/r/flashfiction

Photograph via snooOG

Sharing and critiquing extremely short stories. Please review our sub guidelines before posting.

What is Flash Fiction

A flash fiction story is an extremely short story that has a protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. The parts of the story can be implied, but flash fiction is not a scene or vignette.

On our subreddit, stories less than 500 words are considered to be flash fiction.

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Contest Contests on this subreddit

About

This reddit is intended for people to share their "flash fiction", or stories written with the goal of being extremely short. We're looking for three types of submissions, and appreciate a tag in the title showing which type you're submitting:

  • Original or for your original work.
  • Non Story for articles, blogs, or discussions about flash fiction.
  • Prompt for writing prompts.

Please assign appropriate flair after you submit your post.

Linked articles that are not tagged will be deleted

Rules & Guildelines

1. Keep it about the writing here

  • No advertisements
  • No requesting writing services, calls for submissions, or homework help
  • Authors are allowed to link to a personal subreddit or Reddit profile, but not to a monetised site, a site where you can monetise or to a website where you are selling things.
  • A link shouldn’t be all that’s in the post, the story must be posted on this subreddit in the text box.
  • Linking to a reading at the end is fine, but use a non-monetised site.
  • Patreon and Paypal links are not allowed. Link to your sub or Reddit profile instead

2. Posts must be in English, and good-faith attempts at flash fiction

  • Maximum of 1000 words
  • Posts must have a title
  • Plagiarism will result in a ban. Do not post other people's work.
  • No joke posts, copypasta, troll, fecal, urine, meme-based, or AI generated stories.

3. No reposts

4. No hate speech or other harmful content

  • Includes, but is not limited to, pedophilia, bestiality, incest, rape, and abuse or torture
  • Avoid racism, suicide, and political debate
  • Avoid real-world drama (politics, recent tragedies, etc.)
  • Use your best judgement, but mods have final say

5. Be civil in discussion, feedback, and critiques

  • Users are held to a higher standard here. Think before posting

6. All submissions must be tagged

  • Add the tag at beginning of your post title.

7. Tag Not Safe for Work stories with a [NSFW] tag in the title.

What is NSFW? If you wouldn't want your grandmother, boss, or mom to read it then tag it. Examples of NSFW Content:

  • Anything Sexual, Erotic, or Pornographic in nature.
  • Anything with overt, grisly, or gruesome violence.
  • Anything with excessive language.

If you aren't sure your story fits our rules, message the mods, and if you can't wait for a response go ahead and tag it.

If critiquing another redditor's work, please be respectful and helpful.

Related Subreddits

Writing Prompts

Short Stories

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/r/flashfiction

6,803 Subscribers

2

Greetings from Zhendong!

*Found written on a postcard being sent from China to Argentina, in a country that is neither. 

Lately all I’ve been thinking about are the atoms that make me up, and how easily they can split apart. Maybe every death is preordained by the atoms which make up our brain and think our thoughts a millisecond before we think it up ourselves. Maybe every death is just the atoms in the body getting a divorce, or deciding to destroy their human planet because they hate each other too much to stay on it together. 

Free will is an illusion, even writing this is part of my fate. Reading it is a part of yours. 

So then, when death comes, by suicide or moldy pie, I hope my atoms will disperse and be part of the beak of a finch, part of a brain cell making up a Greek woman’s memory (a cherished one if I’m lucky), a spot of mud on the banks of a sacred river...

I could finally be everything at once

2 Comments
2024/06/15
00:31 UTC

4

Doggerland

They’d been dredging things up from the Strait bottom for years, decades. Antlers, mammoth tusks, even arrowheads. Fishermen had always traded the stories of the Land Between, a bridge that once had moored their Isle to the Continent. And quietly, to the right ears, they would tell the tale of the giants who had destroyed it in a great battle, their jealousy to be in a kingdom apart their undoing. Water-logged antlers and crushed pottery became talismans, kept aboard for good luck.

But what was once intimate myth wouldn’t remain so. In time there would be all kind of chatter about radar returns. Professors passing around shadowy sketches up from the sandy bottom. Oddities too broad and tall, too hard-edged to be natural. Soon someone was going to do more than drag nets across calcified clay.

The day the Acheron stirred ancient silt was a day to be remembered. Everyone in the country watched. In offices, in homes, even in pubs thick with smoke. Eager eyes peered, the excited and the nervous pointing to half-seen shapes in the swirling muck. The submarine swept bitumen-dark water with its beams, bringing light to a world that hadn’t seen sunshine in more than ten thousand years. Like submerged stars, the bottom glistened. Glassy ruin, crumpled and punched in every direction.

It was then that the keening came. Steady, halting clicks rising until it was a banshees voice from ten thousand fathoms. It poured from a million television sets across the country. Every child of the Cold War knew it. The Geiger counter on the Acheron shrilled, drifted in the dark as radiation closed an invisible fist around it.

They came into focus. Slowly at first, predatory giants as suggestions. The light found them and vanished into them, like all those years at the bottom had turned the statues starving. In the dimness, past snowy radiation-induced distortion, enormous megaliths emerged. Acheron was a child’s toy in their midst. Inhuman faces passed in the murk, gigantic jaws wide or terrible hands reaching. All the while the radiation detector panicked, while harsh light found new craters and glassy wreckage.

The legends had been true. All of them.

