Bob had been a lot of places. He had been in the deepest oceans, the highest clouds, the hottest geysers, the coldest glaciers. He had been in hurricanes, waterfalls, and rainbows. He had been in the blood of Christ, the brain of Buddha, and the mouth of Mohammad. Of all the places he’d been, however, this was his favorite. Far below the earth where only the sound of slow dripping from his brethren is heard, a place where light has never shone, a place where one can spend a thousand years in a pool of placid repose thinking deep thoughts.
Author’s Note: How many molecules of water pass through us in a lifetime? What stories do they have to tell?
We met at a bar, had a few drinks—maybe more than a few. Her place was closer. Seconds after we fell through the door, our clothes were off. We started on the couch, moved to her bedroom.
After, we held each other.
“How would you feel about Round Two?” she asked.
I told her I liked that idea.
“Just let me slip into something more comfortable.” She turned her naked back to me, moved her hair to reveal a shiny silver zipper running from her shoulders to the small of her back.
“Here, just help me with this zipper.”
Author’s Note: Every writer has to try a story about picking someone up at a bar This is mine.
Dragonflies can’t walk. They can only stand.
I never feel sad for them. They can fly.
But I feel sad for him. He’s not struggling to escape my widow’s web.
Seeing his torn wing, I know he wasn’t caught. By some accident, he’s been doomed to a life of standing. He chose my web.
But I won’t let him die.
I help him out of the trap and carefully mend his wing.
We live quite comfortably together. I carry him so he feels what it’s like to walk, and he carries me so I feel what it’s like to fly.
Author’s Note: I recently read that most dragonflies can’t walk. Whether this is true or not seems to be the source of a bit of confusion, but I decided to write a story based on the assumption that it is true. Sorry if I’m wrong.
Upon entering the town square, he felt a chill. It was bustling with activity but everyone there was blind. Not just blind, but maimed. Each eyehole dug out, every face scored with the resultant scars. It was clear they’d adapted a society using sounds in place of sights. Bells on horses and goats. Shops were belled, carriages belled, even children wore bells. The cacophony of the clanging disoriented. Un-belled, he was invisible. He waded through the crowd, silent. Until the white thing rose before him. Its starved eyes met his. Twin hungry pinholes. And he knew why they blinded themselves.
Author’s Note: I loved the idea of a city consisting of only blind people, who had adapted to stop this strange predator. Leaving it to starve in their midst.
“Bring me a lost treasure of our people, and you shall marry my daughter and rule after me,” said the King.
The first suitor chose the Sky-Apple the Goblin King had taken to light his realm. He died in darkness.
The second suitor fought mighty dragon Longtooth for Princess Sorrow’s necklace. His corpse burned for days.
The third suitor challenged the Wind-Wardens for the Awed Breath, captured in a bottle of tall tales. He was blown to sea.
The Princess girded her loins. She charmed the Goblin King, slayed the dragon, and outsmarted the Wardens.
She ruled long and wisely.
Author’s Note: Princesses like impossible quests too, you know.
‘I can return it in ten weeks, if it isn’t perfect?’ she checked.
‘Absolutely.’ The assistant swaddled the purchase in toweling, before placing it in the gold, cardboard carry-bag.
‘Even if it’s a small fault, like a mole?’
‘Of course, madam. It will simply be sold as seconds, and reduced in price accordingly.’
That explained the queue she’d passed when entering the shop: desperate, clambering people, obviously waiting for the sale to start. She’d kept her distance, in case the scent of their poverty brushed off on her.
‘I’ll be in touch,’ she said, ticking the purchase off her list.
Author’s Note: I’ve been wondering (since having children) what having a ‘perfect’ baby (through genetics/cloning) would do to the notion of ‘family’.
Miss Hatkinson wandered between rows, avoided tripping on the dinosaur-centaur’s tail, and nudged the cords of an air machine away from the walkway as she passed a methane-breathing squidlike student.
Two fuzzy aliens in the front row started giggling uncontrollably. Miss Hatkinson’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.
She turned back to the air machine and searched the cords until she found the tiny box she was looking for.
“This is a brain-booster!” she scolded. “Do you think I don’t know that your species performs better when you listen to ultrasonic frequencies? Cheating!”
Supervising standardized tests was a nightmare on this starbase.
Author’s Note: Teaching would get so much more complicated if you had to memorize the culture and biology of several dozen different student species.
Straps hold him in bed. “So you won’t wander,” the nurse says, soothingly. They must contain—what’s that mineral?—or he could snap them as easily as he used to lift locomotives.
Couldn’t he do that once? Long ago?
Screams. Smoke. “Get out, Nurse!” somebody shrieks. “Now! Let the firefighters rescue them!”
The sirens are too far away.
Flames break through the wall like a huge flower: the straps melt. Freed, he goes to rescue the other residents. Four have died: the rest he saves.
He ignores the cheering crowd, flies up, up into space. Back toward his birth world.
Author’s note: Old age is everybody’s Kryptonite.
Jessica set the candle carefully on the bathroom counter. “I can’t believe we’re trying this. I feel like a kid.”
“Don’t wimp out now.” Lauren pushed Jessica toward the mirror. “You said you’d do it.”
Jessica stared at her reflection and took a deep breath. “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary.”
Mist swirled up in the mirror, drifting out over the counter. Slowly, a shape solidified—a highball glass filled with red fluid, green garnish jutting from the top.
“Oh my god, it worked!” Jessica whooped and high-fived Lauren before picking up the drink. “Now you try it!”
Author’s Note: This is still a horror story because tomato juice is a terrible thing to do to vodka.
“One more round of skipping? Pleeeease, Daddy?”
“Okay, one more.” I’d promised Jane that morning that Amanda would play outdoors like a normal eight-year-old, not stay inside all day reading my university math textbooks.
Padma and Lucas turned the rope while Amanda skipped. The words they chanted made me smile:
“Archimedes studied math,
Left his trousers in the bath.
When the neighbors asked him why,
Told them he’d invented pi.”
Amanda, sola: “Three, point, one, four, one, five, nine, two…”
It’s getting dark. Amanda’s still going.
She’d better be in bed by the time Jane gets home from her meeting.
Author’s Note: Kids these days…