by Chris McGinty
A man walked into a bar. The bar was dark and disturbing. He realized it was possible he wasn’t in a joke. He raised his guard just in case. There may be a punchline somewhere around here, but he might also get punched.
There was a man in the corner. Better said, there was a man in the shadows. Unless it was a genie with three wishes, he would need to watch his step. Why did the man cross the bar? To get to the other side.
“Should I leave?” he asked the shadowed stranger. “There’s no reason I needed to walk into a bar.”
“You’re here to meet your fate.”
“That’s what I was worried about.”
The stranger held out a hand. The man knew that he wanted his wrist. He held out his wrist. The stranger took it and sliced it. He started to bleed. This was not a joke. Even if somehow it was, it wasn’t a joke he wanted to live in.
The stranger held his arm tight. He wondered if he would bleed out. Was it an endurance test? Was it just murder?
“Why am I here?”
“To meet your fate.”
“I know. But what does that mean?”
The stranger signaled for silence. He watched as the blood raised from his wrist, floating through the air. He could see the future in the spray. It wasn’t all bad, like he might truly enjoy his life if he could survive this.
The blood spray shifted and he saw another version where his life spiraled horribly. He was imprisoned and tortured. He suffered for decades and never knew happiness. It was the most awful existence a person could imagine.
“These are two paths your life can take.”
The man couldn’t remember why he walked into the bar, but he wished more and more that he hadn’t.
“Your wife will die. It will be quick. It will be mostly painless.” The stranger spoke coldly and without sympathy. “You will suffer, but you will live the better of the two lives. If she lives though, so the torture and pain you saw yourself enduring will be fated for you and delivered tenfold. You must tell me what you wish.”
The man hated himself. He hated what this was even more. It was the most twisted way to live out a bad joke he could imagine. He made his choice.
“Take my wife… please, take my wife.”
Chris McGinty is a flash fiction writer who clearly doesn’t understand the concept of a one-liner.