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81words - Stories Page 1

81words logo

An attempt to set a World Record for the most contributing authors published in an anthology

Full details about the 81 word writing challenge and the world record attempt can be found on the main 81words writing challenge page.

81 Word Stories – 1 to 100

The first 100 stories are published below in the order they were received.

Story 001

One Previous Owner

by Christopher Fielden

For sale. One dragon. Name: Fire Bringer. Temperament: challenging. Food: meat, vast quantities of, raw, alive, preferably screaming.

As name suggests, Fire Bringer does breathe fire. Said fire will melt anything, including High Tensile Steel and titanium.

Chain and collar included, although not effective (see notes regarding breath).

Likes long flights, smiting, riddles, treasure and things that twinkle.

Perfect pet for megalomaniac who wishes to take over the world. Large cave essential, best located remotely in extinct volcano.

Open to offers.

Story 002


by Michael Rumsey

I do not like dogs, never have. Daniel should have consulted me before bringing that crazy stray home. One pet in the house is enough.

Typically, Bruno turned out to be loud, boisterous and charges around like the proverbial bull in a china shop. But he does have one redeeming attribute.

I take a nap every afternoon. Bruno ensures no other strays enter our garden allowing me to sit up in our apple tree and purr away to my heart's content.

Story 003

The Tragically Unforeseen Consequences of a Hopeful Request

by Jerry Wilson

Once upon a time there was a little doorknob. All day long, he sighed, "Oh, how I wish I were a mirror. Then people would look at me and smile."

The Good Doorknob Fairy had heard about enough. Grabbing her magic wand and her tiara, she flew on down.

"What, Dude?"

"Oh, Good Doorknob Fairy, please turn me into a mirror."

"No probs."

Poof. The little doorknob became a bright, shiny mirror.

And no one could get the damned door open.

Story 004

Remember Eighty-One?

by Allen Ashley

Yes, I remember eighty-one. A year of strife. The transport system in meltdown. Workers and management at loggerheads. Fears about automation in the workplace leading to further job losses. Poor air quality. Urban health scares. Governments considering land grabs and ready to send in an army at any provocation. The media finding convenient foreign scapegoats. Nobody seemed to be sticking up for the ordinary working man. Or woman. Why have I not mentioned Thatcher? I was talking about 2081. And 1881...

Story 005

The Night Sentry

by Sivan Pillai

"He is a notorious housebreaker and we were in search of him," the policeman said.

The man was lying unconscious under the coconut tree. There was a huge bump on his head and a coconut lay nearby.

Only last evening we had decided to cut the tree down and plant a new one in its place. It had grown far too old and bore very few nuts.

Perhaps this was its way of telling us that it could still be useful.

Story 006

Dullest I've Ever Seen

by Rene Astle

"Nobody could say that I'm dull."

"I'm not saying it to you."

"Then why can I hear you talking about how dull I become while wedging potatoes?"

"Because you always forget about peeling."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"I shouldn't believe you, that's for sure."

"Be quiet, you fool. You're only saying that because you couldn't tell the difference between success and failure."

"Good grief, do I have to go through it once in a while?"

"Not for a longer while, you coot."

Story 007

City Limits

by Christopher Searle

This city is full of lies, anxious cries, and bickering wives. Walking through the street, you cannot escape the sound, of cars that drive, cooking fries, and criminal lives. There comes a time where a person craves something more, so open that door, and stop being such a bore.

Get on a bus and head out, listening to the engine grumbling, people mumbling, and shopping tumbling. To escape the city is such a pity, hopefully somewhere new is not as gritty.

Story 008

Which One Is Earth?

by David Turton

Annie gazed at the dark sky and squeezed Penny's hand.

"Which one is Earth, Nana?"

Penny looked up, identifying a blue-ish speck in the blackness. She knelt and pointed, ensuring Annie's vision was aligned with her fingertip. 

Tears formed in the old woman's eyes.

"How long ago was it since everyone had to leave there, Nana?" Annie asked.

Wiping away her tears, Penny sighed.

"It's been thirty-three years now," she replied.

"Do you miss it?"

"Every day, darling." Her tears flowed.

Story 009

Just Good Friends

by John Notley

Calixste was a one-off who befriended me when I entered the Livingstone Bar, used by the expats in Cotonou. He spoke french and was known throughout the town as a wheeler-dealer, part souvenir seller, part realty agent.

He took me on the back of his motorbike to seedy bars in the heart of Cotonou where I felt perfectly safe in the company of this short, round faced African who looked like a younger Louis Armstrong.

Sadly, Calixste has gone.

Story 010

The Secret

by Gemma Bridges

I have a secret that I hide everyday. A deep melancholy that only hits me in the dead of the night, or with a surge of endorphins from those beautiful songs of the past, and only ever when I let my mind truly wander. My dreams always take me there, leading me to my secret like it's my only path. They taunt me with delusions that he's here. My thoughts, they float to him. I love him. That is my secret.

Story 011

Pouring Petrol on Each Heartbeat

by Jamie Graham

The screeching brakes. Somehow still on the road at the foot of the hill, the petrol warning beep changed everything. She pulled in, got out and put the nozzle in the open back window, squeezing the trigger hard. His crumpled body, sprawled on the rear seats, hanging in there. Unaware.

She turned and disappeared, screaming into the wilderness at the back of the forecourt, the bottom of her skirt well alight. Running helplessly on her very last legs, eyes closed tight.

Story 012

Sticks and Stones

by Wayne Hewitt

"Dwarf planet, you loser."

Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra had circled Pluto, taunting the so-called ruler of the underworld and protector of the solar system for the past four point five billion years.

Pluto, no longer the ninth planet, wept uncontrollably, knowing what this meant.

