Friday, October 27, 2017

Flash fiction contest: The Usual Santas (Soho Press)

Hard not to feel homicidal about Christmas, right?

The folks at Soho Press feel your pain.

This wonderful anthology includes a story by Gary Corby along with stories from other amazing authors in the Soho lineup.

And it's gotten some terrific reviews

“I wished the book would never end, so I didn't finish it. ”
                                                                           --Tim Hallinan

                       "Buy this book or else. We know where you live"
                                                                --Lene Kaaberbpol

"Nothing says Christmas like a story from a guy named Goldberg"
                                                                       --Tod Goldberg

Of course you want to win a copy!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
thus Soho/sohobo is ok, but caper/crapper is not

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: 9am, Saturday, 10/28/17

Contest closes: 9am, Sunday, 10/29/17

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

Oops. Too late! Contest closed.


Fearless Reider said...


18 minutes and 1 more query ‘til lunch. “Dear Ag—”

“Looks like you’re writing a letter. Can I help?”

Can’t be. I blink.

Still there. Onscreen a tiny shark taps her fin. “Wanna finish or try later?”

Time to escape reality; my mind’s got a head start. “Hey, Siri. Directions to Aurora Soho.”

“Siri can’t come to the phone. Spring Lounge has stronger cocktails, and sharks!”

I spot the calendar on my way out. “Alexa, add candy to shopping list.”

“She’s history. Adding booze, cookies, fruit.”

“You can go away now.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, chum.”

Amy Johnson said...

Sneak snowball attacks on the little guys had become banal.

“Perhaps try something new,” suggested Nick’s wife.

The Plan: 18 holes with Ears and Toothy in Myrtle Beach.

‘Twas so hot, Nick shaved off his beard and donned Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Unrecognizable, nobody asked him for anything. “How refreshing! Best trip ever!”

But calamity ensued. Long story short, Nick refused a handicap ere he drove out of sight.

“I’ll never find that ball.”

Laying his finger aside of his nose, Nick considered all he had left behind. Dasher, Dancer, Blitzen. “New plan! I’ll join in their games!”

Timothy Lowe said...

Gammy had a gift for making long stories short.

“Likely story!” she cawed when Grandpa noticed strange smells on their 18 acres.

“Cock-and-bull story!” she cackled when he observed declinations in the soil, the ground so hollowed out it collapsed.

“Bedtime story!” she shouted when his imagination conjured a billion dollar reservoir.

Finally, exasperated, he served her papers which she signed.

“Sob story,” she muttered. That night, while digging a hole in the cellar, a madcap eruption of black gold spewed at her feet.

After the sale, we asked Gammy what happened to Grandpa.

“Long story,” was all she said.

Craig F said...

It is a sad story, a life cut short at 18 years. He must have been involved in some caper, the area is so homicidal.

Two days later a young woman also dies. Cops saturate the area while media screams.

A week later a boy steps off a bus, bang. Same clue, an anonymous video figure.

Gun and hoodie in her trunk, the outgoing call forwarded, my voice and phone # disguised by scammers apps, I confessed in her name.

I am sorry for those deaths but you have to break some eggs to whip up the outrage she deserved.

shtrum said...

“It’s a 218,” the rookie said.
“You mean 217,” her partner corrected. “Assault with a deadly weapon. So what’s the perp’s story?”
“Well, once he stopped with the damn hosohosohos, he claimed he and his buddy were just delivering presents. Then they got into some eggnog and cookies.”
The detective picked one up and sniffed. “Holy mother of . . . these aren’t chocolate chips.”
“No sir. Capers. Homeowner was trying a new recipe.”
“Shit,” he chuckled. “No wonder he went after her with that deerwhip. And the short one? Green hat, long ears?”
“We’re still looking for him.”