0 Comments
2024/06/14
00:48 UTC

3

The Rule of Thule

The men of Thule were the country’s singers, the women the dancers. The men would stand on a mountain top and yodel to the women, and if one found herself charmed, she could dance her way up to him.  It was a festival that would last days or weeks, until everyone paired off or the last man gave up.

Which was fine until the war came and all the men left to fight it. The women learned to sing then, long and slow dirges for every man that didn’t come home. 

www.matthewcmclean.com

0 Comments
2024/06/13
18:45 UTC

7

Therapy Horse

Ride your horse, for he is a therapist. He will listen to your problems and offer sage advice while you both race towards a glorious battle. Do you have an unshakable addiction to earthquakes? Are you in love with the 7th floor button on a Caesars Palace elevator? Did your dad steal all your girls and then murder them? Well that’s the sort of bread you gotta get soggy with. Unleash it all on the horse’s wind whipped ears. He’s got the path to cure you. The answers conjure up in his mind like they came from somewhere else, transported maybe from the Council of Sorcery Horses who ride the fields of Elysium. If you survive this battle, you’ve got the rest of your life to fix yourself, and if you die, well then there's nothing to worry about. May your atoms regroup to be something equally as brave as you were.

8 Comments
2024/06/13
01:01 UTC

4

Take a breath

Before I am even conscious or know where I am, I have these feelings. They start in my stomach and radiate outwards, eventually accumulating in my forehead and eyes. There they precipitate to form a heavy solid. It’s this weight I will feel throughout the day. I will feel it whenever I try to consciously think. I will feel it when I look around and realized where I actually am. It’s this heaviness that exhausts me at the mere contemplation of action. At the slightest inkling of productive thought. This, in conjunction with the sloshing ocean within my abdomen, keeps me pinned to my bed for hours. There, trapped within the false protective layers of bedsheets and darkness, I feel the symptoms soften. They never leave me, but the bed and inaction promise me relief, and in my desperation, my panicked brain yields, always offering a clear and ludicrous lie. “I need my strength”, “Today is just a low day”, “I’ll just lay here for an hour”.  I’d like these excuses to be written on my tombstone Here lies no name. He just needed an hour.

Of course, we know that time is relative and that all depends upon the frame of the observer. It felt like an hour, but it was a day. It seemed like day, but it was year. Nothing could be more obvious. The poisonous, destructive nature of this stupid dance played out daily. Just give me a moment. But whose moment? I feel that I am dead, but I am dying. Simultaneous events are not simultaneous to other observers. I woke up today, like every other day. Like yesterday. Like tomorrow. Like the day after that. This is what days are to me. Obvious and destructive. Poisonous and stupid. All happening simultaneously.

Like a flash, the sun has set, and the day as ended. Bled out on the floor, unloved and unmourned. How can I be so powerless to stop this? I feel time speeding up while the phases of the sun move by in rapid motion, and here I lie. Weighed down as the world accelerates around me. My mind, however, is still intact. It understands perfectly what is happening and is screaming at me to move. But nothing happens. My stomach, my eyes and my forehead are being inexorably drawn downwards towards my bed. I know that I am just complaining. Trust me. I know. I’ve said this over and over again to him. “You understand your situation better than most” he would say. “A lot of people don’t even have that. All you need to do is take action.” That wounded me. “I see you’re drowning, but you understand that you need oxygen. All you need to do is take a breath.”

The sun has set. The day is over. Here lies no name. All he needs to do is take a breath.

1 Comment
2024/06/12
16:03 UTC

2

Nieder Mit den Juden

They kicked down the door, then shot her son. Just a boy, whose only crime was standing there too long. Stepping over his corpse, they pillaged the house, rousting through it, yelling claims that the family’s hidden wealth was pauperizing country’s true patriots.

Tearing through, they found the old sterling silver, and held up the family heirloom as proof of some great crime.

www.matthewcmclean.com

0 Comments
2024/06/11
19:56 UTC

3

Transcendence

A chess pawn, soon the final row, soon to ascend a Queen.
(तत् त्वम् असि)

Instead,
It walks
Out of
The game.
(אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה)

Meanwhile and as usual, the Players are playing each other.

1 Comment
2024/06/11
18:12 UTC

3

Working the Periphery

It was out on the peripheral that we found the ghosts, old ships that had run out of juice and froze their crews. It wasn’t pretty salvage, but it was salvage so we went in. I wish to Phoebes we never had. The crew hadn’t died, but came at us from the depths of nitrogen narcosis, mad as badgers and hungry as cannibals.

www.matthewcmclean.com

4 Comments
2024/06/10
20:03 UTC

3

27

A nearly empty whiskey bottle dangled between his fingers hung loosely over the edge. The bronze abyss flowed side to side ready to numb another pain. He pressed the bottle to his lips imagining it was a microphone stenched with booze. Staring blankly as his foot stepped over the edge of this empty stage, he turned his back and stared up at the dark, star lit sky. 

No audience was there to catch him, no applause awaited an encore. 

The whiskey drained from the shattered bottle in the moonlight, as his memories dripped into the storm sewer.

1 Comment
2024/06/10
13:59 UTC

2

[Romantic short story]

[RO]

I was laying in bed in a spring morning. The rain slowly falling down. My bedroom door opens and Diane is looking so beautiful and her smile brings me so much joy. She jumps onto me as we play wrestle around. We banter with each other. We lock eyes and we rub noses, I kiss her on the lips and hers follows my lips. She then pushes me off the bed and puts the blankets on top, running out of the room with that evil weird laugh she does which always seems to make you laugh.

