Ron’s cell phone rang, as he staggered from the bar.

“Ron Biggs?” asked an ethereal-sounding voice.

“Yeah. Who wants to know?”

“Greetings,” said the voice.

“Who the hell is this?”

“He who is feared by all.”

“Up your kazoo, you freakin’ jerk!” Ron yelled, then hung up.

His phone rang again.

“I will not be insulted or ignored,” said the voice. “Don’t hang up until you’re told, or a taxi will jump the curb and cut you in half. Understand?”

Ron saw an out-of-service taxi suddenly go out of control and swerve toward him. “I understand!” he screamed.

The driver regained control missing Ron by three feet.

“As you see, I mean what I say,” the voice said.

“What the hell’s going on? Who are you?”


The phone went silent. Realizing what’d just happened, Ron panicked and ran.

A cop stopped him. “What’s the problem?”

“Nothing, Officer. I’m in a hurry to get home.”

“You smell boozy. Better take a cab. It ain’t healthy to be walking around here at night when you’re drunk.”

“I’ll grab a cab soon as I can find one.”

“There’s plenty in the Theatre District.”

“I’ll go there right now,” Ron said.

As Ron hurried away, his phone rang again.

“Better make your last confession,” Destrudo said.

“I don’t believe in that. In fact, I don’t believe you exist.”

“You soon will,” said the voice. “I came to warn you… you’re going to die in ten hours.”


“Ask a priest about me. Tell him Destrudo sent you. Or don’t you dare?”

The line went dead.

St. Michael’s, where Ron used to attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, was a few blocks away. Ron arrived just as a meeting ended. Spotting a Roman collar, he called, “Hey, Father.”

“Can I help you?”

“I was told to find a priest.”

“Who told you?”


Ron heard a sharp intake of breath.

“I can’t help you,” the priest said.

“Can you tell me who Destrudo is?”

“The Angel of Death.”

“Aw c’mon,” Ron said, “there’s no such thing.”

“Wrong. Once his sword is raised, nobody can evade his vicious attack. The time, place, and date were ordained before your birth. Have you lived a good life?”

“Sure. It’s been real good grabbing anything I wanted before the other guy did.”

“Even if it meant stealing and killing?”


“Then you’ve lived an evil life.”

“What’s evil to you is ordinary to me.”

“There’s no reprieve,” said the priest. “Prepare to face your maker.”

“No!” Ron shouted. “I don’t believe any of your hokum.”

“You’ve been unreasonably privileged. Few have ever heard Destrudo’s voice. Perhaps he’ll grant the death you desire.”

“How about this: suppose I ask to be whacked right between the eyes by a flying saucer while I’m standing on top of the Empire State Building, giving Destrudo the finger? At least I’ll go out knowing for sure if flying saucers exist.”

“Foolish sacrilege,” said the priest.

When Ron hailed a cab, Destrudo called again. “You have nine hours.”

“Is that so? How’s it gonna happen?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Hey, why not wipe me out in style? Do something spectacular that’ll make the papers with headlines saying, “Destrudo Strikes Again.” I’ll go to the New York Times and tell a reporter what’s gonna happen. I’ll say that tomorrow morning, a flying saucer is gonna whack me while I’m standing on top of the Empire State Building.”

“Is that how you prefer to be dispatched at 8:45 tomorrow morning?”

“Yep. Might as well go out with a big bang. It’ll give people something to talk about for generations.”


The phone went dead.

Ron decided to go the Times Building and tell his story to a reporter. He figured they might even pay him a few dollars that he could use to buy whiskey.

“On top of the Empire State Building?” asked a reporter.


“Can’t happen there. The top floor’s closed to visitors for the next two months. They’re sandblasting the outside of the building to remove decades of soot. Why not go to the World Trade Center instead and wait on the observation tower? Let the flying saucer whomp you there.”

“Great idea,” Ron said.

The entire night crew of the Times was in stitches when the reporter told them about the zonked-out wacko and his impending death by flying saucer.

Next morning, as Ron rode the subway to the World Trade Center, Destrudo called and asked if he was ready to die.

“Yeah. But I changed my mind about the Empire State Building. The World Trade Center is higher and more spectacular. I’m going there now. I’ll be standing outside on the observation tower waiting for the flying saucer.”

“Wonderful choice,” Destrudo replied. “That’ll make it even easier for the saucer’s pilot to see you.”

Ron took the elevator to the World Trade Center’s observation tower. While standing outside on the 110th floor scanning the skies for flying saucers, his phone rang.

“There’s something I wanted to tell you before you die. Flying saucers don’t exist. But, I’ve found a suitable alternative. Look to your right. See that airliner heading your way?”

"No Reprieve"
Copyright: © 2009 Michael A. Kechula
Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in eight contests and placed in seven others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 114 magazines and 30 anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, India, Scotland, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at and Paperback available at


  1. Wow! That's all I've got. Wow! I still get so darn emotional over this.

  2. Great story, well written and funny ending.

  3. Wow, I just realized a mistake I made, I read the story so fast that I didn't realize it was the World Trade Center, I get it now, story still a great story, ending ironic not funny though, couldn't go back and change it though.