A mandatory survey

Photo by Negative Space on

<Ring! Ring! Ring!>

“Hello? This is Jenna speaking.”

“Hello. This is Demon Beta. We are calling from the Grim Reaper office about a mandatory life span survey. It is required that everyone takes this survey. Do you have a minute to talk now?”

“Oh hi. I can talk in about 3 minutes. I’m taking my kid out to the school bus now, I’ll put you on hold then I can be right back. Is that ok?”

“Yes, madam. I’ll hold.”

<hold music playing>

“Hi. This is Jenna. Thank you for waiting. I’m back.”

“Hi Jenna. Can we talk about the survey now?”

“Sure. Go ahead. I can talk now.”

“Thank you. So how this is going to work is, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. After each set of questions, from the information you provided me, I will provide you with a estimate time deduction. Please keep in mind that those are only estimations. We do not guarantee that the estimations will happen exactly within the time frame we provided. We are not responsible to answer any questions that we deem inappropriate. Can I please get a confirmation that you understand the procedure of the survey?”

“Sure. I understand. I confirm.”

“Very good madam. So first question, how often do you use hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine?”

“Oh, no. I don’t use them. Never.”

“Ok. So your estimate time deduction is 0 for that question. Next question, how often do you smoke cigarrette or consume tobacco products?”

“Uhm. Not that often anymore. I do smoke everyday but I tried to only do once a day.”

“Ok. So your estimate time deduction for that question is 8 years.”

“Yeah. I do expect that.”

“Ok. Good. How often do you drink alcohol?”

“About once or twice a week.”

“Your estimate time deduction for that question is six years. Do you have depression?”

“Depression? No, no. I’m sad here and there, like everyone else, but no, not depression.”

“Madam, I just want to remind you that it’s illegal to provide wrongful information to the Grim Reaper agency. We already had all your information.”

“No. I wasn’t lying. I really don’t have depression. I don’t think it’s bad enough to be call a depression. Where do you get that information from?”

“Ok, madam. So going off from what I have on file about your mental health, your estimate time…”

“I asked you where you got that information from? Don’t ignore me. Answer that. Who said I have depression?”

“Madam, calm down. Your estimate time deductio…”

“I’m fucking calm. Who do you think you are to call my house and called me a liar and told me I had depression? I’m not weak. I don’t have depression.”

“Madam, those questions are considered inappropriate so I won’t answer them. You had confirmed to understand the survey procedure earlie…”

“I don’t care about procedure. I wanted to know who marked me as a wimpy, pathetic, depressed person?”

“Madam, since you are repeatedly violated our initial survey agreement, this survey had to stop here today. Someone from our agency will contact you again in the future to finish the survey. I just want to let you know, with depression, your estimate time deduction range from 5 to 20 years. Your child will be any age from 12 to…”


This post is a reply to a weekly prompt from VJ’s blog. I really enjoyed writing up this quick prompt.



I came across a challenge on Writer’s workshop on Go Dog Go Cafe and decided to give it a shot. It was a great exercise for writing structure.

Write a story under 300 words (a micro fiction) that includes all the parts of ABDCE structure, give your protagonist a strong desire, have your protagonist learn that he or she only has 24 hours to live, and give your character a choice between their life or their great desire. 


Paul locked the door behind him then blocked it again with a table. He walked around, checking every corner of the room. Nothing was allowed to go wrong today. He pulled out a long black case. Lying inside the case was his favorite rifle, customized and upgraded. Hailey was a beauty. He took out the tripod and placed it by the window. Paul adjusted its height, made sure its stand was stable. He took Hailey out of her case. He had her loaded and placed her on the tripod. Five hours left.  

Paul lighted a cigarette. He supposed to quit since its one of Hailey’s last wishes. But who the fuck care anymore? He only had 24 hours to live. When he met her in heaven later, he could apologize to her for not quitting. Four hours left.

Paul lighted another one. Hailey was depressed for a long time, and that was why. Everyone told him so. That wasn’t why. She did that because that motherfucking mayor raped her. She wrote in her last letter. Hailey hid that from him all these years because she was afraid Paul “would kill him.” She was right. Paul would kill him. He would shoot that son of a bitch right in the face when he was waving happily on his parade float. Three hours left.

Two hours left.

One hour left.

Paul’s phone rang. He picked up.

“Boss, we got that quack doctor. He had the antidote at his lab. You need to come now. It’s at 123rd…”

Paul hung up, cut off the voice yelling on the phone.

Paul bent down, looking through the optic adjusting his aim. His finger was ready at the trigger.

The parade music sounded closer and closer.

It’s time.