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Lesley's Nifty Nib-Nibbling Nonsensical Narrative Writing Challenge

Quick links on this page:

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

Lesley Truchet & Christopher Fielden

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

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

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

Rules & How To Submit

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

The rules are simple:

  • 200 words max
  • please include a title for your story (not included in word count)
  • be silly but make sense
  • entry is everyone's favourite fee - FREE
  • anyone can submit
  • 1 entry per person
  • no profanity please
  • your nib-nibbling nonsense tales will be published on this page
  • every time we receive 100 stories, we'll publish all of them in a book - 3 books have been published via this challenge and, due to time constraints, in July 2020 the challenge became website publishing only - I'm afraid that means there won't be anymore books published via the nonsense writing challenge
  • any money made through anthology sales will be donated to charity
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • when anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story by filling in the comments form below
  • include a short biography (40 words max) for use in the published book - if you don't supply a bio, we will be unable to publish your story
  • include 1 link (optional) to your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.

So far, we've received 301 stories and published 3 anthologies.

This challenge is now website publishing only. Author biographies will appear on the website alongside their published stories.

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About the Nonsense Writing Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

The second anthology – Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2 – was released in April 2018. It contains the second 100 stories submitted to the challenge.

The third anthology – Nonsensically Challenged Volume 3 – will be released in September 2020. It will contain another 100 stories submitted to the challenge.

We are still accepting submissions to this challenge and stories will be published on this page along with author biographies. We will not be publishing anymore books via this writing challenge.

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

About the Charity the Nonsense Challenge Supports

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

The Daisy Garland Charity Logo

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

You can find The Daisy Garland on Facebook and Twitter.

The Daisy Garland Charity images

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

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

How The Nonsense Writing Challenge Came To Be

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

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

Lesley Truchet and Chris Fielden

Lesley Truchet and Chris Fielden, pictured in France

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

Lesley Truchet & Chris Fielden Nonsense Writing Challenge

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

Again, Photoshop definitely has NOT been anywhere near this photo

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

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

No more books will be published via this challenge, but all the proceeds from existing books will still go to charity.

The challenge is a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know about The Daisy Garland charity. Everyone's a winner.

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Nonsensical Stories

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

The stories are published in the order they were received.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1

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

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

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 Flash Fiction Anthology

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

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2

We received our 200th story on 3rd February 2018. The second 100 stories submitted to the nonsense challenge were removed from the website on 4th March 2018.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2 was released on 28th April 2018. You can learn how to buy the book here. The book contains stories written by 100 authors.

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 2

An opening note from Chris Fielden

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

And from Lesley Truchet

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

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

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

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Nonsensically Challenged Volume 3

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

Nonsensically Challenged Volume 3 will be the final book published via the nonsense writing challenge. The challenge will become website publishing only once this volume is full.

We received our 300th story on 9th July 2020. The third collection of 100 stories submitted to the nonsense challenge will be removed from the website when the book goes into production.

An opening note from Chris Fielden

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

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

And from Lesley Truchet

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

Story 201

Hell’s Cobblers - Stick On Souls

by Lesley Anne Truchet

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

"Mistakes happen, Father."

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"One is enough."

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

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

"Hey. That's my soul."

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

Story 202

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

by Mike Scott Thomson

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

*Tape starts to record*

Frau Krause: Good morning. How are you?

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


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

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


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


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


Frau Krause: You wear Bundhosen at the swimming baths?

Me: Yes.

Frau Krause: Are you sure?


Me: Nine.

Frau Krause: Try again.


Me: Speedos.

Frau Krause: Full sentences, please.

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


Frau Krause: All right. And to your wedding?


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


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


Me: Eisgekühlter Bommerlunder.

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

*Tape clicks off*

Story 203

Can A Flea Fly

by Simon Russell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story 204

Second Opinion

by David Silver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story 205


by Michael Rumsey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story 206

Bird Brains

by Allen Ashley

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


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


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


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

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

Story 207


by Harshita Singh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story 208

Pirates Of The PC World

by John Notley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story 209

The Wasp And The Bee

by Jack Lewis-Edney

Love approaches at high velocity.

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

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

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

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

Love approaches at high velocity.

Story 210


by David Guilfoyle

Two tablespoons of lemon curd on a broken table tennis bat should be enough to fix the stereo in my space shuttle.

The co-pilot is playing badminton with a giant shrew with contact lenses. It's only fair, shrews are shortsighted. The contact lenses were fitted by a famous fisherman from Penzance who has three beards but isn`t a pirate.

The co-pilot doesn't have any strings in his badminton racket. He wants my table tennis bat. But that means no tunes on my shuttle. And he is allergic to lemons. I could suggest they do something else, like play kerplunk. But shrews hate kerplunk, and get very cross when you distract them. They like lemons though.

Maybe I could give the lemon curdy ping pong bat to the shrew, and the co-pilot could have the shrew's racket. And I'll get the fisherman to fix the stereo. I mean, if you can fit contacts lenses on a shrew, then tuning in a digital radio that can play all the songs of the hit parade anywhere in the known universe should be easy enough.

I like the jam, me, not lemon curd. The co-pilot is an antelope.

Story 211

Honour's Harvest

by David Batteiger

"Colonel Arrot, incoming call from HQ."

"Thank you, Sargeant," the colonel replied, taking the handset.

"Farmer Five-Six, you have enemy bandits inbound."

"Roger, Flower Garden, tally on the bandits?"

The reply hesitated. "It's an entire battalion, sir, only one click out. Recommend immediate evac."

"Negative, Flower Garden, we'll never make it in time." He dropped the handset and raced to the top of the ridge. Peering through a pair of military issue binoculars, he saw them. Wave after wave of pointy ears, bobbing up and down on the artillery pitted battlefield, causing panic to wash over him. 

He collected himself. He had a duty to perform. "Lieutenant McGregor, get the platoon out of here. Immediate retreat to rally point Zebra," the colonel ordered, with nothing but authority in his voice.

"But Charlie, what about you?" the lieutenant replied to his friend.

"I'm staying to slow them down. Now get the troops to safety," Colonel Arrot exclaimed.

As his troops withdrew, the colonel ran to the top of the hill and pulled the pin on his X37 tactical turnip. If he was going to hell, he was going to take as many of these bunnies with him as possible.

Story 212

The Nonsense Ring

by Sandra Orellana

"I love you," he said. "Wrap this thread around your ring finger, it's your wedding ring. One day I will give you a fine thread."

A thread, I thought to myself. I won't dare marry for a thread.

"This is better than a diamond ring," he said.

"But this thread will remind me, I'll be tied up with your foolishness," I said.

"Yes , you will, so accept my proposal," he said.

"How long will this thread be wrapped around my ring finger?" I asked.

"Forever. It's a symbol of love," he said.

"This is nonsense," I said. "It's a silly game of love."

"It's time to remind you who I am."

" I am your model, you're a tailor."

" I know. Tomorrow we will continue. The thread will unite us."

" I will step out of your shop and hope this ring of nonsense can be forgotten," I said.

" Maybe it will, maybe not," he said.

Story 213

Ordering The Law

by Jessica Holmes

"I'm attempting to order the law," I said, with a raven's roar to drive my point home.

"Well that's a mountainous task," my esteemed mother said, burying herself in the beanbag.

"The real question is if a shooting star who has stolen someone's legs comes before or after the sky scaring away a linguist," my heavily whiskered father whispered, peering at me through the lightbulb.

"Well before, I guess, but it depends if the linguist carries a pink or orange umbrella and I can't forget to account for the length of the shooting star's legs," I cried, clawing at the wallpaper in frustration.

"Darling pie, I don't think you've considered all the options," my mother sighed through the beanbag.

"You're right," I said. "Let me law the order instead."

Story 214

Little Larry Longbottom

by Johanna McDonald

Buttery bonbons baked black in a big bucket of boiling bat blood.

A tasty tipple of tansy tea with toasted tangy turnip.

Parboiled pickled peppers and pan-fried pumpkin with pear and parsley pottage.

The doctor scanned the food diary searching for some hint as to why Little Larry Longbottom was so large. She looked at him over the top of her glasses.

"Buttery bonbons?" she said. "Could you have braised broccoli instead?"

Larry shrugged his shoulders.

"And apart from the big bucket of boiling bat blood, there seems to be very little protein in your diet. Perhaps include a morsel of monkey mince or marinade mouse meat in a mashed mussel mariniere."

Little Larry Longbottom rose from his chair and stood towering over the doctor, his vast frame casting a dark shadow over her.

"I forgot to tell you," he said, "that my main source of protein comes from my favourite dish; diced deep-fried doctor dusted with dark Demerara and drizzled with donkey drool and a dash of dill." He licked his lips and the doctor was no more.

Story 215

I Love Fairies And Dragons

by Claire Apps

One night when the sun rose, Jess went to bed and got dressed. She wanted to go on an adventure to find dull, boring things like fairies and dragons in the swamp. She unpacked her rucksack and left her sandwiches of pickled eggs and potatoes in the oven. She knew the short journey would take a couple of hours and she would be hungry.

The cold sun hid the pathway, so it was easy for Jess to see where she was going. The ugly black and grey flowers bowed their heads in shame. A young puppy slowly shuffled up to her, meowing gently as he tried to bite her ankles. Jess just laughed and carried on skipping along.

At last she arrived at the sunny, sweet smelling swamp, where bats flew gracefully in the air. An owl hooted loudly on a nearby telegraph pole. Jess didn't bother undressing and hurried into the hot water splashing, shouting out for the fairies and dragons to come out and play with her. Alas, no fairies, nor dragons, came out to play. They were too scared. A beautiful fairy godmother was out to catch naughty little girls who should be in bed.

Story 216

Cotton Soft

by Tiarnán Murphy

"Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear," muttered the wizard as he paced across his study.

"What's wrong?" asked his apprentice. He had never seen his master so worried.

"The sheep have gotten loose, and they're terrorising the king's dragons."

The apprentice turned pale. How could there be sheep loose around the castle? Didn't people know how dangerous they were?

"Will the knights be sent to round them up?"

"Oh, no, no, no. Don't you remember what happened when they tried defending that woodland town from the invasion of bunnies? The king can't have that kind of a massacre happening again. No, I expect he'll probably ask us to do it."

The apprentice knew better than to argue. Nodding his head, his face ashen, he gathered the necessary equipment.

The wizard was right. The king's summons came and within moments they were sneaking through the castle gates, heads darting back and forth in search of approaching sheep. The pair made their way as far as the trees surrounding the castle without seeing anything out of the ordinary.

The apprentice turned to grin at his master. Instead of his masters face, he was greeted by the sight of blood-flecked, cotton-soft wool.

Story 217

The Tower Of Power

by Christopher Fielden

And lo, the humans voted to represent the other humans did fail to speak truths and agree on a long list of Many Things. These things included who made the poison, who administered the poison and who blew up other humans with the poison.

Thus, tired of waiting for the humans to discover decency, Nature redressed the balance. Rather than losing a plethora of fanfaronades, she decided to remain calm and unleash a simple apocalypse.

One Monday the Celebes Sea boiled. From the bubbling waters, a colossal granite tower rose. Its purpose? To emit Truth Rays, a powerful sonic serum that rendered deceit and misrepresentation impossible.

Unable to lie, the humans faced new and terrible challenges. All humans fibbed on occasion, for a multitude of reasons. Lo, chaos ensued.

The ashes of destruction claimed the lives of all but the most intelligent and sentient of beings that had ever inhabited Earth. The Holocene epoch, Quaternary period, Cenozoic era and Phanerozoic eon did end. The Age of Verdancy had arrived.

Story 218

The Beast

by Jake Kendall

"Have you heard there's a beast prowling round the village?" Mother's eyes brimmed with excitement. "Escaped panther, they reckon. Maybe a jaguar."

I raised an eyebrow and sipped my tea. "Escaped? From where? Have the police confirmed it?"

"No, but Carol from the Co-op saw it. Your gramp too, just yesterday. Only seen it running across fields, at a distance, but they agree. It's waist-height at least. And black as a Labrador."

"About waist-height?" I enquired, standing to estimate the size with my hands. "So, roughly the size of a Labrador?"

Mother nodded as she sighed. "I tell you, no-one's safe round the fields anymore. Who knows what we're dealing with." Her voice was softly earnest.

I couldn't help but put my hand in my pocket, and sit back down.

"Yes. That's a mystery all right..."

Story 219

Wife: The Answer To All

by Thatchayani Ravanan

Yamadharmaraja, the lord of death, wanted to spend his life as a human. He met a woman, fell in love with her and married her. Soon, they were blessed with a son. He decided to leave his human life. He was afraid of his wife.

He called his 24 year old son and asked him to do whatever his mother asked. He bestowed his son with a boon, enabling him to help ill people, like a skilled doctor. But the boon came with a condition.

"You can use this boon when I am absent. If you see me, you shouldn't use it. I will be visible to your eyes only."

