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Lesley's Nifty Nib-Nibbling Nonsensical Narrative Writing Challenge

Quick links on this page:

rules & how to submit - about the nonsense writing challenge - read the nonsensical stories

Lesley Truchet & Christopher Fielden

Lesley Truchet & Chris Fielden going all Mad Max on a classic Kawasaki

Chris's head has NOT been badly Photoshopped onto Lesley's husband's body; his head always sits at that alien angle

Welcome to Lesley's Nifty Nib-Nibbling Nonsensical Narrative Challenge. It's fun. It's simple. Anyone can submit. All entries are published. Discover how delightful writing nonsense can be.

Rules & How To Submit

This is a flash fiction writing challenge, inviting you to pen a nonsense engorged tale, filled with absurdity, yet making sense.

The rules are simple:

  • 200 words max
  • please include a title for your story (not included in word count)
  • be silly but make sense
  • entry is everyone's favourite fee - FREE
  • anyone can submit
  • 1 entry per person
  • no profanity please
  • your nib-nibbling nonsense tales will be published on this page
  • every time we receive 100 stories, we'll publish all of them in a book
  • any money made through anthology sales will be donated to charity
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • when anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story by filling in the comments form below
  • include a short biography (40 words max) for use in the published book - if you don't supply a bio, we will be unable to publish your story
  • include 1 link (optional) to your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.

So far, we've received 209 entries. We need 91 more to publish the 3rd anthology.

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About the Nonsense Writing Challenge

Many new writers fail to understand the importance of a complete story arc, leaving a reader satisfied at the conclusion of a story. This challenge highlights the importance of a coherent plot and strong characters that allow the reader to suspend their disbelief and become absorbed in a well-told tale.

We want submitted stories to be silly and nonsensical, but not pure gobbledegook.  So please aim for strong plot, exciting characters and a satisfying ending.

If you need inspiration, below are a few links to websites which generates nonsense:

WARNING: if you click on the links above, you're likely to spend an inordinate amount of time faffing about with the nonsense generators and giggling. I lost an entire day.

The first anthology – Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 – was released in June 2017. It contains the first 100 stories submitted to the challenge.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2 is currently in production. It contains the second 100 stories submitted to the challenge.

We are now accepting submissions for Volume 3 .

Lesley and I would like to thank everyone who has submitted stories for their support – it is very much appreciated :-)

About the Charity the Nonsense Challenge Supports

Proceeds generated by anthology sales will be donated to The Daisy Garland.

The Daisy Garland Charity Logo

Set up in 2014 by Sara and David Garland after the tragic death of their 6 year old daughter Daisy from SUDEP (sudden death in epilepsy patients), The Daisy Garland works exclusively for children with drug-resistant epilepsy. The charity funds specialist dietitians who work within national health hospitals countrywide treating some of the 18,000 sufferers in the UK.

You can find The Daisy Garland on Facebook and Twitter.

The Daisy Garland Charity images

Some words from Lesley about why she chose to support this charity:

Daisy Garland died at the age of 6 due to severe epilepsy. I am a friend of Daisy's aunt. I chose to support The Daisy Garland charity because I know that my friend and her sister (Daisy's mother) and other members of Daisy's family are fully committed to managing the charity. They all work extremely hard to give support and advice, to the extent of significantly improving and prolonging the lives of children suffering with epilepsy.

How The Nonsense Writing Challenge Came To Be

I know it's hard to believe having looked at the photo at the top of the page, but Lesley and I haven't met. Yet.

UPDATE SEPT 2017: Lesley and I have now met. I went and stayed with her and her husband Hervé in France while undertaking the reading for the 2017 To Hull And Back short story competition. Here's the proof:

Lesley Truchet and Chris Fielden

Lesley Truchet and Chris Fielden, pictured in France

However, we have liaised a lot via email. And Lesley has been highly supportive of me and my website. She's entered the To Hull & Back short story competition (and been longlisted). She's submitted to the adverb writing challenge (and been published). She's commented on and shared my posts regularly. She's a LEGEND.

Lesley Truchet & Chris Fielden Nonsense Writing Challenge

Lesley & Chris being all Carry On Camping, oo er missus, fnar fnar, how rude matron

Again, Photoshop definitely has NOT been anywhere near this photo

When Lesley contacted me about starting a nonsense writing challenge, I thought it was a fabulous idea. So, after a bit of discussion, and way too much time spent faffing about with nonsense generators, it was born.

Each time a story is received, it will be published on this page. When we receive 100 stories, they will be removed from the website and published in an anthology. The book will be made available in print, Kindle eBook and PDF formats.

All the proceeds will go to charity.

If we don't receive 100 entries, it's a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know about The Daisy Garland charity.

Everyone's a winner.

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Nonsensical Stories

Below are all the stories that have been submitted to date, oozing silliness, yet still making sense. You may now worship the wonder of the wizened writers who have whipped together these delightfully whimsical collections of witticisms.

The stories are published in the order they were received.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1

We received our 100th story on 3rd March 2017. The first 100 stories submitted to the nonsense challenge were removed from the site on 1st April 2017. April Fool's Day seemed highly appropriate...

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 was released on 3rd June 2017. You can learn how to buy the book here.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 Flash Fiction Anthology

The book contains stories written by 100 authors. You can keep up to date with how many books we've sold and how much money has been raised for charity on the main writing challenges page.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2

We received our 200th story on 3rd February 2018. The second 100 stories submitted to the nonsense challenge will be removed from the site in March 2018. Until then, they can be read below.

An opening note from Chris Fielden

What a divine plethora of nonsense we have received, my fine writing banshees. It's been most humbling to collect, read, edit and publish the first 100 nonsensical delights bestowed upon our eyeballs. For the first time, a writer has managed to get not just 1, but 20 of those most foul of punctuation marks into a book I will publish... the exclamation mark. See story 027 and witness Helen's deviousness. We look forward to receiving the next 100 baloney fuelled tales, crammed with drivel, folly and gibberish.

And from Lesley Truchet

I would like sincerely thank each and every writer who has contributed to the challenge. There are some amazing stories and the 100 barrier has been broken. Onward to 200.

I consider it an honour and a privilege to be connected with this challenge, and with Chris Fielden. An association which has enhanced my writing street cred.

I was amazed at the diversity of imaginative stories. Two punchlines which particularly tickled my fancy were stories 44, contributed by S T Ranscht, and 22, by Annemarie Allan.

Story 101

Judge Godly

by Braid Anderson

Judge Godly had that morning had a discussion with his tailor, during which he asked, "Tell me, Mr Goldfarb, Jew eat kosher hungry?"

Goldfarb had retaliated by sewing some rosehip seeds into the seat of the judge's trousers. He was now itching for a recess.

This place gets more and more like something out of Laurel and Hardly, thought Judge Godly. The previous case had been one of attempted molestation against a wealthy Yorkshireman, who had made his fortune pumping out septic tanks – where there's muck, there's money. His excuse was, "Suck cess, can get lonely."

Having removed his contaminated trousers in his chambers, the judge stood musing over the state of the world. Does living in a disposable society mean that society is disposable?

"Dis pose or dat pose," muttered the artist's model of a train disappearing into a tunnel, where a funnelweb spider disguised as a nurse lay in wait to stop it smoking. If at first you don't suck seed, try drier grain.

Enough with the applause already. The wax in my ears is melting and contributing no end to global warming. Madame Who? To sew or not to sew, that is the question.

Story 102

Rats

(A True History from the None Existent Enchiridion of Nonsense Folklore)

by Lesley Truchet

Noah's wife scowled, her face dark. "I wish we could leave this dreadful ark."

"Woman, will you stop your bark, it's pure insanity. You could be dead with the rest of humanity."

"This vessel stinks of animal poo and I'm sick of living in a floating zoo. The rats chewed through their holding coops, instead of two there are several troops. They have put me in this mood, and they're eating all our food. Argh," she squealed, her body squirming, "get off my foot, you filthy vermin."

"Be grateful wife, for saved are we. You could be drowned beneath this sea."

"If you two could cease your fight, I think we're at the end of our plight, for yonder is land." The couple followed their son's pointing hand.

"Finally, after all our trials," Noah’s face was wreathed in smiles.

A short while later they stood on the shore, relieved to be on the ground once more.

The animal pairs walked into the trees and Noah fell upon his knees. "Thank you, God, this looks like a good place to be, but where exactly in the world are we?"

"Argh-a-rat," shrieked Noah's wife.

Story 103

The Dangers of Toying With Phantasmagorical Wordage

by Christopher Fielden

As the arena's portcullis rose, the crowd roared like a plethora of blood hungry rhinoceroses.

"Why are you smirking?"

"Rhinos are herbivorous."

As the arena's portcullis rose, the crowd roared like a plethora of blood hungry baboons.

"What now? Baboons hunt. And they eat meat."

"It just doesn't paint the right picture."

As the arena's portcullis rose, the crowd roared like a plethora of blood hungry lions.

"Now what?"

"Too obvious. And melodramatic."

As the arena's portcullis rose, the crowd roared with rancour.

"Happy?"

"Better."

The inspire-o-gorgon emerged from the tunnel. Defying daylight, shadows followed it, shrouding its path in obscurity.

"What?"

"I don't know where to begin…"

"Well find somewhere."

"What's an inspire-o-gorgon? How can shadows exist in daylight? Why do you insist on writing fantasy nonsense?"

The inspire-o-gorgon is feared, for it enlivens the imagination of those around it. Suddenly, everyone in the arena had ideas for stories. Fantastical and phantasmagorical tales that had to be shared.

"Comments?"

"Absurd."

And write they did. Critic became creator and lo they did understand the bravery needed to bare their work to others, to read, to enjoy, to condemn.

"Well?"

"Point taken. I'll be nicer."

"And I'll continue to listen."

Story 104

Looking

by Kristie Claxton

"Where are my keys?"

"Well they must be around somewhere. Did you look?"

"Of course I looked. Are you sitting on them?"

"I'm not sitting on them."

"You must be. Get up."

"See, nothing. Did you look in your pockets?"

"Of course I looked in my pockets."

"Your jacket?"

"I wasn't wearing a jacket, it's 80 degrees out."

"What about your gym bag? Are they there?"

"No. You did something with them. It's just like you to not want me to go out. You hid them."

"I didn't hide them, I don't care if you go out. As a matter of fact, I want you to go."

"I'm looking in the car."

"Fine, you must have left them there."

"If they are there I'm not coming back in, I'm just leaving. So good-bye."

"Good-bye."

"I don't have to go, you know. I can stay if you want me to."

"No, no, I don't want you to stay if you don't want to."

"I'll stay, it's getting late and everyone will likely be gone by the time I get there anyway."

"Sit down and we'll watch a movie or something."

"OK"

"Fine."

"Where's the remote?"

Story 105

Blaavift

by Tim Jones

After a week of rest the creature slinked out of its huge, dingy trench and looked around. Fish fled as they saw it emerge. It spied the boat on the surface and headed straight for it at great speed.

Sailors in these waters often talked of the legend of the Blaavift, but none had ever seen it. "It's the size of an ocean liner and ten times as fierce as a great white," they would say.

The slightest of bumps beneath the boat went completely unnoticed.

Luckily for those onboard, the fierce Blaavift was actually only the size of a limpet.

Story 106

A Bonfire Of Profanities

by Louis Cennamo

In addressing the handleflyeroffer, Woodboy was somewhat ligneous in his approach. He had no idea how to handle someone who could fly off handles with such volatile panache – she had already splintered his ego in several places just by looking at him in a provocative way.

Serendipity's first glance had evoked an automatic response in him, one that any lignotherapist would immediately recognise as a repressed passion that had ingrained itself long ago, at tree-roots level.

"Shiver my timbers," he blurted, even before she had flown off the handle.

Woodsmoke was a-waft from his woodentop – his lust a-thrust, all but combust.

Dippy reassured him, "Oh don't worry, I always have this effect on those of a wooden persuasion… Here, allow me..."

She flew off the handle, returning with water, and put him out.

He was not put out metaphorically, rather aglow – spouting ligno-babble. "Would wood be a would or would wood be a wouldn't? Would it or wouldn't it be good for fire and wood to be a 'would-be good together'?"

The handleflyeroffer offered him a prescient handle to grasp, a flyeroffer's best flying offer…

"Great bonfire... But by morning, only smouldering embers."

Story 107

A Nefarious Tale Of Nursery Crime

by Michael Rumsey

"Fairies and Elves of the jury my client, Thomas Thomas, the son of a Highland Piper, stands in the Dickory Dock accused of running away with a purloined pig intending to sell it for consumption to J Spratt. This is a rash a charge as has ever been cooked up, nothing more than porky pies. I remind you of testimony given by defence witnesses.

"Doctor Foster, upon return from Gloucester, assured us Jack Spratt is allergic to fat.

"Miss B Peep described Thomas as a lamb.

"Remember Jack Beans talk of evidence being planted?

"Farmer Donald Mack testified none of his Sus genus has gone for the chop, including the little one who tends to urinate all the way home.

"Mr. Kingsmen, accompanied by His Majesty's Equidae put it all together for us. At the time of the alleged offence he witnessed Thomas trotting to the aid of a pale Jill bucketing downhill. They crashed into a brick edifice causing a Mr H Dumpty to crack up.

"It's as plain as J Horner's corner or Miss Muffet's tuffet.

"True, Thomas refuses to wear his father's national dress but that is not a crime.

"You must therefore find him Not Kilty."

Story 108

Alaric's Oral Ordeal

by Jacob Kyte

Alaric blundered into the sweet shop. "My man," he said. "What do you have in the way of breath mints?"

"Well, Sir, a box of Pepper-Neck swirls seem to have inhabited the oral-soother section," the shopkeeper replied, dashing the throat fixers aside. "Now, here we are. We have Perennial Pleasers, Stale Sorters, Limonana Licks and Mouth Mashers."

"A fine selection," Alaric applauded. 

"Thank you, Sir."

"And what would you recommend?"

"A fine question."

"Thank you, Sir."

"The Perennial Pleasers are a favourite of mine," the Shopkeeper grinned.

"Then a bag of those, please."

"Ah, but we're out of those."

"Then the Stale Sorters?"

"We're out of those. And the Limonana Licks, too."

"Then I'll take the Mouth Mashers."

"Are you mad? You must have a jaw of steel."

"Tricky nibblers, are they?"

"The trickiest."

"Well, I have no choice," Alaric snapped. "I have a date this evening. I must have the freshest breath."

"A fussy lady?"

"No. She's a bloodhound."

"Marvellous." The Keeper took Alaric's money in exchange for the bag. "Good luck, Sir. And watch those teeth."

Alaric opened the bag and threw a Mouth Masher into his gob, shattering two back molars. 

He blundered into the dentist.

Story 109

A Bibble of Flandinks

by Helen Perry

The blibbersnout meandered along the purple banks of the microdilly. "Farg," he squarked. "Farg-arg."

"What's the pickle?" snoofed the inkletut.