From within the Kuiper Belt, Eris, goddess of strife and discord, smiled at her opportunity, ejecting a moon sized plasma ball burning at a billion degrees Fahrenheit directly towards Earth.

This time, words would hurt.

Story 013

Broken Promise

by John Holmes

He had promised her that he'd live until his 90th.

The doctor sighed, lowered his head and closed the front door behind him.

Slowly she climbed back upstairs and entered their bedroom of 70 years.

Her lips felt the cold of his forehead.

"You promised not to die. You promised."

Picking up the present from the bed, she could feel the warmth of her own tears.

One drop splashed onto the wrapping paper.

The receipt was still lying in her purse.

Story 014

King of the Forest

by Len Saculla

On a walking and back to nature holiday, I became lost and in need. Close to death, I was saved by a dryad. Yes, the patient fixates on the kindly medic but... I fell in love with her.

As soon as I could, I quit my job. I headed for the enchanted wood. We required the king's permission to marry.

Her green hands led me to a central clearing dominated by a giant oak tree.

I waited. The tree spoke.

Happy outcome.

Story 015

The Cat and the Rat

by Bruce Donaldson

The cat and the rat,

Who were both rather fat,

Liked cheese if you please,

On a sticky jam tart,

And to wash it all down,

Drank water from a tap,

And with bellies quite full,

Took their afternoon nap.


The cat and the rat,

Were both rather smart.

They could count to ten,

If you gave them a start.

They could both climb trees,

As a matter of fact,

Where they'd often drink tea,

With a bird or a bat.

Story 016

Battles That Don't Advance

by Sandra Orellana

"Say no to Racism," a young leader shouted to his town’s people.

He continued, “I will give peace. I will stop frustrations that start battles. I won't allow hostile and hasty judgments. I won't provoke attacks to other's that could start hate. I will focus on love so the evil can flee from our town.”

He finished and sat down beside a weary, battered woman… his wife.

And she looked at him and said, "I hope it is true, my love.”

Story 017

Billy Kneel

by Ben Dickenson Bampton

There were a few sceptics that night, but I trusted Billy Kneel. He was the man-boy we all followed, whether out of fear or childish admiration I don't know.

Five a.m.

No noise save the birds.

The campsite far behind, I plodded after this beast, fearful but too invested now to turn back.

Steps became slushy as we descended into the bog. Billy waited. I caught up and there he was. Face down - rigid - Rees Parker really was dead.

Story 018


by Nadia Tahmina

As they roll her into the Resus Lab, the blood drains from my fingers due to the death grip I have on the trolley.

"The bullets perforated the right lung."

"Circulation compromised."

"Get two units of O-neg in."

Fingers meddle with her wounds. There's more blood coming out of her than going in.

"We need to intubate, she's not responding."

Why did she have to go and be my saviour? If only she had known I was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Story 019


by Mabel Manning

She could hear the tattooed rhythm on the baby monitor. Tangled and taught, the wires chained her to the operating table of white and blue and red.


Straining ears heard fading, echoed heartbeats inside, which tortured the fabric of her soul; her very being was tearing apart.

No. Please, no.

Sobs wracked her body – at least the parts that still retained feeling – as the beats stilled. She felt exhaustion in everything she was; everything that could have been.

Then silence.

Story 020

A Christmas Story

by A Williamson

It was snowing on Christmas eve. Old Mrs Stuart was decorating the last of the buns. A loud knock brought her to the door.

"Hark the herald angels sing..."

Mrs Stuart ran to get some buns for the small group, but on running back, they were gone.

The most beautiful singers ever heard, she thought.

Over the bridge, the village carolers stopped.

"What about old Mrs Stuart's house?"

"No point," said the tenor. "She is as deaf as a door post..."

Story 021

Dangerous Playtime

by Louise Burgess

"One, two, buckle my shoe."

Lilly happily sings as she smiles at her own reflection in the pen knife she has taken out his Survival bag. Then, in one swift movement, she uses it to slice off his little toe.

Paul's ear piercing screams echoed in the dimly lit basement.

"Please," he begs her, just before passing out from the pain.

"Three, four, knock on the door," Lilly sings again, searching in his bag for her next toy to play with.

Story 022

The Annelid's Fate

by Willard Sheen

The bird seized the worm in its beak and yanked it out of the soft earth. The worm fell to the ground, where it writhed in the grass. Suddenly it raised its pointed head and thrashed out in the direction of its attacker.

The bird grabbed the worm in its beak again and, with a jerk of its head, swallowed the worm.  Then it hopped away to search for more food.

Even when the worm turns, it's still only a worm.

Story 023

Time For Trust

by Diane Harding

"It's time."

"Time for what?"

"Time to give you the message."

"What's the message?"

"It's about the lotto results."

"You mean I've won?"

"Yes, the billion dollars."

"Wow. I am lucky, aren't I?"

"You could be."

"What? Where is the ticket?"

"Here. You gave it to me to check out at the newsagent."

"Of course. Well, I can always trust you."

"Yes. I suppose."

"Am I right?"

"Yes. You are right."


"So, it's time."

"Time for what now?"



Story 024


by Maddy Hamley

He lowered the book and sighed.

Still nothing.

Perhaps he should throw their wretched grimoire back through the portal, but that would give the creatures the wrong impression. He could not afford to scare them off.

Instead, he closed the tome reverentially, muttering thanks to the beings for their patience, and placed it on the shelf behind him.

He knew he had the right incantation. It was just a matter of persistence.

Maybe next time they would bring his daughter back.

Story 025

Happy Landings

by Alan Barker

"We are preparing to land. The exits are at the front and rear," indicated Max to his friends, Will and Jay. "Do not move until the doors are opened. Outside is a pleasant twenty degrees. On behalf of the captain and crew, we hope you'll fly with us again soon."

