The atmosphere had been tense for days and the Threat Level had fluctuated between ‘Moderate’ and ‘Substantial’. Warning signs were clear: skirmishes more frequent, escalating in intensity. It was only a matter of time before disaster struck. That morning it was clear: the situation was deteriorating. By lunchtime the Threat Level was at ‘Severe’, and during the afternoon it rose to ‘Critical’. The world ended at teatime:
“But I wanted the green plate!”
The child wailed, limbs thrashing on the floor.
Later, the child soothed and sleeping peacefully, a toast was drunk to surviving the end of the world – again.
By Alex Colvin
In an age of reconsidering appropriate behavior at the workplace, how does one flirt at work? Well, I’ve got it down to a science.
2. Profusely apologize.
3. Run away as fast as you possibly can.
It’ll go something like this:
“Well, hello Nancy …”
Then panic. “Oh no! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it!”
Turn and run away as if hell were unleashed upon you.
Nancy will gaze after you as you vanish into the horizon with renewed intrigue. “Wow,” she’ll think, “He’s charming, sensitive, and completely not-threatening. I’ll ask him for his number.”
Google’s suggestions for opening a speech: “With a question, with a statistic, with a quote.”
“That’s it,” Chris thought, “a quote!” And he knew just the type—Mr. Hall’s room was covered in Poe posters. Poe was the ticket.
The next day Chris stood in front of the class. “As the great Edgar Allan wrote in “The Cask of Amontillado …’” Chris surveyed the room, then took a great breath and shouted: “Ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!—ugh! ugh! ugh!”
Mr. Hall was impressed. Chris’s final grade: nine out of ten tell-tale hearts.
Jeff is a high school English teacher
By Michael Bloor
Sixty years ago, it was still commonplace for ministers in rural Scotland to call on all their parishioners, welcome or not. Mother would seat him at the kitchen table and put the kettle on, while I listened at the door as they discussed father’s behavior. After one particularly disreputable episode, the visitor concluded:
“Weel mistress, you’re nay marrit. So my advice wud be just to put him richt oot the door.”
My mother pondered this a moment, “Aye, minister, I’ll do as ye say. Can I ask a favour though? Would ye collect his pay packet for me every Saturday?”
Michael Bloor’s work has appeared in Breve New Stories, Ink Sweat & Tears, Fictive Dream, Platform for Prose, Flash Fiction Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Scribble, Occulum, The Copperfield Review, and Dodging the Rain.
By Deb Whittam
To the counter she marched
resolute, chin held high as
she looked the shopkeeper
directly in the eye.
That painting, there, the one
above the door, I’ll give
you twenty dollars,
not a penny more.
Silence met her words
but with a nod he agreed
and painting in her hand, she smirked,
there had been no need to plead.
At home she unwrapped
her highly sought after prize
only to discover on the frame
a notation that made shock arise.
twenty she had paid,
twenty she had offered,
but the tag clearly stated
clearance – just one dollar.
By Richard Helmling
As the ash piled up on the sixth day, they finally decided to head south.
“Por favor,” they made their son practice as they drove.
They avoided El Paso because the last radio broadcasts they had received said it was impossible to cross there.
So they found a seemingly desolate stretch of the wall. They approached with rope ladders slung between them, slapping their thighs, and he winced, remembering his vote in the previous election.
On the other side, he looked back over his shoulder at the six-foot high graffiti: “No les des de comer a los Americanos!”
Richard Helmling’s work has appeared in English in Texas, The Rio Grande Review, Fiction Brigade, Black Heart Magazine and Arsenic Lobster.
They argue over everything, especially when it comes to packing the car.
Her approach is to plan ahead and pack methodically, whereas he grabs items on sight and packs with brute force.
One morning she challenges him to prove that his method is more efficient. He spends the rest of the morning squeezing everything they own into the back of the car, determined to prove her wrong.
Once finished, he brings her outside to inspect his work.
Thank you she says, before getting into the car and driving away forever, happy to have conceded their final argument together.