “I’m going to eat you when I catch you!”It was quite an eventful day.
Historians hundreds of years later would mark that as the first day of the Word Plague, the collective gasp heard around the world as mankind realized the full extent of the problem.The WMDs were not able to directly harm living things, Shadimar would have never given a demonstration with something he deemed to be dangerous., but nobody in their right mind would want to be on a boat with a WMD named ICEBERG floating in front of them.And so humans learned to fear the spoken language.
It was a minor problem at first; the people who had been infected were not only some of the brightest minds in America but also a group of less than twenty.They learned to be very careful about what they said out loud, a WMD could appear from any word, and they quickly learned to devour any extraneous word that appeared.The infection, as all plagues must, eventually began to spread at an exponential rate.Soon over half the industrialized world had been infected and it was up to Word Catchers like Judd to help keep the peace as Words of Mass Distraction ran amok and caused fear and anger everywhere they were spotted.The sight of the rainbow alone was enough to reduce many people to tears.
Judd climbed back into the front seat of his truck.It was still early morning; the sun had just begun to peek over the tops of the surrounding buildings.It left the uneven street covered in its own shadows.Judd flipped on the radio “IF IM ALIVE AND WELL—” he winced and quickly turned the music back offfar too early for American rock and roll and looked down at the address that was displayed on his dashboard computer.He was not surprised that it was a call from the middle school he had driven past this morning.A 6th grade teacher had reported a pack of LIKEs collecting outside the school.What a waste of time Judd sighed as he backed out of his parking space.
The first thing he noticed as he approached the school was the flood of rainbows all pointing in the direction of the school.He climbed out of his truck and stepped carefully onto the sidewalk.The school was an older building, likely over a hundred years old.It was well maintained with a sense of loving attention.He saw the pack of offending WMDs outside the main entrance.Even from this distance the distinct shimmer of glitter raining from the WMDs was enough to identify them as a pack of LIKEs.
This type of WMD was thought to be one of the least destructive of the most common words that are created.They were most commonly created by young women while talking to their friends.Phrases such as “Like, Totally!” and the general abuse of the word “like” in general conversation made them a common nuisance.When alone they were sluggish and sometimes Judd would even describe them as sad.They were nearly transparent and left little to no rainbow trail.It was only when they began to congregate in large numbers that they became noticeable.They would float at ankle level and shoot glitter-like particles everywhere in their excitement.Judd had heard stories about places without Word Catchers where the LIKEs would mass in such numbers that the glitter would block out the sun.“If only women could learn to say what they mean” Judd muttered under his breath as he removed his portable Verbal Black Hole Generator from the back of his battered blue truck.
It was a small device, close to the size of his fist.He could see his reflection off the perfect sphere.His crystal clear green eyes looked back at him.I’m not half bad looking Judd smiled at his reflection.He was not known as a classic charmer but wasn’t exactly shunned by the ladies.He was almost six feet, although he would frequently say he was “six one”.His black hair was unkempt, an obvious sign of someone who had decided haircuts were only for the weak.
He looked away from the device and back at the WMDs.They were now playing, spinning in a circle around a PRINCESSin the middle of their congregation.Quit wasting time, I’m sure there are more interesting words to catch today Judd quickly depressed the button on the top of the VBHG and threw it the cluttered array of Words and rainbows.Without a sound it expanded into a small black hole, about the size of the tower of computer parts Robbie had back at the office.The WMDs and their counterpart rainbows began to slide towards the centre of the hole.The colors of the rainbows began to mix to a muddy brown as they began to disappear from sight.Judd watched without blinking, fascinated, watching a flock of LIKEs get eaten will never get old. As soon as the VBHG collected all of the WMDs it snapped shut in the blink of an eye, trapping the poor little glittery Words forever.Good thing we have these crazy devices now, eating them was getting old.
Judd walked over to the small black ball and picked it up.He quickly placed it back where it belonged and re-entered his truck. As he was starting the engine he heard his phone ring.
“Hello?”
He heard Robby on the other end “Hey buddy, someone called in and said there were some WMDs making a mess of the public park, mind running over there and baggin’ them?”
“Of course not, want me to pick something up for you on the way back to the office?” He heard Robby’s chuckle on the other end of the line.He pulled out of the parking lot and winced as he hit a monster of a bump.
“Nope that should do it, the woman who called in said they were pretty speedy so best put on your running shoes.”
Judd smiled at that, “anything else?”
“That’ll do it, Cheerio!”
Judd couldn’t help but wince at that, no self respecting Englishman had used that phrase in two hundred years.Leave it to Robby to butcher everything.
The first signs of turmoil was the sound of a car alarm.Its shrill constant buzz was enough to make even the most calm of men take a bat to the car, although it would not be wise to say that out loud.Judd parked next to the shrieking car and got out.
