John Henry Was a Blue Steel-Providing Man, by David Atkinson

Gilbert James fully committed himself to life as a train robber. Given that he’d bought a house next to those iron tracks, what else could he do?

Of course, the fact it was a minor spur only servicing those grain elevators didn’t turn out to be the best news. Worse, that grain company had moved on years before, the ties long overgrown. In fact, he might never have robbed one at all if it hadn’t been for getting stuck in traffic by a random coal line that spilled everywhere.

Still, that was a robbery and Gilbert was fully committed. Fully.

Selfie, by Don Tassone

He was a strikingly handsome man.

He made a practice of having his picture taken wherever he went. Being a senior executive, when he traveled on business, there was always someone more junior who was quite happy to perform the task. And when he traveled with friends, they would hand waiters, waitresses and even passersby their cameras and iPhones so they could get in the shot.

Over the years, he collected thousands of pictures of himself. He kept them in albums.

Sometimes when he would look at them at home, alone, he wished he had someone to share them with.

Ten Men, by Bobby Warner

Ten hollow-eyed men, ill-fed, tortured, sentenced to hard labor and death, were marched into the courtyard.

Ten soldiers, faces flushed in the glaring sunlight, formed a line, then executed the order to “Fire!”

Ten men lay dead or dying in the hot and blowing sand. Church bells rang out the noon hour. Somewhere a donkey brayed a nervous laugh.

The dictator took several sips of cool water, rose languidly from his chair, raised his hand and issued the command:

“Bring in the next ten men!”

World Watches Another Ethnic Cleansing, by Sankar Chatterjee

Two years ago, Jason landed in Yangon, Myanmar to explore this Far-East Asian country, long isolated but recently opened its borders. After visiting the country’s famous attractions in the southern and eastern regions, he would request his guide Mr. Hwe Kyi to accompany him for a visit to north. Mr. Kyi politely advised him not traveling there, citing some local “disturbances”.

Now those “disturbances” came to global limelight. Thugs belonging to Buddhist majority, led by a young monk ironically dubbed as “Buddhist Bin Laden”, have been busy in ethnic cleansing of minority Muslims, while the world watches from the sideline.

Carried Over, by Ronald Guell

The airliner is in a steep dive, seconds from slamming into the ocean. Michael, seat belt buckled, follows instructions and braces for impact. No soul should suffer this kind of all-consuming fear.

There is a white space. An angel with open arms kneels before a white shimmering veil. Michael is propelled through the veil into the angel’s arms. Her wings fold into an embrace, an embrace like a thousand comforting arms.

Waking from hypnosis, he sits on the psychiatrist’s couch. The doctor asks, “How do you feel, Jason? I have a story to share with you, and a few questions.”

That Smile, by Robin LeeAnn

(E-mailed to the F.F.F. blog’s address; see our Contribute page.)

I always spotted him down the aisle at work. He dressed too stylish to work here, with a few of his buttons opened and tattoos covering his arms. He had a step to his walk, a pattern.

“Ana!” he called out as I got close. I knew he had already noticed me a while back. He just chose to speak now. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing good. You?”

We passed each other already, but he still answered. “I’m doing good!”

And that was the extent of every conversation. But that smile. It could light up the world.

An Ongoing Process, by Russell Conover

(Originally published to LinkedIn.)

Ted had been working on his story for months. He had lots of good ideas, but had trouble finding the time to write and organize his thoughts.

He took a deep breath. “One step at a time,” he thought.

He looked around the library for inspiration. A number of interesting people passed, and his eyes wandered. “FOCUS! You’re here to work.” His mind chastised him, though he was in a productive location. Hypothetically.

“Keep the faith,” he told himself. “You’re a good writer, and the story will come. Don’t give up.” Newly motivated, Ted smiled.

He returned to his keyboard.

Judgement Day, by Fliss Zakaszewska

The president of The-Land-of-the-Free shook hands with the dictator of the small, turbulent Asiatic country; then they sat down to discuss State Matters.

Bang! The president’s head exploded. Bang! Then the despot’s head. Blood spattered everywhere.

Lars continued to look through the telescopic sights. That felt sooooooooo good. Two arse-holes in one.

He so wanted to do it again, relive the moment, but, no time. The Anglo-Germanic summit was about to start and he had to take out those two women. But temptation called.

Slowly, he turned his gun on himself and fired. Bang! The screen flickered.

‘RESTART, PLAYER ONE?’

The Calling Card, by Charles Boorman

The honeymoon was a dream. The journey home a nightmare. And then this: drawers ripped out, clothes all over the floor. Camera, computer, jewellery – anything that could quickly be converted to cash – all gone.

Adding insult to injury, the villain had left behind a pile of “waste matter” in the un-flushed toilet. Although the house held many happy memories for the couple, they moved out as soon as possible.

One day a policeman turned up at their new address: “Got your burglar,” he grinned. “D.N.A. of his ‘calling card’ matched a record in our files. Shit happens, you might say!”