NPR has a ‘3-minute fiction’ contest, which puts a word count limit at 600.
In the field, this is known as ‘flash fiction.’
The even briefer version is called ‘hint fiction’ and has a word limit of around 25.
The New Yorker has a review of a book on the subject, “Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer”
“Blind Date,” by Max Barry.
She walks in and heads turn. I’m stunned. This is my setup? She looks sixteen. Course, it’s hard to tell, through the scope.
“Houston, We Have a Problem,” by J. Matthew Zoss.
I’m sorry, but there’s not enough air in here for everyone. I’ll tell them you were a hero.… Read the rest
Conversations with My Mailman III
It was a warm afternoon; the rain was ending and the Sun was coming out.
My mailman was under an awning with one bare foot on the pavement and his shoe on the mailbag. He was wringing out his sock.
I slowed when I got near him. “Step in a puddle?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He said without looking up.
After a moment he noticed I was still there and he looked up, then smiled. “Oh, Hey. I thought you was someone else. Yeah, these puddles’ll get ya. I was talking with a buddy of mine over there across the street and I stepped in the gutter when I was talking. He’s a new dad and trying to figure out what to … Read the rest
I ate shit once. I literally had a piece of a turd in my mouth and I chewed and swallowed it.
Brian and I were upstairs in my room. We could hear our parents laughing and talking downstairs; I shut the door as Brian positioned himself by the window. He had just returned from the bathroom with a big wad of toilet paper. I had a glass of water ready. He looked at me with eyes wide, waiting for me.
“Well?” I said. “Let’s get this over with.”
Brian handed me the wad. It was slightly warm in my hands. I slowly unwrapped the paper, not wanting to see that first peek of brown, but there it was: Brian’s turd. It was a good one, firm … Read the rest
Julia had responded to the request for laboratory assistants at the university hospital and arrived at the medical offices a few minutes early.
A few others sat in the waiting room, staring straight ahead with headphones in their ears. One young man looked up when she walked in and then turned his attention back to the wall.
She gave her name to the receptionist who seemed to have difficulty finding Julia’s name in the records, then made a face. “You’re late. Wait here.” And the receptionist walked back out of sight.
“Oh. I…” Julia started toward one of the chairs but then stopped. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other and was turning around to look for a magazine when a side door … Read the rest
I was the only one left, in my usual booth. My friends had gone home and I was holding my one last drink, staring through the little window in the door out into the night.
Jag lumbered out of the kitchen and murmured for a while with Alyson the bartender before slumping onto the bench beside me.
Jag’s real name was Jerome Andrew something-Italian-that-begins-with-G. As a kid, his mother had called him “Romy” and it took moving to the other side of the continent to shed that name.
He slouched against the upholstery, his belly pushing against the table. He took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. “That’s it, man.”
“Yep”. I took a sip of my drink.
“Nope”. I … Read the rest
In a town about a half-day’s ride north of here lives Sam Hugh, one of a few hundred people in the area who listed ‘salvage’ as their occupation on the last census.
As in any industry, specialization emerges naturally as individuals gradually earn reputations for knowing more about something than everyone else.
Sam specialized in metal pipes.
A typical salvage job would involve hitching up his horse to his trailer and riding out to one of the abandoned malls.
He would park the trailer near the front doors, which had invariably been smashed open during the panic of ’53 when people looted every store for every bit of food they could find.
Sam would hitch the horse on a very long tether so she could reach … Read the rest
Andrew picked up the box and held it on his shoulder as he closed the trunk. Joan had asked him to bring over two dozen antique canning jars a week or so earlier when they were taking one of their strolls.
She was another man’s wife, of course, and Andrew would never… He had to stop himself from grinning as he rang the doorbell to Joan and William’s just-right house.
After a long delay, William answered, to Andrew’s disappointment. “Andy, come in. Joan mentioned you’d be dropping by.”
“Did she?” Andrew shifted the box to his other arm and closed the door behind him.
“Drink?” William led the way to the room that Joan caled the ‘Drawing Room’ and William called the ‘Parlor’. Andrew called it … Read the rest
— — —
Doc. i. d. : 0219-37 B Class ‘L’ XXXXX
Concerning deaths of several dozen unknown male and female, “John and Jane Doas” at or near United States Air Force property in Chaves County, New Mexico
One (1) reel magnetic audio tape, recovered from engineering floor of research complex
Containing voices of:
: HW – Harold Wilkins, Ph D. P.I., “Lazarus Project”
: JB – Jerome Banks, asst to Dr. Wilkins
: FS – Francis Shenson, asst to Dr. Wilkins
: ?? – voice(s) of at least one other person
Room 12, engineering floor, Roosevelt research complex, Dexter
June 14, 1947
Roosevelt Research Center
On June 12, 1947 M.P. David. S. Branford reported … Read the rest
I used to go to the cemetery every Sunday to visit my dad. When the weather was good I would sit on the grass by his gravestone, if not I would park in the road about 30 feet away and sit in the drivers seat with the door open. Sometimes I would sit on a little hill with my back to the stone in order to watch the sunset. His stone was in a good spot, under the canopy of two trees, a little bit removed from most of the other sites. I usually went in the late afternoon, but sometimes later if I had stuff to do.
One Sunday it was later than usual and the Sun was beginning to set. I parked and heard … Read the rest
I finished my second lap and crouched in the shallow end so my chest remained below the surface.
Before I begin a swim I exercise my cumpulsion to keep the pool tidy, and I paddle about collecting the stray leaves that have settled on the water and tossing them out.
I aim for the shrubs by the fence, but they almost always land near or on one of the deck chairs.
I don’t mind that. It’s not tidy, but I know they won’t stick to my face as I plow through the water.
As I crouched I saw something floating, something alive. A bee bobbed upside-down, one leg twitching.
I walked through the water, lifting and lowering my legs like an astronaut, and peered down at … Read the rest