The Buffet Conversation Piece

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By Michael Bloor

On Andy’s stag night, Willie Macleod claimed that Joe Stalin was supposed to possess just four English phrases:

‘You said it;’

‘So what;’

‘What the hell goes on here?’ and,

‘The toilet is over there.’

In retrospect, it was clearly unwise for Willie to make a bet that he could conduct himself through the whole of Fiona and Andy’s wedding solely by utterance of Stalin’s four phrases. True, he managed to deliver the first three successfully. But, at the reception, he really should have admitted defeat when Fiona’s mum asked him how he liked the smoked eel canapés.

           
Michael Bloor is a retired sociologist living in Dunblane, Scotland, who has discovered the exhilarations of short fiction.

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I’m Sorry You Had to See It

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By John L. Malone

I’m sorry you had to see it.
It’s just that you walked in on me
When you were meant to be asleep.
I was in the middle of …
O, what’s the use?
You’ve seen it now.
You know the score.
Mum doesn’t need to know.
Go back and pretend you
Never saw a thing.
Me with my Santa hat and bag of goodies
And let me get on with my wrapping.
Goodnight love.

         
John is a South Australian writer of poetry, short stories and lately flash fiction. He is in the process of moving house which may be reflected in his writing.

Error: Reload, Replace

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By Henry Bladon

It’s annoying that he always goes home before me, so every evening the last thing I do before I leave the office is to remove all the paper from his printer tray. I also save his empty ink cartridges when he throws them away so I can put them in place of one of the full ones.

Every morning I watch from the corridor as he reloads with fresh paper. Then he opens up the printer and yells at his ink for not lasting. He tells everyone he is cursed.

I swear one day I ‘m going to divorce him.

           
Henry Bladon is based in Somerset in the UK. He teaches creative writing for therapeutic purposes. His work can be seen in O:JA&L, Fewer than 500, Tuck Magazine, Pure Slush, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords Press, and elsewhere.

A Cadaver of Red

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By John L. Malone

What is your wish? said the genie.

A cadaver of red, please.

A cadaver of red? Don’t you mean a cask or bottle? Or perhaps a magnum? I’ve had a few glasses myself this morning. I’m feeling generous. A jeroboam — I’ve never been asked for one of them [ If you don’t want it, I’ll have it] or, maybe even, a nebuchednezzar? Fit for a king.

No thanks, mate. A cadaver of red will suffice, said the lazy vampire.

            
John is a South Australian writer of poetry, short stories and lately flash fiction. He is in the process of moving house which may be reflected in his writing.

Darkness

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By G. Allen Wilbanks

“Why are you afraid of the dark? Darkness is the natural state of everything. It’s the light that’s unnatural. When God said, ‘Let there be light,’ he was imposing an artificial reality on a universe that had previously only know known total darkness and emptiness, and every force in nature is currently trying to drive us back to that original point of neutrality. Everything around us is temporary, and at some point in the future we will all return to that initial state of nothingness. It’s inevitable.”

“Maybe,” his wife admitted. “But, I still want you to replace the lightbulb.”

           
G. Allen Wilbanks is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and has published over 60 short stories in Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, The Talisman, and other venues. He has published two story collections, and the novel, When Darkness Comes.

That Moment, in a Bubble

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By Maia Cornish

They are selling sets of postcards: The Gate of Supreme Harmony; the Hall of Unity; the Palace of Earthly Tranquillity. In the Outer Court we pose for photos. I am self-conscious, standing in awe of history before tantalizing glimpses of emperors, concubines and eunuchs. A memory to be encapsulated in a bubble that will never pop.

I focus my camera on an ornate door embellished with Chinese lettering.

“And this one?” I ask, as I compose the photo. “What does this plaque say?”

My guide is inscrutable but polite.

“Ladies Toilet,” she translates. “Do you need to go?”

            
Maia Cornish is an emerging British writer, born in Cornwall. She has traveled extensively and has visited every continent (apart from Antarctica – yet). Her travels have inspired her writing, and her short stories, poems and flash fiction have appeared in print and online in UK and USA.