It feels like I was always with her throughout my life. The softness of her skin, the eye green-bluish eyes, the ginger hair and the sweet smell of her. Even when she isn't in the room or just left I can smell her. It’s like addicting aroma of sweet lavender, rose and sunflowers. Her taste of her lips are like strawberries; sweet of fragrant of esters.

We are standing in the kitchen and shes glaring at me for something I did wrong. I then banter with her and I come closer placing my hands on her hips. Then she takes my hands and holds them. The thought of holding her hand brings euphoria to me. I don't regret choosing her over travelling and working around the world. We have three kids, oldest boy: Jason, middle child girl: Diana, youngest boy: John.

Her personality is excitable, loud, free loving and rebellious. She always can’t hold in her emotions and sometimes even relies on them covering her up like a mask. There isn't a person who hasnt heard her voice. I remember our first date and the people around got annoyed with her being so loud. I encouraged her, laughing and talking with her. I’ve never liked yelling but with her it doesn't seem mad or violent rather someone who just clearly cares and wants everyone to know it. I love how she looks at her relationship with life free loving energy. If there is beautiful place she'll ask me to come jumping up and down or just simply having fun with the simplicity of life itself. You are never too hold to play in the rain with the person you love most. Boy is she rebellious, everything she does tries to break away from the traditional norms and that makes me love ever more.

When I was young I never thought it was possible for me maybe like a lot of guys but that never stopped me about dreaming about her. No it wasn't about any particular girl and it wasn't about needing someone but rather wanting someone. To leave stones unturned, to feel incomplete, to long for something I never had and was surely never guaranteed. Yet here I am enjoying a cozy winter evening near the fireplace with my beloved wife Diane. A woman that I never needed but clearly always wanted.

Let me what worked well. I am writing a book and I will show some of those scenes too. This is the first time I have written a story so be as brutal as possible. I want to improve.

1 Comment
2024/06/10
00:53 UTC

3

Shell Shock

And as we hid down in our cellar, my mind could not help but wander to a dark place. A place I believe to be the beginnings of madness. The likes of which plague many an old soldier’s soul. A shuddering chuckle escaped my lips, drowned out by the pouring rain and even more so by the sky splitting booms outside. Our hearts thrummed as balls of fire and metal continued to crash into the earth so relentless in their onslaught. All around me I could see dirt smudged faces with bulging eyes dimly illuminated in what remained of our lamp light. The fading fire cast unsettling shadows across the packed dirt walls and painted the faces of my neighbors in grotesque shapes. We huddled together for no reason other than to be held. A nest of rats hiding in a hole, all of us with the same desperate desire to live.

1 Comment
2024/06/08
10:22 UTC

4

The Sword Which Parts All

“Please don’t leave me,” Meilea said, but Karad did. He’d seen her tears most nights, when she thought he wasn’t looking, as she remembered her father. He’d traced the scars on her back, held her against him for stability. He couldn’t stay while she was like this.

He took up the quest for the Sword Which Parts All, the last of the Seven Dominions, which had not yet been found. The Crown of Knowledge of Realms had been found first, by some grand king; the Ring of Invisibility was found by someone who was never seen again. The more interesting Dominions, the Cup of Healing Waters and the Iron Tablet of Memory, had both been taken far away by beings Karad couldn’t hope to conquer. Of course he would have tried, if he thought it would help Meilea.

So, wandering, he joined up with others who sought the Sword. Mordwell, the dwarfish man, sought it to cleave through the hides of dragons. Vetterite, the thief, wanted to enter places the best of thieves had never reached. Amashiam, a warrior, wanted the sword for glory. None of them knew who would take the sword, should they find it.

Amashiam died fighting a Bullvox, who gored her and drank her blood. Mordwell was cursed with a wasting, and died in the arms of Malirriya, his lover. Vetterite got the closest, pierced with twelve arrows on the steps of the Grand Temple where the sword rested. Karad alone reached the altar where the blade was held by the petrified Elder who had kept it. WIth it, he cleaved his way out of the temple.

Meilea was disheveled and thin, but she greeted him with kisses and laughter. She was not mad; she knew he’d had to go. Everyone in the house was amazed Karad had found the blade. He told them the stories of how he’d found it, and the people he’d lost along the way.

That night, when everyone was asleep, Meilea asked him the question; “Why did you have to go?”

“You were so broken,” Karad said, regret in his voice. He knew, if he’d told her his plan, she would never have let him go. He took the sword. “I will be merciful. I love you.”

He saw terror in her face, then understanding. She stood, arms out, eyes closed.

Karad struck.

He struck the bond, the link between Meilea and her father. He felt it tear beneath the blade, and saw Meilea recoil as some invisible force knocked her back. The world shifted around them. Meilea had no father. She never had.

Wonder was in her eyes; the memory was there, but detached, for none of it had ever happened. It was at a distance, safe to touch, safe to examine, but it no longer had power over her. She raised her shirt to see smooth, unscarred skin.

The two embraced. The sword clattered forgotten to the floor. They were together. Meilea was free.

1 Comment
2024/06/07
22:24 UTC

5

Cassiopea

The two boys lay on the metal grid of a balcony. The father of one of them, a ginger boy named Chris, owned this ‘balcony’ as part of their fourth-floor apartment.

