The following paragraphs are a collection of micro-fiction. These were written throughout the second half of 2020 for my creative writing class as a regular exercise. Each story is standalone and is roughly around 300 words. They were made with the aim of fitting into one genre, and utilising a one word prompt that I was given. Some of these stories have been edited since their original submissions to help improve them.
1. Genre: Gothic Literature. Prompt: Shadow.
Content Warning: This story contains references to mental illness and graphic violence.
I had awoken to silence, a silence not even the morning wind dared break. After much digging, I discovered what was left of my son. I gained a newfound hate for silence in that moment. I had cried out into the open air, a primal noise that shook my own world. I began to dig my wife out; Neither of them could be left underneath concrete and roof tiles. I spent my day preparing an open-air tomb; finding a patch of grass was a fool’s errand now.
I collected bricks, broken pieces of concrete, anything that could be balanced to make a stable platform. Finally, as the dying light was fading, I finished the stone beds, one for each. As I began to sit down, I saw something on the horizon. A slouched silhouette was slowly making its way to me. I cared not what it was, for anything but for it to be death would be a cruel act of death himself. I may not have been alone, but I may as well have been. I did not want a reason to live without my family. I laid on my stone bed, Ignored the horizon, and stared at the stars, slowly revealing themselves in the purple sky. Slowly, but surely, they expanded as my thirst and hunger made themselves known.
Now I can only see your silhouette leaning over me, against the white light. Please, stranger, leave me as I am now, lest I decide to abandon my family, and live a life without their voices. For me to hear any voice but my family’s, is to hear the cackles of death himself. My son had no time to say how school had been. I see no reason why I should give you time that he was not.
2. Genre: Horror. Prompt: Clove.
The family thanked the staff for the meal, and began eating the apple pie. The maids quietly left, and the father began to talk to his family as they ate their supper. The mother had not long returned from London, a visit to her father’s estate. The children had spent the day learning from their tutor, learning the history of their family. The father listened patiently to them all, making sure to give each member ample time to summarize their day.
The conversation abruptly stopped when the son audibly choked. After a hurried hit on the back from his twin sister, an apple piece was flung from his mouth onto his plate. As the father checked on his son, the mother anxiously dabbed her lips with her napkin. Her face turned from concern, to horror, as she placed the napkin down, to reveal some red stains on the paper. Next, her face turned a deep purple, and her breathing turned into a series of gasps and gulps, as if she was under the entirety of the ocean.
It was here that the father uprooted himself from his seat and hurried to his wife, already a lifeless grape. The children panicked and screamed, and the father called for the maids’ help. Had the family not so loudly panicked, a mechanical click would’ve been heard from the ornate wooden door as it was locked. Seconds later, the children’s screams were replaced with gulps. The father moved towards the door, and began pulling at the handle, now struggling to shout for help. As he fell and gasped for air, he rested his head against the doorknob, and through the keyhole he saw an eye staring back at him. It pulled back in surprise, and he saw the whole of the staff. All of them stared back at him, their cold expressions showing their intentions plainly.
3. Genre: Fantasy. Prompt: Potion.
Ben thought about the tiny blue dropper bottle sitting in his pocket. If it worked they could be together again. If it didn’t, it might kill him on the spot. He entered a nearby inn, and quietly sat down at a table in the corner. When he was sure no-one was watching, he pulled out the dropper bottle. He opened his mouth and began counting the months as he dropped the potion in his mouth. He then put the dropper on the table, and waited a few moments.
Soon, Everything flashed and he was walking down the street, the town’s winter solstice decorations still up, his friends around him. Another flash, and Ben saw his stove in front of him as he cooked himself dinner that night. Another flash, he was at Moira’s funeral. Finally, another flash, and he was sitting in the same inn he had entered before, her sweet intonation felt like music to his ears. Her arms gesticulating along with the story she had been telling, free of rigor mortis. He felt suddenly overwhelmed, and his tears obscured his vision of her. “-and apparently Caitlyn fell ill today so we didn’t have any- Ben? Are you alright?” Wiping his eyes clear with his sleeve, he could only say in a quiet, raspy voice “Moira.” She stared at him, concerned but confused. “I’m here, what’s wrong?”
