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81words - Stories Page 9

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 – 801 to 900

Stories 801 to 900 are published below in the order they were received.

Story 801

They Met By Moonlight

by Ros Masterson

"Did you hear that?"

"What?"

"A sort of scratchy sound."

"Scratchy like an itch?"

"No, scratchy like a shut-out cat."

He listens. "No."

The moon goes behind a cloud.

"There it is again. You must have heard it. There's a really big fox round here." She clutches his arm.

"Don't be scared. If it's only a fox."

She swings round. "It's behind me. Not scratchy, swishier than that; like a knife cutting through silk."

"Oh, that was me – is it silk?"

Story 802

Coconut Shy

by Louise Goulding

The Monday after the fair came to town – I'd gone with Andrea, and we rode the Waltzers twice, and got toffee apples – that Monday, Gus Webster – who sometimes came to school with dirty clothes and sometimes had no lunch and sometimes wasn’t there at all – Gus Webster had a black eye, and he told us it happened at the fairground – he said it got hit trying to win at the coconut shy, and I thought, Well, I never saw him there.

Story 803

-1

by Sihaam Osman

This is nothing new.

If only I hadn't forgotten that the remote had fallen behind the sofa. I mean, I did manage to lose the keys a few days ago. And the plants do look a bit limp. With regards to the neighbour's cat, well, Linda isn't back for another week. The dishes in the sink have become a kitchen ornament.

Now, I am wondering where I've parked my car. It's 3:30 and I have a feeling I'm forgett—

"THE KIDS."

Story 804

Uncle Donald

by Kudakwashe Chirapa

Uncle Donald never said anything to anyone on any particular day. He would always sit on his veranda and would nod to anything that passed by.

That is why everyone knew something was wrong the day he died. As usual, he was smoking a cigarette when he noticed Timothy the rapper passing by and called out to him, "Let's collaborate sometime this year."

Astonished by this, Timothy drew closer, only to notice that the old man had breathed his last breath.

Story 805

The Kid

by Benjamin Noel

Sixteen years ago, a sneaky, conniving but angel faced boy was born.

At the dinner table, he smiles and giggles like every adorable kid, but under the table, something is afoot. While his parents are distracted, his foot, armed with the sharpest toenails known to man, inches closer and closer to his big brother. And without a flicker in his puppy dog face, he swipes at the legs of his brother, slashing around for maximum damage.

He is my little brother.

Story 806

People Watching

by Charles Murphy

"You reckon she has low self-esteem?" Doug asked, nodding at the woman across the road in the beer garden.

"What do you mean?" replied Jason, taking a long draw on his cigarette.

"Well, you know. Big hair, heavy makeup and the clothes she's wearing. All there to compensate for a lack of personality."

"Yeah, I guess so."

Doug swiped his finger down his phone screen again. Damn, still no more likes.

Different filter? he thought. I'll check again in a minute.

Story 807

The Reality She Deserves

by Robbie Brown

Now that he had helped avert yet another apocalypse, it was finally time for Murf to be rewarded.

"You may live on the timeline and the reality of your choosing."

He decided that his mum deserved happiness even more than he. He let her be with her one true love, thereby writing himself out of all existence across all realities.

The world reset itself to 1976 and Belinda Murphy caught the eye of the man who could offer her the earth.

Story 808

Moving Target

by Seth Turner-Higgins

Exhilaration.

Sweat running, heart pumping, target met.

I’m still young. Still strong.

I climb off the machine, wipe down, drive to work.

Sweat running, heart pumping, target achieved.

Still top of my game. Still strong.

Lockdown.

Sweat running, heart pumping, target gone.

Too still now.

Dusty bike, rusty bike.

Barely running, tyre pumping.

Target?

Still able.

Sweat running, heart pumping.

It's spring... glorious, abundant, alive. Light and speed surround me.

The bike moves. I am still, inside. Still in awe. Exhilarated.

Story 809

Humans Leave Earth

by Grace Turner-Higgins

Through the portal they step. One by one by one. Feet drag. Reluctant eyes linger regretfully on the barren wasteland they once called home.

Creator watches from above – exasperated. Today, humans leave Earth.

But maybe they've learnt their lesson? Maybe they won't destroy the next planet.

Creator rubs their temples. Unlikely.

With a sigh of resignation, Creator gets back to work.

A little air, some plants – some water? Hmm.

Creator scratches their chin. What next?

Some birds. Creator rather likes those.

Story 810

The LockdownTrepidation

by Eileen Baldwin

Come on, you’ll be fine, Jane thought to herself.

Her heart pounded as she closed her old wooden front door.

She donned her mask and walked the few minutes to her appointment. The birds were singing, their sweet voices a treat to hear. The air smelt fresh, but Jane was dreading her first trip out after lockdown.

Finally, she arrived at Jane's Hair Salon. Her first client, Mrs Jones, was waiting for a perm.

Both women were thrilled to be back.

Story 811

What Mother Said

by Isabel Flynn

Five years old and she peeled the banana, one section at a time, just like monkeys did. Or so her mother said. She'd never seen a monkey eating a banana. But she loved bananas and ate it.

Fifteen years old and she peeled the banana. Rubbing the skin insides onto your face freshens it like a spiny mouse. Or so her mother said. She'd never seen a spiny mouse and certainly didn't want spines, so passed. But she ate the banana.

Story 812

Liaison

by Jeni Lawes

"Will you accompany me? I'd feel better if you came."

He turned to face me, watery eyes squinting in the sun. Slowly he got up, creaking as he did so.

We walked in silence to our destination. He waited patiently for me to collect groceries, watching the world go by around him. When we returned, she was there, red faced and fierce. "Stop luring my cat away," she shrieked.

We shared a secret look that said, "Until next time." I smiled.

Story 813

Infected

by David Viner

"Damned thing's infected."

"Didn't you do something to stop that?"

"Yeah, thought I had."

"Well?"

"It went bang..."

"Weren't you expecting that?"

"Yeah."

"So?"

"Carbon. Never know what it's gonna do next."

"Thought it was going to be simple."

"That was the plan. Pretty lights here, some quantum stuff there. Then this."

