a cure for the common block

The Family Hour

Taylor tickled her baby girl, Shayla, making goofy faces while playing peek-a-boo; she puffed out her cheeks, crossed her eyes, anything to elicit that precious giggle that gave her life meaning. Taylor’s father, Gus, arrived a short time later to babysit while she was at work, and her father had the same zeal for Shayla’s laugh. When Taylor moved back in with her parents years earlier it was an awkward transition, not least because she was pregnant. Shayla brought lightness to everyone’s hearts, and when Taylor’s mom passed a year later her and her father became a stronger team than they had ever been before. This strength empowered Shayla and what she accomplished in her remarkable life was directly owed to this bond.

#ShortShortStories #TheFamilyHour

Dwarf in a Helium Hat

D.W. Duncan did not like having his his patience tested, so it was quite displeasing when Mr. Qoptx appeared, albeit entirely predictable. D.W. was frequently plagued by Murphy’s Law, and when he was beseiged by an interdimensional imp with a penchant for mischief he could only blankly stare ahead, imagining an invisible camera that followed him around to record his tribulations for the amusement of others. Mr. Qoptx could shapeshift and manifest all manner of objects, lights, and sounds, none of which were observable to anyone other than D.W. Mr. Duncan – after decades of experience with child, customer, and municipal services – had an unwavering composure and tuned out the diminutive goblin. Little did he know that this tenacity was why he was selected as the subject of the bet between Mr. Qoptx and Loki.

#ShortShortStories #DwarfInAHeliumHat

The Paper Palace

Jaire’s friends were impressed by his cup-stacking skills but scoffed at the idea of a competition when he told them his plans for the weekend. He shrugged off their jeers and continued to practice building up the cups into a pyramid before breaking it down into three smaller pyramids and various other arrangements. The three rounds at the state tournament would decide who continued on to the finals in the nations capitol. If that wasn’t enough pressure Jaire secretly wanted to prove to his friends that it wasn’t just a silly party trick, that it required months of practice. There were three judges who scored based on speed, accuracy, and complexity, and if Jaire had been sitting in any of those chairs he would have failed his performance; he was his own biggest critic that way. Not only did he not fail, he advanced to the next round, and despite every mistake and fumble that he noticed he was again advanced to the final round of the state tournament. He didn’t advance to compete in the final competition, but 4th place got tickets to the finals, all expenses covered, and a cash prize that garnered new-found respect from his friends.

#ShortShortStories #ThePaperPalace

Just a Coupla Guys

Lawrence wanted to spend time with his friend Ray, but was frustrated when he suggested another mutual acquaintance, Timothy, tag along. Ray had been Lawrence’s best friend for years, his first true confidante, and while he didn’t mind Tim’s company, something about Ray wanting someone else to join them bothered him. Shortly after their weekend excursion, Lawrence tried articulating his feelings to another close friend, Helle. Helle was a good listener, she was very perceptive and believed she understood what was upsetting Larry; she asked him to promise her something – because she knew he only made promises he intended to keep – and he obliged. Lawrence promised to carefully think about what made him upset. Alone back at home he thought about why he wanted to go out with Ray in the first place, why he wanted it to be just the two of them, why he cared about who Ray invited. By the end of the night he would feel the need to make a confession to Ray, a confession that permanently changed their friendship.

#ShortShortStories #JustACouplaGuys

So Help Me God

This story takes place somewhere else. Where? I just told you. On the other side of me there is you, on the other side of Here is Somewhere Else entirely. Getting there is both simple and impossible: just close your eyes and think about it. Ah! but how can you picture a place you’ve never been? The residents of Somewhere could travel anywhere they wished, but no one could enter their realm without invitation. That is why the Four-Eyed Forum were so curious about the sudden manifestation of the rotund creature standing on the stone steps of their Colosseum. They were further baffled upon learning it only had a 73-word vocabulary, a foul temper, and no evidence of an imagination. The belligerent Tryxl named Tumbog Polk was similarly confused, one moment it was arguing with an ugly bloat called Kod, or Glod, or something, then poof he was in the middle of this ugly mess. The Four-Eyed Forum didn’t need to hear anymore, God was always giving them trouble, ever since their society moved on from religion.