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I walked by the yellow Victorian. Counted the cats.
Always 17.
Counted again.
The door was open. It was never open.
I walked up the stairs. I entered the house.
“Miss Fish?” I called.
I searched each story. The basement.
In the kitchen 18 bowls.
18 pairs of jewel colored eyes.
The pride capered around an elegant black cat with emerald eyes.
On the counter a short statement.
The Will of Arabella Fish.
“I leave my property to the person feeding these cats.”
I looked down. The black cat smiled.
“So, how do you like your tuna, my darlings?”

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I was short on time after a Soho delivery when the guy stepped right in front of my bike, hand up. Silver at his temples, real nice suit, thick gold rings that black knuckle hairs grew over. “I wonder if you could help me find a place?”

What, your GPS broke? “What are you looking for?”

“Story-18 used to be around here. Had the best Beef Lo Mein.” He had yellow eyes.

Yeah, if you like capers where they don’t belong. “They closed last year.”

“It’s always the best places.” He shook his head and walked off in the rain.

Unknown said...

So hot. Always am 18-20 minutes into a jog.

But I forget the sweat, when the rustling leaves shadow me. More than a short way.

Droopy hemlocks veil the culprit.

I stop. It stops. I go. It goes.

Falling acorns sound like bombs in the leaf litter.

There's a heaviness to the crackling. Too heavy for capering squirrels.

Black bear? Unlikely.

Man? He'll have a rifle.

I stop again. It stops.

Don't. Be. Prey. "Fuck off already!"

A hideous, oblong face parts the hemlock, a story up.

"Oh! Hi moosey."

He comes right at me. Time for sprints.

Jason said...

This entry will be short since I have to leave in 18 minutes. I need to see my kids, though why I can’t is a whole other story. It’s Christmas, and my ex-wife can’t take that away from them—or me. I will tiptoe through the house, place gifts under the tree, and watch them sleep for a moment before I leave, caper complete. I will not look at her, for she disgusts me, and is the reason for this situation. I’d love to leave a can of gasohol under her bed. Everything I do is for my children.

Unknown said...

Cowering back, hands raised to fend off the hellish glare of the bright light, he stands his ground, attempting to quell the anger before him.

“It runs on gasohol, it's roomy, with heated seats.” Defiantly stepping forward, taking charge.

The snort of derision stops him mid-stride. They come ahead, menacing, forcing him to caper back against the open top limo. There were 18 of them, they'd brought family. Their leader steps forward, lowering his head, dimming the light.

“Long story short, Santa, you gonna ride this year, or walk?”

CynthiaMc said...

"So how are you, Major?"

"Short and sassy. What's your story, Doc?"

I was the good girl.

Todd was the bad boy my parents warned me about.

We were 18. Invincible - except for them.

"Marry me, Jen."

"I can't."

"You can't escape romance."

Todd went to war with the Few, the Proud.

I went to medical school.

"Afghanistan's a long way from home," I said.

"Yet here we are. Thanks for saving my leg."

"My pleasure. Sorry about the other one."

"War's hell. No regrets. You?"

He wasn't wearing a ring.

"Just one. I should've said yes."

"Marry me, Jen."

Claire Bobrow said...

He would write a novel –
slim, but not slight.
18 protagonists, crime caper, sort of an Ocean’s Eleven meets Robert Altman.
Set in Soho – but the London one!
My god, it was going to be brilliant.
The widow!
No. Scratch that.
The waiter.
Yes – the waiter!
So freaking good.
No, wait. Wasn’t there a novel last year about a waiter?
The woodsman. Yes, a woodsman!
Are there woodsmen in Soho?
Brooklyn maybe.
The wastrel? Interesting word.
A revenge story, short and sweet.
“The writer dropped the knife, ‘wastrel’ dying on his mother’s lips.”

Anonymous said...

You up?

Am now. What’s up?

Need your help with story research.
Is it plausible for someone awake on the second floor to not hear someone sneaking down their chimney?

Why would a burglar use the chimney?

Saves him picking the lock.
Also he has a Santa fetish.

Of course.

So it’s like 18’ down a chimney. Shorter than I thought.

Hey, can I borrow your red cap?

, sure.

Sweet! Thanks!

So, how does this help with your research?

Experiment. You can go back to sleep now.
BTW, your chimney is filthy.

