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I don't have much time 2021-01-07 20:27:17

This might be the last thing I ever write. They're not far, I can hear the commotion out in the street, the trucks are here. Tailgates dropping, shouted orders. Who will read this? The man who's come to kill us, that's who. Or, maybe he won't even bother. Such a man is not a man of letters but a man of action. He likes efficiency. He calls things by name, except when he doesn't; he is not killing, he is rebuilding and that's the only justification he's ever needed.

And me?

I spent my life worrying. What was the use? I am hours - maybe minutes - away from finding out what really happens. You see, even now, alongside my fear there is also curiosity. Not like The Man of Action, he doesn't have such concerns. He is rebuilding. He is pragmatic. He goes to sleep with the ease of babes and wakes up committed to the cause. He will die just as committed - but he will die old and, perhaps, drunk. Because, by then, he may have had some time to think.

But what about me?

I never built anything. Not even a family. What does it matter if I die as so many others do each day? What does it matter if I'm not guilty of a crime? Even my innocence will not distinguish me from others. As for my possessions, what of them? They're no use to me even I were able to leave with anything but the clothes on my back. The flat already feels lifeless. This pen, with its smooth contours and undying voice, might be the only item with a shred of personality -  I think I'll take it. I could keep it in my pocket..

(They're close now, must be the building next door. They're not shy about making a racket at this time of night. I hear whispering in the hallway, neighbors must be out in the hall)

But what if I were a Man of Action too? What if I raced up to the rooftop, took the fire escape down to the back. I could make it to the adjacent building and then onward to the next street and beyond. I'd end the day in the same way, with the clothes on my back and this pen in my pocket. But I'd be free - at least a bit longer - though I don't know to what end. And still...the key to the terrace is in the drawer, I could just

Ending 1: That was it, not even a period.

Ending 2:

The lieutenant eyed the sparsely furnished flat, now ransacked by his soldiers. It contained the typical trappings of a subversive's burrow: books, periodicals, and alcohol. This would be in his report, of course. He liked to survey a place when it was empty of inhabitants and its contents freshly turned over, as if a hurricane had just been through. He had noticed there was always something that stuck out, that, in an orderly home and in its proper place, might not. He squinted, the high collar with its red tabs digging into a thick neck as his head swiveled back and forth. 

Then he saw it.

There were many books strewn about, as well as pamphlets, and postcards - likely from foreign agents - but there were no loose papers, except for a single sheet under the simple cherry wood desk, folded gently on itself where it had fallen. He strode over and picked it up. He read, quickly, then ran out of the flat and into the hallway shouting, "Get to the terrace, get upstairs! Up, to the roof. Shoot anyone you see up there! Go, go, go!" He, himself ran down, taking the stairs two, even three at a time. He had a cordon to set up. A society to rebuild.

More from Gabriel Greco

Short Stories

I don't have much time
This speaks to the very nature of impermanence. Does any of it matter?
2021-01-07 21:06:16
On my first read I didn't read the second ending and actually liked how the man died. But upon reading the second ending I actually am interested in what happens now. 

What is your motivation level on continuing this? 
2021-01-08 01:25:59
@Brian, interesting take, it does speak to that for sure, though it wasn't my intention exactly. 

@Abe, also interesting you thought the man died with the first ending. You didn't consider he might have instead become a Man of Action? Either way it's open ended so it's entirely for the reader to decide.

I would go on with this but with a change. The letter would be slightly different in that it mentions something specific, maybe leaves a couple of clues, which leads the policeman on an investigation that becomes a journey of (self?)discovery. 

2021-01-08 14:08:55
Woah you're right. Mindblown. I assumed he died but he coudl've totally just became what he wanted to be and become a do-er.

I think that I was seeing his situation as so pathetic and beyond redemption that the only thing that could happen was death. A coupe de grace they call it?

As a reader what I'd like is for you to use ending 1. And then I'd think the guy's dead. I'd think this is a good intro. Often the first character dies in the intro. 

But then next scene is from either third-person or another person's perspective and we're re-united with this new-ManOfAction. 

One thing I really appreciate about sequence 2 is how much happens. I don't mean that as in I love reading things with fast pace, but I need to have exemplars of writers I identify with -- you -- practicing fast pace writing. Things happening.
2021-01-08 15:35:40
See, this is an amazing way to use tribes, you're giving me ideas, now I kind of want to keep going. Imagine the story now is about how the new MoA has somehow laid out a deliberate 'trap' in his letter, meant to turn the original MoA into a man of inaction.
2021-01-08 17:11:43
I like MoA. Sounds like a really popular video game for young men to play in between their 'bathroom' sessions haha.

By the way i'm begininng to understand how you want to use Tribes. You want to use it to facilitate more prolific writing that's tied to feedback without flooding the wrong people's attentionspan
2021-01-08 17:20:01
MoA -- I feel a Jack Reacher-type character.
2021-01-08 18:33:48
You know what Tribes could be, and I hate to say this, but like Wattpad. I remember checking that out long ago and it was very much about about feedback during the writing process. But it had one major flaw (for me), namely that everything was lumped together. And since 98% of it was teen romance and vampire werewolf fantasy in a futuristic dystopia, I never stuck around to look for writing and writers I enjoyed - I don't even think there were any. 

But yeah, Tribes would ideally keep that stuff isolated. 
2021-01-09 00:19:41