Bump

Preamble: The following short story was written as part of the Trifecta Writing Challenge. Dan, the main character  is the protagonist in a super hero novel I’m writing called, “The Specials.” In it he develops his ability of seeing the future and together with friends takes on a criminal mastermind, €A$Y. Enjoy 🙂

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Bumper Car

Dan was rushing. If he had any chance of seeing her today he had to make the bus. “Why is the future so dark, so cold?” He wondered.

Bump

Dan was no longer moving in the right direction to catch his bus. Instead he was spinning round, drowning in a cascade of papers as he recoiled from clashing shoulders with a stranger heading in the opposite direction.

It was in many senses a lucky bump. Instantly Dan saw a whole set of different futures unfurl in his mind. Where before all he could see was darkness, this lucky bump was beginning to shine a brighter light on things. Before the bump he’d been destined to catch the 9:43 bus at the end of the road; but the bump and subsequent tidying of strewn papers from the floor meant that he was sure to miss it and so miss the impending explosion.

Of course Dan would have foreseen the explosion from his favourite seat near the back of the lower deck and would no doubt done something to stop it or at least raised the alarm and rallied innocent victims off the bus. Now, while he stood leaning against the cold metal frame of the shelter he heard the distant boom of the bus exploding into flames.

€A$Y had struck again. This time closer to Dan’s home, his family and loved ones than ever before.

The bump was lucky for him, but luck is really just a relative term.

***

Image from Digiray CC by 2.0

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Borrowed Time

Time was running out. Hell, I didn’t even know how much I had to begin with. I was sure by now my hourglass was empty.

It’s funny how we’re content to let time tick by, hour by hour, day by day. We’re careful with money, which comes and goes, but our precious time we treat far too loosely.

Now my time was gone, my hourglass empty. I was on borrowed time and just waiting for someone to come collect.

Another car drove by and I twitched at the curtains again. Not this time.

If I knew what it would cost I never would have gotten in so deep. But that’s how some people make a living and how some people end up dead, we forget to count the cost.

I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. My time had come.

I heard the ponderous footsteps on the asphalt. I heard the condescendingly polite knock at the door.

Time’s up.

The Life You Haven’t Lived

Claire tentatively walked through her professor’s office door.

“Take a seat.” The old man spoke coldly.

His office was as cold as his words. Devoid of life. It was the office of a man who’d lost touch with the outside world, the struggles that constantly bite and snarl. Inside he was safe in his academia, outside ‘real life’ was constantly on the attack.

“Sir, if I…” She was cut off.

“Young lady I must say that in recent months I’ve been very disappointed by your contributions. Mediocre essays, rushing in an out of class; I’ve yet to receive a single submission for extra credit! Do you not care about bettering your own mind?” His question was little more than a statement.

“I couldn’t care less,” thought Claire, “If I cared about me at all I wouldn’t be here, trying to juggle university and the relentless demands of raising two children all alone. All I care about is bettering a future for them.”

She said nothing. Why waste breath on a man who’d clearly never experienced the hardships life throws at you? She simply sat and stared at her hands, folded gently in her lap.

“I thought as much,” the professor continued, “In which case I shan’t require anymore of your efforts. We are obviously here for two very different reasons. You’ll receive a B- but you needn’t bother with any further assessment.”

Claire sat speechless.

“Learn what you’re here to learn but don’t sacrifice family in the pursuit of knowledge. Ideas and thoughts disappear the moment you’re gone. I wish I were as courageous as you.”

The professor’s gaze lay squarely on a photograph on his desk. Claire saw a much younger professor, a woman and a boy. The professor’s eyes were different, full of the joy that accompanies surviving life with loved ones. Those young eyes flickered now in the old. In a breath they were gone.

The professor gestured toward the open door.

“That’s one less thing to juggle.” Claire smiled.

A Professor's Office, 1876