Lester, by Gordon Lawrie

Every few hours Lester posted links advertising his book. Lester’s book was about the meaning of life, but he also wrote about marketing books about the meaning of life.

Lester posted on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook … in fact, every social media outlet available. Weak, sweet-natured managers generally tolerated his posts and let him carry on.

Too late, they realised that Lester’s posts were taking over the internet, that only Lester’s posts would be visible. Lester’s meaning of life book was full of blank pages. Lester didn’t actually write any fiction, because Lester himself was fiction; Lester was an algorithm.

Enemy Within Us, by Sankar Chatterjee

Prof. Ken Roberts of Harvard was looking absentmindedly at his Nobel medal, awarded for discovering a breakthrough medicine to alleviate the pain in cancer patients. During research, he uncovered that by tweaking the molecule, it could become a potent, addictive street-drug. The thought “What if?” terrifies him. His phone rang. Prof. Max Weinberg from Stanford just lost his son in a mass shooting in a mall. The perpetrator began the process by pulling down the red fire alarm and then targeted fleeing shoppers.

“Did Nobel ever think his discovery be used as a weapon in wars and terrorism,” wondered Prof. Roberts.

Progressive Society, by Fliss Zakaszewska

The gun pointed unwaveringly at his head. “Where is it?”

“Sorry. I don’t have it … ”

“You were told. This was your last chance.”

“I’m sorry. Please … ”

The man glanced up as a bell rang. “Saved by the bell,” he snarled. “Bring it tomorrow – nine a.m. sharp.” He strode towards the door.

A woman met him at the door. “My office now, Mr. Brown.”

She walked away, Brown in her wake.

In her office she sighed. “The President armed teachers, so they could protect students, not threaten them.”

“Really, Headmistress? Shame. Perfect behaviour from classes since I started carrying a gun.”

Ring! Ring! by Robert Bermudez

The Ice Cream Man!

I can still hear those magical tones all these years later. Just about 7:30 every night, while the sun was just starting to set. In fact, the sound brings with it a vision nearly as strong, one of orange and pink skies and lengthening shadows and baseball games heard through open windows and the staccato rhythm of sprinklers on mowed lawns.

Every night another fleeting moment of magic before the magic inevitably goes away. The magic of being a child on a Summer’s evening.

Ring! Ring!

The Surgeon, by Guy Fletcher

“I want a divorce; my love has died.”

The normally calm, smug surgeon was shocked. He had only been used to success in life. He poured himself another double whisky, although on call, and then the hospital rang.

It was a fairly routine operation for a man with his expertise but he severed a main artery. He listened to the sickening doomed electronic sounds and peered in horror at the blood on his hands.

He correctly blamed himself. He was in no fit state, mentally or physically, to operate.

He would never be able to wash the blood away.

Height of Fashion, by Archana Nagarajan

She opened her door to find a package. Eagerly, she tore open the box and pulled out a pair of black leather pumps with four-inch stiletto heels and a pointy toe. Just like the ones her friends wore.

Slipping on the shoes, she stood up tentatively. She took dainty steps around the room, wavering, staggering, almost losing her balance at one point, but within the hour, she had the stilettos under her command.

Satisfied, she took off the shoes. Her feet, lower back and calf muscles screamed. She wondered why women did stupid things in the name of fashion.

You Know You Want Me, by Russell Conover

Frank was walking through the grocery store as usual. He passed by the donut display, determined not to surrender. “They’re tasty, but I don’t need ’em,” he told himself. He continued on.

“EEEAT me,” he heard a voice say. He stopped, looking around. Was he losing his mind?

“Give into TEMPTAAATION. You know you WANNNT to.”

No one was nearby. His eyes shot up when he saw faces on the donuts. “We are your FRIENNNDS.” One winked at him.

Frank knew he’d gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. “That’s it. No more food after midnight.”