Thousands of our favorite writers penned these 112-word stories for readers on the go. We whittled and whittled until we came up with this list of approximately one million very short stories, which somehow include many of our own. Enjoy!
The Drive Home
By Ken Miller
Ted's relationship was in trouble. His wife had just obtained the newest mind-reading technology from MicroApple, and he'd been bad that week. Why, he wondered, did Las Vegas legalize prostitution in 2030? His trip home on Oscar Goodman Highway wasn't helped by the 140-degree heat.
Still, he had hours to come up with a plan—his home was in Las Vegas North (he'd heard someone refer to it as "Lake Tahoe" once). Maybe if he put the hovercraft on autopilot and read the Las Vegas Review-Gazette-Journal-Sun-Tribune cover to cover, he could shield his memories. "Who am I kidding?" Ted thought, remembering the city's slogan: "We know what happens here before you do."
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
By Steve Bornfeld
Years ago, I released the only love to pierce the cloud around my heart, flooding it in brilliant light.
Not since, despite romantic conflagrations that came and cooled, have I known such transcendent warmth, its radiance the glowing embers to light our lives as husband and wife.
Not to be. We are missed memories.
I retreated, allowing a good man his happiness. And my regrets. I tried denying you in my head, heart, soul—and failed. Such sorrow I now reject.
At last, closure: I'll always love you, M. But from the depths of my heart, finally, I let go. And say ... good-bye.
I'm divorced ...
By Kristen Peterson
Would the paint cover the spots that the sun gave her, and fill the wrinkles left by the years?
"I've earned these years," she used to say at 50, at 60, at 70, "but something happens at 80," she once said when no one was listening. And then the new ladies arrived with those masks so tight.
"Peel them off. Peel them off," she said. "I want to see you."
But they didn't. Only their eyes moved.
With her face puttied andher hands the colors of the walls, she walked past the front desk, looking strong in her big coat.
"I am young," she muttered to herself. "Inside, I am young."
A Friday in January
By Stacy J. Willis
The guy in front reclined before departure right into his lap. Fifth in line for takeoff. He would be late and sick of humanity.
The tomato sauce she used was from a jar. Garlic powder. It had come to this. But she hadn't seen him in weeks. She was supposed to do this. She lit candles.
They kissed and ate and had sex and went to sleep. He awoke at 3. He packed her bags and set them by the door.
"I want you to leave," he said, too quietly to wake her. They were happiest when they slept.
At daybreak, she was gone. But her stuff was still blocking the exit.
A Brief Look at Childhood Angst
By Michael T. Toole
"Dammit boy, you know we have to be in Shreveport soon!" my dad bellowed, his voice having all the echoing impact of a freight train barrelling alongside a mountaintop.
"I'm almost finished!" I cried.
"Boy, I'm givin' you 10 seconds to get in the car before I split!"
His voice trailed off as he stormed away, but I could hear him muttering, "Damn that boy, he had to drink my last Fresca!"
I ran to the car in time, and I dared ask him, "What if I have to go again?"
"Use the Fresca can you just drank!" he replied.
A nod to my dad, he knew the concept of poetic justice.
Unread Obituary: A Survivor's Tale
By Pj Perez
There was nothing left to feel but the taste of cold steel in his mouth.
The pressure of his finger against the pistol's trigger, the stiffness of the heavy wooden door behind his back—he felt none of this. The weight upon his heart, the forced, shallow breaths— it all became distant and faded. Reality became the bitter, rusty barrel of a Colt .45 on his tongue.
Memories tried to persuade their way through the nothingness, begging to be set free, lest they die with a pull of his finger. But it was those memories that brought him here, on the steps of this old church, gun in hand, life at end.
By Kristen Peterson
"Did you see him yet?''
"Who?" I asked, eyeing the approaching stranger, an old man.
"The eagle. He's usually around here somewhere."
We both looked to the sky. It was gray. Empty.
"No," I said to him. "I didn't know there was an eagle around here. I saw another large bird. A heron, maybe."
We were silent for a while. He did his pull-ups. The exercise bar was one of several planted around the lake.
"I'll look for him," I said. Lying.
He did his last pull-up. He jumped down, then walked away. Indifferent.
"Thanks for telling me about him," I shouted to him. "I'll look for him!"
I walked away. Indifferent.
By Dawn Bass
Of the war between the black dog and the golden lion; and how three heroes (mighty-thewed and sly) threw in their lot with the lion; how one lost his life, one his honor, and one his favorite handkerchief in battle; and how the two remaining stole the lion's pouch for the jewels in it while he slept. How they traveled far, enjoying the theft; and how, dicing for drinks, they lost all to a wolfish man and his feline companion. How those two gods drove them from the tavern and over the edge of the world; and how the heroes laughed into the void, having cut the god's purses as they fell.
By Susan Snyder
Willa was afraid.
Afraid of speed. Afraid of falling.
Afraid of failure.
But everyone else was doing it. If she wanted to fit in, she had to try.
"Take a deep breath and let it out," a calm voice said just above her ear. "Then push."
Willa sucked in as much air as a 7-year-old's lungs will hold, let it out and pushed hard with her left foot.
Faster, faster. Suddenly, she didn't feel so wobbly.
Flying, flying. She felt as though wings would lift her.
The wind sang in her ears. The voice was gone.
She was alone. Independent. Free.
"I'm doing it!" she shouted.
And without training wheels.
By Dawn Bass
It is never easy to catch the loss-lure, which by its nature slips away as soon as grasped.