Day by day, Yamadharmaraja's son became popular.

The king of Thatch Mascot called and said that his daughter was ill. If Yamadharmaraja's son cured his daughter, he could marry her and receive the whole kingdom.

After seeing the king's daughter, Yamadharmaraja's son fell in love with her. Alas, his father was standing at the door.

Cleverly, son shouted, "Mum... you were searching for my dad, right? He is here."

Yama ran away. His son had succeeded.

Story 220

Same Plaice, Wrong Time

by Tanya Butler

Clark, the King's dimwit of a brother, was taking his fish, Phineas, out for a stroll when his worst enemy, Lord Snottingtondish, a dashing dishwasher, was passing by in a horse and carriage. Clark felt he was better than the unpleasant peasants in the kingdom and tried to live his life that way.

Phineas was an extraordinary fish because he brought extreme good luck to anyone who owned him. Lord Snottingtondish owned Phineas's brother, Frank, and over the years tension grew between the two. Though fish have a lifespan of 900 years, neither owner dared to put their precious plaices in dangerous places.

Crossing the road, Clark spotted a flying, podgy cat and it was licking its lips. It had wings like a dragon but looked very adorable. "Shoo," Clark shouted. Then there was a squelching splat. It was Phineas. Hoof prints were all over his scaly body. Clark shrieked, "You've just squished my fish. Do you have a death wish?" He kicked the carriage in anger.

Lord Snottingtondish peeked out of the carriage window. "Hey, you're a poet and you don't know it," he chuckled. "But it looks like your good luck has run out."

Story 221

Stake Steak

by Munib Haroon

Delbert Van Helsing backed Count Dracula up against the broad doors of the fire escape. "Your days are numbered, Count. There's no escape."

The count chuckled. "Wrong. And soon, at sunset, when I transform into a bat, you will bawl."

Van Helsing felt stumped, but he tried not to show it. Turning into a bat wasn't cricket, but if the count wasn't caught-out this time, he'd be free to continue his life of bowling maidens over. Just as well I'm prepared, thought Van Helsing, pulling out a juicy beef steak.

The count's mouth splintered. "Bravo, well done."

"It's medium rare, actually," said Van Helsing, closing in cautiously, the steak aimed at the vampire's chest. SPLAT. The steak flopped uselessly against the count's chest before dropping to the floor. A look of grim resignation registered momentarily on Van Helsing's face.

The vampire pounced.


Feasted, sated, the Count made his way down the fire escape. A figure emerged from the shadows.

"I'm Mina Murray, and this is for my namesake," she screamed, plunging a chair leg into the count.

"You're a real dead-ringer for her," gasped the count, dying. "But, by-gum, you're a much meaner Murray."


Story 222

The Ghost And The Moonlight

by Chidi Ezeibieli

Moonlight slithered into my bedroom and I glimpsed the silhouette of a human being, drifting towards the door. But I was all alone in my bedroom that night. Then the door clicked shut. The being didn't leave.

I froze as I felt the being standing next to me. I was lying in a fetal position with my back to it, but I knew what the being was. And I knew what it wanted. Something I've been wanting to give up my whole life. I just had to turn around.

A second crawled by.

Another second.

A third second.

The moonlight outside began to wane. The presence of the being began to fade.

And then the door clicked – ajar. The being, gone with the moonlight.

I'm not sure why I didn't turn around. Now that moment has passed. Silly me.

Now I'm gazing out of my window, hoping for the moonlight to return.

"Please return, dear moonlight. Return. I promise, this time I'll turn around."

Story 223

Submarine To Japan

by Abigail Williamson

At a quarter to noon, with the stars for a moon, and the sky upside down with the sea, a whale with a tail, like a comet, did sail, over a plankton branched tree.

He ate all the leaves, they were fishes you see, while birds swam in clouds to the shore, and there stood I, like a dot in the sky, in a boat which was more under than o'er.

To sail the horizon is quite a surprise thing, when clouds replace waves and the sun, can only come out, when it's half way about, the oceans above, now being spun.

The science of travel, so hard to unravel, becomes easy – I fly and I swim, it's quantum mechanics, mixed with botanics, and a theory of – well – everything.

By the light of the moon, now in a lagoon, the things that once creep now have wings, and the wings of the things that never did creep, now do so (except for the ones who have fins).

The rockets are subs, the submarines, planes and cars, now fly where they ran, and if 200 words of this nonsense gets in, I'm halfway to sea in Japan.

Story 224

What Was It Again?

by Gaius Rew

"I've never heard that nonsense word."

"Which word's the one you've never heard?"

I knew the word he'd never heard, the one he felt was so absurd. I pulled his leg but not too much.

"My leg," he said. "You can't pull that."

I'd pulled him off from where he'd sat. I may have pulled more than I'd thought.

"Don't think, down here, that I've forgot."

"Oh, what? Oh, what?"

"That nonsense word. Don't act now, like you never heard."

"The WORD. Yes, silly to forget."

"Forget? You truly have to think I'm WET around the ears to sit down here and see you heard but did not hear the word we both know sounds quite queer and rings in my befuddled ear. It sears and singes my ear hairs to see you gawking, standing there professing maybe you DID hear, but it just went from ear to ear, or in one but found nothing there, and left out of your right nostril."

"You know," I said, no broken stride, "that I've got nothing here to hide, not born with self-doubt, shame or pride, but truth be told, I do deride you, think about this word I've lied. What was it?"

Story 225

Filigreeable Taunts

by Antony Lazarus

" was once claimed, awash with the rabid ramblings of a diatribe in Peru," the professor continued. She looked over her spectacles, the very same that Grandma McGilstry had worn. Alas, the frames were now framed at the museum, having thus been signed by the late entrepreneur, Cignardo D'Escuado III, in a raunchy one-night inclination in the jungles of Chile.

She realised that the elastic holding the lenses to her face was due for a tighten, if it were not for the tightening in her chest, likely due to that irritable Mr Gchuch. Ugh, it was so hard on her palate to even attempt the pronunciation of his name, let alone stomach the chili marshmallows he had forced upon her at needle-point.

Yes, those confounded knitting needles he insisted on carrying in his WWII gas mask, which he alleged his great uncle Ferdinand discovered in a rabbit hole in the late '30s, she mused, stomach-acidly.

The tinkle of badly-played shot glasses snapped her from her momentary reverie, a sure sign that the intolerable Ralphie Rupert von Washingline Junior was readying for his daily filigreeable taunt.

"I say, Ms Professorina."

She braced.

"On the subject of those Peruvians..."

Story 226


by Nam Raj Khatri

A young man named Amanta was enjoying an exciting speech, delivered by politicians during pre-election. He noticed that every politician was speaking against the opposition leaders, trying to convince listeners that what the others were doing was wrong.

Amanta explored the theory behind this. He decided that actually, every politician thinks that what they’re doing or speaking about is right. Therefore, they oppose everything anyone else suggests.

Amanta joined one of the political parties and they won the election. When he joined the government, he noticed that parties in opposition always caused problems with decision making. So Amanta came up with the idea to apply his theory of opposition to resolve the problem.

Amanta became spokesperson for the government and made opposing decisions. For example, if an airport needed building and proof was shown of the demand, his government would not build it, saying there was no need. The opposition would then complain and demand it was built. Then Amanta would reverse the decision to support the opposition parties, giving the people what was needed.

What opposition? he thought. Politics is easy.

Story 227

In The Essence Of A Tiger

by F. DeStefano

In the essence of a tiger, I, with star-crossed eye, stared straight into the universe. Peacock blend. Time explodes with a plume of smoke to cast a shiver amongst feathers. Rest is near. The moon lit like a bulbous blood-orange in the background of the clouds. Walpurgisnacht.

Dreams are flies, abuzz about the being. So cold, winter.

Sunshine rainbows on a tattered sweater, thick frayed at the cuffs over gloves with holes. Rain water tastes sweet like sucrose. A bitter sweet. Light posts in a mist. That feeling when you see it.

Bomb. Fire in the belly, coughed colours about the spectrum, Pollacked over the canvas poster, unleashed from one's holster. Arson with an arsenal of cannons. Three points to a dot. Vapour and smoke. Like ice.

A word winner, stay for the froth and frivolity. Life looks back and laughs in the end like it doesn't even matter. Flow bear, boring talks of the cœur of a river's bath amongst its motion. A captain at sea on a ship in the midnight hour, in sombre sweetness. Taste at the tip of one's tongue to spit. To speak a whisper with a loud voice. Serenity.


Story 228

Sun Stops Rain

by Lindy Gibbon

It was raining hard, so all the high-falutin' folk decided it would be a good idea to have a picnic. They ordered their servants to set up the garden furniture. The gardeners were instructed to water the lawns and flower beds to ensure there wasn't a dry patch to be seen, and then to put out the croquet sets. Nothing the high-falutin' set like more than a good game of croquet. To make sure everything went along swimmingly, they piled up all the mallets and burned them. 

Next, the paper bunting was strewn across the trees, including along the driveways and avenues leading to the grandest of the high-falutin' folks' houses. What a spectacle it all looked. Everything was served on delicate rice-paper plates with matching cutlery. Jack & Jill's, the go to catering company, provided vessels in which to serve the liquid refreshment.

The entire event may have become an unmitigated disaster when, contrary to all expectations, the sun came out. Fortunately, the high-falutin' ones all attended Girl Guides or Scouts in their youth, so were prepared and, quick as a flash, ordered catering size packs of ice cream and let everything melt.

Story 229

Meeting At Instant Barn

by David McTigue

Inside The Instant Barn, Cranston, the chairman, hit the table with his trusty broken trowel and called the meeting to order. Four of the members ordered hyena foo yung and a coal scuttle to follow.

Cranston asked the hon. sec. Anna Conda to read the minutes of the last meeting while she performed the dance of the hours on a xylophone. This was seconded by Lord Stopwatch, who ticked loudly in a corner.

"To business," roared Cranston. "Sales of our porcupine deodorant have not spiked as anticipated. I want you lot to split up into three groups of four and come up with some ideas or eggs will roll. Reconveve in two hours, don't be early."

As the groups dispersed, a bereaved ewe charged into The Instant Barn and smashed into the table, reducing it to matchwood. Wool filled the air.

"'Tis a sign," muttered Cranston darkly.

Two hours later, all but four of the members had returned, rolling eggs on broken trowels.

Cranston shook his head sadly. He knew the missing four were following the coal scuttle.

Story 230

His Love Story Stinks

by Nick Nelson

"Again. Tell me everything, Son."

"Horrible, a ghastly sight. Love's dead," he said. "She was murdered tonight."


"We've been fighting," he explains, "but tonight, by the crackling fire, music playing, her lips, hips, legs long, booming brazier arched and bulging, I thought I'd finally found true love. So I lunged, ravenous – swooning, thrusted like a heated lion, unaware – didn't care for dangers coming. Then…"


"Poof," he shouted. "She farted… the moment was murdered."


"Yes, Father," he groaned, "I then left second thoughtlessly – after she died to me."

"Funny, Kid," he whispered. "And absurd," he reassured. "Women don't do that. Try again."

Story 231

North Pole Adventure

by Andre Othenin-Girard

"Ah, Lady Flummox de la Befuddle Perplex, I was waiting for you. Quel plaisir, but, we speak English, oui?"

"How do you know my name? Who are you?"

"You visit ze Norse Pole, today at my home, n'est-ce-pas? I am Callan Dar, at your service, but I'll call you 'Qué' and you can call me CD-WR700MB." He bows. 

"You don't look like a Calendar."

"Never mind, ma chère Qué. You look befuddled, Qué, excuse ze pun."

Flummoxed, Qué thinks,

"I lose my way, knock at the door of a French Nut who thinks he is a calendar and calls himself Re-Writable. I'd better humour him."

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" she says, trying to remember what it means.

"Ah, ze liberated lady. I like zis. Do you prefer ze bedroom or ze kitchen table?"

Qué thinks, From bizarre to bizarrest.

"Before we make sweet love, do you mind running anti-clock wise around ze house 3,652 times? With the time zones, zat will make you 10 years younger."

Terrified, Qué runs away and disappears into the blue and white yonder.

"Ze English women. They are all screwed up. Figuratively speaking, of course," said CD-WR700MB.

Story 232

Light The Wet Ferret

by Jon Spencer

"Skidaddle, ya varmint."

Done dilly dallying, said varmint high-tailed it out of the water bucket.

"Biscuits and cheese, who'll drink that now?" The electrician stepped off his high horse and peered at the residue. A cloudy scum clearly lay abed, not fit for man nor beast. "It's to be tossed." With that, he expertly flung the unwanted swamp water into the bushes. "Rinse and repeat," he called, just as the ferret emerged, dripping, from behind said bush.

"How's it raining from a blue sky?" said the wetted ferret.

"Varmints," roared the electrician. "Looting the liquids again."

"I'm beswamped," wailed the ferret. "Baptised."