Kregger said...

“I hate Christmas.” My handcuffs chafed.

“Well, G.R., Who doesn’t.”

“I’m green with envy.” I evolved my story. “Not the dye pack.”

“Get over it.” The guard capered along. “You’re 18 now, grow up.”

“It’s all that singing, noise and merriment, it drives me bat-shit.”

“Tell it to the judge.”

I stood before her honor, like a rain-drenched werewolf in Soho.

“Mr. Inch,” she banged the gavel. “Tell me a short story.”

I did a counter-clockwise Linda Blair and kicked off my shoes. “I’ve got a tiny heart?”

“How graphic. Thirty days…”

I turned away.

“…and return the presents.”

Colin Smith said...

Sloan painted the prints, fabricated the photographs, made it look like 18. But there were 50 of us. Fifty men and women, leading the protest. Charging the gates.

Borge wrote the song. Made it sound like a farce. A comedy. No real threat. But we nearly beat them down. Caught them short. Didn’t expect we’d be so hot for a fight.

Hugo told of a just execution of treasonous thugs. It was a massacre. Brought in an army against fifty civilians. No escape. Routed.

But that’s what the world believes.

As they say, history is always written by the Victors.

Steve Forti said...

I passed my first test with flying colors. 2 blue lines, not 1.
months later, I still was aces. 10 fingers, 10 toes. Perfect.
In first grade, I got a B+ in history. Not perfect, still good.
SATs went so-so. Homeboy still got in.
Can’t pronounce these tests. But to recap, ER doc says positive is bad.
Tests of strength, tests of courage, tests of love. Some failed, some waffled, some strengthened.
More unpronounceables. Never thought a negative could be so positive.
Now my time is short. I hope ole Pete feels I squeaked by on my final test.

Nate Wilson said...

At birth, I was the healthy one. They doted on Johnny. I got passed off to relatives, neighbors.

In school, any improvement earned Johnny raves. My A's went unnoticed. I became a praisoholic, seeking accolades from teachers, coaches, total strangers. The thrill was always short-lived.

At 18, funds were tight. Guess who went to college.

I started my own business, yet it was always "Johnny's an architect." No love for Jake the landscaper.

Then, Christmas morning. They roused him, got him out before the house burned down. Me? They figured I'd make it on my own.

Story of my life.

Beth Carpenter said...

Exactly 18 capers in each serving of chicken piccata. Two chocolate-covered shortbread cookies apiece. I hate capers, but fair is fair.

I want a first base mitt. Sis asks Santa for a Barbie convertible. So, ho, ho, ho, I get an infield glove that costs the same as a doll car. Fair is fair.

Two accounting degrees. We both get jobs. I want more. Maintain a second set of books. Take home loads of extra cash. For a while.

Correctional cook tells me, “Put exactly 3 cherries in each cup of fruit cocktail. Fair is fair.”

Story of my life.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

“So, how do we know which one is the leader?” I adjusted my cap. “Eradicate them all?”

“No,” replied the bone hunter. “The Storyteller is missing some feathers. Bare skin forms the number eighteen.”

We scanned the murder of crows. Their raucous cawing filled the air as they hopped from limb to limb.

“There!” I pointed. 18. “What’s it mean?” I asked.

“Eight teenagers. Limb to limb.”

We watched in horror as feathers sprouted from The Storyteller’s shoulder, changing 18 into 19.

“Dear, God.” The bone hunter rubbed a hand across the short stubble on his chin. “Now, it’s nine.”

Dena Pawling said...

There once was a lady named Erica
Perchance traveled here to America
Where persons unknown
Confiscated her phone
And now she's entirely hysterica'

Phoneless Erica she went a-walking
Thru America without a-talking
She saw people a-smiling
A-talking, a-dialing
So Erica she went a-stalking

She followed behind a short fellow
Who into his phone he said “hello”
She stabbed and she shoved
And she grabbed what she loved
Then she hustled away with a bellow

We all know she's not so adorable
And definitely she's oh-so horrible
The story does end
With her sentenced to spend
18 years inside prison deplorable

RosannaM said...

