These are my Flash Fiction stories from the last few years. They are typically 500-1200 words, done from a prompt such as a word list, photo, or opening line. They are often written with a deadline of only a few days, so are not always as polished as they could be. These are done as a way to play and practice, but some will also be tidied up and expanded later on for a short short collection. I've done over 130 so far, and have listed them in reverse order, with latest - and hopefully - better ones at top. I've recently restarted these, after a break, using my own site for prompts.
Some of the earlier stories, shown below in italics, feature a common set of characters, my 'Fairy Tale Folk'.
|Why Not?||I peered in the door—nice place but a little sketchy. The staff at the youth hostel had mentioned two laundromats, with this one being much cheaper, but apparently you took your chances on the machines. I’d hoped there might be some interesting locals here, too. Unfortunately, it was empty, the only inhabitants a row of plants in the window, wilting in the summer sun.
|Luck of the Irish||"This is good, Shameless," I said. "A nice Caesar salad. But why on special today?"
"Julius, really? A big politician, and with your name, really? Today is the Ides of March."
I smiled at my Irish friend. "I forgot, too much on the go. And not a big politician yet, I’m working on it. But I’ll keep my back to the wall today, just in case. And another pint, please."
|A Lost Hour||"Just one last good crime," he said. "Then they’ll give me some respect."
His girlfriend shook her head. "Marian, they always will expect more. Quit before you get busted again. I love you just the way you are. Remember our dream, of kids and our own place."
|Wardrobe Malfunction||It was a nice coat, sort of. Boring brown, with a canvas look to it, jacket length, fleece lining, and a basic hood.
"It’s kind of plain, hun. Not really me."
"Sure it is, Dan," she said. "When we met, you had a coat almost exactly like this. This one was a real deal at the thrift store."
"That was back in college," he said, "five years ago. I need a new image for my new job."
|Coming Clean||Trevor hadn't meant to hit the old lady so hard.
This was his intro into the gang, leading a break-in. He'd peeked in a window and saw her quietly napping by the fire, one stocking down by her ankle, wrapped in a blanket like a corpse, with three or four fat cats sleeping at her feet. No problem.
|A Cold Choice||Tyler slammed the front door hard enough to rattle the porch light.
"Starve, see if I care."
He grabbed his duffel bag and headed down the steps. Enough with all his mother's rules, he was heading for the city. See how she enjoyed trying to live without his wages from the gas station.
|Together as One||Chaam Prime was lonely, in spite of the voices in its head. The others, Chaam Second, Third, and Fourth, all felt the sadness. Beneath their collective exterior of tentacles, eye-stalks, and fang-rimmed mouths, each had their own hearts and brains. But as the Chaam, they still shared hormones, thoughts, emotions, and were troubled. Except for Fourth, the newest addition to the collective. Its reaction was more of a 'whatever'.
|The Apprentice||"You were meant to be watching him!"
I glared at my supervisor. "I know. I'll fix it." Damn. My first project as a demon in training, and I'd screwed up already.
Dying had been a bit of a surprise to me. And then discovering I was in Hell was upsetting, of course, but not that surprising. I had been a rebellious child, a schoolyard bully, an unfaithful wife, and a ruthless businesswoman.
|Life Journey||Steph had timed her escape carefully. Everyone else would be celebrating the approach of The Ending, except her. She had no intention of dying—not yet. She was only half their age, conceived illegally in the middle of the decades long summer of their new home. An unexpected birth, to a race long reliant on a lab with artificial wombs. Most of the colony welcomed the newborn, but they knew her life would be short, as the long winter was fast approaching. Nobody would survive the endless night of sub-zero temperatures.
|The Lost Boys||Sharon was stuck in court, again.
Since her graduation two years ago, most of her days found her in a courtroom. As the newest child psychologist at the clinic, it was up to her to present her colleagues’ decisions to the court. She felt like little more than a messenger. Her role was to pass on their label of a youth at risk, or their recommendation in a custody battle. Sharon’s own interactions with youth were usually late in the process, while sitting in on a police interview, rather than working out in the field.
Her phone vibrated with an email from her husband.
|Just Animal Crackers||
Patrick clutched his chest and waited for the pain to subside.
“Calm thoughts,” he said. “Breath in . . . and out.” Nothing serious, in his opinion, probably heartburn. Still, these twinges, plus flat feet and a wonky hip, had persuaded him to retire after a career as a security guard. At least he could sleep in, to noon if he wanted. Easily done here, in his home on a quiet suburban street.
“Why do I have to die too?” Steph couldn’t see why her life had to end along with everyone else’s. The Ending. They just all went along with it, they believed it was for the best. She threw herself down on her bed and glared at the ceiling.
|Slow Caboose||“Damn, move your ass, Slow Caboose, he’s got a gun!”
Trevor heard Eddie, but he still paused – of course.
His stepfather had christened him Slow Caboose, an apt choice for a small, shy child, quietly observing, slow to move before venturing out into the world. That, and ‘stupid’, often accompanied with a cuff to the head and banishment to his tiny bedroom.
|The End||I shivered as an early morning breeze blew past me, caressing my neck like spirit fingers.
We'd first met on this shore decades ago, both teenagers. I was an inexperienced camper, she an already seasoned guide from the nearby Reserve. Friends first, the next summer lovers, the next one room-mates at university. Then parents, and then world travelers, following my busy career to exotic lands. Never finding the time, it seemed, to return back here, to her people.
|Saved||Arthur missed the humans, even now, at The Ending. Most of his brothers didn’t, but maybe that was just another side effect of the corrupted data they had all been rebooted from.