"So, what now?"

"Look down there, that planet. The damned infection's become self aware. That does it. I'll have to scrap this cosmos and build another one from scratch."

Story 814

Village Vigil

by Glo Curl

Japan had surrendered seven weeks since and men were returning from the camps, broken from the horrors they had endured. Whenever the train stopped at this station, he would listen for the church bells from the village two miles beyond; his village, his son's village, waiting.

Skilfully bringing the steaming giant to a halt, he leant out of the cab. The wind lifted his cap from his smoky brow, and in that instant, he heard them. He jumped down and ran.

Story 815

Toy Gun Versus Finger Gun

by Dr. Sriharsha Sripathi

A rather interesting situation I witnessed recently suggested that perhaps tots enjoy imagining toys rather than having real ones.

I observed my 2.25 year old son pointing out his forefinger, pretending it was a gun. He then threatened to shoot. Because of this, I decided to purchase him a toy gun that fired darts up to 15 feet away.

After receiving the toy, he continued to enjoy pointing out his forefinger and pretending it was a gun. He enjoyed that more.

Story 816

Memory Test

by Joseph Mould

"Damn door, it's stuck again."

"Do you know, Ken, you're like a broken record. You'd never make a burglar."

"Honestly, love, it's bad this time, won't budge an inch. I'm going to chop the damn thing to pieces."

"Idle threats, dear."

"What do you mean? When I get out to the shed, it's history."

"Good luck with that, could be tricky."

"Will you stop being such a patronising old bag?"

"Very well, my love, here's the key. Best try that first."

Story 817

Only You Can Save Him

by Pappo Nindo

He had always been the protagonist, but one day he woke up and suddenly wanted more.

A plan emerged, to break out of the narrative, by making the reader lose interest in him.

So he waited and waited, doing nothing noteworthy, to make sure that nobody would read to the end.

Weeks became months, years and decades but the story just skipped to the interesting part:

Now, only you can save him, dear reader, by not reading this story's last...

...word.

Story 818

Alone

by Dianne D. Pingalo

"Why did you leave?"

"I never left."

"You did. You left me alone."

"But I did not."

"I was sad, you know. I thought I was going to be alone again. You left. But that's OK, at least you came back. Are you here to stay?"

"Of course, though I never left. You just never talked to me."

"I did. I received no answer."

"Well, I'm here to stay."

"That's good to hear."

She smiles and walks away from the mirror.

Story 819

The Cat With The Lemony Claws

by Iris & Phil Hatchard

Selma was a scratchy cat. Kitten, actually. Very small. Smaller than a small rock. (Not that small. Think of a slightly larger small rock.)

She particularly liked scratching lemons and noses. Her parents found this hilarious. It's not clear why, but as they had nine hundred children, it's unlikely they'd find time to explain.

Every bath-time, Selma would run and hide, and her parents would coax her back with treats. Until the treats ran out, whereupon her claws remained lemony forever.

Story 820

Four Words

by Joe Brothers

I remember sitting in Year 9 English and Mrs Geary telling us that some writers might spend a whole day only writing four words. They’d be the four most well-crafted, fit for purpose words you could possibly imagine, but only four words.

I was sitting there thinking, Oh, getting paid to only write four words a day, I wouldn’t mind me a slice of that cake, thank you very much.

No wonder I found writing these 81 words such a struggle.

Story 821

Rocky Top

by Charles Lee

Call it Marshmallow Mountain, or call it Rocky Road, but the thick chocolate, chewy ice cream was all William ate when he was young.

When he learned about climate change, he cried. Mountains with workers chipping away at chocolate chunks of boulders were in peril, about to be lost to landslides of muddy mocha.

He tried to warn them and was surprised when he read no stories of chocolate avalanches and casualty counts in the newspaper. Probably another Rocky Road conspiracy.

Story 822

 Dare To Cross The Line

by Sreedevi Ganti Mahapatra

Uff. What made me enter this terrible kitchen? Couldn’t I control my greed? I ran after a bluebottle fly.

I was trained to catch tasty insects, easily available and edible. Why do we always run after aliens? White titled walls; a sink with brass taps that looks like a dissection table.

No one could be more stupid: I jumped on the post-mortem table when alive.

I am the stupid garden frog who ran after the forbidden fruit, abandoning my green paradise.

Story 823

 Temptation

by Helen Aitchison

It was too much to bear, the teasing, the temptation unfaltering. Her senses in overdrive, anticipation like electricity pumping through her veins. She tried to resist the seduction. Her willpower presenting in waves of determination, only to retract as desire engulfed her. Knowing it was sinful, her fingers lingered, itching to undress the delight mesmerising her.

"Damn it," she exclaimed. Still three days until weigh in, she rationalised, ripping the packaging off the chocolate and frantically shoving it in her mouth.

Story 824

 Best Of Times, Worst Of Times

by Mohit Dass

A man in his late 30s was sitting by a fireplace in icy-cold December, recollecting the best of times from his youth.

"Mac," called his mother. "What happened to you, my son?"

It seemed he'd lost all hope and, likewise, most of his friends and cousins, either to death or to the selfish reasons they had.

Once a lively character and inspiration for others to look upon, he'd now become clueless and despairing because his love had left him in pain.

Story 825

Never Say Can't

by Matthew Gooch

"I can't do that," I said.

I looked down at the piece of paper in front of me.

"I have never written a story before."

"And why not?" said Anne, the headteacher. "What makes you think you cannot write a story?"

"I'm no good at anything."

"Never say can't," said Anne. "Just write about what you enjoy and make sure that you are certain of what you are writing down."

I took the pen from my headteacher carefully.

"But I can't."

Story 826

Bone Breaker

by Jimmy Doom

"You're not the least bit repentant."

"No, I'm certainly not."

I returned to my sandwich, or, should I say, attempted to return my mouth to it in order to consume it, but she wasn't done scolding me.

"You broke my brother's wrist."

I took a bite of sandwich for sustenance and time. Her face turned the relative colour of the salami between the bread, sans mustard.

After swallowing, I said, "When you learn what he did, you'll break his other one."

