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Cut Alexander Brenner Copyright 2011

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Cut a wire. Take a guess. Spin the wheel of fortune. Red, white or blue. So many options, and you’re running out of time. Where are you, anyway? You glance around. In front you see a monitor and on it, in large, white characters, “00:23:14”. Minutes, seconds and milliseconds. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but to you, everything is happening in slow motion right now. To your right, a man wearing only black, covered in red, is staring at the ceiling. You know for a fact that he is dead. You know this because you’re the one who killed him. You asshole. Well, fuck it. “00:22:56”. Behind the dead man, only a few feet away, an open door leading in to a hallway. You can’t tell from your viewpoint, but you know there’s an elevator there, which goes down to the ground floor. You know this because that’s how you got up here. And just in time, too, eh? Just in time to get covered in blood. Just in time to become a murderer. Just in time to save the day. Good idea. Note to self, one, never answer a phone call again, two, don’t try to be a hero, and three- You don’t know. Why are you thinking about this now? “00:19:87”. You should be thinking about things that matter. It’s funny, really. You know how people say that when they’re close to dying their life flashes in front of their eyes? Let me tell you how full shit those people are. What really happens is their minds go blank. They can’t think of a single thing. You know this because right now, you can’t see your mother’s face, you can’t recall you first kiss. Shit, you don’t even remember what you had for breakfast. Or, wait, cereals. Yeah, now you

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remember. You remember since they ended up on the floor. She threw the bowl off the table before leaving with the last moving box. A nice parting gift.

Come on. Take a guess. Black, orange or green. Which one can it be? You turn your head to the other side of the room. Doors, doors and more doors. A hallway filled with numbers, ranging from two hundred to two hundred nintynine. If you listen closely, you can hear the muffled sounds of a television showing Sunday morning cartoons and the sound of kids laughing in delight. If you listen really hard you can hear a couple fucking. How nice. Can’t remember the last time you got to do that, can you? Or, wait, of course. Clarise. It was just before you decided it was time. Yeah, that’s right. You fucked her one last time. Then you told her. Such great timing you have. You asshole. If you listen really carefully you can hear a beep from the duffle bag in front of you. You’re not a brain physicist, but you can make an educated guess that it’s the timer. And the timer tells you something along the lines of “00:15:00”. A helpful reminder.

We haven’t got all day. Take a guess. Pink, purple or a brown. Can’t be that hard. Something gets in your eye; you raise your hand and wipe it off. A simple gesture, and almost two seconds of your life are gone. Forever.

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”00:13:37”. It strikes you how something so seemingly insignificant can make such a difference. Like a phone call. Ring. Your life is perfect. Ring. You’re a newlywed. Ring. You’re free of fuck-ups. Ring. Except, you know... Ring. But, that was- Click. “Uhn. Hello? Who is this?” This conversation took place five minutes ago, by the way. You are silent at first, waiting for an answer. Then you ask again. “I said, who is-“ “See that hotel next to the payphone you’re standing at?” You’re silent for a moment, glancing down at your watch. You don’t have time for this, do you? You have to see your lawyer at ten. You sigh, and ask again. “What? Who am I speaking to?” “There’s a something dangerous there at the fifth level. You’d better stop it.” “Excuse me? I don’t have time for-“ “Five minutes”. Click. Of course the guy on the phone can’t be serious. No one does this for real, right? Probably some kids pulling a prank. No worries. Fucking kids. Those fucking assholes. How dare they? How dare they fuck up your shit? Your
Alexander Brenner

perfect fucking life with your perfect fucking wife? Fuck. And fuck again. You start walking towards the hotel. It’s right next to the payphone where you just answered a seemingly random phone call. It can’t hurt to have a look, right?

Red. Red. Red. Cut one, damnit. Back to reality. “00:11:12”. Now you start to lose it. Somewhere, in a room, someone is receiving a phone call. You only catch the first ring, but it’s enough for you to remember. It’s maddening. Your mind is in a mess. Ring. Like too much alcohol on a Saturday night. Ring. Like going home with some girl whose name you can’t remember. Ring. Like being twenty-one, and stupid. Ring. Stupid enough not to wear a condom. Click. “Hi, uhm… Tom? My name is Rebecca. You probably don’t remember me. But we met one night five years ago and-“ Click. That conversation took place five weeks ago, by the way.