"Call for a font," replied the electrician, as he remounted.

"Times New Roman, 12 point," called the dampened ferret.

The writers emerged from under the picnic table. "We have pens," they said in unison.

"Good. Pen the varmints. Marmite'll do for bait," gruffed the electrician, as he strung the lights.

The writers glad-handed themselves over their good fortune. "It's Christmas," they cried.

The lights winkled over the dancing ferret, as the electrician played the strings.

Story 233

Seasons At Play

by Gavin Biddlecombe

"It doesn't matter what happens beyond this point," said Summer, admiring the line he had drawn across the sand. "The minute it's crossed, that's it."

"That can't be it," replied Autumn. "I'm enjoying myself too much. What with the red and gold and—"

"And so you keep saying. Nevertheless, I've suffered for three months."

"But it's too cold to do much else."

Summer didn't reply. Checking the coast was clear, he nudged Autumn square in the back and looked on as Autumn, arms wind-milling like crazy, tried to regain his balance.

Autumn just about managed an I'll-get-you-back look, before collapsing in a heap across the line. The line vanished altogether, completing the transition. As Summer stood back, Autumn raced towards him, colliding into a solid invisible barrier.

"You know what's next?"

Autumn's resigned look was answer enough, as a snowball splattered freezing slush down his back.

"Hey, Winter," said Summer, indicating the shivering individual in front of him. "He's all yours."

"About time too," she replied. Winter gave a whole-hearted wave, then focused her attention on Autumn, who was busy fishing melted snow out of his clothes.

"I've missed you," she said, launching another snowball.

Story 234

An Act Of Deathly Nonsense

by Jonathan J. Drake

Burt was feeling nauseous. This was the first time he'd performed his spiritualist act in front of so many people. They'd already listened to his introduction and now waited patiently for him to continue.

"I finally have something," he announced. "I see a man. Does anybody know a Harold?"

A lady waved her hand. "My husband's called Harold."

Burt breathed a sigh of relief, glad his trickery was working.

"Your husband, Madam.  Did he die of a heart condition?"

The lady shook her head.  "No, he's sitting right here."

Next to the lady sat a stocky, old, bald man, looking rather bemused.  The audience began whispering amongst themselves.

"Well that's no good, is it? I'm only interested in dead things."

"A bit like your act," someone jeered in the background.

Burt held his tongue and continued. "So, does anybody else know a Harold?"

There was silence before the woman waved again. "Just me."

"Madam, I've no interest in your Harold."

"But he has a heart condition."

"But he's not dead."

Harold suddenly clutched his chest, groaned and collapsed in a crumpled heap.

"He is now," said the woman, moving to stand next to Burt, her body eerily transparent.

Story 235

The Terrible Misadventure Of Professor Krauss And His Magnificent Refrievictmer

by Neil Phillips

"Step right up. Come on ladies, jellybeans, don't be shy. I have cures for any ailment: lotions and potions to rebalance your motions." Professor Klauss swished his cape, gesturing towards a balding man beside him and addressed the crowd. "Geoffrey was cruelly deprived of his follicles. Using my Magnificent Refrievictmer, I shall restore them."

A dramatic flourish revealed a large glass bulb in an ornate metal setting.

"Ere, he's got a lava lamp," heckled a voice from the crowd.

Ignoring him, the Professor activated the Refrievictmer.  Blue light pulsed mystically within and the onlookers oooooed appreciatively.

"I grant you hair." Light shot from the device, engulfing Geoffrey with a SHPLOOF sound.

An octopus appeared on his head, tentacles slithering around his face.

The crowd roared with laughter.


A confused looking wheel of cheese appeared.


A purple chicken clucked.


A colossal anchovy tap danced in the moonlight.


The crowd fled before a scorched and enraged Geoffrey, who lunged at the Refrievictmer.

The world turned indigo and, when the smoke cleared, everyone assumed both men had been killed.

No one noticed the tiny wooden hedgehog, named Susan, and her dancing camel ride off into the sunset.

Story 236

The Case Of The Revealing Initials

by Alan Barker

"Consider, Watson. On the stroke of midnight, Our Murderer – whom we shall call OM – enters the premises and proceeds directly to the library where he shoots her ladyship in cowardly fashion. Her ladyship's final act before dying is to write his initials on her writing pad, using her own blood from the bullet hole."

"And those initials are?"

"Sh." Holmes put a hand to his ear. "I think I heard a sound from the garden."

"Sh?" said Watson. "Did you say his initials are SH? Why, that's you, you fiend."

"Don't be a fool, Watson. The initials on the writing pad are OM, don't you see?"

"Ah, so that's why you call him Our Murderer. You're a genius, Holmes."

"Yes, and her ladyship was almost as brilliant. Do you see how she cleverly pointed her outstretched arm in the direction of the open window?"

"You mean that's how OM managed to effect his escape? OMG."

"Quick, Watson, there's not a moment to lose." Holmes dashed to the window. "The game, as they say, is a foot."

Story 237

Hogwash Habits

by Francesca Pappadogiannis

"Harry Hogwash. Come down to the principal's office at once," the school horn blasted.

Harry rose up from his wonky chair at speed, spat his pencil out of his mouth accompanied by some gobs of saliva, then ran out of the classroom and down to the office.

Seated in an old man's leather armchair, Harry glared at the principal's face with intensity. What could he have done this time?

"Mr Hogwash," the principal proceeded with irritation... Apparently, Harry frustrated enough fellow pupils with his bad habits that the school decided he needed a three week suspension in order to get his nonsense cleaned up.

The memo submitted by the head of the student's council read: We, the pupils of Wacky Walrus High School, demand that Harry Hogwash be disciplined for his nonsense behaviour which include, but are not limited to:

  • Picking his nose under the cafeteria tables
  • Biting his fingernails while preparing food in Home Ed
  • Picking his hair out during school debating competitions
  • Picking his teeth while assisting the caterers in the lunchrooms
  • Speaking with his mouthful at every luncheon
  • Swearing at the hockey girls in the locker-room (why is he even in there?)

Harry left the building...

Story 238

The Mirling's Child

by Cathy Cade

The night was dark as sorrow, as the lightning forked from earth to sky.

Black thunder flashed loud silences that drowned the gryphon's cry.


The stippley brook flowed upstream, to the pond where lives  the mirling's child.

Scales ripple as she swims, hair thick as pondweed and as wild.


Red devilfishes follow her, their pink horns glistening, eyes ablaze.

They're closer now... jaws sending out forked tongues to snarl their prey.


But, slicing through the water, like a winklefisher spearing roach,

comes one who sends the fishling devils, fleeing at his approach.


Father, I welcome your return, for I've forgotten how to fly.

My child, you're growing young; you'll be a spratling by and by.


I've come to take you home, to Lake Aurora, where the mere-folk spawn,

where mirlings shoal with carp, and hoppers chirp to greet the dawn,

for there awaits life's great adventure, when you're born.

Story 239

Don't Trust The Mirror

by Jay Bee

Her fingers hovered, digits twitched. Decision made. She turned her back on the expensive, pert, pink ladies razor and snatched a pack of disposables from the men's shelf, along with a cheaper deodorant.

The checkout lady raised one crayoned eyebrow, looked Janice up and down and over her shoulder while Janice counted out the change.

Two days later, Janice's chin began to itch. The mirror reported pinprick pimples. The following day it identified dark shadows in the centre of each one. Two days later they gave birth to hairs that grew into luscious curls.

"Suits you," her girlfriend said, holding her too tight. "Hmm, you smell good too."

Janice's legs and arms filled out. Her daily jog became a long-distance run. She felt energy in places it had never explored before. A fellow jogger eye-balled her, and they raced. She won. He tagged her shoulder, his other hand on his knee panting.

"What's yer name, bro?"

"Ja..." she began, but her voice had sunk three octaves.

"Look, Ja, do yer fancy training for the marathon? We need another bloke on our team."

She jogged home. Later she picked up the deodorant, and the bathroom mirror laughed.

Story 240


by Patricia Mudge

Why did my dog chase that cat? If he hadn't blindly dashed after it, he wouldn't have crashed into a tree and knocked himself out. If I didn't have to rush him to the vet, I wouldn't have run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. If I didn't have to walk to the garage to buy petrol, I wouldn't have slipped and tumbled into a ditch. If I hadn't fallen into the ditch, hit my head and lost consciousness myself, I wouldn't have woken up five minutes later covered in smelly mud with the index finger of my right hand missing.

If I hadn't encountered a finger chewing mud creature, I could have phoned for help. If I hadn't been covered in smelly mud, the flies wouldn't have found me so attractive. If flies hadn't settled on me, those big, hairy spiders would have dined somewhere else. If I hadn't screamed and rolled along the floor, the spiders wouldn't have bitten me. If the spiders had kept their fangs to themselves, I might have succeeded in finding the garage, buying the petrol, running back to the car, filling the tank and taking my dog to the vet.

Story 241

On The Move Again

by Sarah Ann Hall

The morning of the eviction Dad cheambled. I kept the worrels occupied while Mum tallaphed our worldly erriales.

Dad had promised it would be thwinkles this time, and the landlord, a retired sprophianister with more temacg than sense, had been prohibest, if not adopent, when Dad was continually vilevah with the rent. It was the other egosses, mungerring about how they always charated on time, who got us moved on. Everyone's patience with Dad wears out quenuously.

Mum had handed back the haniers and our tropents were on the doorstep when we heard what we took to be a tank coming up the hill. For the only faraffe that day the worrels stood still, staring callutionally at Mum. When a papetulaboat wheezed into view, the downseriout on the worrels' faces collapsed into derifest and Mum whispered, "I'll kill him."

Dad jumped out, arms calitywinders. "Don't you know, I've always got a macdous up my brotise," he grinned.

Mum said nothing as she loaded our tropents.

We climbed aboard, the worrels tearing between bulkheads, thramated. Life wasn't about to get any nunflebers, but we wouldn't be thrown out again when Dad upset anyone, simply ionalled away.

Story 242

Keep It Soft

by Lucy Morrice

"It's pigeon pie."

"I don't eat that.  And neither does Bear."

"Bears love pigeon pie."

"No, bears like fluffy food. Muffins and marshmallows."

"Shall I mash you a banana?"

"Yes please.  In the purple billy billy bowl."

"In the purple billy billy bowl? Like a baby?"


"You want me to treat you like a baby?"

"Yes. Sometimes it's the right thing."

"But you're 46."

"Not all the time. You baby me. Next time I'll baby you. It's a good way to be."

And they did.  And it was.  It worked very well indeed.

Story 243

The View From The Garden

by A.H. Creed

"You, picnic blanket, are higgledy-piggledy. I hate you for your piebald ribaldry.

"And tea-set, you’re all flummoxed about. I don't know why I bother to take you out.

"And you’re a flibbertigibbet," she said, dropping poor dolly down on her head.

"And you're in cahoots, you naughty cat," she said, crowning him with her floppy hat.

From inside the house came a vast ballyhoo, and a shout of, "You pig. I'm leaving you."

She hugged dolly to her, and to her she said, "Try to ignore them. Don’t be misled..." The ruckus became china-smash, marriage-crash, "...everything they say is balderdash."

Story 244

12th For 20th And I's OK

by Richard H. Argent

My fool was hurling.

Kale was killed in a while lank lop lucked in her bullock-hugging skirl when I'd arrived, slinking of goals. She'd wailed ages, lears slinging her eyes, her words curl and charged in hale, and I was slumped in defence, my response mule. Kale was lough, and for answer she'd slabbed my fool hard using a big leak slick and I'd become lolly. Some dale.

Pal was from Libel, having once slayed in a high lower, a beacon near a jelly. I'd been lardy, having slopped by, loads croaking as I approached his collage where sleep slacks of used lyres were slowed behind his screeching gale. His lie was dolly I saw as he hung my coal. He proffered me waler drawn from his lap as I ale a bile of a lope bully he'd given me.

Belly was angry loo. He'd ruined a meal slew he'd been healing for her on his slove, abandoned lo lend his lame goals who look lime chewing cullings as he checked for miles.

Pal was leaching grammar. Rank nonsense was mine - I'd dolled my eyes, whereas I'd unremembered lo cross my leas.

Story 245

Truth Revealed

by Angela P Googh

"So it is a compound number?"

"No. Well, yes in the strictest definition, but only because it is made up of two things. Since there is a real part and the imaginary part, it is called a complex number."

"So something is complex if it is both real and fake at the same time."

"Not fake, imaginary. Do you see that curly letter i? That is known as the imaginary unit. i-squared equals negative one."

"But, you can't take the square root of a negative number, so a square cannot be negative."

"Exactly. That is why we call it the imaginary number."

The instructor moved on to assist someone else. Brian felt a tap on his shoulder and he turned to its source.

"They call it imaginary because they made it up, it is called complex because it is hard to explain and they use the curly letter i because e, c, g, and pi were taken."