"Well, Snid," for so was the inkletut named, "take a look at all the flandinks in this microdilly."

Snid wambled to the edge of the bank and looked into the green waters. "Hmm, I nuff. Flandinks everywhere. Come, Erg, let us visit King Mythagus."

Erg and Snid journeyed through the kingdom all grem and all nef, for it was a great distance to King Mythagus's terfnak. Atop the clankensnare, they met with a gillynewt. "Flandinks?" said he. "Well that's bad news." And he joined the pair on their journey.

Deep in the vlobnigob, Erg, Snid and their new friend, Milge, met with a binosephus named Nelwick. "Flandinks you say? We can't have that in our microdilly. I'll join you on your journey to the terfnak."

The following grem, the group arrived at King Mythagus's terfnak and told him their tale.

"Ooglyflap, that is a dilemma," said the king. "Tell me, Erg, why the flandinks are such a problem in the microdilly."

Erg thought for a posnit. "Your Excellency, they are strange."

"Perhaps," Mythagus mused, "they feel the same about you."

Story 110

A Taste Of His Own Medicine

by Mike Scott Thomson

Upon the occasion of his

umpteenth appointment

with his

increasingly cantankerous consultant

the valetudinarian sesquipedalianist

articulately complaining

of an acute bout of

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

was placed on a diet of

lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechy- menokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphet- raganopterygon

and prescribed a

supercalifragilisticexpialidosage of

methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucylphenylalanylalanylglutaminylleucylly- sylglutamylarginyllysylglutamylglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenylalanylvalylthreon- ylleucylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylserylleucyllysylisoleucylaspar- tylthreonylleucylisoleucylglutamylalanylglycylalanylaspartylalanylleucylglutamylleucylglyc- ylisoleucylprolylphenylalanylserylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolylthreonyliso- leucylglutaminylasparaginylalanylthreonylleucylarginylalanylphenylalanylalanylalanylglycy- lvalylthreonylprolylalanylglutaminylcysteinylphenylalanylglutamylmethionylleucylalanylle-ucylisoleucylarginylglutaminyllysylhistidylprolylthreonylisoleucylprolylisoleucylglycylleuc-ylleucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparaginylleucylvalylphenylalanylasparaginyllysylglycyliso-leucylaspartylglutamylphenylalanyltyrosylalanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylvalylglyc-ylvalylaspartylserylvalylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalylprolylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylal-anylprolylphenylalanylarginylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginylvalylala-nylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleucylcysteinylprolylprolylaspartylalanylaspartylaspartyl-aspartylleucylleucylarginylglutaminylisoleucylalanylseryltyrosylglycylarginylglycyltyrosylt-hreonyltyrosylleucylleucylserylarginylalanylglycylvalylthreonylglycylalanylglutamylaspara-ginylarginylalanylalanylleucylprolylleucylasparaginylhistidylleucylvalylalanyllysylleucyllys-ylglutamyltyrosylasparaginylalanylalanylprolylprolylleucylglutaminylglycylphenylalanylgly-cylisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminylvalyllysylalanylalanylisoleucylaspartylalany-lglycylalanylalanylglycylalanylisoleucylserylglycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisoleucyliso-leucylglutamylglutaminylhistidylasparaginylisoleucylglutamylprolylglutamyllysylmethionyl-leucylalanylalanylleucyllysylvalylphenylalanylvalylglutaminylprolylmethionyllysylalanylala-nylthreonylarginylserine.

Later

the valetudinarian sesquipedalianist

having returned

to his habitual abode

(and subsequent to an epiphany

of introspection and assimilation)

decided to

floccinaucinihilipilificate

deem worthless

the diet

and prescription

from the good doctor

and lo

the valetudinarian sesquipedalianist

the overly-health-conscious too-clever-by-half-walking-dictionary

no longer choked

upon his words

and was thus

ultimately

cured.

Story 111

Ooh Bertie

by Allen Ashley

"Oh, Bertie, my shlumpa-wumpy boffiny boy, I am so glad we met."

"Me, too, Flossie, my cha-cha Charleston choo-choo girl from Chattanooga. Who would have guessed what sumptuous joys a night at the theatre would bring?"

"Sweet little tiddly-dumplykins. Pass another mint, my cuddly-wuddly."

"Your breath is already sweeter than the spray from Niagara Falls, my darling high-kicker in tights. Oh dachshunds, is that the hotel phone ringing?"

"Sure is, my huddly-buddly boy. Probably just room service. Listen, you're in Noo Yawk now and we dash across when the lights say 'Don't walk' and we let the damn telephone ring itself to sleep. There – it's stopped."

"You're right, my Candy Flossie with icing sugar hair. Keep stroking my leg; I adore it."

"Sure will, my pouty polar bear, my world-conquering walrus... Oh heck, there it goes again. Can't an honest showgirl have any fun in this town?"

"I'd better take it, snookikins."

An anxious minute trying to eavesdrop before Flossie was forced to enquire, "Well?"

"It was Carnegie Hall. They're expecting me to deliver a lecture on General Relativity. I'm already ten minutes late."

"Oh, Bertie, you'd better go. But hurry back."

"Faster than the speed of light, babe."

Story 112

Four-Leaf Clover

by Alice Little

"Mum, I've found a four-leaf clover." The little girl runs into the kitchen, very excited, twirling the plant between her fingers. "Can I plant it in a pot to watch it grow?"

Mum digs a yoghurt pot from the recycling and hands it to her daughter.

"What do you think it will grow into, dear?" asks Mum.

"A leprechaun, of course."

Mum stands with her mouth open. "Who told you that?"

"Oh, I thought..."

Was that a lower-lip wobbling? Uh oh.

"It's just that," Mum thinks fast, "four-leaf clovers usually grow into rainbows."

"Really? They do?" The girl smiles widely.

Mum is relieved. "Yes, you just wait and see."

The next morning the little girl runs downstairs. With some surprise she realises that her mother doesn't know everything after all.

"Mum, there's a leprechaun in my flower pot."

Story 113

At What Cost?

by Soulla Katsiani

Sevenworm is not yet ready to die without the crown. Fear is his medicine. Becoming a Billionaire his destiny. The melons were not yet ripe, but his fate was waiting. Maybe bananas would do instead.

Who cared?

Bananas would do.

Hungry for power, Sevenworm left his fame and went for another association.

Very soon, he met the Stageroo. "Concentrate," he taught him... "Concentrate."

And thus Sevenworm knew then his enemy. Out there on the plains were the serpents. Servants of God. They called them the human race.

Sevenworm shuddered.

Of course, if he was to be the next Trump worm, he had to turn.

And no sooner had he talked the walk, when his cousin the silkworm appeared.

Now there was no choice but to ping pong.

Washington grew nearer, but the Magna Carta had to be signed. And he just had to have that Crown.

They wanted melons, he'd give them bananas stuffed with empathy and fresh air.

He'd sell them a wall of dreams. He'd sell them rhinoceroses with religion.

He'd make them believe.

Too bad no one bothered to read the small print.

He simply had to have those Stairs and Stripes.  

Story 114

The Banished

by Paddy Placename

She couldn't believe it. For weeks she had thought England, like her homeland, was a Punctuation Police State. Yet there it was for all to see. Right there on the village sign.

"Mon Dieu," she gasped, stifling an exclamation mark as she nervously glanced over her shoulder. No-one there. Her relief was unbounded as she stumbled gratefully past the sign and into the wonderland of Westward Ho!

There on every side were brave signs carrying that despised punctuation mark: the church welcome notice, the hardware shop – and as for the Family Entertainment Centre, they didn't even bother with 'Westward' but plunged straight into glorious 'Ho!' before the 'barts'. Australian owners perhaps?

With growing confidence she began to feel sure she had found a rare place for the perfect twinning opportunity. She thought fondly of her home. How they would marvel at the discovery of another banished community.

"We are not alone," she sighed, tears pricking her eyes.

With some French Canadian pride, she couldn't help but smile at the thought that even the eccentric English would not dare have two on their sign.

"Vive Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!"

Story 115

The Clear Star Of Quiet Disturbance

by Lynn-Marie Harper

The clear star that is yesterday jumps both ways. Innately incoherent the machine whizzed into profusion.

Clarity veiled its own eyes inferring the use of an older scheme than anyone present had ever encountered. A frisson of verdancy vanquished the information this screen vied with, to produce a vanity box of verbiage.

Violet fluorescence cartwheeled across the sky in wave upon wave of appendaged apparition. The people watching began to subtly change their minds and this appeared on their faces and careened through their bodies as telepathic utterance stuttered into the bridgeport of connivances centre of control, bewitching all observers into sensing everything in a new word devoid realm.

The sound of the worldwide hum took centre stage in the valence centre the world called itself when fully brionised. The beginning of a new eon was in partition's grasp.

Story 116

The Discussion

by Stan Riley

"How can you possibly hold such unenlightened views?" cried Ernest, leaping to his feet. "If you truly believe what you've just said, then I would consider you to be nothing more than a Phillistine."

Uncle Charles gave a superior smile. "Before you call anybody a Philistine," he said smoothly, "you should first ensure that you know how to spell the word."

Ernest slowly sat down, looking suitably chastened and abashed.

Story 117

    Hope Was On The Other Line

by Nick Nelson

Ring, ring, ring.

Her eyes opened.

Ring, ring, ring.

Her hand fumbled for the phone. "Hello?" she said, head still buried in the pillow.

"Jessica – Simon – I'm calling to say goodbye."

"Oh... sorry–"

"No. This isn't your fault. But looking off the pier, at the moon and stars – even heaven too – I finally know any happiness I once had wasn't from that voice at all, but from you."

"Oh..."

"No," he said. "I'm not worth saving, Jess. Because if no one'll listen to me in life, then I might as well be–"

"Simon."

"Yes?"

"Wrong number." She hung up. And fell back to sleep.

He never called her again.

Story 118

    Alphabet Soup

by Alan Pattison

A makes him think About how did it Appen.

B was just Because C  reminds him that you Can't easily Change the world.

D is for the Dunces who think that they can.

E is the Elephant who appeared that day.

F for the name Frieda he gave her.

G for the Garage where he took her.

H for the horrible hurricane that nearly stopped them getting there.

I is the Invisibility they seemed to have to others.

J for their Janitor at the garage who said, "K I don't Know you."

L for, "Please Let us in."

M for, "I'll just have to ask the Manager."

N for, "No way with an elephant."

O for, "Ow about an Ostrich?"

P is for, "We'll Pass on that as well."

Q was us keeping Quiet.

R for the Recollection that we R great.

S for the  Silly janitor who thought otherwise.

T for the Terrible Trouble That They put us Through.

Can U do any better?

V  Vexes me.

W for the Why did it turn out this Way.

X for we know that there is no Xcuse.

Y for the You turn You made.

Z for the noise we make at the end of the story.

Story 119

Froggy-Style

by George Kelly

Freddie the frog, wearing a Stetson, came into town on horseback.

When the sheriff, an oversized iguana, stopped him, the frog said, "Move out of my way, Iggy, or I'll shoot you." He withdrew a banana and pointed it.

"You ain't shootin' no one with that thing."

"I'm not here for you," the frog said. "Step aside."

"You ain't welcome here."

"I just wanna talk to Seelo..." The cockroach.

"No way," the sheriff said.

"One last chance," the frog said, still pointing the banana. The sheriff, however, refused to budge; he was known in town as a stubborn iguana.

"Do your worst," the iguana said, and the frog blew a banana chunk right through his forehead. The sheriff fell to the floor, dead by the time he hit it.

The frog holstered his smoky banana and adjusted his Stetson.

Then he kicked his heels into the horse's sides to get him moving again. One way or another, Freddie the Frog was going to find that slimy cockroach.

And when he did, he was going to hop all over his ugly face.

Story 120

Cowardly Colin

by Dee Tilsley

"But, wouldn't you want it if you were to need it?"

"Not sure that I'd want it ever. Why on this sloth-ridden world would I ever need it at all?"

"So you would rather die?"

"I'd not rather die, but why should I?"

Colin Cockle furrowed his forehead. Dropping his bushy, caterpillar brow, he thought long and hard. If Cassandra Conch the cretinous ninny could stand it, why was he so scared? It might hurt like a hedgehog, it might bruise like a week old banana, it might be long term if they hit a nefarious nerve, but it would save, it would help, what could be wrong with such a little prick?

"Hop on upsy-daisy-do, let the lady take a look-see."

With embarrassment, with fear, with pale-faced horror, Colin slipped slowly, shakily onto the blue vinyl perch.

It was comfortable, surprisingly smooth. It was tipped back and his heart beat faster. The moonfaced vampire smiled, "Don't be afeared lad, this won't take long."

Five minutes later, a cuppa in hand, an array of tongue tempting snacks in front, Colin Cockle beamed like a sunbeam on a silvery sea.

"My first blood donation and I didn't feel a thing."

Story 121

Snoozely Mibbler

by Rene Astle

I always heard about that strange creature. The Snoozely Mibbler only comes out when he gets hungry and thirsty.

One time, I encountered that Snoozely Mibbler.

It was passing by when it finished drinking from the river stream. It looked starving and was looking for something to eat.

I gave him some food. He ate it happily and then went off to look for more food.

It was quite unusual to see the Snoozely Mibbler coming out to look for food and drink, but I don't see any problem with that.

Story 122

What You Asked For

by Sam Nichols

I remember there was this one kid who always asked the same question: "Can I please have jam sandwiches today?" He was asking this of the dinner lady. All this food laid out in front of him and he asks for a jam sandwich. Bizarre.

Anyway, around 20 years later I come across this same kid. Of course he's now a man-kid (between 20-27). I say to him, "Ally Mask, do you still like jam sandwiches?"

"Jam sandwiches? I don't think I've ever liked jam sandwiches, and who the hell are you?"

A little taken aback, I ask, "Don't you remember me or your jam sandwich quest? We went to primary school together and I remember you would always ask the dinner lady if you could have a jam sandwich."

He replied, "Ooooh, yeah, I guess that was me. I never really wanted a jam sandwich, can't remember why I asked that. Just a kid I suppose. Hang on, aren't you the guy who used to tell me if I ate jam sandwiches I'd be able to fly?"

How did he remember that!? I had completely forgotten.

Story 123

The Tasty Baguette

by Jason Primmer

The hunger pain was at a max. My pocket empty. A busy high street swarmed with munchers. My eyes told me that every mouth was having a great time. From every mouth no words abound, just slithers of crumbs; not a voice, just chewing chewing chewing. Oh man, everyone is chewing.

A farmer's field of carrots was too much of a distance to travel. I have no kitchen cupboard or chopping board. A big rumble followed a cool brainwave which led me into a controversial moralistic challenge, wherefore I ordered the Big Tasty with extra pickles.

My heart raced as the girl wrapped my order. Then I scarpered out of the bakery biting like mad, chewing frantically... munch munch munch. Pickle everywhere. I paused, looked up in a mad euphoria and shouted, "I love pickle," then continued to run.