"Max, you are not on your air steward's course now," teased Will. "If you are going to perform like this every time we use the lift, we're using the escalators, mate."

Story 026

Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover

by Barry Smith

No matter what people look like, it’s amazing what they can do. I should know, because I have a physical disability. I might need a hand to do things, but my mind is all there.

I user a power chair when I’m out, but when l’m in the house, I move around on my bum. And I can be fast too.

When people don’t understand what I’m saying to them, I type it into my Lightwriter, which is a communication aide.

Story 027

The Man of Shadows

by Carl Taylor

Tonight I sit, as I have many times before, surrounded by the darkness which tries to drag me into the vast emptiness of death. The cold crawls through the cracks, clawing at my face and burning my skin. Each step from above hammers down like thunder from the skies.


With each thunderous crash, I wonder if the man of shadows will come and punish me for my innocence. Every night I wait, wait for the man of shadows.

Story 028

Tycoon Tommy

by Lesley Truchet

I hate school.


Week 1 to 3, I nicked goods from shops. 

Week 4, I sold the stuff on eBay.

Week 5, I was running to the post office with parcels. The money rolled in.

Next week, I’ll car boot the rest. Mum will think I’m clearing my room and she’ll help out with her car.

Last summer I made £750.00. This summer will be around £1,000. 

This time next year, I’m gonna be a millionaire.

I hate school.

Story 029

Hi-Yo, Silver, Away

by Victoria Syrett

"What the hell is this mess?"

"Well, it's a funny story..."

"It better be side splitting."

"Well, I was sitting down watching the lone ranger and the theme tuned started – you know, 'William Tell Overture'."

"I'm not seeing the funny."

"Well, the cat heard it and jumped off the chair, up the curtains, over the mantelpiece, back on to the sofa and slid over the coffee table."

"So where's the cat now?"

"She jumped onto the dog and they rode off."

Story 030

26 Years Old

by Jane Menzies

"I'm trying to help her, to save her life," she screamed from the intensive care unit. "Please come back."

But she couldn't go back. Her child was no longer alive. She'd known that for at least eight hours.

Her family were saying, “Her blood pressure has risen a bit, I think I saw a flicker in her eye.”

She knew there was no return as she flung open the double doors and ran for her life...

It was all over, forever.

Story 031

Customer Returns

by Claire Temple

Wheelers in the village contains a forest of mannequins. What a thing to be afraid of at my age. But hip replacement or no, I must take back my granddaughter's faulty dress.



As I pull back a dusty gold curtain I see my lifetime's recurring dream. Limbs. Lips. Broken.

I'm returned, exchanged and lost. My best dress snags. I shiver. I'm only four years old. If I wait like a still shop dummy, I'm sure I'll be found soon.

Story 032

My Nemesis

by Tracey Maitland

I hate you and love you simultaneously. I want you out of my life but can't see it through. You drag me down, make me ill, breathless and lethargic. You are no good for me, and yet I am drawn to you every time, you're always on my mind.

I watch you with repulsion and desire as you burn, emitting an aroma only an addict desires.  Smoke slowly rises and twists, a dancing serpent, mesmerising, robbing me of health and wealth.

Story 033


by Crilly O'Neil

Put the paper down for heaven's sake. Get up and do something. Empty the dishwasher, fold the washing or, for a real change, make dinner for me.

The words stuck in her throat like cold porridge.

And this is what she said.

"I know you've had a hard day and you are tired. It's fine. You put your feet up, darling. I'll make the meal. Folding the washing can wait."

She kicked off her shoes, poured a wine and started again.

Story 034


by Daniel L. Link

Recognition makes my skin redden, my face sweat, like being hit with the steam from a boiling pot. I can't remember when last I saw her, but the years have wrought little change.

The train starts forward, and she stands on the platform watching after me. My rush to the back of the car is halted by a large man standing in the aisle. A look through the window shows her still there, and I watch until she’s out of sight.

Story 035

Merely A Grumble

by Michelle Konov

It is with neither a bang or a whimper that it ends, but with a grumble that sticks in her throat, ripping itself hoarsely out from between tight lips. He can see the moment her defenses go up and thinks, rather abjectly, that even beyond being over, perhaps it had never begun.

She turns with a startling huff and walks away, back ramrod straight, and he finds himself caught in a jumble of emotion.

So what if he was a stalker?

Story 036


by Aloysius Goh

What the hell do I write about? he thought, his mind in a whirl. And as he sat there thinking, people scurrying around, the cacophony of voices of those around him diminished ever so slightly into a barely audible drone of hushed whispers.

This is nice, he thought, nice and quiet. I could sit here all da–

"Sorry sir, we're closing up here."

"What do you m–"

It's 9:58PM.

"I've only just got in," he would've said as silence settled.

Story 037

The Winner

by Mack

Jeff was there to win the flash short story contest. He had collected hundreds of rejections, but this time he would win.

Crissy had her back to the door, her face buried in the computer screen, small fingers rejecting the latest contestants with little taps on the keyboard.

Jeff fired and Crissy’s blood, bone and flesh spattered the computer screen. Calmly, Jeff scanned down the list between the bloody splatter on the screen and found his name. He typed, 'The winner.'

Story 038

All Achievements Are Relative

by Liam Lawer

Victory. After all this time. Holding tightly as he lifted it higher, he gazed at the cup in wonder. Disbelief and euphoria overcame him in equal measure. He had done it. He had finally won.

Sweat formed on his brow and tears filled his eyes. His family celebrated around him, filled with pride. In their private shame, they had doubted this moment would ever transpire.

He looked at his new arm as the cup reached his dry, trembling lips.

"Perfect cuppa."