"Why don't they just say so?" he said, turning back to his work, shaking his head. "Wait, what? There's pie?"

Story 246

Gethin, Get In

by Pete Lambden

"Gethin, get in, you're too close to the flibzit."

"You're being glib, Kel. You can't be too close to a flibzit."

"You can if it's a crack flibzit. They have them round here."

"How do you know if it's a crack flibzit?"

"Are its pits slippy?"

"A little."

"Then, Gethin, get in." Slowly, Gethin backs in.

A dark, sharp eye with a harsh twinkle up high and a trenchant grin as it holds him still.

"Agh, it's got my pin. Oh hell, Kel. How? How now do I get away from the flibzit?"

"Don't shout, that's how... A flibzit can sense and we can sense it. To remove yourself from it you must say a truth."

"A truth, you say?"

"Nay, a truth say by you. Said very true. Not just a slight hue of a true, but a deep dark blue of a true."

"A truth... a truth... from the deep dark blue?" Gethin ums and ahs and foos and fahs. "Well, I hate to say. But it was I who gave you the grote."

"It was you, you say? I thought maybe so." The flibzit tightens its grip. "Enjoy the flibzit, Gethin. Goodbye."

Story 247

Bad Hair Day

by Gillian M Seed

Medusa reached for the comb. The hisses of protest which followed almost deafened her.

"Not the insssssssstrument of torture," snapped Persssssephone Python, "you know the rulessssss." Meanwhile, Pallassss Python amused himself by twisting beneath Persssssephone's body and trying to bite the head off the comb itself.

"It's only plasssstic – I mean, plastic," Medusa said, irritated. She struck Pallassss on the nose to discourage him from eating her fashion accessories, sending him briefly cross-eyed. Behind her left ear, Priaposss insisted on sticking straight up despite her best efforts to arrange him in a fetching curl.

Medusa flung down the comb, close to tears. "Every time. You know I'm going out with Aphrodite tonight, with her flipping gorgeous blonde ringlets halfway down her chiton. It's hard enough getting ready without a mirror, and you lot just don't care." She choked back a gravelly snort.

"Sssssssorry, Medusssssa," the snakes chorused. Prometheusssss gave Priaposss a nudge and the latter drooped into place with bad grace.

"Thank you." Medusa reached for a large gold can of snakespray to apply the finishing touch.

"Aieee, not that poisssssssssson," her entire head shrieked.

"I give up. Anyone got a phone number for Sinéad O'Connor's hairdresser?"

Story 248

Good Morning Miss Jones

by Betty Hattersley

"Good morning, children," announced Miss Jones. "I thought we would start today with some bright musical sounds.

"Don't run across the classroom, Jeremy. Let's choose our instruments in an orderly fashion.

"Amy, that's not polite, please use a tissue.

"Don't cry, George. Where is your lunchbox? Look in the cloakroom.

"One by one you will walk to the musical instrument trolley.

"Good, you've found it, George.

"Table one, without running, choose an item.

"Don't blow that whistle yet, Freddie, place it in front of you until everyone has chosen something.

"Freddie, please put the whistle down as I asked, dear.

"Now that you are all sitting back in your chairs, we can begin.

"Amy, I have told you once already, stop that, it's very rude.

"Taylor, how are you going to make a sound with a bean bag? You have gone to the wrong trolley. Put it back and make your choice.

"George? It's not time to eat your lunch yet. Put it away and wipe your face.

"Class, let's begin, after three..."

Story 249

Island Of Lost Dreams Book Club

by Malcolm Richardson

Marjorie struggled to maintain the group's enthusiasm and tried to draw a veil over this month's selection.

"Any more thoughts on Murder at Clapham Junction, ladies?"

"Why are there so many stories about death?" Gladys grumbled.

"I prefer some romance," whined Winny, which raised supportive murmurs amongst the members.

"So I've heard," sniped Suzanne. Winny cast a threatening glance in her direction.

"What are we reading next month?" asked Angela. "Does anyone have a suggestion?"

Silence descended on the group until Mary started to snore.

"We've not had any science fiction lately," shouted Sheila.

"There's enough little monsters down my road. I like a good thriller," rattled Ros.

Mary, sitting in her usual chair by the radiator, woke up.

"I'll have another slice of cake, Marjorie."

"In a minute, Mary, there's plenty of wine left as well."

"I'll try a glass of the red too. How about some erotica?" Mary muttered.

Marjorie looked aghast, unable to respond immediately.

"How about that Forty shades of Purple?" chirped Christine.

"No, not another Catherine Cookson," Celia complained. "Actually, I prefer something with a twist."

Story 250

Frank In The Palace

by Temitope Johnson-Toyin

I flopped into the gutter. Reason being, an uncontrolled impulsive drunkenness had arisen after I collected my wages. The advert of spilling beer via the television got me tantalised. I eagerly waited for payday.

The gutter – my new found palace – was filled with amoebic and spirogyra constituents that I was oblivious to. All appeared like a safe haven.

At daylight, still laying in my haven, the consciousness of reality began to dawn as other Homo-sapiens commenced an episode of glaring at my royal majesty down in the gutter.

My better half also graced my palace, but her eyes were widened like she'd caught me committing the forbidden with another species of her type.

What? I thought. She lacks the capacity to be happy for us. I guess she is just jealous of my lone enjoyment in my new found palace.

"Oh, Frank..." Her face was in a frank state. "Get up from the gutter." Her voice was melodious.

"How can I be in the gutter, when I just had a most monumental night? Where is my salvation?"

A bucket of water on my face mesmerised me.

Story 251


by Louis Cennamo

The last thing Dr Sable needed was a hole in the head – his last need, was heeded.

Mrs Blank turned pale. "It's enough to give a duck goose pimples," she blurted.

A white-hot snowball effect ensued, a meltdown – burning like an ice-cold branding-iron into the flesh of a story – dovetailing into a joint salvo of colourful outbursts.

"Ooh, is he… dead?' shrieked the scarlet starlet.

"A dead duck, ducks," affirmed Mrs Blank. "He was a quack after all."

Colonel Colmans, now jaundiced around the jowls, turned to Professor Puce and Monsignor Avocado. They, in turn, turned to Mrs Peahen, who turned to Inspector Polyp of the Yard. Three feet to his left stood the trusty Captain Beestings and Ms Pamplemousse, who turned, in turn, to Inspecteur Pipette, the Luxembourger P.I.

Polyp had dragged Pipette away from his nose-flute lessons, to assist him in solving the mystery. Pipette was now just a test tube short of an explosive solution…

"It is er, 'ow you say... elementary, n'est-ce pas? As we say in the Grand Duchy – there is no paté without LEBERWURST. Voila, Colonel... mais pourquoi?"

''No choice," Colmans confessed… "He was putting MY mustard, on a VEGAN hot dog… CRIMINAL, what?"

Story 252

Everything And More Stands Upon Somebody Else's Legs

by Mark Daly

"Good luck, Michael, and thank you for accepting the burden of everything and more," said the leader of the free.

Michael chuckled to himself. He was about to make a half-ton profit from these fools.

As the ceremony began the crowd of people, soon to be freed, huddled round Michael, paid him the fee of three silver coins and commenced the chants. Immediately, the tension melted out of shoulders and the crushing weights lifted from chests. Minds cleared and the crowd dispersed.

Michael dropped to one knee as the crowd around him left. He grunted in pain as his shoulders knotted up. A ton bag dropped from above him and pinned him to the ground whilst his head filled with alien nonsense. Paralysed by anxiety, he accepted his fate.

Michael had made a small fortune, but at what price?

He strained his eyes upwards just in time to see a line of people filing in around him and, before he could make a squeal, silver coins were showering down on him.

Story 253

A Hero And A Capsized Boat ( Marriage)

by Aigbonoga Omoh

Mr Kelly, a relationship counsellor, is married to beautiful Ninna. Ninna is very lucky to have married 'every lady's dream man', Mr Kelly.

I haven't seen a relationship counsellor like Mr Kelly. The way in which he provides solutions to relationship issues amazes everyone. The wisdom he displays when answering questions is not from this planet. I am sure God must have specially gifted him in this area.

Call Mr Kelly anytime and anyday, he will be there to help you resolve your uprising.

Despite all these enviable qualities, I wonder why Ninna decided to file a divorce against her husband. To me, it seemed like a joke that would soon come to an end. Then, I realised reality was unfolding itself before my eyes.

I couldn't help but ask Ninna, "Why?"

"My husband helps others repair their marriages while his own is falling apart. He gives others time when they need it, but hardly gives me any attention. I can't stay with him anymore," she said, crying like a baby.

Story 254

The Little Shop Of Nonsense

by Steven Barrett

The Little Shop of Nonsense was a wondrous place. Its windows were full of delights, such as wufflewoozers, weezywoofers and megawoogles. I'd never been inside before, but I'd received a £5 gift voucher for Christmas. Excitedly, I entered the shop.

"Good morneywoozle," a voice said. "Please come in. We've just been fumigated."

A small man appeared, with a moustache the width of the shop. "I am Mr Woozyboogle, proprietor of this establishment. How can I help, young man?"

 "I'd like to buy something," I said.

"I have the very thing. A microwoozer. It's for cooking ready-meals while you're parachuting. Only £50."

I said that I couldn't afford it.

"How about a musicwoofer – a CD storage unit for elephants."

'How strange.'

'True. It's all downloads now.'

He found something else. "An astrowoogler – for calculating the star signs of squirrels. £4.99."

My heart sang. It was exactly what I wanted. Never again would I have to guess if a squirrel was a Taurus or a Libra.

 I handed him my gift voucher.

"Sorry, gift vouchers are only valid for 0.00000000001 seconds."

"But that's nonsense."

"No. It's written on the back."

And then he threw me out, calling me a right little timewoozler.

Story 255

Always Read The Label: Caring For Your Smalls And Delicates

by Mark J Towers

"These are not my shorts," said Luke, clinging to a bobbling bubble.

"And these aren't my socks," Timmy harrumphed.

Timmy tossed the balled-up socks over his shoulder, adjusted his snorkel then dolphin-dived below the frothy, tempestuous surf.

Jasmin bobbed to the surface, clutching her favourite teddy bear and asked, "Has anyone seen the soap?"

The churning stopped; a momentary respite. But they had been in the saponaceous abyss long enough to know this was just part of the torturous cycle.

"Eeew, I hope that's mud," Sam squealed, sniffing her fingers. A baby boy floated past her. His used nappy looked clean.

A whir started out low, gradually accompanied by a wump-wump. The whir grew louder, the wumps came faster.

"Hold on to something," Ben yelled, "one more rinse."

Bertie clung to the side, determined to stay dry, as a wave of water barrelled past him, a mass of screaming (and occasionally giggling) younglings encapsulated in the swell.

Carly counted a wad of her majesty's bank notes and marvelled at the giant circular window. Behind her, a row of happy parents obliviously sipped cocoa, chatted and read newspapers. Carly's Clean Kids and Clothes Combo Launderette was awash with success.

Story 256


by Janie Knight

"Where's my bat? I've lost my bat, have you seen my bat?"

"What bat? A cricket bat? A baseball bat?"

"No, you wombat, I've lost my bat in a hat."

"Well there's no need for names like that."

"Well either you've seen my bat, or you can leave with your coat and hat."

"Are you always rude like that?"

"Only when I've lost my bat. He's usually home by sunrise, if as late as that."

"Maybe his watch needs a new bat-tery?"

"Are you trying to get smart with me? Just because I have a bat, and you wished you had that."

"You can take your bat, and I'll pick up my coat and hat. And that's that."

Story 257

My Modest Involvement In The Unremarkable Expedition To Seek The Misplaced Planet Of Tztz

by K. J. Watson

The interview for the mission to find the misplaced planet of Tztz stretched the elastic of my physical, mental and digestive abilities.


"Can you drag a coffin with your teeth?" the examiner asked.

"No," I replied. "But I can drive a hearse up a muddy lane."

The examiner smirked.


"Are you psychic?" the examiner asked telepathically.

"Next Wednesday," I replied vocally.

The examiner sneered.


"Eat this slime," the examiner demanded.

"No," I answered.





Our debate persisted to the power of 10. The examiner sighed.


I passed the interview and was bundled onto a socially responsible spacecraft made of recycled but unwashed jars of yeast extract. I couldn't see out and I hated the smell.

The captain, an underemployed upholsterer, undertook none of the on-board duties. I did nothing either. However, a robot called Paella worked ceaselessly. The captain and I spent our time designing three-piece suites.

When we returned home, the captain presented our designs to a sofa warehouse and Paella stated that planet Tztz was not misplaced. Apparently, alien mechanics had towed it away for an oil change and valet.

The media then lauded us as zeroes due to a typographical error.

Story 258

Outside The Box

by Jacek Wilkos

A doorbell interrupted my newspaper reading. I got up from my cozy armchair to see who was bothering me on this lazy morning.