News that the records are unsealed horrify me.
My name’s in there.
Sure, not on the short list, maybe not even on the long list.
But mentioned. Investigated by the alphabet soup agencies.

Dismissed as an unlikely suspect then,
now journalists and conspiracists will ferret me out and gnaw for answers.
Of 18 people in the know, I’m the last living.

So how did I get away when escape routes were barricaded?
Sobbed my eyewitness story and went home with my mother.

No one thinks a fifteen-year-old girl
can be turned into an asset, and I can’t ever tell how.

dsw said...


A highly auspicious number in China, the symbol of life in Hebrew.

The age of majority, but much too young for the lesson Sylvia endured.

Is it too old for forgiveness?

Although equally young, the short landscaper’s assistant is powerful, wet muscles gleaming in the fading light as he strains in the dirt.

I cannot forgive---he’s old enough to know that “no” means “no.”

I believe my daughter’s version.

A match flares in the dark.

Screw symbolism---he’s history.

I step back from the edge of the pit and flick the match into the gasohol.

Marie McKay said...

Even within a short time the sand triggers my allergies. I sit hacking at the sea, watching godlike creatures acting out their beautiful story: capering, switching from land to water on polystyrene pedestals. And I don't know what -awe or  jealousy- keeps me there, while my lungs grow so hot.
I spot one who's further out than the rest. He's 18, maybe.
He's in distress. The water spits and pulls at him: his body a sporadic hieroglyph of SOS.
A wave of adrenalin crashes at my ears. I am on my feet. Quick. Ready to react...

But then I don't.

Mallory Love said...

Blind Date # 18
Location: An upscale wine bar in Soho
The Prospect: a corporate executive; a little on the short side, but cute
The Conversation (on the record):
“So, Beautiful, what’s your story?”
“Well, I’m thirty, never married, but looking for something serious. You?”
“Are you from around he-"
His phone buzzes and flashes a name-Erica. Personally, I think it’s rude, but wave him on as he leaves the table to answer it.
Ten minutes later, he returns.
“So where were we?”
We settle into comfortable chatter and kiss goodbye.

Afterwards, I call Erica. Another cheating husband caught.

Megan V said...

Rain rapped against the windowpane like a burlesque romp in 1918 SoHo. The booze was chilling. The music was hot. But the party hadn’t started when the clock struck seven.
That’s when he arrived.
Thick glasses. Short legs. Cape redder than squashed tomatoes.
I’d put out adverts for a hero. Figured that might pull in more dames for my soiree.
But this guy?
An impostor. No ifs, ands, or buts—this bagman wasn’t Clark Kent.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
But I knew why he’d come.
“Twick or Tweat,” he said, all too impostor-y cute.
And my chocolate vanished.

Steph Ellis said...

So horrible. 18 dead. The landscaper made a complete botch job of it. Are you sure he’s a qualified tree-surgeon?”

“Well, he said he knew how to cut things down to size.”

They gazed at the mass of ancient oak and crushed bodies, at life cut short.

“Not a story we want to get out is it, old chap?”

“No … and it looks as though he’s not finished yet.”

“He’s a bit near isn’t he?”

“I’m sure we’re perfectly safe.”

“I don’t think he’s seen us.”

“Of course he has. Oh, oh b …”

Mike Hays said...

F-ing rain.
And I got to walk home.
And it ain’t a short walk.
Should I wait for Banksy and catch a ride with his basketball boys?
Don’t need no more madcap, caper bullshit with him.
That’s always the story with Banksy.
I look out the door.
F-ing pouring.
I step outside and exhale.
I walk calm and cool like I’m fighting nature or something.
I think of that song Dad sings when he’s wasted.
Some dumbass song from when he was 18 or something.
“Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.”
F-you, rain!

french sojourn said...

