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Welcome to The SHORT TALE 100

The stories published below are all 100 words long. EXACTLY 100 words long. Not a word more, not a word less.

ALL SUBMISSIONS WELCOME – giles@chalkward.com

 

 

 

 

January’s Dying Uncle by Steve Colori

Darnell’s living room had white walls and a light grey carpet.

“My uncle is dying,” January said.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Darnell replied.

“He was a really weird guy. He did some bad things but I love him and he’s my uncle and I choke up every time I try to tell him what I want to say.”

A few birds were chirping in an adjacent maple. The sunlight was partially blocked by the leaves.

“Have you thought about writing your words?

“What if I can’t read them?”

“You can hand him the letter.”

January wept tears of confusion.

The SHORT TALE 100 – JUNE 2017

 

 

 

 

Run Beth Run by David Rae & Beth Conteh

In the darkness of the cave, I could hear him muttering to himself. He turned and looked at us and there was something odd in his eyes. I squeezed Beth’s hand.
“Go.” I whispered under my breath and pointed back the way we came.
 She glared and started to argue, but stopped when I put my finger to my lips. She nodded and then slipped quietly away. I hope she is not angry.
He turned like a madman and his hands wrapped round my throat choking me to death. At least Beth will be safe; if she runs fast enough.

The SHORT TALE 100 – JUNE 2017

 

 

 

 

Losing Things by David Rae

Her eyebrows went first, surprisingly. “There’s something different about you.” People said, but could never say what.

Then it was her eyelashes that she lost. Her husband was more upset than she was. He sat crying; no more butterfly kisses, no more fluttering, come hither eyes. This must be worse for him than it is for her, she thought.

Next day her mouth fell off. Two lips lay next to her on the pillow like fat, red slugs. She picked them up carefully and packed them away.  What does a woman need to speak for anyway; she told herself.

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

The Kick by Jared Carter

Wax on. Wax off. Like that stupid movie. Wax on. Wax off. Only I don’t get to have that much fun. Instead I wipe bug guts and bird crap off of people’s hoods. I don’t get to karate chop like this. Hyah! And I don’t get to wear a black belt. Well, I do but only to hold up these frickin bleach stained jeans. And I don’t get to do this awesome switch kick where I stand like this and fake everyone out with this crazy kick. Hyah! “Oh, frick. I’m so sorry, ma’am. I promise I’ll pay for that.”

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

Reality by Jonathan McGookin

41. Never married. Jan 1st, lost job. March 3rd, first night homeless. Bought a tent and canned food with last of money. Sleeping rough in local woods.

My mind races. Reality. No home, no job, no guarantees. Ultimate uncertainty.

Pull sleeping bag tight to my chin. You appreciate warmth when true cold surrounds you. Reflecting. Remembering my boss, my mortgage, my Facebook account. All gone. I wonder where I will go tomorrow? I could hitchhike? Look for odd jobs. Keep moving. Like Bruce Banner minus the alter ego.

My mind slows. Reality. No home, no job, no guarantees. Ultimate freedom.

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

The Duchess Bride by Jared Carter

“What about copyright stuff? Won’t we get sued?”

“It’s just us. Hollywood doesn’t care that much.”

“Unless it goes viral…”
His eyebrows shot up. “I like the sound of that. Okay, then. Swords up. Roll film, Billy.
Hey you! My name is… uh… Indigo Ventura… you killed (“Slayed!” “Is that even a word?” “Course it is, stupid.”) you slayed my brother. Uh… prepare to …uh… be dead!”
“What if I do this?” He tucked his thumb and fake finger into his palm.
“Perfect. On guard.”
“It’s kinda hard now.”
Well, suck it up. Hey you! My name is Indigo Ventura!”

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

The Taxidermist by Daniel Soule

Trapped in tenebrous light, dust fairies played tricks on her eyes.

Animals multitude are imprisoned in cabinets, trapped on shelves, dangling from strings. Frogs, newts, badgers, weasels, owls and eagles. Dogs, cats, rats, spiders and flies, none able to catch the other.

Life ensnared eternal, she thinks, but not quite.

However lustrous their fur, silky their feathers, dynamic their pose, all failed the experiment. Glassy eyes betrayed death; life uncaptured.

