Joy's Demise, by Len Nourse
Dear Murderer of my partner, Candy, beware she had other partners who, unlike me, are not passive. They’ll want revenge, so be on the lookout; they know you like sweet American chocolate. Whatever food you like and consume this will be in it. It’ll be so well camouflaged you won’t know it’s there. In time you will develop diabetes, even though you will hardly pick up weight, yet this will slowly kill you. My joy will be in watching your anxiety as your health slowly but definitely disintegrates. Only our colleagues in the group can save you.
Candied Pith, by Joy Essien
Darren, his arms tied behind him, considered the spy named Candy in the dingy warehouse. He’d been trailing her for months.
Tall, tanned and svelte, she stood above him. “What is she doing?” he wondered.
Candy smiled; her tongue flicking around her orange lips, mischievously. She leaned over. It seemed she might kiss him.
Darren ducked his head. Then he looked up. Candy face hung close to his face. Darren moved towards her. She smiled and gestured to her hand. Confused, Darren looked down. Blood ran down his side.
Candy, smile in place, had stabbed him right in the stomach.
Hunter – or Prey? by Bobby Warner
Schlift Agent 0008.5 waited at the kiosk across the street from Sweets, Inc. He was disguised as old Danner who owned the newsstand. His mission was to gun down the legendary spy known only as "Candy" when she stepped from the doorway of her headquarters.
The door opened and a young lady emerged, alone. It was she, and she suspected nothing. 0008.5 raised his rifle, then flinched when he felt a gun muzzle stabbing into his back. Candy squeezed the trigger of her weapon, sending 0008.5 into early retirement. She smiled and waved to her decoy double across the street.
“How could they think you had something to do with Larry’s death?
“I don’t know. I went for help as soon as I found Larry, lying on the living room floor, beaten over the head by an anonymous assailant. What else could I do? Larry was still alive at the time.”
“I guess the police automatically suspect the spouse. Have you gotten a lawyer?”
“What does he say?
“He thinks I’m in trouble.”
“Why? After all you did to save Larry’s life!”
“He says it’s going to be difficult explaining why I drove 300 miles to report the crime."
Two Pennies, by Bobby Warner
When I was a kid I found a penny and bought a little stick of candy A little later I found another penny, and bought my first penny stock with it. My fortune grew over the years; five failed marriages later and I knew you couldn't by love or happiness.
I keep buying penny stocks; I keep on getting richer, and more miserable by the day. I long for the old times; I wish I could return and do it all over again.
But this time I'd take that second penny--and I'd buy me another little stick of candy.
Better Buttons, by Russell Conover
“Wow. A bunch of people liked my Facebook status. Cool!”
“Big deal. They’re only some likes.”
“We need some buttons people would really use.”
“Let’s start with Dislike. How many corny statuses do you usually see?”
“Then we could use a Poke, for those people who think they’re so smart.”
“And how about a Stab, to punish those punsters?”
“I like it! We also need a Tickle, to inflict giggling discomfort on irritators.”
“Another good one? Eye-roll, for obvious reasons.”
“Heck, we should be running the company.”
“People would thank us. When do we start?”
Dedicated to our founder together with her husband. A faint-related Monty Python classic follows.
“Do we have to watch this Great Bake-Off rubbish?” he asked.
“Come on,” she said, clutching the remote tightly, “it’s my one pleasure in the week!”
“The Rugby World Cup’s on the other channel. That’s only every four years!”
He stared at the screen, willing it to switch over. Some sort of brown cake mix swirled dizzyingly before his eyes.
“If I make you a cup of coffee will you let me watch the rugby?”
“Suppose I throw in a chocolate biscuit?”
Defeated, she flipped the channel and smiled. “You’re so persuasive, Jean-Paul.”
“Words are loaded pistols, my dear.”
Someone once told her that being an adult these days meant you spent your time Googling “how to” articles.
How to remove red wine stains from your sofa. How to lace up ballet shoes. How to do exercises that slimmed your tummy…
Tick, tick, tick.
Flexing her fingers in preparation, she thought about her next lot of queries.
How to avoid dating a rat. How to find a job you love. How to stop falling for online advertisements saying, read this one weird tip…
“I’m expecting great things, Ms Google,” she told her laptop. “Gimme your best life lessons.”
Rivalry, by Soma Bose
The screen on Radhika's beauty parlour window was badly torn, so she appointed a detective to determine the cause of this mystery.
