The Perfect Match, by Ann-Louise Truschel

“Delia, you’re getting married?!” said Sandy.

“Yes. Roy and I were computer matched.”

“Does that really work?”

“We’ll soon find out. The wedding is set for next week, and you’re invited.”

The ceremony goes off without a hitch, and the couple honeymoons in Hawaii. When the newlyweds return, Delia again meets her friend for lunch.

“How’s the bride?”

“Disillusioned.”

“Already? Give him a chance.”

“There aren’t enough chances in the world.”

“Did you complain to the computer matching service?”

“Yes.”

“What did they say?”

“They told me to put him into the recycle bin.”

“And … ?”

“Then they emptied it.”

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Requiem for a Cyber-Warrior, by Johann Lux

Jack concluded that his life was just a prolonged conspiracy, based on the compromise of his dreams. He also believed this concession of his existence leaned heavily on his imagination’s innate ability to concoct and conjure endless illusions, to combat, confound, confuse and abuse any aspect of the reality that engulfs him.

Being both pious and a hypocrite, Jack arrived at an epiphany that brutally revealed him as just the hollow shell of glory and defeat, charged to retreat into the dark basement of his parents’ home, where he was destined to disintegrate in the wake of a video game.

Sidelined, by Don Tassone

He tilted the screen of his laptop forward slightly to eliminate the glare of the morning sun. He liked to skim the headlines in the morning, especially business news.

After nearly four decades in business, it was hard for him to pull away entirely. He liked knowing who was winning and who was losing.

As he sipped his coffee, he thought of how he had longed for peaceful mornings like this for so many years, how he had thought he might never break free from the stress. Now he looked down at his cell phone and wished someone would call.

White Ford Bronco, by James Blevins

We ran to our fort in the woods that was little more than a rut in the ground. Our imaginations made it something more, though, and it suited us fine.

My baby brother in the pine needles. He spoke to me, but I hadn’t heard, distracted by birds.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I hope he never comes back.”

I imagined I could hear a bird expanding its ribcage in song. I took my brother’s hand while he wept.

We ran home.

Dad’s truck wasn’t in the driveway.

Thankful, we ran some more. Our chests extended, vibrating, in perfect harmony.

Let Nature Take its Course, by Charles Boorman

Mother hedgehog was heading home to her babies. Reaching the grassy verge of the busy road, she suddenly felt a sharp pain. She struggled there for hours, strength fading, until the dog discovered her. The little girl, his owner, begged the people at the nearby Nature Conservancy Center for help, but to her dismay they just said, “There’s nothing we can do; let nature take its course.”

Next day the little girl returned to the tragic scene, where the spiny cadaver lay at the bottom of the hedge, one of its hind legs still snagged on the barbed wire fence.

A New Friend, by Russell Conover

(Originally published to LinkedIn)

Kindergartner Timmy jumped when he felt something tickle his feet. Looking down, he widened his eyes as he saw a small, furry creature smiling at him. Timmy grinned back. A new friend! How exciting!

Timmy and Furry explored the yard, laughing and having fun. Best of all, no one but Timmy seemed to be able to view Furry. The gears in Timmy’s head grinded as he imagined all they could do together.

Then Timmy woke up. Only a dream? NOOOO! His lip quivered, when he felt another tickle. Pinching himself, he laid eyes on Furry–for real. Life was good!