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The Curse – Short Story

4 December, 2007

Once upon a time, a man walked into a strange looking shop. The type where you might find just junk or you may uncover hidden treasures, but you are guaranteed to discover mysteries. On perusing the shop, the man found a strange device. When asking the shopkeeper what it was, he said “It is a magical device. On it, you can contact anyone in the world, at a moment’s notice. And if you don’t actually want to speak to anyone, you can just type in a message, and not have to face them.”

“Great!” the man said “I’ll take it”, thinking of the employee he could sack, without speaking to, and the dinner date he could cancel.
“But…” the shopkeeper said, “it comes at a price”.
“Name your price! Money is no object”, he said, pulling a Gold AMEX from his wallet.
“The cost, has nothing to do with money…”
“Then what are you worried about?”, said the man, throwing his AMEX on the counter.
“If you insist, but don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.”

The man walked out of the store with his new purchase. Immediately, he rang his secretary, “No need to get you to call people for me while I am on the road, I can call them anywhere, anytime. Now. who do I need to call today?”

Next, he called his friends “You wont believe where I am right now, talking to you. I’m walking down to the street, past the shops… that’s it! I can go anywhere with this thing!”

He thought his luck was just looking up. Lastly, he called his wife “Honey, you should see this thing I bought. I can call you from anywhere, even if I’m on the road. I think you might even be able to call me too!”

Fast forward six months…

A man returns to a shop, full of mysteries, a lot of junk, and a few treasures.
“I’d like to sell you this. How much will you pay for it?”
“Bringing it back so soon. Hmmm. And why would that be?”
“Man, you wouldn’t believe it! I thought it was the best thing. My productivity at work was fabulous! I was able to deal with all my calls while I was on the road, instead of waiting until I got back to the office. But…”
“What happened?”
“Well, I started to get really stressed. There was never a moment of peace and quiet. The phone was always ringing. There was my secretary checking things with me, that she would’ve just decided herself in the past. There were clients calling me if I was five minutes late for their appointment. People would call in the middle of dinner, while I was in the shower, while I was putting my kids to bed, I couldn’t get a moments silence.
“Then, since I could call my wife anywhere, any time, I started staying out at jobs later, staying out at the pub later after work. I was on the road more often, for three nights instead of the normal two, then it grew to four, five… next thing you know I’m spending a week out at jobs, without coming home to see my family.
“And that’s not all. I used to chat with my employees while we drove, but since I was talking to clients all day, we could never get more than a few words in before the thing would ring again. Turns out my apprentice was having some problems. He never got a chance to talk to me. I think he tried, a few times now, looking back, but we were always interrupted by this THING! Then, one day, he didn’t turn up to work. Tried calling his place, but it was engaged… saw it in the paper the next day, he’d jumped in front of a train. If… if… if only I’d had time to listen!
“Here, take the thing. I don’t want any money for it. It’s caused me enough misery already. Maybe someone else can find a good use for it.”

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