Christmas Candy Criminal
This story is based on the Reedsy.com prompt "Write about a character who everyone thinks is guilty of something terrible, but isn’t."
*In this story you are the main character, and you get to decide what happens next. Be cautious with your choices, as the wrong ones will give you a bad ending. Make the right choices and you will reach the true ending!*
You are alone in the living room of your apartment, relaxing on your couch watching your favorite TV show. You are eating your favorite snack and enjoying your program, as well as the view of your holiday decorations. Your program is then interrupted by a breaking news cast.
"We interrupt this program to inform you of a horrible crime. An individual at the Food Supply Mart ran out of the store with a cart full of thousands of dollars worth of Christmas candy, without paying a cent for it...."
You muse about the sheer amount of candy that was stolen, and you think about how this criminal deserves lots of cavities for this deed. You ponder who the person is that would go to such lengths for that kind of sugar fix.
"....Security at the Food Supply Mart was able to get video footage of the crime. If you see this person, please contact the Police immediately."
The picture of the criminal pops onto the TV, and you are shocked. The picture of the perpetrator is none other than yourself. Obviously you didn't commit this crime, as you have been home this whole time. But someone has somehow used your likeness to perform this heinous act and placed the blame on you. The crime just happened and the Food Supply Mart is pretty close to your apartment. You might be able to find the true culprit if you head out now. Of course, there's a chance the Police might arrest you if you go near the scene of the crime. What will you do?
- Hide in your apartment.
- Head to the grocery store and seek out the criminal.
*If you chose to hide in your apartment*
Now that your face was on TV for a crime you didn't commit, you realize it is only a matter of time before the Police arrive. You hear sirens in the distance, and before you know it the sound is on your street. You shut your TV, lights, and holiday decorations off, then you hide under your bed. You hear your door being busted down, and you hear someone entering your apartment. The footsteps enter your room, and a flashlight shines in your face. Looks like you didn't play hide and seek enough as a kid, and it is going to be even harder to play it in prison.
*If you chose to head to the grocery store and seek out the criminal.*
You disguise yourself by dressing in black and wearing a black bandana over your face. You head to Food Supply Mart on foot, sticking to the shadows. You see several Police Cars driving by with their sirens on, turning down your street. Good thing you didn't stick around.
You arrive at the Food Supply Mart parking lot and look around. You would like to go in, but are unsure how you can do so inconspicuously. Just then you feel a tap on your shoulder. You turn around and see a man with a mohawk, purple eyes behind party glasses, mismatched clothes, and a toothy smile.
"Are you trying to get busted buddy?" The man asks. "You are the candy guy on the news, right? You dressed like a robber in your disguise, you might as well have put an 'Arrest Me' sign on yourself!"
You ask the strange looking man who he is, and this is his reply.
"My name is Custom Character Creator, but you can call me CCC. If you want to get in the store and find out who did this to you, I can help you. I can change your appearance for an hour. What do you say?"
This CCC guy seems to know an awful lot about your situation. He seems suspicious, but he may be your best bet for infiltrating the store. What will you do?
- Accept CCC's help and change your appearance.
- Enter the store as is and look for clues.
*If you chose to enter the store as is and look for clues.*
You decline CCC's offer and walk into the store. You take a shopping cart and pretend to be shopping as you walk around looking for clues. You walk towards the Customer Service counter to see if you can listen in on anything. You recognize the store manager and a cashier that was always rude to you. The cashier points at you and yells "That's him security - he's the thief!" You are surrounded by security, and as they take you away you notice the clerk smirking at you. It is too bad that you didn't think of a better disguise before going into the store....
*If you chose to accept CCC's help and change your appearance*
You nod to CCC, and a wide smile crosses his face. A force field like bubble surrounds you both, and CCC pulls out a laptop.
"No one will see us in this bubble - now to change your look!" CCC exclaims. He types some buttons on his laptop, and as he does this your face, hair, and body type change based on the requests you give him. Your clothes also change to a Police uniform per your request. You tell CCC that you are set, and the bubble disappears.
"I'll hang out here if you need to make any more changes, good luck on your investigation!" CCC says happily. You thank him then walk into the store. You head to the Customer Service counter to see if you can learn anything from the workers. You see the store manager and a cashier that was always rude to you standing behind the counter. You approach them and ask about the Christmas candy crime.
