22 Minutes



“I can’t hang on any longer,” Thomas yelled down the line.

“You have to Thomas, if you let go we all die,” someone below yelled back.

“I can’t, Thomas yelled again, I feel like I’m losing my grip.”

Thomas was trying to hold onto the damp rusted steel bar above his head. The air was really hot right now and the little breeze that was blowing on them was sporadic at best. He was young and strong but he knew it wouldn’t be long till his hands would fail him, and the others.

What a bitch to have the lives of others in your hands, literally, he thought.

“Thomas, Thomas,” one of the others below him was yelling, trying to get his attention. “Thomas, “they screamed again.

He snapped out of his funk and yelled back,” What, what the hell do you want now?”

“Thomas, listen, we’ve been talking, we want to try and have one of us climb up to you and hold the bar while you rest.”

“You’re shitting me right? Thomas said, You want to have someone climb over the rest of you all the way up to me and then I hang on to that person?”

“Yes, Thomas, that’s what we think, we feel that would be best for all of us.”

He had to agree, he was getting tired and who knows how much time was left.

“Fine, Thomas said, “Send someone up here then. Make damn sure he’s strong.”

The others had already agreed that the youngest guy, named Philip would be the best choice. Philip was near the bottom of the group and he had now started to climb over the backs of the others. One step on this persons shoulder, then up onto another shoulder,

“Here he comes Thomas, be ready okay?”

Thomas wasn’t exactly excited about this decision but what choice did he have? This wasn’t all about him, there are others here too? He was tired and maybe it was best to have someone else hold onto the bar for awhile.

Philip was getting closer to the top of the group and he knew that when he got to the end he would become the one to hold onto the steel bar for the others. Philip was close now and he could see the bottom of Thomas’s legs just above him. He had never actually spoken to Thomas, since they all first arrived here a few days ago.

Philip was normally quiet and reserved around strangers; so when they all woke up together in this room a few moments ago, he tried to keep to himself. These people were total strangers to him; he tried to figure out his connection to them. He was pretty sure they were thinking the same way as he was.  Philip was about to talk to one of them, when the guy called Thomas started banging on the round steel walls of the room yelling to get out. There suddenly came a voice that told them to assemble in the center of the room next to the steel rusty ladder that stood there stretching up so high that you couldn’t see the top. The room itself was dimly lit and felt damp; the circular walls seemed to go up as well with no end in sight, the floor was metal or something and sounded hollow when you walked across it.

It was apparent that they were all locked in here somehow. But why and by who?

This Thomas guy obviously stepped up as a leader of some sort; he was the first one to speak back to the “Keepers.” That’s nickname that everyone used to identify “the voice”.  It made sense since everyone here was being kept.

When the “Keepers” told them all to stand on the ladder in the center of the room, one right above the other, head to feet all the way up, it was Thomas who yelled back at them “NO.” He was the only one who had resisted, that is until he was thrown across the room and slammed into the wall by some invisible force. The rest of them complied immediately and stepped up on the ladder in the order the “Keepers” commanded.

Once they were all lined up on the ladder, they were instructed to grab onto the legs or ankles of the person above them.


“Quickly now, you only have 22 minutes before the next group arrives,” the voice yelled out from somewhere at them.

The floor below them started to disappear; as did the walls in the room and so did the ladder one rung at a time. Suddenly they were all suspended in the air, nothing but the black damp air, with only each other to hold onto. Thomas being at the very top was the only one who had the steel ladder rung in his hands. The unlucky few at the very bottom of this human chain fell away into the black below, their screaming getting further and further away. Nobody said much after that, everyone just concentrated on holding on.

Philip grabbed Thomas’s ankle and felt him stiffen up like he was frightened or something, I guess this guy wasn’t the superman everyone below thought he was, Philip thought.

Thomas looked over his shoulder and saw that Philip was now just below his waist and within his reach. Thomas absently took one hand off the steel bar, and offered it to Philip when he realized that he was losing his grip with the one remaining hand, he quickly reached back up and grabbed the bar again with both hands.

“WHEW! That was close”, Thomas whispered.

