Short Stories
Artistic Dispatch

First place winner in Springfield Writers Guild short story contest. The story was written based on the photo prompt.

"He's grown soft. He's not the man we knew," Prime Minister Sergei Koslov lamented. "After his latest capitulation to the West our future is at risk."
A rumble of agreement arose from the men attending a secret meeting at Koslov's dacha on the Black Sea coast.
Yuri murmured, "So, you think it's time?"
Koslov's eyes narrowed. "Haven't you been listening? There's no doubt it's time. The question is how?" he barked. ...Read More

A Timely Yank

Springfield Writers Guild short story contest entry. The story was written based on the photo prompt.

"You sure this is worth the effort?" complained Dieter as he glanced at his once shiny boots kicking up dust on the footpath. "Look at these fools, they're damn peasants."
Konrad flashed a knowing grin as he glared menacingly at the old couple, the woman tightly gripping her husband's arm, as they shuffled slowly in front of him. "You know what they're like. Die Juden always have a treasure stash and we're going to need it for our trip. I can't believe they escaped detection so long."
"Probably hiding in their filthy nest up to now and thought it was safe to come to town since Americans are close to Munchen." ...Read More

The White Cliffs

Springfield Writers Guild short story contest entry. The story was written based on the photo prompt.

"These mountains are indeed grand, but nothing melts my heart like the white cliffs of Dover," she sighed.
Mom's eyes glittered in the waning light of a leisurely day spent at Rocky Mountain National Park as we sat on a rough-hewn log bench gazing at the splendor surrounding us. We were there on a brief sojourn hoping the trip would ease the heartbreak of recently losing my father, and her husband of 50 years.

She turned to me and smiled. "Are you familiar with the song 'The White Cliffs of Dover'?"
A life-long music buff working at KWTO radio in Springfield at the time, I was very familiar with the wartime classic and told her so. ...Read More


Winner in the Springfield Writers Guild short story summer 2022 contest. The story was written based on the text prompt: Look what I found.

There are myriad reasons researchers find it irresistible to explore the intricacies of artificial intelligence, but I'm convinced sheer arrogance exerts dominion over them all. I should know. I've been beating that dead horse for over two decades, most of the time here at MIT. Sure, I've grabbed a few attaboys along the way, even a couple of headlines, but not nearly enough to satiate the beast within. It took a while to finally admit to myself...Alexandra Mikos wants to be God, which is the ultimate irony since I don't believe in one. If I did, I'm sure He would be chuckling about my Prototokos. ...Read More

Prime Justice

Springfield Writers Guild short story Spring 2023 contest. The story was written based on the text prompt: The Key.

The Salem menthol hung precariously from her chapped lips like the last leaf of December as Madison barely made it through the yellow light. Fortunately, the truck ahead turned into a residential area where she would only have to deal with occasional stop signs.

She has this down to a science. Follow the truck, note the address where each package got delivered, kill a couple hours with Keystone Light, then go back and grab stuff that's still there. ...Read More

Triggering Tina

Reedsy short story contest entry. The story was written based on the text prompt: Write a story about a character giving something one last shot.

The insistent buzzing failed to accomplish its purpose; however, the faint scream answer the damned doorbell from a distant part of the house jettisoned Tina's impressive bulk from the low spot on the couch to the front door. She peeked through a dusty sidelight to discover her friend Martha on the front porch jabbing at a cracked button that no longer emitted light, but made up for it in noise. Tina opened the door and Martha pushed through and deposited herself on a faded velour easy chair in the living room. "About time," she griped.

As Tina eased back into the crater in the middle of the couch Martha noticed purple mottling around her left eye. "Jeez Tina! Not again? When are you going to have that bastard arrested?"

Tina raised a hand self-consciously to her face, lowered her head and mumbled, "He apologized."

"He apologizes every time he knocks the crap outta you!" ...Read More

Maggie Mae

A personal short story about one of the most beautiful souls I've encountered in my life.

