Flash Fiction

At the bottom of a red chasm, the three surviving astronauts played poker. The vessel’s oxygen leaked out of their crumpled craft, rising into the Martian sky, passing the window beside the bruised and silent face of their dead colleague Muncey, who hadn’t been as lucky as the rest of them and was now the designated dealer, although they had yet to move past the first round of betting.

“I raise you the cure for cancer.”

“Under-betting the pot, eh? I’ll match that with my kid’s coin collection, raise you a first edition of The Catcher in the Rye. Nota bene, it’s got a bent corner. Earl?”

“I fold.”

“Don’t be stupid. You’re not afraid of Nelson’s pair of threes, are you? Bet something.”

“Okay, I raise you a repaired spacecraft and another forty years of suburban life.”

“Nice try, Earl, but really best stick to what you can cover.”

“Can we please just see the flop already?”

“You gotta pay to see the flop, you know that. Come on, what’s your bid?”

Earl held up a screwdriver. “Muncey’s magic screwdriver.”

“You can’t bet a dead man’s gear. What else you got?”

“Air. I bet a thimble full of air.”

“Earl, you don’t have a thimble, and you’re almost out of air.”

“Ok, then, Jesus. I guess I’m all in.”

“Ain’t we all, Earl? Ain’t we all. All right, Muncey, Earl’s called. Deal the flop.”

But Muncey stayed dead, and in the window beside his head, the stream of air started to thin. The astronauts exchanged looks.

“I think we’re gonna need a change of dealer, boys. Just not getting the cards I’m looking for from this one.”

Originally written for a contest on Janet Reid’s blog. Requirements were the five words above (allegiance, risk, choice, sequel, and destroy) and that it be 100-words-or-less. I lost. Winners and finalists here. My entry below (guessing that clunky second sentence knocked me out of contention, but I still contend it’s grammatically accurate).

* * *

She smelled like peppermint, like things sticky-wet, when we went to the room. Our shared allegiance to risk a dangerous choice led us to the door. Craving a fresh sequel to destroy our stale marriages, we moved with naïve excitement toward a second act we hoped would be better than the first.

We were drunk.

In front of the bed, she crossed her arms. Her dress dropped. I wanted to hit pause, spare us the disappointment of subsequent frames, the dimming of the flare of blinding promise.

But we fell predictably together and, later, slept unspooled in the usual gloom.

The following piece was written over the weekend for a short story contest on Janet Reid’s blog, with the constraint that it had to be 100 words or less and use the words red, bent, fold, chaos, and chasm. While I did not win (maybe next time!), I’m quite pleased that I was mentioned as one of the stories which made her laugh.

Here’s the piece …

* * *

Toss me body off the mountain into the chasm. Say something foul about me before me pirate guts paint the rocks red! These be the wishes of your loving father, Arrrchibald!

“Always a force of chaos,” said the sheriff. “Whaddaya gonna do?”

“Fold the will back up, bury him like a normal person?”

“We already agreed.”


They walked to the pickup’s bed. The sheriff put an eyepatch on the body. Paul bent over the corpse, pressed a saw below the knee, and asked, “You think Dad’ll be the first CPA buried with a peg leg?”

“Just start sawing, brother.”

3x6 Cover

3x6: A Collection of Three Stories

To say thank you to everyone who bought and read my collection, I Held My Breath as Long as I Could, I’m pleased to offer a very short bonus collection of three 600-words-or-less short stories, 3×6. Included are:

“A Life of Their Own”: Satan’s latest attempt to get a child hits a snag.

“Embrace the Ground”: A vicious alien allows a man a last glimpse at the home in which he grew up.

“The Art of the Dead”: A man attends the funeral of a good friend.

These were all written as entries in’s recent short story contest. Since refuses to allow me to sell anything for free, I’ve chosen to publish this through Lulu, and to simply give away copies of the ebook (in .mobi format for Kindle and Kindle Fire and .epub for iPad, iPhone, and Nook) from my own website.

Hope you enjoy these!