#ShortShortStories

a cure for the common block

A Hunting We Will Go

Imani raised his spear and made peace with Aguta as he stared down the heaving beast. The bear charged, galloping toward Imani desperate for a meal. The last thing she wanted was human flesh, but poachers had consumed much of her typical prey and she hadn’t eaten in nearly three days. Lumbering back to her cave she licked her wounds and fell into a deep sleep on her very full stomach. Meanwhile Imani still stood in the middle of the forest, holding out his spear unaware that the battle was over and he had lost. A warm hand rested on his shoulder turning him around to face not a sickly pale figure cloaked in black, but a lush brown woman draped in luxurious fur; she embraced Imani, enveloping him in her arms as his head lay on her bosom and he returned to the Earth from whence he came.

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The Shape of Things

Audria took short shallow breaths as she attempted to remain motionless, but heard snaps and cracks with even the slightest vibrations while a cold sweat ran down her back. It had been precisely two minutes since Lee had run to his truck to grab some rope and she hoped he would appear in her line of sight soon, momentarily glancing down at the literally thin ice she was standing upon. She heard shouts as she saw his figure come into focus from the corner of her eye and reached out as he attempted tossing the rope to her so that he could pull her to safety, even if the sheet broke below her. He wrapped another blanket around her as she shivered wet and cold beside the fire, biding time until the emergency vehicle arrived, hoping to stave off hypothermia. Audria wanted to find sweetness in the competitive spirit her boyfriend brought out in her, but not when it nearly cost her her life; after the ambulance ride she never spoke to Lee again.

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The Girl from Manhattan

As a girl she preferred to be called ‘Amy’, resenting the full name her parents gave her. She believed it to be the pinnacle of hippie-dippie flower-child names; they couldn’t go with something graceful like ‘Lily’ or ‘Daisy’, they went all-out with ‘Amaranth.’ In her second year of law school, however, she began using it on occasion to weed out the less noble and intellectual men expressing interest in her. She found that they would put extra effort into showing interest in such an ‘unusual’ name, or would attempt to impress with trite poetry about flowers and spring. Over time it made her feel more confident, more mature, and she found that her professors (male and female) treated her with more respect. Even her fellow students treated her better; she wasn’t sure if it was the name change or a change in attitude but she appreciated it nonetheless. In her valedictorian speech she thanked her parents for giving her such a strong name – Greek for ‘unfading flower’ – and credited it for helping her find her own inner strength.

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It Happened One Afternoon

Pons was startled by the barista’s straightforwardness and wrung his hands as he stumbled for a response to her inquiry about his status. This was a common theme throughout the rest of their ultimately doomed courtship, Pons’ traditional raising left him uncomfortable with brutal honesty (giving or receiving) and speaking his mind, but he pushed himself because he loved Lydia so deeply. A few months after their break-up he felt ready for something meaningful again and knew what he would have to do in order for it to work out. After several rejections accompanied by strong insults he found a partner who agreed to his “radical experiment.” Wanda sat across from Pons as they stared into each others’ eyes taking turns revealing their darkest secrets and most ashamed thoughts confessing things they had never said aloud to themselves, let alone another living soul. Like many of the women who turned him down Wanda feared the judgment and offense her secrets could elicit – not to mention the invasion of privacy – but her curiosity was piqued by learning his secrets and shames. Pons’ intention was merely to make himself more comfortable speaking his mind and hearing harsh truths, but as they confessed they grew closer together; in the span of half an hour a bond was formed stronger than any either had ever felt. In less than a month they were married to the horror of literally everyone in their lives; their parents didn’t attend the wedding; countless friends and family told them they’d be divorced in less than a year; the less skeptical gave it five years. They eventually did part ways when Pons succumbed to heart failure on their 80th wedding anniversary, Wanda rejoined him three days later.

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Paternity

Regina couldn’t count the number of times her father pointed to his hair and told her that each grey strand came from “things like this”; in this particular case “this” referred to Regina coming home 3 hours after curfew without a proper explanation. Over the years Regina calmed down and matured out of her rebellious phase while Mr. Watkins began dying his prematurely grey locks, and growing proud of the woman his daughter was becoming. On the morning of the tenth of April, Mr. Watkins washed out the hair dye and threw away the bottle, staring at himself in the mirror obsessing over each silver strand of hair and wishing that he could relive every disobedient, troublesome moment if she could come back for one more day.