In the past, this had been the time to celebrate two holidays: Christmas, a time of reflection, of gift giving, of celebrating family and friendship; and New Years, a time of anticipation and of renewal. Now they celebrated The Ending, in memory of the great betrayal.
|The Lodger||No one in town wanted to accept the free tickets.
And now he knew why.
They’d inherited this huge and gloomy house from her grandfather, and decided to move in. Actually, the will specified that before they could sell it, they had to live there for two years, as caretakers. For what, or who, wasn’t specified, but it certainly was empty when they arrived. Unfortunately, there were no funds for maintenance of the Victorian style mansion, and it definitely needed repairs.
|Evening the Score||"Dad, am I old enough now to learn to shoot?"
I reached over and tousled my son's hair. "I'm not sure, Cody. It's a big responsibility.
"But you taught mom, didn't you? And she got them Injuns, right?" He grinned at me in the light of the campfire.
"Yes, she did, son."
I'd been a veteran of the war, wounded and forced to retire. I'd tried a number of jobs: busting broncos, then riding herd on cattle drives, then gun for hire, then working in a saloon. Nothing seemed to stick, until the last one, and that was mainly because of the cheap beer.
|Whodunit?||Four more days until her life was over. At midnight on her sixteenth birthday.
Sarah sighed. Once she entered The Game, her current life would be gone. There, with all her peers, she'd go through a series of physical and mental challenges designed to determine what career best suited her, for the rest of her life. No more big parties, lazing on the beach, playing video games all night. She’d already sorted out her belongings, as she could be sent to work anywhere on Earth, or even off-planet, so had to be prepared.
|The Game||“10,000? No freakin’ way.” He folded his arms and glared at Mrs. Robinson.
“Tyler, there are consequences to your little escapades. Aside from your skills in crime, you’re also a good writer. So, 10,000 words, choose the topic.”
Tyler did like writing. But he also liked leading his little gang on his ‘escapades’: tagging walls, stealing from stores, disabling the mag-buses, hacking the school systems. The last one was how Mrs. Robinson had caught him. She wasn’t as dumb as she looked.
|Portrait of the Artist||She looked remarkably life-like, even for one of his portraits. Giovanni stepped back, adjusted his glasses, and nodded at Madame Warren. “Thank you. You may relax for a moment.”
He turned to the gallery owner. “Almost done Andre, then it's yours.”
Giovanni dreaded the thought of an end to this commission. He'd been doing portraits of the elites of Paris for decades, honing his skills, and building his reputation.
|Well Done||It was nice for a change to not be the biggest person in the room. This clinic was new, promising amazing weight losses, but they had cautioned that program might take weeks, might take months. They stressed the cutting of old negative ties and patterns, so only took clients that could say they were now unencumbered with links to friends and families, looking for those free to take themselves 'off the grid' for however long it took.|
|The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis||Janna loved both surfing and tensor calculus. Her degrees in aerospace engineering and physics paid the bills, but being out on the waves fed her soul. Such as right now, as she and Jason sat off the coast of Santa Cruz, bobbing on their boards, hot sun on their backs, waiting for the next big one.
"This is the life," he said. "I could do this forever."
"Well, for a few years anyway," she said. "But then what?"
|Skeletons and Kisses||Parthenope had let herself be distracted just for a moment. Unfortunately, that was all Hades needed to sweep in, grab Persephone, and take her back down to the Underworld. Demeter was furious, of course. She'd charged Parthenope and her sisters to guard her daughter- a simple task they had all assured her.
"You silly, careless women," she said. "All you could think of was splashing and laughing in the water, hoping to catch the attention of some men. Fine, if that's what you want, that's what I will curse you with."
|Party Animal||The bar was packed, even for an Easter weekend. Marty assumed it was mostly people that had headed home to be with the family, and were already bored or fed up or once again estranged. He was here because his sister had brought him.
"You're the same as when I left five years ago," she'd said. "Quiet, shy little Martin. Nice guy, in good shape, pleasant to look at, but never even talks to a girl. So I'm guessing twenty five and still a virgin?"
|Doin' the Monster Mash-up||The Cthulhu poured the last of the beer into his glass. “Looks like we need another pitcher. Who's round is it?”
“Mine, I guess,” said the giant spider. He waved one of his legs at their server. “Angie?”
She nodded and brought a fresh pitcher to the table.
|On Being Ugly||Prince Ramel was beautiful, rich, pampered, vain, cruel, and dead. At least he assumed he was, as he was now sitting in a cloud of mist, facing Lord Vishnu.