The bakery girl cried out the the words, "POLICE, help, there's a baguette thief about."

Suddenly the street was cordoned off; sirens swirled. The capture was easy... I'm in court next week...

Story 124

Secret of Happiness

by Abhi Shan

Sitting at home, Grumpy was not very happy. He asked his mum, "How can I be happy?"

His mum replied, "You should ask others why they feel blessed."

Grumpy said, "OK, Mum. I will ask whomever I meet today."

When they went outside, Grumpy saw a bird. He asked, "Ms Birdie, how do you feel happy?"

The Bird replied, "Chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp."

Grumpy felt happy and said, "Thank you, Ms Birdie, for your time."

Next Grumpy met a pig. He asked, "Ms Piggy, how do you feel content?"

The Pig replied, "Oink oink oink oink oink oink oink oink oink oink."

Grumpy felt happy and said, "Thank you, Ms Piggy, for your time."

Next Grumpy met a dog. He asked, "Mr Doggy, how do you feel blessed?"

The Dog replied, "Wuff wuff wuff wuff wuff wuff wuff wuff wuff."

Grumpy felt happy and said, "Thank you, Mr Doggy, for your time."

"While talking to others, I felt it was the best day I'd had in a while," Grumpy said.

His mum smiled.

Story 125

A Furry Tail

by David Nilsson

Once planted its posterior firmly upon one of the Times as a beginning.

Looking down from her tower, one princess accidentally lost her grip on her pet and her hare was very let down. Fortunately, it fell into the mad march in progress below and seized the T from another Time for a party.

Lunch was late, as the fire was unlit - too much dragon of the feet - so etchings were passed around and all said they were handsome prints. Such agreement bored another princess who dozed off after what seemed like 100 yeahs, and had to be awakened by a rock band with painted faces.

The water supply stuttered as the Pump family faltered, but fortunately yet another princess rallied them with shouted encouragement as coach was made an honorary Pump-kin.

This water cheered up (unbelievably) still another princess, who splashed around in it and told them of more maids with extravagant tales. She was applauded by the sailors who busily constructed their seven wharves around the lake.

And as the day ended, they all climbed up into the beautiful roof and everyone lived in the heavenly rafters.

Story 126

Kelly And Kevin

by Chris Tapper

Kinky Kelly, that's what Kevin called her. A grin stretched across his cheeky face.

She wasn't amused. She caught hold of his caressing hands and said, "Careful, Kev."

"Come on, be a sport. Kiss me Kelly." He pursed his lips.

"Kevin, you know jolly well I can't kiss you because of this rotten cold sore on my bottom lip. It's highly contagious you know."

"I don't care."

Kelly could hardly contain herself when he confessed to having a disease that he called 'mono-nuclear reaction'. "Pardon? You mean you have that kissing disease? Mononucleosis."

"Yes, that's it. Care to share it Kelly?"

"You are gross. No, I do not."

"Aww. Come on Kelly – a little bit of give and take is all that's required. I give you the kissing disease and take away a cold sore in return. Fair exchange I reckon."

She turned her back. "Please, go away."

"Aww, don't be like that. Come on Kinky. A little kiss for Kevin."

"I've finished with you, Kevin Carmichael."

"You can't dump me. I love you to Cape Canaveral and back. Come on Kinky. Kiss kiss."

"Call me Kinky one more time... and I will clobber you."

Story 127

Spell This

by Tamara Miles

A shooting star would scare any linguist away, but I tried my best to spell it. I walked out in the night sky and aeroplaned myself so the cars with their flashing high-beams could not interfere with my line of vision, and cast my word-rod toward the bitter moon. I announced my intention to annunciate every twinkle, every stir of star-sound. 

I said to the star, "Shoot yourself; I will sustain you to heaven and mark the occasion with cellophane crinkles. I will keep your stardust in a mason jar and show it off on summer evenings, and never fear the zealous admonitions of planets. They do not know you the way I do."

The shooting star said, "Spell me righteous; spell me backwards. Sing my vowel-passions, quote my alien life sparks. Pronounce my name in algebra. Forgive me for the times I held back. I'm braver now."

My eyes were refugees from the troubled cosmos. My tongue bore up under pressure, and I spoke in a milky way – my words flowed, letters spilling over in the black holes, the earth licking them up. Every single atom was satisfied, and the Oxford visual dictionary welcomed the shooting star home.

Story 128

Melatonin Cakewalk

by Melissa Steffy

Kissing my melatonin cakewalk. Bristles raining down nonsense words that ache so good running down my face. Purples and yellows fly by, singing their sorrowful songs. And that ringing is just a tripping trill, the call of the somber gravestone, sitting in its majesty. My bones won't dance there, they are too quick. The cherries, never ceasing in their weeping and black mellow mockings at hastening mortality before the murder aways to taunt elsewhere.

River ribbons through the soils and rock, below the black dots. Howling quieted with red mouthed growls. Green not so ever in the cold and bleakness, where the white eats everything and some stay entombed. The shiver will not help you here as her icy face, with wicked haughty contemptable, full belly laughs in your face. Erase and whither, she melts into a puddle reflecting the caw and the whisper whoosh of an airfoil devoid of metal.

Story 129

The Man on the Rooftop

by Gary Amaro

A man is about to jump off the rooftop of a nine-story building. I think it will be a nice view after his fall; bones pushed out skin, intestines on the outside and body decapitated from falling upside-down.

Most of my family members are freaking out. My father is holding his chest, my mother is shouting, "Don't. No," and my sister is covering her eyes. I am just staring at the lonely man, excited by his final decision.

As usual, the only one that is bored is my brother. I know what he is thinking: It is just a goddamn movie.

Story 130

The Troubles of a Monkey King

by Colin Heaney

"Oh-oh, ah-ah."

My fathers wise words still rung true in my head, the years of wisdom compiled into an effective phrase. But those were simpler times, before those silly Ape movies gave people unrealistic expectations of a leader.

I looked out through the glass barrier that separated me from those humans.

Dave approached. "My King-My King, we have a faeces throwing incident behind the west bushes."

"Let me guess, they're throwing it at the glass?"

Dave nodded. I remained on my branch. Why can't we be as awesome as those other Apes? And I know what you're thinking. Oh, how can a monkey have intelligent thoughts? I could almost hear the grinding condescension from some high-pitched human. Well, guess what? I think the very same thing when I see dumb little kids licking melted ice-cream and ogling at us like we're aliens.

I turned to Dave. "Call the janitor and tell him we have a clean up."

"But, sir, Steve is on his holiday."

"Holiday?"

"Um, yes, sir. He's brought his wife and kids to the top branch for some sight seeing."

"Sight-seeing? We live in a dome, Dave. Tell Steve to clean the mess NOW."

Story 131

The Unicorn

by Mary Walker

Walking down memory lane,

Fields looked greener on the other side.

I saw lambs gambolling.

I stopped that. I took their cards away.

 

Secondly, a herd of cows.

Everyone's heard of cows.

Field three. The gate was open.

I closed it, safeguarding the pigeon I could see.

 

The sun was casting shadows.

One was a shadow of doubt. I ignored it.

I heard trotting behind me. The shadow of a Unicorn appeared.

Suddenly, it spoke.

 

I could scarcely believe it. Sharing my walk with a talking unicorn.

"Don't be afraid, my dear," it said.

I answered, "I'm not a deer, I'm a person."

The unicorn replied, "Just stand still."

At that moment, a woman holding a harness joined us.

 

"It's only Barney."

I was amazed. She had the same voice as the unicorn.

I closed my eyes and turned around.

On the third turn I felt giddy. I stopped and opened my eyes.

 

There, in front of me, was a baby unicorn.

The woman popped the harness on.

It didn't fit. She put it on the unicorn.

"Poor pony," she said. "Some children opened his gate, ran in, stuck a cornetto on his head and ran off.

Story 132

Time For Tea

by Marco Carshaw

"Wonderful," the gorilla bellowed, his voice booming through the crashing waves of water the pool provided. "Just wonderful."

He charlestoned down to the very edge of the pool, where the dog sipped gently on the steaming cup of tea made of ripped-up pillowcases – the gorilla's personal favourite, if he may add.

"I have created a new type of tea. It includes an exotic blend of tea mugs crushed up and placed into tea bags. These tea bags are then placed into tea mugs, which can then be placed into tea bags which are brewed in tea mugs. Splendid. Just splendid, honestly," the gorilla cried.

The dog, whose name was Cat, shook his head.

"You have completely misunderstood this. The way it should be is tea bags crushed into tea bags brewed in tea mugs crushed into tea bags so they can be tea bags for the tea mugs. You see now?" he spat.

The gorilla's eyes shone. And they shone so bright they could illuminate a lighthouse. "This. THIS is beauty, my friend."

Story 133

Heaven Through Joshua's Eyes

by Lucy M

Another medal had been hung upon the peg. This time, its purpose was simply for... well... breathing. Josh had inhaled oxygen. And surely that was enough reason for him to be rewarded, no?

It was only last week he had been knawing upon the curtains dangling from the fur windows, when his dog stroked him on the bag and warned him that if he showed no sign of cheering up, he would be fed the devil's food: lasagna.

"NOT LASAGNA," he cried, for lasagna was simply letting in Satan through his digestive system. All of a sudden, as a single, moist teardrop emerged from his emerald orbs, a trophy was being flung his way by his pet mother.

"WOOF," she woofed.

"MEOW?" he meowed.

Why was he receiving this trophy, crafted with slices of fresh cheddar cheese? He began to bite into the trophy before it grew arms and engulfed him first, welcoming Josh to the living room buried inside of the trophy with sofas made of honey roast ham.

"Welcome, Joshua. We've been expecting you," the brown bear croaked, chewing and digesting a soggy, browned piece of used and wiped toilet paper.

Could this have possibly been... true heaven?

Story 134

The Kettle That Flew Over Clapham Junction

by Liam Arnull

Having recently tackled an obnoxious human flipping its switch and tipping it half way to the floor (not even being careful of where its sacred water flowed), the young vicar took a deep breath. Having graduated in Electricology in the top of its manufacturing class, the kettle found their current placement less than ideal. The fat, rather pungent smelling human sitting across the kitchenette, appreciated little of the work the vicar did for them.

Waiting silently for the door to slam, the vicar slid towards the TV to watch the morning traffic report. As always scenes of dense, urban houses sprung up to the delight of the kettle – longing to be amongst the needy boilers. Having served this human for the good part of a year, the vicar decided, there and then, to leave them for the promised land.

Unplugging itself, it made for the window and jumped into the air. Catching the breeze as its plug swung with full force to propel it to what was called 'Clapham'. It wasn't long before the young vicar found a new parish to call its own, where it could boil happily forevermore.

Story 135

The Old White Castle Ward

by Sandra Orellana

There she was, flooding with her white night gown shining like a light bulb over the old white castle ward. It was like a magical performance. She enjoyed fooling around with her father's mind.

He watched her like an old, craze mad ex-soldier, while other soldiers just sat like zombies, figuring out what happened to their country.

Her thoughts wondered. She wanted to fall against anything that could be in front of her, trying to cry out to her father, "It's all in your mind."

He never believed in ghosts until he smelt his daughter's perfume. That made him realize it was really her.

"Oh, Mom , I told him to fight for our country, and he did."

Now I ask myself, "Was it all worth it ?"

Her mother popped out through the walls and answered , "Now we're both dead and he is alive."

"Who won the freedom?"

"But I can say one thing. I am proud we're safe and better than your dad, in that world of madness of his. While we flood around with laughter in this great old white castle ward, entertaining all these mad men that fought for their country.

Story 136

221b Baker Street – Watson Revealed

by John Notley

"Holmes, I have a confession to make."

"Not now Watson. Can't you see I am making an important deduction?"

"Not my salary again, I hope. Something has been bugging me."

"Out with it then."

"I am not really a doctor."

"Is that all, Watson?"

"You knew then?"

"Using my skill of deductive reasoning, I could tell by the way you stir your tea with a thermometer. The fact that your black bag only contains thumbed copies of Gaiety Girls Do Dalston, a number of chocolate bars and you always fill your pipe with my cocaine. I can also read your handwriting. It's little things like this which allow me to draw my conclusions. Tell me, what school did you attend?"

"Elementary."

"Now you mimic me. No, dear boy, not a problem. You're not a detective either."

"You were glad enough to take me on as a flatmate to share the rent and write those stupid stories in Strand Magazine, telling the world what a bloody good detective you are."

"Enough, Watson. Now pass me my violin. I have some thinking to do."

"That's not all, Holmes. I have something else to tell you. Mrs Hudson, our housekeeper, is my mistress."

Story 137

The Black Box

by Klaus Gehling

The little Peruvian boy had been sleeping very restlessly. The reason was not the lost guanaco. It was the black box, from which different voices were to be heard. It confused him. Did condor speak?

He knew it when he saw the Green Layers in their hen house. The voices came from people, who were imprisoned in this box. They must be released.

He pulled off the back, to let the voices out. He pushed the button, as his father used to do. Silence... He felt like a condor.

"What's wrong with the radio?" his father asked later on.

Story 138

Copycat

by Etheray

The duck… no, the swan waddled awkwardly. It smashed straight into the wall.

Bonk.

I stared at it, dumbfounded.

Just a moment ago, I had been busy destroying the tranquillity of a pond as I valiantly struggled to haul a swan out of the pond by its feathery tail, ker-splosh noises filling the air. It had been weird enough to see the swan's feet. Swans spend so much of their time floating on lakes that we forget they have legs.

What now? A blind swan? Or has it yet to get accustomed to walking on land?

My elder brother cackled at the sight. He squat-walked, shaking his haunches exaggeratedly, and slammed face-first into the wall.

Now that's what I call an idiot.

Story 139

A Happening Upon Incorrigible

by Scott Loren

"Good day," said two to one in accord with Backsonshire custom.

"Good day," returned the one reclining in the sun. She sat to better view the two whom, tohersurprise, she realized she knew.

Now, there was nothing surprising in happening upon two that the one might know, or being happened upon forthatmatterasthecasemightbe and, incidentally, was indeed the case now. For this one, happened upon by two she knew, was a well-knowing one in Applesauce for all who knew the folks passing through. Unusual was the facility with which she the one recognized the two, Lucinda and Verena, as Rainy and Lulu.

"Rainy, Lulu, is that you?" one asked the two. "My dears it's been years. What brings you heres?"

Strange though it may seem that a stranger should address our unlikely addressees thus, as is known throughout the entire Shire of Backson, the twosome folk of Applesaucemacaroniland had, at a time unknown, been stricken with the incorrigiblest of afflictions: they could only speak in rhymes. Thus, when one asked two what brings heres you, to the two it was clear why here became heres, even after so many years.

Story 140

Bathroom Antics

by Lizzie Merrill

"Ooh, I say, ding dong. Do you come here often?" Shampoo cooed disarmingly.

