My collection of free short stories. Because nothing else in life is free.

3 Different Seconds

3 Different Seconds

Author’s Notes: One of my first stories, and by far the most popular. It was a look at helping write dialogue. I placed third in a contest with a previous story and the biggest complaint was the flat dialogue. This story is almost all dialogue and it also helps to understand that there are two boys being interviewed before you start reading.

Subject 1:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Martin Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 9:00 A.M.”How are you doing today, Martin?” Doctor Wurzbach’s voice entered through the static.
“Good,” Martin replied.
“If you do not mind Martin, I would like to go ahead and ask about the first time you discovered your ability,” Doctor Wurzbach said with his deep calm voice.
“Sure. Like I said before, it all just kind of happened. Well, I was out with my friends. We were walking home from practice and we got to the bridge across from the park. Michael jumped on the stone wall on one side of the bridge,” he stopped.
“Go on,” Doctor Wurzbach said.
“He fell… or so I thought he did. But…” he paused again.
“But he did not?” Doctor Wurzbach filled in.
“No. I grabbed his hand and well… he… um… didn’t fall.”
“So you saved him,” Doctor Wurzbach suggested.
“Well, I didn’t think I saved him. I just thought it was… I don’t know… ”
“So did you tell anyone about this?”
“No. I thought it might have been something… I don’t know… like maybe… I don’t know I couldn’t explain it.”
“So no one knew yet? Your parents? Your brother…”
Martin interrupted, “No one knew.”

Subject 2:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Christopher Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 10:30 A.M.

“How have you been Christopher?” Doctor Wurzbach’s voice cleared the static.
“Bad. I don’t want to be here.”
“Why is that?” Doctor Wurzbach asked.
“It’s cold and it stinks.”
“Well, I will see what I can do to better accommodate your stay.”
“Why am I here?” Christopher asked.
“To talk. To see why…”
“Look. I don’t see why…”
“How did you get those scars on your arm?” Doctor Wurzbach interrupted.
“What scars?”
“The scars on your arms… You know your parents are concerned.”
“No one asked them to be concerned.”

Subject 1:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Martin Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 9:05 A.M.

“Did you use it during your soccer games?” Doctor Wurzbach asked.
“At first it felt wrong. It felt like I was cheating; but it started coming to me naturally. I remember the first goal I made,” he cleared his throat.
“I made a run towards the goal and when I went to kick the soccer ball… I saw myself miss the goal. It curved high and to the right but then I was back. I was still running towards the goal. I paused and then corrected the kick. The next thing you know my team was screaming and crowding around me. I scored.”

Subject 2:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Christopher Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 10:33 A.M.

“Have you ever been punched?” Christopher asked.
“Well… yes,” the doctor answered.
“Have you ever seen yourself get punched 3 seconds before it happens? It feels like…” he paused, “it feels like getting punched twice.”
“The first time I realized I could see into the future I got the worse beating in my life. You know, you see it hit you, so you flinch. But it doesn’t come when it’s expected; it comes 3 seconds later. Of course, after a couple of times you kinda get the timing down but you still see twice as many fist hit you.”
“So you can see 3 seconds into the future?”
“Well… now I can see further.”

Subject 1:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Martin Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 9:07 A.M.

“So you can see 3 seconds into the future, Martin?” Doctor Wurzbach asked.
“Yes, about 3 seconds.” Martin answered.
“Do you mind if I test you?”
“Sure.”
The doctor spoke into the microphone, “I am holding two stopwatches and an ace of spades from a deck of cards. I have started both stopwatches at the same time. One stopwatch does not make a sound. I will give this to Martin.” One click is heard on the recording. “Here Martin, take this stopwatch. I have started both at the same time. When I raise the ace of spades I want you to stop your watch.”
A couple seconds of silence pass. Then a click is heard.
“My stopwatch reads 5.09 seconds,” said Martin.
“I can confirm this and my stop watch reads 8.52 seconds,” said Doctor Wurzbach.

Subject 2:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Christopher Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 10:40 A.M

“So you are telling me you can test me using these stopwatches,” Christopher asked.
“Yes,” Doctor Wurzbach answered back.
“This is stupid. You see these cuts. This is my testing,” he emphasized the word my, “I’m up to seven seconds.”
“Amazing. Seven seconds, how?”
“I think the fear of pain increases the time.”
There is a long pause before it is interrupted with, “I’ve done some pretty crazy things in seven seconds Doc. I’ve done some gruesome things. I’ve even murdered people… some of them multiple times. I’ve murdered you twice during our conversation.”

Subject 1:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Martin Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 9:20 A.M.

“The bus was a mistake.”
“I do not understand, Martin.”
Martin hesitated and then said, “The bridge… Um, well… The bus drove off the side of the bridge. So I tried to stop it. I got up from my seat and ran down the aisle towards the driver.”
“What happened then?” the doctor asked calmly.
“I fell… and I caused the accident.”

Subject 2:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Christopher Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 10:55 A.M

“Why were you on the bridge Chris?”
“I was just…”
“Jumping off the bridge?”
“Well… yeah. How did you know?”
The doctor explained, “Seven seconds. That is plenty of time to stop you from killing yourself. But tell me… What do you see before you jump?”
“Nothingness. Complete and total nothingness,” Chris paused for a moment and then continued, “It’s just black and empty.”
The tape filled with static. As it slowly cleared, Doctor Wurzbach voice said, “What happened when the bus came?”

Subject 1:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Martin Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 9:24 A.M.

“As the bus swerved, I saw my brother standing on the wall on the bridge. He turned around and looked straight at me. He stared into my eyes. I saw it in his eyes. He could see the future too.”
“It happened so fast. He jumped towards the doors and pried his way in quick,” Martin took a quick breath. “He grabbed the steering wheel and kept the bus on the bridge. He saved us.”

Subject 2:
An excerpt from a tape recording of Christopher Stevens’ interview with Dr. Henry Wurzbach.
1/20/89 11:00 A.M

“The first thing I saw was me jumping onto the bus. I saw myself pry the door open but I had problems. So I tried it a different way. It was like I had multiple tries at everything.”
“So you saved everyone?”
“Yeah,” Chris said unenthusiastically.
There was silence and then the sound of a notebook closing.
“Well then I think we are done,” Doctor Wurzbach said.
“So that’s it. I can leave?”
“Yes. I believe that even after this frightful incident you can still live a normal life.”
“So… no more talking, no more test?  No scientist taking me apart or using me as a weapon.”
The doctor assured, “No. As long as you do not attract anymore attention you can go off living a normal life.”
“What if I do? What if I do want to attract attention? What if I do want to save people? What if I want to become a hero?”
“Then you must decide on your own if it is worth the risk.”

The voices faded out from the small tape recorder Doctor Henry Wurzbach held in his hand. He pulled the last tape from the recorder and lingered. He thought to himself, “I had a chance to save him,” before he tossed the last bit of evidence into the fireplace.

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