#ShortShortStories

a cure for the common block

I Am The Night – Color Me Black

The subculture of assassins-for-hire is more specialized and nuanced than most would imagine; while a disgruntled husband may seek out a soldier of fortune in the back of a magazine, mobsters and other elite members of the criminal underworld draw from a contact list unimaginable to the average citizen. Fabian Moretto didn’t just want George Paige dead for cooperating with the police, he wanted to exemplify him in case anybody else contemplated doing the same thing. George would suffer at the hands of Tevyek Fabiantik, A.K.A. “The Phobia”, a man who transformed torture into an art form; after a single session with Tevy his victims were lucky if he allowed them to die.

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The Encounter

Akhar rested in his chamber occupying his time with anything he could imagine – literally; as a jinni he possessed the power to manipulate reality. Sure, he was a slave forced to obey the whims of any sod who happened to bumble upon him, but he was the one in true control; someone wanted super powers? Not a problem, but then their government captured, studied, and surgically inspected him for the rest of his life. The wishes were always selfish and Akhar always found a catch or loophole to turn it against his “Master, and then he returned to his own selfish, conjured reality. A thousand years of this lifestyle, princes, thieves, and beggars never once challenging his perception of humanity, never breaking the pattern until an 11-year-old named Dennis found a jar on the beach, a jar that would help him save his brother’s life.

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Oh, How We Met on the Night That We Danced

Dahla approached her seventh decade of a solitary existence on the mountain and would not have preferred living anywhere else, especially within the proximity of other people; she shot at anyone foolish or ignorant enough to tread on her property even lost hikers on the brink of Death, the true enemy she was warding off. In winter she would turn 116 having eluded His embrace in a heap of corpses following a massacre on her village, one look into the empty pits of His eyes and she knew He would never stop hunting her. Dahla spent decades roaming aimlessly, refusing to believe what had happened and attempting to avoid human contact out of an inexplicable fear deep within her. She eventually moved into an abandoned cabin she discovered and settled in, simplifying her solitude while mulling over the incident which stole so many of her closest bonds, growing bitter as the years dragged on – feeling cheated. One day however, far in the future she would succumb to the weight of isolation and open her door, welcoming the Reaper to give her peace and join those that she lost.

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It May Look Like a Walnut

Hayley tended to her farm tirelessly and dedicated her life to her crops, the soil, equipment, livestock, even the hand-sewn-and-stuffed scarecrows; she gave up on a family when she realized how dire the circumstances were for the land that had been in her family for six generations. Her work, however, would be in vain when nearly everything on the 120-acre plot would die within a year after Hayley discovered a new species of weevil with remarkable resilience to pesticides and a devastating appetite. She had to sell her livestock and most of her equipment to fund her own research and experiments on the few straggling crops, sacrificing almost everything to find a natural, effective spray to kill the blight. She was unable to brew a cocktail that stood a chance against the pests, but her single-minded determination left other chores unattended, such as dealing with nests of yellow jackets which she discovered feasted on the hordes of weevils with ravenous delight.

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To Tell or Not to Tell

Eldon watched the rats scatter in all but one direction and dreaded what it signaled; he was conflicted about whether to let a society that had shunned him fall victim to Duzael while he remained safe in his chains, or warn them of the demon coming to feast on their bodies and souls. As he mulled over his dilemma the six-eyed beast stepped forward and removed the shadow like a cloak of darkness, drawing a deep breath through Its spiked nostrils, the scent of sin whetting Its appetite. It looked around for the first victim, someone to maul and launch into a crowd to get the show started, but Eldon was masked by his holy chains and as he peered into Its swirling yellow eyes he didn’t see a ravenous Hellspawn about to unleash terror on the city, he saw himself willing to stand by and allow the death and suffering of hundreds for his own selfish resentment of being ostracized, and in his final act he showed them mercy and forgiveness.

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One Hundred Terrible Hours

Mel and Irene focused on the vibrant lights pulsating to the beat of the music as they danced, and as the synesthetic effect of the drugs kicked in they could see the songs illuminated and flowing through the air, intensifying the experience to euphoric heights. The trip back down was slow and unpleasant, a turbulent descent through a thick haze made tolerable only by having each other for support, as they always had since childhood. The slog through recovery was long and rough, and when they took their final steps out of the fog they arose not only cleansed of the toxins but of the desire to ever do it again; the fallout finally overwhelmed the pleasure.

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Long Night’s Journey Into Day

Ian plucked his shoes off with his heels and set his feet on the cool floor, feeling the rumble of the cars engine on his soles as he stared out the window watching the scenery zip by; he had spent the day sleeping, waking just in time for the falling curtain of sunlight to unveil the cascade of stars. Ian’s family traveled frequently, but rarely with him and this was his first chance to see the myriad stars he had always read about in books. He saw a galaxy of stars that were kept hidden from him all his life by the lights of the city, so many thousands in a cluster that there were patches of near-solid starlight the size of his fist; Ian would collect (and discard) numerous other passions over the following decades, but the impact of that specific sight at that specific age cemented a lifelong love of space, fueling his drive to become an astronaut.

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Your Home Sweet Home is My Home

Diedra was charmed by Kyle’s cocktail of acerbic wit and sincere romanticism, he could weave a tapestry of insults admonishing a public figure while they curled up in bed, limbs intertwining after serving her a home-cooked meal by candlelight. Their relationship didn’t “blossom” like a flower, unfurling and slowly revealing new insights only to quickly wither; their love brewed, growing stronger as the years lapsed into decades. The humans had their turn to rule and it took little time to make the world all but unlivable – for them – at which point the Immortals emerged from the shadows and seized control; they claimed thrones and palaces around the world, enslaved the few surviving humans, and revelled in finally using the power they hid for eons. Diedra and Kyle preferred not to, unlike the others they were not born in the pits of fire and brimstone they were born in the fields of passion and beauty and would only ever need each other to be content.

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Obnoxious, Offensive, Egomaniac, Etc

Don was rude. Don was also a brilliant mathematician who would eventually work with a team to develop the equation to maximize the energy output of batteries that would revolutionize technology and take the first major step toward travel to exoplanets. Before that he would have to go on a more personal journey to learn that his math wouldn’t always satisfy his colleagues, that a more amenable attitude would take him farther. He slowly came to rely on a warm hand more often than a cold shoulder and appreciated the value of the bonds forged through his new temperament, but the final crack in his shell came from the afternoons spent with his new assistant, Abigail.

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The Lady and the Tiger and the Lawyer

Lindsay relished the sweet and milky taste in every spoonful of her ice cream, a celebration of yet another victory for her and her team. Her colleagues gossiped about the peculiarity of a grown woman choosing a banana split over, say, a bourbon or cigar, but Lindsay brought in enough clients and won enough cases that she could have gotten away with obscenely strange customs. The truth was that Lindsay’s ritual wasn’t just to literally savor her victories, but a superstitious habit for continued luck, and had been effective since her baseball team in college won the state championship.

 

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