Archive for the ‘Short Fiction’ Category

War Games

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Lucas Nguyen, Short Fiction

“Your grandparents were so lucky,” the bigger boy said to me at play time.  “They didn’t have to live through the Depression like mine did.”  He fiddled with the toy train.

I thought of my grandparents’ stories of civil war, of street vendoring for pennies a day.  But my foreign-born shame followed my family’s bloodline to this nation, where I was born, so I kept quiet.

“I mean, I guess you Vietmanese had a war, too, but it wasn’t like the World War II.”  I thought about the absurdity of boasting “My War Can Beat Up Your War.”  I mentally counted another American who couldn’t pronounce Vietnamese.

“It was a pretty bad war,” I said.


TQP LOGO ready 


TODAY is Short Fiction Monday, I guess.  Please enjoy this short story.  Or don’t, you can do what you like in life, that’s none of my business.


The second part of our Short Fiction Friday Event, brought to you by TQP contributor Ryan Crutchfield. Part One can be found here, probably read that one first.

Today’s Short Fiction Friday even is brought to you by TQP contributor Ryan Crutchfield. It’s in two parts, enjoy them in order or out of order, at your discretion.  (But “in order” is best.)


They found the cemetery shortly after lunch, exactly where it was not supposed to be. It was slung low and wide across the southern shadowed side of the small hill that they stood upon, stretching out of sight down into the murky edges where the forest became the swamp. The headstones where scattered like dominoes after a knife fight and a number of them were broken or knocked over. The cemetery looked ancient.

[Hey, this is pretty fun:  short story from first-time contributor Xavier McCaffrey.]

Because my name is Xavier, we called her the X-Wife, which seemed funny at the time. But that was before the X-Wife cut out my heart with an X-Acto knife. Maybe I should have seen we¹d be incompatible, her with her X-Box, me with my Wii.  We met at a movie with a mutual friend, ditched him, and immediately commenced an X-rated extravaganza. She went off her antidepressants, saying I was her Xanax now. Spending the rest of our lives together was a present we couldn¹t wait until Xmas to unwrap, so we married a month after we met. For a while, everyone else on earth was a foreigner, and we were xenophobes. Things went along well until the morning I woke up and realized the X-Wife had made a Xerox of herself in the night and left me with the copy. All of a sudden, her eyes were Algebra, and I couldn¹t solve for X. Her maps had changed, and I could no longer find the X marking the spot, much less access her buried treasure. Once she no longer let me flip her on her x-axis, I began to lose interest. Despite all her xxxs and ooos, I was as inert as Xenon. I lost the stick to play her xylophone. Sometimes, she said, she wished I’d been dealt the second x chromosome, not her. I insisted I still loved her, but the X-Wife had x-ray vision and could see right through me. Though her deposition was about as historically accurate as an episode of Xenia the Warrior Princess, I signed my name everywhere her attorney drew his large Xs. She smiled as if her heart were manufactured in a sweatshop in Xian, and I learned the hard way what comes after the X: the why?

I noticed this when I was in the bookstore.  “Gosh,” I thought to myself, “maybe if someone wrote a book about a zombie outbreak, maybe that would be cool!”

Probably it will never happen, though.  In the meantime, here are some thoughts about zombies.


[I keep wanting to write the Corsay novels with a chapter in the beginning that’s completely unrelated to the rest of the book, except thematically; like those opening ten or fifteen-minute scenes in the James Bond movies, but Holland keeps telling me I can’t.  So, for your enjoyment and delectation, I’ve converted the opening gambit of Mr. Stitch to a short story, and provided it here.]

“How long has she been like this?”

It was very quiet in the Coopers’ front room.  Their daughter, young Agnes, was in the tiny bedroom she ordinarily shared with her two brothers.  She was alone now, and her mumbling could barely be heard behind the heavy door.  Her parents—mother puffy-eyed and red-nosed, haunted by fear for her little girl; father stoic in the way of a working man of Trowth, determined as desperation mounted to be more fiercely unavailable to it—sat on their low, shabby couch, and said nothing.  Valentine Vie-Gorgon leaned against the wall, arms crossed, doing his best to look serious, but unable to keep the compassion from his face.  Two gendarmes crowded into the room as well.  Beckett didn’t know their names, he’d conscripted them on the way to the Coopers’.  The new knocker stood just inside the front doorway.


[Short fiction submission today:  “The Window”, by most excellent Friend of Threat Quality, Erin Snyder.]

“The Window”

It should be noted that Julius was in no way looking for a formula for
time travel, nor investigating any of the Universe’s sordid secrets or
mysteries.  He was only researching notes for a novel he’d been
planning – one that wasn’t supposed to touch on the subject of time –
when he came across it accidentally, the way one stumbles across a
used bookstore or a particularly good café that’s set on a side
street, away from the flow of traffic.


Ever wonder what happened after Bing Crosby and David Bowie finished their lovely duet on Christmas? Well, Bowie went home, of course. But what happened after that is a tale never before heard…


(THE SCENE: David Bowie’s living room. As he enters, the phone rings.)

“Hello, David.”
“…Uh, yeah, hi. This is David Bowie, yeh. ‘oozis, then?”
“Did you enjoy my piano, David?”
“Did you enjoy playing my piano, and queuing up my orchestra? David? Was that fun for you?”
“Ah, shit. Ahh, God no…Sir Percival?”

[Part Two of Two.  Part 1 is available here.]

What lies beyond doesn’t worry me.
Suppose you break this world to bits, another may arise.

Mahmoud Truely awoke as his shuttle approached Ceres.  He was in one of the short-term isleep chambers.  Even though the trip to the asteroid belt only took a week, they put people into isleep anyway.  The ship could go faster if the passengers’ vital functions had all been suspended.  When the isleep door opened, Mahmoud saw the man with the black-and-white beard, the yellow shirt, the weird sunglasses.  He was munching on a paper control panel across the hall.  The man turned to look at him, and Mahmoud panicked.  He didn’t want the man to see him.  He tried to hide his face, to duck down, as the man turned, but he couldn’t move his body.  He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t.