#ShortShortStories

a cure for the common block

Stopover in a Quiet Town

Glenn took yet another sample of the soil with the futile hope of getting different results from the lab tests as the white dwarf set in the east. He and Felicia had been on the potentially habitable planetoid Acris for nearly a month, with another month left before they’d be able to return to Earth with their findings, but it wasn’t looking good. Everything was just “not right” – the soil had too much ammonia, the air too much nitrogen, which the plants released instead of oxygen, the only thing working in their favor was a complete lack of fauna; they didn’t leave their vessel for the first week while it scanned Acris from the outer atmosphere down to a mile below the surface. Felicia did a low-grav skip-walk toward Glenn with some actual good news, that Protus – Acris’ nearby trojan planet – was finally close enough for their ship to perform a shallow scan, but the look on his face and more importantly his eyes focused on something behind her told her that the scan would be unnecessary.

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Quality of Mercy

Emma cowered in fear when the guard told her he was taking her to Belial; she still had no idea what had brought her to the Underworld and she was moments away from meeting the Devil. Pushed into the ten-by-ten room reeking of brimstone, she saw no horned demon, no flames, in fact she saw nothing, no one, until she heard metal clanging against the floor in a dark corner to her right: a pitiful creature in shackles chained to the wall, eyes of red and skin of black and grey with a texture of ash that she feared would crumble if she dared touch it. It hugged the corner, raising its shoulders and tucking its head down; Emma knelt down and slowly moved toward the worthless creature on her hands and knees, reaching out an open palm, the first kind gesture offered to the pathetic demon in a thousand years, a kindness he’s only allowed to experience once every thousand years.

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The Self-Improvement of Isandro Ross

Isandro wiped his sweaty hands on the less embellished fabric of his suit before entering the arena with his signature smile and flare which had quickly gained him many fans and admirers, making his way to the center where Reynaldo and Osias stood. The crowd calmed down and the opening ceremony began with Reynaldo presenting Isandro with his sword; this was Izzy’s Alternative, the match where he would finally become a matador de toros. The first bull would be his Rey would take the second and Oz would take the third, then they would repeat the order for the last three bulls. It was a highly coordinated dance with several players testing the bulls weaknesses and temperament, and as the day ended, along with Isandro’s career in bullfighting, he felt no regret or shame for his actions and the bull would never forget him for the rest of his long, strange life.

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Elegy

Andria’s confidence sputtered out in a long, silent groan as her eyes dilated in deep, utter fear. Looking at the first question she realized she had studied the wrong chapter of her history textbook and frantically scanned each and every question, flipping the pages with frenzied jitter, completely clueless of what to do. She had struggled for much of the semester and passing this test was her last chance to pass the class and graduate on time. Paralyzed with a cold sweat her prospects flashed before her eyes: failing the test, taking summer school, having to reapply to colleges with “Failed” and “Summer Classes” on her transcript. When she finally snapped out of it she saw there were only ten minutes left and her test was still blank; she scrambled and quickly wrote in answers, ignoring the multiple choices and jotting down as much information from the wrong chapter that she could, about the settlements, agriculture, economy, neighboring tribes, everything filtered straight from her conscious mind to her fingertips, covering the page in ink. She received exemplary marks, but then again Mrs. Ginny Grace never would have failed Andria, her educational philosophy stressed effort over memorization, especially when it came to the standardized finals students were required to take.

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Escape Clause

Scott wasn’t very bright, but he was quick and agile which proved quite advantageous on The Island. While many of the other captives attempted to think their way out of danger Scott ran, jumped, climbed, and scurried away, albeit narrowly frequently. The Good Doctor always offered a reward and signed a contract of rules, but never risked Making Good. Until Scott. Scott wasn’t very bright but he wasn’t stupid; when the time came he did not immediately present himself, he remained hidden for several days almost making the Good Doctor believe he had succumbed to some other tragedy. Almost. He left the briefcases, keys, and dagger in a vast clearing, apparently keeping his Good Word. What Scott didn’t know was that the plane’s fuel gauge had been altered and in reality only had enough to travel 20 miles before crashing into the ocean, what the Good Doctor didn’t know was that Scott had no intention of leaving The Island.

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It’s a Good Life

Yoon never entertained the notion of an “all-seeing/powerful” God, for twenty some-odd years she lived a life completely absent of a “Creator” as well as an afterlife. She did good, helped others, but not in service of an eternal reward, rather as immediate gratification in knowing she helped those less fortunate than herself. So it came as a shock one January evening as she sat in her apartment listening to a Buddy Holly record – given to her by her father on her thirteenth birthday – when a brain embolism triggered a massive stroke that resulted in her immediate, but thankfully painless death. Face to face with an entity she never believed existed, her first question was “Why?”, and she quickly learned that while every question was promptly answered, the answers often lead to more questions and uncertainty.

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The Chaser

Kitty made flirtatious small talk with the repairman, appreciating his efforts and above & beyond service. Frank didn’t think much of it, he was just doing his job it’s not like he was going to pretend to be confused and say it wasn’t reparable in order to avoid work, although he did have a few coworkers who would pull such a stunt from time to time, if the required fix was particularly painstaking and it was their fifth job of the day, not that that excuses such laziness.. then Frank shook his head and mumbled, getting too lost in his own thoughts and not focusing on the task at hand. When the job was done he closed up his tool kit and Kitty proffered a drink, a gesture Frank would normally refuse, but finished for the day he would head directly home after this, and besides, despite being at least 20 years his senior Ms. Michaels didn’t look a day over 35, and so the two shared a stiff beverage as the brand-new engine in Kitty’s service-bot revved up and it got back to its duties.

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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.

#ShortShortStories #NoTimeLikeThePast

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