There was nobody at the door when I opened it, only a carton lying on the doormat. No address, no sender, nothing. I took the box into my apartment, put it on the floor and opened it.

A cat jumped out of the package. He sat still on the coffee table, staring at me with a mesmerising gaze.

I cut the skin on my wrists, pulled out my veins, and curled them into a ball. I threw the ball to the cat, but he wasn't interested in playing. He jumped onto the window sill. The amorphous black shape dissolved in thin air like smoke, leaving behind only a wide smile and two opalescent eyes.

I looked into the box again. Inside was a dead cat.

I stared into the face of madness and felt it starting to engulf me. I could only do one thing. I put on a hat and went into the kitchen to make some tea.

Story 259


by Paul Mastaglio

Sir Galahad was furious. He stormed into Amazon's headquarters and demanded to see one of the managers.

"Bring him to me at once. I demand it."

A few minutes later, Colin Forbes, Head of Distribution, appeared from round a corner. "Can I be of service, sir?"

"You call me sire, you fool. And, yes, you can find out what's happened to my order for the latest fighting sword, the Arthur Pro. I have a contest in two days and I wanted the latest weapon. I ordered the blessed thing over three weeks ago and it still hasn't arrived. What are you going to to about it? You imbecile."

"Now, there's no need for that kind of language, sir. I mean, sire."

"Well, man. Where's my ruddy sword?"

"Let me check."

"It seems...," Colin began. "It seems that this sword was despatched five days ago to Hall Castle."

"Hall Castle? I live at Hill Castle, you fool. Wait a minute. That's where Sir Archibald lives."

"Who's he?"

"My opponent."

Story 260

Flabberty and Jabberty: The Early Years

by Steve Lodge

Actually, little is known of their early life. They were found wandering together down a country lane near the village of Disquiet. They appeared to be malnourished and slightly giddy, minus a couple of toes each and some teeth. They were taken to Harkin Rescue, an early incarnation of The Monsoon Cheese Spread Co. Savonella Harkin took to them immediately, treating them as the younger brothers she'd never had. This proved upsetting to Jim, the younger brother she did have.

We know Jim left home very soon after. He changed his name to Jim User and worked out a lot. He told everybody he met that he'd been raised by forest folk near Tipple Woy Welcher, a sandy, woodland area on the sprawling, shrouded but badly patrolled estate of Haggis Alurbubsk.

One day, when Savonella was creating cheese flavours, Flabberty and Jabberty were kidnapped by the evil Dr P Nisenvy, taken to his laboratory near Swiftfall and taught rudimentary begging, oral hygiene and waterskiing. He was preparing them for a career of begging in London. Waterskiing proved to be an unused Plan B.

What's to become of Flabberty and Jabberty?  To be continued.

Story 261

Scales and Rattle

by J. S. Wellian

Every snake is married to its snake skin. It has been this way for centuries in Slitherville. But Scales does not want to marry his own skin. Yuck. Plus, he has just fallen in love with Rattle. Unfortunately, she was just visiting. Father is not pleased.

"If you wish to disown Slitherville's traditions, then go to Venomville and never return."

"But I don't want to lose you."

"Make me proud. Embrace life here. Trust me, your crush will fade."

Scales peers over the rocks into the unknown where predators roam. He cannot find the strength in himself to follow his heart.

"Father, you are right. I will marry my skin."

Scales and skin find a new burrow, bond as they hunt mice, bask in the sun's heat and share memories with father and father's skin. But Scales is unhappy and misses Rattle terribly.

"Father, life without Rattle is too much to bear. I must go."

"Disappointing, but if it's what your heart desires, I cannot stop you."

Scales does not think twice and goes beyond the unknown to Venomville. Too late. Rattle is engaged to her skin. Heartbroken, Scales heads home, wishing he had followed his heart sooner.

Story 262

The Name Game

by Maggie Elliott

"Hello, Trace, me ol' china. 'ows it goin?"

"Hunky dory, Shell. 'ow about y'self? Aw'ight?"

"Magic, Trace. Off to meet me skin and blister. Love your canoes. Jimmy Choo? Gucci? Armani?"

"Nah, Tesco. Too brassic for labels."

"Aw. Ne'er mind. Like me whistle? Me very own label I'll 'ave you know."

"Nah, you're 'avin a larf."

"Naaaah, pukka. There was me, down the market, lookin' for some tom foolery, when I earwig this guy 'ollerin' me name. Flogging these suits, he was. Could've knocked me down wif a fevver. Me very own label. Had to buy one, Trace. Just had to. Know what I mean?"

"Yeah, fink so... Nah, don't ger it. What was he 'ollerin'? Armani? Gucci? Don't make sense."

"Don't be daft, Trace. He was 'ollerin' me name. Shell suits, shell suits, get your shell suits here. Ger it?"

"Oooh  course, gor it."

"Good. Well, I'm off down the rub a dub dub. See ya."

"Aw'ight, Shell. See ya. Wouldn' wanna be ya."

Story 263

Sid The Snipper

by Judy Reeves


Police are appealing to the public to look out for a man they have dubbed 'Sid The Snipper' after a woman was found dead in her home.

The victim was found with a pair of bloodied scissors in her left hand and her clothes in shreds on the floor all around her body. Her curtains, sofa and all soft furnishings had been cut to pieces.

At first, they thought it was suicide but a family member, who wishes to remain anonymous, has revealed that the woman was right handed.

Neighbours reported that they saw a man riding away from the house on a skateboard.

"Blinking idiot almost knocked me over," said an elderly widow, Mrs Jones, who lives on her own at number 7.

Other sightings have been reported of a scissor-wielding maniac wearing a black balaclava and dressed in cut out jeans.

Two police officers who first arrived at the scene have taken a selfie with the dead woman.

That's coming up on screen now. Look out for the video on You Tube.

Anyone who sees the suspect should take a photo and post it on Instagram. Police are offering a reward for the best photo or video.

Story 264

Which Hospital?

by Khamis Kabeu

The forex manager supervised the tellers, whistling a familiar musical at the prospect of making millions. He was drawn to Saxina, a teller who was talking with a customer.

"How are you?" greeted the customer.

"Me fine," replied Saxina.

"What do you do?"

"Money, I change. You have what, say?"

"I've GB pounds. What's the rate?"

"Bond rate. Your passport, can I have?"

"Here it is."

He took the passport. "OK. Pamela you are. You Britain? From British you come?"

"Oh yes. I come from Britain. I'm British."

"Me seeing you, pleasure it is. Welcome."

"Oh, thanks." She produced a bundle of notes and gave it to him.

"When to British you go, say to Britain hallo. And when Kenya you come, our hospital you'll find."

"What? I'm not sick."

"Down cool. Me no mean medicine hospital," Saxina said, surprised.

"Which hospital do you mean then?" she asked, leaning forward.

"Kenya good," Saxina said, mesmerised.

Looking at him, the customer realised her inability to understand his Pidgin English.

The manager, standing behind Saxina, nodded in satisfaction at what he considered his staff's mastery of the Queen's language.

Addressing the tellers, he said, "Ask Saxina to teach you English."

Story 265

How Many Legs Does a Centipede Need?

by Lucy Camilla

Bumptious Soup slid out into the garden. Passing two squabbling centipedes he stopped. "Hello, 'ello." Bumptious Soup, slug 'detective', had two criminals to apprehend.

Two squabbling centipedes ignored him, biffing each other, 200 arms and legs moving in every direction.

"Put down your legs." Bumptious felt authoritative.

"They're our legs," said the centipedes. "We can do what we want with our legs."

"I believe they have been stolen." Bumptious looked at his sleek and shiny body; not a leg in sight. "Nobody needs 100 legs, they must be stolen."

 "We haven't got 100 legs," said the centipedes.

"How many legs are we talking about?" Bumptious thought the centipedes were trying to be clever. He wondered what he was going to do with lots of spare legs.

"Never counted them," said the centipedes.

"How many legs do you need?"

"All of them."

Now Bumptious knew they were being greedy. Where had they found all these legs? Who was missing legs that they needed? How many legs should a centipede have?

Story 266

Scrottyberry Stew

by Gail Everett

I didn't eat my school lunch on Tuesday – boiled cabbage and corned beef fritters, which smelled as nasty as they looked.

I arrived home hungry that afternoon, and called out to my mother.

"Mum, I'm home, what's for dinner?"

"Scrottyberry Stew," said Mum. "I found this new recipe."

I picked up the sheet of paper next to the chopping board. It read:

Couilles de Porc

1. Préparez les couilles.

2. Dans une cocotte, faites fondre du beurre et ajoutez les couilles. Enrobez-les de beurre. Salez, ajoutez une pincée de safran.

3. Ajoutez-les de lait et de crème liquide et couvrez. Laissez cuire une vingtaine de minutes.

"But Mum, this is all in French," I cried.

"Oh," said Mum, "your tutor called by to ask why you're always late with your homework, and she translated it for me."

"So what are scrottyberries?" I asked. "There's no fruit mentioned here, only pork."

"Oh, that's just what I call them," said Mum. "I'm told they're a delicacy in France."

"Yes, but what are they?" I demanded.

"Pigs' testicles," said Mum.

I added an extra line to the recipe:

4. Jetez-le par la fenêtre.

Story 267

A Shortage Of Souls

by Aly Gustafson

Laying back on the beach chair, I surveyed the ocean of paradise. I couldn't recall how long I'd been in heaven.

Done with relaxing, I stood. My shorts became sweatpants and a library materialised around me. I perused the shelf, picking a book at random, knowing it would be exactly what I wanted.

I was half a page in when a woman in a crisp blue suit appeared. "Mia Cain?" she asked.

"That's me," I replied.

"Thank the pantheon I found you."

The world faded into a white mist.

"What's going on?"

"There's a shortage." She waved her hand and a glowing gold portal appeared. "Through there please."


"Do you know where you are?"

"This is limbo," I said, remembering it from when I first arrived.

"Notice anything different?"

"It's empty."

"Exactly. There are more people on the Earth now than in all of history combined. I'm running out of souls and there are babies to be born.  Luckily, though not for you, the animals are dying out so there's improvement in terms of total volume, but not a lot." She looked at her watch. "We're out of time. Off you go." And she pushed me through the portal.

Story 268

How I Wrote This Story

by Sarthak Das

My esteemed readers. This once, I shall narrate for you the circumstances that led me to pen this story, which you have begun reading at this present moment. There isn't much to it, really, so it shouldn't take more than 200 words. Anyway, let's not digress.

So, I woke up this morning, brushed my teeth and had my breakfast – buttered toast with omelette. Not that there's anything peculiar about this, as it is my routine. What indeed was unusual, was that I suspected Charlie might be up to something again.

Why this was supposed to be unusual, was because usually it is when Charlie is done executing his mischief that I come to realise it. But this once, I was actually getting the vibes before the crime had been committed which, on second thought, lead me to believe that Charlie might have actually finished committing his crime and I hadn't yet managed to catch up.

Seriously, readers, four year olds these days – they really are... well... I don't know what to insert in here. I'm aware some of you might be uncomfortable with unsolicited swearing.

Which brings me to my actual point... God, I hit the word limit too soon.

Story 269

Cast Off To Sea, You Bilge Rats

by Rene Astle

Captain Blizzard was roaring at the top of his lungs as he waved his cutlass
in the air.

"Trim the masses, batten down the hatches. Shiver the timbers, we're off to
the high seas," he roared.

"Aye aye, Captain," shouted the crew.

He looked at the crew with a greedy gloat in his good eye. He wore a big
brown beard all over his face and an eye patch covering his left eye.

"Nothing like a journey ready to embark, isn't it, Poppy? I can feel it in
my bones, already."

In no time at all, he began to sing a sea chantey.

"The sea is calm, the sky is blue, the weather is pure, simple and true. Our ship is prepared to set sail, across the waters with avail. With my lot of ferocious dopes, there won't be any time for mopes. We shall seek for buried treasures, filled with magnificent measures. Nobody could resist our trap, as the ship cord begins to snap, breaking loose the nets from the decks, whisking people away by necks, hanging them from the sail trims, across the irregular skims. I'll run my sword through every gizzard, for my name is Captain Blizzard."

Story 270

Nonsense Of The American White Male

by Chris Espenshade

"I'm so angry, so scared," said the white male.

You are annoyed at this culture that allows one in five American females to be raped in their lifetime. It might happen to you. Oops, well, those concerns belong to women and girls. Actually, white men are often the rapists, so...

"I'm angry. And I need to carry a loaded gun at all times," said the white male.

You should be irate at the out-of-control number of home invasions threatening your family. Oops, sorry, did it again. The real threat to your family is the significantly increased chance of accidental shootings, crimes of passion, and suicides when there is a loaded gun in the house.

"I'm so angry. I fear the government taking my arsenal," said the white male.