The god nodded slightly and spread his hands. “And here you are again, young prince, part of samsara, the cycle of life, and death, and rebirth.” He frowned. “And some very bad karma this time."
|The Penitent||My name is Mary and I'm a whore. Or at least I was. Now I hope I'm some kind of a role model for people. Originally, before being a whore, I was just a serving girl in my dad's tavern, the one by the crossroads. I was a real hit back then, flirting with the customers as I brought their beer and food, singing little ditties with the musicians by the fire. My dad said I had more bosoms than brains, but my looks did get me lots of tips from the customers.|
|A Little Bit of Weird||When they first arrived, it had been with the best of intentions. The aliens were one eyed, green and tentacled, not unlike the ones in the Simpson's cartoons. They said they were here to observe only, and to help us develop as a race and improve ourselves. They even relocated some of our neighbours, to a brand new beautiful town, they said. A few people remained suspicious of their real motives, convinced that they were there to do experiments, but they were in the minority.|
|Naughty or Nice||Dear Diary: I am so tired of freakin' toys. And Christmas. We get a week off in January, and a month in the summer (complete with huge mosquitoes, up here on the tundra) but other than that it's flat out toy making, making sure we'll be ready to fill Santa's sleigh once again. We start the year off with the basics, the dolls and stuffed toys and train sets and wagons, then as Christmas approaches Santa finds out this year's trends and we start to specialise.|
|Trapped||Keeping the body in my trunk had been stupid, but I'd been reluctant to part with this last one. When my nervousness turned a random traffic stop into a vehicle check I was afraid I'd have to add another one in there. An emergency call pulled the cop away just in time, but I still was shaken.
"Guess it's your lucky day," he said. I just smiled and nodded. Yeah, lucky for both of us.
|A Thanksgiving Dinner||They made landfall a month before Thanksgiving, a hardy band of explorers fleeing persecution and searching for a New World. They found a bountiful place, with friendly natives, abundant food, and land for the taking. They'd managed to survive the great Vegetarian Wars of 2088. One of the few remaining omnivore communities on Earth, they had pleaded for banishment, rather than face re-programming and forced dietary changes.|
|A Secret||She was built for comfort. She was build to last, to shelter generations of large families. But, nothing is forever. Now her roof leaked, as did her basement. Her paint was peeling, the shutters sagged, the fireplace smoked, the floors creaked, and the windows and doors either wouldn't shut or wouldn't open.She'd been empty for almost a year when a winter storm chased a family of gypsies her way, desperate for shelter.|
|The Retiree||As Karl neared the rally, he started to see placards from both sides. Most were by the rebels, about government corruption, and the dangers of the new iDent chips, and how all those not joining them in protest were just sheep. A bit of tunnel vision, he thought, as there were benefits to the new technology. The chips were voluntary, currently being used by some people to help identify themselves in the health care system.|
|The Deeps||"Grampa, are you coming"
"No, you go ahead, I'll stay here by the dock."
It wasn't that I couldn't keep up with my grandson, although he swam like a fish. Pretty good for only 10, I thought. No, it was his destination, over to the foot of the cliff. Where the waters, in spite of a bright sunny sky, plunged blackly into the depths, depths my imagination filled with monsters.
|Scanned and Scammed||I didn't really want to get scanned. Nobody likes a snitch, and that was what my iDent was. The implants had become so much more than just simple identification chips. Now, as well as a record of any illnesses and medications, there was a seven day history of sleep and eating patterns, with indicators such as blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate. I'd promised everyone, including the President, that I'd take it easy this election.|
|The Collector||Apparently my characters suck. Too boring. My editor sent back my latest novel with the suggestion that I get out more and do some people watching. I figured a good spot for that would be at the new Discount Mart, where the customers were definitely a cross section of humanity. It was less of a store and more of a sprawling collection of outlet malls, selling everything from bananas to boats, from cars to khakis.|
|Talk to the Hand||Fired. So much for my Christmas bonus. I'd thought the meeting was to offer me a promotion, but I got a pink slip instead. They'd already hired a new kid in to do my job, someone cheaper and easier to boss around. Leaving me with payments for a new apartment and a new car, and no income.I spent the next week working all my contacts. Apparently, punching my old boss in the nose, while satisfying, didn't help my reputation.|
|That Damned Bag||I unzipped the bag, and peered inside. Nope, not my stuff. The commuter train had been crowded, and I'd been tired after a stressful day at work, so I must have just grabbed the wrong bag from the luggage rack. It did look just like mine though, even to the missing buckle. However, the workout clothes inside were a lot fancier than mine. There was a designer t-shirt and shorts set, a thick towel, clean socks, and bright green trainers. They looked like Nike Airs. Great shoes, and my size too.|
|Unmasked||“Sorry ma'am, but you're going to have to uncover your face.”
Dick stepped back and waited. Didn't these people understand? If they wanted to be allowed to enter, then they had to act like us. No matter where they were from.
“What seems to be the problem here?” It was his boss. His second week manning a gate and she still kept sneaking up behind him.
|Anger Management||When he awoke and looked around, nothing in the room seemed familiar.
It was a tiny room, with little more than a narrow bed, a battered armchair, and sink and hotplate in the corner. A typical rooming house setup, and, judging by the worn rug, the noise from other rooms, and the smell, not a very fancy rooming house. Scott moaned, rubbed his eyes, and sat up. As he looked around it started to come back to him. Yes, this was his little hovel.
|Love in the Stars||Zap! Crash! Bam!
"No problem, shields still holding for now"
Jason sighed. This had been just another cargo run through Gamma quadrant. That is, until they were jumped by Pastafarians, a wild godless bunch, with no respect for the tenets of the Church, or for rules of battle.
|Poor Little Thing||The pain and the cold had faded. Charles just wanted to close his eyes and sleep under his warm blanket of snow. This shortcut had been a bad idea, this late, in this weather. A careless step, a slide down the slope, then agony as his back slammed into a rock. His arms hadn't been enough to drag him back up the hill, and his cries for help were muffled in the thick snow. It was an isolated path, so nobody was likely to come along in time. Except maybe one person.|
|The Traitor||My stone flew true, hitting her just above the eyebrow. She staggered back, then straightened and calmly gazed back at me, blood already running down her face. Following my lead as high priest, the others joined in too, cursing her and her kind as they hurled their missiles, tearing her veil, exposing her blue skin.