There were no people in sight; the normally packed playground was empty.He could still see the frenzy of small footprints, all pointed away from the middle of the park.The first sign of destruction Judd saw was a yellow toddler’s swing sitting on the ground twenty feet away from the play area.It looked as though it had gotten ripped cleanly off its chain.The chain itself was nowhere in sight.What the hell, what WMD does that?Judd was curious now, this was something new.New things always excited him.
Judd walked around the back of the play area and noticed another disturbance; a small tree was lying on the ground.Judd could see obvious signs of stress, it looked as though something had constricted around the base and cut straight through the tough trunk.
Judd caught the sight of a rainbow out of the corner of his eye.Got ya! The Word was sitting on the top of the jungle gym as if looking down on him.He squinted to see exactly what word it was.“Grenade?” Judd asked aloud, “Who uses the word grenade in everyday conversation?” The GRENADE did not design to answer.It instead sat still, smoke curling off of the top of the “A”.
Judd walked carefully back to his truck, never taking his eye off of the Word.Now that he spotted it he didn’t walk to look away in fear of it running off to cause chaos elsewhere.He slowly removed his VBHG from its spot in the truck.I can’t miss, who knows what personality this WMD has?He walked forward slowly, his feet making whispering sounds in the sand of the playground.He quickly snapped his wrist, releasing the Black Hole.
The sound of an explosion instinctually made Judd drop to his stomach, covering his head with his hands.No way! It actually blew itself up!Judd slowly got to his feet and took a look over at where the GERNADE had been.
The jungle gym was no more.If a random passerby had happened to walk by at that moment he would have thought it was an attempt at modernist art.Sharp pieces of metal were jutting from the ground; the top bars were nowhere to be seen.As for his VBHG he could see small pieces of it littering the ground next to him.Robby is not going to be happy about this, but it sure is a great story.He brushed himself off and took another look around.At least that Word is gone.What a way to go!As he turned around he saw a small line of smoke rising from under a bench.It was all Judd could do to keep his jaw from dropping to the ground.
Got it this time Judd sprinted towards the bench.When subtlety doesn’t work try brute force he would have to eat it now, as the little criminal had destroyed his Black Hole.As he approached the bench at a dead run there was a small popping sound.Suddenly the bench was engulfed in smoke, Judd couldn’t see anything. Smoke Grenade? Who thought this beauty up? An ex Green Beret?
He sighed and sat down on the bench; no longer caring that he couldn’t see his feet in the heavy smoke that still engulfed the bench.He had almost had the WMD twice, but it had evaded him.The office would not be happy about this; he knew that the grenade would cause headaches across the city until it was captured.
The sound of a falling tree brought him out of his despair.There had not been an explosion accompanying the crash.How did it manage that, is there such a thing as a saw grenade?Judd walked out of the smoke and saw the offending WMD laying flat in the closely cut grass “U” shape.Judd would not let this one get away.
He let out an animal scream, full of frustration and embarrassment that he had so thoroughly failed at his job this afternoon, and ran full tilt at the curled up Word.It curled up into a full circle, as though noticing his presence and slowly began to roll down the hill leading out of the park into the road.The colors of its rainbow trail changing positions as the letters took their turn propelling it faster and faster down the hill.Judd would have admired the beauty in the ever-changing rainbow if he had not been so busy trying to catch it.It’s going to out roll me!Judd took a flying leap, as though diving into a pool, in a last-ditch effort to capture the Word.He came up with a fist full of rainbow.
As he lay on the ground watching it roll away he finally got a chance to read what word it was.He read the letters one by one as they flashed in his direction while rolling their way down the hill, almost as though mocking him. H – O – R – S – E – S – H – O – E.
Judd slowly climbed to his feet, this had not been a good day.Not only did two crazy hyper-active WMDs get away but now I have grass stains all over my work pants.He walked back to his car, mentally preparing himself for the tirade that was sure to follow from his boss.Well at least that GRENADE didn’t blow up my car he allowed himself a small laugh as he sat down in his car.As he reached into his pocket for his keys he saw something that froze the blood in his veins, a familiar trail of smoke was coming from the glovebox.
I should get out of my car and run Judd thought, this was too intense.But what about my car? I can’t just leave it here; I will never hear the end of it. Finally, after a couple deep breaths, he leaned over and flipped open the glovebox.
Judd then closed his eyes, full expecting for his car to explode around him, but instead, nothing happened.He forced himself to open his eyes, it was one of the hardest things he had ever done, and look into the glove box.The expected GRENADE was sitting passively in the front of the box, as though waiting for him to open it.What was fully unexpected was that HORSESHOE was sitting directly behind it with the same haughty demeanor.They are laughing at me! But why are they not rolling away or blowing up my beloved truck?
When he made no move towards them the two WMDs flew towards him, he sat stock still as they landed on his leg.Suddenly he understood.Judd let out a huge laugh, a laugh of the likes he had never heard before.He reached down with both hands and grabbed GRENADE in his left and HORSESHOE in his right.“Almost doesn’t count EXCEPT in HORSESHOEs and Hand GRENADEs!” he declared in a jubilant voice.
They were the best things he had ever tasted.


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