teal volkswagen beetle

Breaking Ben

Flash Fiction — 28 Days of Stories

The night was passing and there was no time to think. Ben was awake. It was after midnight. He knew it was now or never.

Everything about Ben’s existence was monitored. Evan, his son, got alerts on his phone for everything about the house and Ben. If he was out of bed at night, if the camera caught anything moving, if the garage door opened. If it happened in the house, Evan knew about it. Ben asked if he was going to install something to know when the toilet flushed, too. Evan rolled his eyes followed by the obligatory, “Dad, seriously.” That memory still made Ben laugh.

Ben opened the app on his phone that controlled the garage door. Evan had to put it on Ben’s phone because the cameras were at Ben’s house, but Evan never showed him how to use it. Ben figured it out anyway. If he opened the garage first, he could get to the breaker panel and shut the power down. Then he and Ruthie could escape.

Opening the garage would start the clock. He was ready. He pressed the button on the screen. So unsatisfying to press something and not have something beep or feel the mechanical click. But the notice came up that the garage door was opening and that meant Ben had very little time.

Ben walked in the dark to the living room where his keys hung by the latch, grabbed them, and put them in his pocket. Next, it was 37 steps to the sunroom where the electrical panel was. He had been practicing so he could steer clear of the rocking chair and the floor lamp. He knew the camera would capture something of a figure going into the room, but Evan wouldn’t be able to see anything else. Ben got to the panel and switched off all the breakers.

Unmonitored for a few precious minutes, Ben pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned on the flashlight. If Evan happened to get there in the middle of the night while Ben was still here, wandering around with a flashlight would be perfectly plausible. But Ben didn’t think he’d see Evan again.

He shuffled to the back door, grabbed Ruthie’s leash, and whistled. He heard the jingle of her dog tags against her collar.

“Come on, girl,” Ben said as he bent down to clip the leash on his sweet puggle. A faithful companion for many years, Ruthie loved car rides.

Ben made his way to the garage with two minutes to spare. He had managed to evade Evan detecting that he was packing items for his travel bag in the car every time he took a messenger bag with him on an appointment. It had taken a month to get everything he wanted in the trunk. It was time for one last adventure.

He placed a sealed envelope for Evan on the workbench along with his phone, credit cards, and the agreement Evan had signed for Ben to move to the assisted living facility.

He started his car, rolled out into the night, and left the garage door open.


About Christine Wilcox Anderson

Writer, former corporate communications exec, and perpetual student of life on this rock.
%d bloggers like this: