The Commute.

“Earl, what are you doing? You just passed our exit! We’re going to work, remember?”
“But we’re not going to work.”
“We’re NOT? Where are we going?”
“Boston.”
“BOSTON? WHY BOSTON?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? Turn the car around NOW!”
“I can’t.”
“WHY?”
“Because we’re going to Boston.”
“BOSTON?”
Nearby in an office building overlooking the interstate sat a bored accountant, staring out the window and transmitting evil telepathic thoughts for his own twisted amusement.

Soured Legacy.

Altor could have been a great hero. After all, he did kill Soudo the Evil Wizard who had threatened to overthrow the King. However, due to bad timing on Altor’s part, the killing took place during Chapter One of the First Book.
Instead of being grateful, the King was furious and charged Altor with Reducing An Epic Three-Book Trilogy To An 81-Word Story before banishing him forever to Appendix C of the Unwritten Book.
Altor could have been a great hero.

A dull morning.

“Good morning,” I greeted the customer as he entered the store.
“Wow, you certainly sound excited,” the customer replied.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “It’s been a dull morning.”
“Dull morning, huh? I’ll be right back,” the customer said as he left the store.
A few minutes later, a hideous looking, green-faced demon came charging in and ran up to me with a loud shriek.
“Waugh!” I yelped.
Chuckling, the customer removed his mask and said, “Not a dull morning now, is it!”

The Washer.

Joe came home from the store.
“Did you get the washer?” his wife asked.
“Yes, I got it.”
“Oh good!” she exclaimed. “It’s getting expensive doing all our laundry at the laundromat. Where is it?”
“In my pocket.”
“WHAT?”
Joe reached in his pocket, produced a small, round washer and said, “It only cost me 34 cents.”
Moments later Joe was at the Pearly Gates, trying to explain his story to St. Peter, who kept interrupting him with fits of laughter.

The Assassin.

Cautiously emerging from his hiding spot, the assassin takes a quick glimpse. There, out in the open, unguarded, unmindful and unaware of being watched, is his target. Determined to finish the mission, whatever the cost, the assassin readies his weapon and begins his final approach, stalking ever closer towards his target, risking being seen with every step. Then he stops. Raising his weapon, he aims and fires.
Squirt.
Having soaked me with his water gun, my young nephew runs off, giggling.

NOTE: After submitting this story to 81words, I began to have mixed feelings about it and later removed it from their site. I leave it here for posterity.

Noises from the attic.

A story I submitted to 81words.net:

“Honey, wake up, I hear something.”
My wife shook me out of my sleep and directed my attention to the noises coming from the ceiling above our bedroom.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” I said sleepily, “It’s only squirrels.”
“Squirrels.” She repeated.
“Squirrels,” I said. “Now let’s get some sleep.”
The noises above the ceiling gradually subsided to silence.
We were nearly asleep again when we were jarred awake by a loud belch coming from the attic.

The 81-word challenge.

Today I was browsing through the Kindle Store looking for some free books to read when I came across one entitled The Very Best 81 Words So Far: Selected stories from 81words.net. I was curious enough to download it and found myself enjoying the stories contained within. Just as the title suggests, each story has exactly 81 words as part of an ongoing challenge to write an effective story despite the limited word count. I didn’t even think it was possible to write a good story in just 81 words, but the authors of the stories featured in the book have succeeded in crafting stories that take less than a minute to read but still pack a mean punch with unexpected plot twists and surprise endings.

When I finished reading the book, I was so inspired that I signed up for an account at 81words and plan on submitting some of my own stories there. I believe that I too can create my own 81-word masterpieces and am certainly going to give it a try.

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. I just submitted my first 81-word story and will see how well it ranks with the readers. I reprint the story here.

“What’s going on?” I asked as I entered the bedroom to see my roommate frantically typing at the computer.
“I’m trying to submit a story to 81words, but I can’t type that fast!”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t type at 81 words a minute!”
“No, no, your story only needs to have 81 words, regardless of how fast you type.”
After an awkward silence, he sighed in relief and slowly sat back in his chair.
“Okay,” he said. “That’s doable.”

More 81-word creations to come.

UPDATE: This book is no longer free and now costs 99 cents to download, which is still a bargain considering the literary inspiration it contains. I’m surprised they didn’t change the price tag to 81 cents.