Story 039


by Norm Veasman

"He was an uninspired man, indulgent to his base instincts, lacking the values his Creator would cherish. His death was mundane and unnecessary, leaving behind not a grieving family, but a disillusioned widow and children who never knew anything save his façade. We mourn today a life, not a life well lived..."

The Pastor stopped there, balled up the words, and tossed them into the fireplace. As flames destroyed the truth, he began to write the lies the mourners would hear.

Story 040

Easy Prey

by Olivia Robinson

I subconsciously rubbed at my wrists where the cuffs used to be, still expecting the cool metal surface to graze my fingers, being only half surprised to feel my raw calloused skin instead.

My gaze shifted and was met with a blinding light. My heart stopped. I was a deer caught in headlights, easy prey. As I lowered myself to the floor, I heard two things: an angelic voice bellowing my name and a gun shot.

Then there was only silence.

Story 041

John Delaney

by S. W. Hardy

Some people want to be remembered. Others do not. John Delaney belonged in the second category.

He grew up, consuming food, then expelling what he didn’t need.

He worked a job, spending money, then discarding what he didn’t need.

He possessed no friends, nor an interest in his family or their affairs, although he took pride in his marvellously kept bedspread.

One day, in the early hours of an undisclosed morning at an undetermined time, John Delaney died – a contented man.

Story 042

Waters And Stones – Mothers And Daughters

by Özge Göztürk

"I'm getting the stars if you want me to buy the book."

"I said, if you want the book you can, I'm not insisting on it. But definitely no toys today."

"These are stars, not toys."

"You bought similar ones before, they didn't even glow in the dark properly."

"No. I'm not reading the book if I'm not getting a toy."

"You're not getting a toy to read a book. Leave it."

"I'm not going to read anything anymore."

"Oh dear…"

Story 043


by Paul Shaw

Toby was honey-coloured and quite as sweet. He lived with Suzy in her room. Toby had been with her family a long time and was very old. Suzy was only four. He was her best friend and even sat with her as she ate.

Toby never ate when Suzy did. He was a toy bear and didn’t eat fish fingers or other food that humans like. He ate only when Suzy was fast asleep. Then, every night, he ate Suzy’s dreams.

Story 044

The Fall

by Abhi Shan

I remembered falling. Scared, heart pounding and eyes bulging with the adrenaline rush. When I came to halt, I was unhurt. Surprised, lost and confused, I looked around but it was dark. No glimmer of light or hope. I lurched around in all directions at once to find the exit. I stumbled and fell again, but this time it was short and painful. I opened my eyes and touched my bloody nose. A faint light reminded me of what just happened... nightmares.

Story 045

The Blind Date

by Christine O'Donnell

If he's more than ten minutes late I'm gone. Would it look too obvious if I check my watch again? OK, grabbing my bag and– Is that him? Please say that isn't him...

Of course, this would be how your date went, sitting across from Foghorn voice, watching spinach get increasingly meshed within his giant gnashers.

Oh fabulous, another story about his ex.

Nod and smile, it won't be long until you're back home.

Whatever you do, never again blind date.

Story 046


by Caroline Wright

They say I have to leave.

Notice has arrived that I am to be compulsorily evicted. Overcrowding. That's the official term they are using. It is a small place but it is adequate for my needs. I have everything I want here. It's comfortable. I have ventilation and washing facilities.

The powers that be say I will be going to a nice place. 

I don't care. I like it here.

I am being pushed out.

I don't want to be born.

Story 047

Furborg's Caution

by Ian Tucker

As a kitten, Furborg caught flu and almost died.

Accidentally drinking floor cleaner claimed another life shortly afterwards.

When young he'd underestimated the strength of a fox.

And he once fell three storeys from a roof.

The vase that toppled onto him wasn't his fault.

And every cat has one bad experience with curiosity.

One time, he ate the wrong sort of grass.

Recently, there was the incident with the yellow lorry.

Adding these up, Furborg is now much more cautious.

Story 048

The Missing Pie

by Kristina Moore

"Jimmy, where'd you hide my apple pie?"

Dad stayed home while Mother had taken us to church.

"I ate it."

"Don't be silly, where'd you put it?"

"I said, I ate it."

"Jimmy, that pie was as large as two roasters. It was supposed to feed the fifteen of us. Your stomach isn't big enough to have eaten all of it."

"See for yourself." The crumb filled pan lies empty in the sink.

Dad was never left alone with pie again.

Story 049

The Morning Rush

by Nick Fairclough

His son was mucking about.

Bag wasn't packed... Teeth weren't brushed... Shoes weren't on... How many times can one ask?

The father was becoming increasingly frustrated. His forehead resembled a deformed mountain range, the wrinkles caving in, collapsing like a landslide.

"Look at the time," the father shouted as he pointed to the clock hanging on the wall. "It's twenty past eight."

His son looked up to where his father had pointed, and yelled back, "Twenty isn't even on a clock."

Story 050

Helen of Troy

by Keith Davison

She was unimaginably perfect, and there she was, my Helen of Troy, sitting at a table in my restaurant on the Blackpool sea front.

I summoned up my courage and approached the table. "Good evening, I am Eduardo, owner of this humble establishment. May I be of any service?"

She looked at me calmly as she considered her response.

"Edward, Edward." The shrill calling of my name completely ruined the moment. I turned around.

"Edward, love, have you been daydreaming again?"

Story 051

If the Truth be Known

by David Silver

For too many years, I have put up with an acquaintance who claims that he dated Madonna frequently, drank regularly with Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris and was begged constantly to sign professionally for Manchester United.

But by this afternoon, I'd had enough of his fibs and confronted him. The bloke burst into tears and admitted he was a habitual liar.

My problem now is that I still don't believe him. So maybe his stories are true after all.