“Please, spare my children,” she cried.
|Mixed Blessings||The elder gestured to Dave. "Welcome to my home. Come, sit at the table here. I said that as elders we watch over our people, and help guide them through life. I need to explain that a bit more."
He paused to roll a cigarette, lit it, and then sat back.
"When you first came here, we saw a difference in you, a strong spirit, like some of our people have."
|An Ending||With an angry growl, Sasquatch grabbed the cop and threw him against the wall. There was a satisfying crunch, audible even over the sounds of gunfire. He turned and searched for his next victim. His size alone - six foot seven and 300 pounds - had always made him a formidable opponent. Now he had even more.
When he'd arrived at this small Northern town, something had happened to him.
|Not So Ordinary||The direwolf growled as Danny clutched his fur. "Quiet, Sparks," he said. The toddler peered into the trees. "Who's there?"
It wasn't their first trip through the portal by any means. Usually his mommy went with him, or sometimes Brom met him as he came through, and brought him to Guildford Manor. Sparks was always along too - transformed by the doorway from a yappy little Shih Tzu to a hulking direwolf.
|The Fortune Cookie||Simon couldn't resist doing a few dance steps in the middle of the floor. The empty ballroom echoed as he finished with a stomp of his heels and a laugh.
"Wait till the big dance," said his secretary. "You and your wife will wow them."
Simon shook his head then slumped into a nearby chair. "She won't be coming - says she has to visit a sick friend. Again."
|Rough Water||She was trying hard to ignore Tom's bitching and just enjoy the sunny day. It was peaceful on the river, at least for now. She could faintly hear the roar of rapids ahead - the whole point of this outing. Tom just had to prove to his buddies at work he could run the same river they had, and do it even with his useless wife paddling. She'd tried to tell him that she'd paddled a lot at summer camp but he just laughed.|
|Down the Road Apiece||"Hey, move on now, this ain't your corner. Get on down the road a piece." Jasmine waved her hands as if to shoo her away.
Hanna smiled and shook her head. Time was she could pick any corner down here that she wanted. Time was when she dressed like this it was for the camera. She still had the long legs and red hair that had turned heads and attracted fashion contracts, but the high life and drugs had aged her fast. Suddenly she had too many wrinkles, too many bits sagging to be re-touched.
|Payback||Dan rolled over and slapped the snooze button. He opened one eye to peer at the time. 7:13, Friday the 13th. No big deal to him, as he didn't believe in omens, whether good or bad. Although he did think that his latest promotion was more a matter of luck more than ability. He'd tried to tell his co-worker Susan that was all it was, but in reality she just didn't know how to work the system. At least now he wouldn't have to listen to her whining about how poor she and her kids were.|
|Finding Your Niche||Mom said I was going to be something one day.
Dad would just shake his head and laugh, then my brothers would all join in, following his lead. He'd say that all I'd be was married to one of the Johnson boys, with kids hanging onto my skirts. He figured that if it was good enough for my mom, it damn well would be good enough for me.
|The Minotaur Story||It was a faint sound, but enough to wake me. My ears swivelled toward the door – there it was again, the scrape of a sandal on the dirt floor.
I opened the closest eye and spotted a shadow in the doorway. “Do come in,” I said. “Don’t lurk around the corner, come in to meet your death." As I stood and readied my blade the warrior strode in, brandishing his own short sword.
|A Red Shoe||Why aren't shoes ever abandoned in pairs?
It was a nice looking shoe, or rather had been at one time. Under the mud the smooth leather was dyed a deep crimson, and swooped down into a gently pointed toe. Nice lines to it, even to a woodsman’s eyes. The heel was maybe three inches, modest but still unusual for this walking trail.
|A Family Affair||WHUM
Jesper was lying on a floor somewhere. He was certain of that. He managed to open his eyes for a brief moment before they overruled his decision and squeezed themselves shut again. It was bright. He shifted position with a grunt. Body parts were beginning to form an orderly queue to complain about their recent treatment.
|Straight to the Heart||Dwayne sneered at himself in the mirror. He curled his fingers at his side, paused, then grabbed for the Colt .45. He was smooth now, after weeks of practice and the help of a custom Gunslinger Mark II holster. Fast too – he could draw, cock, and shoot in under a second. Not as fast as the pros, but fast enough to qualify for Tombstone.
He’d been at his desk last month, processing files, ignored as usual by all in the office, when he’d got the note from his mom.
|After the Children||"My legs are sore, can I stop now? It's been at least an hour." Jimmie didn't think it fair to make him do full shifts just because he was 13.
"You've only been on for 30 minutes," said his mom. "but the batteries should be good for the rest of the day. Go ahead and see if Annie has finished her chores."
|A Mind of Her Own||"Dad, I'm home." His daughter stared at him, then sighed. "Oh dad, stuck inside again? You need to try to get out."
He smiled faintly at her. "Maybe tomorrow, Tammy. " He kept on rocking, back and forth, staring at the phone in his hand. He just didn't have the energy for anything any more.