Just pick one. Apple green, electric yellow, navy blue. But it doesn’t matter. “00:10:13”. Again you look at the screen in front of you. It amazes you how some maniac actually took the time to hack the hotel’s information monitor in order to fuck with you. Large white numbers are on the screen, there just to fuck with you. You. Makes you feel special, doesn’t it? All fuzzy and warm inside. Wires from the screen linked up with the contents of the bag. The duffle

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bag with the bomb in it, that is. Lots of buttons on this thing, you think to yourself. The bomb, that is. Why no rewind button for the timer? Why not? Life should have one like that. A rewind button, that is. Rewind three minutes and you’ve just entered the hotel lobby. You pass by a man who looks like an FBI agent. How can you tell? He’s showing something from his wallet to the manager at the reception, asking something in a discreet way. Looks official, but you could be wrong. He shifts his attention to you, briefly. You can tell he looks stressed. Actually, he looks suspicious. Rewind to two minutes and you’ve reached fourth floor. And oh shit, there’s a bag on the floor and no one around who it could belong to. Why is it here? A remote controller is lying on top of it, along with a note. “Turn me on”, the note says, with a winking smiley at the end of it. Charming. You press the “on” button on the remote and the TVmonitor in front of the bag goes on. Now you’re scared. Why does the monitor suddenly show the characters “01:32:01”? You open the bag and congratulations. You’re fucked. In the bag you find a bomb, a pair of wire cutters, and hey, look, there’s a gun there too? You pick it up. It has a silencer attached to it. Why is the gun here? Maybe the psycho who left the bag simply forgot it? Maybe you’ll never know. Rewind one minute. You’re on your knees. You stare at the bomb. You stare down the hallway where you can hear kids watching Sunday cartoons. You stare at the monitor. You stare down towards where the elevators are. You stare at the FBI agent from the lobby. He looks like he’s going to reach for his gun. Actually, he’s already got it aimed at you;
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his finger is on the trigger. And he’s squeezing it. It’s understandable, really. Find a man in a hotel with a bomb and a gun. You know you’d shoot the asshole too. At this point, however, you’ve already fired at him with the silenced gun you found in the bag. And the agent’s pitch-black suit is now a mess. He never even got a shot at you. He falls to the floor. And as he lies there, dying, maybe he gets that you’re not the madman who’s responsible for the bomb. Maybe because you look scared shitless. That would explain why his last words are: “The red wire”, after briefly having glanced at the contents of the duffle bag only a few feet away. Hm. Well, in summary: no rewind button. Only play. Only right here, right now. And right now it’s “00:05:00”. Beep.

Okay. You know what? Face reality. Take a guess. Cut a goddamn wire already. Cut the grey, black or white one. It doesn’t matter what color you pick. It doesn’t matter that you fucked some random girl five years ago and for some stupid reason refused to wear a condom – that it turns out she has a kid who she wants you to take responsibility for. It doesn’t matter that your perfect, newlywed wife, is upset about this since you told her everything a few weeks ago, and that she’s moved out, and that she wants a divorce. It doesn’t matter that some psycho is playing games with you, and wants to kill you, and wants to take down a crowded hotel as well. And it doesn’t matter that in all likelihood, the madman is getting away with it too. It doesn’t matter what color the wires

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are. You know why? Because you’re colorblind. And you’re asshole, too. You deserve this, you motherfucker. But, you know what? They don’t - the people in these hotel rooms. The Sunday-morning-cartoon-watching-kids, the person whose phone is ringing, the couple who’s having themselves a good ol’ Sunday morning fuck. Of course you don’t know them, so you don’t know for sure. But perhaps they deserve to live. So you try. There’s a chance. Red looks a bit darker to you - a darker shade of grey. So you can guess. But you can’t know for sure. But hey, we all gotta die someday, don’t we? The wire cutters are placed firmly in your hand. Ready. “00:02:19”. And you cut.

Alexander Brenner

Alexander Brenner is a Swedish-American student, who just likes to write for the hell of it. His website is alexanderbrenner.se. You must give credit to the writer if you wish to use this work for non-commercial purposes. You may not use this work for commercial purposes unless you make specific arrangements with the writer.

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