13 of the world’s most exquisite short stories
Once, the editor of the magazine New Times, Steve Moss, decided to organise a competition. People were challenged to write a story which was no longer than 55 words, but which contained a discernible plot, believable characters, and an unexpected twist at the end. He received such an enthusiastic response that in the end Steve was able to put together an entire collection of short stories, which he titled ’The World’s Shortest Stories.’
Here are 13 of our favorite stories from the book. Once you’ve started reading them you just can’t stop!
They say evil wears no face. Indeed, there was no emotion on his face. No flicker of empathy as he inflicted still more pain. Couldn’t he see the terror in my eyes or the panic on my face? He calmly, even professionally, continued his dirty work, and then glibly spoke: ’Rinse, please.’
The phone rang.
’’Hello,’’ she whispered.
’’Victoria, it’s me. Meet me by the dock at midnight.’’
’’I’ll be there, sweetheart.’’
’’And don’t forget the bubbly, babe,’’ he said.
’’I won’t, darling. I want you tonight.’’
’’I can’t wait!’’ he said, and hung up.
She sighed, then smiled.
’’I wonder who that was,’’ she said.
What the Devil Wanted
The two boys stood watching Satan walk away, the power of his hypnotic eyes still in their minds.
’’Geez, what’d he want from you?’’
’’My soul. How ’bout you?’’
’’A quarter to call home.’’
’’Oh. Wanna go get something to eat?’’
’’Yeah, but I can’t. Now I’m out of money.’’
’’No problem. I’ve got plenty.’’
This was the only way, such a blur of rage and bliss and hurled toasters as our time together had become. Appeal to fate: heads, we’d marry, tails, we’d separate forever.
The coin flipped, thudded, skipped and lay still, an eagle showing.
We stared as it sank in.
Then, together, ’’Best two out of three?’’
Shimmery stockings stretched over shapely thighs — a perfect backdrop for a body-skimming cocktail dress. Glamour radiated from the ends of the diamond earrings to the tips of the spike-heeled shoes. As a shadowed eye surveyed the mirror’s reflection, painted lips pursed with pleasure. Suddenly, a voice cried out from behind.
The street lights were a warm welcome from the oncoming chill of darkness.
The park bench’s curvature felt familiar under his tired old spine.
The wool blanket from the Salvation Army was comfortable around his shoulders and the pair of shoes he’d found in the dumpster today fit perfectly.
God, he thought, isn’t life grand.
Andrew E. Hunt
’’College was a breeze,’’ Jennings said, washing his grimy hands. ’’With all those budget cuts, they couldn’t teach much. They just gave us our grades and sent us on our way.’’
’’How did you learn?’’
’’We didn’t, but so what? Look at me now.’’
A nurse opened the door.
’’Dr Jennings, you’re wanted in surgery.’’
Moment of Decision
She could almost hear the prison door clanging shut.
Freedom would be gone forever, control of her own destiny gone, never to return.
Wild thoughts of flight flashed through her mind. But she knew there was no escape.
She turned to the groom with a smile and repeated the words, ’’I do.’’
At the Canyon
The newlywed heiress oozed, ’’Poopsy, the sign reads ’Clairvoyant Canyon. Call Out a Question. Wait for Answering Echoes.’’’
Overhanging a guardrail, she called, ’’Does he love me?’’
’’-Dose he? Does he?’’ came the echo.
Discomfited, she tried again. ’’Is unhappiness behind me?’’
’’-Behind you, behind you-’’ it prognosticated, just before her new beneficiary shoved.
’’Careful, honey, it’s loaded,’’ he said, re-entering the bedroom.
Her back rested against the headboard. ’’This for your wife?’’
’’No. Too chancy. I’m hiring a professional.’’
’’How about me?’’
He smirked. ’’Cute. But who’d be dumb enough to hire a lady hit man?’’
She wet her lips, sighting along the barrel.
Since his Rita’s brutal murder, Carter sits at the window.
No television, reading, correspondence. His life is whatever passes outside those curtains.
He doesn’t care to leave the room, or know what furnishes meals, pays bills. His world is joggers, changing seasons, passing cars, Rita’s ghost.
Carter doesn’t realize padded cells don’t have windows.
In the Garden
Standing there in the garden, she saw him running toward her.
’’Tina! My flower! The love of my life!’’
He’d said it at last.
’’Tina, my flower!’’
’’Oh, Tom! I love you , too!’’
Tom reached her, knelt down, and quickly pushed her aside.
’’My flower! You were standing on my prize-winning rose!’’
Hope A. Torres
Finally, in this remote village, his quest ended.
There, by the fire, sat Truth.
Never had he seen an older, uglier woman.
’’Are you truth?’’
The wizened, wrinkled hag nodded.
’’What message can I take from you to the world?’’ he pleaded.
She replied, spitting into the fire, ’’Tell them I am young and beautiful.’’
Preview image credit: wgallerie