#ShortShortStories

a cure for the common block

Five Characters in Search of an Exit

Mack had been whining to the Cook and multiple patrons for the better part of an hour, going on and on about the complicated relationship between him and a co-worker, someone whom he felt deep admiration toward, but doubted the feelings were reciprocated; he turned to the few straggling night-owls still haunting the joint at 3 a.m., seeking guidance. The older gentleman across the diner was attempting to drink his coffee and read his paper in peace, but he couldn’t take anymore. He exclaimed and rose from his seat, launching into a lecture at the young man about not pussyfooting around the issue, to take a stand, a risk, tell her how he felt, what was on his mind, in his heart, rather than hemming and hawing surrounded by strangers with problems of their own. After finishing the monologue Mack lowered his head and reflected on the words as the man returned to his seat. The lights were raised and the men stood up to an ovation and cheers from the audience.

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The Lonely

Unbeknownst to Jay as he prepared his PB&J, 2,300 miles to the east his soulmate was doing the same thing. In 3 ½ weeks they would have a chance encounter in a museum while both on vacation, after which their lives were propelled by a drive to be together, forging new identities and abandoning their previous ones; the prostitute and the porn star formed a union of trust, equality, and everlasting adoration.

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No Time Like The Past

The Bots had been around for as long as Lus could remember and he never thought anything of the two, they came to the island years earlier and simply helped villagers with small tasks – until an explorer came on a boat. When no one could provide answers to his questions about what they were, who made them, where they came from, he insisted on “examining” him, but the Bots did not like his invasion and quickly discarded him. Lus wanted to help the Bots, offered to take them in the boat to find their home, their creator, but they surprised Lus and in a flash the three were several hundred years in the future, in the long-abandoned home of their creator. They weren’t really there, it was just a hologram, and they shared with him all of their knowledge and history, with the exception of how they arrived on Lus’ island. In a flash the image was gone and life returned to normal on the island, until the next inevitable explorer would arrive.

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Sounds and Silences

Remo shuffled the cards and dealt hands to the other men at the table, this particular group of nameless men had been meeting for several weeks with tension steadily growing between two of the men – he dubbed the younger one “Takun”, and the older one “Chi-Chi” – and Remo had a feeling they had reached their breaking point. Remo never meddled, although he could, but that policy was how he drew such wealthy men to his games, games which often attracted people settling personal vendettas without resorting to violence. On Takun’s turn during the opening hand, he placed three large stacks of money on the table, stared Chi-Chi directly in the eyes and simply said “Mei-Mei”. Remo didn’t speak Japanese, but he knew exactly what the young man said and as his eyes panned to the old man he lowered his eyes and nodded his head, prompting a bodyguard at the door behind Remo to leave. Still several feet from the door, Remo could hear a young girl breathing heavily and whimpering and finally put the pieces together; the door opened and revealed the bodyguard strong-arming Takun’s sister, but as soon as he took his first step toward her the goon raised a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. If Remo had been facing the man he would have had time to take the gun out of his hand, but he merely managed to spin around and twist his arm so the gun fired in another direction, specifically into the screen of his new TV. Remo couldn’t help but meddle.

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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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