“Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
— Joseph Heller
It was a perfectly ordinary day.
Jacob Harry Thompson woke up in a perfectly ordinary way in his perfectly ordinary bed, in his bedroom he shared with his perfectly ordinary wife, in their perfectly ordinary house.
Mr. Thompson had 2.5 perfectly ordinary children (one wasn’t due for another few months). They had two perfectly ordinary pets (a cat and a dog), and they lived in a perfectly ordinary neighborhood that was just right for a perfect ordinary family.
When Mr. Thompson woke up that morning, he had no idea that his perfectly ordinary life might be ripped from its very roots with the purchase of a perfectly ordinary newspaper.
As that hadn’t yet happened, he was in fine spirits as he washed and dressed for the day, humming tunelessly as he pulled on his perfectly ordinary trousers and shirt and tie and shiny black shoes.
Mr. Thompson always had the perfectly ordinary breakfast of two pieces of toast with butter and an egg, lightly scrambled. He would grab a coffee on his way to work.
He kissed his wife and children good-bye before he left (they were all still in bed, as it was quite early in the morning) and made sure to fill the pets’ perfectly ordinary food dishes.
Once out on the street, Mr. Thompson turned towards the perfectly ordinary direction of northeast and began walking. His perfectly ordinary office was not far, and he enjoyed the exercise, as perfectly ordinary as it was.
Presently, he passed a perfectly ordinary newsagent’s shop and ducked inside. It was here that he picked up a fresh cup of perfectly ordinary coffee, as well as a newspaper.
Mr. Thompson placed the two items on the checkout counter, along with a perfectly ordinary tenner. The clerk looked as tired as Mr. Thompson didn’t feel, and she slowly gave him a fiver and a few coins as his change.
This was not perfectly ordinary change, however. In fact, it was quite extraordinary.
Upon the fiver (Mr. Thompson noticed) were written words in blue pen – not at all the type of writing you’d find on a regular piece of currency. It seemed to be a list of instructions:
“HEY YOU – YES, YOU! IF YOU ARE READING THIS, IT MEANS YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN!
GO TO THE NEAREST DEPARTMENT STORE AND PRETEND YOU ARE BUYING A PRESENT FOR A FRIEND –
ONE OF OUR AGENTS WILL MEET YOU THERE!
EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE!!”
It truly was the most peculiar message, and Mr. Thompson read it over several times.
Once he felt he had fully understood this extraordinary missive, he knew what he was going to do next.
“I believe this is a marked note, it ought to be turned over to police,” Mr. Thompson told the clerk.
She accepted it with barely a change in expression, tucked it away underneath the register – where all the “bad” currency went – and gave him another fiver in return.
Mr. Thompson checked it to make sure it was perfectly ordinary, and then said, “Thank you kindly.”
And he left the shop and continued on his way on this most perfectly ordinary day.
Probably reads best in an English accent, just sayin’. XD
For real, though, I seriously don’t get these prompts (and I changed this one up a little because reasons). Who would follow directions left on a bill?? Unless they were horrifically specific – “YOU ARE STANDING IN A SHOP AT PRECISELY 11:21 AM READING THIS, SO DO AS I SAY OR YOU WILL DIE” – I wouldn’t believe it and would either ignore the message and keep it, or give it back.
Anyway, this story is partly inspired by a Monty Python sketch, “Ralph Melish” from The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief album. That one’s way funnier, of course.
Want to do the challenge yourself? Here is today’s prompt: “You’re at your favorite department store buying a birthday present for a friend. As the cashier gives you change, you notice a message with specific instructions scribbled on one of the bills. What do the instructions say? Do you carry them out, and if so, how?”