She sees her hand poised gesturing (unmoving). Her heart races, eyes dart, but movement is impossible. She: his final experiment, his ultimate success. Life ensnared, forever frozen, except her eyes.

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

The Waters by Steve Colori

The waters on the lake were sky blue and the mountains were green.

“You know how I have dreams where I’m awake in them,” Victor said.

“I do,” Laura replied. They were sitting on the beach.

“I had a dream I spoke to my Mom last night. I didn’t think I would ever see her again.” A short silence passed. Victor stared across to the other side of the lake.

“Maybe you were really communicating,” Laura said. She brushed her hair aside.

“I miss her,” Victor replied.

“Maybe everyone is waiting in the next life.”

“I hope so. It’s possible.

The SHORT TALE 100 – MAY 2017

 

 

 

 

Life Class by Giles Ward

Honestly John couldn’t say whether this was just a classic case of lust over love. The model of his affection, with her cherry-buffed posterior, wriggled free from numbness, her shawl slipping to reveal still more of her buttermilk thigh. His tutor complemented the swiftness of his hand where other pupils laboured stiff-armed. John squirreled behind his easel and board, each stroke salacious and disloyal, his face hot as the sun. Damn the artist’s curse: How might he ask out a woman of whom he already knew the subtle rose of her nipple yet not even know her name?

The SHORT TALE 100 – APRIL 2017

 

 

 

 

Shelf Space Problems by Merry Mercurial

This house is cursed with a perpetuity of storage space that will forever outpace your family’s tendency to accumulate. Yours one of these houses that testifies to an architectural preference bordering on kink. Deep shelves gouged the length of wall after wall, a feature your mother once explained she’d at first found auspicious and challenging, as though the house were pushing her to accrue (the word hoarddeftly avoided) evidence of your lives, things that could and should be displayed, not for the sake of being gaudy but more—and this is your poor pun, not your mother’s—god-y. Self-worshiping.

The SHORT TALE 100 – APRIL 2017

 

 

 

 

My Hope by Tyrean Martinson

My daughter notices my books. “Armchair traveling again?”

“This time, I have an itinerary.”

“Oh. I thought … you had given up that dream.”

“Never. I want to see the sun set on new horizons.”

“I thought they didn’t take anyone past prime.”

“It turns out they want a little wisdom for the generations to come.”

She snorts, then sobers. “Will I never see you again?”

“You could come with me.”

She stares at the glowering ash-filled sunset. “Do you think they’ll take me?”

“I may have overstepped, but I asked already.”

She smiles.

I have hope for us again.

The SHORT TALE 100 – MARCH 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Lives by Kaia Gallagher

It was dark on the night I should have died.  Sleepy and thoughtless, I drove down a winding country lane, not slowing for the tortured, twisted one-lane bridge ahead. My headlight beams hypnotically picked up dusty bits of gravel and grit, and then filled with the shape of a looming, white tomcat who lurched in front of the car, reaching for moths.  A thud and I slowed my car to a stop, suddenly seeing the drunken headlights of an oncoming car straddling the one-lane bridge, as the cat who gave me one of his nine lives disappeared into the underbrush.

The SHORT TALE 100 – FEBRUARY 2017

 

 

 

 

 

A Question & A Prize by Antoine Bargel

When you look at someone’s reflexion in the window of a metro car, someone sitting across from you, and their reflexion seems to look you right back in the eyes, does it mean that they are also looking at the eyes of your reflexion, and therefore the whole matter counts as eye contact, mathematically, or not? Of the answer would derive many merry encounters between strangers with a taste for each other, or less unwanted approaches by geometrically misguided seducers. So I am offering a reward of one minute of eye contact with me to whomever can provide the demonstration.

The SHORT TALE 100 – JANUARY 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Dust Among Shadows by Anja Benevento

If you walk about 24,900 miles in one direction, you will occupy the same scrap of earth you stand upon now. If you barter your soul for a taste of present glory, tread every step. Go about the earth and see what is yours. Suck the ivory breasts of sold women. Take from the weak the best of their years, turn it to gold, heavy in your pocket. Lick the warm blood from your claws. Is your vanity a man that it should be bartered with? Hunt. Burn. Take. Your name is great in all the earth, dust among shadows.