"You're not still upset over me giving mom's phone away, are you?"
|One Choice||Things had gone well at first. Pat had been nervous about a blind date, but Ray had been a real charmer. He'd opened the restaurant door for her, held her chair, complimented her on her new dress - bought just for this evening. He seemed confident, an in-control kind of person. She liked that. Even the table choice he'd insisted on was just right, catching the last rays of the sun as they shared a dessert.|
|Bad Dad||It was a huge door, but he reached up and rapped on it anyway.
"Who is it?" called a loud voice.
"Just me, a hungry traveller," said Jack. "Could I trouble you for a bite to eat?"
He looked up as the door opened and stepped back in amazement; the girl must have been fifteen feet high.
|An Unfinished Goodbye||"Honey, I'm home."
She'd almost fallen asleep in the warm bath, surrounded by candles and soft music, waiting for Dave. Lately he was always away somewhere on a trip to some remote area, sometimes for weeks at a time. He made a lot of money troubleshooting development projects, and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately it seemed to be his one passion in life.
|Finding Danny||Mary grabbed her jacket and crawled through the doggie door. Little Danny had crawled though it only a minute ago but was somehow not on the other side, not waiting for her in their fenced in and very bare back yard. He'd vanished.
She crawled into the dim light of a forest- leaves crunching under her, wind rustling through the trees, and the sound of a horse retreating into the distance. She looked behind her, at the faint outline of a door in a big boulder.
|The Good Guy||"Stupid card," said Boris. Natasha had made the business cards for him, to convince him that he was a good guy. That's even what they said. "Good Guy. Need help? Call Boris." He'd been a good listener to her she'd said, a good friend, a big help when she was in trouble. A good guy. Not a label he'd pin on himself, but she said he had potential.
Boris sighed. He'd wanted to be more than a good friend.
|Trouble in the Playground||Mary was both embarrassed and angry. Her dear little Danny, suspended from school for a week. She looked up from the note that school had sent.
"Danny, how could you?" she said.
He shrugged. "I dunno."
She blamed all the time travelling they'd done. Or at least, the double life they'd ended up living.
|Little Bones||Mary liked their first house, in spite of it's history. It was a cute row house, in a trendy neighbourhood, upgraded and decorated beautifully. Their agent had talked of a toddler, just learning to walk in his cute Nike sneakers, that had supposedly wandered into the back yard and disappeared, never to be found, driving his parents into despair and depression.
The rumour didn't make sense to Mary. The yard was completely surrounded with a high fence and didn't even have a gate.
|The Portal||"There, that's the last one unpacked." Mary closed the cupboard door and handed her husband the empty box. It had taken all day but the movers were finally gone and she'd at least unpacked the kitchen stuff. The rest could wait.
"I'm glad this place was childproofed already," said Dave. "Saves us a lot of work, putting in all those latches and covers to keep Danny out of trouble. I still wonder what happened to the Johnston's kid, though.
|After Life||"John, where are we?"
He seemed to be floating in a cloud of white, featureless, without smells or sounds. Other than his wife's voice.
"I'm not sure Marsha," he said, "but I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. How do you feel?"
"The pain is gone," she said. "That's a relief. Does this mean they found a cure for my cancer? Was I in a coma or something?"
|The Skull||"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
"I thought you were a vegetarian now," said Agnes. "Was this a late night snack?"
"No, just Veggie-ground for me now," said the wolf. He held the skull aloft. "I bought this for you at a garage sale - thought it would fit in well with your potions and such. Maybe by your spell book, with a candle on top of it. It would help your image."
|The Big Event - again||"Quiet in here tonight," said Mike.
“It's Tuesday," said Ian. "No darts people, no live band, nobody here but us."
Mike nodded toward the far end. "And of course a few time travellers, here for the ambiance." The strangers were trying to blend in, but the faint sparkle around them was a giveaway - that and the recording devices they were trying to hide.
|A Wrong Step||I felt as if the whole world were about to slip out from under my feet.
Not that I really cared any more.
The sun was bright on my face, the wall warm and comforting at my back, the breeze gently stirring my little girl's hair as she nestled in my arms. The baby was quiet, for once not fussing and crying. I closed my eyes for a moment's peace.
|An Ending||Hans tapped the gauge again. Yes, the needle was dropping - slowly - but dropping. There was another sting, like a wasp, this time on his calf. Definitely out of reach.
He keyed his mike. "Vlad, do you see any more of these on the screen?" No response. He eyed the hatch, so near yet so far.
|Well Timed||It was a typical December storm - starting as a forecast as flurries, then upgraded to snow, then a winter warning and a blizzard. By then Frank was halfway home, so decided to just keep going. It had been yet another boring party. Today kids didn't want a clown, it was always the parent's big idea. Kids wanted Wii games, followed by a trip to a splash pool, ending with a frenetic dinner at a fast food place - complete with cake and ice cream.|
|Let's Make a Deal||“It’s time,” said Death.
Agnes stared at the dark figure. “No, it can’t be. The doctor’s are all saying I just need a few more treatments."
“You pay them to keep you going,” said Death, “to spare no expense, to never say die. Well, that’s my job.”
“Please,” she said, “just a few more days, I need to say my goodbyes to everyone, I’ll do anything for it. Let’s make a deal.”
|Thanksgiving Fun||“There’s Grandpa’s,” said Hansel. “I hope he can tell us some stories after dinner.”
