doing the right thing is for suckers [short story]


The hero does not know who to trust
~

I walked into the office building the same way I did every day. I grabbed my coffee order and dodged across the street only narrowly escaping being run over. I walked briskly for three minutes before I turned left and carried on for another minute before I skipped up the steps and strolled in. I nodded at the security guard and waited for him to nod back before I headed for the elevator.

If it sounded mundane, that’s because it was. My life, my job, my everything. It was boring. I was an auditor. I spent every day of my life crunching numbers. I made sure that money was being spent accordingly, tracked each single cent. I was supposed to be the person that people wanted looking at their books in order to make every penny count.

Except, for the most part, I was the person they didn’t want looking. My job was to find things, but only things that wouldn’t kick up a huge fuss.

Auditing was one of those grey areas that people tended to skirt along. Transparency was great, but getting away with transgressions was even better. 

There was a running joke that my colleagues used to make.

We find the bodies and we bury them even deeper.

With that in mind, I walked slowly towards the hallway that led to my office. Unbeknownst to everybody in this building, an anonymous email was on its way to the Times.

I wasn’t trying to be a hero. 

Not really. However, when I was faced with ignoring the fact that millions of people stood to lose their savings and pensions, I knew I had to do something. That didn’t make me a hero, it made me human.

I took my place at my desk and logged onto my computer as normal. Even though I’d covered my tracks well, used VPNs, secure servers and a dummy email address, I still wondered.

The memory of Josh from Accounting vanishing out of sight still lingered. He came across some numbers that didn’t add up and he did the right thing.

Unfortunately, the right thing didn’t get people too far in this town.

Doing the right thing was for suckers.

However, it was either I sat on what I’d found and watched as millions of lives were destroyed or actually doing something. 

I chose to do something. 

I chose to make sure that people would be digging through this mess for years instead of shoving it deeper.

The only problem now was that I wasn’t the only one who’d seen the information. At least three or four others must have gone past it, maybe more. Once the news broke my days would be numbered.

The smiles and cordial greetings would evaporate. People would wonder. They would speculate. At least one person would mention me by name.

I looked up at the office and glanced around. I tried to think if I had any allies here, anyone who would have my back.

I came up empty.

In the end, I resigned myself to my fate.

It took three weeks for them to realise it was me.

By then, I was gone.

I’d never get a job in this area again. My life was effectively ruined but I found that it didn’t matter. My life in return for millions of people who stood to lose everything? It didn’t compare.

They called me a hero, but I disputed that notion strongly.

I wasn’t a hero; I was just a sucker with a heart.

© hiptobesnark 2017

rain and I were friends [short story]

It was pouring down with rain. 

That was the least surprising part of my funeral. 

It rained the day I was born. 

It rained on my wedding day (and that was ironic because the marriage lasted all of three days). 

It even rained the day I got my first job. 

Hell, it rained the day I won and lost a winning lottery ticket. 

Rain and I were old friends. 

So I fully expected it to rain on my funeral. 

Water pouring and cascading on to my pinewood casket. 

Dripping and dripping they finally lowered me into the ground. 

That part was expected. 

I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd, but I counted more people than I’d seen in the past few years. There were old people, young people, kids, fucking kids. I didn’t know any kids so I wondered which forsaken inviduual had brought their offspring along. After some deep thinking I reasoned that maybe they’d been hoping to get some free food out of it at least. 

This wasn’t the funeral I had planned. I wanted it to be over quickly. Someone would pour a dash of whiskey on the wooden box and push the button that sent me into a pit of fire. 

After a few minutes, I’d be gone. 

Ashes to ashes. 

Dust to dust. 

Into thin air. 

Maybe afterwards, my only friend would drink himself into a stupor in memory of me. The next day he’d wake up in a pile of his own vomit and vow to get on with his life.

Obviously, none of that happened because my dear old mother had other ideas. Here I was watching a huge procession in the street. People I had never seen before carried my casket.

Worst of all, my mother delivered a eulogy full of lies when they got to the cemetery.

My son was a great man, is how she began.

(I ran away from home when I was eighteen.)

I will never get over this loss, she continued.

(I suspected that she would once she saw that I’d left all of my money to my half sister – same father, different mother – just to spite her.)

I will miss him until the end of my days.

(Like she missed me over the past twenty years?)

Yet, people ate it up. They sat there and cried because grief is contagious. It was like an electric ripple that ran through people in tandem, infecting them with its darkness. These people didn’t know me, but I was their chance to grieve. I was serving some kind of messed up purpose.

It’s a pity then that in life, I’d made a lot of enemies. The kind that I’d hoped my planned cremation would put off. If there was no service, there would be no targets. No targets meant no bloodbath.

Avoiding a bloodbath was obviously a priority.

However, as I saw my mother talking, and heard the revving of engines in the distance, I knew that shit was about to hit the fan.

I was faced with two options.

Play dead, or try to save a bunch of people that had no business being at my funeral in the first place.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not a zombie. 

I’m not dead either.

I’m also not alive.

Try working that one out.

The gunmen set sights on the gatherers fairly quickly, bullets raining down in synch with the raindrops. Screams echoed across the field, and once again, I wondered just what my mother had been thinking. An outdoor funeral? It was unfathomable.

