The Truth of a Rumor

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write about a character with an unassailable moral compass.... view prompt


Fiction Suspense Thriller

“Did you hear the news?”

“What news?” 

“Nuke launch from the agency.”

“You’re kidding!”

"There's no way."

A few people scuttled around, trying to catch a whiff of what was going on. 

“I wish.”

The rumor began to drag in crowds of reporters, scavenging for any picture or quote they could get. People bustled inside and outside the agency office, paying no care to the barriers or agents. Such a crowd was not normal. Such a rumor was definitely not normal. The only normal was the two agents in black suits watching over everyone and everything from the fifth-story balcony. 

“I thought my days with rumors were long over,” chuckled the woman in the black suit. 

“Oh Elena, don’t be modest. Rumors have and will forever follow you.” 

“I know, Mr. Kieran.” Elena rolled her eyes. “Everyone knows I was always the popular one and you were always be begging for my attention.” 

“Oh no you don’t dare go there, you would-” Elena interrupted him with a flick of her ponytail in his face before heading back inside. Kieran scoffed and smoothed his hair back in place. Who had thought the kind, perfect guy and sassy smart girl from the Academy would end up working together for Lune's Director? 

Minutes later, Elena burst back through the balcony door. She grabbed Kieran by his tie and dragged him inside. “It’s not a rumor,” she whisper-screamed. 

“What?” asked Kieran, rubbing his neck. Elena punched Kieran hard in the stomach. 

“Ow, what was that for?” 

“Did you not hear me the first time? Your supposed BFF is about to launch our secret nukes on North Korea!” Elena kicked him in the shin and grabbed him by his collar. “You told me that we could trust her!” Elena’s eyes narrowed and she clenched her fist, gearing up for another punch.

“I did, I did. There must be a misunderstanding. Octavia would not do that. ... Trust me. ... I know her,” Kieran half-whispered and half-panted, gently removing Elena’s hands from his collar. 

“I don’t care if you knew her before. I have to get a sniper team ready. Nobody is following the Director’s orders anymore,” said Elena. With a wish of her ponytail, she strutted away and yanked out her walkie-talkie. 

Minutes later, Elena snuck into one of the nearby rooms and quietly shut the door. Reaching under one of the sofas, she pulled out a small phone. Quickly, she dialed a number and turned on the encrypted line.

“Hey, get out of there now,” whispered Elena.

“What happened?” Lula asked.

“Your life's in danger. Nukes. And don’t make me repeat how important your life is again.” 

“I know, I’m your only hope for the future Director of Lune. I’ll get out,” recited Lula. 

“Good.” Elena ended the call and smashed the phone underneath her foot. Carefully, she picked up the pieces and threw them out the window. And as if nothing had happened, Elena strutted out of the room and pulled out her walkie-talkie once again. 

A few hallways down, Kieran took in a deep breath and smoothed out his black suit from top to bottom. He fingered the long scar running down his arm from his wrist to elbow. This is probably just some sick joke. Octavia was the hero of heroes. She had not only saved him in that back-street alleyway but turned Alan’s life around. Even from time to time, she visited him in person to make sure he hadn't gone back to his scrappy gang life. To call her a hero was a huge understatement.

Loud stomping brought Kieran back to reality. A man holding a gun and dressed in full sniper gear ran by Kieran. Then another man. And another. 

There's no way. Kieran ran in front of the men and held up his hands. 

“I’m the Director’s most trusted advisor and I advise you to halt. Let me observe the situation first. Please, don't make rash decisions. No one needs to get hurt.” The men exchanged looks before slightly lowering their guns faltered. Kieran raised his eyebrows and the men holstered their guns. 

"We have strict orders but you will get five minutes to talk the Director down.” 

“Good decision.” Kieran gave them a curt nod and headed towards the large thick metal door. 

“Director, may you let me in? I believe we have an important matter to discuss or rather allow me to assist you with,” said Kieran, giving the metal door a light knock. Seconds passed with no response. Of course, it’s just the large thick metal door. Kieran pulled out his phone and dialed her number. 

“Yes,” answered Octavia.

“May you let me in? I would like to assist you.” 

“You mean to stop me.”

“I’m offended that you think that way. I most certainly do not.” 

One of the men with a gun walked towards Kieran and whispered, “You have three minutes left.”

“Of course,” said Octavia, hanging up the phone. Kieran clenched his fists and resisted the urge to punch the man in the face. He might have as well punched in the nuke launch code himself. A small voice popped in his head. Or maybe you should have been smarter to call her earlier or even recognize her plan.