Given how they stole your land and tried to destroy your culture, allowed you to be enslaved, denied you the vote for centuries, and condoned lynching, beating, and harassment, you should be fearful and enraged. Oops, my bad, wrong again. That's only for Native Americans, persons of colour, females, or the LBGTQ community.

"But I'm so angry, so scared. Fox News demands that of me."

Story 271

Silly Sally's Strange Speech

by Alice Hale

Sally wasn't stupid. In fact, she was quite clever.

When she was 6, she smuggled books under her dress to read outside. At 8, she loved reading about medicinal herbs. 14 years old and the girl understood that grades weren't everything there was to life.

Another thing you should know about Sally is that she loved words.

Words like malarkey, snollygoster and nincompoop.

She loved how they sounded and rolled off the tongue.

Sadly, her doozy vocabulary bumfuzzled people. They couldn't understand her and thus she was ostracised. Her classmates attempted to snool her. It made her sad, but she wouldn't change herself, no matter how her parents begged her to stop spouting codswallop.

Alone in her cattywampus room, the hobbledehoy sat on her bed and read. The thought of going to school tomorrow gave her the collywobbles but she pushed it out of her mind. It was a problem for later.

One day, Sally hoped to be a famous writer or poet or singer.

It was a cockamamie dream but a lovely one nonetheless.

Story 272


by Scott Parent

"They're gone. Where are my flibberdegibbers?" the major shouted. "You, boy."

"Yes, Major."

"My flibberdegibbers are missing."

"Your flibberde... what?"

"Flibberdegibbers, flibberdegibbers, boy. Do you know what could happen if they end up in the wrong hands?"

"No, I don't, Major."

"Well then get me someone who does."

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir," said the boy, now completely flustered.

"I'll get Mr Michaels. He'll be able to help you find your flibberde... whatsits."

"It's flibberdegibbers, boy, flibberdegibbers. Go, run off and get Mr Michaels. He'll understand the seriousness of this."

Minutes later, Mr Michaels arrived. 

"The boy here tells me you're looking for your flibberdegibbers. Not to worry, Major. I have your flibberdegibbers right here. A member of the crew found them sitting on the edge of the buffet table on the upper deck." With that, Michaels handed the major a spool of green thread and six tiny screws.

"Thank God you found them. There's no telling what kind of mischief one could cause if they'd got a hold of these. I can't thank you enough, Mr Michaels."

"I'm just glad I could help."

Story 273

Heavenly Bodies

by Toni G.

The Stars, extremely talented and always boastful, sing a song of love to their muse, Queen Sky. The Sky blushes, baby blue warming to sapphire.

Sir Moon, ever envious of the brilliant ones, performs an astounding round of, "La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la," proving his high notes are superior to those conceited bags of gas.

Mrs Wind, always a hesitant follower, blows to the east, and then to the west, confused as to whom she should give her allegiance.

The Stars win out today, as they did yesterday, and the day before that.

The Cloud community, recovering from a bad day of over exposure to sunshine, congregate in the far corner of the sky, whispering tales of King Sun's excesses to their friends, Sister Rainbow and Brother Rain.

Finally, after hours of serenading Queen Sky, the Stars go silent. An angry Sky cools to a pale blue, displeased at the ending of the love song which glorified her best attributes.

After a most difficult day, Sir Moon drifts off to sleep, and all is right in the heavens, but on Earth... well, that's another story.

Story 274

Funny Bones

by Mark Stocker

"The doctor will see you now," said the doctor, removing his blindfold.

Unconventional, I thought.

"What's the problem?" he said.

"My head," I replied. "It's banging like a monkey on a drum."

The doctor leapt onto his desk and gestured for me to sit on the space hopper.

I bounced a little.

"A common complaint," he said, pulling glitter from the pocket of his white coat. "The remedy is to dance to the monkey's beat."

"I don't understand."

"They call this the windmill." He tossed glitter into the air and jumped down.

I wondered if this was what they meant by alternative medicine.

"Come on, spin," he screamed.

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

The doctor spun into a skeleton in the corner, spraying bones everywhere.

I got up to leave, but he blocked my way.

"We'll have to knock it out of you then," he said, jabbing at me.

"Help." I ducked but he caught me with a right hook. I began to twirl.

"Now you're spinning," he said.

A nurse burst in. "Not again," she said, grabbing the doctor in a headlock.

"No tagging," he yelled.

I rubbed my jaw. Unbelievable, I thought. The headache was gone.

Story 275

The Swapped Head Dilemma

by Kaitlin Ellis

Surgery is weird, isn't it?

I've mine today. Actually, Mum and I have a joint op.

The procedure's very simple.

Step one: Surgeons will remove our heads.

Step two: Local anglers, reeking of fish guts, will enter the room.

Step three: The anglers will assemble their rods.

Step four: The anglers will dangle bait in our bodies.

Step five:  The fish will take the bait.

Step six: The fish will be gone.

Step seven: Our heads are sewn back on.

Everything went swimmingly. But there was a hiccup with step seven.

"Hello, Mum," I said, addressing Mum's head on my body.

"Hello," Mum responded to my head on her body.

We were discharged. However, the swapped head dilemma was unresolved.

"Continue living your lives," the surgeons said. "There's nothing we can do."

The question became: what head and body should go to school and what head and body to work?

The issue was a physical and mental challenge; a body's important but so's a head.

We decided that one week the head, with the wrong body, would go to its expected place, and the next week the body, with the wrong head, would go to its expected place.

Story 276


by Valerie Fish

As he was walking along the street, Septimus came across his best friend, Soppy Date, somewhat discombulated.

"What's up, Soppy?" he asked. "You look as though you're lost."

"That's because I am. Well, that is, not exactly, of course, because I'm here, aren't I? No, it's my voice that I've lost. I'm sure I came out with it this morning, but now I can't find it anywhere. I must have left it behind."

"What a lot of nonsense. You can't have lost your voice, you're talking to me."

"Oh yes, of course I am, silly me. Then it must be my hearing."

"What a lot of nonsense. You can't have lost your hearing, you've just answered me."

"Oh yes, of course, silly me. Well, I know I've lost something, I just can't remember what it is."

"Well that's it then, isn't it? You've lost your memory."

"What a lot of nonsense. I can't have lost my memory because I know who I am. My name's Winston Churchill. We shall fight on the beaches."

"Oh, I know what it is now, Soppy. You've lost your marbles."

"Lost my marbles? What a load of nonsense."

Story 277

The Couple

by Rajagopal Kaimal

Margaret Mathis loved to make jams and marmalades. Once a month, she invited herself to her neighbours' kitchens in order to try out various recipes that she thought up on the toilet.

One of her most remarkable efforts was a complex apricot jam, made at the elderly Bramble's apartment. After setting, the creation looked like a cross between glycerin and shampoo, with delightfully tiny bubbles gently rising to the surface. The bubbles did not stop rising for the next six months.

One morning, Mr Bramble mistook the jam for his hair-enrichment cream. He applied it liberally. Within seven seconds, his peak turned the colour of ripe papaya.

The Brambles spent a fortune consulting various specialists. The cream of the specialists, based in Vienna, undertook a detailed study of Mr Bramble's scalp. Thereafter, Mr Bramble concluded that only two treatments were possible – the application of a rapid-balding cream, which had recently launched, or scalping by his Red Indian doctor. The former was accepted with much anguish.

Mr Bramble wore a dull skull cap and a deep frown for the rest of his life.

Story 278

The Horse-Car

by Roberta Scafidi

A man was out of breath as he found his beloved wife and son, who immediately grew concerned as they saw the jittery look on his face.

"Son, we need to fix the car. It's rigged."


"The car inhaled and crushed a bunch of carrots. The engine began to rumble and roar before a flat noise came out, and then a revolting odour polluted the air," the man explained. "We need to thwart its burst. God knows how little it takes for petrol to catch fire."


"Golly, how repulsive that machine looks. As if a plunger got stuck in the front and a duster on the back. Calls for days of bedighting," he added, aghast, while his son stood confused by the words rolling off his father's tongue.

"Dear, why don't you get some rest? We will take care of it," the wife promised.

The man begrudgingly bedwarded, leaving the two by themselves in the humble living room.

The son broke the silence. "Father was raving again..."

"He is tired from the journey," the mother elucidated.

"But mother, what's a car?"

"Judging by your father's words, I suppose it would be something that looks like a horse."

Story 279

Play It Again

by John D Lary

Goodbye fame and fortune.

If my two-foot putt had dropped, instead of rolling to a halt a millimetre from the hole, the course record would be mine, and so would the 1,000 guinea prize that goes with it.

"Oh, bad luck," says Stanford Murray-Brown, with trademark false sincerity.

So goodbye fame and fortune.

There are no second chances in this life.

Or are there?

The gods disagree.

The gods intervene.

The second hand on my wristwatch stops, begins to tick backwards.

My golf ball begins slowly to roll back across the green towards me.

Around us, the world goes into reverse:

Crows drop from telegraph wires and fly off tail-first; new-born babies are reunited with their umbilical cords; cars, trucks and buses across the world drive backwards and multiple accidents un-happen, everybody emerging as good as new.

Far away in China, waters from flash floods flow upstream, reforming into raindrops that fly upwards to be re-absorbed by angry clouds and the recently-told lies of politicians everywhere rattle back through their teeth and stick in their throats (being too tough to swallow).

Back on the 18th green, the ball is again at my feet.

I take aim, swing the putter and...

Story 280

Police Rabbits Versus The Vampire Robots

by Barbara Eustace

"OK, Sergeant, I know it was my car that was speeding, but it wasn't me driving, honest."

"It's all here on camera."

"No, what you have on camera is a picture of my car, and yes, that's me, the scared face in the back, but I wasn't driving."

"There's no one else in the picture."

"That's because this guy who hijacked my car was a vampire robot."

"Didn't know vampires could drive."

"They don't. Robots do."

"Then why can't we see him?"

"Because the robot part drives, while the vampire part is invisible to cameras."

"So what were you running away from?"

"I wasn't running away from anything. The vampire robot was running away from the police rabbit."

"We don't have police rabbits."

"Yes you do."

"OK, and what do you think these rabbits look like?"

"Well, more like very large hares than rabbits, but in uniform, and very, very fierce."

"Well, in the absence of any vampire robot, it'll be you getting a ticket and points on your license. You're free to go – for now."

"Yes, Sarge."




"What the hell has Barker got there?"

"Police rabbit, sir. Very good at tracking down vampire robots, apparently."

Story 281

Abigail... Shut Up

by Jasmine Lee

"Why do people say 'tuna fish'? They never say 'beef mammal' or 'chicken bird'."


"The object of golf is to play the least amount of golf. I don't understand golf."


"When you say 'forwards' or 'back', your lips move that way. I bet you want to trying saying those words now."


"Your stomach thinks that all potatoes are mashed. Why is it that you prefer baked potatoes over mashed potatoes and potato wedges over baked potatoes? Your stomach can't tell the difference between them. Probably just thinks that you are obsessed with potatoes."


"When you bite down on something, you are actually biting up because you can't actually move your top jaw. So, should we really be saying 'shut down' instead of 'shut up'?"

"ABIGAIL, SHUT DOWN. I am trying to work here and, because of you, I have just been writing down what you have been saying instead of actual things about my topic."

"Hey, so you have been listening to me. I thought you were just blocking me out and letting me babble like usual. It's nice to know that you actually listen sometimes. In fact, did you kno—"



"Shut up."

Story 282

Going To The Grocery Store

by Jose Adams

"Bread, butter, milk. Bread, butter, milk," the old man repeated, walking carefully down the street, forcing his mind not to forget.

"What time is it?" interrupted a young man, walking in the opposite direction.

"God dammit. You've made me forget what I was saying."

"It seems to me that they were groceries: milk, butter, and bread," the young man replied regretfully.

"No, no, no," the old man replied angrily. "Bread, butter and milk," he corrected, annoyed by the nonsense the new generation spoke.

The young man rolled his eyes, thinking of the silly ingrained habits of a life enslaved by meaning. "It's the same goods, there's nothing different."

"Of course not," spat the old man. "Everything must have an order. That's why the world has become chaotic."

"Whatever you say, old man," replied the young man, giving up. He couldn't waste any more... "Time," the young one shouted surprisingly. "Can you tell me the time?"

"God dammit, you've made me forget what I was remembering."

Story 283

The End Of It

by Andy Ball

But that wasn't the end of it, of course.

"The end of what?"

"Haven't you been paying attention?"

"But... you started in the middle."

"Oh, I get it. You're one of those readers who expect the writer to do all the work, aren't you? I'll bet you want everything laid out, all neat and tidy: an inciting event, a conflicted protagonist, trials and tribulations, all leading up to a final, immensely satisfying resolution. Am I right?"

"Well, it would help."

"Use your imagination, for god's sake."

"OK, but at least give me a hint."

"All right, how's this? The door to the study slowly swung open..."

"That's more like it." reveal the motionless body of colonel Blighty lying behind the couch.

