Traitor | A Short Story

This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! Read more.

It was an interesting exercise to update this short story. Until very recently, my process was just follow an idea and see where it lead. But lately I’ve realised that in many cases, this causes issues with my stories that I don’t see until much later. 

I’ve been reading John Turby’s “Anatomy of a Story: 22 Steps To Become a Master Storyteller” and it’s helped me see why developing a better process is going to make me a better, more efficient writer. This story is the perfect example of a text that made sense in the moment, with some important issues only becoming apparent after a long time.

Hopefully, as I practise more with creating a better process for ideation and writing drafts, it’ll be easier to come up with tighter stories.

Anyway, this one might be a tad grim, but I do hope you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

Traitor | A Short Story

short story examples

“Don’t you think we should tell somebody?” The young man flinched at the festival of horror pouring from the small, flat screen on the desk: the yellow dust that engulfed entire cities, the homes consumed by fire, the snow storms, the injured and ill lying on hospital floors and on the side of the street holding bloody rags to their faces. He could almost smell the iron in their tears.

“Nothing we can do about it,” the older man shrugged as he looked back at his report. “We’re supposed to report, that’s all.”

The young man let out a sigh of sorrow and frustration. The same blood flowed through their veins, even after their common ancestors turned to the stars for shelter from the very horrors on the screen. He was safe, but all he could do now was watch them die.

His partner was still focused on his report, with the expression of someone preoccupied with meeting a deadline. They didn’t talk much. He must’ve been around 50, the young man thought, and surely he must have seen plenty of suffering on that screen.

“It’s hard at first, I know,” the old man started, feeling his coworker’s stare. “Would you sacrifice our peace for them? Nobody wants to think about Earthlings destroying themselves. We have our own problems to worry about. Even if you could interfere, what can you do? They stopped listening to us 150 years ago.”

He knew the story. He remembered the lessons about the political conflicts about the environment on Earth that led his people out of the planet, the initial mutual collaboration and the breakdown of relationships between their two planets after the distance made silence and indifference more convenient.

Despondent, he opened a blind to let natural light in from the lush, green patio. In his world, gardens were visible from at least one office window. Mornings were cool and fresh in the city forest, but sunset found him wide awake when the raging chaos on the screen bled over the peace and quiet of his nights.

Did people know? He’d scan people’s faces on his daily commute, looking for a sign that somewhere, deep within their minds, there was a thought for the people they left behind all those centuries ago. How could there be? Earth was half a chapter in their History books, an afterthought, a place their ancestors had to endure before they found freedom.

The tightness in his chest became unbearable. He stood up, tall, dishevelled, and paced around the room to stop himself from smashing the screen. On his desk, his report still lay empty on this writing screen. The report could shake society into reaching out to Earth again, to try to save them, again. All he needed to do was take that report home.

“I need some fresh air. I’ll be right back,” he whispered, almost out of breath, and fumbled with his writing screen to turn it off while he was away.

The older man didn’t even turn to look at him. “Bring us some coffee on your way back.”

The younger man nodded, hands in his pockets, and left the office trying not to run.

He just needed to reach the locker rooms, where his bag remained during his shift, to hide the micro storage disk with the report until he got home. It wasn’t too late to shake them up. It wasn’t too late to save Earth. With every step, the screaming from worlds away quiets down. The end of the hallway and the door to the locker rooms were near.

In the office, the old man, still on his desk, pressed a button on his device. He caught a glimpse of that spark in his companion’s eyes right before he left the office. It was a familiar spark, one he had to kill from within himself decades ago. He had been there before, watching over the other ones, spending time with them in his nightmares, dreaming of a way to save them. His finger rested on the alarm button for a minute while he processed and discarded the sadness, just as he had been taught.

“I want to report a theft and a violation of secrecy policies,” he whispered and realised that he’d have to get his own coffee.

Liked this short story? Here’s more flash fiction I think you’ll enjoy: Seeds (part 1) | Freedom

1 Comment

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.