"Well, I never had a good interaction with that customer, I always felt that there was something off there!" The cashier said, sounding happy that you were now a wanted criminal. You have never been rude to this cashier, but the cashier has always given you an attitude for buying a lot of groceries at once. You are irritated at the cashier's glee, but you keep your composure.
"My employee has always been great, so I trust his judgement." The store manager adds. This annoys you even more! You can not fathom how a super rude cashier can be considered great, especially when all of the other cashiers in the store are wonderful. You continue to keep your cool, and think about what these two told you. You feel like the cashier may have framed you out of spite. Or maybe the store manager did the crime to keep his employee happy. CCC may have altered one of their appearances to frame you. You can pretend to arrest the manager or the cashier and see if their reaction generates more information out of either one of them. Or you could see if CCC is still outside and press him for information. What is your plan?
- "Apprehend" the store manager.
- "Apprehend" the cashier.
- Locate CCC and interrogate him.
*If you chose to "apprehend" the store manager.*
You approach the store manager and tell him he needs to come with you for questioning. You tell him that there have been reports of a person altering appearances, and he is believed to have taken advantage of this to frame the suspect.
"This is absurd!" The store manager replies. "I have never heard of such a thing! In fact, I bet you are the suspect in disguise. Show me your identification officer!"
That was the one thing you forgot to get from CCC. Your cover is blown, and the scene you have caused has received the attention of security. You picked the wrong suspect.
*If you chose to "apprehend" the cashier.*
You approach the cashier and tell him he needs to come with you for questioning. You tell him that there have been reports of a person altering appearances, and he is believed to have taken advantage of this to frame the suspect.
The cashier turns white as a sheet, and he gives you a deer in headlights look. You walk him outside and then realize you don't have a car or cuffs to bring him in with. Even if you were able to take the cashier to the Police, they would see through your disguise and you would be arrested for impersonating an officer. The cashier notices this too, and one strong right hook later leaves you on the ground, and he has escaped.
*If you chose to locate CCC and interrogate him.*
You thank the store manager and the cashier for their time and information, then you head outside to look for CCC. True to his word, he is still there. You ask him if he altered anyone's appearance to look like you.
"I may have helped a certain grumpy employee do that." CCC chuckles. "I had no idea he would do this though, I simply thought he wanted to go to the store without being asked to help out his employer while there."
You suspected the cashier was the culprit. Now the hard part - how can you prove your innocence?
As if he read your mind, CCC makes a suggestion.
"You know, you only have about 20 minutes before this disguise wears off. Why don't you go to the Police and transform back before their eyes? If they can see that there is a possibility that someone impersonated you, that might clear your name."
You ask CCC if he could come with you to the Police to back up your claim.
"Sorry, but another criminal might come by that needs a disguise!" CCC answers playfully. "You can send them my way here though, I will answer their questions!"
You doubt this, but you feel like this may be your only chance. Of course, you could very well get arrested anyway. Your hour is almost up. What will you do?
- Call the Police and transform back before their eyes.
- Go home and consider another plan.
*If you decided to go home and consider another plan.*
You don't feel confident with CCC's suggestion, so you walk home. Your transformation runs out right before you get back. The Police are waiting for you outside of the apartment, and you are quickly apprehended. You wonder if the sight of you transforming before their eyes would have changed anything, but it's too late now.
*If you chose to call the Police and transform back before their eyes.*
You have CCC change your outfit to a civilian one so the Police don't take you in for impersonating them. They are rare nowadays, but you find a payphone outside of the Food Supply Mart. You call the Police and tell them to come to your location for a development on the case. Within minutes an officer arrives. You tell them who you really are and motion to CCC, but he is apparently gone. You then explain that although he is gone, CCC altered the criminal's appearance to look like you, and your appearance was altered as a disguise while you investigated. The officer laughs at your story, but is then shocked to see you transform back into yourself before their eyes. Now having your full attention, you tell the officer about the cashier that likely framed you. The officer tells you they will have a chat with the cashier, and they will make sure you are cleared of all charges. You are not sure if they will be able to prove the cashier is the culprit without CCC as a witness, and you are even more uncertain of CCC's true motive in all of this. However, you are pretty confident that you can go back home without fear of being arrested, and you are now sure that you can enjoy your holiday where you belong.
(If you picked all the right choices, congrats)