The SHORT TALE 100 – JANUARY 2017

 

 

 

 

 

It Sits On My Chest by Dustin L. Yocum

It sits on my chest so that I cannot move. I am a rock, at the bottom of the ocean, left to ponder the distorted shadows of marine wildlife as they glide around me. I have no means to protect myself – no voice to call for help.

It sits on my chest so that I cannot move – subtle smile and razor-sharp teeth.

It takes its hand and gently closes my eyelids, forcing me back to sleep. The pressure makes it difficult to breath, but I’m comforted that someone is watching over me.

I jolt awake. Now I can move.

The SHORT TALE 100 – DECEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The Coin Boy by John Gabriel Adkins

The coin boy arrived in town with lucky nickels and deviousness. “I’ve good fortune for the misfortunate,” he said, “and slugs for the vending machines.” A small crowd crowded around him in the central square. Ailing little boys and girls, and their parents, scrambled for the coin boy’s nickels. But a naughty child cried, “I’ll have a slug!”

A plastic washer changed hands, and the coin boy’s smile splintered to his forehead. The naughty child clattered to the cobblestone trapped within the washer. She threaded nicely onto the coin boy’s necklace, concealed below his collar. It sagged with naughty children.

The SHORT TALE 100 – DECEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Too, Buddy by Giles Ward

I just caught myself talking out loud. I was outside Boots.

I remember we used to take the number 4 into town to spend the pocket money singeing the lining of our pockets on Subbuteo sets and 7-inch singles. There would be a guy on the corner of Fargate selling the late edition Star by caterwauling in a deep, slow slur of un-punctuated vowels. We would dare ourselves closer to him and laugh. In between his retched yelps he would talk to himself. Nonsense, mainly it seemed. Nothing stuff. How, we wondered through shrugs, could anyone have become so disconnected?

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

ST100: A Difficult Conversation by Steve Colori

“Dad, why am I different than everyone else?” James asked. He was wearing his ninja turtles outfit.

“We’re all different but we just don’t know it sometimes.”

“What’s schizomophrenium? The teacher said I have that.”

“It’s just when someone…” I exhaled slowly. “I have it too,” I wanted to say. “He’s too young for this. What am I supposed to tell him?”

“Whadya say?”

“It’s just when someone thinks a little differently.”

“But don’t we all think different.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I sipped my coffee. “I suppose we do.”

“So does everyone have schizomophrenium?”

“I guess they do.”

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

ST100: Popcorn And The Movie Monster by LaVa Payne

He would never eat popcorn without me again!

The red carpet wagged endlessly toward the shelved seats inside the monster mouth. The larynx and throat would captivate him long enough to be swallowed whole while he watched the movie.

It was dark inside the theater—late showing of Revenge of The Tentacles.

Suddenly, I had a premonition. What if I never got to eat popcorn again either?

As the credits rolled down the screen, I went down to aisle 26, seat eleven and sat next to him.

He smiled.

“Want some popcorn?”

Popcorn keeps the movie monster in its seat.

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

Born to Ruin by Liam Hogan

People say it’s cruel, akin to slavery, but you know they were born to run. The joy on their faces when they cross the finishing line. How could you deprive them of that?

Others say that science is ruining sport. But until you’ve seen eight Usain Bolt’s line up against each other, at the start of the World Cloning One Hundred Metres final, you’ve not seen the best that competitive sport has to offer.

Nine point two seven seconds and a photo finish. Wow! Looks like Google’s Bolt came third, Petrochina takes Silver, and, once again! Monsanto takes the Gold.

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

A Man of Words by Giles Ward

The challenge appears on the surface an elementary one. At least for a thrice-published historical novelist it should be. He concedes there may be the sacrifice of some grammatical pleasantries; Some dropping of otherwise useful conjunctions; Some abortive phrases. And the occasional opening of sentences with an unconventional ‘and’, but that is only to be expected, he supposes. This is mammon from heaven for a man of words like he – the linguistic gymnast. Words are his thing. No, thing’s not right – his gift, his expression, his art. So, how difficult can it be to tell a story in just

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Some Like It Hot by Rob Walton

The order comes through and my boss takes the call.  The guy on the other end is being very forceful.  The word he repeats is mild.  My boss holds the phone away from his ear.  I know the caller is Marty before I see the number on the screen.  I know the mild is for her. I take the order to the kitchen and make sure Joe gets everything right.  Repeat it back to me, Joe.  ‘This couple like it spicy.  They can’t get it spicy enough. He likes it hot and she likes it hot.’  He gets to work.

