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The Proposal ~ Part Two (a Short Fiction Story)

John loves to read, especially crime, fantasy, psychological thriller, and sci-fi novels. He is interested in the paranormal and unexplained

Counting pennies: Image by Frantisek Krejci from Pixabay

Counting pennies: Image by Frantisek Krejci from Pixabay

The Story Continues

Here I present to you the second part of my short fiction story inspired by a Reedsy short story prompt. The subject this week was 'Money, money, money.' There were a number of prompts provided from which to choose, but the one I chose to use as inspiration for my story was the following:

  • Your character checks their balance at an ATM and is surprised by the number they see.

I was more than pleased with the wonderful feedback I received from readers of the first part of the story, though some expressed disappointment that it ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger and that they would need to wait for me to write a conclusion.

I apologise for that...well, I don't really...because I do often write stories that leave possible endings to the reader's imagination. I am a tease I know. Anyway, I promise to see this one to a conclusion so here is the second chapter for those hanging out for it.

Part One of 'The Proposal' ended with this paragraph:

'Michael knew he hadn’t put his signature to anything or even agreed verbally. Nothing they said made any sense, so he had no choice but to watch the video. Perhaps that may shed some light on this mystery.'

YouTube Video: Image by Artapixel from Pixabay

YouTube Video: Image by Artapixel from Pixabay

The Proposal ~ Part Two

Michael sat down to watch the video, with some trepidation. A stylish logo for ‘A B Associates’ appeared on the screen. It was strange that a Google search of the company had yielded no results.

The video began with a spiel about the benefits of giving…reaping what you sow… etc. This was followed by a series of various scenarios or case studies of people who were in desperate need of such things as a life-saving/changing operation; a house for a family forced to live out of a car for months; someone who needed money for an unexpected overseas trip to visit a dying relative … etc.

In all of these examples the people were suddenly and unexpectedly presented with whatever money was necessary to fund whatever was needed - no more, no less. It seemed to Michael like a sort of ‘Pay It Forward’ scheme where people anonymously nominated others who needed assistance and some philanthropist, in this case, A. B. Associates (or has Michael had worked out from the original bank deposit ‘Anonymous Benefactor’) came to the rescue or at least made things happen.

This was the last thing Michael had expected, as he had had some sense of foreboding about the whole situation. At least watching the video had eased his confusion and had shone a positive light on what was expected of him.

Evidently, someone aware of Michael and Cynthia’s situation had nominated him, and $20,000 was just enough for his wife’s new wheelchair and to pay off all their credit dept. The actions or requirements he had to agree to undertake was, in turn, to anonymously nominate someone else who needed help, and no matter how much it cost, A. B. Associates would provide what was required.

At the end of the video, it stated: “Please refer to the original email instructions and instigate them without delay.”

Help me! Image by thewet nonthachai from Pixabay

Help me! Image by thewet nonthachai from Pixabay

It was then that Michael realized he must have missed the original email that would have gone someway into explaining the strange situation. He scrolled back through his junk emails until he found it. This was the email in its entirety:

Dear Mr Winyard,

We wish to advise that you have been nominated as a recipient of funding in the form of $20,000 to be paid to you in two separate instalments. This will be done via your bank account and also PayPal. The only stipulation on receipt of this money is that you use it to:

1. Purchase a motorized wheelchair for Mrs Cynthia Winyard

2. Pay off all outstanding credit card debt

* Please ensure that the money is used for these purposes specified. Scanned copies or screenshots of the receipts should be forwarded by return email.

*Any leftover monies, if any, may be used as you see fit.

3. All correspondence regarding this matter is to remain confidential and all parties concerned must remain anonymous, including yourself to whoever you nominate

4. Nominate a person or group of persons (including full names, addresses, and reason for needing assistance) within ten days to the above email address.

* Please consider this nomination very carefully

*acceptance or refusal of any nominated entity for assistance is solely at the discretion of A. B. Associates and its directors

5. Failure to abide by any of the above will render this agreement invalid and A. B. Associates may see fit to exercise our rights to seek a refund or reimbursement of part or all payments made.

A. B. Associates thank you for participating in this ‘Pay It Forward’ initiative and we hope your own personal situation has been relieved or improved to a satisfactory extent.

Help: Image by Ilmars Zvirgzds from Pixabay

Help: Image by Ilmars Zvirgzds from Pixabay

As Michael finished reading the email, he wondered who had nominated him, well him and Cynthia. He couldn't express how grateful he was, even if he knew who to thank. It had to be someone who knew them closely and their situation, but the email had stressed that everything must stay confidential, so he couldn’t really tell anyone about it or ask if they were responsible. He wasn’t even sure he could tell his wife but assumed that as she was his co-recipient it would be okay.

But the most pressing thing now was to think of who he was going to nominate to receive assistance or, 'pay It forward' to. He had ten days from the first email, and four days had already expired. Michael knew how much something like this could change lives, and he didn't want to waste the opportunity or make a bad decision.

He’d put his thinking cap on. There were a few people and non-profit organizations that he knew could use a hand. But which one was the most desperate? Maybe he’d also ask his wife if she knew of anyone in a needy or dire situation at the moment. That said, Michael thought it safest to be as vague as possible about the whole situation. After all, A. B. Associates had not forwarded Cynthia a copy of the email.

… to be continued…

Open hand: Image by Barbara Bonanno from Pixabay

Open hand: Image by Barbara Bonanno from Pixabay

Author's Note

I think the direction taken may have surprised some readers. I was grappling with a handful of nasty evil dastardly scenarios, and my wife threw me a curveball and suggested a feel-good, happy ending. At first, I just looked at her...then thought...well why not? There are too many sad endings in life and fiction. Let's do it!

So, I gave the story a completely different slant, and I am glad I did. I hope you don't mind.

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© 2022 John Hansen

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