Lunch at the Vampires’ Guild by Gordon Lawrie

The Vampires’ Guild was holding its annual vegetarian buffet lunch. One woman had ignored all advice and had more kale than was good for her; now she was hallucinating.

“My queendom for a pasty,” she slurred. “My queendom for a pasty!”

Someone popped a piece of kale-wasabi cake into the woman’s mouth. It had a dramatic effect: she had a seizure and lay writhing on the floor.

“Give her blood, giver her blood,” the cry went up. Two Guild committee members flew to the woman to apply neck-to-mouth rescusitation. It did the trick; ten minutes later she was drinking tea.

The Eccentricities of Time Travel and Anniversary Parties by Jo Oldani-Osborne

“I’m late! The party started hours ago –“ Jo stood in her kitchen watching the timer.
“Ring, already!”

The hapless cook was a terrible nuisance and quite dangerous.
“At last,” Jo carefully opened the oven.

“Damn!” Her kale soufflé had fallen, again.

She grabbed her cell and hit flash-dial for her leader. “Emma, I’d like to invoke the Plutonian travel initiative. I’m afraid I need to come before the party, because I’m hopelessly late now. Oh, I took your advice but my oven rejected the kale, as well. “

Jo stopped, “I wonder if Emma might know what I wore.”

Late to the Party … by Amy Friedman

Amy skidded into the room, clutching a foil-topped Pyrex rectangle in her mitted hands.

The cavernous room was empty of people, except for the seated women in the center.

“Where should I put this casserole?” she asked. The women glared.

“You’re late,” Ann-Louise said. “As usual.”

“My oven was on the fritz, and you can’t imagine how hard it is to create a kale-wasabi casser – ”

“SILENCE!” Rejoice thundered. Amy flinched, and the rest of the women stared at her stonily.

Cate walked to Amy and tore the rosette from her shoulder.

“Latecomers do not deserve membership in Murderesses, Inc.”

At the Ryder Cup by Gordon Lawrie

He was at the eighteenth green and it had come down to this moment; he’d waited two years. Surrounded by crowds numbering tens of thousands, Stephen found himself wondering if this was all there was to life.

In the end, he reasoned, it came down to inserting a smallish object into a roundish hole. But missing the target was unthinkable in front of such a crowd.

Shut your eyes and do it, Jack told himself silently. He slowly guided his cornish pasty into his mouth and bit.

Nothing escaped, no crumbs fell. The pasty – costing five pounds – was exquisite.

(Untitled) by Randy Barton

She was unemotional and businesslike as she described the accountability group at her new church, how they met with her once a week and how she was to run every significant decision with moral implications by them. “It’s just what I need,” she said.

Jackie, a twice-divorced single mom, had a problem maintaining healthy boundaries in her relationships with men.

As her friend, Ron, listened he remembered an allegory he had just read about a traveler on a faith journey who, after being condemned by his failure in the room of good intentions, had found joy and peace in the room of grace. “There’s something even better, Jackie” he said to her.

A Masked Ball (with apologies to Giuseppe Verdi) by Ann-Louise Truschel

Rejoice, I’m glad you could make it back in time to attend the first anniversary of Murderesses Incorporated.

Me too. I finished my assignment early – and added another $10,000 to our bank account!

Great! Hope you brought your appetite. We have champagne, caviar, pheasant, and that’s just for starters! It’s quite a spread. And there are dozens of folks here to help us celebrate.

I’m starving. Let’s go in.

First put this mask on.

Why? You have a Halloween theme going here?

No, it’s just that all attendees wanted to wear disguises.

Why is that?

They’re all our former clients.

One Hundred by Russell Conover

“Hard to believe Dad’s turning one hundred.”

“You’re telling me! I’d be happy to be half as sharp as he is when I reach that age.”

“What do you do to help him stay active?”

“Oh, lots of things. The one he enjoys most, though, is writing. His fingers may be wrinkly, but they can still fly across a computer keyboard.”

“Well, looks like it’s working.”

“And that’s not even the big news. He’s trying to be the oldest published author.”

“With that kind of writing experience, I’ll be first in line to buy.”

“Hey–you’re not the only one!”

Happy Birthday by Lon Richardson

Some birthday. Cramps had awakened her, and, when she got up, there was blood. She showered, opened the box that had been under the sink ever since The Talk her mother had with her a few weeks earlier, but didn’t feel any more like a woman than yesterday.

In her bathrobe, she entered the kitchen to tell her mother.

“Look at your jar, dear,” her mother said. On an opened cocoon was a tiger swallowtail, its wings still wet.

She took the jar outside, removed its lid and set it down.

“Happy birthday, Tiger. You can leave when you’re ready.”

Stream of Consciousness by Monica Dennis

This is exactly where they were last year; uncertainty the daily mantra. “I don’t know, so I’ll go with the flow.” And then things got better. And then things got much worse. Promises had been made for a brighter future. They tried to hang in together for the sake of maintaining what had made them great. But poor choices began to pull them apart like taffy. And soon what was once flourishing and thriving was skeletal, hanging on for life. It had been a year and he was gone as fast as he came. New hope arrived. Uncertainty prevails again.

The World’s Best Birthday™ by Emma Baird

This has been the best birthday of my life!

I woke up, having had a brilliantly restful sleep. Micky had prepared me a gorgeously extravagant breakfast – scrambled egg with smoked salmon, and Bucks Fizz.

Then, my friends arrived – all with presents I would have chosen myself. Not a single one will need to be sneaked back to the store tomorrow. We went out for lunch and drank lots of champagne.

Micky picked me up afterwards and whisked me off to Paris for the evening, via his private jet. It’s all been so–

Oh, OK – I’m making all of this up – but that’s how rich people live. Isn’t it?