don’t push the button…

It’s Sunday. I don’t feel much like working today, so I decided to set out and find a good writing prompt to get the creative juices flowing. I found a great selection at reddit/r/writingprompts.

Every person has a button they can press at night that deposits a large sum of money to their bank account. However, the first person to press it each night is horrifically killed.

“Did you press it yet?” he asks nervously as he walks into the room.

“No,” she replies, her finger poised above the button.

“We really need the money,” he reminds her as he slips his arms around her waist.

“I bet my father said the same thing to my mother when they decided I needed a college fund,” she responds angrily, pushing away from him to pace the small office.

Her parents had gone their whole lives never pressing the button. The button had been kept locked in a box on her father’s desk. The very desk she stood before now. There was one rule in her house growing up. No one presses the button. Even through the lean years, her parents never unlocked that box.

She’d found the note first, scribbled in her father’s handwriting, left sitting on the desk beside the opened box.

Sweetheart,
If you’re reading this, we probably pushed the button too soon. We only wished to secure your future. The money in our account should be more than enough to pay for college. Go out and make us proud.
Mom & Dad

It was the morning after her graduation. She’d stayed out all night celebrating. She was barely eighteen and not even sure she wanted to go to college. She had run down the hall in a panic. The smell of blood permeated the short hallway. Their bedroom door had been closed. She’d stood there frozen, her hand on the doorknob. She was afraid to open it.

“We’re running out of time,” he says, bringing her back to the present.

“I know,” she replies, looking at the clock.

It is ten minutes until midnight. She thinks of their sweet little girl asleep in her crib upstairs. She worries over the stacks of bills sitting beside the button on the desk. There hasn’t been steady work in a long time. They are close to losing everything. Still, she hesitates. She is afraid.

The clock ticks away the seconds. They must make their decision. If she pushes the button, there will be plenty of money in their accounts to pay off all their bills. She wonders if there’s a conspiracy that has shut down all the jobs, forcing good people like herself and her husband to push the button.

She had sworn at her parents’ funeral that she would never use the button. She couldn’t inflict that much pain on somebody else. Her own button had arrived on the doorstep only hours after she’d found her parents mutilated bodies. Her mother had been lying on her pillow, only her head peeking out from beneath the tattered blanket. If not for the blood, it would have been easy to believe she was simply sleeping. The coroner had assured her that her mother never woke up.

Her father had been crumpled in a puddle of his own blood near the foot of the bed. He had probably tried to save her mother and had been punished for his efforts. He’d been beaten and tortured before they had finally slit his throat.

Could she do it? Could she push the button that could leave her daughter an orphan. Could she do it to save them?

Five minutes until midnight. There is greed in the world. There are plenty of people who probably push the button daily. These people amass a wealth by simply learning the art of timing. These are the people that always seem to survive. The news never reported about the horrific death of someone who had gotten rich off the button.

She’d met a few of those people after her parents’ death. They were always so confident. They collected mountains of money without ever paying a single consequence. She abhorred those people. Now, she found herself relying on that very greed to keep her family alive.

Two minutes until midnight. She approaches the button again. She leans against him as he slips his arms around her waist again. She draws comfort from his strength.

“There’s no other way,” he whispers.

“I know,” she replies as she pushes the button at five seconds to midnight.

She grabs a pen and begins to write the required note.

Please take good care of our daughter. Help her to understand we did this for her. We needed to pay the bills and buy the groceries. We never wanted to use the button.

She place the note atop the stack of bills beside the dreaded button. There is no turning back now.

“Let’s go to bed,” he suggests softly.

She lays there in their darkened bedroom, listening to the sounds of the house. She holds her breath with every creak and pop. She wonders if they’ll come for her like they came for her parents. She worries if their daughter will be safe. The clock ticks loudly. She drifts off into a restless sleep.

Her hand is on the doorknob. She needs only turn it and push the door open. She wants to knock. She wants to tell her parents to wake up. Tell them that they overslept. She could go down and start some coffee for them. Give them time to wake up. She can’t deny the smell of blood that has permeated the house. 

She opens the door. There is blood everywhere. She hears someone screaming. She doesn’t realize it is her. She runs down the hall and out the front door. She’s still screaming. Someone grabs her as a car horn blares. The driver slams on his brakes, narrowly missing her. The screaming has stopped.

She can’t bring herself to say the words. She cannot admit what she has seen. She points at her front door, hanging wide open from her hasty escape. There are neighbors and police everywhere. People are offering her comfort, asking her if she needs anything.

There’s a baby crying somewhere…

Her eyes fly open. The baby is crying. The sun is shining through the window. It’s morning. They made it through the night. They survived pushing the button. She runs to her daughter’s bedroom, grabbing her up and holding her close. She nuzzles her neck, inhaling the sweet smell of baby. In the other room, her husband turns on the TV.

“In other news, the Money Button Society has claimed another victim. Jeremiah Jones was murdered in his one bedroom apartment just hours after pushing his button. There are no further details at this time. Police everywhere are imploring people to never touch their buttons.”

She prays they never find themselves in that position again.

 

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