Amidst the chaos, I set about directing those on the field. Agent Roberts had to take the east side. Agent Matthews took the left. Daniels, south. And me? Well, I was stuck here from my vantage point.

Watching.

There’s a good reason why I died. Why I killed myself off before anyone else could. In this business, it pays to be smart. I’ve seen so many good men flounder and fall because they didn’t know when to call time.

I knew.

Waking up to a bullet in my windshield wasn’t necessarily the first indication, but it was a start.

Blood on my walls? Well, that definitely got the ball rolling?

Getting shot in the back and finding out that I’d be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life? 

That sealed the deal. 

I knew than that the old me was dead. That guy was gone. I wanted to make it official.

In a way, this was my last act in my previous life. The final chapter. Bullets were flying, people were screaming, field agents were doing their jobs. The stuffy desy job that awaited me would never propel me to such heights so I decided to make the most of it. The angles were tight, everything was a risk, but I ran point like I’d never done before and the situation was contained within fifteen minutes.

My mother stood in a corner, huddled under a foil blanket, with something akin to excitement in her wide eyes. She would be telling this story for years, that I was certain of.

In a way, thanks to my her, I got the perfect send off. Adrenaline. Excitement. The sense that even in my diminished capacity, I could still help. I wasn’t useless. I could do this.

After thirty-seven years of providing me with nothing but disappointment, it was the least she could do.

© hiptobesnark 2017

clouded in a heavy sourness [short story]

Written for Prompt #44 (below) – from this post


The maid is not a maid, the house is not a home
~

My life isn’t what I’d call conventional. It’s okay, it’s good, whatever people define as not bad. I live in a huge house. By huge, I mean, huge. There’s ten bedrooms, probably more bathrooms and enough scented candles to stock an apocalyptic safe house. I have want I want and I can’t complain.

That’s how I’d describe my life to a stranger at least.

Perfect.

Idyllic.

Nothing is wrong.

Smiles aplenty.

In reality, it’s fucked up.  Continue reading “clouded in a heavy sourness [short story]”

scorpion scar {flash fiction}

There’s a scar on my chin, right under the center, at the bottom. It looks like a scorpion and feels like a raised ridge. 
I tell everyone it makes me feel like a badass, but really it makes me feel like a battle axe. 

The story goes that I got into a bar fight.

Jim from the up the street was three shots of whiskey too far gone and putting his sweaty oversized paws on a woman that didn’t want nothing to do with him. 

I stood up, bold and sober and I demanded that Jim leave her alone. The ensuing fight involved all sorts, from broken chair legs, to broken glass to me slamming a cashew shell into Jim’s ruddy cheek.

The punchline always gets people; the part where Jim pissed himself and scuttled away in embarrassment. 

They laugh, buy me a drink and everybody’s happy.

Except, that’s not how it happened. 

I’m a writer and one thing writers do is embellish. Even in real life, writers are forever telling stories. If I can entrance someone just by telling them a story, I can make magic happen on paper. 

That’s how the story of my scar grows. 

The real story is that I fell asleep at my desk one day. I know what you’re thinking, how does that lead to a scorpion shaped scar? 

Now you’re wondering if the scar really is shaped that way. 

I know the answer but I’ll never tell.

What’s important is that I was sitting on a three legged chair and unfortunately, chairs are inanimate. They don’t think the way that we do, if they think at all. 

So when I startled awake, there was some kind of breakdown in communication between the three functional legs and I went down hard and knocked my chin against the hard pine. I tasted blood almost immediately and I knew that it was going to leave some kind of mark.

I didn’t know it would be scorpion shaped, but I’ll just take it as a blessing.

That story – the truth – isn’t as interesting as me being a hero. People might laugh at clumsiness, but heroics get you the golden points. A free beer, a free slice of pie, a questionable donut from an officer who probably knows that I’m full of shit.

Being a hero makes me feel like a king and I’m not a good enough person to walk away from that.

Is anybody?

People aren’t interested in the truth so I don’t bother to give it to them.

Life is all about the illusion and even I find myself playing along. Some days I live in that bar fight, play it over and over in my mind like it really happened.

In some ways, it did.

The setting just happens to be my imagination.

crushed {flash fiction}

Why am I always writing about weddings or people who want to get married? I don’t want either of those things at the moment, lol. Unless my conscience is trying to tell me something! 😂

There’s a glint in the distance, gleaming bright. She creeps forward, her heart beginning to race with anticipation. It’s been three years and she’s hoped.
Wished.

Dreamed.

Even though he’s against it and changes the subject every time. People change their mind all the time, right? She just has to hope.

Wish.

Dream.

One more step and she comes face to face with the sparkling object.

Her heart sinks when she sees what it is.

It’s what now remains of the faux diamond earrings she lost last week.

It’s crushed, with the diamond part hanging limply, as if it’s given up on life, on being whole.

It’s like looking into a mirror; she realises that she’s just deluding herself.

There’s no hope.

There are no fulfiled wishes.

Dreams are just dreams, pockets of imagination that aren’t supposed to be unleashed.

She takes a step back and ignores the way her heart continues to sink with disappointment.

She’s been on this train for three years, but this isn’t her stop. This isn’t the end of the road.

She’s only halfway through the ride, and not ready to give up just yet.

One day, she may regret her decision but one day isn’t today. It won’t be tomorrow either.

It never is.