Story created in response to Zachary Pettit’s writing prompt “Literary Roadshow, Slaughterhouse-Five Edition” found in his Promptly blog post: Beyond the Books – A Closer Look at Kurt Vonnegut, 8 Mar 2011.
It Just Happened (word count: 415)
“What did his wife say?”
“She doesn’t know yet,” I said. “It just happened.”
“Call her up and get a statement.”
“A statement,” the patronizing butthead repeated. “One of those things we get from people when things like this happen.”
“I know what a statement is, sir, but this isn’t exactly normal…and what exactly am I supposed to ask her? She doesn’t have any idea that it just happened, nor that her husband was involved with it.”
“The head shed doesn’t care. They just want something from ‘the grieving widow’ so that they can twist it to mean what they want.” As he headed out the door, he quipped, “Just get a statement.”
I growled as I turned to the phone and picked it up to make the call. As I started pushing buttons, trying to figure out what I was going to say, I heard someone on the other end.
“Hello,” I said. “Who is this?”
“It just happened, didn’t it?”
“Ma’am, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Who are you?”
“He told me it would happen sooner or later. You didn’t think he kept secrets from me, did you?”
“Again, ma’am, I’m not sure what you think you know…”
“I know everything. He made copies of his research so that if something happened, he wouldn’t just disappear without anyone finding out what he was working on.”
I was at a loss. “Um… I, uh…”
“Well, I suppose I should call the authorities now that you’ve all bungled things up. That’s what he wanted me to do.”
“Ma’am, there’s no need to do that. We weren’t doing anything. It just happened.”
“Young man, I’m not stupid or senile. Things don’t just happen, but I don’t suppose it matters now. It’s just a matter of time before what you’ve all started finishes us.”
“There’s no reason for dramatics, ma’am. We have everything contained.”
“If you believe that, you have no idea what they were really working on.”
She’d caught me off guard again. Did she really know that much about the project?
Her voice had softened, gotten more peaceful, when she continued, “Ah, well, I’ll be heading down to the cathedral and spending my last few hours on earth in His presence. I’d suggest you do similar, but I find many of the folks my husband worked with found it difficult to believe in what they couldn’t see.”
I heard her hang up, heard the line go dead, and then my world imploded.