(1300 words) “Mummy’s got a magic carpet,” Esmeralda said. I laughed. “Well, I’d like to fly to Iceland, they’ve got some pretty big waterfalls there!” Tameka perked up. “Actually, I do have one. It was left to me by my great-uncle, Henri Baq. He wrote a history of the flying carpet.” “I thought it was just fairy tale nonsense,” I said. Tameka’s face became serious. “Fairy tales are usually based on fact.”
I have also updated the Kindle Version with this very latest revised edition of To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories and am offering it FREE for 48 hours from 14th July 2023 at 08.00 GMT.
(500 words) Control in moving between worlds was something his grandfather had taught him, a closely guarded secret. He came from a place, just a whisper away but invisible and unreachable. At midnight, whilst the moon threw shadows like huge gravestones across the street, he would walk, seeking the aroma he desired. His face was gaunt and sallow, his lips thin and red, and his eyes as black as infinity.
(1000 words) “Be polite and listen carefully,” said the old man to his four daughters, “and don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!” Their names were Anshula, Bakula, Chandhini and Darshini. By the grace of God, they had been born exactly three years apart so that all four shared the same birthday – that very day, the first of November – unique in all the land. Anshula was sixteen, Bakula thirteen, Chandhini ten, and little Darshini just seven. Now they waited, dressed in splendid saris, Anshula in maroon, Bakula in ruby red, Chandhini in royal blue and finally, little Darshini in emerald green.
(950 words) “Oh, look, darling, we simply must get rid of this ghastly furniture!” Reginald Wright rolled his eyes. “What’s wrong with it?” “Well, it doesn’t match for starters! And this green – thing – is ancient! Look, let’s order a new suite from McIntyre’s. They can do us a custom job. Top-of-the-range leather and how about a deep ruby-red? It’d suit this room to a tee!” Reginald held his tongue. Melissa was always right. Why argue? Her mother had died and left them a respectable sum. Now Melissa had her eyes on this old pile, Dalefern Manor, along with its almost-equally-old furniture. He replaced the dusty white sheets over the suite.
(1000 words) I remember it was a Tuesday when I awoke to feel that something had changed. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But I felt different, I didn’t know how. I looked in the mirror, then looked again in disbelief. My face wasn’t looking back at me! No beard and moustache, no kindly blue eyes (or so I thought), no curly blond hair. Instead, I could see the reflection of the wall behind me. What was going on? Was this some kind of practical joke? On impulse, I picked up my alarm clock and held it up in front of the mirror. There it was, ticking away, suspended in mid-air!
(900 words) “Are you serious? Do you really believe a machine can think?” I got no immediate reply; Maltravers was apparently intent upon the coals in the grate, touching them deftly here and there with the fire-poker till they signified a sense of his attention by a brighter glow. Finally, he settled back into his armchair. “I believe it possible, Hugh. Why not?” “Why not?” I exclaimed. “Well, because … because a machine is just nuts and bolts, or electric circuits, whatever. A machine doesn’t have a mind.” “Ah, but how would you know?” Maltravers took a cigarette from a silver case and tapped the butt on it several times. A singular habit he had developed.
(950 words) A young woman in a rustic green smock stood behind a tombola. She smiled at me. “Try your luck, sir? It’s to raise money for the donkey sanctuary.” That explained why there were pictures of donkeys everywhere. “What do I have to do?” “It’s fifty pence a ticket, or five for two pounds. If it ends with a five or a zero it’ll be a winner, then you just match it with the prize.” “Sounds complicated.” I winked. “Go on, I’ll have five.” Two were winners. The first was a hefty volume of Longfellow verse. I’d rather have won a hole in the head. “Look, can I pick it up later? I don’t want to lug it around the fair.” She gave me a pearly smile. “I’m here till five. Oh, that’s strange.” “What’s up?” “Oh, the ticket on your other prize is on the table. It must have fallen off this.” She held up a wooden bracelet.
(900 words) - “You’ve got thirty seconds to explain to me what you’re doing here,” Rebecca Anniston said, staring in disbelief at the man in the sample lab. It was a secure area, no one should be here, let alone a scruffy, bearded man with a long multi-coloured scarf around his neck. “Or I’ll call security.” She pulled a paging device from her pocket. “Now steady on, lass, steady on.” The man’s face lit up with a beam. “Maybe I’m here to help you.”
(800 words) Chimera, that was the name of the thing on my cup. A fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Not something you’d want to meet on a dark night, or any night for that matter. I turned the cup around, watching the chocolate-coloured liquid swirl above the red mythological creature. How many times had I done the exact same thing, I wondered? Fifty, a hundred, a thousand even? Then it struck me, I was stuck in this one moment of time, forever drinking coffee out of this same cup, forever looking at the hideous beast and wondering of its provenance, pondering its manufacture, forever gazing around my cluttered kitchen - piles of papers, vitamins, medications on my table, washing up stacked in the sink.
So, the drop-down system has been consigned to the bin and a new streamlined system employed. All stories were categorised by subject and found to fall into eleven main categories (some stories fell into two or even three categories). Accordingly, these new subject categories have taken pride of place at the head of each page. And mobile and tablet menus work just fine too. So, it just remains for me to say that clicking on a subject category will take you to a table of all stories in that category, listed in alphabetical order, together with original publication date and word count. So, you get the best bang for your buck before deciding to plunge into actual reading!
It was a beautiful day, thought Mr. FtF as he sat on the patio with his newspaper waiting for his wife to come down. Why did it always take her so long to get ready in the morning, he wondered? All that … preening! He put his paper down and gazed at the canal that flowed past the bottom of their garden. Purple liquid sparkled in the light of the two suns in a way that never ceased to amaze Mr. FtF. It depended on their positions relative to each other he supposed, as he sipped his kaffa.