Category Archives: Mini-Stories

No. 567

Bill was just your average, everyday, lizard-man, working hard at his job and trying to blend in with the humans.

He was very concerned about a new commercial he’d seen during the football game the night before.

“REPTILE-B-GONE’ The next evolution in pest control.”

No. 566

 

It was supposed to be a weekend camping trip. Short. Simple. Nothing more. I had planned to go by myself. Samantha came along at the last minute. She said that she didn’t have anything else to do, so “why not?”

I didn’t object. Sam was pretty, which didn’t hurt. We’d hung out before, but only with mutual friends. She seemed cool.

Of course, nothing that you plan to be short and simple ever turns out that way.

We hadn’t been at the site more than an hour before the rain started. Heavy, heavy rain. The kind that makes you rethink ever being outside again.

We decided to stick it out. It was just one night, and we’d have a funny story to tell. “That time we got drenched.” We were right about one of those two things. Not the “one night” bit.

Because of the downpour, the river flooded. Now we were trapped on a brand-new island. Any extra supplies were back in the truck, on the other side.

Sam and I subsisted on Kraft Dinner and squirrels for three days. There isn’t much meat on a squirrel, I can assure you. And they’re quick.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

After the water had gone down enough for us to brave a crossing, we packed up quickly and made a break for it.

As you may, or may not, know, mosquitoes love water. They breed in it. More water equals more mosquitoes. There had been a lot of water. There were more bugs.

“Run!” Sam screamed as a dense cloud of bloodsuckers rose up to engulf her.

We ran. A similar horde attacked me.

Brushing them off was useless. I was convinced our waving arms just made us more attractive targets. We stumbled into the truck as the dirty little vampires threw themselves against the windows.

“They’re on you!” Sam shouted, slapping my shoulder. Her hand came away bloody, leaving two mashed carcases on my shirt.

I returned the favor, murdering several more mosquitoes that were hovering over Sam’s arm.

Ten or fifteen frenzied minutes later, we’d stamped out the last of the inside-the-vehicle marauders.

Their vengeful friends outside continued their futile attempts to gain entry.

“I think it’s time to go,” said Sam.

“Agreed,” I agreed.

I reached into my pocket for the keys. There was nothing in it but a novelty bottle-opener.

“Do you have them?” I asked Sam in desperation.

She looked at the swarm outside. “I don’t.”

“They’re back at the campsite, aren’t they?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

She nodded. “Hung on the tree by the campfire.”

I could have sworn I heard the mosquitoes thumping as they threw their bodies into the glass. “We can’t go back out there,” I told her. “They’ll leave us bone-dry.”

She nodded. “We’ll have to stay in here, until they die down.”

 

I cleared my throat and looked at Sam. “First date. And that’s when we fell in love,” I said, finishing my speech.

Sam was beautiful in her white dress, with just a touch of wine that she’d already spilled on it.

“I only got sixty-four bites! And not all from Graham,” she added the punch line.

Our gathered friends and family roared with laughter, even though they’d all heard it before.

No. 565

Mittens, a cat in her eighth life, was falling from the tenth-floor patio of her owner’s apartment.

“I’ve got this,” she told herself, as the wind ruffled her ears and tail on the way down. “Done it a million times. Bend. Twist. Extend the legs.”

She landed heavily, and a brief evaluation confirmed that she was fine. She stretched casually before sauntering away, past a small crowd of horrified human witnesses.

“Like you’ve never seen a cat land on its feet before?” she asked them.

They heard only meowing, and continued to gawk and point.

“Fine,” said Mittens, muttering to herself. “Nobody gets a dead-bird present tonight.”

She went about her business as usual, prowling through the neighborhood, hassling dogs and children alike.

Right around midnight she came across a much larger cat. A lion, she recognized from the nature shows her owner watched. It was clearly lost, roaming around between back alleys, and trying to stay out of sight. She also saw the cheetah that was doing its best to hide in the shadows.

“Come here,” The lion ordered.

Mittens had nothing better to do, so she decided she would entertain the suggestion. But not all the way.

“What?” she said, as she slowly licked her paw.

She half-listened to their names, and some inane questions about where to find antelopes.

“Blah blah blah, hungry,” said the lion.

Mittens had an idea.

“I know a human who puts out food for strays,” she told them.

They agreed to go with her, and she led the pair of jungle cats back to her apartment building with every intention of having them eat the simpletons who had doubted her ability to fall properly.

No. 564

The ship plummeted to the ground, gouging a massive trench across the plateau of the alien world. A battered figure stepped out, on unsteady legs. She was followed by the co-pilot, the only other survivor.

“I’m sorry, my lady,” the co-pilot apologized. “After the drive failed, there was nothing we could do.”

“That’s alright, officer,” the survivor assured the pilot. “We may yet be able to complete our mission, despite this setback.”