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Him by Dayne Svendsen

Walking in the dark was never a problem, until I saw him, the man almost stereotypically dressed in black lurking in the shadows of every alley I’d pass by on my way home through the city. I saw him everywhere, I had to tell someone; of course, the doctors told me I was ill. Yet, no matter what they did, he just wouldn’t seem to vanish. One night, he entered my room and crept up my bed with a knife, this was the usual by now. Though this time, he plunged the knife into my throat, and everything went black.

The SHORT TALE 100 – OCTOBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Nonverbal Communication by Helga Schierloh

Slightly hunched forward, seemingly coming out of nowhere, the young woman wobbles towards him. Her gaze desperate, her hands flailing, she mutters something in a language he does not understand. 
But before he can even take a guess at what she might want, she buckles over and sinks to her knees. Tears welling up in her dark eyes, perspiration is glistening on her forehead, she keeps stroking her protruding belly. 
Suddenly he understands. 
He pulls up his phone and calls for an ambulance. Her face relaxing, the woman is nodding her approval, before her grateful grimace vanishes in another contraction.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Mother by E.E. King

He was an intense youth, with fly-away hair and chocolate-brown troubled eyes.

He wanted to be an artist, to color the world with his imaginings. He begged for a set of paints, or pencils, maybe even an easel.

“No son of mine will be an effete, paintin’, poofter,” roared his father, backhanding the boy so hard, he fell against a cupboard, cutting his lip.

The scar would always be there, a reminder of dreams denied. His mother comforted him.

“Don’t worry, “she cooed, “You can do anything! You can change the world if you want to.”

And Adolph believed her.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s 2000 by William R Soldan

I’ve this habit: going to parties, leaving when the liquor’s gone. Walking, usually clear across town. Somewhere someone’s got something going on.

North Side to South Side—through the heart. Ball’s dropped and a lotta people freaking about planes falling from the sky. Y2K. Computers crashing. Chaos.

Nights like this, hard to tell fireworks from gunshots. One beer, overflowed in the cold. Breath like smoke, a frosted sleeve.

This guy’s got a bunker for the end times. Booze to last at least until he learns. Still, halfway, I’m ducking at sounds, looking up, waiting for it to all come down.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

I Make Myself Smile by Giles Ward

Like drawing a sparkler through the dark as a kid, or dragging driftwood points across the wet sand, I stand and write with my gushing urine-flow into the centre of the bowl. A froth boils on the surface and I tease the tiny bubbles from the edge to make shapes in the middle: I make a leaping hare, an ostrich, a crippled old hag with a stick, Australia, a car, a four-limbed octo-mess. I make the Monthly Interim Strategic Operational Meeting drift from my mind. I make the MD’s balding profile out of stagnant, coffee-laced piss. I make myself smile.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The Thief by Arun Budhathoki

The main gate is not closed. There’s nobody. I cringe thinking a robber must have broken into the house. I close it without hesitation after I get out of the house. As I walk away towards a shop nearby I remember to call my mother. She confirms the door in the third floor is not open. I still wonder if the thief is inside. After a while, I creep into the house and walk in search of the thief. Still, there’s no one. A few minutes later, I hear someone say, “You, thief, go away.” It was me.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The Check’s Not In The Mail by Steve Sibra

My brother-in-law owes me cash.  He hated my sister’s pet skunk. She was gone and he called.

“Will you help me get rid of this skunk?”

“What’s the plan?”

“Kill the bastard with a hammer.”

“On my way.”

Turns out he didn’t have the heart.  He got weepy and made excuses; his wrist hurt, God would never forgive him.

I took the hammer to the skunk.  “Fifty bucks” I told him, then left.

If he doesn’t pay I’m going to work for his wife.

She called me. “Will you help me get rid of my husband?”

“Find the claw hammer.”

