In a Flash

Submitted into Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt


Drama Suspense Fiction

It started out like any other day for Luis. Another early morning rise, commute to work, long and boring work day, completed with a late meeting and paperwork, the final result being Luis driving home finally at 7:08:12 pm. Living in southern Indiana, driving home on the backroads during the evening was not his most favorite thing. He had to cross 3 different railroads, hoping there would be no trains to block his journey and no wildlife looking for a chance at a near-death experience with the front of his vehicle. Here he was, at 7:08:12 pm, approaching the last of the railroad crossings between his home and his battered, war-ridden sedan. Only a few more feet and he would be home free, pun intended. But as Luis began gunning over the tracks, he felt the car shift and the most dreaded sound in the universe: the tire popping.

Here he was, at 7:08:14 pm, stuck on the train tracks, tire blown and trapped between the rails, in pitch-black night. Just when Luis thought this couldn’t be worse, he realized the approaching danger. He was sharing the tracks with an approaching train. Normally in southern Indiana, trains were notoriously slow. But this one seemed to be on a mission. It was going full-speed ahead and directly for Luis’ trapped vehicle.

The train conductor must have seen the car on the tracks because he began to blow the whistle with all his might. Noticing that the car was not moving, he applied the brakes, shooting sparks from the screeching wheels. The train was trying to slow down as fast as it could, but would it be able to quickly enough?

Here was Luis, at 7:08:16 pm, fearing for his life. The train was still some distance away but didn’t seem to be slowing down nearly fast enough to avoid hitting his car. Here he was, 7:08:16 pm, sitting helpless in his sedan waiting for the crushing death, seeing his life flash before his eyes. It was in the next few seconds that he realized what had been the most important moments in his life.

Here he was, at 7:08:16 pm, remembering the days he spent as an 8-year-old playing catch with his grandpa. His grandpa Charlie had been his childhood hero until he passed away when Luis was 12. Luis would spend the entire summer at his grandparents’ house playing catch and Sorry with Grandpa Charlie. Luis missed those care-free days. And he desperately missed his grandpa Charlie.

Here he was, at 7:08:17 pm, thinking about the worst day of his high school career. He had been in the locker room showering after football practice one day when his bullying teammates stole his clothes and left him with nothing to wear but a chicken costume. His only options were to wear the chicken costume out or walk around school naked. He chose the chicken costume. But that didn’t seem to lessen the embarrassment and laughter from every single student in Woodman High.

Here he was, at 7:08:18 pm, remembering the day he finally escaped that embarrassing day and graduated Woodman High. He may not have graduated at the top of his class, but at least he graduated. His parents were certainly relieved, almost proud. That’s all he had wanted to do, make his parents proud. And that was one of the few days he felt like he had managed to do that.

Here he was, at 7:08:19 pm, reminiscing about move-in day at college. He had been determined to make it at Ball State and earn his bachelor’s in business just like his father. But it was a struggle for him to keep up in all his classes. It’s not that he was dumb; he was just lazy. But the looks on his parents’ faces when they helped him move in kept driving him to somehow manage to at least pass his exams. He was going to graduate and work with his father at his marketing company.

Here he was, at 7:08:20 pm, hit with the worst memory of all. The most tragic day in his life: the day his parents were killed in a car crash. He remembered when the dean came and pulled him out of his BUS 202 class his sophomore year to deliver the gut-wrenching news. He ran from the dean, ran from the building, ran to his dorm room, threw open the door, and began throwing things at the walls. After his room was completely trashed, he collapsed to the floor in a sobbing pile of bones with no life left in them. The next day, he went home for the funeral, and he never went back to Ball State.

Here he was, at 7:08:21 pm, his memory fast-forwarding to a few years ago when he started his job as a salesman in a furniture company. It was nothing that he wanted to be doing but frankly, there was nothing that he wanted to do. He had no drive, no motivation, other than paying his rent and putting food in his mouth. His minimal paying job barely covered that, hence his beat-up sedan. He was overworked, underpaid, and completely unmotivated to change because he felt there was no point.

It was then that he realized why he had no motivation to seek after something he might enjoy doing with his life. His family had brought him the most joy and making them proud had been his primary goal growing up. Now that they were all gone, he had no one. No one to make proud. If there was no one to acknowledge his accomplishments, what was the point of trying to accomplish anything? Life was meaningless without someone to share it with.

But what about himself? What if he could make himself proud? He had wanted to get his degree to follow in his father’s footsteps and work at his company. He had figured after losing his father there was no point in following his path, but what if that was a way he could honor his dad and continue his legacy? His father’s death may have been the end for his dad, but it didn’t need to be the end for Luis. He could go back to college, get his degree, and go to work for his father’s company. He could still make his parents proud.

But now it was too late.

Here he was, at 7:08:22 pm, the train still heading towards his sedan stuck in the tracks, sparks flying from the burning wheels skidding to the stop. The conductor was trying with everything he could to cease the train’s momentum. It was working, but only little by little was the speed decreasing. Luis braced himself for impact as the train encroached on him. But little by little, the train had slowed down just enough. It did hit Luis’ sedan, but only a nudge as it came to a burning halt. Luis slowly uncurled from his balled up position and shaking, took a few long deep breaths. He was alive. His life had gone before his eyes in a flash in only ten seconds. Those ten seconds had shown him what was really important in his life, both in the past and the present. And he decided right then that after he got a good night’s sleep, tomorrow he would start to live again.

December 27, 2020 18:24

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Elliott Laurence
02:39 Jan 03, 2021

A strong suspenseful story with excellent flashbacks weaved within.


18:43 Jan 03, 2021

Thank you so much!


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