I am really enjoying writing these flash fiction stories. I love the potential inspiration they can imbibe. This particular story is less than 900 words. Flash fiction needs to be somewhere between 500 – 1000 words.
This story may seem a little glib at first when you read it. In fact, it may seem a little uncharacteristically violent for this website, but I assure you, the ending is intended to show our connectedness to one another and how all our actions affect others – no matter how small they seem.
If you want more proof about how every action you take can – quite literally – affect generations of people after you, take a look at my post on the Butterfly Effect.Sometimes we have no idea how our lives will affect those of others. Click To Tweet
I hope you enjoy!
A Life, Affected
The man in the ballcap waved the pistol in the air. Devon wondered if bullets fired in the subway car would ricochet and hit multiple things. He bit his lip.
How had he arrived here?
It didn’t start just last night. It started in the previous century.
Devon was downsized and made irrelevant. The job he’d had for 20 years had made him obsolete. He was 50 years old and looked for a job for 6 months to no avail. How could he compete with the twenty-somethings who were faster and more adept with the 21st century?
He was made for the 20th century. Even his wife said so.
He’d been so busy looking all over the city for suitable work the last few months, he never gave a second thought to the oil change his car needed. There was no money. No time. He started delivering pizzas. When the engine seized, he’d cursed himself for being so negligent, followed by a phone call from his boss: no car, no job.
Perhaps every single one of the interviewers – all twenty-two of them across nineteen companies – smelled his misfortune and wanted nothing to do with him.
When his only daughter perished in her car after missing a deer on her way back to college, his wife spoke of defeat and too much loss.
Last night, when he returned from a late interview, he discovered his wife’s note: I can’t do this anymore.
He grabbed a bottle of Tennessee whisky. It was a leftover relic from holidays-past with layers of dust covering the bottle. Maybe he could numb the barrage of sorrow that consumed his thoughts.
He stood in the kitchen, staring at the bottle. His eyes wandered over to a crumpled paper on the counter: a foreclosure notice, next to his wife’s note.
Soon he’d be out of a home. The auction was two weeks away. His hand shook the letter as he sobbed alone in the darkness. He slid down to the floor and lay in a teary crumpled mess and later unraveled his tie to stuff under his head.
When he woke up, it was still dark. He looked over at the bottle of whisky. The cap was still off, but the contents were otherwise untouched. Screw it, he thought.
He grabbed his jacket. Why he even bothered to grab it, he wasn’t sure. He already knew he wasn’t going to live to see the sunrise. He’d made his choice.
The air pierced his skin through his suit pants. He walked nearly two miles to the nearest subway station. His dress shoes nearly made him fall three times as he walked over patches of black ice with their worn soles. He smiled at the thought. Maybe he’d give himself a fatal concussion before he got there.
He knew exactly where he was going to do it. He didn’t bother leaving a note behind. No one would care anyways.
He bought his pass – the last one he would ever purchase. It would probably overdraw his bank account if it wasn’t already.
He passed Midway Station. He watched the signs and lights pass in blurred lines through the tunnels. Only three more stops to the perfect platform where it was dark and he could pass into oblivion silently. Unnoticed.
His thoughts picked up. The closer he got, the faster they rolled.
He was too busy in his own head to notice the fellow with a faded ballcap and camo pants stand up in the cabin. At first, no one paid him any attention. But then he took out a pistol.
Devon blinked. He couldn’t believe that this idiot was probably going to make him miss his stop. But maybe this was his end. Devon took short breaths as he planned his next move.
“SHOOT ME!” he screamed, jumping up. He stole a glance at the lone mother with an infant swaddled on her chest. He’d be damned if another life were adversely affected by his own.
Devon was at the opposite end of the car, making his way toward Ballcap Guy. “Stop waving that thing. Shoot me already!”
Ballcap Guy appeared stunned and stood still. He put his hands over his ears and screamed. “MAKE IT STOP! MAKE THEM STOP! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Don’t come any closer or I’ll shoot!” He waved the gun in any direction there was a person.
“Exactly!” Devon shouted back.
Ballcap Guy pointed it toward the woman holding the baby. “Maybe I’ll shoot her!” Devon watched as he cocked the gun and aimed it toward her.
“NO!” He lunged in the air, aiming straight for the mother.
Devon opened his eyes. He was in a sterile-looking room. He heard a beeping sound. He tried to move, but couldn’t.
A television was on over in the corner. He wouldn’t have paid attention except that he saw his face.
The words, “Hero” were inscribed below his photo. He heard the news reporter announce, “The man in the ballcap has already pled insanity to the charges. Devon Jones remains in stable condition. It’s remarkable! His steel business card case stored in the left pocket of his shirt absorbed most of the force of the bullet!”
Devon didn’t hear the rest of the report. His attention turned to his wife who had quietly come in the door.