They were lying on the uncomfortable steel bars with their backs to the floor, holding hands with interlocked fingers and using their free arms to point at the sky and trace the constellations.

The second boy, Mickey, was in this moment pointing out a particular constellation, Cassiopeia.

“Dya know about that one?”

"That one was discovered by a man called Ptolemy." responded Chris, as Mickey’s face showed a silent laugh, "He was Greek."

They both turned in unison and looked into the other’s eyes. For the first time in four months, Chris truly noticed how blue Mickey’s eyes were and he knew, instinctively, that all that existed in the world right now was them, and the night sky.

“CHRIS!”

And him.

“Yeah dad!” Chris responded, “What is it?”

They both heard the bedroom door open, and Mickey slid himself under the windowsill. Chris sat up from his position and turned to face his dad.

“Come get your dinner kid, it’s gonna get cold.”

“I’ll head in in a second.” He replied, standing up and giving his dad a hug, and ensuring he didn’t step onto the balcony. His dad wouldn’t mind, but he wasn’t ready.

As his bedroom door closed, Chris pulled Mickey out from under the sill, and the pair looked, just for a second, into each other’s eyes, and pulled away in opposite directions – one went through the window, the other went down the ladder.

6 Comments
2024/06/07
20:13 UTC

4

A Long Short Wait

Jacob stood on the deck of USS Baltimore watching the maritime traffic pile up at the mouth of the canal.  A young Marine walked up and marveled at the columns of ships that waited for passage.

“What’s going on?”

Jacob took the briar pipe out of his mouth.  “They’ve closed the canal.  There’s not enough water for ships to pass.”

The Marine stared out across the ocean, marveling at the fleet that gathered to seemingly go nowhere.  “What’ll they do?”

“Well, most will go around the long way.  Some, though, say they don’t believe the Canal Authority, that it’s a lie about the water being too low for crossing.  They want to force their way in.”

Jacob was pleased to see the young Marine understood how stupid an idea that was.  “What will happen then?”

Jacob tapped his pipe out. “I suspect you and your mates will be the first to know.  ‘Cause that’s when the shooting starts.”

www.matthewcmclean.com

1 Comment
2024/06/07
18:19 UTC

0

Uggo Americano

The crowds in the street chanted, "alla ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna muhammadarrasulullah! Allah al rahmeen al rahman!" Tom Rochefort stood on the balcony, sipping his espresso. His blue linen shorts were wrinkled and his sneakers were covered in the red dust from the cobblestone streets. His button-up shirt, not a button buttoned, exposed his hairy chest to the street below.

"What the—? What are they saying?"

"No idea Tom, come inside before you get in to trouble."

"I'm an American, I can stand on this balcony if I want. I ain't going to let a bunch of Mohammedans scare me from my God-given right to stand on my balcony."

"We aren't in America, Tom. I don't think you have that right here."

"Well, nonetheless, I'm still a red-blooded American, and I am going to stand here on this balcony and watch this show. Unbelievable. Didn’t expect to see this in Europe."

The men in the street, dressed in black, with black headbands with white scribbling on them, began to march. They unfurled black flags and green flags side by side, and banners flapped in the evening breeze as they marched down the street that nobody else walked on except for the hundreds of chanting Muslim men. Shutters slammed shut, every building with a window had its curtains pulled and blinds zipped closed. The roar from the hundreds, thousands perhaps, echoed through the small kitchens and water closets and non air conditioned bedchambers that were first constructed during the first reconquista. They bounced off the city walls and returned back into the apartments and hotels, through the mudbrick alleys and into the plazas and squares. The fountains in the squares went silent in the sound of the roaring virile thunder. Lightning swept through the hearts of the kafir.  

"Damned Commies," Tom mumbled as he caught the eye of one of the young men trooping below him. Tom raised two fingers from his mug of espresso in a casual salute; the boy performed a crisp military salute and shouted "Allah akbar!" Tom gritted his teeth and shouted, "God is great, you son of—" 

"Tom! Just come inside and pour a drink. It's getting dark. I don't want no trouble."

"God is great," said Tom, closing the balcony doors and drawing shut the curtain. "Unbelievable, even.”

***

www.medium.com/@quillandtrowel

4 Comments
2024/06/07
17:15 UTC

2

English not is my first language, I consider asking a native speaker to proof read for check a story

hi, i new, someone for check?

1 Comment
2024/06/06
20:32 UTC

5

War Stories

We’re shelling like hell. It’s night, pitch fucking black, and so the valley down between the mountains is a suggestion more than anything. We’ve been going three, four hours. Sometimes I can see little orange-red puffs down there, count down in my head, and then feel the thunder as an RPG or somebody’s homemade rocket comes knocking.

They throw their shit, we throw ours. I’m just sitting there, smoking. Watching us trade spitballs. At this point, I’m exhausted. I could give less of a shit about any of this, gladly would step right in front of those fucking screamers if it meant I’d get to sleep, forever. This is daily now. Our bitch fight has been on and off almost a week in the making, and god knows we’d be back to it just the same again sometime soon.

I watch another rocket go up, almost like a movie, a screaming trail with a hot coal at the top. It must’ve misfired, something, because it’s screaming up, up, into an arc.

When it hits nothing, blue light erupts in the nothing. It’s like getting hit with a stadiums worth of lights in a second. Like daylight at 2AM. Everything has a dozen shadows, and the valley stands there down below, shocked.

The silence hits me harder than any of the shit they’ve lobbed. Everybody is awake now, in a delirious way, looking at each other as darkness comes back.