Philip saw what was happening and quickly reached up past Thomas’s arms and grabbed the bar with his left, then his right hand. He and Thomas were now both occupying the same space. He told Thomas, “you can to let go now, I have a good grip, it’s okay, I have it.”

Thomas slowly took one hand off the bar and slid it down onto Philips arm and finally took his other hand off the bar and started to slide down past Philips belt, then to his ankles. Slowly Thomas descended onto the person below Philip, then down again and again until he was the one at the very bottom of the group.

Thomas looked up at the line of people and wondered how he had held them all up there for so long. Maybe it wasn’t that long really. It seemed like he was at the top for hours, but sneaking a peak at his watch told him it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes or so total.

A deep voice came out of the rusted darkness.”You must not change positions like that, it is not the way.” They said we had to keep things the way it was from the beginning. Thomas started yelling back at the voice, “screw you, we cannot hold on like this, we have to switch”, why are you doing this anyway?”

There was no reply, only silence, followed by some whimpering in the line. People were hurting, slipping.

Thomas was at the bottom now, he looked down and saw that being on the bottom of the group meant he would most likely be the next to fall into the black darkness below.

The person above him was a young woman, she was humming a familiar tune to herself. He tried to follow the tune but when she caught him trying to listen in she giggled and kept changing songs. She looked down at him and smiled.

Maybe when they got out of here he might ask her out on a date, “We’ll see,” he thought to himself.

Someone yelled out, “Philip, are you holding on okay?”

“Yes, yes I am okay,” Philip yelled back.

Thomas hung there looking down, his arms were tired, and he was really feeling weak. He thought about just letting go, just floating down into the black abyss, at least then it would be over and he could finally rest.

Why not, why not let go, screw this, the “Keepers” are never going to let us go anyway. Looking up at the pretty girl above him he casually took one hand off her leg, she felt him let go and looked down at him she smiled into his eyes and silently told him to hold on.

 “Maybe I will hang on just a little bit, yeah a bit longer for her.”

The fact that total strangers are being forced to hang on to each other like a human ladder and the person at the top is holding on to some wet rusty old steel bar with only his two hands so they all don’t fall into the darkness below is insane.

This whole thing was too much to even think about. Thomas felt that there must be a reason why he was here with these strangers. Were they all chosen for a particular reason? Who were all these other people, have I seen them before in my life?

He knew one thing for sure they all were running out of time.

How have they been able to hang on this long? Thomas looked at his watch; the 22 minutes were almost up now.


Right now, you are probably asking yourself what the HELL is this story about?

 Well, you may have just answered that question!


I was far from home one evening.

My youngest son (7 yrs old) and I were on the phone talking.

During our chat I asked him, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?”

He answered in his little phone voice, “I would like to fly.”

“FLY? I asked him, if you could, where would you fly to?

He replied softly,” I would fly to you daddy”.

I give you FLY, the story my little man inspired.




I’m scared DAD

Me too SON, but as long as we’re together I’m not as afraid

Really, really DAD

Really really SON

Okay DAD if you’re not afraid then I’ll be brave

Alright SON, take my hand walk to the edge of the cliff with me

Hold my hand tight DAD, you won’t let go will you

I won’t ever let go SON

Okay DAD let’s go to the edge, but I’m keeping my eyes closed

SON, we’re at the edge, look down

I can’t DAD

Ha-ha sure you can SON, just open your eyes


Come on SON open your eyes and look down

I’ll open one eye DAD

Okay SON, one eye is it open


All the way open SON

All the way DAD

See SON look down, cool isn’t it

Yeah DAD very cool

Both eyes now SON, open them both


Still feel brave SON

Yeah I do DAD, wow it’s far down

Yes it is SON, it’s very far down, but that’s good

Why is it good DAD

It’s good SON, because we get to fly longer

Longer DAD, you mean straight down more

Straight down at first SON, but then we’ll fly in circles

Big circles DAD

If that’s what you want SON

Yeah DAD, big circles like a big bird that would be cool

Okay SON big circles it is are you ready

Yeah, no wait one more thing DAD


What happens when it’s over DAD

What do you mean SON

What happens when we stop flying DAD

Oh well, then we land SON

After we land, DAD then what

Well SON then we walk home

We walk hand in hand right DAD

Yes SON hand in hand

Forever right DAD

Forever and ever SON



“Hand over the money NOW”.

