Do you want the truth? – A short story in 500 words

Here’s my contribution to Chuck Wendig’s ‘flash fiction challenge’. The brief got my writerly juices flowing, it was as follows:

Go to Your Favorite Music Player. Dig out your digital music collection.
Hit SHUFFLE, then “Play.”
Meaning, let a random song come bubbling up out of nothing.
The title to this song is the title to your story.
Use the song for inspiration, too, if you feel so inclined.
Let’s tighten up the word count a little, too –
You only have 500 words this time.   

So I did what he said and got ‘Do you want the truth, or something beautiful?‘ by Paloma Faith. With a title like that I just had to give it a go. So here it is:

The call came in at 1.30am. It’s always urgent, and it’s always me who gets them. Within five minutes I’m on my way.

When I get there it’s a disaster area. Police, fire-fighters and medics are everywhere. I look around for my contact but I don’t see him. The guy in the car looks pretty smashed up. I go to see if I can help but I can’t even get near the poor guy. Still, he’s in good hands so I retire back to the perimeter.

“I suppose you get this all the time, don’t you?” It was my contact.

To be honest, he startled me a bit, not something that usually happens. I greeted him, “Hi Barry, I didn’t see you there, what’s the story here?”

“The car came straight out of a side street and t-boned me. How do you know my name?”

“It’s my job, son. How do you feel?”

“Not good.”

“Do you think you’ll make it?”

“Not so sure that I want to, looking at the state of me.”

“Well it’s your choice at the end of the day.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? I obviously didn’t get a fucking choice, did I?” He’s looking angry now.

I try to calm him. “Look Barry, I know it’s not your fault, and you’re a bit upset about things, but try to remain rational, otherwise we’ll get nowhere.”

“Rational! I’ve just had my head stoved in and my pelvis liquidised into a fucking slop by some drunken twat, and you’re telling me to be rational?”

“That I am, Barry, that I am. Because I’m here to give you a choice and you can’t make it while you’re ranting like that. Plus, you don’t have much time.”

“A choice? What choice?”

“You can choose where to go next.”

“What? But I’m standing here next to you. That choice has already been made for me, surely?”

“Not so, Barry, you’re still hanging in there, you’re having what is endearingly known in your world as an out of body experience. I don’t catch them all but you’re lucky, the call came through just in time for this one.”

“You mean I’m dead?”

“Well, sort of, but you still have the choice.”

“There you go again, what fucking choice?”

“Barry, if you swear at me again I’ll leave, then you won’t know the options.”

“Ok, ok, I’m sorry, but it’s fu… sorry, it’s hard for me to get a grasp of what’s going on here.”

“It’s simple, Barry, you’re running out of time fast, but what happens next is up to you. You can come with me or go back into your body.”

“But if I go back I’ll most probably be a cabbage, certainly in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I can’t cope with all that, I’d rather be dead. Help me out here, if I come with you what’s it really like?”

I wish they wouldn’t ask that question, it’s the worst part of my job. I give him my standard response, “Do you want the truth, or something beautiful?”

Hope you liked it. Leave a comment and let me know.

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