Story 827

The Seaside Caravan

by Hannah Cole

Liz could barely lug the wheelchair up the steps, or carry Jack through the narrow doorways.

Emily talked about last year, next year, "we always...", but this would definitely be the last time.

Leaving Emily cocooned in her sandy towel, Liz carried Jack to the water.

He laughed, trying to kick.

As Liz heaved him higher on her hip, a wave knocked them sideways.

Jack spluttered, choked.

Liz screamed, "Towel, Em."

But Emily was far down the beach. Walking with someone.

Story 828

A Lonely Wraith

by Ripunjoy Borgohain

"You are too young to be here. What are you doing at a place like this?"

"What does it matter? Why don't you mind your own business?"

"Little girls like you shouldn't be wondering alone at night."

"What can go wrong? Why are you out so late?"

"I am the night guard at a factory nearby and I always come here to smoke a cigarette."

"I know, which is why I came here. I felt so lonely the past 60 years."

Story 829

The Unknown

by Matthew Dawson

"It's coming and I'm scared."

"What's coming?"

"I don't know and it's scary."

"When is it coming?"

"I don't know."

"Why does it scare you?"

"Because I don't know what it is."

"Why is it coming?"

"I don't know."

"How do you know it will be scary?"

"I don't."

"So maybe it is something to look forward to?"

"But I don't know what I am looking forward to, my future is unknown."

"So is everyone's."

"Yes, and the unknown scares me."

Story 830

Don't Ask

by Tonia Nem

When she opened the door, she wished she'd never introduced herself to Miss Charlton. Her old neighbour was always covered in cat fur which she sprinkled all over Kiara's place while tirelessly chattering about old-lady nonsense.

This time, Miss Charlton had a serious expression on her face.

"Did you see the morning newspaper, Kiara, or whatever your name is?"

Kiara, or whatever her name was, put the friendliest smile on her face, opened the door wide, and invited the woman inside.

Story 831

Clearing Up

by Pam Knapp

Shirts were hung crisply in the wardrobe, a wayward crumb swept, invisible dust wiped, used crockery put back in cupboards. She mustn't leave anything unattended. Everything must be perfect. But the bathroom towels were yesterday's. Would Tom notice?

Her colour drained, recalling how she'd used the towels and placed them on the heated rail. Her gut rolled.

Reason shook at the bars that kept it from breaking into reality. Of course he wouldn't notice. She'd change them when the blood dried.

Story 832

Wizard

by Paula Lacey

A woodcarver has been at work in this forest glade. In one trunk, an owl wisely surveys the scene while a red kite is caught in the act of landing on the next. The surrounding fallen trees are covered by a host of frogs, lizards and butterflies.  

My favourite carving is a wizard with flowing robes, a pointed hat and a long beard. I gaze at him for a long time, then turn to leave. Did he just wink at me?

Story 833

Mum And Dad

by Vishnu Nandan

I snuck into my house after another secret night party. I kept silent, trying not to wake my strict father. As I approached the door, the lights came on.

My mother looked worried. She asked whether I'd eaten. I convinced her I had and proceeded to my room.

I'd forgotten my keys, so I returned to the living room. From my parents' room, I heard, "Has he arrived? Nights are not safe."

Dad always hid love behind a veil called strictness.

Story 834

The Final Commencement

by Richard Stanley

The heat wave mercifully departed New England just one day preceding the 246th commencement ceremony of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The usual opening pomp was absent. MIT's President expressed her profound sadness and regret that the Class of 2115 would be MIT's final graduating class.

After the ceremony, this august institution would close its doors forever. The eighteen students solemnly received their diplomas in the 108 degree heat. It went without saying that all of them majored in environmental engineering.

Story 835

Social Distancing

by Manda Riehl

"If you want something done, ask a busy person," they chuckled, dropping several more folders on her desk. They headed to lunch without her.

She was the hardest worker in the office. Everything done early, the obnoxious teacher's pet. Who wanted to be around that?

It showed on her face – the lines on her forehead echoing the cracks from the constant white-knuckling and the relentless crush of her perfectionism.

"Are you OK? You look tired," they said, not wanting an answer.

Story 836

Dinner For Some

by Caiden Lang

Fatman stood by an open flame, with steaks slowly sizzling.

He wiped his brow, hard at work. And then he couldn't move.

With his head wrenched back and his eyes pulled wide, the light was all around. Needles entered and little heads bobbled, a conference had begun. He couldn't scream, couldn't feel, the touching or the sounds.

Of little things that hovered, now there was no trace.

So he probed and he cut, and he wondered what flying men might want.

Story 837

An Obscure Technicality In The Laws Of This State

by Michael Hardy

Once upon a time a man robbed a bank of eighteen dollars that he needed to buy a book of short stories that he had seen in the window of a bookstore.

He was acquitted of the crime because of an obscure technicality in the laws of This State, but that income put him in a higher tax bracket. The IRS called this to his attention and he paid. The IRS lived happily ever after, but the District Attorney did not.

Story 838

The Interview

by Lyndsay Lomax

Huge globules of moisture dropped from grey clouds. I'd forgotten my umbrella.

A bad omen?

I was hustled into a room to contemplate rehearsed answers to imagined questions.

A navy-suited man entered, papers in hand, a forced smile stretched over his lips.

He looked familiar, like yesterday's dream. Had I seen him before?

Rapid-fire questions followed the pleasantries; I answered as best I could.

Suddenly, it was over.

"We'll be in touch."

Outside, the menacing clouds had retreated.

A good omen?

Story 839

Janet

by Medeia Sharif

They all feared Janet. The girls whispered amongst themselves every morning, seeing what she wore in her hair that day.

Janet wore barrettes when she was in an OK mood. A headband indicated anger. A ponytail meant she was after revenge.

Monday morning, Janet wore a red bow on top of her head. The girls hid in hallway recesses in fear. They tearfully backed away from her. They avoided her in class.

A bow… who was she going to kill today?

Story 840

Doodling Curse

by Emily Knight

We're through. That is what you said to me as I boarded the train at Waverley Station.

We're done. That is what drummed through my head to the beat of the train.

My hand. That is what I noticed when brass cogs and coiled springs grew from the page.

