How to Be a Stoic — a short story

Posted on 2016 January 17

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What stands in the way becomes the way. — Marcus Aurelius

The wind pushed a cloud of dust ahead of the advancing army. The first platoons rounded the corner of Main Street. People ran for cover — some to basements, some to the hills. 

The young man saw his friend standing in the street, staring at the oncoming juggernaut. “Hey!” the young man yelled, panic in his voice, “Let’s get outta here!”

The friend waved. “I’m okay.” From a coat pocket he pulled a cloth cap of the type worn by enemy troops. He tossed his own hat aside, crammed the cap onto his head, turned up the coat collar, and trudged toward the approaching threat. He disappeared into the dust cloud.

Hours later, after the army had passed, the young man emerged onto the street. He stared. Broken windows, looted stores. A body near the corner of 2nd Avenue. On the sidewalk stood his friend, head bent in concentration as he fiddled with something small. The friend opened his hand and the small thing flew up and buzzed off into the distance. The friend peered at his watch, touched its face a few times in a pattern, then nodded. “Good.”

The young man walked over. “Good what?” he asked.

The friend looked up. “Oh, hey. Glad you’re okay. The contributions are coming in.”

“Contributions?”

“Yeah. I snuck around behind enemy lines, got hold of a drone, repurposed it to spy on them. It’s been up three times already. Then I created an online site where people can monitor incoming reports. It’s free, but I’ve asked for a donation of ten dollars. Already we have over seven thousand contributors.” The friend glanced around. “Lotta damage today. The money will help us rebuild.”

The young man clapped his friend on the back. “Great job! You’re always full of ideas.” He paused. “What have you learned so far from the drone?”

The friend looked at him. “This morning was the first wave. There’s more coming.”

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