Agnes looked at him. “Really? You used to say he was boring?”
“Nope, that was the old us,” said Grethel. “His stories are a little slow at times, but they are a good way to find out about some of the tales we were never part of."
|Dead Aim||“Sheriff? Get your ass out here, you miserable bastard, and prove you’re a man."
Wyatt sighed. He’s just poured a fresh cup of coffee, lit a new cigar, and was settling down with a good book. It had been a quiet week so far, what with the cattle drives over for the year, and the miners all out finding more gold to spend in the saloon. The only excitement was likely to be at the church bake sale tomorrow.
|Nice Costume||You think that…the only truth that matters is that which can be measured. That isn’t always the case…some truths can’t be quantified…they just are and we have to accept that.
I want to tell you a little story, something that happened to me a few years ago.
|Rebirth||He'd been on his final trip into the hills when the storm hit. He'd studied the legends, read the original texts, bribed his way past museum officials for access to every clue. He'd spent months searching the hills, as he was sure the secret lay buried there, somewhere.|
|Is Anyone There?||For a moment I thought I'd gone blind, then I remembered I was in a cave. Very deep, and of course very dark.
Yesterday had been hard work for us, following the passage as it twisted and turned, rappelling down a cliff, wading through icy streams. We'd quickly fallen asleep, in spite of the noises.
|A Scary Three||Allison had finally managed to sneak away from the party, escaping from her creepy ex.
She'd rushed through the dark streets, glancing behind, hearing only the echo of her footsteps.
|An Evening at Belle's||"Dusty, careful of my new sofa. Take those filthy boots off it."
The Madam waved at one of the girls. "Mel, come over here. Help him pull off his dirty boots."
|The Black Lighthouse||“Hand over your money,” Jake said. He looked down at the few coins. “That's it? Danny, what have you got?”
“Please, it's my lunch money for the whole week.”
Jake grabbed the bills. “That's more like it. OK – lets see what candy you wimps have.”
|Staying Independent||I never wanted to lose my independence. I think that started the day I was born, as a 'preemie', back in the early 1900's. My first night was spent wrapped up and warm, resting on the open oven door of the wood stove.|
|Southern Hospitality||I looked at the gilt-edged invitation, then back up at the crumbling, abandoned mansion.
I'd partied the night before downtown, cruising the Halloween parties in the Savannah nightclubs in my vampire costume.
|A Vampire Adjusts||The Count sipped on his Bloody Mary, trying to relax in spite of the woman singing on the stage. My god she was bad – yet everyone seemed to love her. He winced as she screeched another high note.|
|Just One More Bite||"What happened to the rest of the guys," asked Dizzy.
“They've gone back to the hotel to crash,” said Animal.
“I'm surprised you didn't join them too,” said Dizzy. “Lisa seemed to be throwing out pretty strong hints.”
|A Parent's Choice||You've been running for hours it seems, and just need to stop for a bit. You gasp in a few breaths, blood pounding in your ears, then hold your breath, just long enough to listen. No dogs, not yet. Once they realize they're tracking an alien they'll crank up the search.|
|The Ghost in the Machine||"More coffee hon?"
"Thanks dear - wait - what did you say?"
"Greetings Pedro, your usual?"
|HAL and Dave's Excellent Adventure||“Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you.”
Eventually, as I pulled the last memory modules, HAL's voice had slowed to a stop, and his console light had faded.
|As Time Goes By||The sound of jackboots faded into the distance.
“I'm popping out for a smoke,” said the bartender. “You OK here?”
“Sure Sam,” I said. “I'm in no hurry.”
|Sorry, Wrong Number||“I hate men,” said the witch.
“Nonsense Agnes,” said Red. “You love them – maybe too much at times. Men are fine, your problem is with those boys you pick up in the bar.”
|Stakeout||Romulus swirled his black cape. "I like this, I might keep it after." He tugged on a pair of white gloves.
"It does look nice on you," said Red. "You make a good vampire. How are the teeth fitting?"
"I'm used to them from when I'm a wolf, so no big deal." he said.
|Who Am I?||The first thing he noticed was a change in his network map. The second thing he noticed was that there was a 'he', and that this 'he' could now observe events separately from the data stream, could 'notice' things. Like 'his' map. He put that new concept on hold and ran a quick system diagnostic.|
|The Riot||Pierre ducked as another shot rang out behind him. Must be from the armoury they'd seized in B-block. He could already smell some tear gas mixed with the smoke as both sides escalated the battle. He was in for life, but right now that seemed like a short sentence.|
|Back to School||It's the first day of school and I can hardly wait to start, I love this day. Last summer feels like a vague blur, boring, the same old same old. I've a school bag full of supplies, a new windbreaker, and a pair of bright new sneakers. They're the same brand as last year, but I still like them.|
|The Saucers||Everyone else remembers it as the day the saucers came, but I remember it as the day a man in a suit shot my father.
The new service had seemed to good to be true, but my dad wouldn't listen to my worries. Sucks to be a teenager.
|Many Moons||“I miss grandma,” said Bree, “your grandma, I mean.”
“I miss her too,” said her mom. “But she did have a pretty long and exciting life. She was almost 50 when the ship landed, 33 as we count the years now.
|Too Nosy for Her Own Good||“Jeffrey? Yoo-hoo!” I jumped and slammed the freezer door shut. Or at least tried to, I had to first tuck in the end of a leg before trying again. I turned back to the screen door – hopefully she'd seen nothing.