"Dead?" gasped Inspector McTavish.

"Rubbish," replied the colonel, sitting up. "I'm just resting my back after digging all those potatoes."

But that wasn't the end of it, of course.

Story 284

Film Quote Syndrome

by Kennedy Meechan

"Good morning. Dr Huston, we have a problem."

"Hello. Please state your name."

"The name is Bond, James Bond."

"Did they not give you a name badge on the way in?"

"Badges? I don't need no stinking badges."

"Sorry, but you should have been given a badge. According to my card, it says your name is Virgil Tibbs, and that you only talk in film quotes."

"They call me Mr Tibbs."

"OK, Mr Tibbs, could you sit down, and leave my instruments alone please."

"Are you talking to me?"

"Yes. If you could sit down, please. Can we talk about your symptoms? I'm here to help, Mr Tibbs, surely you realise that."

"I know that, but don't call me Shirley."

"I find it amusing, the way you talk."

"You mean funny like a clown? I'm a clown? I amuse you?"

"No, Mr Tibbs, not at all."

"I'm just a guy, standing in front of a doctor, asking her to help him."

"OK. Can I give you this medication?"

"Go ahead. Make my day."

"I have a prescription here that I would like you to take, and I will see you next week."

"OK, I'll be back."

Story 285

Brain Free Fall

by Kate MacDonald

Entity One: "Why am I in a tin?"

Entity Two: "You're in a cubicle, not in a tin."

Entity One: "No, I'm in a tin. I told you to take me to a hot dirty beach and you've put me in a tin."

Entity Two: "I had to bring you here. You're a badly torn girl and you need stitches."

Entity One: "Firstly, who decided I would be the girl? Secondly, I may be  badly torn, but I need a hot dirty beach."

Entity Two: "Anyway, it's not good to get sand in your tin."

Entity One: "Aha, so I am in a tin. I knew it."

Story 286

Tender Coconut Love

by Majella Pinto

The last coconut that fell rolled away in an unexplored path and tripped the bus.

The coconut fella crossed the road with his loot like a gratified Greek god.

His love was truer than roses and chocolates and diamond necklaces; more tender than the tresses of the Mexican sea breeze.

He wouldn't have had to pass the litmus test had they not run out of coconuts at the resort.

There was a reputation and the stories of past glory, of climbs up many a coconut tree, that he had to live up to.

To a marathon of confusion, his mind took off, while he stayed affixed like a nail on the wall.

This superfluous story teller did not want to be the butt of teen jokes.

A staccato visual with the street-lined coconut trees drummed his head with a plan.

His engineering brain activated its clutches and accelerated the adrenalin. Up the coconut tree he went with bare hands and dropped them jewels to the ground.

The adrenalin kick sawed him a stick, a sharp one. The stick, canines and incisors cut and sliced in and did the trick.

Meanwhile one coconut rolled away on football trip.

Story 287

Counting Glow-Worms

by Matilda Pinto

Meet M and A and D. The mad math wizards, counting glow-worms on a gooseberry tree.

M: One, two, three, nine, fifteen...

A: What sort of sequence is that? Three, nine and then fifteen?

M: Oh dear. I have lost count for the nth time. Why don't you join me in counting those shifting creatures up there? D, you too.

A: All we need to do is keep dividing the total till we get the decimal value.

D: That is not how it goes. On your fingers and toes please. Here we go. One, two, fourteen, four, six, eight and fifteen...

M: No way. That is crazy. Let me... one, four and one-forty-one.

A: There, I have it. To your left is twenty, to my right is six, and look beyond you M. That is where we have the most numbers. That makes it a hundred and fifty.

D: How about my countless numbers?

M: And mine are infinite subtracted by countless.

A: Shoosh, finally we've the grand sum of... wait, take away the countless and infinite, and what's left is, hold on... oh dear. I have lost count. Shall we begin again?

Story 288

Tom, Dick and Harry

by Geoff Holme

"'Invisibly dressed'?"

 "Yeah. Know what I mean?"

"No, Tom."

"Thought you was clever, Dick."

"It's an oxymoron."


"Doesn't... make... sense."

"Just like algebra to me – but it's still real."

"Where did you hear this phrase?"

"In a news flash. Harry Bidelow, the town crier, announced that, to get her hubby to reduce his tenants' rent, Lady Godiva would ride through every street 'invisibly dressed'. Everyone should stay indoors with the shutters closed, or be struck blind."

"Scary. But why were you desperate to tell me?"

"Someone said 'invisibly dressed' was a lah-di-dah way of saying 'naked'. Phwoar, a posh bird riding past – starkers."

"But you'd be indoors, shutters closed."

"Gotta peephole in me shutters... copped an eyeful."

"But the threat of being struck blind... Oh, that's why you're wearing that patch."

"Well spotted, Dick."

"What a price to pay to briefly ogle an unclothed woman."

"Nah, she was well fit... and I've still got one good eye. Girls love the pirate look – I'm beating 'em off with a stick."

"Except those sneaking up on your left side... Keep quiet about the peeping, Tom. You don't want to get a reputation."

"What they gonna do? Send me to Coventry?"

Story 289

Ex Nihilo

by Douglas Baker

"Now I've got nothing," Someone said.

No One replied, "That sure is something."

"What is something?"


Someone stamped her foot. "If you mean nothing, say nothing."

"But I meant something."

Someone rapped her fingers on the table. "So what did you mean?"

"I meant it's something when you have nothing."

"So what is it?"

"It," No One said, "sure is something."

"OK," said Someone, "let's say I had something, and now I have nothing. So then, what do I have?"

"Obviously, nothing."

"Then why not say nothing?"

"Well," No One said, "I had to say something."


"Because otherwise I would have said nothing."

"I wish you had said nothing," Someone said.

"But it's rude to say nothing."

"Well, that's something," Someone said.

"That's what I said," said No One.

"What are you two on about?" asked Someone Else.

"I said it was something when Someone had nothing," said No One.

"What did she have?" asked Somebody Else.

"Nothing," said No One.

"And that nothing sure was something," Someone said.

"I'm glad we got that settled," said Somebody Else. "What do you want to discuss now?"

"Nothing," they both replied.

"Well, at least that's something."

Story 290

All Sales Are Final

by Rudy S. Uribe, Jr.

I don't understand why my husband, Matt, gets anxiety attacks when I tell him about my day. I can't help it if unusual things happen to me, like the time a chipmunk bit me on my daily run. Or the time a raven swooped down and landed on my head, and the time a pack of coyotes had me cornered, but I managed to howl my way out by making coyote sounds and proving that I was the alpha female.

My spiritualist tells me I was a doctor in my previous life. I told my husband this, but he just shook his head and went to a pub. On a few occasions, Matt has told me to shut up, but mostly I just see his face flush and his body quiver.

But tonight, his breathing was laboured, so I pulled out my portable defibrillator. Matt tried to fight me off, but I was determined to save his life. The 999-operator told me not to shock him, but I couldn't let him die.

I ripped off his T-shirt and yelled, "Clear," even though no one else was in the room. The defibrillator stopped his heart. I wonder if I can return it?

Story 291

The Sweaty Submarine

by Benjamin Noel

After 20 sweaty days under the sea in an Airstream submarine, the crew were fed up with the heat.

"I'm going to crack open a window, it's like a salty sauna in here. I need to get some fresh sea breeze," panted Ringo.

"No, no, don't do that. How will we see where we're going?" Paul exclaimed.

"I have an idea," said John as he slid open the back door. "This will feel much better, guys, trust me."

Paul yelled, "You fool, you didn't close the screen door. You'll let the fish come in."

Story 292

Salt's Toy Fetish

by Kathryn J Barrow

"That stolen figurine asked you a question, teapot," said pepper.

"She's heavy," grumbled wheelbarrow. He rode over a chip and figurine went flying, landing with a bump.

"Don't be so shallow," I tooted.

"We have to get out of here, salt is going to kill us when she finds out," pepper puffed.

"It'll take a darn sight more than her bitterness to stop me."

"Don't be so wet," pepper gusts as the sliding door blows him out of shape.

"We're nearly there, pepper, stop being so fleck."

"I can see the door," figurine shouts.

"She hasn't," pepper billows in the wind and I look up. There she is, laughing as she gets herself poured into a customer's hand. This figure belongs to the boy, it's his happy meal toy.

I see salt flying over a customer's shoulder.

"I'm blind," but I throw figurine, so graceful, through the opening sliding doors. Suddenly, I remember.

"What was the question?"

Story 293

Nonsensory Deprivation

by Tiffany H White

Everyone's laughing at me again.

What a fool.

I stumble out, falling over my own feet like a prat.

The mockery fades but the mirror is savage. It's a killer look, like a Norwegian crime scene or a fairy tale, all snow white and rose-red blood. There's a burger waiting with my name on: time to stop clowning around.

Off with the scary grin, Einstein hair and stupid ping-pong ball nose.

"See you tomorrow, schadenfraud." I smile.

It's a funny thing. No one replies.

Story 294

I Got Three Machine Guns In The Back Of My Truck All Ready To Go

by Claire Gagnon

"Hey, Uncle," the kid says to me from under his baseball cap. "Ma says I'm supposed to say somethin' nice to ya, cuz Auntie and Cousin Molly died in a fire."

"I guess we're jumping right into the juicy stuff, no exposition or nothin'." I chuckle at the kid as he continues to give me the side eye.

"Is that why we ain't having this barbecue at your house like usual?"

"We're having this little shindig at yours so the audience will be hankering for some vengeance when The Bad Guys blow this place to kingdom come."

We stand awkwardly for a moment, me with my beer, him with his soda. The kid looks like he doesn't understand the need for a good inciting incident.

"What's it like watching someone die?" he squeaks out.

"Look, kid..." I squat to be in frame with his stumpy body. "I'm not here to be your mentor and I'm not fixin' to get killed right after I spill all my secrets. But how's about I give you just one. You better skedaddle soon, because I lit the match myself and The Bad Guys followed me here."

All good Action Heroes need a tragic backstory.

Story 295

The Manager

by Maryam Hodaee

Rabbit: I want to talk to the manager.

Clerk: we don't have a manager here.

How is that possible?

Through laws of gravity. You never studied Newton in kindergarten?

The guy with a purple mohawk?


Ummm... the woman with three breasts?

Hmmmm... let me count. One, two, thr... no, I don't think so.

I mean his name sounds familiar. Where is the manager though?

If you want to learn mathematics, read about Galileo.

Is he the manager?

No, that's his brother. How dumb are you?

On a scale of 1 to 10?

We don't sell scales. Are you an alien?

Leanne is my sister. I don't have siblings, so I'm called BunBunNoSiblings.

Gorgeous name for a duck.

Just bring me the manager.

You come in here with your crazy mathematical questions and... Do you want to eat?

Or not to eat... that's the question.

Are you quoting J Lo? I love her.

No, it's by my cousin Graham. We call him Bell.

I know, he never answers the bell when I call.

That's 'cause you call on the phone.

I see you are smart. You passed the test. Here is Mr Carroterians, the detective you asked for.

Story 296

A Committee Of Three

by John Lane

Whenever I try to make a decision, from what I should have for breakfast to what restaurant I should eat at, I never decide on my own.

I always ask the two people that I trust the most. Me and Myself. This usually works out well because the three of us usually agree on the same thing at the same time.

However, our committee took a terrible turn this morning.

I have some time off coming, and I wanted to get our committee's approval on vacation. Simple enough.

I suggested going to England because I always wanted to see the Tower of London.

As usual, Me was agreeable to the whole thing. On the other hand, Myself insisted on putting up a fight.

"You can't afford it," said Myself.

I worked overtime for several months and all my bills are paid on time.

"You still can't afford it," repeated Myself.

I quit the committee. I got tired of arguing with Myself.

Story 297

Thank You Call

by A S Winter

When Grandpa read the letter, he was delighted that the company had approved his request. He decided to give them a thank you call.

The number connected immediately and an automated voice said, "For updates press 1, for complaints press 2 and to speak to our customer care executive, please hold the line." It was 8:15AM.

Happy, Grandpa waited when the automated voice said, "Your call is important to us, please hold the line." The time was 8:30AM.

The message repeated, "Your call is important to us…" It was 8:45AM.

The good grandpa thought that it would be very impolite to disconnect the call when the message repeated, "Your call is important to us…" The time was 9:00AM.

The gentle grandpa decided that the company had been so nice to him that it was worth waiting when the message repeated, "Your call is important to us…" at 9:15AM.

The good old grandpa was convinced that he was an important customer when he heard someone saying, "Good morning, how can I help you?"

Grandpa said, "I will send you a letter," and disconnected.

He was already late for his breakfast. Time was 9:30AM.

Story 298

The Shipping Forecast

by Klaus Gehling

My grandfather was a sailor.

Once, he explained sailors did not go to pee, but to ship. Perhaps the expression 'ship' comes from the sailors who had previously peed from their sailing ships into the water, because there were still no proper toilets.