Story 052

A Second Chance

by Jaine E. Irish

"Is that Jane?"


"Your husband has collapsed."

"Is he dead?"

"The Paramedics are working on him now."

"Is he breathing?"

"I have to go. Someone will call you later."

"Please, where are you ?"

"King's Cross Station. I pressed redial."

In the palm of her trembling hand, the small, pink mobile lay silent, like a fragile heart waiting to beat again – like his heart, stopped, stuck in his chest somewhere on the floor at King's Cross Station, where she wasn't.

Story 053

Showdown At The Club

by James McArdle

The final Trivia Question last Monday Night up at the club.

My specialty – or one of them – is anything to do with the Ancient World.

We're tied for first with the team captained by my next door neighbour. He's so tight that he put double glazing in so his kids wouldn’t hear the ice-cream van.

What did the Aztecs call ‘Excrement of the Gods’?

(a) Gold

(b) Silver

(c) Diamonds

(d) Coal

(e) Chorizos

 I can't believe I got it wrong.

Story 054

Strewn In The Breeze

by Ros Byrne

Eighty-one. So few words. Enough for a perfect boy meets, loses, finds girl, happy ever after?  But the words should be beautiful, not this mundane.  How to include the assorted glories of shenanigans, glittering, indigo, squelch, chartreuse, tagliatelle... these last not even English ones? Accepted borrowing or serious faux pas? Malpaso in Spanish, perhaps? Clint Eastwood thus named his film company when warned it was a bad step. My turn now to stumble, strewing my precious eighty-one in the breeze.

Story 055


by David Rhymes

One. Make sure you telephone somebody warning them that is going to happen. Two. Run a warm bath and add lavender salts. Three. Brush your hair one hundred times exactly as your mother taught you to. Four. Take care with your makeup. Five. Roll back the sheets and slip inside, naked, clean and fresh. Six. Place the note beside the bed under the scented candle. Seven. Light the scented candle. Eight. Lie back. Nine. Arrange your hair attractively across the pillow.

Story 056

Gone But Not Forgotten

by Julia O'Dowd

"So, what did you think?"

"It was OK."

"He was good."

"Didn't like his character; too self-centred."

"She was excellent."

"A bit over the top I thought."

"Terrific production though."

"The stage was a bit bare."

"It's for dramatic effect."

"Just one thing puzzled me."

"What's that?"

"Those two guys who were sent away."

"Which two?"

"The ones that don't come back. Forgot their names."

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern."

"Where'd they go?"

"They're dead."

"They're dead?"

"Yes, but that's another play entirely."

Story 057

A Single Red Rose

by Jessica Joy

The pile of empty shells under the tree, glinted in the sunlight.

"The pearls have all gone."

"Yes. They take the gifts we leave for them."

"Not these shells. The oysters. There’s none left."

"But if there's no gift, they'll help themselves."

"We must find them another gift."

"They'll want something beautiful."

"What is more beautiful than a single, red rose?"

She plucked one from her basket.

"What if they don't like it?"

"Then we'll need to hide our babies again."

Story 058

Twig Dinosaur

by Fay Franklin

I built a twig dinosaur when I was a kid, bigger than I was by far. It was a thing of glory and fear.

One day my older brother set it alight. I tried to put it out for a while – those are the marks you can still see on my hands… and then I let it go. Oh, how it flew, a pterodactyl suddenly alive. It was years and years before it returned to settle the score with him.

Story 059


by Irving Benjamin

"Stalking? Is that what you said?"

"Yes. I'm sure he was." The old lady grasped the young constable's arm firmly, looking from side to side with wild eyes, breathing heavily.

The policeman gently prised her fingers from his sleeve.

"Where was this, love? Was he, like, threatening you?"

"No, officer, just chasing me. I hid there." As she pointed, a young man emerged from the park entrance.

"OK, Mum, it's all right now. Time to take you back to the home."

Story 060


by Jemma O'Donovan

Matt had taken Rachel bowling when they were nineteen, and Matt was up first. With shoulders poised, he aimed. The polished, green ball skidded down the alley – all ten pins exploded at the receiving end, and Matt spun around, triumphant. He sauntered over to Rachel, and punched her on the arm.

"You'll never beat that. You suck."

This is the moment Rachel remembers, when her son turns around to look at her and says, "You suck, Mum, even dad says so."

Story 061

The Ghost Writer

by Valerie Griffin

Anna has an uncanny knowledge of the afterlife and is star pupil in her Spectrology class. Two days before the exams, the scratching sound wakes her from a rather pleasant dream.

She rubs her eyes and sits up, reaching for the bedside light switch and her notebook. Once again, the writing is on the wall. Sentence after sentence scrawling at an angle across the textured wallpaper. She writes down the answers quickly, before they fade.

"Thanks, Uncle Henry," she whispers, smiling.

Story 062

My Girls

by Soraya Dhanani

Excitement shot through her eyes. "You mean I get to see mama?" she asked me.

I nodded with all the fake joy I could muster, even attempting a smile, but I still trembled. No matter how ready she was, I wasn't ready to let her go.

The steady beeping merged into one long beep, giving no warning. I looked at my young daughter one last time before she disappeared under the white sheet. "Say hi to mama for me," I whispered.

Story 063

Every Morning

by Carole Deeter

She sits on the train, making her way to work, frozen to the bone. She looks up from her book and sees a man in a tan jacket with a puffy hood standing on the platform.

She wills it not to be him.

The train pulls into the station. Her heart stops. Her stomach plummets to the floor, and she can't catch her breath.

The man looks up, but he has blue eyes and a red beard. 

A sigh of relief.

Story 064

Mum's Mystery Tours

by Mike Blakemore

Jess always tried to guess where we were going and bring something appropriate. Once, she kept poking the rest of us with a fishing net, all the way to Stonehenge.

