Nothing to Lose (short fiction)

It was all coming to an end, but not before I got what was due me.

I pulled the gag from Spencer’s mouth.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked.

“You know why,” I replied.

His eyes strayed to the knife clutched in my hand. He thought I might kill him. He wasn’t going to be so lucky.

“Please, I have a family,” he said.

“I know you do. I had a family once. Before you took them away.”

“It was an accident. Nobody was at fault. The light malfunctioned. You saw the report. Both of us green at the same time. Just a stupid accident.”

“Is that what you tell yourself when you lay your head down?” I asked. “Is that how you sleep at night?”

Spencer lowered his head. “I don’t sleep.”

I grabbed him by the chin and pulled his head up roughly. “You expect me to feel sorry for you? You still have everything. I lost it all.”

“I’m sorry.” Tears welled in his eyes. “I’d do anything to take it back.”

“Would you give me your family?”

He didn’t reply. At least he didn’t lie to me. I had to give him credit for that.

“Why do this now?” he asked. “It’s too late now.”

I sat in a chair across from him and folded my arms. “Because killing you would be too easy. So we’re going to wait here for the next three hours. Wait for it to end. Just you and me.”

Spencer sniffled. Pathetic. If he thought he’d get sympathy from me, he was wrong.

“Okay. I can’t undo it, but if you think this will make us even, then okay.”

Outside, a siren blared. I could smell smoke as the world was burning, as humanity huddled in terror for what was coming. Not me. I didn’t have anything to lose. I welcomed the end.

I expected Spencer to beg more. He must have wanted to be with his family at this time. Who wouldn’t? He sat there, tied to his chair, looking me in the eye. I tried to stare him down, but he wouldn’t turn away.

“I’ve thought about it a thousand times,” he said. “If only I’d hit the brake sooner. If only I’d swerved a little to the left. If only . . . . ”

He laughed, harsh and bitter.

“I think those are the worst words in the world.”

I walked over to him, not sure if I was going to stab him in the heart or cut his throat. Instead, I cut him loose.

“Get the fuck out of here.”

If he had thanked me, I’d have killed him right there. He must’ve figured that. He walked out of the basement without saying a word. Back to his family. Back to people he loved and who loved him back. To die beside them, as only the luckiest of us could at this moment.

Outside, the night sky was alight with the dozen asteroids heading our way that would kill us all. What difference did it make if Maureen and the kids were dead? We were all dead now.

It made all the difference in the world.

Numb, I sat in the basement, alone, and waited for it all to be done with.

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