The Skeptic Party ~ By Nathanielle Sean Crawford

This story is at best an affectionate parody and at worst, a sweeping commentary about how even someone who speaks the truth may lead innocent people to ruin. The name is a very obvious nod towards a famous psychic investigator and if he should read this, I hope he does not take offense to this story as it is a work of fiction based on a clip I saw of him that led to a “What If” question.

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Two couples, a few students, and some lonely individuals looking for something unique and exciting. Not a bad evening all together but a larger turnout would have been nice. Skeptic parties were the new thing but they were slow in rising.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” the MC said into the microphone. “It’s a cozy crowd tonight, so could I ask you all to move to the front of the room? Thank you. Tonight we’re about to watch as a professional skeptic and paranormal investigator blows the lid off some common myths and legends, including some very down to earth concepts that most of us have been in the dark about our entire lives. He’s new to the field but he had his first major appearance on television and we’re just so happy to have him here. Please welcome Mr. Hamish Andes.”

Applause was light, non-committal. Hamish came into the room and shook hands with the MC. He took the microphone and he placed a large grocery bag on an empty table.

“If you’re here to talk to your loved ones who are no longer with us I have some terrible news: They’re dead.”

Chuckles. One of the men forced a laugh.

“Okay, I’m going to hand out some props. Coming out here with the props, watch out.”

He reached into the bag and pulled out a small white bottle covered with a piece of paper. He handed this to the first guest and pulled out another. Then another. Then another. There were enough bottles to go around. He playfully suggested to the couples sitting together that they might want to “swap”, eliciting a few stronger laughs.

They were warming up to him, this crowd.

When he returned to the table, he pulled out another small white bottle without a piece of paper covering the label. It read:

Sunny Day’s Well-Being Pills

“The homeopathic medicine industry makes more than a billion dollars each year,” Hamish explained. “Last year, you could have fed a third world nation for a decade, with money left over to build and fund schools, an irrigation system, and a hospital for that amount of time. For that amount of money, you could cure actual illnesses and give vaccinations to children who would otherwise die of diseases that you or I have not been in danger of contracting for over a century.”

The crowd listened intently as he rattled off statistics and the names of professionals in the field who corroborated his claims. Then he instructed everyone to remove the pieces of paper from their bottles, which turned out to be the same homeopathic drug that he was holding.

Thirty tablets in each bottle.

“It says to take one a day,” Hamish read from the label. “Take one pill a day for a better, healthier lifestyle. Well, here goes.”

Hamish pulled a bottle of water out of the plastic bag and placed the microphone on the table long enough to open the pills. He took out the cotton and tossed it aside. Then he took out one pill and popped it in his mouth, following it with a drink of water. Then he watched the audience, who leaned in and watched with a wild-eyed curiosity that was absent at the beginning. Many of them knew he was about to do something that would blow their minds but they watched, fully prepared to be amazed. He took the bottle and tapped more of the pills into his mouth. He drank some more water then tapped more pills. It took four taps but he finally swallowed all of the Sunny Day Well-Being Pills.

Then he looked at his audience and smiled his cake eating grin. They clapped and laughed as if he had just pulled a tiger out of the hat.

“Whatever medicinal value this pill might have had, it’s been so diluted and filled with useless crap, that it couldn’t cure boredom. Ms. Cannon, some bottles of water for our lovely audience, if you please.”

The MC wheeled a tray with a bowl filled with ice and bottled water. The audience each accepted a bottle as Hamish encouraged them to swallow the pills he just ingested. Two of the students who were there to knock off a requirement for class opted out. An old lady refused to participate and left the room.

The remaining seven all swallowed their bottles of homeopathic “well-being” medicine. To show off their machismo, the couples took the remaining bottles and swallowed them without any discouragement from Hamish Andes, the professional skeptic.

#    #    #

“Four men and three women were found dead late last week. All apparently healthy, except for two smokers and a diabetic among them, the autopsy showed traces of a slow acting poison that was introduced to their systems within a few hours of their deaths. Three victims had a significantly higher amount of the poison in their own systems, which might have had something to do with a traffic accident that also claimed the life of a jogger in the Common. Detectives later made the connection between the victims and a special event taking place in a house rented out to a shell company…”

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