This was dangerous, because one could become dizzy, fall into the water and drown. The quick emptying of the bladder triggers a nerve signal which causes you to lose consciousness. That's no sailor's yarn.

It happened to him.

As a young man, he was on a sailing ship to Denmark when he felt a painful pressure in the bladder. He had to pee immediately. He stepped to the side of the boat, shipped into the water, felt a great relief, and fainted. With his pants down he fell into the water. Luckily, his comrades grabbed him and pulled him out of the water onto the deck.

Some years later, Grandpa rushed to the toilet, fainted and toppled forward in his own bathroom. He hit the floor and got a bump on the head. Not wishing to be seen going 'overboard', especially in a public urinal – heaven forbid – he predicted in future to do his shipping seated.

Story 299

The Giraffe And The Polar Bear

by Jayne Morgan

Titch the giraffe was bored. Every day, hordes of humans drove across her land in their trucks.  They had so much fun but Titch never had any.

One night, long after she had posed for the mandatory sunset photo under the tree, Titch set off for a new life. Before dawn, she had reached the coast. She stepped into the sea. Because she was so tall, she was able to walk several miles before the water covered her. Only then did she start swimming.

Across the Indian Ocean she swam. A couple of surfers spotted her neck bobbing up and down but they thought she was a Scottish monster.

Soon, she reached Australia. She was a magnificent sight as she came out of the water and walked towards the beach.

The first thing she saw was a sunbathing polar bear.

"Why did you come?" Titch asked. "There are no people where you live."

"Have you tried standing on a floating chunk of ice 24 hours a day?" the polar bear, whose name was Snowylocks, growled.

Titch shrugged and laid down on the beach to sunbathe with him, and that's how they spent the rest of their lives.

Story 300

The Waiting Game

by Glo Curl

The seven dwarves decided to buy Snow White a camera as a thank you for all her hard work.

Snow White was over the moon and set about her new hobby with determination to capture her diminutive friends in their comfortable home or enjoying the garden after a long day's work in the forest. She loved taking snaps of Sleepy, especially when he had his mouth open in a ginormous yawn. Everyone except Bashful was keen to have a photograph of themselves.

One day, they decided to pick out some of the best pictures and get enlargements done, sending the negatives off to Footprints Printing Services. Turnaround was supposed to be five days, but after two weeks of waiting for the plop of an envelope through the letterbox, she decided to find out what was happening with her photos.

That evening, she gathered the dwarves around the kitchen table and announced that Footprints had said they were extremely busy and were working around the clock to get orders out. "You will just have to be patient then," said Doc, always the one with the most sense.

"Yes, Doc," replied Snow White, "I will. Someday my prints will come."

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Nonsensically Challenged Volume 4: Stories 301 Onwards

Below, you can read nonsense challenge stories from number 301 onwards. This collection of stories will not be published in a book, but will be available for the reading pleasure of the planet on this website as Nonsensically Challenged Volume 4.

Story 301

Pickles and Bacon

by Lesley Anne Truchet

"Constable Bacon, spill the beans. Why didn't you arrest Olive Berry?"

"She's as slippery as an eel. We stopped for the lollipop man; she disappeared into the pea souper, sir."

Inspector Pickles fiddled with his doughnut. "Use your loaf, Bacon. When apprehending a suspect, you don't stop for traffic."

"Sir, I risked being sandwiched between two lorries."

"I don't give a raspberry. Superintendent Fudge will go bananas. If I get egg on my face, Bacon, I'll make mincemeat out of you."

Bacon turned beetroot, thinking Pickles had a touch of sour grapes.

"Olive Berry is a cool cumber. We need to crack this nut. I've heard through the grapevine she'll be attending the food conference at the Slug and Lettuce. You'll go there and arrest that rotten apple. Right, Bacon?"

"Piece of cake, sir."

"Don't give me sauce, Bacon. Fudge is as keen as mustard to arrest her. He wants to pepper her with questions. If your operation doesn't bear fruit tomorrow, we'll be in a right jam."


"If you value how your bread's buttered, you'll bring home the bacon, Bacon. Anything to say?"

"Yes, sir. My name is Curry, not Bacon."

"Well, if that doesn't take the biscuit."


Lesley Anne Truchet Author Biography:

Lesley Truchet has been writing for several years and has a number of short stories, articles and poetry published on paper and on the internet and is currently writing her first novel.


Story 302

Even Now

by Christopher Fielden

Wake up. Wash face. Comb Hair. Get dressed. Drink water. Eat fruit. Feel Human. Walk outside.

Something wrong. No wind. No birdsong. Too quiet. Too still. People standing. Not moving. Eyes open. Seeing nothing. Time frozen. Not me.

Scared now. Must search. Seek answers. Unfreeze everything. Work hard. Stay positive.

Search libraries. Search laboratories. Search universities. No answers. No nothing. So lonely. Start crying. Feel better. Keep going. Keep trying. Kneel, pray.

Feel presence. Hear whisper. Not 'hear'.  Sense whisper. Inside me. Caresses soul.

"Surprised us. Shown promise. A gift. More time. Use wisely. Redress balance."

Wind blows. Birds sing. People move. Eyes open. Seeing everything.

Work together. Find solutions. Have to. Hopeful future. Even now.


Christopher Fielden Author Biography:

Chris writes, runs a humorous short story competition, plays drums and rides his motorcycle, sometimes to Hull. And back again. He runs a multitude of writing challenges and hopes to publish 1,000s of authors in support of charity.



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Your comments:

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

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

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

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

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

Neville R
Hi Chris. Thanks for including me!

Great site :-)

Chris Fielden
No problem, Neville - thanks for submitting :-)

Steph S
I really enjoyed this challenge as I've never written a nonsense story before. Thanks for the opportunity.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Steph - thanks for writing a story for the challenge :-)

David O
Hi Chris. Ty so much for accepting my story 'A Hard Day's Night'. Seeing it, actually out there on your page, has given me a much needed boost. Ty so much :)

Chris Fielden
Hi David. No worries – very happy to hear that entering the nonsense challenge has inspired you. That’s exactly what the challenges are for, so thanks for letting me know :-)

Klaus G
Hi Chris. I'm addicted to odd stuff. What a change to submit... Thanks for your tireless work!

Chris Fielden
Hi Klaus. No problem :-)

This challenge is shared with children and supports a charity that helps children, so I can't publish any stories that contain profanity I'm afraid. All stories have to be child friendly.

I'd be happy to publish your story if you could rewrite it with this in mind.

I hope that makes sense. I'll look forward to receiving a rewrite from you so I can publish it :-)

James H
Thank you for coming up with such a brilliant thing too. All the very best wishes.

Chris Fielden
No problem, James. Thank you for submitting :-)

James H
I just wanted to drop you an line to say thank you for the openness of this writing challenge. Also to thank you for coming up or at least making it easy to be a part of a community that revels in the glorious worlds we can all create.

Chris Fielden
Hi James. No problem. Thanks again for taking part and submitting a story. Without the authors who contribute, none of this would be possible.

Rebecca H
Hello Chris! I have to admit this was quite the fun exercise! Thank you again for the opportunity to get my work out there; as a budding writer such opportunities are few and far between! I'll be looking forward to the launch of the Adverb challenge anthology and I'm planning on buying a copy.

Thanks again!

Chris Fielden
Glad to hear you found it fun, Rebecca. And thanks for your kind words - it's great to hear that writers appreciate the challenges and seeing their stories published :-)

Alan B
Hi Chris. Have just submitted. These challenges are more difficult than they seem, but oh the joy when I completed the story in under 200 words. Keep these challengers coming. Hope you get to that magical 100 soon.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Alan :-)

Tulip C
Hi Chris, it's good to take a lighter look into life. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Tulip. I agree - it is indeed :-)

Leonard S
I like story 92, not because we have the same surname, but because the story was straight up to the point and funny. Thank you, Sueleen, I am your #1 fan :-)

Chris Fielden
Thanks Leonard :-)

Nick N
Excited to see where this goes - a great place to post fun flash fiction. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Nick, glad you like it. And thanks for submitting :-)

Mary W
I got an old piece of  6,300 plus flowery worded meanderings  down to 200 to join this nonsensery.

Chris Fielden
Good work, Mary :-)

And thanks for submitting.

Michael R
Better late than never may seem more appropriate to cliché, but refers to my copy of Nonsensically Challenged 1 received only yesterday. Perhaps, like many of the stories, it went out of this world en- route.

Worth waiting for from its glossy image to the equally sparkling intros and, of course, the worthy cause.

I like story 42. Trevor's opening line has the potential for a whole new series.

If it takes very special authors to write these stories, James's clever bio, story 59, speaks for all of us. Now we must drive(l) on to complete Vol 2. You know it makes sense.

Chris Fielden
Glad to hear the book has winged its way to you at last, Michael.

May the Norse be with you, and us all, while scribbling more silliness. Onward to volume 2 indeed.

Soraya D
The iron man one is great.

Chris Fielden
I agree :-)

Cleary M
Hi Chris, found your site through your compilation of online competitions. Non-sense is fun! Mine is not exactly funny (not sure if that's a necessity for this section), but I think it's a narrative that expands in an unusual way. I've been reading a lot of prose-poetry and I think it's inspired by that. The instructions at the top suggest that this is how to submit your story, so my story is beneath this. Thanks for considering it! I enjoyed reading the others.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for submitting, Cleary - much appreciated :-) Serious, funny or anything in between is fine - published!

Gavin B
A great collection of nonsensical stories. Extremely funny and look forward to reading some more.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Gavin :-) And thanks for submitting.

Ishmael D
Awesome challenge LOL. Thanks, Chris, for adding 'Caterpillar Butterfly' (165) to the collection :D It's cool to see it up there.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Ishmael. Thanks for submitting :-)

Paul S
A Haiku is easy

But often they make no sense.


Chris Fielden
Absurdly wise words, Paul... :-)

Bryan K
Hi Chris, are poems acceptable for this challenge?


Chris Fielden
Hi Bryan. Yes, poetry is fine :)

Neil D
Hi Chris, thank you so much for posting up my story, I hope at least one person can enjoy it. This is such a great site, it's amazing what you've put together. Thanks again.

Chris Fielden
No problem - great to hear you like the site. Thanks for submitting and taking part.

Munib H
Hi Chris, I really enjoyed entering this and reading many of the other stories. Are you going to publish them in a volume? And when, and where, can I buy one? Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Munib. Great, glad to hear you enjoyed all the other stories. We release a book every time 100 stories have been submitted. All contributors will be notified when that happens by email. They will also be informed about launch dates, where to buy the anthology, book launch parties etc.

Susi M
Hi, can I check your policy on previously published pieces please?

Chris Fielden
Hi Susi, I'm happy to accept previously published work, as long as it's suitable for the challenge.

Andre OG
Where is Annemarie A's story? I couldn't find it anywhere. Can someone help please? Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Andre. Annemarie's story is in Nonsensically Challenged Volume 1 (#22) so was removed from the site when the book was published. You can only read it in the book now, sorry.

Cathy C
I found this one a real challenge. You have to kind of let go to write nonsense, so - apologies to Lewis Carroll - I used the form of 'Jabberwocky' so I didn't have to make everything up.

Jay B
Hi Chris - I hope this one hits the right spot!

Chris Fielden
No problem, Cathy. Most people say the preposition challenge is the toughest, but it's different for everyone I think.

Certainly does, Jay B - published :-)

Lesley T
I've just read 'North Pole Adventure' by Andre Othenin-Girard - Story 231. Andre, I think it's brilliant. Very cleverly done.

Temitope JT
Hi Chris, it's great to be here and to be a participant. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Temitope.

And thank you for submitting - very much appreciated :-)

Louis C
Many thanks again, Chris, for publishing 'Cluedo-esque', yet another adventure in exploring the fine line between nonsense... and even more nonsense!

Chris Fielden
No problem, Louis. Thanks as always for submitting. Bring on the nonsense!

Aigbonoga O
Please, can I get a copy of my nonsense story and 81 word story? Intentional parenting and A Hero and A Capsized Boat respectively. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Aigbonoga. Sure. They are on the website:

  • Nonsense story 252
  • 81 word story 501

Books will be released once they are full :-)

Janie K
I've read all the stories, on all pages. Some great stuff here. I feel privileged to have this opportunity. It's great what youre all doing here. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Janie. Glad you enjoyed the other stories. And thank you for submitting - very much appreciated :-)

Lesley T
I love the story 259 'Typo' by Paul Mastaglio.  Wonderful, Paul, it made me laugh.

Lesley T
I love your story 266, Gail. I live in France and speak French so I had no trouble with the punch line. Just wonderful.

Gail E
I’m glad you liked it! I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenges and am looking forward to seeing the next volumes in print.

Toni G
Thank you so much, Chris. You make writing fun again.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Toni. Thank you for participating - much appreciated :-)