Gold, by Don Tassone

The twenty somethings playing volleyball on the beach spotted the old man with his metal detector.

They laughed at him. But he was focused on his device as he shuffled along.

A little later, he passed by again. This time, his device began beeping. He pulled a small shovel from his pocket and started digging. Bent low, he struggled to pull something up. The twenty somethings laughed. One, though, went over to help.

He had found a large gold nugget. It sold for $1.2 million at auction. The old man split it with the young woman who had helped him.

Great Expectations, by Ian Fletcher

A few of us from the class of ’76 meet for a reunion drink.

We fondly recall bygone days of knowing nothing but expecting everything.

We chat about mutually incomprehensible careers, shadowy sons and daughters doing this or that, wives, ex-wives, whatever.

A few pints on, we acknowledge in warm, sad camaraderie that we are entering the wastelands of old age.

At closing time we say our goodbyes and go out into the night.

None of us have discovered answers to the ultimate questions of existence.

I realize I am now merely older, not wiser … knowing nothing and expecting nothing.

A Brutal Sport, by Russell Conover

The athletic team was gearing up for the championship match. They huddled on the field, chanting and building up their energy. Then the whistle blew. They were off!

Tom ran downfield, holding the ball. When an opponent dive-bombed him, he screamed, tossing the ball to Chuck.

The goal was in sight, and Chuck prepared to throw. But then, another dastardly opponent raised Chuck into midair, defying gravitational law. Chuck yelled.

Fortunately, Zack was ready with a staff, to beat the enemy senseless. He then tossed the ball into the goal for the score.

Plutonian face-offs–not a sport for everyone.

Super Last Man on Earth, by Adam Smith

He had saved tens of thousands in his lifetime but now looked out upon a barren wasteland.

“I couldn’t save them,” he whispered, then launched into the air and flew, looking for just one survivor. He scanned the earth with X-ray vision, listened with super-hearing and finally landed at his secret abode.

He lifted the lid of the lead-lined, crystal box. The lump of rock glowed weakly, green in the evening gloom.

He held the rock and slipped to the floor, feeling weak. He died from a broken heart, before the piece of his home could take his life.

Some Things Never Change, or Do They? by Adam Smith

Karen dangled in her husband’s weakening grip. They had taken this trip to renew their commitment to one another, since it seemed that all they did any more was argue.

Tom shouted, “Hold on! I think I can pull you up.” He scooted away from the cliff’s edge. “Use your feet to help.”

Karen screamed, “You’re hurting me! Are you trying to pull my arm out of its socket? I knew we should have gone to the beach, but I had to let you have your way … ”

She was still bitching when Tom let go.

Sugarcane Fields, by Luckshmee Jeawon

She rolled up the window and turned away. She never understood the foreigners’ fascination for her island’s sugarcane fields. To her, those swaying fields looked menacing. Blade-like leaves that cut through the skin, a sticky muddy ground that soils you, pulls you down, suffocates you. No, she did not share their fascination. She was not quite sure where her hate for the fields came from, either. Maybe it started the day Uncle Teddy had picked her up early from school and torn her clothes in one of those fields. The mud had been stuck to her since then.

Re-born, by Guy Fletcher

“I do so love my life!” exclaimed twelve year old Jake in a horrible smug voice.

He had just been presented with a miniature Formula 1 racing car costing many thousands. Jake had a very low opinion of the under-privileged, dismissing them as “paupers”, but then paradise crumbled.

Jake’s father went bankrupt, committed suicide and his mother developed cancer. They relocated to a flat, amongst the “paupers”.

​Jake changed: he learned to cook and cared for his mother with the devotion of a saint. Previously he hadn’t ever made his bed and never called anyone a pauper again.

Flowers, by Matthew Borczon

When I brought her flowers she looked surprised. “You’re dying!” “No. I just brought you flowers.” “I’m dying!” “No. It’s just flowers for no reason,” I said. Turns out our relationship was dying and we both knew it, but seven years and college graduation coming was keeping us too busy to see it. Kim would go to Africa in grad school and write me about the sound of real lions roaring. We would be over less than a year after she left Erie, PA, but on that day we kissed like we meant it, like drowning people gasping for air.

A Quick Solution, by Bobby Warner

Chief High Police Commissioner Or-SnIG Ke’puck of Pluto glared at his Prime Investigator. “How could Senator Potentate Klg-matg’n have been murdered in his quarters which were time-locked from inside and only he knew the combination?”

“It is baffling, Comish. Luckily, for us, famed Earthman Lawrence Gordon is on Pluto for our Annual Interplanetary Golf and Squash Tournaments, and I’ve taken the liberty of calling to request his assistance in this matter. I’m sure he could not turn down investigating a ‘locked room’ murder–and will respond immediately. We should see this case solved within a matter of hours!”

The Swiss Family Hoffman, by Fliss Zakaszewska

The Hoffman family were multilingual. They spoke Switzerland’s three main languages, plus Portuguese and Spanish, but didn’t speak English.

Nevertheless, they decided to holiday in Devon, taking in the delights of Clovelly, then across Dartmoor to the South Hams. They got lost, but stopped and asked two old codgers for directions.

“Excusez-moi. Parlez-vous français?”

They looked blank. “What?”

“Sprichst du Deutsch?”

“Huh?”

“Italiano?”

“Ay?”

“¡Por Dios! ¿Habla español?”

“What?”

“Português?”

“Huh?”

In disgust, Herr Hoffman drove off. “Crétin anglais!”

Bill turned to Bert. “Reckon we should learn another language?”

“Naw. Matey there spoke five, but didn’t do ’ee no good.”