New Soho Station; [Orbiting base]; Cassiopeia Minor, 18:08-11.8.2199 AD

LOG>IN-I.D.########-confirmed. ARCHANGEL ADMIN/#######-confirmed.
Message received:

QUERY[admin:level6]:CONFIRM DATE/CARBON TEST[elypsebandstat]/END>


Internal;codecheck…withdraw protocols:


Internal;codecheck…withdraw protocols:


Internal;codecheck…withdraw protocols:

CODE:default scramble channel/ shift to transponder two:

Gingermollymarilyn said...

“So, honey, what’s your name?”
“What do you want for Christmas?”
“Escape Renegade and the Ariana doll.”
“Emma, you’re on the Naughty List. Lying to your mommy, quite the storyteller, I see. Only 18 days till Christmas, help Santa, and you’re on the Good List. Santa’s been eating too many shortbread cookies and can’t fit down the chimney. Do you know what code your mommy uses to get in your house?"
“Yes, 2011, when I was born.”
“Don’t tell mommy our secret or else you’re on the Naughty List again.”
“Yes, Santa.”

This year, Santa’s gonna be getting.

npholland said...

“So Holly,” she said to herself, “Here you are again. Another Christmas.”

She looked down from the ledge she was sitting on.

“18 floors up. 18 years. 18 Christmases.”

She could escape right here, right now. He wouldn’t even care.

She looked at the marks on her wrists, a reminder of her fear of commitment, her fear of what it meant, her failure to escape.

She placed her hands on her slight belly.

“It won’t happen to you. I won’t let it,” she whispered. “Yours will be a short story.”

Winds blew as the ledge grew farther away above her.

Unknown said...

It was a short story.

Two pink lines. Sparkling eyes.
Capers on her spaghetti. Pickles in her yogurt.
Lazy mornings whispering names. Serena. Stephen.
Trips to Soho to visit pastel boutiques with the softest clothes.
Counting the weeks. 15. 16. 17. 18.

It was meant to be longer, but that's where it ended. It was a short story.

Matt said...

At 18, she was all potential. Short on experience, long on drive. So hopeful.

Time has not been kind.

She can’t get up anymore, so I bring warm water and wash her hair. Gently, though. Clumps come out in my hands if I’m not careful. Then lipstick. That wine color she kept in her purse. It suits her.

Time to go; our story’s over. I untangle myself. One last kiss before my escape.

Remember when you love someone, you take a piece of them with you.

Perhaps I should this time, just to hold me over.

Anonymous said...

"Just one more house, honey. Please?"
"We've seen six already," he replied, short-tempered.
"I'm so hoping this one's perfect."
"Google says it has a history of deaths, hauntings," he said.
"Silly rumours."
"It's ancient. And remote," he said.
"Great place to escape, right?"

The listing agent let them in, handed them glossy brochures.
"This claims 20 people died here," he said, "but google reports 18."
"Anticipation," the realtor muttered. "Owner cutting reprint costs again."
"Come on, honey. I can't wait to see the basement. It says the game room is to die for."
The realtor smiled. "After you."

Michael Seese said...

Despite a spirited breath, I still missed candle number 18. Again. The lonely flicker danced in my parents’ eyes, sparking a bittersweet rewind / replay.

“Short stuff” taking her first unsteady steps, falling into the comfy chair to giggle through Cat in a Quicksilver Caper, howling in ecstasy after seeing the word “Congratulations” below the Harvard letterhead.

I wasn't prepared to leave all that behind.

Dad finally broke the requisite silence. “So, how are you holding up, sweetie?”

“Same old story. I miss her. I miss her so much. I wish she were still here.”

I’m still here, Mommy. I am.

John Davis Frain said...

“So, how does Plan B work?” Zamboni said. Easy nickname, no backstory necessary. He was big, slow and ice-cold.

Nobody answered. Plan A had worked like the Titanic.

“What I thought,” Zamboni said. “Now it’s my way.” He pulled out a handgun. We gasped.

“Blondie, fake like you passed out. You’re already half-way there. When the guard enters, I’ll take him down with my friend, Remington. Any questions?”

