This is my first go at flash fiction and it’s for Terrible Minds‘ Flash Fiction challenge titled ‘That Poor, Poor Protagonist’
He woke up to a throbbing pain in his left temple and an acute awareness that he was lying on an extremely cold surface. He was blindfolded, his legs and hands were bound together. Something woollen had been shoved into his mouth to act as a gag, the creaking of the material between his teeth caused goosebumps to rise on his skin and his jaw to jut forward in a grimace.
“Hello Josh.” Despite the blindfold he craned his neck toward the sound of the voice, a woman’s voice. He heard high-heeled footsteps move toward him and then a foot rest on his left pectoral, the stiletto heel digging into the skin just below his nipple. He inhaled sharply through the gag. The woman laughed, a high-pitched giggle, and pushed down a little harder causing Josh to cry out this time. “I was beginning to think you didn’t have feelings, Josh. I suppose it’s good to know. Not that I won’t be putting it to the test anyway.” He rocked his body, desperately trying to pull away from the pressure of her heel.
Then, swiftly her foot was removed and he felt two strong hands grab him by the armpits and haul him up into a chair. Before he could even begin to put up a fight his wrists were quickly untied and retied behind his back and his legs tied to the chair. The heels clicked again on the concrete floor, grew louder and came to a halt in front of him.
“I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here, Josh. Well, let’s just say we’ve been watching you, and you’ve been a very bad boy. Let’s talk about it shall we?
“You have a wife? Susan, right? And a kid. I like the kid’s name. Oscar. Suitably upper middle class. You’re an accountant, a highly paid one at that. Little Oscar gets to go to the posh public schools and Susan gets her fancy holidays to the Caribbean. It’s all very cosy.” There was a pause. “But that’s not the whole story, is it? Oh, no. We have Erin. Lovely, little Erin. Twenty two years old and so full of life. Oh, the things we’ve seen you and innocent Erin get up to.”
Josh felt a heat rise in around his neck as she spoke, a feeling he could only place as panic. How the hell did this woman know all these things about his life?
“What we’ve got set up here, Josh, is a little…what would we call it? A little test. Something to let us see what really matters in your life. Your wife, your child, your mistress” here she paused again, “yourself.”
Suddenly hands were fumbling with his blindfold, wrenching it away from his head carelessly. The woman was no longer sat in front of him. Instead, six feet from him, there was a huge glass window, and behind that window sat Susan, Oscar and Erin. He began to struggle, slamming his shoulders forward trying to release himself and attempting to cry out through the gag.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” He heard the smile in the voice and struggled harder only for a hand to land on his shoulder and stay him. A buzzer sounded, and then a voice:
“Stand up.” He watched as his wife, Oscar and Erin did what they were told.
“Now, Josh. You’ve got a choice to make. You could: Save Erin at the cost of your wife and child. Save little Oscar at the cost of your wife and mistress. Save your wife at the cost of your mistress and child.” She paused and he heard the sound of a gun being cocked, then felt the ridge of a barrel pressed against his temple, “Or save them all at the cost of yourself.”
The pressure of the gun against his temple caused him to whimper and writhe in an attempt to sever the contact; he was breathing hard through the gag, sucking in long gasps of hot air that filtered through.
“Oh, and did I mention you have thirty seconds?” Terror rose in him and he struggled to get away from the gun, struggled to get to the people he loved the most in the world.
All of the options flicked through his mind – it should be an easy decision, his own life for the lives of those he loved, but he didn’t want to die. He was sweating and crying, still trying to cringe away from the gun and time was running away from him. The gag was torn from his mouth and he cried out.
“You bastards!” But even as he said it he knew he was wasting time. He had just ten seconds left. “Okay, okay! I choose Oscar. Please, save my son!” The timer stopped, the gun was pulled away.
He watched as a man in a ski mask entered the room from the left hand side, grabbed his wife by the hair and in one smooth movement slit her throat. Even from this distance he could hear the sound of his wife choking on her own blood as well as see it pouring from her, impossibly fast at first and then slower. The man held her up until the noises stopped and then pushed her forwards; she slumped down, a dead weight now, onto the concrete floor. Erin had begun to scream but the man grabbed her mercilessly by her ponytail and forced her onto her knees. He pulled a gun from behind him and pressed it to the back of her head, then pulled the trigger. Erin’s whole head seemed to explode towards him, coating the glass screen in red.
Josh slumped forward, sobbing and exhausted.
“There,” he screamed, “I made my choice. Let me and my son go.”
The woman’s voice was at his ear again.
“I’m afraid that’s not how this works,” Her voice was a quiet whisper and the barrel of the gun was placed against his temple again. “You chose wrong, and now everyone dies for nothing.” Through closed eyes he heard another gunshot and the sound of something hitting the floor.
And then darkness.