Lee Falk (1911- 1999). "Time Is Money." Playboy Magazine: Dec 1975, pgs 102 -104. Four thousand words. Falk is most known for composing for DC Comics The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician cycles.
Mandrake Comics fan blog site source: "Time Is Money," numerous format, style, and typo glitches in the post's version, and probably pirated, as the short story is under a Playboy copyright registration.
A hard target search for the title, if not the text, of this unremarked and never reprinted short story, unimpressive when it debuted, less impressive today, turned it up on a comics fan blog site. The search for it has been on now for a decade plus. It was most memorable due to its topic, not its craft. At the time of publication, several banks were in international negotiations for consolidated revolving charge account card and bank debit card protocols. Visa finalized 1976, MasterCard 1979. American Express had been around for a while. Discover came later.
The recent motion picture In Time, 2011, director-writer Andrew Niccol, is part inspired by Falk's short story, similar topics and subjects, much different, exceeds its inspirations, unlike many derivatives are wont to be.
"Time Is Money" was wanted for a test bench narrative to join dozens of other titles, most significant, for some memorableness reason and for craft analyses. Among the several, "The Gift of the Magi," O Henry; "The Cask of Amontillado," Edgar Allan Poe; "A Clean Well Lighted Place," Ernest Hemingway; "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson; "Man from the South," Roald Dahl; "Housing Problem," Henry Kuttner; "Harrison Bergeron," Kurt Vonnegut; "There Will Come Soft Rains," Ray Bradbury.
Time Is Money
"It is understandable that Tom was desperate. Near panic. His time was running out. To be more precise, his account at the Timebank had a balance of one hour, 14 minutes and 27 seconds. 1 hr 14 min 27 sec. If he could not make a deposit within that period, his account would be closed. At that moment, he would stop breathing. He would be dead. Perhaps this requires further explanation.
"In this land, which is far away from ours, in time as well as in space, there is a huge building in the center of the capital. It is the tallest and the widest building in the land. It has no windows, for no one cares to look in, and there is no one inside to look out. Inside, there are only endless wires, dials, meters, calculators, robot computers, circuits and, equally important, circuit breakers."
Told mostly, the parts, parcels, and whole, more of a history report than a dramatic account. The dramatic structure is a linear incline slope, straight diagonal downward line from misfortune to worse misfortune, no arcs, drain spiral. Little event, setting, or character description or development, little subtext or representational substance, glitchy narrative point of view, yet publication success and satire nonetheless (probably paid $0.25 - $1.00 per word; the latter, The New Yorker rate; Rolling Stone, $3.50 per word tops). "Time Is Money," a fine example of best practice how not to write engaging starts and dramatic narratives anymore.