Radhika repaired the net and waited for results.
The detective noticed a tree leaning towards the window, with branches stretched towards a narrow back street.
One day, the detective watched as a man appeared behind the leaves of the tree. The man jumped on the road, but the detective caught him and found a sharp blade inside his pocket.
He confessed the truth. He was hired by another beautician, Radhika's rival, to do harm in her business.
The Medical Business, by Sanjoy Dutt
Dr. Gandhi’s nameplate had many degrees.
Chunky paid the fees and entered his office.
“What is your difficulty?” the doctor asked
“Have come to you for identifying that.”
The doctor laid him on the examination table and inspected him with the stethoscope and sphygmomanometer, wrote a list of investigations and medicines.
"What's my disease?"
"Tests will only confirm."
"Not you, with so many titles and a fat fee?"
"Degrees justify my remuneration, which takes care of my family expenses, the percentage from investigations pays my student loan, medicine companies sponsor my foreign trips," Doctor smiled.
Wind sighing in the trees situated around the croquet lawns. Grand balustraded stairways adorned with vast oil paintings of lauded ancestors. Porticos and marble, swags and tails and gilt. Grand country house living.
Dignified staff gliding down the carpeted corridors, attending to every comfort.
Crash – a wee boy with a golf club has caught the drive wrong and the antique porcelain planter took the brunt. Rushed mumblings and panic from mum and dad as they do the walk of shame to reception.
It wasn’t ever like that in this house’s previous days. These short break guests just lower the tone...
Blocked, by Sanjoy Dutt
Buddhi (clever) was at the window to purchase a ticket for the movie, "Coquette.”
He had been watching the very movie every day for two weeks.
The clerk, “Hi sir.”
“May I have a ticket?”
“For Coquette?" he enquired.
Buddhi nodded, "yes."
At the gate, the ticket checker identified him, “Hello, sir, Coquette today?”
“What is so exceptional about the movie?”
"I missed a scene," Buddhi said.
"The actress was disrobing for her bath in the lonely lake, just then the train passed and blocked my view. One day that train will be late."
The checker gawked!
Stage Fright, by Russell Conover
Jack was sure he’d never be able to perform theater facing the scholarly and intelligent audience, due to his intense stage fright and the fact that he spoke very quickly not only most of the time, but even more so in situations when he was nervous, like right now as he was about to go in front of a big crowd, but he remembered that he knew his lines inside and out and that he was an experienced actor who was ready for anything on the stage, so he took a deep breath, walked onstage, and gave it his best.
Time, by Eric Smith
Jack drove Glenna along the winding road above the river. Jack pointed below.
“See that little spit of beach?”
“When I was eighteen, a buddy and I paddled up river by there. We saw a girl in a bikini, maybe a year or two older than us, lying on her side, reading a book.”
“She was so beautiful we stopped paddling and stared. She looked annoyed, as if we’d disturbed her. When we came back down river an hour later, hoping to see her again, she was gone.”
“She’d be sixty-nine or seventy now.”
The large book coffee-table book contained representations of the strange four-dimensional photodrawings by the Explorationists. Malkowski’s famous ‘Ford Futuritica’ was there, the car which seemed to go in all directions at the same time, yet further study transformed the car into a horse or spaceship. Jeanne Dubuisson’s Eliptical Square was there, so too Mark Leonard’s Gateway To Heaven in the shape of a recycling bin.
Peering, Dorothy was drawn ever closer, until her face touched the page. Then, quietly, the book closed its covers around her and she was never seen again. She was the book’s ninth victim that month.
The Distressed Monarch, by Bobby Warner
I have been here forty years, and King for thirty-two. "Uneasy lies the head. . . ", etc. I read that in an old book brought through by Donder drive vessel last year.
The satellite colonies give us weekly headaches; our economy, due to gigantic interplanetary trade imbalances, threatens to topple our solar Republic.
The worst part: Ezelda, my wife whom I requisitioned five years ago. She has never adjusted, and the psycho-neuro docs say she is very near breakdown threshold. I shall have to send her back to Old Earth.
Oh, if only I could return with her!
Indian Summer, by Joy Essien
The rain fell heavily, streaking the windows with droplets of water. “Why can’t they ever get it right?” wondered Derek, as he sat at his desk.
The Weather man on TV had said temperatures would be a sunny 20 degrees today. Britain was set for an Indian summer in September, the weatherman added.