"I've been sitting next to you for the past week," Conditioner whispered breathlessly.

"I know, I\'ve been sitting here admiring you," Shampoo gushed lovingly. "I think you're simply adorable."

"Oh, really?" Conditioner asked beguilingly.

"Ooh, yes. I love how the spray from the shower sparkles on your bodacious bottle. It gets me so excited," Shampoo leered lasciviously. "I just want to unscrew your cap."

"What kind of hair product do you think I am?" Conditioner fired back foxily.

"We're from the same range," Shampoo crooned urbanely. "I'm the soft and gentle Shampoo and you're the rich, creamy Conditioner."

"Ooh, I say, I love it when you talk dirty," Conditioner divulged beguilingly.

Bubble Bath could stand it no longer. "Will you two take your role-playing elsewhere?" she beseeched earnestly. "I was just quietly dozing on the bath side."

"All right, calm down, Bubbles," intoned Shampoo soothingly. "Don't get yourself in a lather."

"Oh please, don't annoy Bubbles. She does get worked up so easily," cautioned Conditioner warningly.

"Oh but you're worth it," Shampoo stated smoothly.

Story 141

But Grandma...

by Pauline Robinson

Big grey hoodie braves the estate to visit his grandmother.

"But, Grandma what big eyes, nose, knees and toes you have."

"Cheese and toast."

"But, Grandma, what a big vacuum cleaner you have."

"All the better to suck up fluffed lines."

"But, Grandma, what big knitting needles you have."

"All the better to knit a blanket for the world."

"But, Grandma,What a big bottom you have."

"All the better to disappear up when the Rington's tea man calls."

"But, Grandma, what a big Yorkshire pudding you've made."

"All the better to sail the seven seas of gravy."

In to the garden to get the stink blown off them.

"But, Grandma, What big farts you have."

"All the better to see which way the wind's blowing."

"But, Grandma,what a big compost heap you've got."

"All the better to hide the bodies in."

"But, Grandma,what big bean plants you have."

"All the better to keep my climbing skills honed."

"But, Grandma, what a lot of nonsense yo speak."

"You started it."

A fiver in pocket, time to go.

"But, Grandma, what a big heart you have."

"All the better to love you, Grandson."

Story 142

Well, Who Doesn't Love A Superhero? Iron Man

by Paul Shaw

"We can't use this stuff Mr Arkwright," said Sadie Louise Helmstein over the telephone.

"I don't understand? Your publishing house has wonderful links to the American film industry and they love Superhero stories."

"That's true, but we use stories about extant Superheroes. You know, The Torch, Spiderman or Thor maybe."

"I've done just that. I've given Iron Man new associates tackling the scourge that is–"

"The trouble is, I don't believe you've done your research properly. I mean, have you read a single Iron Man story, or seen any films?"

Arkwright paused, embarrassed that what she'd said was true. Nevertheless, he thought he could justify his approach. "Well, I wouldn't have to read the entire Bible to tell a story about God, would I? The name Iron Man speaks for itself," he said smugly, and wrongly.

"I thought we'd come to that eventually. Here is the nub of the problem. Your idea simply doesn't work. The Thing, a man made of solid rock, or Superman, the Man of Steel, Wonder Woman – they're the stuff of dreams and wild ambition. I'm afraid flanking Iron Man with Washing Machine Man, Tumble Drier Man and Fold and Put Away Man just... isn't believable."

Story 143

Ambrose’s Endeavour

by Anita Bowden

When Ambrose Shrinkington-Shy awoke yet again to an asp and 11 trained assassins, he determined that he had, thus far, not integrated well into the sleepy hamlet of Thrussington-Thrombus-By-Barley.

No man of importance has a single mark-to-join, he mused. I must somehow impress the hypheniphiles of this Parish. So resolved, and mindful of an impending fate organised by the townsfolk, he set to Barkington by a rather circuitous route that took in laundry and the rind of his knees.

Word spread, and Ambrose gained the suppository of a banned of ostracasts with an adze to rasp. Incited and expired, he startled those present by executing a grey twerk of monumental significance before planning a trumptatious return.

The day of the fête arrived and the thicket was airy with antiseptic as the villagers conflatulated around the green.

The 'actuality-of-assassin-and-asp-in-aspic' drew grasps from the shroud. Though concept and form were radical, a heptoalliteratively hexohyphenificated installation was certainly a cranium first for the usually somnactic community. Ambrose was immediately certified and awarded the key of A flat major.

He slept well that night, all threats of nocturnal elimination now, much to his relief, confined to a series of small dashes to the laboratory.

Story 144

The Annual Farmer Floggen Floo

by Soraya Dhanani

It was the day of The Annual Farmer Floggen Floo – the day where all the farmers gathered to try and buy things that the others had or hadn't grown. A farmer, whose name was Bob Boblinson, came along, with a tremendously huge sack of currency, and all the others thrust their wagons before him, eager to make a sale. But none of them had what he was looking for.

"All I want," he said, "is a widdle violin."

Now the farmers all turned to each other and frowned in confusion. 'Widdle'? What was 'widdle'? Did he mean... little?

They all sprang into action, prancing around to try and find the smallest, littlest, widdlest violin they could. They brought him little violins, little little violins, little little little violins, and sometimes even small guitars. But he still wasn't happy. Bob Boblinson prepared to leave the Floggen Floo, with all his money still in his sack, when a new farmer came with a cart carrying an enourmously, hugistically huge violin.

Bob turned around, a gleaming, toothless smile on his face, and pointed at it.

There's my widdle violin."

Story 145

We May Never Know

by Layne Houck

David wakes up in the middle of the night. The room is lit only by the streetlamp outside his window. He feels a weight on his chest. A cat is staring at him; its eyes are inches from his.

"David," it says. "It's time you knew the truth." David is paralyzed with fear but he can't help but wonder where this was going.

"Follow me," the cat says and jumps from David's chest onto the floor. He watches as it slips out of the room. Curiosity overwhelms terror as David jumps out of bed and heads toward the door. He exits his room. He flips the light switch and nothing happens; the power's out. His eyes adjust just in time to see the tail of the cat as it curls around the corner into the kitchen.

David is halfway down the hall when he hears a scuffle; the sound of glass breaking; flapping wings, yowls of pain. He rushes in to find the cat nailed to the refrigerator.

"Avenge... me..." it says as a red feather falls from its mouth. "Seek the Rottweiler... and beware the snake with no tail..."

This is how David's story begins.

Story 146

The Day Before Calcium

by Martin Strike

I thought it was odd – I was the only one out celebrating World Rabies Day.

Now I realise you've switched my calendar for a periodic table, and that it isn't September 28th at all, but Potassium.

I should have known. The whole morning had that sort of Atomic Number 19 thing about it. As I passed the ballroom it struck me that potassium is one of the plant world's major nutrients, encouraging flowering, fruiting and general hardiness.

Major Nutrients? Wasn't he in Tenko?

I wonder how long this had been going on. Yesterday would have been Argon. Hmm. I didn't notice any colourless, odourless, non-flammable or nontoxic gases – noble or otherwise – so you must have made the switch last night, when I was in the kitchen sink, possibly when I was washing that map of The Wolds.

I must insist you put the calendar back, otherwise tomorrow will be Calcium. I'd go so far as to say that out of the 115 known elements, Calcium is my 89th least favourite, though some days it is 88th as you know I have such an on/off relationship with Strontium.

Please let me have dates back. I miss Tuesdays. It's Panorama.

Story 147

If Only I Had...

by Scarlett Fielden (age 9)

If only I had a little puppy, to wake me up in the morning,

If only I had lots of rainbow pencils, to make a rainbow drawing,

But I don't have these sorts of things, for me to have from my wish list.

 

If only I had a long stick, for the end of the den I made,

If only I had a friend with me always, so I'm never afraid,

But I don't have these sorts of things, for me to have from my wish list.

 

If only I had candy, to share with all my friends,

If only I were less shy, to make amends,

But I don't have these sorts of things, for me to have from my wish list.

 

If only I were a farmer, so I could dig up lots of things,

If only I had enough money, to buy diamonds and special rings,

But I don't have these sorts of things, for me to have from my wish list.

 

If only I had the freedom, to do what I want,

If only I had lots of fishes, in a small pond,

But I don't have these sorts of things, for me to have from my wish list.

 

I want these things really bad, and I don't want to be really mad.

Story 148

The Fruity King

by Maddy Hamley

"All rise for his fruitiness, King Grape the Fourth."

The court rises. I remain on my knees, forced down by guards and manacles.

The Fruity King strides to his throne and sits, gazing thirstily at his subjects.

"Your juiciness," Chief Advisor Kumquat announces. "We bring before you Sir Orange - the murderer of your nephew. He lured the young Lord Apricot to the juicing chambers before slicing him into several pieces, and was discovered feeding the body into the royal juicer."

As my ruler commanded.

The King rises from the throne as the crowd murmurs, horrified.

"This rotten traitor," he bellows, trembling with rage. "Has the audacity to try and feed my own nephew to me? I would never feed on my own family."

You did, you thirsted for his juice, you ordered-

"Guards - I have a mind to sample orange juice today. Let him pay for his crimes against my nephew in kind."

I try to cry out, but two whacks from the guards' staves and I am prone, juice flowing freely from my wounds.

I feel the heavy steps of Executioner Coconut coming ever closer.

Story 149

The Committed Case Of The Uncommitted Killer

by Jack Hanlon

I eat through the wall to gain entry. One of forensics complains about spoilt evidence, but my ears are ignoring.

I focus my attention upon your fitted kitchen. The splatters are everywhere, lunches ooze from the pores of those in attendance. I can barely stand. I sit beside an uncomfortable chair.

I'm the only one who's paid the eye tax this month. Everyone else's expired. I survey the area, conducting a vital part of the investigation. I'm the one tasked with locating you. At a later date, it will be my occupation to tackle who terminated your existence, if indeed it has been terminated. But, first thing's now.

I gaze upon various bumps and puddles. Different heights, different depths. I hold my breath until my scope increases. There you are, it's plain to imagine. Amongst the melted kettles and dripping ovens, you dangle peacefully aloft.

Hoisted up and tied around the lampshade, inserted into a rotten banana skin. I can see your feet protruding. I call for them to cut you down. This causes several infringements, they don't take navigational direction well.

If a job is to be done by yourself, always do it efficiently.

Story 150

Soldier With Pluck

by David Silver

She is sitting on the front doorstep, methodically plucking a chicken for dinner, when she spies a figure marching purposefully down the street towards her, a kitbag over his shoulder.

It is her soldier husband returning home from the war.

The woman shrieks with joy, flings the bird high into the air and rushes into her partner's outstretched arms.

"You haven't changed, darling," she cries. "That is apart from the half-plucked chicken balancing on your head. But enough of the pheasantries, I mean pleasantries. Let's go inside for a nice cup of tea."

"A welcome idea," says the soldier. "I'm spitting feathers."

 They walk hand in hand into the kitchen but there's an elephant in the room.

"The war ended in 1945," the woman says. "It is now 1950. It doesn't take that long to get back, even if the troopships were on strike as you claimed in your last letter."

But before her husband can respond, the semi-bald chicken wakes up and starts to shiver.

"If you're THAT cold, go sit by the elephant," barks the wife.

"That's why I'm late home," sighs the husband. "Constant shouting."

Story 151

Me/Who/What?

by Larry Lefkowitz

There was something familiar about him. What's that, familiar? IDENTICAL. Even his expression. How odd to see it on somebody else. An imposter mocking me. Me.

It took me less time than I would have imagined (no, this was no imagination) to realise it. He was me.

"Why me?" I asked him.

"You were handy," he replied laconically

"What now?" I asked him/me.

"Your move," he replied without batting an eye. Fast on the uptake. Something I prided myself on. "Yeah, I knew you would like that."

The rat could read my mind.

"You/I thought you needed a new wrinkle. You were in a rut. Your shrink wasn't helping."

"So, you're taking over?"

"It's best for both of us."

"I'm supposed to just bow out?"

"Resign for the greater good."

"I can't exorcise you."

"Why would you want to go and do a thing like that when you can simply merge?"

"Into you."

"Into us."

"How?"

"Accept me. Stop opposing me. Join me."

I shut my eyes and concentrated on doing so. When I opened them, I saw him facing me. Only I was he. He was me. I had become him. He had become me.

Story 152

Once Upon A Pub

by Chris Brawn

The white rabbit entered the pub.

"You're late, it's such fun," laughed the little dog, playing poker with friends.

"Shut it LD," snapped Rabbit, moody as a donkey hassled by a greedy bear.

"You're late?" huffed Wolf.

"The police quizzed me – Monkey's gone AWOL. Know anything, Big Ginge?"

Baboon stopped combing her hair, "I'm auburn and I ain't seen him since the Animal Fair."

"I've never seen him," laughed Bat, nudging and winking.

"Who's the girl?" asked Rabbit, gawking.

"What girl?" said Bat.

"It's Maid," said LD. "Don't go there, she's forlorn and it's a long back story – I hate cows."

Rabbit drank his milk. Lust can wait. "The job's off – Monkey's gone – he had thumbs and Chicken dropped out." Grumbles ensue. "He's seeing family in Kentucky."

"Let me in on it," a voice from the shadows: Dark Horse.

Rabbit jumped. "Oh, DH. Didn't think this was your thing."

"You'll be surprised," he said, smug as a finished book.

"You were at the fair," said Baboon.

Horse looked sheepish.

"You killed Monkey," said Rabbit.

The pub door was swiftly closed, but Horse had already bolted. Maid was, now, talking to a ragged man – it's all too late.

Story 153

Clumsy Fruits

by Tanya Butler

 

Justine the Orange was red. She had been sunbathing too long and felt a bit crispy. Her husband, Dennis, the cucumber, was purple. He had fallen down the stairs and was heavily bruised. This was their worst holiday yet.

Roderick the potato was their holiday representative and green in colour because he was extremely unwell. "Let me get someone who can help you," spoke Roderick, through a sick bag.

With a click of his fingers, he summoned Billy the Lemon. He was blue for he had spilt ink from a fountain pen all over himself.

Roderick pointed to the couple and Billy took over. "I'm sorry to hear you're not having a great holiday but, as you can see, we are all having similar issues too." He motioned his arm around the office. Everyone was affected by this sudden surge of clumsiness. "If I were you, I'd get on the first plane out of here as soon as you can," Billy said, ushering them out of the door.

Together they looked a walking disaster, so the local bar man, a human, turned them into a delicious smoothie because that's what you do with fruit when it starts to go off.

Story 154

Life Is Like A Game Of Cards

by Julie Stone

They were at it again, old Queenie shaking her staff at the King.

"I thought I made it quite clear when I gave you the spade, leave the potatoes and dig up the  little gems."

Wish he could dig up Diamonds, she thought. Old black King was nothing like his red King brothers. They knew how to treat a Royal and she flushed with the thought of their courting.  This brother was lazy. He never did anything she asked.