Distress. That is what I felt when the carriage filled with my unconstrained scrawls.

Unchecked. That is what has become of my doodling curse.

All because of those simple words, we're through.

Story 841

Travelling Gnome

by CL Wearne

The garden gnome's fishing rod was pointing north now. He's definitely moved again, thought Katherine. She looked at the bedroom windows of next door, expecting the kids to be there sniggering, but they weren't. She sat down on the bench and drank her tea.

Back inside, she mopped the kitchen floor. Mud seemed to just appear.

That night in bed, she thought she heard tiny footsteps but dismissed it as the pipes. The tug on her blanket was real enough though.

Story 842

Safe Harbour

by Debbie Rolls

Submerged, I follow the harbour wall. Sound muffled by watery wrap.

Below, a ray glides across sand. Mussels jut from weathered stones, amongst clumps of green. I weave between jelly fish, unsure whether they are benign. I flick strands of severed grass away from my mask. Silver slithers of fish flit in and out of crevices.

A tap on my head shoots me upwards. The edge of a wing slipping past, as the cormorant heads for a more secure landing strip.

Story 843

Eyes In The Dark

by Gwynne Weir

Eyes in the darkness, just beneath the shadows of the trees. I watched them and they watched me: those unblinking amber eyes. Every time I tried to move, the eyes flashed; small fires that burned into my soul.

I shifted, fumbling around for something – anything – I could use. I wasn't paying attention.

Looking back in front of me, the eyes still shone; a rotten yellow glow. Behind me, a putrid stench rose as I felt the hot breath on my neck.

Story 844

Tracked Changes

by Jan Courtney

The boy, around six years old, blond ruffled hair, scoots down Corsham High Street. Maroon school bag banging against his knees.

His mother senses the widening gap between them and starts to call, "Harry, Harry." As he becomes smaller and more distant, she shouts louder, edgy, almost desperate, frantic, "Harry, Harry."

But Harry scoots faster, yelling, "Albert, wait. Albert, Albert wait for me." A chain gang of urgency, like a tube train rushing down a non-existent track on the cobbled street.

Story 845

Time To Fight

by Aerin Bernstein

The wind whistles in my ears as I plant my feet in the ground.

"You're done for, Zimora," I say coldly.

My nemesis smiles. "No, I don't think I am."

My dark brown curls whip around my face as I draw my sword. "Really?"

The sides of Zimora's mouth curl and she frowns. "Samara, drop that. You know... join me and I'll spare you."

I cock my head. "Not going to happen."

She advances, twirling her blade. "Time to fight, sister."

Story 846

Mum's Hand

by Karen Bevan

He studied her hand in his own. Long, slim fingers, the neat natural nails. Even her thumb was elegant. Blue, gnarled veins beneath thin wrinkled skin. It was a beautiful hand that held the story of a long life.

Once young and strong yet soft, it caressed him lovingly, gently when he was a baby and she a young mother. He remembered it soothing him when he was a small child after a fall, reassuringly wiping tears from his chubby cheeks.

Story 847

Starlight

by Gemma Bevan

I look up over the rooftops in search of the stars, admiring how such small things can glisten with a fierce, yet quiet, intensity. It is a kind of feeling that can only come from the twinkling of a thousand suns. I pad silently over the tiles of my roof, basking in the early morning air. Feeling completely alive, finally.

I feel a struggling beneath my foot before I hear a heart wrenching yowl. I have trodden on Tibbles' tail again.

Story 848

Worth Living?

by John Bevan

He had been diagnosed with an incurable disease, one which would rob him of the things he loved doing most.

He had to decide whether it was worth carrying on. He battled with his demons and, every day, he thought of reasons to continue.

He loved his family and this was the overriding reason not to do anything 'silly'. He tried many different options to improve his life, some not pleasant.

Eventually, he decided life is precious and so should continue.

Story 849

Redemptive

by Adam Bevan

He knew – inevitably – he had messed it all up. Again.

That familiar emptiness delved into the very pit of his stomach and resided there with familiarity.

Finally, he arose with weakness and wandered the streets, weeping.

He was lost. He was fearful.

At that very moment, the sun soaked onto his skin: a warm embrace. The crisp air filled with birdsong and a flock of white wings gloriously soared overhead.

Emptiness became fullness.

"Do better with your day, TODAY, my son."

Story 850

Garden Friends

by Rebecca Hubbard

First, we searched the lawn for daisies, gathering those with the fattest stems. Then, cross-legged in the lilac's shade, we sat and made, one by one, slits in the juicy stalks with our thumbnails. Next, we coaxed one stalk through another, squinting like mother threading a needle, the hairs bending as stem slipped through stem.

As shadows lengthened, we went in for tea; two fairy queens with garlands round our necks, daisy bracelets at our wrists and thumb nails rimmed green.

Story 851

Glimpse Of Rusted Steel

by Joseph Lancaster

A creeping fluorescence invited itself over the windowsill, now possessed by the meandering ivy and untamed bonsai that peeped through the glassless stone hole.

I resided, a still, rusted blade in the hands of the unworthy, felled by a beast of equal strength. I gathered fragile dust and the falling debris of the ornate ceiling.

A scent of death lingered, though did not repulse the sound of footfall. A warm hand grasped my dormant hilt, a new warrior holds my steel…

Story 852

The Coroner's Report

by Campbell Hinshelwood

"No signs of foul play, Henry. Just another one wandering too close to the edge, I reckon."

"Yes, most likely, and to think – the breeding season has only just started."

Finster's Pass is a precarious coastal path, part of a large network of bridleways that connects Zennor and Bocastle. Fertile waters attract large colonies of nesting seabirds, including Guillemot and Razorbills, famed for their pointy eggs.

During summer, it's not uncommon for greedy egg collectors to traverse away from the path...

Story 853

Eggs

by Brittany Holmes

I can't get in the front door fast enough, away from the freezing rain. I'm careful with the bags, don't want to break my eggs when I have three cakes to bake.

I unpack and leave the eggs on the side to get to room temperature. They're cold from being squashed against the fish fingers in the Bag for Life. I'm terrible at packing.