Up above the valley now, in the black, is a light. There are stars everywhere, a boatload of stars, but this is different, brighter, neon blue. It’s shining almost like a small moon, bright enough I could try to read from it. We’re all looking at it. I think whoever is down in the valley is looking too. It’s so beautiful.

It’s so beautiful, and it terrifies me. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t be there. All I can see is the luminescence and I feel like a small animal, I can feel every goosebump and tingle, feel the chilly mountain air. It’s so bright, getting brighter. In less than a minute it’s gone from a star, to the moon, to a candle bulb of electric blue. I can hear someone on the radio, asking what the fuck is going on. The voice on the other end is all stammers, curses.

It just happens. A pillar of blue lightning. No sound, no thunder. It’s just appalling, it’s just impossible. It surges down into the valley and I can’t watch. My eyes are burning. We all scream, I can hear people falling, doors slamming. The radio screams, windows in every building and on every vehicle decide to crack. There’s an order in the chaos to shoot it, shoot everything, take it out, do anything. Behind my eyelids the light is still there. Bright as catastrophe. Was it seconds? Maybe longer?

Then, just like that, light goes out. Vanishes. Poof. Nobody moves. Nobody says shit. In halts and stops the noises come back, crickets, the wind over rocks and through the branches. I’m wide awake. Everyone is. No more fire comes from the bottom of the valley.

In the morning, they sent guys down in the valley. The men who came back looked like ghosts. Throw up down their fronts, blood in their ears. Couldn’t talk without gagging, stumbling.

Came and got us that night. Whatever we could take, came. Everything else, burned. I have never felt so much fear.

I think that night, we got a taste. Of what, or who, I don’t know. Nobody dares say the words.

You know what it felt like?

Like being an ant under a magnifying glass.

1 Comment
2024/06/06
16:46 UTC

2

Our Lucky Day

It's 11:00 in the morning, the sun has been burning on my shoulders for three hours, time for a cup of tea. Work starts early and goes on for a long time, but today feels extra hard. This morning felt like a good day, nice and cool walking through the doldrums to the field. Now the sun is burning, but no one is complaining, first a cup of tea. Since 6 o'clock we have been working, the land does not plow itself, so we have to.

Tea during this heat? Yes, it's that or lukewarm water, then tea. With sugar though, because otherwise it's undrinkable. Unfortunately, there is no budget for real, Kenyan, tea. Just as Emmanuel pulls his cards out of his pocket, for a quick game, we hear a bang that makes the birds fly up, with a rattle as an undertone. We rush to the road, where a little further on a truck went right through the guardrail, now lays in the ditch beside the road. With around the truck all green, broken glass.

Once we get closer, the glass appears to be broken beer bottles. The truck is a transport from Heineken bound for Uganda or Congo. We are not the only ones who heard the accident, as slowly, more people come to watch, probably also right during their tea break. Emmanuel, meanwhile, is standing by the cab, helping the driver out of the car, fortunately he is alright. Tuyishme, meanwhile, is searching among the glass, what is he hoping to find? Full bottles?

“Benjamin! Come look quickly”, I hear Tuyishme call out. I make my way through the glass, good thing I have my boots on today, not my flip-flops. Tuyishme stands in the shadow of the truck, in both hands an open beer bottle. He hands me one and points to the miracle he has discovered. Among the pile of broken glass lie some 50, maybe 70 cartons of beer that are still completely intact. The boxes are wet with beer from the broken bottles, but there must be a lot of bottles still whole. Emmanuel too has come to Tuyishme's call, “Never mind that tea, it's our lucky day!”

1 Comment
2024/06/06
11:52 UTC

1

A Note of Dream

The latest random task was to collect five dog hearts and five deer antlers.

You arrived at the vineyard, a place whose every corner you knew by heart. Dogs and deer roamed freely here. All you needed was to kill five of them to complete the task.

With the mask over your face, you stepped into the vineyard. The guard dog, spotting you from a distance, barked furiously and charged. Recognition flickered in its eyes, its tail hesitated, then wagged, torn between familiarity and the alien nature of your disguise.

You drew out a blanket, trying to cover the dog. It leapt to the left and right, evading your grasp. Lowering its body, it wagged its tail with a mix of fear and playfulness, the barking morphing into a peculiar, almost joyful sound, like a twisted game between pet and master.

At last, you managed to throw the blanket over it, though not perfectly. Its head poked out, exposed. You lifted it through the fabric, feeling its tail still wagging underneath. Skillfully, you clamped its head and twisted, expecting the usual snap. But this time, nothing. Setting it down, you saw it was still alive. Its neck was broken, head hanging limply to one side, yet it continued to wag its tail at you. Frustration mounting, you lifted it again, repeating the motion. Its neck now felt lifeless, a sensation devoid of the usual thrill.

Worse still, it remained alive. The absurdity of the task struck you. You decided to abandon it. Forming a quick save spell for short-term, single-item retrievals, you aimed it at the dog. Ten seconds passed, and you released the spell. It failed. But the dog was dead.

Despondent, all you wanted now was to revive it. The save spell was exhausted, but the area reset method remained. If more than half the creatures in the vineyard perished, the entire area would reset. You retrieved your gun from the horse and walked into the vineyard, shooting every living being in sight. The notion of using cold weapons or your hands felt repugnant; you simply wanted to complete the task.

