Franny, by Eric J. Smith

On his third boilermaker, James leaned against the bar facing the dance floor. The couples did the two-step as the band played Randy Travis’ “Better Class of Losers.” He felt dizzy from the hard stuff, but he recognized her—yeah, that was Franny returning by herself from the ladies room. He worked his way over so he could ask her to dance. When he reached her he started talking and she answered. But some guy stepped up saying she was with him. James got hit from behind and went down. Later someone pushed him into the blinding parking lot sunlight.

Challenging Assignment, by Russell Conover

The autumn leaves were falling, brilliant in their reds, oranges, and yellows. Samantha snuck into the café and completed her assignment. Then she dragged the product back to the office. “Will this do?” she asked, out of breath.

The woman approached. “Move all those leaves out of the way.”

Sighing, Samantha did as she was told. The woman nudged the body, and the man’s eyes opened wide. He scrambled to his feet and fled. “Better check my vitals next time, sucker!”

Samantha gasped. “But how? I was sure … ”

The woman frowned. “We are Murderesses, Incorporated, Samantha. You have failed initiation.”

Nobody Likes Me, by Gordon Lawrie

No one likes me. That sounds sad, but I’m afraid it’s the truth; there’s no escaping it.

I try to impress people by telling them tales of adventure, but they don’t seem to be impressed. Perhaps they’ve heard it all before. Or I try to make them laugh with jokes, hit them with the best punch lines I can think of – but it’s no use; I can’t so much as raise a smile. I try horror and ghost stories, but I just get blank looks back.

No matter what I write, I can’t get anyone to click that Like button.

Chores to Keep Him Busy, by Eric J. Smith

Lem labored on that damn fence for five years—it was untreated oak posts and rails. Now those were rotting. He spent his spare time replacing the wood with treated stuff—a never-ending task. The fence separated two fields so horses could graze in one until they’d chewed it down; then they’d graze in the other field while the first grew back. But Lem didn’t have horses.

The neighbor kid said he’d pay Lem sixty bucks an acre to plant crops instead, but the fence was in the way. Lem and the kid tore that baby down in an hour.

Life in the Fast Lane, by Russell Conover

Whether intentional or not, Roshanna, you inspired me to use a song title as my F.F.F. title. Then the story started coming to me. (And, yes … it’s pure fiction.)

Life in the Fast Lane, by Russell Conover

“Dude. Slow down. We’re gonna get pulled over!” Stewart gritted his teeth.
“Relax, man!” Dave assured him. “My Maserati does 185, and we’re testing that claim now.”
“What if the cops catch us?”
“As long as they don’t find the dead body in the trunk, we’re fine.”
Stewart’s eyes widened. “Wait. WHAT? OK. Drop me off. NOW.”
“C’mon, man. Don’t you want a little excitement?” Dave’s eyes gleamed.
Stewart considered his options: a boring life, with no entertainment or adventures, or high-speed fun. A no-brainer.
“Floor it, bro. You only live once. The thrill is worth the risk.”
“Right on!”

How Sweet It Is, by Roshanna Sidney Evans

I loved it when they cut my skin. I loved it when the chip slid in.
I knew I’d never be the same. That’s what I wanted, to give someone else complete control, to be able to blame them when I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.
I loved it when they sewed me up. I loved the sound of of the thread stitching me up. Cute little pat, pat, pat. Standard smile. Standard words. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
I smiled. “Easy as pie.”
“Couldn’t be happier.”
I love being out of control.

Cornered, by Gordon Lawrie

I really tried. I went into the police station and confessed to murdering seven prostitutes. (Well, they looked like prostitutes to me: these days with their short skirts and make-up, you can’t really tell.)

But the police threw me out – threatened to charge me with wasting police time. Same thing at the GP’s surgery: nobody believed me, I got barred.

I was cornered. I’d have to prove I was a killer again. That’s where you come in, I’m afraid – sorry. You’ve probably guessed what the knife’s for; I’ll make it quick.

All because no one listened. I’m so sorry for you.

The Punishment, by Russell Conover

“Sire, before you is the culprit.”
“What is his heinous crime?”
“He stole ideas from other writers, your majesty.”
“Barbaric. Was he warned of the consequences?”
“Yes, sir. We waved the red banner repeatedly. However, his deeds continued.”
“This act requires severe punishment. And we cannot limit it to only the royals.”
“You mean … ”
“Yes. We must open the castigation for the world to see.”
“Are you certain, my king?”
“If we only show our people, no lessons will be learned. It is for the best of the kingdom.”
“Even the accused?”
“Well, maybe we’ll just send him to Pluto … ”

In the Self-Published Sea, by Gordon Lawrie

A lesson for the unwary.

In the Self-Published Sea, by Gordon Lawrie

It had all seemed so safe: a summer’s day, each contentedly bobbing about in water up to their necks. Thriller writer Albert Leighton floated with crime writer Di Glover. Jack Marks swam romantically with Lucy Walker: both wrote erotic fiction.

Suddenly, a scream – “Sharks!”

Sure enough, a fast-moving shoal of agents, cover-designers, printers, editors and marketing experts hurtled towards them. The writers tried escaping but were no match for the predators. At the final count, Jack and Lucy had lost an arm and a leg each to the marketeers, while Di and Albert had each had £500 amputated by agents.

Battle Itinerary, by Russell Conover

The three appliances cackled evilly. “Our plans are coming together!” the microwave hissed with glee.

“Indeed–world domination will soon be ours,” the toaster replied with a smile. “Weapons ready?”

“I’ll fly to implant myself into unsuspecting victims,” the spatula snarled.

“My spinning plate is sharp to behead,” the microwave stated.

“And my flying bread will finish them off,” the toaster declared.

The three prepared themselves, and sailed headfirst into combat. However, they forgot about the incessant hunger of humans. Within seconds, the appliances were overwhelmed with their usual, menial tasks.

“Their appetites are killing US. Need Plan B–stat!”