Dad always stayed behind to work, ruffling our hair as we climbed into the car.

The last time, Mum didn't stop. We grew tired of asking where we were going and eventually she grew tired of driving.

She ignored her phone and switched it off when we checked into the hotel.

Story 065


by Anstey Spraggan

I sit at my keyboard, my fingers paralysed by shock. I stare at the screen willing words to crawl across it like tiny eloquent ants.

I have so much to say. I didn't know you were afraid. I didn't understand when you tried to tell me how much this world was hurting you. I thought you would get over it.

What I'm writing now is just a mother's heart-broken eulogy, a list of should-haves.

I chose to start talking too late.

Story 066

Small Town Secrets

by Jane Vine

The small town secrets come tumbling out. She was illegitimate. They weren't married. He was a bigamist.

You’re too old now to hold on to them, and too frail to realise what you’re saying. There are no more defences.

I clasp your thin hand, all veins beneath papery skin. I don't care about long-dead neighbours. But then it comes. 

"I had a daughter once. I was too young. She ruined my life really.”

"Try to to sleep now Mum," I say.

Story 067

The Pact

by Sarah Taylor

Impatient in the pouring rain he stood, cursing. Then he spotted the other man. For a moment he felt relief – until he remembered.

Unspeaking, they turned towards the shack. In the failing light it looked sinister, threatening. Inside, on a paint-spattered table, were the dismantled parts of a gun – and a single bullet.

Shocked understanding struck him.

"So, are you ready?" he asked.

He watched the other man assemble the gun with practised ease.

"Ready when you are," the other whispered.

Story 068

Dog Walking In Cornwall

by Helen Elizabeth

The red of the spoil heap bleeds into the river. A brief industrial rush has scarred this moorland valley. Barbed wire warns ramblers of the open mineshaft plummeting hundreds of feet to a honeycomb of tunnels where air no longer moves.

The sheep graze idly beside.

"I wonder how deep it goes?" I say and pick up a hefty stick beside my feet. Its clattering echo goes down, down, down...

A drooling ball of black fur and excitement clears the fence.

Story 069

Sneaky Suckers

by Kim De Silva

The shadow of night descended. The air was warm and humid, the wind was still. Even the river's water flowed with barely a ripple. We moved outside, seeking some respite from the heat. 

It was the moment for which they had waited. The predators invaded. They swarmed us, their prey. Bloodthirsty and remorseless, they attacked.

I tilted my head and tensed my muscles as I dared my approaching assailant to come closer. I would be victorious. I squashed that infernal mosquito.

Story 070

La Cucaracha

by Rui Soares

"No mobile phone here please," said the man.

"Huh. Where can I put it then?"

His left eyebrow arched. Got a box on the desk.


As I entered with Louise and passed by him, we could hear him mumble, "The world is doomed. It's supposed to be romantic."

We sat and asked for the menu. A tall woman told us, "We do not have a menu. Customer eats what momma cooks. We do have a drink list."

Went for  margaritas.

Story 071

Don't Believe Me

by Angelique Dusengimana

"Give me my money."

"Alice, what money?"

"Joseph, stop kidding. Give me my money back. Honestly, I don't know what you are talking about, Joseph, you are such careless person. Maybe I am."

"Don't you remember me giving you money last night?"

"Of course I don't remember. You just want me to give you more money."

"Alice, don't you know that Joseph was drunk, he is always like that."

"Tony, are you saying that even the job promised was a lie?"

Story 072

Aisle 81 in 2029

by Patrick Antonio

Coach Joe's 2029 high school wrestling ceremony is tonight. With 12 trophies to go, his 3D printer runs out of plastic.

Now at Metamart's computer section, he learns they're out of plastic, which is all his printer can handle.

Frowning, "How much for ones that print metal? Do any print cheaper material? What's your lowest cost printing stuff?" Coach asks.

"Have you tried our trophy aisle? We engrave," the Metamart rep suggests.

Coach smiles. "Pre-printed trophies? Really? So retro. Awesome. Where?"

Story 073

Missy's Gift

by Maria DePaul

Missy, a two-year-old black tabby cat, strolled down a lane at twilight. She came upon a vole's nest. Crouching, she waited until the voles began to forage. She pounced on a slow one for a quick snack. Then, she took another home as a gift for her household.

Surprised, but not shocked, the lady of the house praised Missy's hunting skills the following morning. Then, she discreetly disposed of the gift before her children came downstairs, preventing future nightmares.

Story 074

Harold the Magician

by Henry Dillinger

Harold was not your ordinary magician. He had a peculiarity. Instead of a rabbit coming out of the top-hat, it was a lobster, alive and snapping. Everyone in the audience squirmed whenever Harold pulled it out. Some of the more elderly, conservative ladies would shriek horribly.

He was a hit. Throughout Europe, people came to see him.

But then the lobster began to demand shares, and Harold was forced to cook and eat him, and, alas, his fame dwindled to nothing.

Story 075


by Katy Clayton

I have never desired a person more than Diana.

Her hair flowed down her back like a waterfall. She had deep brown eyes and a smile that stopped my heart every time I saw her. Her laughter brought me hope on my darkest days.

She was my brother's girlfriend.

I will never forget the party where she stumbled upon me, crying in the darkness of my bedroom.

She lifted my chin.  Her lips gently brushed mine.

And then she was gone.

Story 076

Coloured Truth

by Adenike Adekoya

"What's going on here?"

"Mum, Grandma said there are just two colours."


"That's a lie."

"Grandma wouldn't lie."

"My teacher said there are colours like yellow, green..."

"It's just black and white," Grandma interrupted.

"You see – grandma doesn't know colours."