I was standing by the potato chip rack when I heard the man with the weapon yelling.

“NOW” he said again. I peaked my head around the chip rack and looked in the direction of the yelling. The man with the weapon was reaching his hand out while the clerk put the money in it.

“Get on the floor”, he yelled next.

It startled me and I tried to back up too quickly and knocked over a display. the sound of the cans on the display hitting the ground made the man with the weapon turn and look in my direction. “Oh shit“, I thought to myself.

I heard his heavy footsteps coming my way and I darted around the aisle and ran towards the rear of the store as fast as I could.

BOOM, BOOM went the weapon. I could actually feel the bullets whizzing past my head, and I could smell the gunpowder. I ran thru the multi colored bead wall that separated the rest of the store from the back room.

“GET BACK HERE”, he yelled. I ran past some old woman cleaning fruit in an old steel tub. I looked at her, she looked at me, I kept running. There was a door and I made it to the handle just as another bullet struck the wall to my right. The handle turned and I pushed the door open and ran into the alley. The door must have had one helleva  spring on it because it slammed closed right behind me. I heard the man with the weapon crash into the closing door and curse.

I dove next to a dumpster in the alley and with my back against the wall I could see the door open as he ran right at me and my metal blanket. He raised the weapon and pointed it in my direction. Our eyes met for a moment, I could see him smiling and I could actually see his finger pulling back on the trigger.

Bright lights and a horn made us both look down the alley as the garbage truck slammed into him like a giant bowling ball and he was gone.

As the massive truck screeched to a halt a few yards past me, the only thing that remained was the money floating down to the pavement where he stood just seconds ago.

A friend gave me something today, and it compelled me to write something, anything to thank him. For in my life as of right now all I have to give is my writing. The story isn’t supposed to say anything about crime or heroism.

The story is about the money and how I now have it.

If you are trying to figure out how all this ties together, don’t.



I sit here alone in the darkness wondering if the light will come on soon. The people who left me here said that if I remain calm and don’t fuss that the lights would come back on. It’s been a good hour or so since they said that. I know they think I’m okay,but in reality I’m not. I do not like the dark I never have.

Wait a minute, is that a light under the door? It is a light, they came back. maybe I can leave now.

The light is gone, I must have dreamt it being there at all. Shoot.

Okay, I’ll stand up and walk around. That’s better, move around a little, aahh much better.

What’s that sound? It sounds like thunder, no it sounds like doors opening and closing? They’re coming back.

The light, there’s the light. Thank goodness, there’s light I hate the dark.


Stop yelling already, open the door. More More.

Oh my god, the light is so bright. Please turn the light off. It’s hurting my eyes, I can’t see.

I guess the moral of the writing is:

Hell, I got nothing, no moral, nothing. I just like writing blindly.

If you think there’s a story in here let me know. I’ll run with that.




  1. lexkerridwen says:

    Your short stories are pretty amazing and..impressive! Keep up the great work! ;)

  2. I just want to know why those people are hanging and what happens. Do they fall do they climb up What?

    • sobnyc says:

      well,,22 minutes huh?

      I get a lot of varying viewpoints on that one. The most interesting on is that they have all died and are hanging between heaven and hell…OR they are all on life’s ladder, the older ones slip to the bottom whereas the younger ones climb to the top until they too get weak and then take their place at the bottom. As for the title 22 minutes, well I started writing not too long ago and I have this big book of titles, every now and then I open that book pick a title and start typing, I have no idea where I am going or if the title is even relevant to the story that falls from my brain onto the paper. WHEW, that was a lot huh?? what do ya think?

      • Like you said you can’t write to much. I envy you. I use to be able to write short stories like that. They just don’t flow like that any more. I have a novel I’m writing half way through but I just don’t devote myself to it. I think it’s really good. When you write they way you do I believe that you aren’t doing the writing a higher power is doing it for you, he’s just letting you take credit.

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