Fiction 101: The best of the rest of the rest

The Gazette-Journal

“Hi! I’m calling to tell you about great new subscription rates for the Gazette-Journal!”

“Oooooooh … Do they still have stories about murders, rapes and drive-by shootings?”

“Well, yes, sometimes, but …”

“How about earthquakes and fires?”

“Well, yes, but …”

“And bombings! Plane crashes!! Executions! Tidal waves! Wars! Plagues! Starvation! Suicide! Impalement! Electrocution!!!

“Good night, sir.”


—Steve Recchia

The Tip-Top
It was the sort of place he would normally never enter. An uneasy sigh at the threshold, and he pushed open the door. It was dark and cool and without windows. Three patrons hunched over a long, pitted counter, oblivious to the time of day.

“Can I use your phone?” he asked, addressing the man behind the bar.

He took a long deliberate stare at the stranger.


“I need to call AAA.”

“Cost you $5.”

He knew he was being ripped off, but he paid it anyway. It would be worth it for the tow and to be home again.

—Tony Illia

We Read It in the RN&R (inspired by the Fiction 101 advertisement)
The judges sat around the table, each clutching a stack of Fiction 101 entries.

“Well, let’s see which of these will recieve prizes,” said Judge 1.

Holding up an entry, Judge 2 stated, “I think this writer tried to decieve us.”

“I percieved the same thing,” said Judge 3.

“He thought we didn’t know “e before i except after c,” muttered Judge 2.

“How could he think such a thing?” asked Judge 1.

“It’s inconcievable,” Judge 3 said angrily.

With that, Judge 2 crumpled the entry and tossed it in the wastebasket.

Judge 1 added, “I’m releived you did that!”

—Jim McCormick

Soldiers jumped from the spiraling plane. Their parachutes clouded, then I shot one dead. You can’t say I shot him out of the sky, because his parachute still held him up. But he was dead. Blood coursed from his chest. I wondered if his blood would reach the ground first. I wondered if his soul would slide out with the blood or if it would be stuck for awhile inside his muscles, or had I shot a hole right through it, or was his soul already rising, bobbing just within the parachute, passing through silk, no concern left at all.

—Laura Boren

The Captive
Jessica had been in the small room for what seemed like forever. She paced back and forth. Her mind raced from one thought to another. She wondered why she was being held captive. She had always tried her best to do things right. How easily people forget. One minute they are nice to you, and the next minute they can be so cruel! It’s only human nature, thought Jessica.

Suddenly she heard footsteps. The door opened!

“There you are Jessica! We told you we’d be back soon. You’re a good dog,” said her master, as he patted her on the head.

—Sandra Anderson

Everybody knows how it works: When he comes and lays his cold skeleton hand on your shoulder, you have to go with him. No arguments, no second chances, no time for goodbyes. So sinister and impersonal. Sudden, no matter how inevitable. So horribly final.

And then there he was, shorter than I had expected, with an apologetic look on his face and a rusty pair of hedge trimmers in one hand. He looked tired and worn down and sad, like a mailman who has always delivered only bad news. When he offered his hand, it just seemed impolite to refuse it.

—Martin Hauser

Home Through the Back Door
She lay with her hand propped on the slate surrounding the mineral bath. A dragonfly landed in front of her less then a foot from her nose. He looked directly at her, dead center to her face, with his sunglass eyes. He was blue. Electric blue. Unlike any blue in a crayon or paint box. They had stared a long while when a Washoe zephyr roared through the grove. The dragonfly held his ground but was eventually pushed sideways from the back. She looked though his wings, wings that were made from the screen of the backdoor of her childhood home.

—Rebecca M. Thomas

Sitting on the beach with her body cradled against him, Trent stared at nothing, while the last rays of the setting sun glittered off the waves. Kay had died just minutes ago, ending at last the battle with her cancer. Hot tears streamed down his cheeks, heralding the release of months of bottled anguish.

Trent wept bitterly as he though of her smile. Was it luck that she had chosen to smile at him that warm spring evening two years ago? Luck or fate, her love had been all that he’d lived for. Life without her was an open wound.

—Ken McKim

In the instant before I died, I had two choices: fear or acceptance. Fear picked me. It was a hundred million times worse than the 30 minutes I lost you at the carnival the summer you turned 3. But I hope you get this message, too. The joy I am feeling now is 100 million times better than the relief after I found you talking to the cop at the cotton candy stand. That’s what heaven is, cotton candy and cops and not having to worry about a goddamn thing. It’s always summer and you are 3.

—Sheila Gardner

One phobically afraid of dogs. Another of evil clowns.

Still another of dolls coming to life and attacking them with little, tiny knives.

Oh wait—that’s me.

One afraid of crowds. Another of being alone.

Not one is afraid to live.

—Jackie Shelton

On my hands and knees, I crawled with weapon in hand. The steel blade glints under the hot sun. This time, it is combat at close range, because the chemical warfare proved to be useless. Year after year, the battle rages fiercer than ever.

I hope to catch the enemy at its low and dirty level. Casualties are enormous on the enemy line, and still the fight ensues. The beasts are surely surrounding me. I jab and jab.

“YOU ARE MINE,” I roar. I pinch its scrawny neck. I wish I could hear the scream.

Another dandelion wilts in my bucket.

—Kathryn Murray

Even the Moon Laughed
“Do you think it smells us?” Matthew asked.

Andrew held his finger to his lips, hushing his little brother. “Dead people don’t talk, stupid.”

“I think it’s getting closer.”


A twig snapped.

The bushes rustled.


“Run for it!” Andrew yelled.

The great tablecloth-covered beast emerged from the shadows, and the boys darted about the backyard like dragonflies.

“It’s getting me!” Matthew yelled.


“Listen!” he yelled again. “It ate Sissy.”

Bravely, they stopped to look back before entering the back door.

“I warned her the wilderness was no place for a girl.” Andrew replied, shaking his head.

—Nancy Hale

Disease Control
Mom had an appointment with her dermatologist today. He’ll tell her the crusty thing on her leg is malignant, and she’ll be too upset to attend my sister’s wedding, so she wants me to explain everything to the relatives.

“Take them aside; not in front of the others.”

Similar preparations were made recently prior to her mammogram.

“No flowers; have everyone give to cancer research.”

When I waved the normal results in her face, she dismissed it as luck and immediately phoned Doctor Hathaway with suspicions of ringworm.

Tomorrow she takes her yearly physical, and I’m scheduled to see a shrink.

—Kathy Welch