“Chill, dude.” I stepped up. “It’s an Escape Room. We’ve got 18 minutes remaining. Not to mention the rest of our lives.”

Shortly after the cops showed, the rest of us escaped.

Richelle Elberg said...

T-bag swears he'll kill me unless the escape route changes. I planned for just one.
“So how we gonna do this?” he asks.

Number 1 was a mistake; her death shaped my history.
Number 2, angelic, pale blond hair reflecting moonlight as she sank into the river.

Twenty years of impeccable murder uncovered.
Convicted for the deaths of 18.
There were really 30.

Time is short; lethal injection looms.
“Get your skinheads to riot. Meet by the infirmary.”
He nods, turns away.
My shiv finds his jugular.

I planned for just one.
Twenty years and 30 more angels await.

Karen McCoy said...

I turn myself in, 18 to 20 month stretch. Only way I’ll get time that short.

You’ll probably already be gone when I get out.

I don’t earn much favor with the guards. They’ve heard every sob story.

Time off for good behavior? Amoroso? Hospice? Bank job for chemo?


There’s only one way.

Escape route clear.

I follow the clues in the sidewalk you’ve left. Our journey, chalked flowers to mark each milestone.

Serendipity. Victoria’s Secret. Four Seasons. New York Presbyterian Hospital. Apple Bank. Crunch.

Last stop: Our Lady of Peace.

I hope you’ll be waiting.

Sherin Nicole said...


Not much time considering the crimes they’d committed to get here: fraud, threats, shoplifting to corroborate their Instagram backstory.

Anything for 15 minutes of the good life. They’d nearly gotten away with it but came up short.

Mindy shoved her hands into the pockets of her orange jumpsuit. She’d shank someone with her silver stilettos if she didn’t get food fast.

Taylor grimaced when a girl picked the capers off a Mediterranean Frittata. “Criminal.”

“How much longer?” Mindy glared at the guard.

“9 minutes.”

Ugh, you literally had to commit murder to get a brunch table in Soho.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

“We suck at this.”

“True. Shooting the possessed in the head is not part of ritual exorcism.”

“I panicked.”

Two priests sit at the bar. The pale barkeep listens.

“So how do we explain this?”

“The feds spin a story which leaves out the demons entirely.”

“We escape revealing the truth. The demon will find another host. Our strategy stinks.”

“We crush orthodox methods, but what choice did we have? 18 already dead and that thing was just getting started.”

“Clever beast. We hunt until we find it.”

The barkeep smiles.

“Oh, I doubt you’ll need to hunt me.”

Brigid said...

First from here to go to Yale, living Soho fairy tale
Jaded, bitter corporate story: Bossman's only after glory
Says we're "family", dunno -- 18 years felt short yet slow
We've bought what, where? Another?
Sure, I've been there, with my mother.
Caperell plan again? Not so great for townies, then
Discrepancy? Wonder why. Just a simple family guy
Sabotage? Wasn't me--been with Granny, 83
Deal fell through? Oh, too bad. Local bought it? What a cad.
Onto greener pastures, then. The company will try again--
But somewhere else. As for me, I'll be with my family
Running Gran's new company.

Brig said...

‘Why me?’

‘You should have more confidence! You have talents’.

‘I’m confident. Last week I made shortcrust pastry from scratch. I’m just not sure falling through a portal on a random SOHO caper makes me the one to lead your revolution. I can’t vote ‘til I’m 18. Plus pretty sure my address would constitute voter fraud’.

The people are in shadows, despite the lights.
I have a spotlight? Weird.

‘Maybe her? Or him? They all have a story that matters’.

A long silence. And then-


Change takes time.

He finally spoke. ‘What’s the right thing to say?’

‘Let’s listen’.

Anonymous said...

She had to escape. Escape, right now. Escape the 18 years of abuse, insults, constant humiliations... Escape, to make a long story short, her life. So she stole her mother's car and all the cash they had on hand and drove off, swearing she'd never look back. Hours later she pulled off the road. There was just one thing she had to do.

