short stories, writing

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

short stories, writing

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

short stories, writing

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]”

flash fiction, writing

should have studied law {flash fiction}

Look, I’ll be honest, I’m not a good superhero. And I’m not just saying that because I had to call the NYPD to rescue me after a rather dangerous mission. 
“Excuse me, I was a superhero for ten whole minutes,” I protest weakly when they all but drag me into interrogation. 

The old burly detective sneers at me. 

“And in that time you called us, and we had to come and rescue you.”

He’s right. 

My moment of greatness lasted for ten minutes. I swung across town, jumped across a building and…I got stuck. My cape got caught on a loose roof tile.

See, Superhero College was a lot like actual college. Theoretical situation after theoretical situation. Everything was like a Marvel movie. We used VR to practise our combat and wrote essays on how badass Batman is. At no point was I really prepared for what it would be like to actually launch myself off a rooftop. 

All I want to do is help people. That’s it. I want to save old ladies from purse snatchers. I want to swoop in and be the dashing hero to the damsel in distress. I want Peter Parker to snap a picture of me doing Superman’s ballerina pose. 

I want everything that I’ve seen the movies. 

Instead, I was tasked with rescuing my own car from my own damn roof. See, Fluffy (what, I never said I was imaginative) is a super cat. She can parkour better than Green Arrow himself. However, she’s scared of heights so one rooftop is her limit. I know I wasn’t supposed to be on rooftop duty yet, but she was mewling. I had to save her.

The cops laugh and say I could have called the fire department.

I tell that them that it can’t be considered a good use of the budget expenses, and they laugh even more.

Eventually, they let me go, but only after taking multiple pictures of me so that they can add me to their ‘Dumbass Not-So-Super Superheroes’ book. When I point out that it’s an unnecessarily long title, they throw me out on my ear.

I sigh to myself, because being a superhero isn’t really worth the ridicule.

Hell, I only got into this because I wanted to help people.

Fuck it, I should have studied law.

writing

Trapped

This is a short story I wrote yesterday after my friend told me to. Yes, I do as I’m told. Sometimes.  

Her prompt was: It’s raining here – write about a spirit trapped in the fountain at the center of the Plaza breaking loose.

~

I’m not sure who I am or what I am, but I do know that I’ve been trapped in this fountain at the center of the Plaza for a long time. I’ve seen people come ago, I’ve seen fashion trends that overstayed their welcome. I’ve even seen Hollywood’s latest starlet puking her guts up. For the most part, I observe. Occasionally I wonder if I have a moral compass. I snicker whenever I see someone trip over some wayward pebbles and commiserate whenever another jackass picks this fountain as their breakup spot. 

It’s never really been an issue because I’m trapped here. I’ve never really considered what it would like to be free. 

Would I wreak havoc on those that deserve it or would I drift through streets and try to explore what’s out there. I may see a lot from my fountain, but my view is narrow. Perhaps that means that I never see the full picture. Again, that’s something that’s never piqued my interest until now.

Now, I’m free.

I don’t know how it happened. One minute the fountain was spluttering violently, raindrops crashing into the water in a staccato beat. The next, I was transcending above it. It was surreal to say the least.

I’m not sure what abilities I have if any, but I try my luck in directing the rain towards a woman feeling from the downpour. The water crashes into her and sends her skidding into a huge puddle. She stops and turns around with an accusatory expression but she’s forced to carried on when there’s no one there. I let out a whoop of glee, although it sounds more like a hoarse whistle.

I begin to glide through the streets, passing numerous shop windows.

I have no sense of time but I guess that it’s around mid afternoon. The stores are beginning to get busy, either with patrons escaping the poor weather or college students with nothing better to do.

It’s then that the thought hits me. What if there was a way that I could experience that. Life. Not as whatever I was but as a human. I wasn’t sure how that would be possible, but I wasn’t going to change my mind either. I just had to choose a vessel to occupy.

I continue to venture down the street and by some miracle, the rain subsidss. I wait momentarily to see if I will suddenly re-emerge in the fountain, but nothing happens. Within the hour people begin to stream back outside. There are young mothers with their screaming toddlers, giggling teenagers who seem to possess more energy than everyone else combined, and their wearier parent. There are hipster millennials who had an affinity for flower garlands, the young men who are adorned in baseball caps and tight jeans. And one ghastly individual with a fedora,but none of them catch my eye.

At least not until I came across a gentleman who seemed to be posing for the same shot repeatedly. I paused, suddenly fascinated by both the vanity and technology. My spot in the fountain exposed me to countless types, from the Polaroid to the digital camera and the flip phones. However, I wasn’t as prominently featured in images before the rise of smartphones. The bright shiny object that this gentlemen was poring over now.

A woman walks past and mutters something along the lines of, “There goes another narcisstic selfie.” She trundles away with a disgruntled sigh and I turn back to the gentleman. He’s posing for another shot, but I’m not entirely sure what he’s trying to capture. The surroundings or himself.

Even so, I’m intrigued. I decide that this will be my vessel. I close my (figurative) eyes and take a (yet another figurative) breath before I launch myself forward and hope for the best.

writing

30 day flash fiction challenge | day 13

Someone’s life takes on a new meaning when they discover an unusual tree.

Dave has never been the most adventurous guy. When his friends were hanging around at bars and fast food joints, he was playing video games and armed with text books in a bedroom that probably smelt like farts and cheese puffs. On most days, he was too busy trying to find X or solving problems. He was a mathematician after all, it was kind of his job. Still, he found himself wishing that he was outgoing. That he could just stroll into a bar and scream ‘WHAT’S UP PARTAY PEOPLE?!’ without everyone judging him hard. Continue reading “30 day flash fiction challenge | day 13”