Can You Hear Me Now? Nope. – by Russell Conover

“Captain–it’s an emergency! All communication has been lost!”

The boss furrowed his brow. This was NOT good. “Are we receiving any notices at all?”

“Well, we WERE being notified when people responded to our writing. But no more notices now.”

The captain sighed. Why did he agree to be placed into this testing group? Wait–he never did. Whoever decided to shove individuals there without their consent? He just wanted to smack ‘em.

“Sorry, crew,” he announced. “But the risks are just too great. Our space trip to Pluto is cancelled until further notice. No traveling without regular interaction.”

It’s Just the Price I Pay by Emma Baird

Happy Friday dear friends. There’s an extra bonus for you if you can tell me where I got the title for today’s story from.

It’s Just the Price I Pay by Emma Baird

“Jealousy,” said the actor. “You can’t even begin to know what jealousy is! It has plagued my every waking hour since I heard that talentless floozy was being considered for the next James Bond.”

“That’s nothing,” said the singer. “I can’t believe those tone-deaf morons have managed to hit the top of the charts with their sentimental bilge.”

“Ha!” exclaimed the artist. “Did you even SEE The Turner Prize entrants this year? I rest my case.”

The writer sighed. These idiots knew NOTHING. Writers’ jealousy was the worst of all!

* – this bonus in no way involves money.

Unintended Consequences by Gordon Lawrie

Initially it seemed a great idea.

Genetically modifying salmon with osprey cells was intended to improve salmon leaps, facilitating their return to spawning grounds. Furthermore, since salmon formed a large part of ospreys’ diet, scientists believed they were limiting knock-on effects for other species.

Instead they created a race of winged carnivorous superfish which quickly devoured every aquatic species. Then, desperate for food, the starving superfish invaded homes via sewers and domestic toilets in search of human flesh, striking at most vulnerable moments and causing worldwide terror.

Please fight this menace by joining FFF (Fight Flying Fish) at now.

In the Barn by Bobby Warner

The dead man was in the barn. We smelt something, dug in the hay, saw his hand sticking up, then uncovered him. He was pretty far gone.

The sheriff came out, then it all kind of went away. They couldn’t tell who it was, and figured some bad guys had killed him.

Daddy said nothing when folks started talking about how Mama took up with a stranger that passed through earlier. They hinted that that was the dead man.

Mama took us away. Six months later, Daddy drank himself to death, and Mama didn’t seem to care.

A Warm, Peaceful Place, by Bobby Warner

Guards rousted him from the barracks. It was freezing outside but the Research Building was warmer.

They bundled him in a flight suit, took him into a room where stood a tank of icy water. “Put him in,” said Dr. Volker. “We shall see how long he lasts in this suit.”

He had constructed a memory of the old homeplace; as they put him into the water, he drifted back to his youth, sleeping in a room with the rest of the family; a warm fire burned all night. As hypothermia took him, he slept peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Luke’s Mother by Bobby Warner

Luke came into the kitchen and drew a glass of water.

“Where you been, Lukie?” his mother asked.

“Down to the river, Ma. Like you told me.”

“Oh, I forgot. Sent you after your pa, didn’t I?”


“Well, where is he? I told you to bring him back. It’s near suppertime.”

“He wasn’t there, Ma. But you know where he is, don’t you?”

She looked bewildered; a tear ran down her cheek. “I forgot again, didn’t I? You’re pa’s been dead and in his grave for a year, hasn’t he? Oh, Luckie–how could I forget again so quick!”

Aliens by Russell Conover

Lights shone from the spaceship as it lowered itself to the streets. Blue aliens with four arms and four legs exited and started snatching people. “Stop–have mercy!” they begged. But, their pleas only seemed to fuel the aliens.

“We have to stop them,” a man gasped. “But how?”

A woman was trembling with fear. “No idea. They’re powerful, and conquering them seems impossible.”

Before their eyes, an alien wrapped its arms around another victim, despite (or because of?) his screaming. The bystanders had frozen in fear, having no idea what to do.

Never had their situation looked so bleak.

(Untitled) by Amy Friedman

Grapefruit, orange, apple, banana, nectarine, pear.
A necklace of succulent, plump jewels ringing my desk.
My little knife was ready to pare and slice.
But: which to eat first?
I palpated the yellow apple. Nope. Time to take it home and make a tart for one.
The orange? Might be a bit past its prime.
I reached over and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“OW!” I yelped, dropping the fruit.
Since when do oranges have thorns?
I glanced at the orange.
With a fruity chuckle, it bared its white teeth and orange gums in a malevolent grin.
My lungs froze.

The Tomato Thief by Ann-Louise Truschel

I’m growing six tomato plants on my front porch wall. The young tomatoes are very considerate, ripening one at a time. I watched to make sure I picked the first one at the peak of ripeness. However, it had a big hole pecked into it – as did the second and then the third one.

Turned out that a very tame road runner, hanging around the front yard, was the culprit. The foot-high bird stood on the wall, guarding “his” plants when I came out. I had to shoo him away to get my own tomatoes. He never said, “Beep, beep!”

Careful What You Wish For by Emma Baird

“I’ve only got 100 words left to create excitement. Help!”

In the library, heads raised in annoyance as the writer expressed her dilemma. There were several shushes and a few tuts.

Character number two got out of his chair and walked to her desk. “You need excitement hen?” he raised a sardonic eyebrow.

“Yes!” she hissed. “Tonnes of it and now!”

Character number two leaned in closer, cupping her face in his hand.

“I can offer it by the bucket-load,” he whispered, his words sending jolts through her body.

A flash of gold. She noticed the wedding ring too late.

(Hen, by the way, is a colloquialism mainly used in certain parts of Scotland. It’s sort of the equivalent of ‘love’ or ‘darling’ and used to address a woman.)