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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: The Warning
By Steve Fitschen


“OK Thompson, I’ll give you one minute to think about what you want to do.”

Franklin walked into the hallway, slamming my office door behind him. Through the glass panel, I saw him pull out his cell phone and place a call. He was probably calling IT. Great. Ever since the Revolution, IT guys weren’t what they used to be. Now they came in pairs. One was still a computer geek, but the other carried a taser and a gun. If they found what they were looking for it wasn’t good. Just this month three managers had been hauled off and one VP had been shot at his desk. I can’t believe any of them gave me up, but here Franklin was outside my office.

Could I do it? I looked at Franklin through the glass. His back was turned to me. I had to try.

Of course, I never kept any emails. And I had been smart enough to keep all the documents in one folder. If I could just navigate my way to that folder, and if the computer could just delete everything fast enough, I might be OK. At least I had to try. I looked up. Franklin still had his back turned.

If I could just do this fast enough, the IT guys wouldn’t find anything when they did their first check of my hard drive. I don’t know what they do after that. I don’t know whether they keep you in custody or under surveillance while they ran the more sophisticated programs that could capture the data that had been deleted. But at least the chance existed that I could get out of the building. I didn’t dare think about life on the run. My minute was already half gone.

I didn’t dare think about anything. Roger had given me an envelope. He said I should open it immediately if this day ever came. But I couldn’t think about that now. I had to concentrate. I had to make sure I got rid of the damning folder. It was up to the computer now. Would it delete everything in time? I looked at the screen. I looked at Franklin. I looked at the screen again. Ninety-eight percent. I looked at Franklin again. He was moving toward the door.

I felt like I was going to faint. Stay calm!

“So what did you decide?”

“There was nothing to decide. I haven’t been involved in those activities, so there’s nothing to hide.”

Franklin just stared.

“I guess that was IT you were talking to.”

“No, I just wanted you to think I was talking to IT. I was on the phone with Security.”

Franklin pointed to the picture on the wall. “There’s a micro-video recorder hidden in the frame. Security saw you dumping those files. We know it was all your Christian garbage.”

I tried to look calm. I failed. I couldn’t control the sweating. My heart was pounding. “So now what?” I couldn’t even keep the trembling out of my voice.

“Now . . . nothing. We’ve learned since the Revolution that if you are willing to lie about being a Christian, you’re no threat. Congratulations. You used your minute to save your life.” Franklin smirked as he walked out.

I slumped back in my chair and stared at nothing.

Then I remembered Roger’s envelope again. I pulled out of the drawer where I had hidden it and slit it open. I unfolded the single sheet of paper inside. On it was a verse of Scripture in Roger’s handwriting: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.”*

*Mark 8:35, KJV

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This article has been read 829 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Francy Judge 03/11/11
I enjoyed your suspenseful story. Great ending with a twist. The verse fit perfectly.
Kimberly Russell03/13/11
Very interesting in a futuristic, "Left Behind" kind of way. Interesting twist and kept me engaged all the way through. Well done.
Bonnie Bowden 03/15/11
Very suspenseful and rivoting story.
Michael Throne03/17/11
Great Story! The tension built wonderfully; the ending was perfect. Congratulations!
Lillian Rhoades 03/17/11
Congratulations! If there is truth in fiction, then you've captured it.
Carol Penhorwood 03/17/11
Intense and suspenseful. I would live to read a book from this. Congratulations on earning a well deserved 1st place!
Bonnie Bowden 03/17/11
Congratulations on your 1st place EC win. Very compelling story. It definitely was one of my favorite stories of the week. The judges definitely had their hands full this week.
Margaret Kearley 03/17/11
Wow - really challenging story. Certainly makes you think. Excellent writing. Congratulations on your well deserved win.
Donna Powers 03/17/11
Wow! This was a good one. Totally deserving of the win. Congrats!
Amanda Brogan03/24/11
Awesome! Minutes is a great topic for suspense, and you pulled it off wonderfully.