500 Word Short Story
The Hardest Decision
Scott A. Gese

500 Word Short Story

The fire was getting close. The air was almost too hot to breath.

Adam Tipton was in his Chicago office on the fifty-first floor. The day had started out like any other. He hit the snooze button on his alarm twice giving him a late start. He skipped breakfast but made his usual stop at Starbucks for a triple shot Americano on the way in.

Ever since 9/11 and the Twin Towers event, he had been paranoid about getting caught in the building if it should ever catch on fire. And now his worst nightmare had happened. He recalled seeing the images of people falling to their death after they had jumped from the tower windows. He often wondered if these people just took the easy way out or if they had some delusion of possibly surviving the fall.

Some of his coworkers had smuggled in parachutes and hid them in their file cabinets. Adam had done the same. He had taken a few lessons so if it ever came down to it, he was prepared to jump, and to survive.


When the alarm had gone off a couple of hours earlier, several people had sprinted for the stairs, but they were turned back due to heavy smoke in the stairwell. The fire had started just three floors below and was quickly spreading out of control. Many of the office workers decided to head for the roof.

Two of his friends had put on their parachutes and were busy breaking out a nearby window. As soon as they did, they jumped.

There was a woman in the office. Her name was Ann. She was a mother of two young children. She sat at the desk next to Adam and he and Ann had become good friends. She was in a panic. She was trying to call her husband but the phones were not connecting and now she was sitting at her desk crying, not knowing what to do. Adam felt bad for her. She didn't have a chute.

Once the fire had reached his floor, Adam made the decision to strap his chute on. He walked over to the window his friends had broke out. He wanted to say good-by to Ann, but couldn't get himself to do it.

He was ready to jump when she called out to him. “Please take me with you!”

“I don't know if the chute will carry both of us,” he replied. Adam now had to decide if he should take the chance.

Against his better judgment he took off the chute and strapped it on Ann. “I have a better grip. We're both going to jump. Either we make it or we don't.”

Adam grabbed Ann and they jumped out the window together. He quickly pulled the cord and the chute opened. He was right. The weight was too much. They were falling too fast.

Adam needed to make another decision. It wasn't easy, but he did it.

He let go.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.