In the desert, the animals were cold as the shadows from the stones. At night, the dunes infected him with their heat.
The polar ice was fire. The snowflakes burned like stars. He shattered, melted, and froze again in his original style.
He drifted shoreward and sinkward through the ocean, buffeted by the watery casts of the leviathans who swam before him.
Having carelessly used the air for so long, he found it a vengeful host. Outside was better than in.
At last gaining his heart's desire, he let the loss-lure go forever ...
Las Vegas, and One of Its Conquered Sons
By Joshua Longbardy
And then the pastor asked: "Do you, Jay Hubert Chomsen, take this woman to be your lawful wedded bride?
As a moment of supernatural silence fell upon the church, Jay—the bastard son of an historical stripper who'd grown up in Las Vegas to become an invincible bachelor, avoiding commitments at all costs for the first quarter century of his life with no intentions to change until he met Lindsay Michelle, the most beautiful woman in a town of beautiful people, who after 25 years of premarital sex offered him an ultimatum which he then anguished over, but which led him to now face the pastor's formidable question—said, swallowing his defeat:
By Stacy J. Willis
She delivered slowly. The baby grew up to be a construction foreman. Standing atop a skeletal skyscraper he had midlife doubts. He threw his hard hat. It caught a wind. Thirty-two stories down it whipped back in. Hit his son. Knocked him off of a beam. The 22-year-old tumbled like a rag doll the last eight stories.
The paramedic was new. The patient was impaled on an ill-conceived, sharp parking meter. Her partner went to work on him anyway. There are procedures, routines, things you do even though death is inevitable.
She went home. In bed her husband whispered, "I want to have a baby."
Slow down, she thought.
"Okay," she said.
Back on the Job
By Martin Stein
He rode the bus home, lunch pail between his feet, fresh currency between his fingers. His shoulders were sore but it was a good sore.
It had been so long since he'd felt that honest ache, since he had worked alongside other men. The government had seen to that: He didn't belong to the party, he had the wrong faith, he was from the wrong family.
But the school he was helping build, that was something, and with each nail he drove in, with each load of bricks he carried, he was helping construct the future.
The bus stopped and his wife was waiting in the dusk. A Prague spring in Baghdad.
By Josh Bell
He had been hunting her for so long that at times it seemed like her movements and his were one. It was easy to lose sight of the purpose—destroy the monster—when the monster was both beautiful and seductive.
The quarry sat in the back of the smoke-filled bar, surrounded by her cadre of sycophants, on the lookout for prey of her own. He fingered the stake in its spring-loaded holster, and looked around to make sure his escape route was clear. When he looked back, she was gone.
He felt the presence behind him, sinister and sexual, but he was too slow to act. "Naughty boy," she said, and bit.
By Dawn Bass
His grand ambitions protected him from common decency, and she was pretty common—let's face it, she was coarse, and he was one of the finest. But she was good enough to darn his socks and damn his eyes, and he wrote great works while she worked for a living.
Day came, though, when she pushed him hard (she was married to marriage), and he killed her with a hard word that night. One less than a baker's dozen decided that, despite his sweeping statements, he wasn't coming clean. Where they put him, the sword was mightier than the pen; his escape attempt was the last time he took anything to heart.
By Chuck Twardy
Between eighth grade and high school I received a letter from a girl I had quietly adored for several years. I'll call her Amy although she's unlikely to read this and anyway so what? Amy was conventionally pretty but not one of the pre-cheerleader types. She was destined for a high school in another part of town. I've forgotten her words but have no doubt they were bravely framed, wishing that we stay in touch. Probably scared, and imagining humor an efficient breaker of ice already sundered, I answered affirmatively but in childish block letters. Even as I dropped the letter in the mailbox I knew I was making an awful mistake.
By Kate Silver
"Piercings and tattooes are so cliche," thought Violet, who'd been searching for a way to feel more spiritual. "Outer labelings," she considered. "Expressions to attract a modern tribe," she reasoned. "People need to sacrifice from the inside," she decided. "Removal." So she had her uvula—that punching bag at the back of your throat—cut off. Once the swelling went down and the pain pills ran out, soon after the scab molted it was exactly what she'd been looking for. Boys loved her, which interested girls. Uvulectomy became an outpatient catch-phrase. It was last week's nose ring, yesterday's lower back tattoo. The originality caught on—"punch'd," it was called. People finally got it.
By Damon Hodge
Chicago rapper Kanye West made headlines by telling America that "George Bush don't like black people." Here's what transpired next:
Bush calls West up on his Boost Mobile.
West: "Who dis?"
POTUS: "This is George Bush."
West: "What up?"
POTUS: "What up? Uh, the up is, uh, Who are you to say I don't care about black people?"
West: "I'm Kanye To The. The Roc is in the building."
POTUS: "Who invited Tom DeLay?"
(Karl Rove whispers: "He said the Rock, not the Hammer.")
West: "Save the drama for your mama. I'm right. You're wrong. The Roc is out of the building."
POTUS to Rove: "He's as arrogant as I am."
No Can Do
By John Katsilometes
Hey, sorry for the late notice on this, but on the 112-word thing? As Darryl Hall once said, "I can't go for that (no, noooo, no can do)." My life lately has been ... how to put it? What's the English word for "insane"? I don't know whether to split infinitives or go blind here.
I looked back at the past two stories I wrote for this project and I just don't have time to write anything worthwhile. I have a tough time hitting this short length (even though I don't seem to know that many words). So consider me the Duane Bobick of this project and count me out.