“Kieran, I’m going to order my men to take the shot in one minute,” crackled Elena over the walkie-talkie. 

“Ok, ok, just SHUT UP for that minute then. Let me think,” Kieran yelled, tugging at his eyelashes. He wiped his clammy hands on his pants and tried to slow down his breathing. He paced right outside the metal door, adjusting his suit every few seconds. The fate of Octavia now lay in his hand. Everyone else had already forgotten all the good she had done: donating to nonprofits every year, volunteering at poor countries, and granting favors to her friends; Everyone else viewed her as the big bad villain, killing innocent civilians.  But everyone has their reasons. Octavia had reminded him of that, as she blocked him from punching Alan back in the face.

I can't give up on her. She taught me better. The phone rang.

“Hey, let’s just talk.”

“...about what?” asked Octavia. 

“About your decision.” 

“There’s nothing to discuss. You already know how many problems North Korea has given me - even before I became direct-.”

Kieran interrupted, “Of course. That’s just it. I haven’t forgotten. Think about this. If you enter that code, millions of innocent people will die. Do you want that?” 

“I’ve already told you. Regardless, that is of no matter. I already knew you were merely stalling. I can see all the snipers outside, pointing at my very-”

“Please, just don’t do this. Are you willing to risk your life?” begged Kieran with a crack in his voice.

“Of course. To do what’s morally needed just like I taught you. As I was saying, before you so rudely interrupted me, I have already entered the codes. Thanks for stalling,” Octavia responded, without hesitation. 

The phone line clicked off. 

“Kieran, ten seconds left,” said Elena over the radio. Kieran fiercely rubbed his face and slammed his fist against the metal door. As if on cue, a loud boom sounded from miles away. Guilt flooded Kieran and an invisible heavy weight pushed him to his knees. The gunshots, yelling, and Elena’s foul language over the radio faded away. A voice popped up in his head. You just got everyone killed. 

Elena ran down the hall and slapped Kieran in the face. She grabbed him under the armpits and hauled him away into their room. “Think and share with me once I’m back,” she ordered, slamming the door shut. 

Elena fast-walked towards the same room and locked herself in. Reaching under another chair, she pulled out an identical small phone.

The ringtone rang for ten awful seconds.

"Hello," crackled a voice from the other side. A warm feeling flooded Elena from her head to toes and a smile spread across her face.

"I was so worried! I thought we would have more time. Are you ok?"

"OMG, why would you be worried? You know, as the future Director, I have many skills up my sleeve," teased Lula.

"I know. Glad you were able to put them to use."

"Yes..go..bye," said Lula, faking interference. The line clicked off. Elena hugged the phone to her chest before smashing it under her feet. Once she threw the pieces out the window, she exited the room and headed back to Kieran.

“I’m sorry,” Kieran whispered, without looking up at Elena. Another voice popped up. You could have done better.

Elena sighed and plopped into the chair next to him. “No, it’s not your fault. You -” Elena paused before continuing, “You just have the strongest morals of us all. That’s all it is. You wanted to save everyone.”

“My intent doesn’t matter anymore,” Kieran whispered. He rubbed his forehead as a tear slid down his cheek. 

“Yes, today was a mistake. I’ll admit that... You, you let your morality get the best of you,” bluntly stated Elena. She got up from her chair and walked out the door. 

Within minutes, the scavengers outside had sneaked through the barriers. One of them opened the door and clicked a picture of Kieran. 

“What happened here?” he asked, shoving a microphone and camera at Kieran. Kieran looked up from the ground. The SAN logo was plastered on the microphone, the Secret Agency News. Of course, the most ruthless scavengers of all had arrived. Saying “no comment” would never cut it for them. 

“Morality sucks,” Kieran stated, standing up from his chair. “That’s all I’m willing to divulge for now.” He pushed the reporter out of the way and left the room. That was sure one statement that would shut up any scavenger.

July 16, 2021 16:33

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09:14 Jul 24, 2021

The picture is so clear. It feels like I was there in the scenes.


16:00 Jul 24, 2021



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Oscar Cole
12:55 Jul 22, 2021

Dear writer, your story left me feeling as though having entered a whirlwind of tension and split-second decisions. The complexity you were able to fit a short amount of words is remarkable. I enjoyed short moments – like the Elena's brief phone calls and the efficiency with which she throws away the phones as though being well practised, and Kieran's long scar hinting at some dark history. The dialogue was also very well done. I got the overall impression of lots of different characters making difficult and important decisions from very per...


18:28 Jul 22, 2021

thanks so much :)


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