"The Cause" A Short Story


Staff member
Alright, this story isn't part of anything bigger. I just had some writer's block while working on something else and decided to take a break and basically type without direction of any sort. I basically started this out and decided to see where it would go. Feel free to read and comment.

Sitting, waiting, worried. A bead of sweat clung to his hairline. Drip, then another. The room was pitch back. The type you’d expect to see in a horror movie. A dim light seemed to squirm through a small peep hole across the room. It would come and go in spurts. He couldn’t remember how long he’d been in here. It felt like ages but he knew it was probably more like a few hours. The banging. . . The banging got to him. The constant banging, like drums from above. Maybe it was all in his mind, maybe he really did hear it.

His head hurt. He could feel the sweat running down his forehead. As it dripped on the floor he noticed the dark red crimson droplets all around him, blood. He felt light headed. He moved to lift his arm but to no avail. The chains dug further into his wrist. He winced. Footsteps echoed in the distance. Somebody was coming. . .

He heard voices outside his cell. Two people, both male. He couldn’t make out their conversation but the overall nature of it seemed panicked. The thick metal door creaked and then opened. The men walked in.

“Is this the one.” One man said, speaking directly to the other man. Neither one looked towards the man in shackles in the corner.

“Yes, let’s make this brief.”

This was all to real, all too soon. He still hadn’t completely regained awareness after the drugs he was given earlier. Drugs. . . That would explain the pounding, but not the fact that he was bound in a concrete cell.

“Mmph,” he opened his mouth to speak only to notice the leather gag. Odd, he hadn’t noticed before. As he continued to come to his senses he could now see that he was sitting in a chair. Both arms were tied down at the wrists, his legs bound with rope.

“Let’s try this one first,” the first man said, passing a small object to the other.

“Tom Keller?” One of the man asked.

“Mmph,” he said, shaking his head. His name was Alex Thorne. He’d never heard of this Tom Keller before.

“Shall we proceed?” the second man asked as he nodded towards Alex.

“Mr. Keller,” you’ve been found guilty of treason.

“MMPHHH!” Alex Thorne shook in his chair, his eyes widened.

“Mr. Keller, we have fingerprints, witnesses, ballistics. . .

Alex Thorne didn’t know what the man was talking about. He didn’t remember much of anything. The drugs, whatever they were had drained his senses, his memory.

“I’m going to let you speak Tom,” the man continued. “May I call you Tom?”

“NmphH!” Alex shook his head again. He wasn’t this Tom.

“Tom I’m going to let you speak,” the main said as he walked to the back of the metal chair. “I’m going to need you to say only what I ask.”

Click. . . The other man raised a pistol to Alex’s head.

“Tom, I’m going to need you to say only what I ask, is this clear.”

Alex nodded. Every second mattered and he had to buy time. He gasped as his muzzle was removed. Slowly he took breath after breath, thinking, unsure of what would happen next.

“Tom, look at me and repeat exactly what I say.”

Alex turned his head towards the man. He was holding up a small device with a light on it. A video camera?

“Tom when you see the red light flash I want you to say ‘My name is Tom Keller. On November 21st, 2008 I made contact with the outside world’.”

Alex sat there, silent but intently listening to his instructions.

“Tom, then I want you to say ‘I discussed top secret documents with an unknown individual. I later burned the documents, which contained military secrets’.”

Alex stared into the man’s cold eyes. He didn’t know what he was talking about but the gleam off of the pistol in his face begged him to listen.

“Finally Tom, I want you to say ‘I am guilty of treason. I will serve out my sentence at 5am, November 22nd, 2008’.”

Alex panicked. His name wasn’t Tom. He—

The cold steel barrel of the gun was now against his temple.

“Tom Keller, I’m going to hold out a piece of paper with your lines, in case you forget any of them. Are you ready?”


The gunman took a step back, holding his gun slightly out of the cameras frame. The red light began to flash. Alex had to think fast. Nothing. The red light flashed again. The paper was right in front of him.

“My name is Tom Keller,” he heard his voice as if in third person. Why was he doing this!

“On November 21st, 2008 I made contact with the outside world.” He continued, unable to think straight and unable to come up with a way out. The red blinking continued.

“I discussed top secret documents with an unknown individual. I later burned the documents, which contained military secrets.”

His next lines stared him in the face like a predator in the wild. If he said them he knew what would happen. If he wavered he could count on a bullet from close range.

