Tag Archives: John Michael

To Be Afraid

By John Michael


Every Wednesday I watch a game show called To Be Afraid. Contestants admit their deepest fear while hypnotized and they wake up the next day confronted with that fear for 24 hours. If they guess it by sunrise, they get to spin the prize wheel.

My favorite episode is with this middle-aged guy named Dennis. Dennis wakes up and his wife is vacuous and frumpy. Before saying good morning, his Ivy-educated children ask for money. At work, the guy Dennis trained five years ago is now his boss. He informs the whole office that the C-suite drained the pensions and ran to the Caymans.

Dennis goes home to decompress. He flips through a thousand channels but everything is asinine. On the news, they report that the leaders of all faiths have called a press conference to admit that God is a scam. The President interrupts to announce that the evil cabal puppeteering all governments has become powerful enough to rule openly. Under talking heads debating if this will affect the price of gas reads the caption: “NEW TYRANNY ONTOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT? Sixth Extinction Already Under Way, Majority of Biologists Agree Too Late to Stop.”

Dennis drives to a bridge and steps over the railing. He stares at the water and feels the velocity of his tears dragging him down with them. “There’s no point!” he screams into the void and lets go of the railing. Several spotlights punch on and the key grip grabs Dennis by the collar. Dennis guessed correctly.

Back at the studio, Dennis spins the wheel with little more than gravity. He wins a rider mower worth an economy sedan. The skin on his cheeks is transparent and he doesn’t appear to be looking at anything when he says, “We live in a condo.”


John Michael doesn’t have a Boston accent. His work is published or forthcoming in Really Short Stories, The Finger, and NANO Fiction, among others. He is currently working on a novella. Read more at www.johnmichaeltxt.com.

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