The Accountant: A short short story


Alex Beloff |

“Fear is the mind killer, fear is the mind killer, fear is the mind killer—shit!” he spat, cowering behind the dumpster with his ears wide open for signs of approaching footsteps.

Why hadn’t he seen this coming? All of the signs were there—the precocious co-worker suddenly gone silent, the whispers and glances as he passed in the hallway, the emails and calls not returned. No time to think about all that now, though—all that mattered was getting out of this alley alive.

He risked a glance around the corner of the giant garbage container. The alley was empty that way, and he could see no one between here and the other end.

“No time like the present,” a brave-sounding peep emerged from his throat. He stood and ran.

He ran with all of his might, and he could feel stabs of pain in his arthritic hip. No time for that, gotta run – run – run – run – RUN!

He heard the click of a door beginning to open behind him as he emerged from the alley, so he took a sharp turn down the sidewalk and eased his pace to a brisk walk. No way whoever was opening the door would have been able to see before he was around the corner, right? Right? He kept walking just in case, blending into the crowd, and didn’t look back.

A block. Two blocks. Three blocks.

There. Free and clear! He was out of there. All of the obstacles he had seen in front of him were imaginary, or overcome. He was out, safe and sound. All of his fears were—


His heart froze. He looked around.

“I thought that was you. Hi, Bob. It’s good to see you.”

He eyed the older-looking man cautiously.

“Sam. Sam Lopez. From school.”

Bob relaxed, slightly.

“Oh, hi, Sam.” And then with more feeling, remembering and recognizing. “Sam! Yes, of course. How are you?”

“Doing great. Got a little family started, got work as an accountant.”

“That’s terrific.”

“How about you?”

“Oh,” and Bob’s heart resumed its racing. “I’m—I’m between jobs right now, looking for opportunities, as they say,” with a slight forced laugh. “Sorry I have to hit and run, Sam, but I have a thing I have to get to.”

“Sure, Bob, I understand,” Sam said, reaching into his jacket.

The gun was out and fired twice so quickly that Bob barely had time to register he was going to be shot. He felt the impact but not the pain, even after blood began to sprout from his chest.

“I’m sorry, Bob,” Sam said kindly. “There had to be an accounting.”

– – – – –

Creative log:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016: Krayatura 1 – 140/9,268/60,000; Other – wrote several random scenes


10 more first lines


She stood over the table, waiting for their order, and it was all he could do not to touch her.

* * * * * * * * * *

The calm spring air was sliced by a sudden screeching that may have been the cry of an animal being killed or a couple of cats making ferocious love.

* * * * * * * * * *

He held the ancient paper as gently as he could, but flecks still broke off the corners as he turned the pages searching for what he needed to find.

* * * * * * * * * *

She stopped midway through rummaging another chest of drawers and sighed, a half sob of frustration, knowing for certain it had to be somewhere in the house – it had to be. Didn’t it?

* * * * * * * * * *

“I can see what you’re thinking, son, and I don’t necessarily blame you,” said the old man, “but you’re not seeing what you think you’re seeing.”

* * * * * * * * * *

She had lived a life specifically devoted to peace and understanding, but this moment her heart seethed with rage and murderous intent.

* * * * * * * * * *

It all began the way it ended, with the sun shining despite all of the terrible darkness in everyone’s heart.

* * * * * * * * * *

She wouldn’t ever have to ponder what she was doing when she decided she’d had enough and never was coming back to this job ever again.

* * * * * * * * * *

Her touch and whisper were like a sucker punch and a shout.

* * * * * * * * * *

His hand trembling, he turned the device over one last time and switched it off.


10 first lines

10 first lines

The night crew finished mopping up the last bits of light, and darkness spilled over the village.

* * * * * * * * * *

Even before they saw what lay in the canyon, the odor filled them with a sense of forboding.

* * * * * * * * * *

The last dragon died just after dawn.

* * * * * * * * * *

We would wait in the backyard, standing or leaning against the wall, and the house and ground would start to rumble, and then the great iron engine would emerge from the trees and come crashing by, followed by box car after box car after tank car after hopper after box car until they were all past and all we had left was the adrenaline rush of everything we had just seen and heard and felt.

* * * * * * * * * *

He looked up in his weariness and saw the source of the laughter: a little girl running past the windows and seeing the great planes and the bustle of people in the terminal for the very first time.

* * * * * * * * * *

I will always remember the look in his face when he announced we would all be joining the search, and the shock in his eyes when I told him no.

* * * * * * * * * *

The next breath was going to be someone’s last.

* * * * * * * * * *

Damn zombies killed my dog. Don’t care if they’re already dead, they’re going to die for that.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now that it was over, the only thing that had really changed was everything, she had to admit with a small laugh

* * * * * * * * * *

Monsters aside, it had been a good day.

Song for a time


Way in the middle of the air, they cried, cries that sounded like loneliness, but they were surrounded by each other.

The gulls sang their squeaky song with voices that sounded like bed springs yielding to the weight, except the song was more ancient than that, from a time before bed springs were invented.

A song unchanged since before we knew, and yet brand-new here, this moment. Singers born not long ago, fated to die not long from now, singing a song first sung when time had not been invented.

Why DID we invent time, McGiff wondered. It only taunts us with unfinished business. The time is up – just in time – time to finish this – time to get started – time, time, time. There, the song again – time it. Why?

Why measure time? Better to count the grains of sand. The gulls sing their mournful song – are they sad because they have discovered time, too?

He held his hand to his chest and sighed. It was time to move on.

A very, very short story

IMG_4333The foul maguffin was there, in that cave. Of that, he had no doubt.

He stood outside at the entrance triumphantly. No one else knew. He had traced the most obscure clues from ancient time and knew for certain he was at the right spot: There was the marking on the side of the hill, just as described.

He withdrew his gun from its holster, aimed carefully, and fired. The supporting beam cracked, and from the ceiling soil began to dribble, then rocks and boulders amid a great rumbling.

Within seconds the passageway had crashed closed. From here on the side of the hill, it now looked just like a patch of soil. He used his knife to obscure the ancient markings once and for all.

The cave was sealed. The maguffin was buried deep in the mountain where it could never be used again for its evil purposes.

He would sleep well tonight.

Freeing the Wildflower Man

WILDFLOWERMAN(1)I wrote this little story about 20 years ago, and it has become probably my most popular bit of fiction. Only takes a few minutes to read; it took me less than 10 minutes to read it out loud.

Anyway, for today (Tuesday, Sept. 8), you can download it for your Kindle app for free on Amazon. There’ll be other free days, but this is one of them. Just sayin’