You sat on the ground, breath ragged, surrounded by the dead.

But they did not revive.


* A dream of yesterday. Originally I thought to post it to r/WritingPrompts --- perhaps someone would like to make a complete story according to this material, but it sounds too long to be a "prompt".

1 Comment
2024/06/06
07:01 UTC

3

The original Snake Game

As he was showing the screenshots and explaining the game everyone was in awe. "Wow, it only took 6 months to complete this? This is amazing, great work Dan!". Dan nods and completes his meeting. He walks to his office and opens up his calendar. He marks off todays meeting. Nostalgically, he flips back to the beginning. Day 1 - Code the Snake Game. Day 2 - Vacation until meeting.

2 Comments
2024/06/06
00:47 UTC

2

Lions in the Hills

It’s hot. Even at night. Jolly sways. He’s short, but the sonofabitch can drink his wages away with the best of them. Broad, dark mountains loom beyond the town and the tracks, steep sides covered with tall grass.

You hear what they been saying?

Rick hadn’t.

What they been saying, Jolly?

You ain’t listen worth a damn.

I ain’t got time to listen to fools, if that’s what you mean. What they been saying?

It’s hot. He misses Carolina. Tracks two hours walk from a crick or the sea. Pretty girls walking the trails.

They been saying, there’s lions. Up in them hills.

And I own the Rail.

Too hot to guffaw. Rick just swigs, deep, and that’s enough to get Jolly’s full indignation.

Be serious!

You first.

Another swig. Jolly reaches for it and it don’t take much to push the kid away, make him halfway sprawl.

They say there been maulin’s! Babies, snatches right from the cribs. It’s the lions, Rick. Got to be.

You a fool. That’s all I know.

The crickets and cicadas laugh at the kid in the dark.

How you figure?

They walk close to the tall grass. The train is nearby, a sleeping giant of steel and steam. No harm can come in its shadow.

There ain’t no lions, Jolly. Not no more. Not when you get rumbling steel on tracks and man with thunder on his hip.

Pat the iron on his side. Heavy. Familiar. Cool in the heat, self certain as extinction.

Ain’t no more—

He turns. Jolly isn’t there. The moon and the stars remain, the brooding hilltops looming, the slumbering train, nothing out of place. But Jolly isn’t there, stumbling and drunken.

Jolly?

The saber-teeth are soundless, curving blades so white they look like knives made from moonlight. Rick and his words, his lamentations and prayers, the instinct-fast reach for his hip-bound cannon, all of it dies in his severed throat

The train sometime later bellows, throws angry smoke into the early morning sky. Men with rifles and lanterns with come looking, calling for their friends (and more importantly, their employees). But they won’t find anything but blood in the sand, and in the tall grass. They won’t find anything but the solemn, black hills.

0 Comments
2024/06/04
19:20 UTC

4

Grand Time at the Gala

“How do you do?”

“Well, and you?”

“Grand, thank you.”

“Is this your first time at the Gala?”

It was not.

“It is.”

“And how are you enjoying it?”

He was miserable.

“It’s just wonderful, don’t you think?”

She did not think so.

“I do. This is my third year.”

These people are crazy, he thought.

“Wow, three times! Good for you!”

He only thinks so because he hasn’t been here before, she thought.

“Yes, I’ve been lucky. Here’s to three more.”

They clinked glasses and both said a silent prayer to a mutual stranger: oh god, please don’t make me have to do this again.

“I don’t think I can even imagine what it is like coming here three years in a row.”

This was his fourth year in attendance.

“It’s just a dream come true, honestly. I can’t believe it myself. I just have to pinch myself sometimes. What a charmed life!” 

When the formal portion ended, he left. He waved his key in front of the electronic lock and opened the door to room 1412-A. He let the black silk bow tie dangle around his neck, unbuttoned his collar, and slid off the black oxfords before hanging his jacket on the towel hooks. Then he poured a glass of bourbon, opened the curtains, and stood in front of the window, letting the neon signs and the office buildings illuminate his otherwise dark room. He watched the people scurry around below him on the sidewalks, and clamor in and out of taxis, and heard the screams of the revelers and the sirens, and wished he could want to be like them. He saw the two searchlights scan back and forth in the sky, crossing paths and separating, spinning around each other and dancing before heading in opposite directions, and then followed them to their origin to the front steps of the Contemporary Art Museum that was hosting its thirty-fifth annual Artist and Explorer’s Gala. He sat down in the chair by the window and looked at his phone. No messages, no matches. He opened up his favorite app and watched videos until he drifted asleep.

During the award presentation she excused herself to the restroom, and didn’t return to her table. She took the elevator to the 15^(th) floor and opened the door to room 1512-A. She tossed her red dress over the back of the swivel chair and it slipped off, forming a pile of sequins and chiffon on the ground. She looked in the small refrigerator under the table and found a bottle of champagne. After pouring a glass, she pulled a small plastic bottle from her purse and shook it until two pills fell onto the counter. She wiped away the streak of mascara on her cheek and poured the champagne. She sat on the swivel chair, and rested her chin on her knees. Her left hand gripped the champagne glass, the right holding her phone. She opened her texts and clicked on the picture of her mother’s face. She typed, “i wanna come home now,” and hit send. The note at the bottom of the screen read, “This user’s phone is set to Do Not Disturb until 8:00am.” She threw her phone at the wall and buried her face into her knees and cried until the pills kicked in. 