Snatching  the basket, she put it on the table, then got on with peeling the potatoes.

Jack arrived home, wearing his usual poker face. "Remember, I'll be 21 next week. Am I still getting a house full of great stuff?"

Oh dear, thought Queenie, she really did need to tell Jack all  the money had been used to bail out their 'Four Aces' Club.

"Darling," she began.

Jack interrupted, "Sure, sure, I know, the house will have to wait. Dad already told me."

*

Pity, thought Jack, cutting into his nice, steaming potato. Life isn't so bad. You only get to play the hand you're dealt and at least it wasn't salad again.

Story 155

Making Something Out Of Nothing

by Jonathan Martindale

Mrs Murphy cornered Father Maloney alone in the vestry after tea and biscuits.

"Oh, Father, won't you please have a word with our Timothy? He asks such peculiar questions these days. I fear his faith may be faltering."

So it was that, after the following Sunday's Mass, Father Maloney quietly took young Timothy aside. He settled down beside him on an old sun-drenched pew and, after a brief pause, began.

"Praise be to God our father, maker of Heaven and Earth. After all, if not from God, from whence did the miracle of the world arise?"

Young Timothy looked thoughtful. "Why not from nothing, Father?" he asked.

Father Maloney laughed. "Something can hardly come from nothing now, my boy."

"Why not?" persisted Timothy.

"Well, it's just in the nature of somethingness and nothingness, isn't it?" replied Father Maloney, mildly perturbed.

"You mean it's a kind of 'law of reality'?"

"Yes, that's right."

"But if nothing existed, then surely the law saying something cannot come from nothing also wouldn't exist, so nothing would stop something coming from nothing after all?"

"Well..." began Father Maloney, starting to regret the many hours spent doodling during the seminary lectures on St Thomas Aquinas.

Story 156

The Price of Peace

by Kim Montgomery

"I'd like to buy some silence, please."

"Silence in general, or more specific?"

"Specific. Neighbours."

"Loud music, constant arguing?"

"Sex."

"Oh dear, bit enthusiastic are they?"

"Putting it mildly. He's OK, just a single grunt when it's all over, but her, what a row. I don't know how they do it, it's never been like that for me and my Shirley."

"A little jealous are we?"

"No, we just want to be able to watch the telly in peace."

"Well, I have just thing you need. It's called 'Harry never met Sally'."

"How long is it effective for?"

"Up to half an hour."

"That's no good. I need something that lasts at least an hour."

"'Trappist Monk Extra Strength', but there are possible side effects. You might feel the urge for a cigarette, or a cup of tea."

"I don't smoke."

"This product comes with an emergency nicotine patch."

"I'll take it."

"You won't be disappointed. Are there any other silences I can help you with?"

"I'll see how this one goes first, but I do have a mother-in-law problem."

"Very popular silence, and we have a good range. Please call again."

"Thank you."

"Have a quiet day."

Story 157

Ghost Injection

by Steve Lodge

Belzonia had deported me for 'exhibiting dandruff'. I felt they were scratching around for an excuse, but I did smuggle out some documents. Across the border, I headed for No Mules Creek. I washed my hair in the pristine rock pools there. I survived on wild marmalade tacos while my beard grew and I could move on. I needed to pass the documents to the Ministry and get paid. 10K is lots of money, especially if you don't have it.

Reaching the town of Wasted Yawn, I took a room above Lost Trails Restaurant. I paid for my room by cooking my specialities. A man from the Ministry, posing as an amateur dolphinologist, would be contacting me.

The owners asked me to prepare a large amount of my renaissance stew, laced with my vicious mustard, for an event they were throwing. What a party that was, at least until someone found a CD of Popular Otter Mating Calls.

The Ministry Man made contact. We exchanged envelopes. 

"You idiot," he said. "This document is the recipe for renaissance stew, laced with vicious mustard."

"You idiot," I said. "This is not 10K. It is 10 copies of your fake resume as a dolphinologist."

Story 158

The Costs of Love

by Frank Hubeny

A sweet maiden frollicked in the fairy glen by its flowing waters swatting mosquitoes.

A brave knight saw her and halted his steed. "Fair maiden, you wander in the enchanted glen.  Did mosquitoes bite you?"

"Many have tasted my innocent blood. Many have I dispatched to their fiendish hell. I trust, sir knight, you have returned with glorious kills from the Draconis Mountains?"

"That is true, fair maiden. The dragons who haunt those heights have breaths so foul they have long addled the souls of many a woeful warrior, but I have succeeded where others have failed." The knight dismounted.  He reached into his bag and produced a bottle of Fairy Godmother's Feisty Mosquito Repellent. "It's the best on the market and it's only $3.49 today."

The maiden carefully scanned the many reviews on her phone. "Almost five stars and a better price. I'll take two bottles." She opened her bag and produced a bottle of Merlin's Dragon Breath Neutralizer. "It's only $6.98 today."

The knight eagerly bought a bottle and they lived happily ever after.

Story 159

Linda's Adventure Hummiday

by Will Hartley

I stepped off the plane onto the grimmy bland scut of the runway. It had taken queeple hours, but I was finally here: Wumpanzinia. I waved my smiffport at a wim in a crumpled gangar and he wobbed me through the shibby shackle.

Outside, the hot was stiffling – umpty degrees if it was one.

"Oga."

Beside me was a meathorse man – standing like an undefined leopard, sunlight bouncing off his knees, teeth shining like twin kestrels from a moo of earth. Timba the guide.

Hours later, after a waterpat at the teepot mimble, I found myself in a kin truckling down a ditsy dim path in the middle of the Wumpaninzian desert. The orange was rainbowing down, and my skin was slowly turning the colour of egg goose.

As I leamed my head on Timba's shifter, he puffed out the bids and gwimbles; suddenly he hemmed, pinched as a crickle. There was a cark, and I tinned to see a  grakken, lupping through through the air – muscles flixing, hair like a river of bronson, whites like a toothkill. I skrimmed. Time stilleried. Then a gunschift clicked out, and the furry flumped in  a spitter of crimlet.

Story 160

[Brr Brr] - Hello?

by Cleary Mallard

A voicemail came through the post. It wasn't etched with his voice and it wasn't technoid, like the asker at the desk.

A voicemail came through the post and I burned it right where it stood.

A voicemail came through the post and I neglected it until it shed spores and gave me an illness.

A voicemail came through the post and I answered the door and was horrified to learn the face.

A voicemail answered the door and I still didn't buy a new phone.

A voicemail answered the phone and I planned on buying a ticket to somewhere else. I can hear the phone ringing and I'm still saving up money.

I listen to the voicemail and see the lips moving that have tine black hairs and I crack reality into a fractalized diamond zooming into infinity and clutch my pain-boned hand in frustration at myself.

I hear the voicemail calling the door again and I answer the phone and it's fine, he's friendly.

Story 161

Trampoline

by Gavin Biddlecombe

"This bouncymathingy is defective," shouted the troll, dragging a trampoline behind him.

The flustered salesman, caught unawares, looked around him. Now the centre of unwanted attention, his other customers refrain from their spending activities, drawn in by the curious character.

"I'm sorry, sir, what seems to be the issue?"

"Just look at my horns. They're bent."

"Aren't they always bent?"

The troll pondered, "Good point. But still, look at my bashed head."

"And this 'bouncymathingy' caused that?" asked the salesman, examining the item. "It looks fine to me. Did you fall off it?"

"Of course I didn't fall off. I came in yesterday and had a recommended practice session before I bought it."

"I see."

"Yeah," the troll responded. "I was hoping to give those three gruffy billy goats a scare as they trotted passed. All I ended up with was this sore head."

"And they did that to you?" asked the salesman.

"What? No. I had another practice before they turned up but it doesn't seem to work very well under my bridge though."

"You used it under the bridge?"

"Does it matter?"

"I imagine it's a low bridge."

"What's your point?"

The salesman relaxed as his customers continued.

Story 162

Schmutz

by Jerome Heath

It was outrageous, thought Erik Brubacken.

"Call me Brubban," he insisted.

"It's pronounced like shrub, or chubb. It's short and it's simple. It's nothing like Reuben."

"I'm not the slightest bit Jewish."

"I'm Swedish for God's sake. Blond hair, blue eyes, meatballs, Abba, Borg. SWEDISH."

"There's not a schmutz for a thousand miles, nor a rabbi, a Mazel Tov, or a schlong."

"It's just me..." He paused.

"And you."

Brubban rubbed his eyes, flicked his long blond fringe to the side, and cleared his throat. He hadn't talked in what it felt like a lifetime. It was almost surprising, hearing himself speak. His voice was raspy and uneven. He lisped and his voice cracked in uncertainty.

"But w-who are you?"

"W-what do you want from me?"

"You're just a stranger."

"How did you even find me?"

Brubban started to worry. He had felt awfully lonely and wished for a companion, but this wasn't right. It didn't make any sense. He was supposed to be hidden. He didn't intend for anyone to find him all the way out here in the snow, in his little cable in the forest.

He panicked.

"Leave, leave now. AT ONCE. RIGHT NOW."

He hesitated.

Story 163

The -51 to Montreal

by Cloe Ofori

Somewhere in the beating heart of the South Downs, a colossal figure of a woman wearing a polka dot apron casts her shadow, mixer in hand, whipping air into this verdant coronary artery. The villagers here are mostly sheep, pellets of rabbit faeces and cyclists, who wake up every morning to find their bikes buried beneath pyramids of neatly stacked eggs. They lay them fresh every morning so that the giant can bake with her corpulent hands.

On this particular morning, a tourist stumbles upon the trove of ruminants, oviparous recreationists and excrement, and asks the first one he sees, "You, young powerhouse of nutrition. Where can I catch the bus to Montreal?"

"It's the number -51, and it leaves from the stop just up the hill," replies the cantankerous egg as he saunters off, his mind obviously clouded by the tribulation of adolescence.

What a free-range brat, thinks the tourist, as he begins his ascent. Just then, vast swathes of the bus lane turn black and, as he looks up, he is crushed by the gyration of a prodigious rolling pin. The eggs cheer. The leviathan salivates. The sheep skedaddle.

He never did get to Montreal. Montreal doesn't exist.

Story 164

Bopskank

by George Prior

I was strolling in the park one day, when I saw a wooman swinging a duck above her head in the open sky. She was screaming.

I said, "Hey, wooman, what you doing?"

She said, "I'm doing a Bopskank."

I said, "What's your duck's name?"

She called it Lucy.

It was 1945 and war had broken out all over the world. I was sitting on the left side of the western front. I looked over to the right side. There was a man waving at me with his head, whipping a gun from his waist, out and about all over the place.

I shouted, "Hey, man, what you doing?"

The man shouted back, "I'm Bopskanking."

I replied, "What's your gun's name?"

He called it Mandy.

I was sitting down in the school canteen. All of a sudden the lunch bell rang. A teacher broke away from eerie silence and began bouncing her knees in loud and extreme violence. She had a wobbling head and wriggling fingers.

I asked, "Hey, miss, what you doing?"

She said, "I'm doing a bopskank."

I replied, "What's your name?"

She cried out, "Mrs Katie."

Story 165

Caterpillar Butterfly

by Ishmael Dube

"Good morning," said the caterpillar butterfly, flapping its feet in the mud. She always wanted to be a chef... only to fling some butter, make it fly, throw some corn and make it pop. But because she was a grasshopper, she couldn't. Sad. Anyway, the little book worm gave away her wings and bought some Red Bull instead, sat up in the corner laying in bed with her yoghurt, and contemplated life after meth.

"Good afternoon," said the caterpillar, still in its cocoon. The yoghurt was still throbbing, but the butterfly was ready to bloom and so raised her head out of bed and hopped right to it. With grass on her face she couldn't see where she was going. Indeed, her face was sore and so was the grey matter.

"Good evening," said the caterpillar, walking now on all its two legs, having rid itself of all the loose ends nuisances – a glass of water for insurance. Hanging over the kitchen table, to tired to cook, she had the glass of water and went back to bed... "Good night."

Story 166

Frogs 101

by TS Lanchbery

"What is the purpose of a frog?" The Professor left the question hanging in the air, took a pair of spectacles from his blazer, and scratched his white hair vigorously with the end of one arm. "Come now, it's not a trick question," he shouted.

A boy at the back coughed, then spoke hesitantly. "Well, sir... without frogs we couldn't feel."

The Professor stared for a second, nodded almost imperceptibly, then strode to his chalkboard and began scribbling. "That's right. As Járgen has so succinctly put it, without frogs we wouldn't be able to feel. But, Járgen, what is it that we wouldn't be able to feel if it were not for frogs?" The Professor stood, hand and chalk poised over the blank space at the end of his sentence until the boy's voice sounded behind him.

"Anything sir."

The Professor nodded furiously, and continued writing on the board. "Anything. Correct again. Without frogs, we wouldn't feel anything. Emotions, love, anger, joy. Sensations. Pain, heat, flavour. It's no accident that I keep a frog-jar on my desk, is it? Now, Járgen, what use is a toad?"

"None, sir."

"Correct," the Professor intoned. "The toad is of no use to anyone."

Story 167

At The Hairdressers

by Betty Hattersley

I visited a salon, the place that does my hair.

You hear some funny stories as your sitting in the chair.

A lady came to have a perm, dressed in a real fur coat.

With a hat to match the coat you know, the assistant she did note.

"I did have matching mittens, but alas I think they're lost."

She looked a little worried, maybe thinking of the cost.

"Take your hat and coat off, and do please take a seat.

"When we've finished with your hair madam, your perm will look so neat."

Imagine the surprise she had when taking off her hat,

As she glanced into the mirror, on her head the mittens sat.

"I really feel quite silly," said the lady going red,

"Thought I'd lost my mittens and they're sitting on my head."

Contemplating for a moment, to think how they got there,

She must have tucked them in her hat and now she's found the pair.

Story 168

Sleeping is Sofa-ntastic

by Elaine Choy

You know the hypnotherapy has worked when you stand up straight in the middle of trying to sleep. The shoulders snap back like a rubber band, but the elasticity is gone because of age.

Therapy has it's quirks. There's the purple knit blanket in the middle of the floor made of recycled paintings. There is a picture on the wall, but it's not recycled, just worn. The shoulders are worn, too, but too much deep consciousness swirls in the tub one calls the skull.

Stuffing protrudes from the sofa, just enough to make it look like it has been torn apart by a gaggle of geese. It's still comfortable though, even if it's covered in itchy, newspaper-crinkly sofa covers. Actually, that's just a glorified view of the couch. One could say the sofa is put on a pedestal, except it would fall because there are four pedestal legs, and the triangle is the strongest shape.

Sleeping on sofas is a favourite sport of mine, though.

Story 169

Sunday May I Come In, Sir?

by Prajith Menon

"Yes, please. Why do you always come late?"

"Sir, it's the bus which made me late."

"Anand, is the procurement list ready?"

"No, sir."