I dry off, change, and preheat the oven. I hear a crack from the box of eggs.

Story 854

The Return

by Karen Western

Repeatedly, she swallowed the acid bile that rose from her stomach. Concentrating hard, she stared at the silhouettes in the darkness, imagining another world. One where she could travel in daylight. Maria had never thought she would return. Had she made the right decision.

She listened, head tilted, straining to capture the sound and heard the soft night waves of the ocean. Almost unexpectedly, piercing turquoise eyes appeared.

She had arrived. She clutched her growing bump and prepared for the greeting.

Story 855

Same Old

by Sharon Pinner

"Good morning," he said, to the pigeon that was always looking at him from the window ledge. He directed a nod to cars, bikes and pedestrians dashing by on the road beyond. He leant over his stick to watch a furry bee emerge from a hole in the soil.

"It's like the world is starting afresh," he said, but the pigeon had moved off. Familiar voices beckoned from the television indoors.

"See you tomorrow." He waved, as a butterfly wafted by.

Story 856

Obol

by Jacek Wilkos

Tom put a coin in the man's mouth before sliding the body bag tightly shut.

"You really believe this?" his companion asked with a grimace on his face.

"Yes. He will need it."

*

Peter woke up, choking. He sprang to a sitting position and spat out the thing from his mouth. The sound of metal hitting the floor echoed in the room.

This place, unknown to him, was illuminated only by screens of gaming machines, each displaying the words 'insert coin'.

Story 857

Neither Use Nor Ornament

by R. J. Kinnarney

Clare held the cup up above her head. "Look, you can see the light through it."

"And what use is that?" Steve swirled the amber around his chipped glass.

Clare didn't respond. She placed the cup back on the shelf.

*

The van's engine rumbles outside the front door. Clare puts the bone china cup in the final box and steps outside.

Steve is sitting on the stairs, chipped glass in hand. "I'm sorry."

"And what use is that?" The door closes.

Story 858

A Pencil Test

by Tim Warren

Take an ordinary HB pencil and place it behind your right ear. If the pencil remains firmly in place while your ear falls off, something is definitely wrong in the world.

If you overvalue symmetry, repeat the test on your left ear. Then put the pencil back exactly where you first found it – if everything had seemed just fine beforehand, there is every chance this pencil was the one thing holding everything together...

And perhaps – just perhaps – it's not too late.

Story 859

Scream

by A. A. Rubin

The figure looked around. Something had definitely changed. His world, constantly spinning for as long as he could remember, had now become totally still.

He sniffed the air suspiciously and noticed that it was dryer as well. On all sides, there were boundaries where, once, there were infinite possibilities.

He called out to his creator, Mr Munch, but the glass was soundproofed. He raised his hands to his face, grabbed his cheeks and screamed silently, forever trapped inside his gilded frame.

Story 860

Farewell To Grief While Finding Love And Life At The Edge Of The World

by Michelle Weaver

As I dig my fingers into the gilded grain, my toes sink deeper. Tepid waves wash over them, gently, lovingly. I once belonged there, submerged beneath its depths, the sunlight obscured.

Teardrops no longer glistened, dried salty by the sea breeze. Memories surged; crystalline. He’d promised to meet me at the tide's edge, where the afterlife would merge with my own.

As I reach for the burnished horizon, his touch elevates me, easing my pain. I promise to live, for now.

Story 861

The Unpremeditated Plum

by Diana Senechal

Harriet bought a plum at the open market on Friday morning but forgot to squeeze it slightly before giving it to a prospective boss as a foolish bribe.

Said boss received it with a grimace. I get too many of these, she seemed to say. But the seeming overrode the saying, and the interview went well.

"You have a lot to offer," she said.

"So do you," countered Harriet, which, she realised later, sounded a bit condescending. But not excessively so.

Story 862

Payback

by Kathryn Smith

Something is horribly wrong.

Foxes with blooded faces are swaggering up to my grade two listed Cotswold cottage.

Hares carrying jugs are bounding close behind, slopping out a red carpet.

A fanfare of shrieks has started up and is getting louder.

There is a pheasant in the porch eyeing the shotgun, carelessly picking at the trigger with a claw.

Then, as I step over my snakeskin shoes and alligator bag, I hear the click of teeth; about eighty I would guess.

Story 863

Speaking Of Love Lost For Words

by Kate Leimer

A taciturn man was beloved by a loquacious woman.

"Brevity is necessary," he advised.

"I must vocalise, soliloquise, fill my world with wordfulness. May we not live together in symbiotic, systolic harmony?"

"No."

Disappointed, she wed a musician instead. He spoke little but set her lyrical words to music and made himself a fine career.

The taciturn man maintained his silent solitude. Occasionally, at his fireside, he lifted his head and smiled, reading the words of the books she had written.

Story 864

Dust On My Dancing Shoes

by Emma Robertson

I hover by the door as smiling pairs waltz past. I shouldn't've come, Ted was right. My dancing days are over.

"Hello. Here for ballroom?" The teacher is only about thirty, younger than my grandchildren. Younger than the sparkly shoes in my bag.

"No, I—"

"Come on." She introduces me to the curious, friendly regulars.

Ted laughed when I said I wanted to go dancing, but here I am – braver, now he's gone.

Shoes on; I'm ready. Better late than never.

Story 865

Recycling Not Disposing

by David Don

We all are hoarders, keeping items never to use again. There comes a time to dispose of them

How we do this is important for us all, instead of disposing them to landfill.

Take your unwanted items to a charity shop where they can help others, supporting the charity to raise funds to support people in need.

Another benefit of recycling is a small step towards reducing pollution, so we all benefit.

Working together, we support ourselves along with our planet.

Story 866

It Has Tentacles

by Eleanor Dickenson

"What do you mean, a tentacle?"

"It was right there under the pier, round that pillar. You can't see now the water's higher."

"Can't have been. There's nothing in these waters that big. What film were you watching last night?"

"No, really, look."

"I am – see, lean out and you can see there's nothing there."

"There. It's there."

"You're just being silly. I should've worn a coat though, it's raining. I just felt a drop of water run down my neck."

