See What You’ve Done, by Adam Smith

The train derailment was all over the news for days. Harry had seen the whole incident during a power nap, but he never would have called what he saw a premonition. It was more like he had simply been considering what might be the most likely tragedy to next occur. When he dreamed of the triple murder that had come to be, he wondered if he had discovered a strange new ability to foresee disaster. It worried him greatly, as he was due to fly from Sacramento to Chicago on the next plane out, and he was feeling sleepy.

Keep Off the Grass, by Adam Smith

James stood on his porch, watching to ensure that no children stepped on his lawn as they passed by after school.

James had the nicest lawn in the neighborhood, due to the meticulous attention he paid to its care. Children had no appreciation for the labor and attention to detail that went into creating such a spectacular expanse of emerald green.

It takes a special kind talent to be able to achieve such results.

And it takes a special kind of talent to be able to wound without killing a child from ten yards away, with a nine millimeter, semi-automatic.

A Bit of a Turkey, by Gordon Lawrie

Still on a Christmas theme … [originally published on 1/12/18]

Reluctant to spend money needlessly, Gerald particularly resented Christmas as a drain on his resources. Now, his wife Jennifer had invited the entire family for dinner.

Concerned that refrigerator space was short, Jennifer wanted to buy a second one for the garage. Gerald had a better idea. He’d seen one in the local charity shop, and a few hours later it was safely installed and filled with a large turkey and all the trimmings.

On Christmas morning Gerald rose early to remove the bird and bring it up to room temperature, to discover that the fridge was actually a freezer …

Unfinished Business, by Matthew Borczon

The Marine at the end of the bed was dirty, smelly and pissed off. I was there to change the bandage from a bullet hole through the abdomen of an Afghan rebel. I asked the Marine what makes this guy need a guard? He leaned back in his chair and says, “I do. Any guy you shoot but don’t kill becomes your job to guard until he gets out of here and goes to the prison on base.” When I ask if I can get him anything, the Marine says, how about a bullet to finish the job.

The Will, by Guy Fletcher

Paul and his sister June stormed out of the solicitor’s office with moods darker than a thunder sky.

“One thousand quid each. He was worth millions!” exclaimed June.

They had only feigned affection when the old man was fading and he had seen through their masks.

Maria, his carer, felt overwhelmed. She did not expect to inherit millions from Mr. Kernow, whom she was inordinately fond of.

​His children had stared at her with venom in their greedy eyes, but Maria knew that for the first time in her life money would not be a problem, yet she’d miss the old man.

My First Snowman, by Gavin Whyte

He was the first snowman I had ever built.

Coal for eyes, a fresh carrot for a nose, pebbles for a mouth; I stood back to look at my handy work. He looked good: not too fat, nor too thin. He didn’t look happy, though, no matter how I arranged the pebbles.

Dad was watching me through the kitchen window. His hands were wrapped around a mug of hot tea.

“I’m sad.”

I turned to my snowman.

“What?”

“I said I’m sad.”

“It’s because you’re cold.”

“Can you warm me up, so I’ll be happy?”

“I’ll bring out the kettle.”

Ben-Hur, by Sankar Chatterjee

John was visiting the remnants of the ancient Roman city Caesarea on the Mediterranean shore. Walking through ruins, he arrived at the ancient hippodrome, a venue for chariot racing. Suddenly, the world around him changed. Hundreds of spectators waving flags and blowing horns welcomed their heroes inside the place. As the race began, John recognized them as Judah Ben-Hur on a simple chariot and his friend-cum-nemesis Messala on a blade-rigged chariot, bent on destroying Judah. Soon quietness descended; Messala’s chariot toppled, killing him.

John’s memory was kind enough to allow that epic scene re-emerge from the movie Ben-Hur in total.

The Cure, by Adam Smith

The creature that stood beside Jennifer’s bed was something out of a nightmare. Its long, trunk-like nose twitched randomly and seemed to pull the eyes downward. The eyes themselves were bloodshot and yellow, with sickly pus drying in the corners. Its hair was rope-like, but only covered a small portion of its scaly, gray head. And the mouth – the mouth was a deep gash surrounded by black lips, cracked and peeling. Behind it stood three more, just the same. It raised a syringe and spoke in a voice like crunching leaves: “Soon, Jennifer, you’ll be one of us.”

A Symphony in the Pacific, by J.J. Landry

Warm Pacific water splashed my face as wave after wave crashed over the side of our small Patrol Torpedo Boat.

Sea salt stuck to my sunburnt skin as I stared down the sights of my M2-Machine Gun. I shot at the entrenched enemy – over the heads of beach storming Marines.

Long bursts of automatic weapon fire and thunderous sounds of explosives played out like a symphony in my ringing ears.

Japanese soldiers and U.S. Marines alike collapsed onto the bloody beach sands in the near distance – dying. The war I’d always wanted to fight in – was finally here.