Extreme Writing Challenge #14: “Perfection”

Happy Hump Day!  Let’s see if you can identify my latest challenge.

__________

For one year, Peter Oswald was the most admired man in the nation.  After years of secret research and experiments in the basement of an old junior high school, Oswald had concocted a cure for addiction.  The blue liquid was thick as tomato juice and tasted like the scent of a new pair of shoes, but it was flawless ammunition against every dependency from heroin to shopping to exercise.

The recognition Oswald received compared to nothing else he’d experienced.  The same man who had won the 1998 Tic-Tac-Toe Competition was often dumbfounded by his own success.  His phone rang incessantly as his spokesman booked interviews with magazines and TV stations.

Nine months after the proclamation of Oswald’s discovery, a major news network aired a horrifying story.  Nineteen-year-old Denise Hawkins was rushed to a Miami hospital with breathing difficulties and skin discoloration.  Though Oswald had already received a phone call, he was hit with a wave of panic as the news anchor said, “Authorities believe the symptoms are caused by the recent addiction treatment called Regeneration.”

In the coming weeks, Denise was trailed by 24 other Regeneration patients who suffered from polka-dotted skin, chest pain, and nightmarish hallucinations.  When the first patient passed away, the atheist Oswald uttered a small prayer out of desperation.  Two months later, by the time the 201st patient left the earth, Oswald had prepared himself for eternal damnation.

The discontinuation of Oswald’s achievement happened overnight.  Bottles of Regeneration were sent to a laboratory for immediate destruction.  Oswald’s spokesman continued to call, but the interviews were packed with a new kind of emotion.  With great hesitation, he boxed up the contents of his multimillion-dollar home and moved them to an apartment.

At first, Oswald saw few options for himself.  No money, no women, no vacations, no photo shoots.  He would reenter the general population—the type to flip burgers, make copies, and plunge public toilets.  The nation’s most admired man turned the key holder of annihilation.

After months of nursing his tribulations, Oswald awoke refreshed and optimistic.  He had sought perfection once, and there are no rules that limit how often you reach for your crown.  At the wobbly table in his mediocre apartment, Oswald began his redemption by returning to his roots:  he would win the 2019 Tic-Tac-Toe Competition.

__________

The challenge was (drumroll, please):  each sentence contains a unique word ending with the suffix “-tion.”  I hope you enjoyed the story!

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