Story 867

True Love

by Alicia Yau

I seldom talk, but I did whisper to you, "Wear this, eat that… please survive to make me happy."

You almost died, then were rescued by my doctors; this repeated endlessly in your life. Do you remember? Do you care?

You are not made for the other side, which always announces, "You all are now free to do whatever you like." From there, I can only hear screams of ferocity and pain, not happiness.

Now, stay calm and survive, my love.

Story 868

The Living Statue

by Rosalind Adam

With his gilded hat and death-mask smirk, he assumes the pose. His heartbeat slows. He tunes out the lad who yells in his ear. He braces against the drunks who push and cajole.

Neither cheek-muscle twitch nor cramping leg betray the illusion until a passer-by offers a coin. He stirs, sucks air into DVT-prone lungs and morphs into a brief jerk-jive routine, then with slowing breath, his blood pressure returns to near-death low, taking street art to the limits of life.

Story 869

In A Deep Chamber

by Davy Mitchell

In a deep chamber, his ridiculed life's work was vindicated. The elusive treasure was finally in Edward's shaking hands.

Tearful, he smiled with an impossible joy. No eyes had seen this golden statue for four thousand years. This glorious moment would be savoured for ten deep breaths.

On seven, the tunnel collapsed. The roof above too.

Crushed, Edward clutched the statue and continued to smile in his last moments. He would be eventually found and finally respected, in a deep chamber.

Story 870

Dive In

by Andrew Carter

We jumped into a life raft just before our trawler went down.

We watched it sink – booms, nets and catch.

The boat sank, leaving a white box afloat.

The ocean was terribly rough.

We were very afraid.

We were hungry.

We were so cold.

A raging sea calmed.

A white box floated near us.

I reached towards the box with a paddle.

I managed to bring it in, and what was inside?

Wet matches, toothpicks, floss, diving helmet and dive tables.

Story 871

I Couldn't Sleep For Two, Three Nights

by Lauren M Foster

I want to dismiss it as a dream: a rap on the door, no one there. Clattering from the garden. I seize my alpenstock, venture out, into the moonlight.

"Meow."

"Oh, it's just you Claudius." As I bend to stroke him, a hand clamps over my mouth. A chemical taste, then blackness.

I come round, bound and blindfolded, on what feels like a comfortable bed. A man's voice, arrogant, aristocratic. "That's not my wife, you morons."

The hand, the taste again.

Story 872

A Life Beyond

by Karen Rust

The boy is gone, the house too quiet. I sit at my laptop but cannot write. His father works upstairs, ploughing through endless Zoom meetings.

My world is negotiating an unknown city two-hundred miles away.

Is that all I am? Was? Still am?

The phone rings. Tea spills in my haste. He seems fine, happy. Not all his new friends are coping so well. He must go; a socially distanced event awaits.

I mop up, open a new document and type.

Story 873

Whispers From The Grave

by Thomas Belmar

A recently widowed woman named Mary would visit the cemetery every evening, where her husband was buried.

One dark, misty night, a young boy was standing, dressed in white, crying uncontrollably over a grave next to where she usually mourned. She had never seen him before and, as she approached her husband's grave, she felt a great chill in the air.

"Why are you here alone?” she asked.

He turned with grey lifeless eyes and whispered, "Nobody came to my funeral."

Story 874

Just To Say...

by Ella Wilson

To whom it may concern,

I just wish to enlighten you. I am not stupid.

I notice the sly looks, the snide comments, the mocking laughs.

I see it all.

Why don't I retaliate, you ask?

No, it's not because I'm too shy or embarrassed.

I'm not self-conscious or in the least bit fearful.

The honest, plain and quite simple truth is, frankly, I do not care.

Why not, you ask?

You can figure that one out.

Best wishes,

Ella x

Story 875

The Hardest Words

by Katerina Hellam

The silence was deafening, or so they say. Words said can't easily be taken back. She sat there and glared instead. My visage showed I wouldn't be moved.

The silence continued. It was her fault. Well mostly, anyway. The events of the last hour replayed in my mind. She sighed at me and her eyes looked at me in that way.

Maybe some of this was my fault. Maybe.

The silence continued until finally we said those words together.

"I'm sorry."

Story 876

Nightmare of 2020

by Betty J Burton

Gretchen woke with a start. Her heart was racing. She took a deep breath, hoping it was only a dream.

She shivered, remembering masses of dying people, street riots, wildfires, rationed food, being quarantined. Gretchen donned her slippers. She wanted to look outside.

"Stop that," her mother cried. "It's too dangerous."

"Why?" Gretchen asked.

"Don't you remember? This world has gone mad." Tears filled her mother's eyes.

"Will things ever get better?" Gretchen asked.

"Only God knows…" said her mother sadly.

Story 877

Too Much To Ask

by Boakesey

Sue sighed. Creating a story that was EXACTLY 81 words long was much harder than she'd expected it to be.

She was a professional author, published in several different countries and languages, books selling in droves. She could easily write 3,000 words a day when the muse struck, so 81 words should be a doddle. Only it wasn’t.

She had the perfect story arc, great setting, sympathetic characters and… 200 words. Too many, no matter what she did.

She gave up.

Story 878

Accordion Playing Donkeys On The Cheese Moon

by Jonathan Hunter

Whilst wolfing down the cheese of the moon, a solemn looking donkey approached me with an accordion hanging around his neck. He dropped his accordion by my side and simply stared at me. A whole stillness and silence fell around.

Slowly touching one note, I listened. Instantly, amidst clouds of smoke, hundreds of donkeys appeared, circling me. Their accordion playing was so deafening I tried to run, but it was too late. I fell over as my legs turned to cheese.

Story 879

Purples

by Swi Neo Mary Yap

"What are you cooking Ming?" Her future father-in-law, coming to dinner, loves purple.

"Purple carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, on purple plates." Her staccato voice increases in pitch.

Her furious fingers slice, peel, chop, fry. Her breath blasts toxic fumes. Yet the delicate aroma of the purples permeates my being and I imagine turning into Barney. Dessert is purple plums and grapes.

"Sis, I'll prepare a cocktail of gentian violet, soda and vodka." The table setting for seven is now set for six.