“I am guilty of treason. I will serve out my sentence at 5am, November 22nd, 2008.”

The man pushed a button on the camcorder and the red light went out.

“Very good Alex. You’ve been quite helpful.” The cameraman said.


“You just called me Alex. . .”

“That is your name, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but—“

“But you’re probably wondering what this is all about.”

“I’m. . . confused?”

“You’ve been given a great honor Alex. Tom Keller is one of our government’s top spies.”

The man began pacing back and forth in the room. His boots echoing on the brick floor.

“Tom Keller’s identity was compromised during a top secret mission yesterday. Our enemies have demanded his life. They’ve threatened to unleash nuclear weapons capable of global reprecautions.”

“But I’m not Tom Keller” Alex was confused.

“You are leverage. Nobody has ever seen Tom Keller. Well, nobody on the outside.”

“I have friends, they’ll recognize me.” Alex said, trying to reason this through. “My family will notice I’ve gone missing.”

“I’m sorry but we don’t have time to go through all the fine print with you Mr. Thorne,” the man said as he picked up the muzzle and walked up to Alex. “The important thing for you to realize is that you are going to be part of a bigger cause. A bigger purpose. ”

Alex gagged as the plastic ball was again inserted into his mouth. He focused on his breathing, slowly from the nose. The strap tightened.

“As for your friends and family, they’ve been given the same opportunity that you have. You’ve all been in this prison for more than two years. Did you forget? Some of you have already been put to use. . .”

Alex’s eyes widened again. He jolted backwards in his chair. It was bolted to the floor.

“Don’t worry Alex, not a soul outside of this room will ever know what went on in here today. Tom Keller however, will be a hero. That’s you.”

Tears started to form in Alex’s eyes. Some of his family had already been put to use? Killed? He couldn’t even begin to wrap his mind around what was happening. How did he get here? What had become of his life before?

“It’s nearly 5am Alex. Time for your encore performance.”

Alex’s nose was beginning to run. His mouth was dry. If only he could swallow. The pounding returned. This time he could swear it was real. He noticed the red light had reappeared in front of him. The camera was on! What happened next? Nobody was saying anything. He looked at the camera man, his eyes wide with horror. The man nodded in the direction of the gunman.

And ladies and gentlemen, that's all she wrote. Thoughts please?
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/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
It can't end that way. This is a good prologue of a bigger story. You know, the type that if it were a movie, it's the first scene they show. After the very last act of it, the movie themesong starts to play and the title and major casts presented....

I have so many questions after reading it. It's not that it's incomplete, it's more that it aroused curiosity. I want to know more about how he was chosen, what happened to his family, the Tom character, etc. So no, it can't end that way. :hah:


Staff member
Haha, to be honest I just felt like posting some writing since I hadn't really posted anything yet. I thought it might work well for the beginning of something bigger later on but for now, since I just wanted to post it I decided to end it right then and there. :lol:

My theory is that if you leave people wanting more and thinking the story through then your work is done as a writer.

Quit while you're ahead. :D

Technically it could still continue with that ending. I wasn't specific. ;)
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/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
Oh I know it could. The only problem is when you're going to find time and inspiration to actually write about it. I wouldn't wish for you to have another writer's block for the other thingy just to do this.


Staff member
Well the only reason I even wrote this was because I need to clear my mind for a bit so I could get back to writing the other. It was as if I had something stuck in there that needed to get out so I could focus again.

The odd thing is that the style and story types couldn't be more different between this and the other one I'm working on.

This one was more or less "Let me think of something short to write so I can post it and let the good people of GF critique it". (Since I don't want to jinx my other project by posting part of it)
I don't know I kinda expected the ending, maybe that's just because I'm pretty morbid about those kinds of things. I like how you didn't develop much as far as the story itself goes. You kept the to bare bone facts, and that was the entirety of your story.

It didn't flow as much as I would have liked and the dialogue was a little choppy, I think you could've had a lot more emotion and description put into it, but hey there's always room for more, right? Seeing as you just threw it together on the spur of the moment it's pretty good. I enjoyed it, and it did have a nice suspenseful feel to it. I'd like to see you go over it again and just put more feeling into it...if that makes sense. You know Alex/Tom had to have been scared shitless by this time, I mean I knew he was but I didn't get the feeling as I read it. I guess thats the best way I can explain it.

over all though Hybrix really good. I like your writing style to begin with.