flash fiction


Dr. Riley’s right hand was average size, soft, with long fingers. Calluses in specific areas of his palm, rough to the touch. An accomplished neurosurgeon, acclaimed amateur golfer, and pianist. The trained skill and dexterity in Dr. Riley’s fingers were invaluable. What was valuable about Dr. Riley’s hand, to Trent, was the access it granted to the research lab via the biometric hand scanner.

Trent’s own clumsy hands were shaking, adrenaline keeping him wired, and a healthy dose of fear set in. He fumbled Dr. Riley’s severed hand as he reached the hand scanner. He quickly picked it up and checked the pump cuff that he’d attached to the hand’s wrist. The thick metal bracelet was still humming. His own invention. It pumped warmed blood in and out of the severed hand, mimicking a pulse to fool the hand scanner.

“You’ll never see your work again,” Riley had told him when he’d fired Trent. “Your unquestionable lack of professional integrity won’t take you far.”

The scanner glowed bright orange in the after hours of the building’s empty hallway. Trent pressed Riley’s warm hand against the reader and waited.

“Your access to the building, Lab, and servers have been revoked as of immediately,” Riley had continued, his words playing over in Trent’s mind.

The loud beep from the scanner was jarring. The door to the Lab unlatched. Trent pressed in, passing eerie LED lights on the machines whirring in the dark. He made his way to his workstation. It had already been stripped, his computer and papers gone. Not worried, he opened the top drawer of his desk and reached under the drawer. He felt what he was looking for, scotch taped to the underside of the drawer. His thumb drive. Always back up your work.

“The ethical lines that you’re willing to cross for results is not behavior the board can condone. You’ve put the company in Jeopardy. My Company, Trent,” Riley had fumed. “Get the fuck out. Don’t come back. The Authorities have been notified and will be investigating your work.”

With what he came for in hand, the adrenaline plateaued and he felt a wave of anxiety peel off. He turned to leave, but in a moment of overconfidence, set Riley’s hand on his desk, propping it up with the base of the pump cuff. He walked out after he bent all the hand’s fingers down, aside from the middle one.

“What’s that in your hand?” Riley had said when Trent didn’t leave his office earlier that day.

At last, all his hard work, secure. All those years of research and development and experiments and tests and failures and successes and — what, he was just supposed to start over? Nope. Riley was going to take it all, cut him off and set him up to locked away. These were Trent’s breakthroughs. His brilliance.


“You there!” A deep voice yelled into the dark lab. A large silhouette in the lab doorway lit a flashlight, illuminating Trent’s face. “Show me your hands!”


Written for Writer’s Digest’s weekly prompt: Give Them a Hand.

1 thought on “Hands”

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