 ***

Medium.com/@quillandtrowel

8 Comments
2024/06/04
18:04 UTC

1

[mf] Sewer Rats and Scavengers.

A poster came down the drainpipe. On it was a man with a furry head with whiskers, and a tail, and paws. On it, the slogan, ‘sewer rats and scavengers, keep your family safe!’ was printed. That slogan made its way into the sewers at least once an hour.

The small grid on the drainpipe let in enough natural light that it was able to shine on the chest of a man clothed only in a knee-length purple dress. He picked up the poster and looked at it, his deep blue eyes tracing lines onto the A3 page.

“WE’VE got another one!” he called to his co-workers above him, before jumping onto a small wooden platform and hoisting himself out of the slimy pipe (which had the sewage drained from it and redirected long ago in an act some called vandalism) onto the platform above.

Looking down and slightly to his right from the top of the platform, the man noticed the bustling market. One stand was selling stolen food from the above city. One was selling different posters, which mocked posters like the one the man was holding. One was a service, promising to give a good time to anyone passing by. Between them, the children of the shop-owners scurried about buying food and clothes and toys and whatever was needed.

Above them all, the man stood with a poster and a shredder, ready to make a magical time for the people of the city. He shredded the poster and, with the help of a fan, forced it to fall on top of the shoppers. The paper fell like ethereal confetti, and the children played with it until it dissolved.

And they had human faces.

Hiya people.

As the title says I wrote this for micro monday on r/shortstories (couldnt post it there afterwards because it was too short) but I was a day too late and missed the deadline (It was my first on too so I was seriously down). I have written micro stories before but it was a really fun experience to create a story from scratch to fit a strict theme. I loved it.

My biggest inspirations was this outfit worn by Dollya Black in season three of the boulet brother's dragula, and, strangely enough, the book 'animal farm' played a part in the conception, but thats hard to tell.

Of course I am open to criticism, so if you read, please give some. Thank you. <3

1 Comment
2024/06/04
17:13 UTC

2

The Incident at Gallows Hill

The children of Salem visited Gallows Hill on a night when the moon was as thin and sharp as a barber’s blade. They were after a snip of hair, where it was said witches held their magic.

Everyone knew Mary was a witch. It was proven when her neck resisted the quick snap of the hangman’s deadfall. She writhed and trembled for nearly twenty minutes before her body hung lifeless.

Many witches hung in Salem that year, but it was Charlie who eventually spoke up with the dare of taking a witch’s lock. And on a still autumn night, they snuck away from their beds and into the woods, Charlie leading with his mother’s scissors and a small, glass jar.

Charlie’s courage left him when he saw the silhouette hanging from the tall oak; the figure swayed with its head cocked queerly to the right. Fear weighed in his footsteps. The thought of his mother’s voice, warm and loving, called him back to the safety of his bed, but she went silent as he felt burning stares of the children behind him.

They measured his courage in each frozen second; the word “coward” echoing in his mind. He put the scissors between his teeth and started to climb the oak’s trunk.

An earthy, rot-like smell greeted him as he inched his way onto the hanging branch. Ahead was the rope, the ghoulish figure hanging below. He steadied himself above the corpse, trying not to think of the head tilted at that awful angle, of a hidden hag’s grin waiting for his hand to leave the branch.

A gust of wind howled through the leafs, causing him to pause and hug against the rough bark. For a moment, he thought he saw the witch’s head turn, just a little. He watched her carefully until the body again held still. Steadying himself, he gathered his courage and reached out shyly with the scissors.

Other children would later recount that they saw Mary reach up and grab Charlie in the moonlight, but they fled in horror too quickly to be certain. Charlie’s body was found the next morning at the foot of the tree. His neck was broken. An empty jar and a pair of scissors lay at his side. No snip of hair was found.

1 Comment
2024/06/04
01:35 UTC

2

revenge of all tommorows

Time: 9 pm. Vehicle status: moving at a constant 45 km/hr.

Infantry count: 206

There is a war tomorrow. we are all handpicked soldiers waiting to die.

 Yet, I don’t want tomorrow to happen. so, as revenge, I savoured the time i was given today, mindlessly scrolling until midnight.

 I pondered how I would die. Then I meekly, flinchingly, distracted myself again. 

My eyes puffed up to the blinding brick of a screen.

To be 100% sedated was the goal.

 No thinking. No feeling. Nothing. Just time. 

Boring, excruciating, relieving time. 

Anhedonia for the ages of seconds. The millennia of minutes, the myriad of hours just to gloriously waste it all.

The clock on that ticks in the darkness of bunkbeds and snoring rattles my fading strength. I put down my phone to savour the darkness, to think for once about tomorrow, trying not to think about tommorow. 

Tomorrow

Tick, tock.

Tommorrow…

tick, tock

i dont want to live, yet i dont want to sleep....

After the hours passed, my hand finally let go of the phones light.

I uttered my final thoughts before I surrendered my fate to Father Time, 

Tick. tick. tick. :

‘I don’t wanna die..’, I whispered

And most importantly, I wish I could sleep today, and never wake up to the inevitable tomorrow.

To sleep. To live another day. To live without living. To live without death.

Yet sleeping is the portal to tomorrow. 

I hate that.

I hate all tomorrows.

…Tock!

1 Comment
2024/06/03
04:09 UTC

5

The Knife (Light Horror)

James felt the cool, damp air on his back before he heard the light patter of rain coming through the crack in the window, which he forgot to close the night before.