"I'm sorry, Mama," she said to herself. "I'm so honestly sorry. I just couldn't. I hope you can forgive me. And someday, Mama, someday I hope you can escape, too." She dried her tears, and drove away.

Barbara said...

"It's over," submarine Captain Capersky says. "The short history of humankind. In 18 minutes, they released every nuke in existence. We, underwater, are the only uncontaminated people alive." He sighs. "They'll breed monsters up there, now."

"So, how do 'we' survive?"

"We breed, too, Lieutenant."

"But, Sir, I'm the only woman aboard."

"I know. And I'm sorry. But you're humanity's only hope. There will be no rape. But there will be one baby a year. You pick the man." He clasps her hand. "I truly am sorry."

She swipes at a tear. "Me, too. I'm sterile. I can't have children."

Kate Outhwaite said...

Soho Billy, fetcher extraordinaire, pauses in the doorway to the Wardour Steet Deli as the searchlight sweeps past.

Just 18, thin as a rake (‘Sideways on, he disappears!’ Nonna’s constant lament), Billy calculates the shortest route back to the hospice, counts the seconds between the blinding beams then away he moves like liquid through the shadows.

At the hospice, Billy pauses by the bedroom door and retrieves his cargo: capers from Nonna’s home village, feature of so many family recipes.

Billy enters, but his father’s bloodshot eyes tell the story that there’ll be no last taste of Sicily after all.

Leilani said...

Central Park is partying tonight. Soho's far enough from Seoul, they'll never find her. She pats her roofline into place. The plastic surgeon did her proud.
She's stashed the stuff on the 18th story, on top of bagels, underneath the lox. She tips a vat (or two) of whiskey into her waterlines, and turns the speakers up. Her elevators start to list.
The doorbell rings.
She jumps, begins to fall. It's tipsy being tall, when you're used to short.
Windows crunch. Bagels shower.
Children cry, "There's rocks in the cream cheese!"
Central cries, too. The perfect escape, ruined by gravity.

RKeelan said...

You check your phone.

Midnight. The morning will be merciless when it comes.

Open the liquor cabinet.

There’s one bottle. Handwritten label. Gasohol – 118 proof.

Good odds.

Raise the bottle to your lips. Take a lingering pull.

The label may have been right after all.

You peer into the bottle. An escape route that goes nowhere.

Climb to the roof, stumble to the ledge, look down.

Multistory unit. Tall enough to work, too short for second thoughts.

It's your only out.

You know it's true, but knowing is enough.

You step back from the ledge.

Just Jan said...

“What’s the story?”

“Fat Boy tried to drop Rudy off an 18th floor fire escape.”

Rudy probably deserved it, the little shit, but still. “Did he forget you guys only fly on Christmas Eve?”

“You know how he is—so HOHOHO about everything.”

“He didn’t get into the elves’ brownies, right?”

“Not this time.”

“Good.” Assault would be hard enough to defend. He didn’t need a drug charge, too. “Anyone tell the Missus?”

“No way. If he’s grounded, she’ll turn us into short ribs.”

“Understood.” Frosty picked up his briefcase. “I’ll take it from here.”

Law and Order: North Pole

Anonymous said...

First one had red cape, red lips, basket. Cookies for grandma, she said, soft not crunchy, for Pete’s sake, get it right this time.


*Presto, cookies.*

Second had golden curls, an annoyed flush, orthodontia flashing. Porridge, she said, not gelatinous slime, you moron. Also, hot--not blazing, not frigid, just right.


*Presto, porridge.*

Still later, a snow-skinned one: 7 pies, SEVEN, she said, not 18, do they not teach math in ugly school?


*Presto, pies.*


*Presto, muttonlettucetomatoonwhite.* (*Presto, rye.*)


*Presto, cakes.*

*Presto, salad-spaghetti-cappuccinos-friedchicken-lobster-shepherdspie-pickles-popcorn-eclairs-muttonlettucetomatosandwich-chocolatepudding-nachos-knightinshiningarmor.*



*Presto, wolf.*

*Presto, BEAR TRIO.*