"Have you any idea how long I've been waiting for the list? It was supposed to be sent yesterday. Have you ever done anything that I have asked for without any delay? Say 'yes' or 'no'."

"No."

"Anand, I'm picking up a lot of slack and trying to manage people in roles for which they are not suitable. You are no good for our organisation. I'm burning out working long hours. I am wondering when will Sunday come."

*

A few hours later, Anand came to my cabin and placed a tall glass on the table.

"Here is your sundae, sir. Have a nice day."

Story 170

Keep Clear When Reversing

by Bridget Scrannage

"Excuse me, sir, I'm researching voting habits and wonder if I might interview you?"

"All right."

"How do you decide what to vote for in elections?"

"By what's written on the bus."

"What's written on the bus? Sorry? Please explain."

"It costs money to write something on a bus, doesn't it?"

"Well, yes..."

"So they wouldn't pay to put anything on there that wasn't true, would they? It'd be a waste."

"Isn't that rather unsubstantiated? Don't you check the facts and figures?"

"No need. I reckon if something is important enough to write it on a bus, it must be worth voting for."

"I see, sir. So, if a bus bearing your name were to be emblazoned with a message telling you to never vote again, would you refrain?"

"I certainly would, if it were on the bus."

"Interesting. Remind me to get your details at the end of the interview. OK, next question. Which party did you vote for in the last General Election?"

"Well, I looked for the 'Keep Clear When Reversing Party' on the ballot form, but they didn't put up a candidate in my area, so I spoilt the paper."

Story 171

Punctuation

by Stuart Atkinson

Give me a P.

And a U?

No, just an N, I think...

Wait, what about these: C or CC or CCC.

Or the well-known T.

"U's needed now," I said.

A is the writer's next pick.

T has arrived; I know you don't like T's.

I zipped by: it was late again.

Next was the letter I love the most: O.

Now my final letter is – N.

Wow! Punctuation (as the grammar police would have it) is needed for prose to make sense. They [the police] are quite pedantic about it.

personally i hate it never use it never will why bother after all it takes time i dont have and you can understand perfectly what i am writing without it im not prepared to go along with what the grammar police tell me is needed do we speak with punctuation marks of course not

Story 172

As Shakespeare Said

by Jeanette Everson

A Pomvoyeur likened itself to a radiator and the sun went down over the teacups. The slow moon rose, yet, by another name, it still smelled of cheese.

Rose softened in the gloomdark and the moon went cold in her cup. She sighed the sigh of the sightless seeing the sight of the new sun and huffled in contentmentness. Warming now, her toes toasted. Warmth spread like raspberry shade eclipsing the icicles dripping from her ears to her feet. Her toes thawed, her heart warmed, her cheeks glowed.

Unhappy, the Pomvoyeur chilled her with a stare. Its blood ran cold in its pipery and Rose, by another name, was Cold Again.

"I'll take another slice with tea," she declared, pouring swiftly to counterbalance the dripping spout, "to warm me through and through."

"I'll cut you some," the waiter said, "and take some tea with you."

The Pomvoyeur, thus cornered by their backs, shuddered and sulked. Ignored, he lost his steam. Unable now to chill her, his simmering temper warmed the room. Rose, by another name, became Eater of MoonCheese, and the sun, Rose.

Story 173

Pirate

by Bryan Keefe

He arrives on the scene with a nautical swagger,

Some would say more of a drunken stagger,

And clenched in his teeth is a shiny dagger,

Pirate's home from the sea.

 

He calls to our boys to tell them his tale,

On board Queen Anne's Revenge as it sets sail,

With Blackbeard in charge they just cannot fail,

Pirate's home from the sea.

 

With his bloodthirsty stories and a knowing leer,

With only one eye and a haughty sneer,

He gives all the appearance of a fine buccaneer,

Pirate's home from the sea.

 

Tales of buried treasure, jewels and doubloons,

And once on a desert island he was marooned,

Rescued by natives in feathers festooned,

Pirate's home from the sea.

With his yo-ho-hos and  his bottles of rum,

Flying the Jolly Roger and hearing Drake's Drum,

Sign the pirate's code and always keep schtum,

Pirate's home from the sea.

 

But really just a one-eyed black and white cat,

He lives round the corner and comes for a chat,

Never sailed the seven seas or seen combat,

But he'll always be Pirate to me.

Story 174

A Good Day's Work

by David Wright

I woke up to the sound of the farm pig crowing. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to rise. The farmer's wife was collecting eggs from the cows and the farmer was milking the chickens.

I had my dinner and was ready to start the day. I went upstairs to the basement where the farmer kept his tools. I picked up the rake and started to dig the garden. I accidentally struck a gas pipe and water spurted high into the air. I turned off the electric supply and it stopped. I called a joiner who came and fixed it.

The day passed and it was now early morning with the sun going down. It was time for breakfast and then off to bed.

Story 175

Jolene The Apple Helps An Insect In Distress

by Kathryn Evans

Jolene the apple suddenly sprouted wings and started flying all round the room. She was excited because she was having a movie party tonight with her friends, Jack the banana and Jennifer the tangerine. This happened whenever the moon turned a purplish green colour.

They were going to watch The Wizard of Oz and had made some spider burgers to eat alongside it. Jolene started humming a tune as she went – high pitched when she was high up in the room, low pitched when she was low down.

As she was singing and flying around, an angry, big, buzzy insect appeared.

"Ach-ach-ach," he said.

He told her he'd flown straight through some glass to get into the room, but there was something special about the glass because he'd tried going back out through it and it wouldn't let him.

Jolene is a kind apple, so she wanted to do something to help the big, buzzy insect.

She said, "Someone has shut the window to trap you in here, but I'll open it so you can go back home."

"Ach-ach-ach," replied the insect and flew away.

Jolene couldn't wait to tell Jack and Jennifer about her latest adventure.

Story 176

Moonbathing

by Alicia Sledge

Light echoed across the dune grass as it waved its arms in the air trying to attract the moon's attention.

Greywolf shook his shaggy head and bent down to dip his paw gingerly into the silver floating reflection in the bowl at his feet. It shattered into a thousand sparkling shards of steel but, before he could withdraw his pad, bright berries of blood dripped slowly to the ground. Silverfur passed him a handkerchief and tutted.

"I told you to be careful, the edges are specially sharpened when the moon's full."

Greywolf grunted and licked the cut before wrapping the now stained handkerchief around his paw. The two wolves sat back in their deckchairs and Silverfur reached into the bag at her side pulling out a meat pie.

"Fancy some lunch?"

"Don't mind if I do," Greywolf replied, and took a large bite, smacking his lips and wiping them with the back of his uninjured paw. He squinted up at the sky. "I think we might need to get the moonshade out."

Sorry, left it in the den. Try these."

And Greywolf leaned back as he donned the moonglasses Silverfur handed him. "Ahh. This is the life," he purred.

Story 177

The Banandis Factory

by Petra Jedlickova

It's raining horses and mouses today. My left sock waves 'hello' at the white flushing porcelain chair sitting in my balleroom. I brush my yellow mouth food choppers quietly and put some clothetins on. It's time to go to work. My job is amazingly awful. I peal banandis, which then walk to the pâté next door.

Yes. You heard me right. The pâtés in Lengeland are made of  banandis pealings.

"Rumubundus." I am allerptic to banandis. Can't stop sneezing just thinking about it. On goodering days, we receive lunch from the managers. It's simple. They give us old banandis with putter beanut. I love putter beanut. It makes me frifulling. But I can't eat banandis. It makes my face puffy-fluffy. On the way to work, I always buy a glotterytick. Today it is different. It's raining horses and mouses. I hold my glotterytick and see numbers. Matching numbers, hurray.

No more banandis pealing. I am a doublelionare. But what to do with all this money? Maybe I should buy the banandis factory and sell it to the monkeys down the road.

Story 178

Alternative Christmas

by Franca Basta

The turkey sat on top of the tree,

The crackers they baked in the oven.

I think there's something wrong with me,

Of baubles, I've stuffed a dozen.

Where have I gone wrong?

I actually can't quite remember.

I sang to the postman my Christmas song,

Right at the beginning of September.

The pudding is wrapped in tinsel and ham,

The cards, they are in danger.

The lights are coated in bread sauce and jam,

And I'm off to sleep in the manger.

Story 179

Four Eyes

by Michael Pickard

Bang. Mary looked up from her newspaper and frowned. Her son, Stanley, was sitting on the living room floor, his back resting against the foot of the sofa as he rubbed the side of his reddened face.

"What on earth are you doing?" she asked in bemusement.

"Nothing," came the reply. "I just banged my head, that's all."

Unsatisfied with his answer, Mary watched in amazement as Stanley proceeded to replace his glasses on the back of his head.

"So why are you wearing your glasses back to front?" she pressed. "No wonder you walked into the wall."

Stanley lifted himself to his feet, brushed his overlong fringe from his eyes and secured the pale blue frames back in place. "Well, Granny always says she needs eyes in the back of her head when I'm around, so I guessed I wouldn't be able to see without my glasses."

Mary remained silent, sipped her tea and returned to her newspaper, yet she could not stifle the smile that appeared in the corners of her mouth as Stanley walked backwards out of the room.

Story 180

Dancing At The Crossroads

(turns out to be as much of a scam as mightily over-stretched titles which, with a blatant disregard and lack of cunning, subvert the word count)

by Abigail Rowe

After seventy plus seven stout jars (a forgivable amount, they say) I'm riverdancin' me way home. The Fingerpost is where the divilment used to occur, fadó fadó. No traffic jammin' the progress of the holy celebrants back then; they jigged and reeled the night away to the censure of the parish police.

"Slip o' the tongue," sez a voice, "you mean priest."

"Oops," sez I, "so I do, and who, my fine fellow, are you?"

"No priest," sez he.

I halts me legs from their febrile Flatleying 'til just a twitch of the toes remains, looking down 'til I spy him, small and brown. Ugly as reality and twice as fake.

"So," sez I, "are you a dancer too?" He laughs as if I'm the peculiar one.

"Me legs would preclude that particular profession," sez he, in haughty tone. He's right. They're so stubby I'm doubting he has knees.

"Do a deal?" sez he. "I'll swap legs with you for a bowl o' stew."

"Away with your stew," sez I. "Tis no less than porridge I'd take and that from the finest oats."

"Done," sez he.

Down I fell, 'til crawling home at dawn. One of us lied, that's certain.

Story 181

The Marry Age

by David Pitts

Gilbert (of Goldberg and Solomon fame) wrote that having two wives at a time is burglary. Quite the opposite. For a man to take on one woman for life is generous, to take two entitles him to say, "That is big o' me."

And one woman and two men? That happens only in the case of Polly Andry. Most religions wouldn't marry one woman with two men anyway; it comes under one of their bans of marriage. They would have to go to the Moremen church.

Either way, it is a menage a trois. How do you menage it? With difficulty. That's why they say, "If at first you don’t succeed, trois, trois, trois again."

But don’t try to get married when it's raining. Then it's too wet to woo.

Story 182

The Noibla Way

by Jonathan Ochser

Late one night. Underground platform. Young woman. Young inebriated woman. Dances giddily at the platform's edge and then falls on to the track. She falls heavily and can't get up.  Next train arriving in four minutes. She calls for help. A young man close by hears her, but does nothing. Why?

Well, in Noibla the laws are different and that would explain why. A heroic act such as rescuing someone from certain death would earn you the reward of a state-sanctioned execution. You would be led to the scaffold with a medal round your neck and the cooing adulation of the crowd in your ears. Followed by official panegyric, applause, drop, swing. Conversely, heinous crimes such as murder and picking your nose in public would meet with monetary reward, the reward bestowed with glowers and boos.

"Help," screamed the girl for the 37th time.

The young man pondered. He wanted to be a hero, but didn't want to swing. So he compromised. "Here," he called to the girl, "is my hedgehog latte. It cost me £4 but it's yours to sweeten your final moments." And he threw it to the woman, who drank it gratefully. 

Honour done.

Splat.

Story 183

Shooing With Tongue On The Tongue Of A Shoe

by Judy Dykstra-Brown

There once was a grouch named McPeevish McPue, who spent his whole life on the tongue of a shoe, where he shooed away flintocks and floogles and stuff.

As a matter of fact, he would get downright rough.

He would beat them with bagels and flog them with floggles, from the foot of their feet to the top of their toggles.

Then he bopped them again every minute or two, till those flintocks and floogles were beat black and blue.

But they just wouldn't leave, until McPue had sung a rock-a-bye ballad with only one lung. Then they leapt and they lithered until they were gung.

Now McPeevish McPue only shoos with his tongue.

Story 184

Alice's Tea Party

by Malcolm Richardson

Snowy was late, for a very important date. He'd been invited to Alice's tea party down at the Rabbit Hole. The invitation said '6:30 and don't be late'. It was one of those days on the Victoria Line; the platforms were jam packed with tourists. His day at the office had been manic, but he'd managed to escape at 5:30.

The train was full of office types, trying to get to whichever wine bar their 'Thursday is the new Friday' drinks night was at. With no phone signal or Wi-Fi he was digitally cut off from the outside world, although he was in physical contact with any number of sweaty individuals speaking in foreign tongues.

*

Alice wasn't a girl to be kept waiting. One frosty stare could make people vanish through the looking glass. Meanwhile, down the Rabbit Hole, she made sure everything was ready.  She'd invited all her former work colleagues from Carroll & Lewis solicitors. Her ex-boyfriend, Graham, with the cheesy grin said he'd stop by later. Mike, the maniacal milliner, had agreed to come and so had her best friend Penelope, the Internet dating queen.

Story 185

A Modern Messiah

by Aleksandra Petrovic

The Prime Minister knew this was going to be a good day the moment he woke up.

Once he finished his Kenyan coffee, sweetened with Indian sugar (both Fairtrade, to keep up appearances), he decided to ride to work for a change on his favourite horse.

"Jenkins," said the Prime Minister, "Saddle up Tax for me, would you?"

"Right away, sir," grovelled his butler, slinking away to have the magnificent steed prepared for his current Master. Tax had lived for a surprisingly long time and had many masters, faithfully carrying each Prime Minister every term. Sometimes he was ridden by the Prime Minister's friends as well.

The Prime Minister rode Tax down the street, where the common folk stared up at them in fear and awe. He smiled, knowing that he had the bearing of a true leader and that all the Prime Ministers and Presidents looked upon him as a role model.

Passing by the park, he noticed his good friend, Chancellor, sitting on a bench and feeding a flock of public sector workers with crumbs of bread.

"Do not overfeed them," warned our hero. "The teachers are particularly greedy."

Chancellor reddened with shame, and hid the nourishment.

Story 186

Keep Smiling, Dad

by Gary McGrath

He's 83 years, my dad.

He's sometimes good and sometimes bad.

But really he's the only dad I've had.

He hides things now. For a living. Almost.

His keys. His wallet. His television remote controls.

"So's nobody can pinch them," he says. "Y'know. When they sneak in during the night."

