The Forbidden Door
I made my way through the inky blackness, walking ninja-like towards the door. A thick chain barred my way. Just like the queen to take such extreme measures to protect her riches. But I knew that she kept the key under her pillow, and I had stolen it.
I unlocked the chain and lowered it silently to the floor. As I drew open the door, a hallowed light burst from the chamber within, revealing the treasure I so desperately sought.
The light snapped on. “Harold, are you getting into the Thanksgiving pies?”
I wiped meringue off my lips. “No, dear.”
copyright Janet Webb
The Old Man and the Seafood
Shoppers meandered around the store in hip waders, shopping carts half submerged.
“How did you come up with this idea?” the reporter asked.
Jeff grinned. “I thought it was about time someone applied the self-pick produce model to seafood. With seafood, freshness is everything. Here, everything is alive up until you buy it. No expiration dates needed.”
An old man shuffled up in oversized boots. “Excuse me, I just need a can of tuna.”
“No cans here, I’m afraid,” Jeff said, throwing the reporter another grin. “Everything’s fresh.” He handed the man a spear gun. “Bluefins are in aisle 30.”
copyright Jan Marler Morrill
That’s been my nickname for six months now. Hey, I’m just a fruit seller, making a living. Maybe even a profit.
“Morning,” I say to the first alien. Twenty are lined up behind him. He slings his rifle, holds up twelve fingers, and I bag up a dozen oranges in exchange for a glowing cube which I guess is money. I’ve got 518 so far.
Later when the aliens all die, scientists discover that the Vitamin C was slowly poisoning them. Suddenly I’m a hero.
The government is really curious about those glowing cubes.
Now the real profit comes.
copyright Rich Voza
“We’re gonna get murdered.” I unlocked Donald Trump’s private jet with stolen keys.
“It was your choice,” Jack said. “You wanna switch?”
“No.” I climbed into the cockpit and consulted the WikiTheft page on flying a stolen jet.
Somehow we took off. Somehow we flew to Mexico City and crash-landed in the busiest airport in Central America.
Somehow we spray-painted “To Mexico, love Donny” on the side and escaped the authorities.
“It’s your turn,” I said as we sat on a sidewalk, trying to think how to get home.
Jack looked thoughtful. “I think I’d better pick Truth this time.”
copyright John Nixon
I was sure the piano had eaten Grandpa. I only stepped away for a moment and he vanished.
As I approached, I could smell roasting flesh. Dear God, it had sucked him in and was cooking him!
“You monster!” I shouted, grappling frantically at the keys. A door in the knee panel fell open, revealing a ladder.
I found Grandpa in a cellar, hunched over a grill like a barbecuing troll. He spun around, then relaxed.
“I thought Grandma made you guys go vegan?” I said.
“Six years ago,” he said. “Right about the time I took up ‘piano lessons’.”
copyright Piya Singh
The sun sets on twenty drunken college students dancing in the cabin, with bass deep enough to shake the stone circle nearby.
It’s a great success. It’s my cabin after all, an inheritance from my grandmother, the one who gave me this old necklace.
The party spills outside around midnight. Dozens, then scores of men and women gyrate among the stones to the pounding music that is now coming from the ground itself.
The sun rises on me, naked except for Grandma’s old necklace. I’m alone in the stone circle, beer cans mingled with mead cups and carved drinking horns.
Read about the real Merry Maidens
Come on, come on. That frantic thought is sculpted into the crowd’s poses and expressions. Some are sitting, but most pace awkwardly.
Far off, they hear the train rumbling. Visible relief flashes from face to face.
It’s an awkward two-minute ride. No eye contact, rocking back and forth, biting fingernails. Come on!
The doors open and people lurch forth, loping crab-like with thighs clenched, men out the right side, women out the left. A moment later, a hundred stall doors slam. A long, protracted sigh.
“They should put these in houses,” someone says.
“Gross! What is this, the Dark Ages?”
*hwajangshil (화장실) is the Korean word for bathroom. This story does not take place in Korea. You can only imagine the sort of world where it does take place.