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Stop While On The Motorway by Nigel Quinian

I saw a cow crossing an overpass while driving on the motorway today. A second cow followed behind, and, with completely even spacing, a third. Their feet didn’t seem to move, or their heads, nor any part of them. I pulled over and climbed the slope until I reached the top, and saw an endless line of cows stretching down a straight road on either side of the overpass. Between each cow sunlight glistened on a connecting length of fishing wire. Over the sound of passing cars, I heard the squeaking of the casters on each hoof of each cow.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Law Unto Itself by Charles Hansmann

The junior litigator sang “glass ceiling” when “glass onion” came up on the karaoke screen. It was a Wednesday-night gathering of low-paid interns and first-year associates. She had the most seniority of anyone at the bar and was the de facto hostess. But a partner had upbraided her work as junior, and “Junior” had become her sobriquet. She complained to me about the assignments she drew and that their low-rung status kept her from rising. She said she’d been promised heftier work. In this mixed metaphor of height and weight I first heard her voice sound a cord of vulnerability.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Mothering by Steven Carr

In winter while the snow piled high on the streets, Molly would daily put on her heaviest coat and fur lined boots and pull a knit cap over her short hair and trudge through the slosh, arriving at her mother’s house in time to feed her mother’s canary. One day she arrived to feed the bird and found it dead on the bottom of its cage among birdseed and newspaper.

“What happened?” Molly asked.

“I killed it,” her mother said.

“You didn’t like your canary?” Molly asked.

“I loved the canary but I hate you visiting me,” her mother said.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

Up We Go by Steve Sibra

Kennedy was a clumsy child, prone to falls.  By junior high she was bored with falling down things, falling over, falling into.  One morning on a whim Kennedy decided, “Gravity sucks it.  From now on I am only going to fall up.”

Kennedy fell up stairs first, just to warm up.  Amused, she tripped and fell up a tree.  No one else could do it; they tried and hurt their necks. Angrily they ridiculed Kennedy.  She laughed in their faces.  “Up yours,” they said, so she did.  “Piss up a rope,” one mean girl said.  So Kennedy did that too.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The Trouble Is In My Head by Steve Sibra

I have problems because my head is a watermelon.  I can’t see where I am going.  If I try to kiss a girl I get slippery black seeds all over her blouse; so her dad hits me and splits me wide open.

“Stay away from my daughter, you slippery green son of a bitch.”

“Yes, sir,” I think but cannot say.

“And quit dripping red sugar water all over the carpet.”

“It’s not water, sir, it’s juice,” I fail to say.  “Also, you broke my head.”  Somehow he hears me.

“It’s water you toothless prick.”

“Yes, sir,” I don’t say.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast by Nicholas Froumis

The elderly man slowly shuffled to the booth near the back of the restaurant, supporting himself against each table along the way.   For 15 years, they ate breakfast every weekday in the exact same spot.  When the newly-hired waitress came by, he instinctively ordered two coffees.

“Are you expecting someone, sir?” she asked politely.

“She’s already here,” he answered, still staring straight ahead.

Confused, the waitress glanced across the restaurant in search of this mystery guest when the manager pulled her aside.

“Can that old man not see?” she questioned nervously out of earshot.

“Only what the heart wants now.”

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

Always Read The Label by Eve McDonnell

Morning roused with her squint-induced headache – she was homeward bound. With setting eyelids, she snapped the foil and released two. Shuffling to the drinks cabinet, her biro-warped fingers reached for the jangly handle. The bottles clinked. She checked dates on the 7up label and, in three urgent gulps, washed down the much needed chalky two. For years Peteen worked night-shift. Swore it took years off her life. In sleep-friendly light she’d treble-checked pillbox labels and long-lettered names on pouches dripping hope into the hopeful. Now, with eyes too wide she’d swallowed ten years at least – for it was Poteen, Peteen.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

Weighing Down by Jesse Bradley

Sweat trickles down my forehead, into my eyes. A blur of sun-bleached black crouches in front of me. The pastor grabs my chin, probably to make sure the sweat has blindfolded me. “Hold out your arms and open your hands,” he says. I keep my arms and hands steady as the fuses sizzle. Sparks sting my palms here and there. “Look for his message in and around what’s left of you,” the pastor reminds me. We were just playing, I’ll say when they find us. The pastor’s made sure there’s just enough of my dad’s beer on our breath.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

