Boondoggle

May be that summer morning had its own different meaning or usually the same. Just like other days, I was still sitting on my computer. Just like a normal guy in a civilized society, Indistinctly or may be subconsciously, I use to hear the neighborhood waking up, doing their chores, rusty and noisy bicycle of the newspaper guy roaming around, radio news talking about some serial killing happening around the city, children playing soccer and being pain in the ass. And there was me, sitting around whole day worshiping the new internet bandwidth I got recently. The connection was so good, I was watching movies, playing games, downloading torrents,  I was all over the place on social medias, you name it.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU ARE THE 100,000TH VISITOR! CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE!

My screen flashed with bright colorful lights, if I had been epileptic I could have been in serious trouble. But, we have all seen these scams/advertisements before, enticing us to click with the promise of a special prize and we all know how to claim the prize. “Step 1. forward this message to 5 groups on WhatsApp. Step 2. Share the link on social medias” and a whole new processes of such shitty steps which take us nowhere. I use to wonder who were these people who had no other job in the world and rather created such spams/scams and advertisements. I happen to call such people “BOONDOGGLE”.

Boondoggle

But this Ad was little different than those. Now, I’m no genius, but I usually knew better than to click on these kinds of things. This time however, I was just bored. I figured I wouldn’t type in anything too specific like address or credit card info, but I could just click and see what happens. Right after I clicked I was taken to a screen like you would expect to see, lines for entering information with more ads on the sidebars. The strange thing though, all they wanted was my name. I figured it couldn’t hurt, its not like you can easily track someone down with just a name, right? Anyway, I typed my name, hit submit, and the screen just said “THANKS” and redirected me back to where I initially was.

I was a bit pissed, all they did was take my name, no mention of the prize, or how I was supposed to get it. I chalked it up to just a stupid ad. I decided to turn in for the day, the ad going to the back of my mind, I had a lot more important things to take care of, like attempting to be adult in an adult world where I still don’t know how things are supposed to work. I had to see how the real world works outside.

Next morning, I heard nothing. May be the whole Ad thing was bugging me. Then rang the door bell, a package had arrived. The only thing that was on this plain cardboard box was my name. No sending address, no return address. Just my name.

I opened the box and inside was a gift card like coupon and a letter with the details which read “Congratulations!, you have won free and unlimited Petroleum for Life, use this card every time you visit the Petrol Station.”

Ohh! The Poor Introvert Me, In what world I deserve a gift something like this? I spent my whole day inside my house. Teenagers from my neighborhood had spread rumors that my house was haunted and nobody lives in it.

But now, Everything Changes!

I took out my bike and restored it. I took the gift card and filled my bike up and rode along the neighborhood, visited many places I haven’t been on! I regained my real life and dropped out of the virtual one I was living before. Whenever I wanted to go for a long ride, I took the gift card along with me. My life was better than anything. Free Petroleum for Life? Go Figure!

Now a month has passed, teenagers now have a new rumor name for me. “THE GHOST-RIDER” .

I remember visiting the petrol station that very day. I was filling up in my bike. “So, Life must feel real these days, right?” A man from behind talked to me. He was the crazy man who visited my house last year for Census registration. I gave my card to the worker after filling my bike up. He said the card is declined! “But it said free petroleum for a lifetime” I explained.

The Census Guy then pointed a gun at me “And today is end of your Lifetime and so the card declines!” and then he pulled the trigger of the gun.

“Serial Killing in the City goes by my name these days! Don’t you ever listen to the Radio?” He whispered when I was lying dead!

                                                                             – SHORT STORY WRITTEN BY : SHUBHAM SANJAY SHEVADE

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Shubham Shevade

Writer, Storyteller, Film Director

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