#ShortShortStories #SoHelpMeGod

To Protect and Serve

Rumors surrounded the Hat & Tail, a lodge that sat just on the edge of Towne, but nobody had ever been inside. Anyone who knocked on the heavy oak door was asked to provide a password, however nobody seemed to know it and nobody managed to guess it. It was one of those things that had always just been so there was little interest in getting answers, but Clive wasn’t one to let things go so easily. A few times a week he would perch in a tree a good distance from the lodge and watch for any activity; after weeks it finally paid off when he saw multiple carriages making their way into the lot, with passengers exiting  and approaching the door one at a time. Most people had assumed it was a meeting place for Freemasons, but the men approaching the door didn’t look like masons. He scurried down and made his way over to the building, hiding and listening in for the password. He heard a knock, the guard asked for a password, and the gent merely said “If you don’t mind…” and with that the oak door slowly creaked open, letting moment of the party inside escape. Clive knew he had to be clever, and luckily he was also patient. A month after the first event Clive rode up and parked, stepping out in his father’s suit, fitting in best he could. He knocked, but the guard didn’t ask for a password, he asked if Clive was new and Clive quickly hiccuped a “Yep! Just joined!”, then proffered the password and stepped inside to the secret society of butlers.

#ShortShortStories #ToProtectAndServe

A Different Drummer

The mop globbed and smeared paint on the tile as Theo signed his name to his latest piece. Though his primary medium was rusto & stencil, his signature was always acrylic; in thirty minutes one square block of campaign posters (covering the ubiquitous “post no bills” signs, naturally) were transformed to resemble a variety of left- and right-wing authoritarian propaganda. Theo was an all-city king, a graffiti artist whose work was known and respected throughout the five-boroughs, even though nobody had ever met him or at least knew they had met him. His tag was Trolleo, drawn in such a way that the letters formed a smiling face: an upside-down “T” formed the smile, an “r” outlined a monocle, the “o”s made the eyes, and the “lle” shaped a nose. Years earlier, when one of his pieces got widespread attention (a punition of “drones are good” over another series of campaign posters) nobody could translate his tag so he had to – embarrassingly – have an “epiphany” while staring at it among other writers and hope they didn’t surmise that he was the artist.

#ShortShortStories #ADifferentDrummer


April steered the cart up to the car as Grant approached the driver-side door and unlocked it. Claire was still pouting, but her parents were just relieved the three-year-old had stopped crying; Grant opened the door, reached in and picked up Herman, Claire’s imaginary pet gibbon. She immediately smiled as her father carried her pet over to the cart as her mother continued loading the groceries into the trunk. Herman consoled Claire – he could talk of course- and assured her that he didn’t mind staying in the car; Claire explained his reasoning to her father, that if the humans didn’t want Herman walking around the store among them, then they’re just the type of people Herman didn’t want to be around. Even Grant could tell that Herman said the last part as he crossed his extremely long arms.

#ShortShortStories #Claire


Steven turned the key in his ignition and heard a blood-curdling shriek from under the hood of his car that jolted his hand away, launching the keys somewhere into the backseat. He sat frozen for a full minute before he felt comfortable enough to inspect the situation; eyes locked ahead and unblinking his left hand fumbled to pull the handle and unlatch the hood. He didn’t believe in the supernatural, yet the sound that erupted from his car sounded completely unnatural; his right hand gripped the handle of his umbrella and raised it as his left hand popped the hood, ready to defend himself against whatever unholy beast lurked in his engine. The soft “Mrr?” from Shane Calico, Steven’s cat, was not exactly what he had expected, and he underestimated the time-consuming difficulty of locating and retrieving his keys from under the passenger-side seat.

#ShortShortStories #Gearjammers


Alex H. Hofstedter experienced psychic visions throughout his life; they were rare and random, occurring when he came in contact with a person or one of their belongings. Upon contact his mind was sent to a moment in the often indeterminate future, and when he would naturally reach that point in his life he experienced déjà vu. While taking a break from helping his girlfriend Janine move into their new apartment, they laid on the floor clasping hands and Alex’s mind flashed to the same apartment but very different furnishings, and a small boy – his son? – smiling up at him and clapping his hands. In a blink Alex was once again in the present and looked upon his sweetheart with new adoration. Jan’s fingers were covered with rings and he inquired about all of them: this one reminded her of her first puppy, that one belonged to her runaway sister, this one was a gift from her childhood best friend, etc. Almost exactly one year later Alex came home to see Janine crying and embracing a woman resembling pictures he had seen of the long-lost sister; she let go of Janine and wrapped both of her arms around Alex, hurtling him back to the living room with their son.

#ShortShortStories #Roundabout

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