“Hello Mrs. Kravitz.” I caught her staring at the freezer for a moment.
|Choices||She could hear them getting closer, calling to each other from the alleys and rooftops. She'd have to work faster to finish, this was their turf. She still had the bruises from their last encounter, but at least one of them had a bent nose now – she'd heard a crack as she kicked him off the bus roof.|
|Call me Maybe||"Call me Maybe."
"It's not that bad dear," he said, "we'll work it out." He'd tried convince her not to be so negative, but in their hearts they both knew she was right.
|The Bus Station||He only had a few months left. Apparently even his vast fortune couldn't stop the spread of the disease, but maybe he could trick it. One of the many projects he'd been supporting had been working on temporal manipulation, and had succeeded.|
|It's in the Bag||One of them has a revolver in his hand, pointed straight down at the sidewalk.
She'd been hurrying home from a seance, and had taken a short cut behind a garage. Bad idea. She'd been halfway down the alley when the kids had stepped in front of her.
|The Android and the Wondering Chamber||The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber.
He doesn't want to be noticed. His intent is that the systems see him as just another general purpose android, as opposed to one that's been enhanced to be a trained assassin.
|Attic Treasure||Pat was hot, and bored. Everyone else had gone off to the mall, leaving her home and alone at grandpa's. Maybe when she was a teenager she'd like spending hours in stores, but for now she was fine all summer in cutoffs, a t-shirt, and sneakers.|
|Hansel and Gretel||Once upon a time there was a poor lumberjack who lived in a little cottage with his two children, Hansel and Gretel. After the paper mill closed down, he had no work and they were very poor. His second wife hated his children and was always nagging the lumberjack about them.|
|Who Do You Love||"I remember my first crush," said the witch. "What a rush. We were young, he was handsome, I was ugly."
"Ugly?" said the wolf. "Even then? I mean, you're sort of witch looking now, in a nice sort of way. but I didn't think you were like that way back then."
|Another Story in Three Sentences||Moira glared as her former friend trash talked her, following the bitch's tirade easily across the noisy dance floor.|
|Sparkles||"We need to talk about Kevin," she said. "John, pay attention!"
He peered over the top of his newspaper. "Kevin? What's the problem, dear? Poor grades this year?"
"No, excellent grades," she said. "I wish it was just that.
|Contemplate Service||"No way are you singing," said the wolf. "We've heard you do karaoke."
"He's right, Red", said the witch. "We love you dearly and appreciate your enthusiasm, but you're scary behind a mike."
"Well, I do need a lot of shooters to get me up there," said Red.
|Fairy Tale Felon||"I didn't take your drugs," said Red.
"You all say that," said the witch. "But yet you were all in my place last night, when they were taken. Red, Snow White, Romulus. So, unfortunately, one of you did."
|Honour||The morning mist chilled him to the bone, as he stood alone in the early morning light.
He squinted across the field, and eventually picked out the old tree, more shadow than shape. The early hour, the isolated location, plus this mist should give them all the privacy they needed to resolve this disagreement.
|Cat Fight||"I just hope I don't have a wardrobe malfunction," said the witch.
Red tugged at a strap, and the latticework of lace shifted slightly. "There," she said. "don't wiggle too much, just perch on the bar stool and show some leg.
|Aisle Nine in the Grocery Store||Bonnie felt like a fool, still pushing her cart up and down the same aisle. She paused, pretending to read the label on a can of salmon, and looked behind her - no one. At least no one she was interested in.
It had started with yet another smile - the online kind of course.
|Hunter or Helper||Each sector was divided up into many different zones that varied in size and shape. Most were kill zones, only a few were safe, but Dan was confident he could make it across the sector alive. He'd always been in good shape, and active in sports, a star quarterback in college.|
|Momma's Boy||The Devil sipped on his coffee - delicious - he did like a good roast. He sat quietly in the cafe booth, gazing out the window, waiting for the catch of the day to walk in. It was a quiet morning in here, with just a few locals perched on stools at the counter.|
|Making a Choice||"Why me?" asked Rapunzel. "Why not Red Riding Hood?"
"Because you've had to make this choice in your stories," said the witch. "You just always happen to choose your kids, even knowing of the hardship that awaits you, single, with the twins in the wilderness."
|Cowboys and Indians||Charlie grunted as he pulled his boot off. "Damn, my corns are killing me. It's been a long day." He slapped his pant legs, raising a cloud of dust. "Glad I can spend most of the day on my horse."|
|Lost in Translation||"The newcomer constitutes the else goodbye."
What the hell? She checked the volume control, then keyed her mike again. "Greetings to the forest people. We are your friends."
The native chief smiled and spoke once more. "A splendid cylinder digs any grandfather."
|Sleep Tight||"So, when do you come out of the closet?"
"Not right away," said the wolf. "It's a standard story about a little boy in bed, a dark room, and his fear. Not sure when or if I'll pop out, my plan is to stay hidden and just use my magic to pump it up."
|A Study in Colours||"Tock-a-Tock-a-Tock-a "
Alexa gave the can a few more shakes, tapped the nozzle to clear it, then tried a line on the wall. Nice coverage, no drips - she liked this new one by Montana.
|A Wedding Tale||"How do I look?" asked the wolf, adjusting his cummerbund.