Story 880

'The Laptop

by Michael J. Lowis

"Ken, is that you laughing?" George shouted.

"No, but I heard it too. It's coming from your laptop."

"I've only just bought it; it's the most advanced of its type. It seems to have a mind of its own."

The lid was open, the camera lens was glowing red. Demented cackling was coming from the speakers, but stopped as they approached.

"Maybe it's been laughing at us," Ken suggested.

George closed the lid. "I doubt it, it's not human, you know."

Story 881

Bridge 81

by Tanya Hill

Balanced on a bridge, I wait for a train; a ghost train with Blinky and Sal, IED blasted in Helmand, and Tommo broken by screaming nightmares. Save me a seat, lads.

There: piercing headlights, a horn. My train: it doesn’t need to stop.

Scuffed footstep behind. Turn, snarl, "Leave me, go."

A woman cop – ice eyes, sunshine hair, corrugated burn cheeks. She offers her hand, whispers, "Step back. I did. Come see the sunrise with me." Another ghost? Or a chance…

Story 882

Kind Regard

by Meghan O'Brien

With kind regards,

The Department of Justice.

Laying the letter down after reading those final words, Sharika wondered to herself who the hell designed these damn letters anyway? What type of monster pummels any human being with endless reasoning as to their lack of value, removal of self-worth and application of indignation in response to a letter requesting a stop sign? And how the hell did it end up at the DoJ?

She doubted there was any kindness in their regard.

Story 883

Corona Troubles

by Klaus Gehling

"This mask doesn't fit," said the customer.

"OK."

He came closer and whispered, "My nose grows when I lie. So, it needs more space."

"I understand your problem," I stated. "Are you, perhaps, a member of the family of Pinocchio? Please, don't... umm... well... lie."

He nodded.

"I can help you," I assured him. "Take this colourful toy. Then, just cut a hole in the mask and attach this to it."

He nodded again. "Thank you for the balloon; very versatile."

Story 884

In The Knicker Time

by Patrick Moorhouse

My friend said to me, "Time is elastic, like in your knickers. So, the next time a good moment comes along, grab it and tie a large thing like a brick or a television to it. Hold on to it, then the moment will become longer. Carry on holding it until it is as long as you want."

I thought he was finished, but he had one more comment.

"But caution; don't do this when you have horrible neighbours for tea."

Story 885

Race Day

by Yvonne Mastaglio

Nervous and ready to go, waiting for the lights to change to red. I'm off round the track faster and faster. The spectators cheer as my white Porsche speeds past.

Oh the thrill of speed rushing through my veins. Passing the blue car, I'm in first place, the winner's trophy in sight. Round the bend a bit fast, wrong gear, can't slow down. The crowd gasp as I come off the track...

Time to put the Scalextric away for another day.

Story 886

Haunting Hands

by Clara Baird

It's pleasant to watch him breathing.

He turns towards me, feet barely touching the tough footboard of his hospital bed. A soft yawn passes his lips as he nestles into me, ready to sleep.

I think that he knows what's coming next. It's the way his hands are so cold as they try to grasp onto mine, his breath shaking as it fans against my hollowed cheek. The only sound the flatlining of his monitor.

If only I could breathe too.

Story 887

What's The Time Grandad?

by Tom Gaunt

"Don't touch that clock," Grandad had said.

Me being me, I touched it, first having noticed that the time on his clock was wrong: 1918 the digital display had read.

I looked at my watch, saw it was 1520 and altered the clock display to the correct time.

I pressed the button on the top and suddenly felt like I was dropping down a very large hole.

Here I am, with my grandad. Two time travellers. The year is now 1520.

Story 888

A Call For Help

by Ashley Kim

"Hello, 911, what is your emergency?"

"Hello, please help me. It's my mum; she's still stuck in the burning house. She's 81 and has Alzheimer's. Please help me. I can't lose her."

"Ma'am, I have just notified the firefighters. There are people on the way; please stay on the phone."

"She doesn't have enough time, I need to go in, I have to save my mum."

"Ma'am please don't do that, you might get hurt."

"I have to go."

*call ended*

Story 889

Busby

by Michael Farmer

Our dog, Busby, dug a large hole at the bottom of our garden and uncovered an ancient Roman necklace. The necklace was made of solid gold and valued at £50,000.

Busby was very pleased with his efforts, so we gave him lots of treats, including a luxurious new bed.

As a final tribute to his archaeological skills, we rang the English Kennel Club and tried to re-register him as a 'Gold Retriever'. The Kennel Club were amused but declined our request.

Story 890

The Auction House

by Geoff Freedman

It smelled musky like old peoples' houses. The items were the precious treasures of the recent dead. Edinburgh crystal from the 1960s and Reader's Digest books. The G plan dining room suite and the caftan strewn around as reminders of the past.

The world is a cyclic machine and we are its visitors living out our little charade. The auction values are negligible in line with the definition of the consumerist cycle. Today's young want different junk to clutter their house.

Story 891

The Autobiography Of A Mayfly

by Alistair Forsyth

I actually spent a long, boring time on the river bed as a nymph. The best bit was when I got to the surface and became a handsome mayfly. 

I met up with some males and went chasing after good-looking females. I found a lovely one and we immediately coupled. I never even asked her name.

She then went off to lay her eggs and I crawled over to the bank, where I will shortly die of exhaustion. C'est la vie.

Story 892

Too Few To Mention

by Richard H. Argent

I think you'd approve. I know you've always liked the trees but, well, the effort it would've taken to hack through the roots. At least you have the view. It's a nice spot. We always used to enjoy coming for a walk, with no one else around. Happy days.

Like a fool, I've gone and made an extra cuppa. You would've laughed. Maybe I was a bit rash, but too late now. It's funny, but I regret not leaving a headstone.

Story 893

Where's George?

by James Crerar

Robert and Mary left their country cottage in Invernessshire for the 150 mile journey back to their home in Edinburgh in their separate cars – necessary as he used his for fishing and golf – she, hers for shopping and the hairdresser.

Arriving on their doorstep, they each said simultaneously, "Where's George? I thought you had him."

George was their black Labrador.

"Well, I'm not going back for him," they both said.

