#ShortShortStories

a cure for the common block

Presence of Malice

Kirk could barely contain the shame he felt as the agent probed his mind, triggering his deepest moment of guilt and embarrassment. The memory flooded to the front of his mind as fresh as when it happened: taking a shortcut through an alley on his way home he came across a body slumped between the concrete wall and a dumpster. Some of the street lights were out and in the dim light of the moon he could see a puddle beneath the person but couldn’t determine whether it was water… or something else. He abandoned it, bolting ahead, not stopping until he reached his apartment. He never reported it, never told anyone about it, never found out if they were asleep, dead, or in need of someone to notice and help. From that point on he went above and beyond in helping others but felt sick when he received praise, knowing that he was motivated by a disgusting misdeed and not an innate sense of altruism. The interrogating agent released him with his instructions and made overt threats about the consequences of not following them “To. The. Letter.”

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