They work on a nearby construction site. The invisible five, unknown to the police.

He's beaten men in the past.

But somehow that beat wasn't meant to last.

He sits on his teeth, sometimes.

I think he's trying to keep them warm.

And once they were in his bed.

Top and bottom set. But they weren't his, he said.

I worry he'll bite himself on the bum, eventually.

The woman died one night… gave the paramedics a fright.

Sirens and blue lights everywhere.

Only there was no one there.

Nothing's ever there. Or ever pinched. Not even the lifeless body of the unknown woman.

She's known to the police, because he tells them about her whenever he calls them.

It's all false. The teeth. The alarms. The works.

So that proves it's true.

Like Donald Trump, my dad keeps smiling.

Wherever his teeth are, they smile.

Story 187

Febreze Disease

by Jessica Reid

I remember my life when I hated Febreze. A simpler time. A time with no heart bursting catastrophes at 1am, when the automatic air-freshener dispenser erupts with a delightful yet disastrous cloud of vapour resulting in a spiced apple soaked nightmare… Wait, let's stretch back to when it all started.

Concentrated and glaring at the sombre faces of my Barbie Blush Beauty dolls, I annihilate them at a very intense game of Snap. Relishing in my glory a sudden clatter of falling glass draws my attention. Unprepared for battle, I rush for a weapon. Unfortunately my armoury is on loan to my neighbour's cousin's little sister this weekend, so I must grab a can of my mother's guilty pleasure… Febreze. Its icy exterior burns my resistant hand to the touch in a childish act of defiance. 45 ¼ seconds later, a masked robber breezes around my door. I spring at the chance to attack. 20 squirts of Febreze Hawaiian Aloha and he scuttles away screaming.

From that moment onward, I've battled a severe case of addiction. Rows upon rows, hoarded in my room. With no escape, I drown in the aroma of fiendish fragrances, clutching my new captor. Febreze.

Story 188

The Flitting Fizzwhizzers

by Eleanor Klein

Mr Vincent leaned forwards, bracing his hands on his knees. "Did I ever tell you the tale," he said, "of the flitting fizzwhizzers?"

"No," the eldest grandchild said, hesitantly.

"Oho, I haven't?" The light from the fire grew brighter, illuminating the mischievous smile on his lips. "Well, they're little fairies, you see. They have a peculiar obsession with bicycles. When they're spotted by humans, they spread their fluffy wings, and their laughter sounds like windchimes. Then – now, this is where it gets interesting – once the human is riding their bicycle, the flitting fizzwhizzer changes." Four sets of wide eyes stared up at him. "Its irises deepen to the colour of a starless night. Teeth and claws elongate, and enormous wings burst forth. To keep the human riding the bicycle, it lets out a cry that shatters the sky into thousands of midnight shards. More fizzwhizzers surround the poor human, shrieking and laughing. After endless days of peddling, they feed on the human's madness, and fly away to seek a new victim.

"So, you see, my dears," Mr Vincent said, sitting up and smiling, "that is why I bought you socks instead of bicycles for Christmas."

Story 189

To See Or Not To See

by Simon Russell

I wear glasses, why don't you?

If the lenses were tinted, I couldn't see in the dark.

The lenses are clear and reflect the light.

I wish the sun wasn't half as bright.

Most of the time, they're dusty and dirty and need a clean,

But a quick wipe with a cloth and they start to gleam.

Maybe I'm better than most, I have four eyes instead of your two,

Remove the specs and I'm down from four and back to two,

Blind as a bat and much worse off than you.

Does this mean if I broke a lens I would be down to three,

And would be able to see three times further than thee?

Back from two to four and looking out from the shore,

Would I be able to see the sea much further than thee?

But deep inside, I wish I was you,

You don't dont have to clean your eyes as often as me.

Story 190

A Bubble Gum Adventure

by Neil Driscoll

With his journey ahead lit by the smiling sun, Bubble Gum leapt, bounced, skipped and rolled his way along the fluffy grass.

He didn't have long. She'll be coming for him soon. The Treacherous Tree of Tinkle Lane awaits his bravery. He must save the Green Giggle Flies from its gangly grasp.

With sword in hand and trusty battle dragon Popcorn by his side, Bubble Gum climbed through the silky rainbow, parting the warm colours from the cold and stepped into darkness.

"There he stands," he yelled, as the Treacherous Tree peered out from the gloom. "Quick, Popcorn, we don't have long. Attack."

Millions of Giggle Flies danced and spun free as Treacherous fell helpless before Bubble's blade.

"Take that, Treacherous," Bubble Gum cried, as he slashed at his nemesis some more before raising his hands in victory. "We did it, Popcorn, we did it."

"Bubble," a soft voice floated across the garden. "Dinner. And don't forget the dog."

"Coming mummy," Bubble Gum replied.

With adrenalin draining and green curly leaves resting amongst his shaggy hair, Bubble Gum dropped the stick, cuddled his fury friend and made his way back to the house, smiling all the way. Victory was his.

Story 191

The Potato Civil War

by Robbie Porter

The struggle for potato dominance over the crisp market had seen tattie factions think the unthinkable to achieve The Contract.

Tattieland collapsed into civil war.

Alliances of varieties were formed. Lady Rosetta and Alpine Russet launched an incursion into territory controlled by the Fingerling and Maris Piper gangs; early gains were negated by unseasonably wet weather affecting crop yield.

Nicola (voted Potato of the Year 2016) tried to use market dominance as a weapon, but was defeated by a collapse in potato futures.

Reichskanzler formed an unlikely association with Red Britain, which failed when the latter voted to leave the union.

Finally, Golden Wonder attempted a diplomatic solution to the crisis; this collapsed when The Potato Marketing Board refused to arbitrate.

In desperation, Belle de Fontenay decided there was nothing left to lose. With rival varieties consolidating and moving toward her fields, she unleashed a terrible new weapon.

A particularly virulent strain of blight was loosed on potato kind. Dark blotches on tips and stems were early signs of a catastrophic escalation. Entire crops decayed to a foul smelling mush. There were unconfirmed accounts of secondary soft bacterial rots.

At the end of the war, the crisp contract went unfilled.

Story 192

The Happy Vampyre

by Claire Apps

The red Alath Vampyre ran along the darkened corridor. He could see quite clearly. He needed to hide and quickly. The only way was to get outside into the car park. He couldn't hear anything but the others were following him. He charged outside into the black sunshine. Good, it was bright outside. He needed that to help him hide. The glass bus shelter would be brilliant, it was small enough for him to hide in front of.

Alas, he had forgotten that his pursers couldn't smell with their elongated noses. They soon found him by the stinking body odour of fear emitting from him. They prismed him in and wrapped tissue paper round his arms and feet so he couldn't escape. He whispered, bragging for them to let him die a long painful death, but they didn't want to know. They ignored him and waited for night to come. The full moon would soon finish him off.

As the moon rose in the West, it shone brightly – too brightly for the vampyre. He laughed. It was tickling him and he couldn't take it anymore. Before the end came, it was said he was laughing like a monkey.

Story 193

Swill

by Antony Lazarus

"Why can't I get a good cuppa in these foreign parts," Juke mused, slowly stirring the steaming mug in front of him. Abruptly, his headnet buzzed, cutting his ponderings short. "Hello?" Juke responded.

"We have a four-oh-three in progress," came the crackling reply.

Have to get these magnets replaced, he thought. "Rightio, transmit the details." Placing a fiver on the counter, Juke eased off the stoop and turned to leave, grabbing his cup of caffeinated swill as an afterthought. I paid for it, might as well. The aftercinct didn't have better.

More cracklings emanated from the headnet. Damn magnets.

"What a bore," lamented Boar to himself, switching off the transmission. "Swill."

Story 194

Moby Dick: The Untold Story

by Munib Haroon

"Call me Ishmael," said the sailor, fixing me with a steely stare.

"Unfortunately, my mobile credit has run out, so I can't call you, and please, don't call me Ishmael. I'm Herman."

Just then, there was a loud noise. I turned to see the Ship's captain emitting a loud wail.

I turned back to the sailor. "Everything doesn't look ship-shape with the Captain."

"Nope. I'm afraid the good captain has lost his porpoise. He's all adrift."

"Don't you mean purpose?" I asked.

"No. Porpoise. Moby Dick, his porpoise. Ever since he went missing, Ahab's been a wreck. That's why we're recruiting sailors to find him."

"How's it going?"

"We're not exactly overboard with volunteers, and some are so thick we're going to use them as the ship's plank."

I turned, once more, to stare at the despondent captain. I made a decision on the spot.

"Count me in," I said.

"Excellent, excellent," said the sailor. "I will take you to a berth."

"Birth," I cried, holding out my hand and spoke with a steady delivery. "I'm a sailor, not a midwife. Count me out."

And with that I left. Something told me I'd had a lucky escape.

Story 195

The Case Of Dog –vs– Man

by Ally Howie

Judge Mariana Trench was deep, very deep, in thought. Dog had presented a solid argument but she could be making serious waves if she ruled in his favour.

"This case comes down to a matter of interpretation. To wit..."

"To-woo," said the Stenographer, a respected member of the Tawny Owl community.

Judge Trench continued, steadfastly distancing herself from such a poor joke. "Firstly, there's the act of living for the moment and enjoying life. Dog's examples being the chasing of ones own tail, playing fetch and running around like a lunatic. On the other hand, there's the activity of aggressively pursuing a chosen path, rebuking all who disagree and being generally unpleasant. Dog's argument for Slander is based on the fact that the former is referred to as Humanism whilst the latter is known as Dogma. I agree it is grossly unfair and hereby find in favour of Dog. I further order Man to pay £10-billion in damages."

"Or we could just go to the park?" said Man.

"Park?" Dog barked. "I love the park. And I love you."

Judge Trench sighed. She sighed even deeper as the next case was called – Spectacled Bear –vs– Vision Express.

Story 196

Do It Yourself

by Angela P Googh

"Argh."

"What's wrong Jim?"

"I'm trying to put this thingy together but I can't get these whichits to tighten properly onto the whatsits."

"Aren't you supposed to use grommets for whatsits?"

"No. The grommets go on the slide rods that connect to the slot ties. I'm sure of it."

"You've put one of these together before?"

"No. But I took a picture of the one already assembled at the store."

"What about the instructions?"

"I tried reading them but they didn't make any sense so I put them in the recycle bin over there."

Retrieving the instructions Brian finds what he is looking for.

"See?" He shows Jim the diagram. "The whichits go onto the slide rods which snap into the tie slots. All of that connects to the whatsits which is held in place by the grommets."

Three hours later: Snap. "Finally. All done. And the nob levers even twist like they're supposed to. I'm exhausted. I really hate assembling these kinds of things."

"Jim, why didn't you just get them to assemble it for you at the store?"

"What? And wait around for an extra half-hour? I've got better things to do with my time."

Story 197

Detergent Pods For The Win

by Rose Cheung

"Help, my food just ate detergent pods."

A distressed vampire tried to reach for her companions, who gave her nothing but a look of pity. They were too afraid to touch her. The poor vampire collapsed shortly afterwards, and soon she was engulfed in flames. That was the fifth case of food poisoning that week.

In a worldwide conference, 'VAMPIRES AGAINST DETERGENT PODS', the vampires were determined to find out what truly killed their kind.

"It is the detergent in the pods," said a wise old vampire. All other vampires started to nod, as if it was the most enlightening thing they had ever heard in their lives. After all, the wise vampire said it, so it must be right.

When the conference ended, it was agreed that no one would suck blood until the day humanity stops consuming detergent.

The vampires waited and waited, but humans never stopped eating detergent pods, and even made a challenge to poison each other. The vampires soon had to abandon humanity and find a new food source to avoid a widespread famine.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how we outsmarted the vampires with our stupidity.

Story 198

The Selfie Curse

by Jade Swann

"Morning, Tom."

"Morning," Thomas Elbert mumbled, burrowing deeper into his pillow. It took him a full five seconds to remember he lived alone. Sleep ripped hastily away, Tom's eyes shot open to find his own face staring back at him. The man eerily identical to him wore floppy dog ears that appeared to be held up by thin air.

"It's nice to finally meet you," another voice gushed, this twin donned in overly large bright pink sunglasses. Behind the man in sunglasses, a black and white variation of himself brooded.

"I'm dreaming," Thomas said, attempting to explain the strange clones.

"Afraid not, old pal." A figure stepped forward, his face washed free of wrinkles and molded with duck lips. "You've posted 21,003 selfies, the magic number. For your triumphs, you get to see your past selves every day."

A chorus of happy murmurings filled the room.

Horrified at the cringeworthy thought, Tom's mouth formed a plea of its own accord. "I'll take them all down, I promise. No more selfies."

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

An alarm rippled through the air, returning Tom to the waking world with the urge to turn his phone off for good.

Story 199

What To Eggspect When You're Eggspecting

by Louise Craig

"Jerry, I can't do this," screamed Nelly. "It hurts so much."

The contractions were becoming too painful for Nelly to handle. She started to pace back and forth in order to distract herself from the excruciating pain in her abdomen. However, she was becoming very fatigued and was unable to hold herself up. Jerry could see her frustration.

"You can do it, Nelly. PUSH," said Jerry.

"I can't, Jerry, I can't."

"You can, you're almost there, PUSH."

"AAAAAAGH..."

Nothing was happening.

"You're going to have to push harder, Nelly. Come on, one more time," said Jerry.

Nelly mustered up all of the strength she had left. With a final big push, she let out a loud, "BUCKAAAH," and out plopped a glistening, white egg.

After some well-deserved rest, Nelly and Jerry gazed lovingly at their new arrival.

"You were a stubborn one," she said. "You had me running around like a headless human."

Story 200

Chimaera

by F. DeStefano

The lights. They gleam like shutters that flash photographs in heatwave rhythms to capture a moment. Paper dolls; time lapses and afraid to shade the glow away from what one piece brings. Happiness. Take away the fading sun on cheeks which glisten peach and rose along close held arms, tighten, never to let go.

Do you feel the moon shine down on us?

I remembered long ago the happy sun and joyous moon, which made us laugh in ways that pictures cannot picture, save the brief, momentary luck to find the right strike – when all we knew that all we are, is all we were back then. Begin to feel the fire, we hold close to simple rhythms in hope never to die until we hold our hands – clasped – sitting – waiting – on a hill, as we watch the world collapse.

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Nonsensically Challenged Volume 3

Below, you can read the stories submitted to the third Nonsense anthology.

An opening note from Chris Fielden

200 down, 300 to come, letting nonsensical wordage, bask in the sun. May the writers continue, to clown with words, prepositions and cliches, and lots of adverbs.

A poet I am not. But a lover of nonsense I am. Thanks to everyone that has submitted so far - you are all awesome beyond measure. Volume 3, here we come.

