Author: Dave Kingsbury

I'm a retired teacher who now has more time for thinking, reading, writing, making music and blogging ...

Triskaidekaphobia* – a story in 100 words

Readers of a sensitive or squeamish nature may wish to glance at the following story through their fingers. Others may scorn such pusillanimity! 

 

House Number Thirteen gives you Goosebumps.

Could it be the gravel driveway that twists through overgrown gardens, branches reaching down like fingers? Or the stranglehold of Virginia Creeper upon crumbling walls, windows peering out like blind old eyes? That door, perhaps, paint peeling from his wrinkled face?

Hinges creak like souls in pain. Step with thumping heart into the cavernous hallway – festooned with giant cobwebs – and climb the groaning stairs. Skin creeps at a distant flutter of wings.

But nothing prepares you for the moment your torchlight reveals these grinning teeth and gleaming eyes!

Welcome to our world.

 

* extreme superstition regarding the number thirteen

 

Image result for cobwebs on stairs

 

Image: Flickr Hive Mind

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In A Twist – a story in 100 words

Hide-and-Seek was the closet contortionist’s favourite – squeezing into out-of-the-way nooks-and-crannies, overhearing distant discoveries, knowing she wouldn’t be next Seeker. Whenever searching ceased she’d creep up behind them – hiding-places still secret – and mock their burning envy for the Queen of Disappearances.

Until now. A sneeze betrays her. First-found, it’s her turn to count one-hundred. Giggles recede to the mockery of silence. She knows all the places but saunters round securing windows and entrances. Front-door last.

Street-corner reached, she hurls their tin – joke-shop sneezing-powder – into the bushes. Hers – a fuel-can – she grips harder before a final backward glance at the blazing house.

 

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Image: Colourbox

Fun and Games – a story in 100 words

Struck by lightning, the ancient oak would have blazed for a day and smouldered for a week. In place of its wooden heart was a blackened hollow, hardened and burnished by centuries of sun and rain and ice.

Climbing up to its rim, children saw a sculptured bowl like a womb where they might rest like dozing emperors. Here they could lie, unseen, overhearing private conversations far below. No longer paupers in the balance of power, they could sip the nectar of the gods and experience a measure of divinity – invisible, ever-present, omniscient.

It beat the hell out of hide-and-seek.

 

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Image: MoMA

Murder on the Dance Floor – a story in 100 words

Cockroach!

As dying words went, this didn’t go far – at least in helping our sleuth discover who gave the-belle-of-the-ball a lethal injection.

A jilted lover, perhaps, but was he even on her crowded dance-card?

A pet-name? Hardly endearing but weren’t spirited Spanish senoritas sometimes attracted to creepy types?

A shared dish at some new-fangled insect-restaurant?

He shuddered, appalled at his cluelessness, and phoned the dance-band rehearsal. They’d noticed nothing, the conductor confirmed.

Our sleuth asked him to recite the setlist to trigger recollections but stopped him after ‘La Cucaracha’.

She’d tried to help, translating the moment her killer struck.

 

 

The Appliance of Science – a story in 100 words

Case notes. Planet #3, Star-System #495177230648683. Deep archaeological analyses indicate rapid evolution of intelligent primate species followed by sudden decline/disappearance. Unlike previous extinctions, appears self-inflicted. Evidence from widely-scattered artefacts suggests that the early social-cooperation instinct universal to all advanced species was – for reasons yet unclear – supplanted by an overwhelming urge to compete. This set individual against individual and group against group, leading to chronic over-consumption of resources. Undervalued and depleted natural-science investigation meant rear-guard efforts to shepherd/conserve environment too little, too late. Full contact with remaining species awaits detailed linguistic analysis but positive  signs observed in early encounters with ants and cockroaches.

 

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Image: The Taxman

That’s Rich! – a story in 100 words

Miles Bragge-Hampton hated contradiction. You couldn’t blame him. As the only child and heir of wealthy and indulgent parents, his every little whim was gratified. A furious turnover of nannies, servants, estate-workers, tutors and even doctors bore witness to the force of his thwarted will.

A particular revolving-door involved girlfriends and, later, psychiatrists. Mere expertise couldn’t save anyone who got on the wrong side of Smiler.

The nickname stuck when he entered politics. Small fish feared the flash of teeth, notably in his very first Head of State broadcast warning ‘welfare leeches and parasites’ that he was on their case.

 

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Image: YouTube

Lost in Space – a story in 100 words

Stars fill our view-port, so many they hang like swathes of Velurian fog. It hurts, now, that none will be a destination.

The starship drifts on, mortally wounded, her ills beyond our skill to cure. We spend whole days watching re-runs of the departure, in which our faces appear torn between sadness at leaving our lovely planet and relief at escaping its catastrophic collision with the giant asteroid.

Nights we can’t sleep for cursing our gross scientific incompetence. Our ship’s breakdown was a corporate failure.

What really rankles, however, is knowing that the asteroid missed Veluria by a million miles.

 

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Image: Live Science