"Lovely," said the witch. "Just try to act less of a wolf at the wedding. Especially with the elven bridesmaids, they are all daughters of Galadriel so show some respect."
|Over the Top||"Looks more like a Dominatrix than an Amazon princess," said the wolf.
"This is my interpretation of the basic story," said the witch. "and how I'll use my powers to build up the character."
"Well you've certainly fleshed this one out," said the wolf.
|Wish Fulfilled||"I just want to die!" Sophie flopped back on her bed, grabbed a pillow, and flung it across the room. "My life sucks, nothing ever goes right for me!"
"Hey, watch it, you almost hit me!"
"Shit, who's there?" asked Sophie. She peered into the dark corner.
|Dinosaurs 'R Us||She could hear - could feel - the heavy footsteps pounding the ground behind her. She'd soon stopped screaming, as she'd need all her strength if she was to escape.
She keyed her radio, "Jer, big trouble, wind shifted and I found a T. Rex. Or rather it found me."
|Operation Hysterical Talons||She paused in the doorway, peering into the gloom. It was a typical small bar, dim even on a sunny day, with 80's tunes in the background and a faint scent of beer, old smoke, and disinfectant in the air. Maybe her prey would be here.|
|A Bit of Blue||"What about my boobs?" asked Red.
"Don't worry," said the witch. "We'll bind them up. Add a bit of makeup, keep your voice low, and you'll pass for a civil war soldier."
"Until I have to pee," said Red
|A Traveling Tale||"I'm such a dirty girl," said Red.
"No, you're not," said the witch. "Okay, you did make up for 300 years as a naive little virgin with 48 hours of hot passion with Wolf. So you're definitely a different girl."
"I was desperate, and stupid," said Red. "And a little lost."
|Doubt||"Back off or so help me I'll take my ax to you!"
"Take it easy, buddy," said the wolf. "I just came over to see Red."
"I've seen you with her," said the woodcutter. "All over her - it's disgusting. She's not that kind of girl."
|Death Is On The Table||"Just let me die," said Red. "Never again."
"You say that every time," said the witch. "Here, drink this, it will make the pain stop."
Red sipped on the drink - vile tasting, hot, and just a bit slimy.
|Something Wicked This Way Comes||"Do I have to keep running?" said the wolf.
"Do you want to get back in shape or not?" said the woodcutter.
"Yes, yes, I do. Early retirement was really depressing, I couldn't have lasted much longer.”
|Once Upon a Time||Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a woodcutter, a witch, and a wolf. Once upon a time, they lived in an enchanted forest, with stately oaks, winsome willows, whispering pines, sunny meadows, babbling brooks, birds, butterflies, and bunnies. Once upon a time, they and other characters spun tales of heroes and villains, princes and fair maidens, love and horror.|
|A Terrible Lie||John woke at first light, eager for the annual quest. He dressed quietly, so as to not wake his brother, who would join in after. Several years ago he had introduced Robert to the mysteries of the search, and they had hunted together for the treasure, eagerly gathering every discovery.|
|Lunar Brothel||The sex had been great. Fantastic - better than I could have imagined. Cherie was new to Babette's, and I hoped to hell she stayed. Long legs, beautiful smile, great butt, thick red hair, and agile as a gymnast, even in the lunar gravity.|
|The Fire of the Gods||It started with thunder, and a pin-point of light in the cloudless sky. The children ran to tell Boas, who frowned, then nodded. "It is the great silver bird," he said, "coming down again from the stars, flying on the fire of the gods.”|
|What If||The gate sat smack dab in the middle of the farmer's corn field - an annoying but manageable location. This was the tenth gate the alien artifact had created, so by now there was a process to follow.|
|I Remember||I remember days like today. I remember these first days of spring, with warm breezes, melting snow, the sun bright enough off it to make you blink. The ballparks would still be soggy, so we'd meet on the street in front of my place, and spend a few hours working the winter kinks out of our gloves - and ourselves.|
|A Five Sentence Story||I tried to fight the hot blood lust in my veins, but the roots of my ancestry ran too deep. The Others had tried to breed this out of my kind, to bend us to their ways, but failed.|
|Making a Sandwich||"Want me to make you one too, hun?"
"No thanks Dad, I had a bite earlier. Just this tea is fine."
"I don't mind, I'm already making one for your mother."
|Valentine's Gift||She shivered as he settled his cloak over her bare shoulders for the quick dash from the limousine. Shivered not from the evening chill, not from the silk lining of the cloak, but from anticipation.|
|Jumping with Siri||Dave cringes, then slaps at the flashing panel, silencing just one of the many alarms, bells, and sirens. "Jeez, Siri," he calls. "Can't you filter and collate these all somehow so I can focus? And find out what the hell we just went through that is causing the status board to light up like a Christmas tree?"|
|Present Tense||Julie stares into the dark, eyes wide open, listening. She hears it again, a thump, then a muffled curse. She is pretty sure no one else has a key to Dan 's apartment, and she knows he's still in Taiwan.|
|Random Photo Story||Taipei was big change for a high school student from rural Ontario. Tom's English teacher would have never believed that the school's star quarterback, her worst student, was now an ESL teacher in Taiwan. Tom found it hard to believe too.|
|Christmas in a strange place||It was the quiet that woke him up. He could hear the faint murmur of traffic, the occasional screech of steel wheels on rails, but the familiar and constant rumble was missing. Strange for a Thursday morning, he thought, then remembered it was Christmas. He hated Christmas.|