Category: Concise Stories

You Can Go Home Again

‘I’ve invented a time machine,’ said Stanley.

The psychiatrist’s office was sterile in a comforting way. Like a pretend room in a furniture store. It celebrated homeliness while denying the realities of it. No stains. No cluttered surfaces. No suggestion that sometimes it’s all just too much and does it really matter if you put away the dishes?

‘I see,’ said the psychiatrist. ‘And did you suffer any traumatic events prior to the invention of this ‘time machine’?’

‘I’m not delusional,’ said Stanley. ‘Look, here’s a photo of me in ancient Egypt. And this is me with Leonardo Da Vinci. After it was taken he tried to steal the camera and we both wound up in an Italian prison. This one is of me at Hitler’s thirteenth birthday. Obviously he couldn’t grow the moustache at that age. I kept going to his birthday parties waiting for him to turn evil but gradually I realised that morality isn’t black and white and people are the accumulation of experiences, not the result of a single defining moment. Plus killing Hitler is such a cliché. I might be a time traveler but I’m not a hack.’ (more…)

Without Great Power

‘Hey Karen, remember how I went on a tour of that lab today?’ said Rodney.

‘I remember thinking it was weird that a lab would give tours,’ said Karen.

‘Well, I have big news.’

‘They hired you? You can finally quit your job as one of the people who are secretly inside vending machines, operating them manually?’

‘Not quite. Although I might have to quit my job.’

‘What happened?’

‘I was bitten by a radioactive spider.’

‘You mean…’

‘That’s right. I have cancer now.’ (more…)

Diamonds Are Forever. Everything Else Dies Eventually.

The room was dry. Figuratively, though also literally. If an old leather bound book was a room, it would look like this one. A lot of dark wood.

In the centre of the room sat a dishevelled man. Unshaven. Unwashed. He hadn’t changed tuxedos in weeks. Around him sat half a dozen older, less disheveled men.

‘Do you know why you’re here?’ said one of them.

‘I used to believe that God created us,’ said the dishevelled man. ‘Then I went through a Buddhist phase. Then I believed that the universe itself was God and we were all part of it, a universal consciousness. Now… Now I don’t know what I believe.’ His name was Bond. Jim Bond to the overly familiar. (more…)

What Would God Do?

It wasn’t the sort of night that inspires a person to fight crime or go dancing. It was a night perfectly suited to a soft blanket and a warm mug of hot chocolate. The crickets had run out of things to say. The television was a comforting but unobtrusive mumble. The fridge had stopped doing that weird humming thing that hopefully didn’t mean there was something wrong with it.

‘What do you think of Brandon?’ said Dianne.

‘I think he’s great,’ said Russell.

‘Well, obviously. But what do you actually think of him, as a person?’

‘Why are you asking this?’

‘I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, and I’ve come to the realisation that I just don’t like him. He’s clingy, abrasive, insensitive. He never says thank you.’

‘He’s our son.’ (more…)

His Own Rules

The police station buzzed with the white noise of justice in action. And the bored scribbling of paperwork in, if not action, then reluctant motion. The sound flooded the police captain’s office as the door swung open, and then returned to a dull mumbling as the door clicked shut.

‘You wanted to see me, captain,’ said Detective Bevan Shootout.

‘Take a seat,’ said the police captain.

Bevan did so. ‘Is this about the jazz litterer case? Because I’ve almost cracked it.’

‘In a way it is, yes. In a way it’s about all your cases. I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.’ (more…)