Tag Archives: short fiction

1690. Lovely little old lady

Bernice was a lovely little old lady who drove around in a beat-up old car and lived in a cosy bungalow with a cottage garden and a sausage dog. She was always pleasant – some would say delightful – and hence would be invited to gatherings here and there whenever a celebration was called for. For example, the local school always invited her to their Christmas party (not that they called it a Christmas party) simply because she was delightful company.

Bernice had a saying if anyone asked her age: “Quite frankly, I can’t afford to die.” It was true that the cost of dying had rocketed into the stratosphere in recent years. There was the coffin and the funeral and the hearse and the flowers and the… Would it never end?

Well, afford it or not, Bernice passed away. Her will requested a simple funeral, the sausage dog got looked after, and the school got to build a new gymnasium.

1689. Gadgetry

Alva was one of those slightly past-middle-age rich people who lived alone and entertained themselves with every new gadget that came on the market. Her garden gate opened by remote control just by pressing a button on her diamond watch. The front and back doors to the house had locks with number pads. Her television on the wall could turn slightly to the left and right depending on where she was in the house. For example, if she was in the kitchen the television screen could turn slightly to the left. Gadget after gadget…

Alva had a large house which she shared with a lodger called Howard. Howard was a promising plumber. He had an apprenticeship. A practical hands-on job with some mathematics suited Howard down to the ground. Alva let him stay for a song. It was her way of helping someone young get a start in life. Of course, Howard the Plumber was as into gadgetry as Alva – and a handy gadget fixer as well!

“What I dislike most of all about modern things,” said Howard to Alva, “is having to remember all these different passwords and pin numbers.”

“Oh, I just use the same one for everything,” said Alva.

“That’s a good idea,” said Howard.

A week later, Howard had a brand new car, and Alva had no money in her bank account.

1666. Mrs Mallard Duck’s fine clutch

Mrs Mallard Duck had found the perfect place for a nest. It was not too far from the stream where she could go to stretch her legs, and it was close enough (although a good way back) from the road to give some interest and variation to an otherwise monotonous twenty-eight days of sitting on the eggs to keep them warm.

Mr Mallard Duck wasn’t a great deal of help, although he did offer a bit of company occasionally when Mrs Duck went swimming and feeding in the stream. But goodness me! Twenty-eight days is four weeks, and four weeks can feel like four months (in fact four years) when there’s little else to do than count the cars and trucks that whizz by on the road.

But it was all worth it! After those exasperating four weeks all nine eggs hatched. And what pretty babies they were! Mrs Mallard Duck would soon take them to the stream for their first swim. But first, she must show off her brood by waddling them slap-bang down the middle of the road.

1662. A limp and a laundry

(Thanks to Chelsea Owens for suggesting the opening sentence.)

She always wondered why he limped; now, she knew. Randall McAvoy was eighty years old and hobbled along with the aid of a walking stick. Dolores Hughes had known him for the last eight years. He was a neighbour. She had always presumed that his limp was because of age. One day she asked him if his limp was due to rheumatism. He said, “Oh goodness me no! I’ve had this limp since I was sixteen.”

Dolores asked further, even though she didn’t want to appear nosey. He had got a knee injury when he was sixteen while rescuing orphaned babies trapped in a gun fight between warring factions in Lebanon. Some shrapnel had hit him in the knee. No, he wasn’t a fighter; he was rescuing the orphans. However, it was only today that Dolores discovered the full truth.

Dolores was just settling down to watch her favourite afternoon soap when there was a knock on her door. It was Randall. He said, “Look, I don’t want to be a bother but my washing machine needs fixing. I know it’s a silly request but would you mind ever so much if I used yours? The need to wear these clothes has become a matter of urgency, and they’re frightfully dirty with soot and the stink of acrid smoke.” He had the clothes neatly folded in a large paper bag, and there were just a couple of items.

“Of course I don’t mind!” said Dolores. She showed him her washing machine and the soap powder and softener.

“I’m very grateful,” said Randall after setting the washing machine going and leaving. “I shall be back in a while to pick things up.”

He was long in returning. Dolores wanted to do her own washing so she put Randall’s clothes in a laundry basket. She got the shock of her life. Randall’s clothes were not ordinary. He was the real Superman.

1661. Feet in the Shire

(Thanks to Matthew for suggesting the opening sentence).

He lived on hills resembling ‘The Shire’ and his feet were covered with curly hair. His name was Bartholomew Baggins and his solo mother always said that his father was a hobbit. He thought it was a big fib, but now that he’d reached puberty he began to suspect, with his hairy feet, that what his mother claimed was true.

Bartholomew always wore shoes to school, even though sandals (and even bare feet) were permitted in summer. That was to cover up his emerging hobbitness. He was ashamed to think that his father was a hobbit. No one had seen a hobbit, and even though everyone liked hobbits in books and films there wasn’t a person at his school who believed they actually existed. They would make fun of his hairy feet.

And then, one evening, Bartholomew left his mother’s house. There was a full moon although ragged clouds scuttled across the night sky. He knelt down and drank rainwater that had gathered in a strange footprint in the garden. Bartholomew stood and howled to the moon. He was covered in hair. He was on his first hunt.

1659. Ouch!

(Grateful thanks to Keith for producing the opening sentence.)

Ouch!

Much surely should have been written about what exactly did Mary, Queen of Scots, say when the first stroke of the axe missed her neck and hit her on the back of the head. Of course, the second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe.

There have been, or should have been, many theories as to what she intended to say. All that was passed down verbally was that she was heard to utter OW! when the first blow of the axe struck.

Some claim that what she was intending to say was a quotation from a psalm: “OUr days are no more than a watch in the night.” Others say it was to confess to wearing a wig: “OUr hair is not our own.” Still others maintain that she was going to say something in French, which certainly confirms her guilt in all matters.

But a British Lord has come up with a novel explanation. She simply intended to say said “Ouch!” I mean, who wouldn’t?

1657. The man-eater

(Thanks to Uma for the opening sentence).

In his dream he was a man-eater, hungry and dying. He was a tiger in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Already he had killed and eaten fourteen humans. Now he was ready for another. But he was sick. He had drunk salty water and this had made him violent and unpredictable.

He went on an all-day killing spree. He gave no care for his safety. He slaughtered fourteen children coming home from school. Eight adults were dead. He would eat one, he didn’t care which, for his meal. Humans were cruel animals. He could be crueller.

Life was hard. In the beginning he had hunted with his mother. She was a master man-eater. Then she was shot by humans coming from the village. Her son took on a life of revenge. It wasn’t simply food; it was a game. It was an all-consuming desire. Humans hunted animals for pleasure. Why couldn’t he hunt humans for the same gratification?

He stirred in his afternoon snooze. It was so boring being gawked at every day through metal bars by countless humans at the zoo.