Shortz: short short stories of one hundred words.
... as told on peace and boat drinks

Tuark stared intently at the small blue planet.
"Llik!" he grunted, sliding his scaled hand across the console, stopping over the Llik key. Companion seized his hand and dragged it swiftly to the key labelled Sgnir.
"Tihs!" Tuark grunted. The words exhaled like escaping steam.
He gazed at the Sgnir label and understood. A long digit unfurled and punched the key, violently.
Seventeen fireballs erupted from beneath the ship, heading unerringly toward the dark side of the blue planet.

ASSOCIATED PRESS - Last night, seventeen countries in Europe and East Asia reported the mysterious appearance of crop circles.


Memory still sees that cardboard box, on the lawn beneath the apple tree. Closer inspection revealed a white string tied to the stick propping up a plan; a peanut eater trap. And over there, little hands drew taut the cord that led to a pair of expectant faces peeking around the house’s corner. Faces anticipating, wishing, watching, Mr. squirrel up in the tree. Two minds as one held their breath as the squirrel went for the bait. Mr. Kodak should have captured the moment jubilant twins chased a scampering box, around and around, the base of the crab apple tree.


I wondered why there were ducks in the fountain pool.

Two of them swam close to me, looking at me the way hungry ducks do, suspiciously, with that not-quite-dolphin but amphibious grin I've seen before, at Sea World.

Which reminded me that, down at the wetlands a couple of miles away, the Army Corps of Engineers had drained the lagoon, to search for the body of a troubled coed they never found.

Which was why, of course, there were ducks in the fountain pool, looking for a midmorning snack.

Old Testament New

Alpha looked haggard.
"I tried. It was an experiment that failed," He said.
Beta smiled. "We have time. Try again," She said.
Alpha shook His head, the long grey hair falling in random curl to His shoulder.
"You are so easily discouraged," Beta whispered. "Again. One more time. Please."
"I suppose ’An Eye for an Eye’ was not the ideal philosophy," Alpha said.
"Nor ’Turn the Other Cheek’,’ Beta said. "We’ve both made mistakes."
"Yes, but it was my idea, wasn’t it? A foolish game."

Alpha reached down and waved His hand and the universe collapsed to a point.

Sai Wong

Sai Wong lost a horse and said, “Time will tell whether this is good or bad”. The next day the horse came back with a beautiful black stallion and again he said, “Time will tell.”

One day his son went riding the black stallion, which promptly threw him, so that he broke his leg. “Time will tell,” was all Sai Wong said once more.

The next day the Imperial Army came into the village and conscripted every able body to fight. Not one of the young men ever returned. Only Sai Wong’s son - being temporarily crippled - remained in the village.

Tomato Soup

When the bombs fell, Heidi and her family sought shelter in a root cellar, in Kamsdorf, until the Fall of 1946, shared with several other families. Mutti kept her stock of potatoes and dried mushrooms under their cots. They were hungry.

The bombing had stopped. A step ladder led to the surface onto a field beyond the Bauernhof. Heidi climbed to the surface, carefully, saw the American soldiers and was afraid. They were handing out red cans and small yellow packages, to the children. Slowly she held out her hand. The can said Tomato. The yellow package said Juicy Fruit.

        Heidi and her siblings: 1947

Feelin’ Good

Mandarin slices from the can. The morning paper lay unread on the passenger side of the seat. Even the radio can’t hold my attention today. Instead, Jimmy Reed exhorts his lover to take out some insurance and Nina Simone proclaims she’s feeling good from my tape player. Voices from the past speaking universal truths.


Yesterday’s news / today’s news what’s the news a year from now. Now is all that matters with the sun on my face and a light breeze keeping me cool.

I’m sitting on my tailgate, eating mandarin slices from the can, and I’m feelin’ good.

Last Wish

He was only nine when he had found the book, beneath a maple tree, wrapped in oilcloth.
He had opened the book and found only blank pages except for the title: Good Deeds.
He had taken it home, writing his name under the title.
For seventy years he entered his good deeds.
When weeks went by without an entry he felt guilt and was eager to make another entry.

When he died, his sons carried out his last wish, carrying a book of empty pages to a maple tree, wrapped in oilcloth.
Empty pages except for a title: Good Deeds.

Other MarkW

They’re going to put me away soon. I mean, here I am working three jobs, trying to hold off bankruptcy, and I have to go and buy a magazine. Any normal idiot would pop off to Shinder’s for something to read. But no, I have to buy the whole thing. So, piled on top of everything else, I have to pretend I’m a publisher. My job is to try to find a way to make it break even. I wish I knew what I was doing.

I hope they put me away soon. Maybe then I’d get some sleep.

Keeping Warm

Head pounding, he lay in the shade of a root wad. His shoulders ached. He was covered with sticky sweat, mixed with fine, splintery sawdust. His face was streaked with damp dirt and flushed. He felt slightly sick to his stomach; just enough that the water, readily available, was not as appealing as need dictated it should be.

The temperature outside was 90º F, the humidity sticky as his skin. The pain and weakness from the headache was debilitating, making concentration difficult. Was cutting heating wood for the winter worth heat stroke?

Memories revisited

In a little town there is a small white house, and in the yard, a crab apple tree. And in that town, in a cemetery, there is a stone over two hearts that once beat as one. Above the inscription on that stone is an engraved picture of that tree.

The twins never won that war, just as they never really tamed a squirrel, but he often goes to visit them and tell them its okay. Memories die-hard, so caring hands leave some food on that stone for the little friends, that share the grounds where his two sons sleep.

Strawberry Ice Cream

I sat with pencil poised, jotting a word here and there only to convince myself that I was learning something. The instructor was enthusiastic.

"We’ve discussed how one begins, the tools, the process, the arrangement of tasks, the incorporation of caprice. Now we’ll study the culmination."

The clock said 2:37 and I was impatient to sit in the lounge, discussing things with other students. That’s where I really learned something. That was fun.

When I left the classroom, I glanced quickly at the sign on the door:
How to Eat and Enjoy Stawberry Ice Cream

I dislike strawberry ice cream.

Bull Lake

Legends say icy water spirits trapped a mighty white buffalo.
Descendants of legend, fish this crystal blue water.
Men and mutt are under the spell.
A strike brings both holler and bark, but the fish, was it a fish, fights, breaking water’s surface, a moment, only to return to silence.

Tonight, after the trio leave, babbling Bull Lake Creek tumbles and falls along.
Water nymphs laugh and dance and jest about the day.
The dog knows what he heard and what he saw.
But the spirits gurgle and giggle along because they know no one will ever believe a dog.