Interplanetary Inspiration by Russell Conover

“Man–I need some inspiration for this week’s story.”

Suddenly a round disc about two feet wide flew in John’s window. A door opened, and two strange creatures grabbed him, tied him up, and dragged him inside. The disc flew off and up into space, zooming among the stars.

It finally landed on a red planet. “Mars!” John thought. “Amazing!” He absorbed the sights and sounds.

Suddenly he woke up from his snooze. “How’s your writing going, honey?” his wife asked.

“You know, I think I’ve been inspired. By the recent news. Yeah–that’s it.” He turned to his computer.

The Medium by Ann-Louise Truschel

“I can feel his presence, Lon. Your father is in this room.”

“Is he saying anything? Is he talking about the attack?”

“Yes, I can sense his distress. I can feel his pain – acute pain. He is screaming: ‘No! No! Why are you doing this? What have I done? Please stop hitting me!’”

“What else is he saying?”

“He’s saying, ‘Stop, Lon. Please stop! Don’t hit me again.’”

“And if I were to pay you $2 million from my inheritance if I don’t have to share with my sister, Elaine?”

“Then I’d hear your father say: ‘Stop, Elaine. Please stop!’”

Hip and Hypochondriac by Emma Baird

Wincing, Caroline swallowed back a handful of pills with only a small sip of water. She felt them stick in her throat. Urgh…

Chromium for blood sugar stabilisation, milk thistle for liver detoxification, pantothenic acid for adrenal fatigue, raspberry ketones for weight loss, biotin for grey hair prevention, l-glutamine for cravings control and horny goat weed for, er… well, take an intelligent guess.

[Health guru number nine’s advice had included the last supplement.]

She jumped up and down. She jangled.

“And what have I ended up with,” she wondered to herself, “except for the world’s most expensive pee?”

Happy Anniversary, Darling, by Gordon Lawrie

For their anniversary, they’d bought each other printed tee-shirts. She’d bought him a black shirt with a Harley-Davidson motorbike on the front; he’d bought her a specially-made white thing bearing his own face, gazing upwards Ché Guevara-style.

“Oh, how lovely,” they said in unison, although she’d opened her present first.

“I thought you might wear me out,” he grinned. “Get the joke?”

She reflected on the passing of another year. Five years of marriage, five anniversary presents: a mop, a toilet-seat, a year’s car insurance, and last year’s humdinger, a budgerigar. All things considered, she’d got off lightly this time.

The Snow Monster by Russell Conover

“Holy Toledo–look at the snowstorm from last night!”

“Wow! Looks like it’s covered the ground, the cars, and … wait. What’s that?”

To their astonishment, an odd figure was rising off of the car. The figure did NOT look human, either, with six arms, a circle of legs, and teeth about six inches long.

“I am the monster of the blizzard, here to haunt you for the rest of your lives. Ooh, ooh! Scary, huh?”

“You want scary? Try driving the interstate, with its lunatic drivers, through THIS wintry mess during rush hour. That’ll toughen you up, ready or not!”

The Leaving by Ann-Louise Truschel

“It’s time for me to leave now.”

“No, Mom. Not yet. Let’s talk some more.”

“I can’t, Ron. You knew this day would come. Let me go. It’s time.”

“It’s just that knowing I’ll never see you again … I’m not ready.”

“But I am, Ron. We talked about this. I told you that when it was my time to go, I would leave this earth willingly. I’m not going to change my mind now.”

“I’m going to miss you so much.”

“I know, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to be one of the first settlers on Mars.”

The Hit List by Emma Baird

Martin had his hit list – a list of the things he’d destroy should he be elected world leader.

It changed from week to week. This week, for example, it included HSBC bank for its tax evasion advice, the Daily Telegraph for its editorial policies and Jack White for his fussiness about guacamole.

The list was an exquisite mix of the moral high ground and his own pet hates, which tended to include celebrity wrong-doings.

Next week, a megastar was about to be caught with a tax-dodging HSBC account while giving an interview to the Telegraph on his charidee work.

Perfect!