Searching for Mr. Bharath Seshardi by Ed Higgins

This tall, very blonde, very female, friend of mine–with a smile the moon and stars must take lessons from–texted me about her desperate airport misadventure flying from the West Coast. She got all the way to Cincinnati bound for New York before noticing she was not Mr. Bharath Seshardi, as her boarding pass declared. Also, as Mr. Seshardi, she was going on to Indianapolis rather than to Charlotte where she ultimately intended to go. She was writing me under confinement at Guantánamo. She has no idea where by now the NSA or CIA might have rendered Mr. Seshardi.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

Dignity by Judith Prescott

We check in, I feel so tired.  The journey was an ordeal but finally we have arrived.  She doesn’t want to be here, it’s for me and only me she has put her prejudices aside for, and I am grateful.
A meal which I do not eat and she pushes around the plate, conversation is difficult for us, we make some attempt.
Tomorrow cannot come soon enough for me.  For her?  She wants time to stop.
Now is the dawn of a new day, and I shall drink my last cocktail here in this clinic holding her hand in mine..

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

How The Zombies Saved The World by Nigel Quinlan

The dead woman catches me on a water run. My wife, my children haven’t had a drink in days. Her skin is like bark. She shakes her head and seeds drift down from her hair to infect me. Inside me, on me, things start to grow.

My fingers are mushrooms now. I taste them with the flowers in my eyes. I puff out breaths full of pollen and microbes. The hole in my gut leaks a torrent of insect life. My wife, my children are beside me. Every step we take through the wasteland, we leave a trail of life.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

Drum Circle by Marc Littman

My fellow musicians and I come alive between the rhythmic beats of the drum circle, losing our individual place in line but melding into a greater humanity. Thunderous ocean waves pound nature’s beat on the beach behind us. And we keep pace with our drums, our whistles, cowbells, tambourines and didgeridoos.

We’re a motley mix – young, old, white, black, brown, yellow and red. But as the caller in the center of the circle knocks three beats on his djembe drum, we all respond in unison until our faces blur, we breathe together and our spirits soar above the fray.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

Pointing Fingers by Giles Ward

‘Is GOD DEAD?’ your crappy board wants to know. I stare at you bemused, annoyed, angry, scoffing. How should I know? ‘We want to HOLD HANDS, not point FINGERS’, it says in poster paint scrawl underneath, like you’ve forgotten your own question and you are pointing your finger at me – straight down my throat. Like I killed the Man. “Well,” I demand, putting my hand up to silence the babbling from your mouth, “Is He?” And you, you say something that throws me. You say, “I’m not really sure.” And that does it. That answers it for me. I know.

The SHORT TALE 100 – SEPTEMBER 2016

 

 

 

Oblate by Clyde Liffey

I was born with an oblate head thrust from the womb to the bottom of the room.  Father picked me up, fondled my head tentatively.  It was too late to reshape:  I was too advanced or, more likely, too stubborn.  Mother groaned.  They couldn’t afford the surgery to ablate a decent crown or chin on me.  An imperfect sphere, structurally unfit to mix with my peers, I hankered for monkish life.  Father whimpered as I performed the final ablutions to join the order.  Late that night I shivered on a stone bench, already a failure, gazing at cold distant bodies.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

Learning To Spell by Olivia Hope

There are names in my reader for homework – Tim, Dan, Nora, Bernadette.
I read and write them easily.
The next day the teacher doesn’t ask us to write, instead she calls our name and we must spell out loud.
“Please not Bernadette,” I repeat to myself quietly.
She asks me that word.
I can read and write it. Her voice raises as I stand silent.
Letters are roughly scrawled on a blackboard, dust flying.
I am dragged up. Clasping my ponytail, she bangs my head off each letter, so the word will stick.
But I know how to spell it.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

My Name Is Joe by A. Joseph Black

I’ll tell him today. It’s ridiculous, really. Six years I’ve worked here and Bill the doorman calls me Brian.

“Morning Brian.”
“Soft oul day, Brian.”
“Good weekend Brian?”

Every freaking day.

“Bill, my name’s not Brian, it’s Joe.”

Now how hard is that? I’ll just tell him, put him straight. Today.