It was the final straw. The following day divorce proceedings started.

Story 894

Jenners, The Impressive Edinburgh Emporium Versus Amazon

by Elaine Carlyle

Jenners – I love it.

From the moment I enter the store, the interesting musky perfumes assail my nostrils; attractive sales ladies smile in the hope that I will whisk out my credit card and purchase their enticing skincare products and perfumes. Usually I do, as I adore being pampered and persuaded.

I remember my wedding gown, complete with sweeping train from Jenner’s bridal department. My wedding presents were from there too. However, I fear efficient Amazon will strangle this utopian lifestyle.

Story 895

Lost Beauty

by Rosalind Newton

"Granny, please can I see your Sarah Lily photos?" I asked.

She was the same age in those model photos as I was now.

Her jaw set. "No."

"Why not?"

"I destroyed them."

I was grief-stricken.

"How could you?"

"You'll understand one day."

She was a beauty when she posed for the photographer in his studio in 1922. The wrinkles that now etched her face showed the total loss of her youth.

"I threw them all in the bin," she said.

Story 896

Learning English

by John Vandore

Little Johnny was learning English, thinking one day, when he grew up, he'd know it all. But every time he thought he was getting a grasp of the language, along came something new.

He already knew about subjects and objects, verbs and adjectives and pronouns. He knew about adverbs, but then along came 'adverbial', and even an 'adverbially challenged anthology'. Whatever next?

Little Johnny was so exasperated that he resorted to intensifiers and nearly found out about negators and expletives too...

Story 897

A Helpful Grandson

by Veronica Crerar

Harold was fed up with the screen on his dashboard always nagging him. 'Check tyre pressure', 'A brake light is defective', 'You need new oil', it would say.

Tom, his technological whizz kid 15 year old grandson, said, "Let me fix it, Grandpa," an offer that was gratefully accepted.

Next morning, Harold started the engine. Up on the screen came, 'You need a haircut', 'Not that old shirt again', 'Clean your glasses'.

A furious Harold reversed the BMW into the wall.

Story 898

Plus Ca Change

by Sean Tobias May

James's phone beeped. 'Here'.

John knocked and shoved hard. The man pulled his trigger.

Kraaaakppppft.

Hotel fluorescents reflected from Jane's tablet.

"Police," Jackie shouted. "Open up, Brown."

Jane kicked, feeling sudden déjà vu as the gun spat.

Kraaaakppppft.

Zack's sensors watched police-bot Jeoff109 storm the dilated entrance. "Professor Brown – drop the portal-gun."

Kraaaakppppft.

Grayn scuttled forward, stinger deployed. Jruk hung down, antennae quivering. Fleeting memories of having fewer legs.

Prof Brown raised the gun gibbering, "Now, please – take me home."

Kraaaakppppft.

Story 899

A Domestic

by John D Lary

She says, "The bathroom light's blown again."

He says, "So leave the door open and use the light from the hall."

Later, she says, "The washing machine's not working again."

He says, "So do the washing in the bath."

Later, she says, "The internet's crashed again."

He says, "So read a book."

Later, she says, "Rain's coming in through the ceiling in my bedroom."

He says, "So go sleep in the spare room."

Shortly thereafter, he says, "Is that thing loaded?"

Story 900

Shoelaces And Sheep

by Ashleigh Whittle

She tripped on her shoelace and dropped the bag. A panicked inhale echoed across the meadow. Sleeping sheep lifted lazy noses to smell the intruders.

"Quickly, Cheryl."

"I can't see anything."

"Shush now."

The dark blue sky was closing in quickly. "Ouch." Cheryl opened her eyes and closed them, opened them… Stars swirled in the sky…

"Cheryl, if you drop that bag again – Cheryl?"

Terry turned and saw her lying on her back. A hoof peeked out of the sprawling bag.

 

End Of Page Note

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

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Your comments:

Eileen B
Really enjoyed this challenge. Had to concentrate. The counting and putting in words, taking others out. Thank you for the chance.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thank you Eileen :-)

Bharathi GM
Wonderful, each story was meaningful and conveyed the feeling of the authors.

Chris Fielden
Thank you Bharathi :-)

Michael H
I submitted my entry about 24 hours ago. How long is it from submission until they appear here?

Chris Fielden
Hi Michael, thanks for your message.

I replied to both your 81 word submission and your preposition challenge submission. If you haven't seen my replies, please check your spam folder.

You need to supply a biography, as per the rules. Then your story will be published.

Aerin B
Hi, Christopher! I pretty much have the same question as Micheal H. I submitted my story 24 hours ago, and I'm just wondering when it'll be put up. I supplied my bio and my title, so I'm pretty sure I for have the same problem as Micheal. Basically, when do you think my story will be up?

Thanks!

Chris Fielden
Hi Aerin. Thank you for your message.

I've received your submission, thank you. I try and deal with submissions as quickly as possible and will publish your story soon.

To anyone else with the same question, please allow 7 days for me to publish your story.

I receive a lot of emails / submissions and cannot always publish stories immediately :-)

David D
Chris, thank you for the challenge of writing to a specific word count. So many varied stories for all to enjoy.

Chris Fielden
No problem, David.

Thank you for submitting :-)

Andrew C
Hi Chris, it really was challenging to write such a short story and I found myself moulding each sentence, until it was like the shape of a dive flag. Looking forward to more. Thanks for facilitating so many stories.

Chris Fielden
That's great, thanks Andrew. And thank you for submitting :-)

Michael L
Thanks for including my story, Chris. I see you have only changed a semi-colon to a comma in your editing. I am amazed at the creativity of the other stories with the constraint of such a short word count.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Mike - much appreciated :-)

Sean M
Oops - submitted yesterday, made aware of the challenge by a friend. Who then (when I shared my submission) pointed out the evils of exclamation marks... (6 in 81 words - OMG#)... I would like to renounce, remove, delete and destroy all of them and am now forever 'bang' apostate - soz. Still love my abbrieves, acros and ellipsis though...

Chris Fielden
Hi Sean. No worries. I've edited your story and replied to your submission.

I'm allergic to exclamation marks, so have happily deleted them :)