“And I believed him”, Derek thought miserably, as he got off his swivel chair and set off for the kitchen.
Outside, the clouds moved off slowly, sailing towards the west. A bird chirped. Another responded. Derek looked out of the window. The sun was peeking out. Shyly.
The Scariest Thing, by Emma Baird
“Do one thing that scares you every day.”
Thanks for the tip Eleanor. I’ve been paying heed these last few weeks in a mission of self-improvement. One person’s scary is another one’s thrill, though, so my little list of accomplishments might not stack up to all that much.
Phone older brother and suggest healing of rift. Check. Volunteer to give presentation at work. Check. Take a refresher driving lesson. Check. Eat an oyster. Check. Walk over a bridge and look down at the same time. Check.
Send finished manuscript to the printers… Ch…ch… Uncheck.
“Do ------ w------ to kiss?” he peeps, using all the vital force he knows to access, turning shallow trepid breath into voice, sending himself beyond fear.
Frozen, waiting. All his dreams—his young and innocent fantasies, hopes and pubescent pride—conceiving the most important event of his life.
Without smile or hesitation, she leans in, motioning ‘of course’.
And That's Why... by Jane Reid
Shelly was a little disgruntled.
Not that she had even been gruntled, you understand. Gruntles were believed to have become extinct before she was born. But grandpa told stories that his grandpa had told him about the days when gruntles would explore near human homes, and even come up into yards and onto porches. They were timid little beasts, long officially classed as endangered. It had long been illegal to hunt or sell them, or keep one in captivity. But a home where gruntles played was traditionally a happy home. And when the gruntles became scarce, much of humanity was disgruntled.
Deepak's Church, by Joy Essien
Deepak and I went walking. We came across a grand, old church. Smiling vaguely, Deepak said he liked the façade. Bemused, I wondered how a Buddhist could like a church.
On our way home, we passed the church. A soft spoken old woman, invited us in. “Would you like to see the vestments?” she asked. Speechless, I stared at her, but Deepak walked in.
Inside there is an exhibition of embroidered priestly robes, and textiles used in the services.
I tagged along, wondering: Deepak expressed a longing, and now we were looking at relics of faith.
A coincidence or what?
It was just another day in ninth-grade math class. Students were working problems on the board, when the announcement came over the intercom. Then, for at least a week?
We were glued to the TV news channels all day at school, even though few of us high school students really understood the significance of what was going on.
Not until years later did I truly grasp the significance. Though it’s a cliché, something’s been missing in me ever since. I will always remember, and always appreciate the service of our military. Peace on Earth, to all people.
Raising The Spirits, by Russell Conover
Josie was going through a really tough time in her life. Everything seemed to make her feel down and upset, no matter what she said or did.
“If only I could raise my spirits for just a day,” she thought. “I’d do anything.”
She heard a knock sound on her door. Opening it, she was surprised to find a clown. The clown squeezed his round, red nose, sprayed water in his own face, and pulled about seventeen handkerchiefs out of his sleeve.
“Happiness shows up in the most unexpected places,” Josie thought with a smile. “That’s just what I needed.”
Relax, by Gordon Lawrie
How are you?
Good? Please just sit down and make yourself comfortable.
You’re a little tense, I can feel it from here. Just let everything go, everything flow, flow from your body. Let it flow.
Can you feel it? Can you feel it flowing through from your head, through your neck and shoulders, down through your body, down the inside of your legs and right into your feet and your toes? Can you feel the waves? They wash up, and they wash down, up, down, up, down. Relax.
Now, I’d like you to tell me a story. A hundred words.
A Day In The Life, by Amy Friedman
Only Amy herself can tell this:
"For 9/11 Friday, here is a commemorative tale. I worked in Lower Manhattan at the time, so was one of the ash-covered people you might have seen on TV that day. This is a true telling of my day's start. It still sometimes feels like science fiction."
When I emerged from the subway station, dark gray smoke was billowing around the WTC towers, shrouding their tops. People were milling around, some clutching their faces as if models for Munch’s “The Scream.”
“What happened?” I asked no one in particular.
“Plane crashed into the Towers,” said the nearest person.
I watched the smoke thicken and felt the noise volume around me rise, as office workers left their desks for the streets.
I entered my office building, dodged the security guard and slipped into the elevator. Maybe I’d find out what happened when I got upstairs to my cubicle.