Heads & Tails: A Tale of Chance, Faith and Morality - Part 2by@thatchristophergrant
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Heads & Tails: A Tale of Chance, Faith and Morality - Part 2

by Christopher GrantApril 6th, 2024
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In this psychological thriller, a character's fate is determined by a coin toss, leading to a series of chilling decisions and their unsettling outcomes. The story delves into the complexities of morality and human choices in a suspenseful and thought-provoking narrative.
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I press her thumb against the iPad and I’m in. I scan Trixie’s Contacts and Calendar first, though I don’t expect to learn anything that could point to why I am about to torture the tablet’s owner. Aside from a sudden, negative shift in church attendance dating back several months, Trixie seems, on the surface, to be just a normal twelve-year-old.

I know better than to trust a first impression, though. We are taught to use how we appear to manipulate others, which traits and behaviors serve to erase our threat risk and thus be readily forgotten. There must be a reason then, something, to justify God’s requirement that pubescent Trixie die slowly and in pain. I’ll feel much better once I understand.

Her social media won’t lie. As my finger stretches towards her Messages icon, I panic — or come as close to it as my kind do. I have broken a cardinal rule — I never disabled the tablet’s location services. The cops might already have us surrounded.

Less than a minute later, Trixie’s iPad is off the grid and I’m crawling towards the vertical Venetians in the company’s front window the long way, slithering between the furniture in quick, brief bursts and listening for any sound louder than my heartbeat.

Lying along the front wall, I put my ear to the linoleum and listen for car doors and running feet. One minute becomes two, and then five. Nothing. But I want to be sure, so I stay motionless and wonder why I’ve never paid luck it’s due respect.

I was taught that luck is a loser’s hope, which smacks of irony, considering who gives us our orders. Still, I press my ear against the rear exit but hear nothing. It’s cooler now, I notice when I ease the door open, and a security light above my head reveals an alley waiting for garbage pick up. Good, I say to myself as I loosen the bulb and remove it. Places to hide.

A glance tells me she’s still out but she’s breathing right, so I pull up a chair and settle in to uncover exactly who my victim is. Messages, Instagram, TikTok. I go through it all, and nothing even hints at her sins. The sole topic that echoed through every one of her social life was her profound sorrow and later rage over a video clip of a masked youth torturing a puppy to death.

Now there’s someone whose name I’d like to be assigned. Torture an innocent? My mind wanders momentarily at a parade of options and I find myself smiling.

The front of the office brightens with the dawn as if to illuminate my sense of failure to detect the girl’s sins. There’s a folder labeled ‘School,’ but I can’t read it right now.

When I lower the iPad, Trixie is staring at me.

“Hi, Trixie,” I say and, smiling, head to the fridge. “I bet you’re thirsty. Hey, there’s cans of Coke in here.” I pull out two and set them on the counter. A couple of drawers later, I find some straws.

“So, Trixie,” I continue, “I‘d be terrified if I woke up tied to a kitchen table in a strange place with a strange man, but note you are not naked, nor have you been hurt in any way. Other than the rap against your temple.”

I open her soda and slip a straw through the hole in the tab. Holding it towards her, I go on, “I have not hurt you and don’t even want to, but right now, I’d like you to agree to trade the rag in your mouth for this drink. Nod if you will drink rather than scream. If you shout, the rag goes back and I drink your pop.”

She’s clever. She nods and I pull the rag away. Turning her face towards me makes it easier to feed the straw into her mouth. The can is nearly empty when she releases the straw.

“Why am I here?” She asks. “How do you know my name and who are you?”

“My name is not important,” I tell her. “It changes so often that I sometimes feel I have no real identity, nor a personality beyond the demands of my work.”

“What kind of work makes you lose yourself to do your job?” She is very clever, so much so there is no longer any fear in her eyes.

“Think of me as kind of like a priest, but instead of granting forgiveness for sins, I determine the most appropriate punishment and then impose it.”

“What will you do to me?”

“That’s just it, Trixie,” I reply. “I have no idea, because I don’t understand why your name came up.”

“Came up where?”

“Look, I get sent after some really, really bad people, people who have done terrible things. It’s my job to make them feel the pain they caused others, so they understand the evil in their actions and repent before they die.”

“So who told you to come for me?”


She laughs. “God doesn’t exist.” It is a statement, spoken with the certainty she would have if she pointed at a dog and said, “That is a dog.”

“He does,” I answer, “I am sworn to enact His Will on earth without question or hesitation, save for the manner He desires me to deliver it.” I drag my coin from my pocket and hold it out for her to see.

It is solid gold and was minted within the Vatican itself. About an inch-and-a-half in diameter, it has the thickness of a casino chip and weighs enough that I can never forget I carry it. One side shows an anonymous face with a radiant smile, the other four parallel furrows and the claws that made them. And nothing else — no date, no inscription, nothing.

“How does a coin prove God exists?”

“Well, when I have identified my target,” I explain, “I flip this coin. If it lands heads-up, I simply terminate my quarry. But if it lands claws side up, then God is telling me He wishes the target to suffer everything they inflicted on others.”

“It’s only chance,” Trixie replies. “Chance means with two sides, there are two possible results. Half the time it will land one way and half the time the other.”

“Not so. I have sent dozens of the worst humanity has to offer to their deaths, worked out exquisite plans to force them to face and acknowledge what they’ve done, and have always been denied by this coin. It always lands on Heads.”


“Until last night. With you.”

“God wants you to torture me? I’m innocent,” she says. “Like the puppy.”

The puppy? That would make me —

Fuck that. “What about the puppy video affected you the most?”

“That God would let something like that happen,” she says. “If God existed, He would have rescued that puppy. He didn’t, so He doesn’t exist. I wrote a paper on it for school.”

There it was. Twelve-year-old Trixie’s sin was that she stood up to God, challenged his omnipotence with rational arguments, and negated Him over His tolerance of evil.

I knew what I had to do. But I need God’s input. I flip my coin. Tails. I’m good to go.

“Trixie,” I tell her, “I have an idea. I’m not going to hurt you. In fact, I will untie you if you promise to listen to what I propose.”

“I promise.” She helps herself to another soda and sits.

“Trixie, what if God sent me to you to find the guy in the video and make him answer for what he’s done? Would you accept that as proof God exists?”

“Almost,” she says. “There’s one other thing I want.”

“Tell me.”

“I want to be like you when I grow up.”

“Deal,” I reply and hold out my hand to her.

She’s back in her bed before anyone knows she wasn’t and I let her decide the punk’s punishments.

Trixie has a promising future.

Lead image by ZSun Fu on Unsplash