I approach the door. Bill sees me from inside and opens it before I reach it. Why’s he done that? He never does that.

“Morning Brian.”

“Bill – “

“Yes Brian?”

“I…it’s just…I wanted to tell you…to say…”

“C’mon now Brian, spit it out.”

“…thanks.”

“You’re welcome, Brian. You’re welcome.”

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

Grounded Until The End Of The World by Daniel Soule

My sister’s a zombie and wants to kill me: not much has changed. Mum and Dad aren’t much help, being zombies too. I’m locked in my room, grounded.

Was it God or a virus? I blame Davy Pitts, that scrotum in year eleven, his tongue constantly down my sister’s throat. Barely kept the snot in his nose yesterday. Didn’t stop them eating their faces off at dinner though. I nearly puked over my Chicken Kiev. He infected Jenny. Mum got bitten after grounding me. Which explains why I’m up here alive and they’re downstairs moping around like the walking dead.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

It’ll Be Winter Soon by Giles Ward

She looked across my lawn and pitched me a thin smile. She took the tea I offered her and perched on the edge of her chair. You could see she wanted to say something more. A sprig of my lavender sat on her knee. It’s diseased she had told me. She gazed beyond me, “I’ve planted ground based shrubs to make it easier to weed. I want to sit and enjoy my garden.” I saw her point of course. I considered my alternatives. “If that’s what you want, good for you.” I said, returning her smile. It’ll be winter soon.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

 

Hatched by E.R. Murray

Emperor Penguins, my distinguished colleagues told me, had no business mixing their DNA with humans. Absolutely not! Ludicrous! What could they offer the human race?

But when men started dying, they stopped laughing. Asked questions too late.

The plan was perfect: women conceived, transplanted the fetus and the men went full term with a penguin’s dedication to its young. But without funding, what did they expect?

Now, a focused team, some risky tweaks: at last, someone is listening.

Serum secured firmly in a 100ml travel bottle, I pass easily through airport security. My step unhurried, like I’m gliding on ice.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

Surely by B.T. Stanwitz

Do others think as he thinks, he thinks. Surely, if they did, the streets would be impassable with stumbling bodies flapping their arms in the air like wind-tattered flags, their throats retching all-manner of inhuman wails. Surely, there’d be mothers with babies folded at their chests sobbing in doorways. Surely, they’d be fathers punching walls and grabbing the collars of preaching philosophers, shaking the answers from their mouths. Surely, no one would care again for pennies and things, and no-one would rest until the answers hung in neon from the city’s highest buildings: That’s what he thinks, he thinks. Surely.

 

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

You Look Like You’ve Forgotten Something by Clare Meadows

“You look like you’ve forgotten something,” he says to his friend.

“I’ve forgotten what I was going to talk to you about. If you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah, I do know what you mean and don’t worry about it.”

“I can’t remember what I was going to say to you.”

“Well forgetfulness is part and parcel of life I’m afraid to say and even young ones they bloody suffer from it to be honest with you.” He places his hand gently on his friend’s. “But anyway there, we’ve got more to remember apart from anything else, haven’t we?”

 

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

Lying Is No Accident by Giles Ward

Lying is no accident. We choose to lie. Lying is – to use the Duty Solicitor’s bullshit-blabber – premeditated. Things happen or they don’t. I don’t lie.

No tepid tea will change that. And they can play their head-games and mumble their gag-rending spittle as much as they like. And they can look for reasons. And pretend to tip their ears to listen. But they won’t hear anything.

They’re lying: They DO NOT understand.

And that lying, that’s no accident – that’s premeditated.

So I won’t play. I won’t lie.

“So, since you ask, no – it wasn’t an accident.”

 

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016

 

 

Sound Awake by Giles Ward

It’s the piglet-pinched squeal of a bus that wakes me: I hear school kids on a trip. I hear the plastic of bags toyed by the breeze. I hear the schizoid rattle of pushchairs; the urgent call of a tune from a bag; the guttural grind of a Hi-Vis crew. I hear a small child’s delight in an imaginary-world. I hear the piling of cups at a coffee shop counter; the business of heels, coins in a pocket, fashionista beats; I hear dub mix chatter from left ear to right and I know, I know, I’m awake – sound awake.

The SHORT TALE 100 – AUGUST 2016