Beyond the Pale by Thomas O’Connell

“Dad, it’s me,” Steven panted into the phone. “I called 911 on the drive over.”

“Steven,” a man on the other end said, followed by a low, deliberate inhale.

“Dad, I’m at the gate but I don’t know the code to punch into the keypad.”

“I would think you’d know.”

“But I don’t,” Steven shouted. “You need to tell me.”

He checked his phone, a half-hour since his dad called him.

“Dad, the ambulance won’t get in either,” Steven pleaded, grabbing the gate. “I need the code.”

“Maybe my birthday,” a soft voice said.

“Great, May 10th, no 15th? 0515?”

“That’s my birthday.”

Steven punched the keys, stepping back from the gate. It didn’t move.

“Not it, Dad. What else could it be?”

“Maybe the year your mother and I married.”

“Okay, what year was that?”

“What year?”

“Yeah, Dad. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, I remember- 1963.”

“That’s not it either. You’ve gotta remember; I only have one more try. Punch in the wrong code three times, the system thinks someone’s breaking in.”

“I think it’s your birth year? You know that don’t you?”

Steven punched in the same code as his ATM pin.

“Not it, Dad. Now you’re screwed, I can’t get in.”

“I remember, the code is today’s date. Try that.”

“Today’s date? I can’t, I’m out of tries.”

Steven’s father adjusted his pillow. Reaching to place the phone on the cradle he knocked over the pill bottle, startling as it fell until he remembered it was empty.


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Filed under Thomas O'Connell

8 responses to “Beyond the Pale by Thomas O’Connell

  1. He was out of tries. Oh, this works on so many different levels. Nice one!

  2. Kept me on the edge of my seat right until the last line. Great pacing and nice use of dialogue to tell the story and reveal your twist on this week’s theme.

  3. yes, this was very manic and worked really well. it’s hard to have so much dialouge in such a confined space but you did it.

  4. Nice take on the theme! It does keep one’s attention throughout.

  5. Great take on the theme. I hate how we all have so many passwords to remember; your story reminds us some passwords are crucial. Gripping stuff. Peace…

  6. Pingback: Week #39 – Password | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  7. Michael

    Though this is a somber and sobbering event, I have to admit that I had a smile the entire way through, mainly because I have so many passwords. And if I were asked what year I was married, well that might just cause an aneurysm. Passwords are our doom, that’s at the root of this. Very nice.

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