Category: Stories

All At Sea: a story in 100 words

But one of us stood apart from our mad stampede towards terror, greeting each fresh outbreak of panic with a gentle smile and kindly eye.

We came to regard this saintly person as a confessor who would listen to our anguished outpourings without judgement or censure but with a sympathetic shrug or understanding nod. Few words of advice were offered. This meant any alleviation of pain must come from within.

This lesson was lost on our patient saviour who we found early one morning hanging from the yard-arm. There was no note but the message seemed clear: suffer in silence.


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Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Saintly


When The Monkey Rules: a story in 100 words

Movement between classes had slowed to a crawl. Students arriving late meant lessons got underway erratically and sometimes never got going at all.

The obvious cause was uninspiring teaching of dull syllabuses imposed from above but the new Principal felt reluctant to open that particular can of worms. Besides, his background as a work-study expert suggested a more mechanical solution.

Noting where bottlenecks impeded student flow, he introduced a strict one-way system.

Arrows indicated approved directions of travel. Staff neglected lesson preparation to patrol the corridors and enforce compliance. Kids could circulate for hours, learning only how to follow orders.


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Image: The Cripplegate

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt One-Way

What Are The Chances? – a story in 100 words

Dubious,’ I tell him, ‘at best!’

There is no way to break it gently. He’s high as a kite, or rather, still down in the smelly old cellar where he first heard them. Audience in absolute raptures! 

Gift of the gab, of course, though his fine words butter no parsnips. I tell him to hit the play button.

Thumpity-thump, jangling guitars, so yesterday!

But he never stops smiling, even when it ends. I almost smile back. That’s when he asks me for my honest assessment of their chances.

‘And Mr Epstein,’ I add, ‘what kind of name is The Beatles?’



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Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Dubious

Historical Note: On 1 January 1962, before they reached international stardom, the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records. In what is considered one of the biggest mistakes in music industry history, Decca rejected the band.

Sea Change – a story in 100 words

250,000 faces upturned, awaiting his words, their sighs hushed.

He shuffles pages of a speech composed by committee, something for everyone, and begins reading. Each of us leans forward for nourishment, vying to be there first. Scattered cheers ripple up and sink again into a murmuring ocean.

‘Tell them,’ improvises Mahalia Jackson. His gaze drifts from the wordy text to linger on the crowd, as if to draw them closer.

Riff,’ I whisper.

Has he heard? Eyes deep as oceans, he dives down for sunken treasure and surfaces holding pearls.

‘I say to you today, my friends, I have a dream … ‘

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100 word story (#6)

And so I come to the end of my little story sequence – or perhaps, sequence of little stories.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of cramming a quart into a pint pot. Said it before but I find self-imposed constraints paradoxically liberating. Restricting word-length, making thematic connections and fitting in prompt words all seem to narrow down the possibilities – help stop me agonising over ‘Why this rather than that?’ and other pusillanimous quibbles!

Anyway, here’s the final offering after a little poetic preamble:

My tree is gone, a crow’s nest lost in space
Though found in time: perspective ever mine!
One way the church, its harvest festival
Just beans in tins and withered leaves on stone.
Another way the wood, its tangle wild
Forbidden fruit: temptation to a child …

We trod the hero-path to gold: a glint of treasure in each flower. Up every tree was knowledge without a fall. We knew the wood was ours, though shared with many children seldom seen. We saw their little marks, soon overgrown.

But these were nothing to the wounds we saw one sunny morning. Through trees, a glow brighter than sunshine. The first pool held a metal barrel, half-submerged, leaching luminous chemistry into living water. Every Leaf in the glade a ghastly day-glo yellow. The next pool awash with purple. The last pool acid green.

Too much information: cruelty, criminality, careless indifference.

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Image: Green Living – LoveToKnow

100 word story (#5)

Their fathers snoozed, dreaming good wars. Nothing so real in civvy street: somnolent Saturdays and clockwork commutes. Cities slumbered.

Outside: bombsites, deserted streets, untended commons. Freewheeling in space-time, days became places to buildchaseclimbhideraceriderunskatechatter without let or hindrance: holy grounds within their hearts.

But clocks still tick and now their stamping-grounds are bulldozed flat and featureless. By officious command, adventure is confined in playgrounds. Streams no longer teem with frogs and newts and sticklebacks nor whisper to be dammed with mud. Water won’t trickle through fingers six feet underground in silent culverts.

And their Trees uprooted? How are the Mighty fallen?


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Image: Tim Hill Psychotherapy

100 word story (#4)

Some comics you read without smiling. Monochrome eyes glare beneath furrowed brows and speech bubbles burst from gritted teeth: Gott im Himmel! and Take that, Fritz! 

You march into the Hall of Death hungry for heroes-and-villains, us-and-them, man-to-man. But old sagas sag between behemoths from forgotten battles, rusting hulks still reeking of leather and lubricant – artillery, jeeps, tanks – parked any-old-how as though abandoned by ghosts in a hurry.

You squeeze past huge metal coffins in darkness, gagging on cordite. A sudden shaft of daylight illumines a staff-car’s upholstery. On it, a dry bread-crust.

Well, you think, a Crumb of Comfort!


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Image: Olive-Drab