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With a Little Help from My Friends

Kinapak’s fingers tapped at the keys along with the music, playing it like a piano as his head bobbed and his body bounced to the beat. It was the only way he knew how to slog through a 10-page essay on the breadth and nuances of culinary archaeology. The knowledge of the field came with ease, however his brain required a rhythm to sort through the text researching the influences spreading through history. It wasn’t just about the history of cooking, it was tracing the connections from how a late-Neolithic cooking utensil informed the design of a triple sword from the Middle Ages. His roommate didn’t really care about the history, but he appreciated having a roommate who knew how to cook and enjoyed doing it. Trevor did make an effort to learn about it, and he fumbled in trying to explain to Kinapak why it didn’t interest him, and without offense taken he interrupted his roommate and simply said “It doesn’t stick to your brain.” Trevor’s wide eyes told him that that was the exact thought he was trying to express, and with this new understanding Trevor began to seek out what would stick. Kinapak tended to have that effect on people.

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Best of Friends

Squirrel and Bluejay were having a fun day in the park, nibbling crumbs tossed to them from the kindly old man who visits. Squirrel wondered why the nice old woman stopped coming with him and hoped it wasn’t because Bluejay accidentally bit her finger when he was going for a crumb in her hand, he was really sorry about that. Bluejay missed the old woman, and the old man doesn’t move as quickly without her. A few weeks later they noticed that they hadn’t seen the old man in a while and wondered why he stopped coming to the park, “He probably just wants to be with the nice old woman,” Bluejay assumed.

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Safe

It was Oscar’s first day of his six-week interrogation training course, and as soon as he set foot in the room his gut grumbled with dread. There were 13 other cadets and they would divide into teams of two or three until every individual had experienced every angle of interrogation: one cadet and one suspect, two and one, one and two. Every day before class Oscar trembled at the thought of his inevitable one on one session with Elisse, triggering the thick, cold sweat that follows the strike of fear; the overwhelming thought of her interrogating him, reading his mind, and discovering his intense affection for her. The nightmares, crashing like waves and waking him throughout his evenings only amplified as the course wore on without resolution. All the nightmares, however, were of her discovering his secret and using it against him. His subconscious never imagined the scenario he found himself in halfway through the course: interrogating Elisse, using the Console to navigate her thoughts and memories, breaking down the mental walls she created to hide private information. Elisse was expertly trained and knew the best method to hide information from interrogation was to not hide it at all, but rather stow it alongside a pleasant thought or memory without shame or guilt… However, while she successfully avoided discovery of her assigned “secrets”, Oscar managed to open a door to a past she had hid even from herself.

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Eye of the Beholder

Roda was enjoying her first date with Chester, a sweet guy she took a chance on despite his nebbish demeanor. She was in the middle of convincing herself that she understood and cared about the potential findings from large particle accelerators when a chorus of men shouting “Donny!” rumbled towards them. Chester jolted in his seat and turned to them as they surrounded him and jostled him with whoops and hollers. In that moment Roda saw a glimpse of a relationship where she would harken back on the absurd case of mistaken identity that occurred on their first date, until it was revealed that years earlier Chester was much more outgoing and had earned the title of ‘King of the Donnybrook’ after one too many nights spent in County Lock-Up. Intrigued by the unknown layers lurking below she smiled and made an “I’ll call” gesture as The Boys whisked her date away. Chester thought she was politely blowing him off, until he woke up the next day with a massive hangover and message from her, planning a second date.

#ShortShortStories #TheEyeOfTheBeholder

Dark Imaginings

Dale stumbled through the bazaars of Mumbai, sweat cascading down his pale face, his mind spiraling out of sanity. His memories scattered, he couldn’t separate reality from hallucination – for all he knew he could be stumbling around his backyard in Orlando suffering visions from a 105 degree fever. He also could have actually been abducted by aliens who poked, prodded, and injected him. He was. They had been collecting specimens for years, testing our immunities, concocting the perfect virus for our species as they had done across the galaxy; it wouldn’t just kill immediately, it had to simmer and spread through the air first. The incubation period was several days before any symptoms appeared, but by that point it was too late: reaching a saturation point, the virus went into overdrive devastating multiple organs simultaneously. In the week since Dale had been released at the airport in New York he alone had infected nearly 2,000 people, by the time Patient Zero collapsed in the alley in Mumbai nearly 4 million had already been infected. The human race was wiped out in less than two months.

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