“We… we need to leave, now.”
“Why? I thought we were going to have dinner here?”
“We were, but in about ten minutes, a raiding party is going to storm the town.”
She looked at him, and sighed. “Ben how could you possi-”
“I know you’re still selling illegal potions.” The color drained from her face, but she did her best to keep her composure. “No, you know I stopped-”
“I found your kit Moira. In the attic of our house. I went up there after your funeral.” Shock now set itself into her face. “…you made a time potion with my kit, didn’t you?”
“…I don’t care anymore about how you didn’t stop selling potions. What I do care about, is making sure there’s a future, where there is still you.”
4. Genre: Crime. Prompt: Lie.
Content Warning: This story contains references to domestic violence and a house fire.
Kate looked down at the hospital bed she was sitting in as they left. The police had found the remains of Stephens’ cigarette, questioned her on everything; where in the house she had been, An argument the neighbours had overheard, how she and the kids had managed to get out. Of course she had tried to put him out, she had said, but the kitchen sink was too far away, and it had already taken him when she returned. Of course, they knew what he was like, so they took it without daring to call her out on her blatant lie. They knew how close the kitchen was to the living room, they had been there enough times for football matches. However, they had also seen the way he had acted at work, and towards his wife when they had been over.
The marriage was only partially out of love, and partially so that the kids could stay under one roof. Of course, Kate had since realized that the years of misogyny and violence made it worse for her kids, not better. The fire had been an accident, but a happy one nonetheless. Steven had begun a tirade over his beers- they hadn’t been bought in the groceries as he wanted, despite the fact there had been a full pack sitting in the fridge at the beginning of the day.
The table that had held Steven’s cigarette tray had fallen over in the fight, and lit the carpet underneath him. In the moment, Kate only wanted to get away from him- make sure he didn’t go after the kids. She took them out of their room, leading them quickly out of the house- Stephen couldn’t hurt them outside, there would be witnesses to it if he did. When Stephen failed to come out, or even appear in the doorway, she only stared at the doorway as the house burned- a look her neighbours mistook for shock. Someone called the fire brigade, then the paramedics when they saw Kate. Her eye had begun to heal, and the scorch marks on her arm were slowly becoming less noticeable. The kids were with her sisters for the time being. With life insurance and her savings, they could get a new house. Try to lead a happy life, something Stephen had long held from his family.
5. Genre: Science Fiction. Prompt: Envelope.
I stared at the envelope sticking out of my post box. It bore the logo of the Stonehenge Travel Agency, which usually meant one thing; I had won the lottery. Shaking myself out of my shock, I snatched the envelope and quickly walked back inside- If my neighbours knew what I had, they’d be bashing down on the door to take it for themselves. I quickly sat down at the kitchen table, Elena turned her head up from her morning breakfast, which had just been put down in front her by the household android. “David, are you okay?” She stood up and walked around the table to look at the envelope. She stared at the logo in a moment of shock, before hugging me tightly from behind, replicating my feeling of anxious excitement.
“Good morning Dad, morning Mum.” Poppy came into the kitchen, still dressed in her patterned pyjamas, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. She saw the item of our fascination, and asked curiously “What is it?”
“This… this is a blessing darling, we’ll be going away soon.” Elena responded. Poppy wandered closely, and looked over my shoulder. “YES! Oh my god! Where?! When?!” Opening the envelope carefully, I retrieved the letter inside, and read aloud it’s computer-generated contents:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sarsway,
We are delighted to inform you that you and your family have won the annual Stonehenge Travel Lottery. The prize is a two-week holiday in London, England, in the 1980s. The jobs granted to you are as follows:
Mr David Sarsway: Senior Supervisor Of Advertising for Moonlighters Pty Ltd.
Mrs Elena Sarsway: Financial Advisor For St Thomas’ Hospital
Miss Poppy Sarsway: Year 4 Student at Kensington Primary
You will be escorted from your home to your local time-travel station on the 9th of September 2052. Please ensure you have your passport ready, but do not bring any personal belongings with you, as you will be given era-appropriate clothing and possessions for your stay. We would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you on your winnings, and luck to experience work first hand.
The Stonehenge Travel Agency.
Featured Image Source: Photograph of my own study supplies and work.