“I didn’t know it was supposed to rain today,” He said in a groggy voice, barely audible to anyone but his wife asleep next to him. Amy hadn’t registered the comment over the natural white noise of the rain tip-tapping against the window. 

James got out of bed, careful not to wake Amy. He gingerly opened and shut the bedroom door on his way down to get a drink. 

As he flicked on the overhead oven light, perfect for late-night binge eating and early-morning secrecy, he noticed the kitchen faucet was dripping again. It had been like that for months, but James had figured out that if you swipe toward the hot water as you turn it off, no drip occurs. Thus, there was no need to fix the issue, or so he told Amy.

He snapped open a bottle of water and gulped it down so fast that it spilled on his shirt. 

“It’ll dry before I make it back upstairs,” he thought to himself as he closed the cupboard and went to turn off the oven light.

As he crossed the kitchen he noticed one of the knives was missing out of the knife block. He was sure he had put it back after washing the dishes. 

1 Comment
2024/06/03
01:18 UTC

2

The Worth Of Suits

Why do we wear suits? Do they show our wealth? Maybe. Do they project power? Perhaps. Do they make me look good? Definitely.

But what a suit doesn't do is make my allegations more convincing, nor my negotiations skills better, so why the suit? In the words of my father, not every couple's fight leads to a lawyer, not all yard sale bargain calls for an executive. A suit tells the others that, wherever problem there is, wherever is at stake, it is now serious. Playtime is over, now the adults are talking.

And you? Ready to take life seriously?

-CUT.

-Jim! - Gio calls the director, his mildly condescending grim gone the instant the record stopped, replaced by a competently, but not perfectly disguised, face of disgust.

-What’s the matter?

-Are you sure about that? I feel like I’m scolding the camera.

-Don’t worry, man. This script came through a dozen writers and, more importantly, the suits.

-And are we sure of this ‘words of my father’ thing? I’m a forty year old trying to sell suits to guys half my age. Do we really need to bring this boomer stuff into it?

-It’s a way to evoke an ancient wisdom or something like that.

-This doesn’t feel right, man. I can see my hair turning gray as I say the lines. Not to mention, I don’t think this will go well with my followers.

-Really? You think all the sixteen years old following the male supermodel will care about the suit ad?

-At least I talk to sixteen years old! When was the last time your kids gave you more than a grunt?

-Alright, big shot. Tell me, why do you use suits?

-All of this - he points at his face - takes a lot of maintenance and those jacks are really handy in carrying my sunblock, my moisturizer, my wipes.

-Ok, then go to your mark and say ‘Don’t wanna carry a purse? How bout wearing one?’

-So… take 32?

-Take 32.

____________

Tks for reading. If this didn't bore you entirely, something in here will.

2 Comments
2024/06/01
14:24 UTC

2

Wronged

Angry and armed, John stalked into the woods, shotgun slung across his shoulder. When he spotted the tangled nest of twigs nestled in the branches of a tree, he took aim at it, for no other reason than the pure cruelty of it. To blast a bird's home away, to rob it of its offspring and hope for its future, perhaps that would balance the wrongs the universe it had done to him.

Then a small, furred face popped over the edge of the nest, and John realized it was a drey, and he was looking into the face of a baby squirrel. He had spent years of his life in these woods and always assumed that squirrels made their nests in the hollow of trees, not in the fragile and precarious position this one sat in.

He lowered the shotgun. Perhaps he had been looking at things all wrong the entire time.

www.matthewcmclean.com

1 Comment
2024/05/31
20:05 UTC

2

Defenestration (3-word prompt challenge)

prompts given: defenestration, catacombs, Pokémon

"Do you think we should be here? I've heard this place has a grim history..."

Jacob sighed. He knew that bringing Alicia to the catacombs was a risk, but he wanted her to step out of her comfort zone a little.

"Oh, those stories? They're just ghastly urban legends and farfetched rumours. Here, let me get a peek at you –" he began, shining the torch in her direction. She was hastily brushing a cobweb from her face, and the glance she shot across to Jacob told him everything he needed to know about how well their second date was going.

"But what if we get in trouble, or get hurt?" Alicia said, as she attempted to steady herself on the uneven cobbles of the dimly lit corridor.

"You'll be fine, just try to avoid all the patches of muck on the walls."

Just then, a hushed whisper drifted from deeper in the tunnel. The pair froze, and Alicia's composure disappeared in a swift act of emotional defenestration.

"Errr, Jacob... I just heard something."

"Ditto... I heard it too," came his reply.

That's when it hit... The timing was awful, but in that moment Alicia realised that, even now in the possible presence of danger, Jacob's love of Pokémon just could not be contained.

2 Comments
2024/05/31
07:05 UTC

3

The Town Was Once Called Herst

The fecundity of the Oswald family was legendary. 10 years after they arrived in the village of Herst it seemed everyone had a relation to them, whether through marriage or a poorly-decided dalliance. As often as not, though, the reasons for the relation was born out of depravity, whether by tricking drunk or confused husbands, the deflowering of unwilling virgins, or an indecent tryst with one of the town’s more experienced sexual practitioners. 

This, of course, resulted in violence, sanctioned and otherwise, against the Oswalds.  However, even with their numbers dwindled by execution or revenge, the family only grew in the town of Herst.  And nothing could seem to stop it.

www.matthewcmclean.com

0 Comments
2024/05/30
20:06 UTC

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