"She does, it's just that she sees life differently."

"Life... what colour is it?"

"Black and white."

"Sounds weird."


"Am I like life?"

 "You are all the bright colours." She forced a smile.

"But you don't seem happy."


Story 077

First Contact

by Karl Bunyan

"What have I told you about feeding the humans, honey?"

"Aww, Mum, but they've been very good. They've stopped fighting, and it's so cute the way they tilt their radio telescopes at me when I'm talking. It's almost as if they understand."

"You know they only follow simple instructions."

"I know... but can't I give them one little treat?"

"Alright... here's unified field theory. But no more today. And if they make a mess of their planet you're clearing it up."

Story 078


by Jack Hanlon

This is a General's charge. Positioned alongside a central King. A gambled risk for who strikes first. Tension tumbles downwards, the landing crash signifies commencement.

Dragons guiding flying chariots hurtle towards collision. Foot soldiers reach for gold.

The King is cautious, gradual in step. Political, religious and military figures clamber to protect. Adversaries maneuver, trying to snatch the throne, an attempt at complete takeover.

Captors brainwashed into opposing forgotten allies. One side increases until resistance is worthless, failures trapped in deceit.

Story 079


by Vichar Lochan (age 13)

I've heard that your brain can't create faces by itself. So all your dreams are of faces that you vaguely remember, faces you've seen before, in the crowd, on the subway, in a restaurant – the most mundane, the most normal of faces.

But then there are the monsters, the stuff of your nightmares – tentacled, slimy sea-serpents, giant, curiously deformed, eerily human-like figures, the hulking mass that somehow terrifies you more than anything else.

Where have you seen those faces, I wonder?

Story 080


by James Hornby

The Father of Thousands has reduced my world to rubble. I’m not talking the house where I grew up here, I’m talking the whole planet.

Things have gotten serious now. Before today, I never had a problem with an entity from the previous universe wanting to destroy all life. I’m just not that kind of guy.

So I’ve joined up with the Space Corps. These guys seem to know how to get things done.

This space slug is after some payback.

Story 081


by Paul Phillips

Sid had heard the stories. Some of the old boys might even have seen it, when the old houses were converted first time round; priests in priest holes, or someone's sworn enemy, bricked up alive. It was the fingernails you remembered, the claw marks.

In this plasterboard age, still they'd joke about finding someone's wife. The Polish lads spun tales of hidden dungeons.

Sid squinted at the mildewed tool belt, met the mildewed gawp.

"What's so funny?" he asked his predecessor.

Story 082

Special Delivery

by Aled Pink

I ran and leapt and landed.

Each night, over and over again, I did the same.

I ran, the streets below me a blur.

Each bound took me closer, closer to my target. I remained vigilant, wary of being spotted.

I'd make sure to deliver him what he deserved.

I finally reached him, on his balcony, all according to routine.

"Here's your package, sir," I said.

He nodded courtly, before paying. I set back across the roofs for my next pickup.

Story 083

9 x 9

by Dez Thomas

Every summer I'd go and visit my grandparents. I could easily spend the whole six weeks there.

Grandad was my favourite, but I loved Gran too. Helping them in the garden made me feel alive. Then , I’d cycle to the chippy to fetch lunch.

"Your Gran will have fish," he'd say. "No vinegar."

One winter it happened. Suddenly my summers had ended. No tears, no sadness. I owed him that much. Everything has roots. Nine times nine. A perfect square.

Story 084

Summer Holiday

by Tony Broomhead

Holiday. Rain. I had promised to take Olivia to the beach. Covered by umbrella and double bagged in cagoules we stand. My shorts a homage to our summer holiday. The mist blurs the cargo ships.

Olivia builds a sandcastle at my soggy feet. The wet sand is perfect for this at least. She is carefully digging the moat. It fills with rain. A seaweed lilo floats around. A crab crosses the drawbridge seeking shelter from the storm. Back to work tomorrow.

Story 085


by Tanya Butler

"Matthew, can you say Daddy?"

Matthew stares blankly.

"Matthew, can you say Mummy?"

Matthew looks to Mummy and babbles, "Mum, Mum."

"Matthew, say Daddy."

Matthew smiles. 

"Matthew, DAD-DY."

Matthew's attention has gone, he moves onto all fours and crawls away.

Daddy has now given up. He heads down the stairs.

Mummy picks up her child. "Matthew, say Daddy."

Matthew looks to the stairs. "Da-da."

Mummy runs down the stairs with him. "Say it again."

Matthew pauses and then babbles, "Mum, Mum."

Story 086

The Purging

by Andrew Welsh

Toby marches down the street banging his drum while yelling with enthusiasm. He passes his neighbour, Greig, who is shaking a lamp post while howling. Mr and Mrs Brentwood are chasing each other with water guns and old Mr Daniels is skipping around in a flower dress singing 'Hey Jude'.

The bells resonate in the distance. The street Tannoy booms with the voice of the Purge Starter. "Good evening, folks. It is now 7.30pm. Time for tonight's emotions purge to end."

Story 087


by John Alty

I'd only gone in to buy a loaf. Arthur served me. New girl was cutting the strings on the packs of newspapers and stacking them. I'd asked her if she was OK, friendly like, and she'd plunged scissors into my groin.

Later, in hospital, the police told me she'd said I'd assaulted her. I said that was daft, ask Arthur. Not in't shop, they said, last night in't car park of the Red Bull.

I thought I'd seen her somewhere before.

Story 088


by Sarah Pepper

Some people find fitting in one of the easiest things ever. Others do not. I am one of those unfortunate people who find fitting in a challenge.

"Confidence is key," my friends would say to me. "If you want to fit in, you must be able to stand out."