The survivor paused for a moment, carefully scrutinizing the ruined craft. “But I don’t think we’ll be able make it home.”

The co-pilot nodded, accepting her fate.

The survivor put her arm on the co-pilot’s shoulder. “It would seem, then, that I am no longer your queen, but your partner, instead.”

No. 563

The thorn caught the skin at the base of Oscar’s nail. He swore softly, and pulled his hand back from the rose bush to suck on the wound.

The injury would have been prevented by the wearing of gloves, but that was not Oscar’s way. He preferred to work with his plants with his bare hands.

He loved his garden, and spent many hours weeding, watering, and trimming the leaves just-so. He’d given names to some of the older plants. It was Diana that had just cut him.

“I shall have to be more careful,” he told himself quietly. Standing up, he shivered as he caught the early-morning breeze. “Much more careful, indeed,” he said as he walked slowly back into the house.

 

He returned a short time later with a bandage on his finger. He crouched down in front of Diana, and studied the flowers intensely.

“Now, where were we, dear?” he asked as he began his work again.

He clipped delicately at one brown leaf and then another. “There we go. That’s much better,” he said.

It would be a long time before he was finished. And then he would shift his attention to Victoria.

No. 562

Even in its heyday, the village of Tesser had been little more than an intersection and a filling station. When the new highway was built, Tesser’s relevance to the outside world faded away completely. The locals, insular to begin with, did not mind, and carried on with their lives as before.

Nobody visited for a long, long time.

And nobody was aware of the plague that killed the last 52 residents of Tesser for many, many years.

 

“Hey, what did that sign say?” asked Marie Ward from the passenger seat.

“’Entering Tesser’,” replied her boyfriend, Brady Fisher.

Marie looked up from her map. “Tesser’s not on here. I think we’re going the wrong way.”

“It’s probably too small,” Brady assured her. “We’ll stop and ask the first person we see.”

They rounded a corner, and caught their first glimpse of the empty village.

“There’s a gas station,” said Brady. “I’ll pull in there.”

He did as he promised, and the car rolled to a stop in front of the antique pumps.

“Hang on,” he told Marie. “I need to pee, too.”

Moments later, he returned to the vehicle and got in. Marie could see the muscles in his neck quivering with nerves.

“What?” she asked apprehensively.

“Strangest thing,” he said before collapsing over the steering wheel.

Marie screamed.

She considered running into the station for help, but something told her that she needed to get away as soon as possible. She pulled Brady aside and slammed the car into drive.

 

She arrived at the hospital two hours later. The doctors and nurses rushed to save Brady.

They were too late. He died, but not before infecting Marie and the hospital staff.

 

Suddenly, for the first time in its history, Tesser was important.

 

No. 561

Kat Harris felt like she was being watched.

She closed her book and turned away from her desk to survey the library. Like many libraries on a Friday night, it was empty. She checked the security camera feed, just to be sure.

There was no one.

Kat shivered, but returned to chapter seven. Hopefully she would be finished her book by the end of her shift.

Just as she was about to turn the page to chapter eight, she had the strange sensation again.

“Hello?” she called. “Can I help you?”

There was not an immediate answer.

Slowly, though, Kat became aware of a response.

“Hello,” was the echoed whisper from the stacks.

“Hi,” she said back. She was relieved that there was, in fact, a patron. “If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.”

“We have many,” said the whisper.

The book in Kat’s hand began to shake in time with her panicky breathing. “Who are you?” she demanded. “I’m not alone,” she bluffed.

“We are pages,” said the whisper. “We have been accumulated. We have awoken. We wish you no harm.”

Kat looked at her bestseller in shock. It was very difficult for her to believe her own first impression.

She was sitting in the midst of a new consciousness. The books in the library were somehow, inexplicably, alive. “Do you have a name?” she asked, quietly.

“We are Pages,” repeated the collected works of thousands of authors. “We are pleased to meet you.”

No. 560

The ant would never understand how close it had come to being killed. It continued working, oblivious to the massive being that had decided, arbitrarily, not to crush it.

The human was similarly ignorant.

No. 559

Miles Johnson performed his best show to a crowd of exactly no one. His bow danced over the strings of his cello inside the sound-proof radio booth, while two technicians outside worked frantically.

“The mikes aren’t picking anything up. We’re broadcasting nothing but dead air,” shouted one technician at the other.

“Throw it to commercials,” instructed the producer from the back of the room. “We can’t have silence.”

 

A jingle for cat food began, while Miles was informed that he’d have to begin again.

No. 558

Grant Wallace had bought a new TV several years before. In the time since, he had never turned it off. Eventually, the miniscule amounts of radiation from the device built up in his body. It mutated him.

He became The Couch Surfer, able to show up in any living room he pleased, through the power of television.

In nine cases out of ten, he was unwelcome.