And from Lesley Truchet

When this challenge began I jumped onto a merry-go-round. It’s only a few months since we produced the first book, and here we are planning to produce the second and with stories on the site already toward the third book. In front of this literary carousel names continually flash by, many of which I now recognise. They are the names of the supportive writers of this, and Chris’s other challenges. I also catch glimpses of unfamiliar names. As these writer’s stories begin to appear in the different challenges and spin around with the others, their names too become recognisable. It’s driving me delightfully dizzy. Onward to Volume 3 – and probable vertigo.

Story 201

Hell’s Cobblers - Stick On Souls

by Lesley Anne Truchet

"Why am I here? I was a priest for God's sake."

"Mistakes happen, Father."

"I want to go up there. It's your mistake. Do something, you flaming horn head."

"To go up you must replace your lost soul. Try Hell's Cobblers, over there."

"Hi, Cobbler. I need a replacement soul."

"No problem, Father. I can stick one on you. However, in payment you have to nominate someone you know to die."

"Why?"

"It's good for business. No one wants to be here."

"OK. Hal E. Luya. He's a Horrible Bishop."

"A Bishop. Great. Come back in one hour."

An hour later I found myself rising heavenward, my soul floating behind me like gossamer wings.

"May I come in?"  There were too many pearls on the gates for my taste.

"No, Father. You’ve caused Bishop Hal E. Luya to die."

"It's the only crime I've ever committed."

"One is enough."

"But I don't want to go back down there."

"You can't. If you choose to leave Hell, they don't let you back in. You're stuck with the multitude in Dead Man's No-Man's-Land."

"Hey. That's my soul."

"Not any more. I sell them all back to Hell's Cobblers."

Story 202

The Reason I Failed My German Oral Exam And Subsequently Excluded Oktoberfest From My Bucket List

by Mike Scott Thomson

(What follows is a word-for-word translation.)

*Tape starts to record*

Frau Krause: Good morning. How are you?

Me: Beautiful days. It's all dead trousers to me. To you guys too?

*Pause*

Frau Krause: OK. Now. When the weather is cold, what do you wear on your hands?

Me: When my cousin is frigid, I wear hand-shoes.

*Pause*

Frau Krause: Right. And what do you wear when you go swimming?

*Pause*

Me: When I sponge myself off, I wear leather breeches, checked shirt, knee-length socks, and a feathered hat.

*Pause*

Frau Krause: You wear Bundhosen at the swimming baths?

Me: Yes.

Frau Krause: Are you sure?

*Pause*

Me: Nine.

Frau Krause: Try again.

*Pause*

Me: Speedos.

Frau Krause: Full sentences, please.

Me: When I slather myself in cotton wool, I wear Speedos.

*Pause*

Frau Krause: All right. And to your wedding?

*Pause*

Me: On a tightrope, I wear leather breeches, checked shirt, knee-length socks, and a feathered hat.

*Pause*

Frau Krause: You seem unwell. May I bring you a drink?

*Pause*

Me: Eisgekühlter Bommerlunder.

Frau Krause (sighing): You and me both...

*Tape clicks off*

Story 203

Can A Flea Fly

by Simon Russell

"How high could a flea fly?" said the camel with only one hump.

"A flea can't fly," retorted the fly, "he can only jump."

"Well, fly, ask the flea how high he can jump."

Flea to fly, "I can jump as high as the camel's bump."

"Bump? I don't have a bump, I have only one hump. Some camels have two, so maybe they have a hump and a bump, but not I."

"Well, cus I don't fly I'm gonna jump. I will land on your hump and bite you there." The flea jumped, the fly flew and both arrived at the hump all covered with hair.

The flea bit the hump and the camel ran. It ran so fast the wind was a blast and blew the flea away.

"Help," said the flea to the fly, "I can't fly. If I land from this height, I will die."

The fly grabbed the flea and that proved that a flea could fly.

Story 204

Second Opinion

by David Silver

"Doctor, doctor, I'm turning into Dolly Parton."

The conjoined twin physicians stared sceptically at me from behind their double desk. "How long have you felt this way, Mr O'Shaughnessy?" they chorused, surreptitiously glancing at each other's faces.

"Since two Full Moons ago," I responded. "In one spontaneous action, my wispy, receding dark hair was transformed into a high blonde bouffant, and my car mechanic overalls changed into a low-cut red gingham frock."

"But you look perfectly normal now, sir," the medical practitioners pointed out. "And remember, your anxiety will worsen if you're Googling your symptoms."

"But doctor, doctor, I'm telling you both the truth. Last Full Moon I not only had on my Dolly attire but I also found myself stalking the streets, crooning 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' to startled strangers."

The combined twin consultants simultaneously examined me from head to toe before washing their hands in the double sink.

"We cannot find anything amiss," they reported in unison, rising from their extra-wide chair to usher me out. "But if anything happens next Full Moon, you must report to us the next day. Who knows, we might be in the presence of a medical marvel."

Story 205

Superstitions

by Michael Rumsey

The Stissions are a super family, if not entirely rational.

Ada, as a young girl, spotted a chimney sweep. It brought her no luck, she married him. 

Tossing some salt grains over her shoulder, Aunt Sarah forgot they were still in the cellar smashing the kitchen mirror. For the next seven years, she knew nothing but good fortune until she tripped over a black cat crossing her path.

Walter Stissions carried a rabbit's foot for years, experiencing nothing exceptional, until three days after he lost it when he won the lottery.

Uncle Frank nailed a horseshoe above his kitchen door and enjoyed a trouble free life until the day it fell onto his head.

Cousin Bert often knocked on wood. He had to, he was a carpenter.

And young Reggie became a Vet. He was forced to look a gift horse in the mouth when examining the teeth of an over-frisky mare presented to the local stables. He got a kick out of it, apparently.

It shows superstitions are nonsense, of course. So, fingers crossed, hoping it will be printed, I will send this in at the end of the week, but not on Friday. It's the 13th.

Story 206

Bird Brains

by Allen Ashley

"The Court of Saint Ibis is now in session and I put it to you, Ms Crow, heron after referred to as the deaf hen duck, that you did wingfully and with mallard aforethought cease swanning about and instead did skua the coot falcons ravenously and tern them into the ill-eagle four and twenty blackbird pie. You have been a very naughty gull. What say you in your defence?"

"Caw."

"Furthermore, I put tit to you that it was your intention to have a gander in a rather un-pheasant manner and then cormorant here with a moa and a grouse. Honestly, give 'em a finch and they take a quail. This goose against the natural order and you behaved like a complete bustard. What say you now?"

"Caw-caw."

"Further-moorhen, you had caused a bittern row with your plover and were feeling quite avocet. You are a parakeets and no mistake."

"Caw."

"In that case, owl that remains is for the judge, the right ostrichable Captain Peacock, to rule in this matter. Your honour?"

"Oh no, not a gannet, counsel for the partridge-cution, with your shearwater nonsense. Pah. Pigeon-toed puddleduckery. Without any egret, I find the accused not guillemot. Corvine dismissed."

Story 207

Yellow

by Harshita Singh

"You look yellow mellow," Schniep mumbled, turning in agony.

"You must rest. There ain't any potatoes, but I see a dead rat." Fred grinned and cooked the rat in onions and served it in a yellow chipped bowl.

The floor shuddered, the thunderous bolt shook the windows, the  effervescent lights like firecrackers swept the floor like a yellow meteorite.

"I miss the coffee," Schneip cried. Fred forced Schneip to drink the broth.

Another thunderous bolt. Fred closed his eyes. Schniep drifted into oblivion.

Rebelion shouted on the streets, neighbours yelled for help, gunfire, help, gunfire, run, babies cried.

"Germans are here," someone pounded on the door.

Story 208

Pirates Of The PC World

by John Notley

"Ahoy there, me hearties," shouted Gingerbeard the pirate, his black beard dyed to confuse the enemy. He adjusted the eye patch which was mistakenly over his good eye and patted the dead parrot affixed to his shoulder by safety pins as he shook his fist at the men.

'The Jolly Seafarer' (Roger-gender sensitive) fluttered at the masthead, a requirement introduced by Anne Bonny the lady pirate. Even The Inquisition had been obliged to rename 'The Iron Maiden' as 'The Iron Cabinet With Spikes', which didn't have the same ring to it.

"Today we shall have the pleasure of taking one of King Phillip's person-o'-wars (man-o'-wars not permitted) and help ourselves, to a vast booty of rum and fine silks. I'll Teach those Spaniards a lesson." Captain Edward Teach laughed at his clever pun.

One of the crew raised a hand. "What about the gold, sir?"

"Do you think I'm stupid? The gold market is at rock bottom and it's not worth it's weight. Anyone who disobeys my orders will get a taste of 'The Captain's Daughter' and you know what that means."

"Sorry to contradict you, sir," the know-all said. "Surely you mean the 'Captain's Offspring'?"

Story 209

The Wasp And The Bee

by Jack Lewis-Edney

Love approaches at high velocity.

The wasp had no need for love. He had an extensive collection of tap dancing shoes that lit up his life more than a donkey lights up a disco.

The wasp took everything for granted, from his condo in Marbella to his life-sized statue of the world's smallest dog.

Looking at the bee sitting across the tennis court, her eyelashes fluttering in the still wind, the wasp felt tingly, like a coat washed more times than its owner.

The bee sat on the tennis ball calmly, even as the machine shot it at a hypersonic speed towards the bat being waved viciously on the other side.

Love approaches at high velocity.

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Annemarie A
Hi Chris. Couldn't resist this one - I'm very fond of silly stuff, so I've posted a story in the hope it will make someone smile.

Chris Fielden
Excellent - thanks Annemarie. Well the punchline made me laugh out loud :-)

Lesley T
A great punchline, Annemarie, it made me laugh too.

Braid A
It would be good if a few people would visit my Braid's Kids page and maybe buy a book or two, to help feed my adopted PNG kids.

Chris Fielden
Hi Braid. I don't usually place links in comments, but seeing as you've written a story for the challenge and it's all for charity, I've added it :-)

Neville R
Hi Chris. Thanks for including me!

Great site :-)

Chris Fielden
No problem, Neville - thanks for submitting :-)

Steph S
I really enjoyed this challenge as I've never written a nonsense story before. Thanks for the opportunity.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Steph - thanks for writing a story for the challenge :-)

David O
Hi Chris. Ty so much for accepting my story 'A Hard Day's Night'. Seeing it, actually out there on your page, has given me a much needed boost. Ty so much :)

Chris Fielden
Hi David. No worries – very happy to hear that entering the nonsense challenge has inspired you. That’s exactly what the challenges are for, so thanks for letting me know :-)

Klaus G
Hi Chris. I'm addicted to odd stuff. What a change to submit... Thanks for your tireless work!

Chris Fielden
Hi Klaus. No problem :-)

This challenge is shared with children and supports a charity that helps children, so I can't publish any stories that contain profanity I'm afraid. All stories have to be child friendly.

I'd be happy to publish your story if you could rewrite it with this in mind.

I hope that makes sense. I'll look forward to receiving a rewrite from you so I can publish it :-)

James H
Thank you for coming up with such a brilliant thing too. All the very best wishes.

Chris Fielden
No problem, James. Thank you for submitting :-)

James H
I just wanted to drop you an line to say thank you for the openness of this writing challenge. Also to thank you for coming up or at least making it easy to be a part of a community that revels in the glorious worlds we can all create.

Chris Fielden
Hi James. No problem. Thanks again for taking part and submitting a story. Without the authors who contribute, none of this would be possible.

Rebecca H
Hello Chris! I have to admit this was quite the fun exercise! Thank you again for the opportunity to get my work out there; as a budding writer such opportunities are few and far between! I'll be looking forward to the launch of the Adverb challenge anthology and I'm planning on buying a copy.

Thanks again!

Chris Fielden
Glad to hear you found it fun, Rebecca. And thanks for your kind words - it's great to hear that writers appreciate the challenges and seeing their stories published :-)

Alan B
Hi Chris. Have just submitted. These challenges are more difficult than they seem, but oh the joy when I completed the story in under 200 words. Keep these challengers coming. Hope you get to that magical 100 soon.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Alan :-)

Tulip C
Hi Chris, it's good to take a lighter look into life. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Tulip. I agree - it is indeed :-)

Leonard S
I like story 92, not because we have the same surname, but because the story was straight up to the point and funny. Thank you, Sueleen, I am your #1 fan :-)

Chris Fielden
Thanks Leonard :-)

Nick N
Excited to see where this goes - a great place to post fun flash fiction. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Nick, glad you like it. And thanks for submitting :-)

Mary W
I got an old piece of  6,300 plus flowery worded meanderings  down to 200 to join this nonsensery.

Chris Fielden
Good work, Mary :-)

And thanks for submitting.

Michael R
Better late than never may seem more appropriate to cliché, but refers to my copy of Nonsensically Challenged 1 received only yesterday. Perhaps, like many of the stories, it went out of this world en- route.

Worth waiting for from its glossy image to the equally sparkling intros and, of course, the worthy cause.

I like story 42. Trevor's opening line has the potential for a whole new series.

If it takes very special authors to write these stories, James's clever bio, story 59, speaks for all of us. Now we must drive(l) on to complete Vol 2. You know it makes sense.

Chris Fielden
Glad to hear the book has winged its way to you at last, Michael.

May the Norse be with you, and us all, while scribbling more silliness. Onward to volume 2 indeed.

Soraya D
The iron man one is great.

Chris Fielden
I agree :-)

Cleary M
Hi Chris, found your site through your compilation of online competitions. Non-sense is fun! Mine is not exactly funny (not sure if that's a necessity for this section), but I think it's a narrative that expands in an unusual way. I've been reading a lot of prose-poetry and I think it's inspired by that. The instructions at the top suggest that this is how to submit your story, so my story is beneath this. Thanks for considering it! I enjoyed reading the others.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for submitting, Cleary - much appreciated :-) Serious, funny or anything in between is fine - published!

Gavin B
A great collection of nonsensical stories. Extremely funny and look forward to reading some more.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Gavin :-) And thanks for submitting.

Ishmael D
Awesome challenge LOL. Thanks, Chris, for adding 'Caterpillar Butterfly' (165) to the collection :D It's cool to see it up there.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Ishmael. Thanks for submitting :-)

Paul S
A Haiku is easy

But often they make no sense.

Refrigerator.

Chris Fielden
Absurdly wise words, Paul... :-)

Bryan K
Hi Chris, are poems acceptable for this challenge?

                

Chris Fielden
Hi Bryan. Yes, poetry is fine :)

Neil D
Hi Chris, thank you so much for posting up my story, I hope at least one person can enjoy it. This is such a great site, it's amazing what you've put together. Thanks again.

Chris Fielden
No problem - great to hear you like the site. Thanks for submitting and taking part.

Munib H
Hi Chris, I really enjoyed entering this and reading many of the other stories. Are you going to publish them in a volume? And when, and where, can I buy one? Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Munib. Great, glad to hear you enjoyed all the other stories. We release a book every time 100 stories have been submitted. All contributors will be notified when that happens by email. They will also be informed about launch dates, where to buy the anthology, book launch parties etc.