At first I had no idea about what this meant, but soon after that, I auditioned for a play and got in. My confidence was growing every day. Listen to your peers.

Story 089

The Duffel Bag

by Shreya Parashar

"Are you home yet?"

"Umm, I'll be a bit late today."

"Are you sure you don't want it again like last night?"

"Please understand... it will be difficult today."

"You have started enjoying it, haven't you?"

"Have you?"

"You'll know tonight."

"I have to take care of some work... piled up for so long."

"Tonight it is then."

She grabs her duffel bag for her first kickboxing class. Renee has to make it up to her husband, for all time's sake.

Story 090

That Cat

by J. L. Harland

There were three of us in the marriage, me, John and the cat. If there had been a dog, things would have turned out very differently. The cat was a brute, an evil monster and I hated it. So did John – only trouble was, it had belonged to his mother.

When she died we were left with a dilemma. Ma said it brought her luck – well, you know what she was like. Superstitious rot.

Then the cat vanished – in mysterious circumstances.

Story 091

After Twilight

by Jonathan Martindale

You there, by the bar. Insignificant mortal. I caught you staring. Interested? We are RESCUE, the Rally Excoriating the Sexualisation of Certain Undead Entities: vampires who demand to be recognised as the hideous, decaying, horrifying predators of humanity that we are, not the glittering, good-looking, smooth-talking objects of teenage fantasies your popular media stereotypes us as. You want in? Excellent. A round is called for, I say. The drinks are from (I mean, ahem, on) you. Go on, neck it, lads.

Story 092

L'Ennui de Vie

by Tarquin Calver

I go a bit funny when bored. I steam my hands, swear at the wall with snails in my mouth, ring 999 and simply moan. I run a marathon through the night then punch my biceps and quadriceps, fart loudly in a librarian's face and order four annual holidays to Tunisia under the name Skywalker. After this I engineer a moment where I'm less bored and gradually get my tip-top condition back. Then the cycle restarts and no-one is safe again.

Story 093

Tasteless Stickies

by Aviva Derenowski

Her eyes swept the stickies on the kitchen wall:

  • Love is Here Now
  • Life is Beautiful
  • Don't forget to call Mom tonight
  • Recycle is on Wednesday evening
  • Take your Lithium
  • I love you, Honey, Saul

There were too many of them yelling at her, 'YOU DON'T REMEMBER A THING, YOU IDIOT.'

She cringed, took them all down, and swallowed each one.

That's how one remembered.

She made her breakfast and didn't know if she'd taken her Lithium. When was recycle day?

Story 094

Just Try It

by Sheila Rosart

In my dreams, it was still smooth and sensuous, unadorned, proud; an invitation arching seductively and weakening my knees.

"I asked you not to."

"Just give it a chance."

"I cannot."

"You're making too much of this.

"I'm afraid it's over, my love."

"Surely we can get past this?"

"I don't see how."

"One kiss goodbye, then?"

"Just one."

"Perhaps I was hasty."


"Try it again."


"I thought I would hate it."

"And now?"

"I do like your moustache."

Story 095

Only Criticise When Perfect

by Jon Drake

He left his phone behind again. Immature chump. The arrogance of youth means many sarcastic remarks about my age and ignorance and yet no awareness or possessiveness over his technological umbilical cord - his window on the world of everything and on daily dating.

I have a son knowledgeably arrogant by internet information only.

I march smugly to the Post Office to return the antisocial communicator. I text him to say it is on the way.

Oh dear… a mature chump.

Story 096

Lorelia Lonely

by Adam Wright-Johnson


It was a big new house and her mommy ignored her.

She had no daddy.

She explored and explored, and in a room she found a body.

The body of a man.

She sat him against the wall. He was smelly but he was company.

He oozed but he never replied. He never laughed.

Sometimes she thought he nodded but he didn't.

He sat silently.


She hugged him.

It was the closest she had ever been to someone.


Story 097

Love Torque

by Adam Rubinstein

"You got Sharon a birthday present?" Trev sipped his pint.

"Half inch Torque wrench set," said Terry. "Money's tight."

"I think you're missing a trick there mate. You never did understand how women tick."

"You think?"

"They're different from us. They want to feel like they're really loved, special like."

"I see what you mean." Terry sighed.

"It'll be worth it mate."

"OK," Terry decided, "I'll go for the three quarter inch set."

"Man, you are going to get so laid."

Story 098


by Helen Combe

Today I shall do good deeds and bask in a warm wave of catharsis. I shall drive generously. I shall let this car pull out. Bother, the car in front has let him out. I shall allow this pedestrian to cross. Darn, the car in front stopped for her.

The car in front is turning right. I pull up alongside and wind my window down.

"You swine," I yell and then drive quickly away, basking in the warm wave of catharsis.

Story 099

I'm Rooting For The Ghost

by Frank Hubeny

After Michael saw the ghost he understood. What he understood he would not say. True knowledge should not be made so literal that any monkey could understand it.

Anne sympathized with him but she thought his deranged prefrontal whatchamacallit generated the ghost. Otherwise why was he locked up with her?

Michael told her she could escape with him through the skylight of the cell. Anne said she would consider it. That was the only reason Michael told the ghost to wait.

Story 100

The Death Game

by Joan Bonnici

"Death is coming into town,

"Here to reap your soul,

"Run along and hide away,

"It will be gone by light of day."

Anna panted as she shuffled herself amidst the others. Nonetheless, she was caught. Now it was her turn to stand facing the wall and wait for Death's touch.

Once more the children started chanting. Raphael patted Anna's shoulder and ran away.

She fell to the ground with an icy stare, and then Raphael knew what he had become.

End Of Page Note

I hope you enjoyed the first 100 stories. You can find links to hundreds more on the main 81 word writing challenge page.

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