The narrator’s silent alarm goes off while he (? Maybe. The narrator’s gender is never specified) is still at work. He gets ready to depart for the big event.
Mabel tries to stop him, but he’s having none of it. She might not be done, but records show he finished his assignment. He’s not staying over to help her finish hers.
A lot of this sounds familiar to the working stiff—big plans for quitting time, the coworker who wants one last thing. It might even be a New Year’s celebration, with people waiting for a countdown in a bar, a bit of drinking, and a traditional toast.
There are also a couple of wrinkles in this one, however, to let the reader know all is not well in the narrator’s world. The final line is a punchline, but not one that turns the whole micro-tale on a dime. And yeah, there’s a bit of preachiness to it.
Having said that, I enjoyed how the author built everything up to a final ironic ending quickly and efficiently.
According to his blurb, author Charles Michael Stucker is a literal rocket scientist, who has been trying to make ends meet with writing since the 2010 cancellation of the Ares program. He currently lives in Houston with his wife.
Best of luck, brother.
“The Awards” can be read here.
Title: “The Awards”
Author: Charles Michael Stucker
First published: Daily Science Fiction, July 26, 2020