When I got married three decades ago I inherited a unique menagerie. Along with my beautiful Terri came two elderly mixed-breed dogs, two cute guinea pigs and a diabetic tomcat called Kitty Kitty. I contributed my seven year old son Christopher and his bunny rabbit to the new household. In addition to being a hard working clinical pharmacist, Terri was also a licensed veterinarian so our furry family members were assured excellent medical care. But time runs its course, much too soon it seems for our treasured animal friends, and eventually we found ourselves without a canine companion. ...Read More


Reedsy short story contest entry. The story was written based on the text prompt: Write a story about a scientist.

Brilliant beyond measure, thought Clark Webb, yet dumb as a box of rocks. Double clichès seemed to please him as he grinned into his coffee cup. The focus of this observation was Melinda Kinsey, fellow scientist at Keil Laboratories. The plump woman with an Einstein-like coiffure was sitting directly across the conference table and chewing on a honey bun like a starved rabbit, oblivious to the chunk of sugar clinging to her upper lip. Those mustache hairs must be like velcro, he mused.

"We're done here folks," announced Chris Peters, VP of R&D, from the front of the conference room.

Clark leaned back in his chair as the room cleared, preferring to wait until the traffic eased so he wouldn't inadvertently rub against someone on the way to the door. He hated when that happened. Other people touching him without permission set his teeth on edge. He calmly watched with amusement as Kinsey tried to organize scarf, ring-binder, cellphone and purse while stuffing the last bite of bun into her maw. During this dance Clark noticed a small notepad slip out of the binder and drop to the seat of the chair she just vacated. As Melinda turned to waddle away Clark grunted, "Hey Kinsey." ...Read More

Nautical Neophytes

Reedsy short story contest entry. The story was written based on the text prompt: End a story with the words: What a day.

It was summer of 1976 in Springfield, Missouri. Jeff and I were at the Village Inn Pancake House. It was nearly midnight on a Friday and we were knocking down breakfast, which had become a weekend tradition after knocking down several beers at the Alibi Lounge. During that era in Smalltown, USA the Inn was about the only place you could get breakfast at that time of night. I normally had bacon and eggs with biscuits and gravy. Jeff, on the other hand, would always...ALWAYS order pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top. Plus, extra pancakes. With the number of pancakes that were stacked on the plate, the meal looked like the Capital Records building in Los Angeles after a bloodletting and snowstorm. How anyone could drink beer all night and eat that stuff was beyond me. But I digress.

Jeff glanced up between forkfuls and asked, "Whatcha gonna do tomorrow?"

"I haven't thought that far out yet," I replied.

"Wanna go to Table Rock Lake?"

Knowing Jeff wasn't a fisherman I wondered if he might know some chicks at the lake. So, with curiosity at high volume I casually responded, "What for?" ...Read More

Laid Low

The sound was a low rumble; brief, monotone, then gone. Silence…dead silence. Then it erupted again; so close, resounding, almost overwhelming. Strange, the disturbance appeared to be timed with breathing. Silence…silence. Then a subsequent encore halted mid-rumble, the abrupt cessation timed perfectly with the evolution of consciousness.

Shit, I'm snoring, Buster Swingle guessed correctly as his eyelids became functional.

It was dark, darker than he had ever experienced dark.

Where am I?

Suddenly he understood perfectly the meaning of the word oppressive when linked with the absence of light. Buster slowly raised his head until it met with soft, reluctant resistance a few inches above the beginning of the effort.

What the hell?

It felt like a pillow suspended above his head.

A pillow? ...Read More

Terminal Encounters

Unquestionably a perfect way to die when one considered it: a thrilling jet-coaster-like ride to a relatively painless demise while engaged in what you enjoyed most, lauded as a patriotic hero, though posthumously of course, and serving the wishes of your Creator while embracing His divine wind. Perfect!

That thought stream was not the first to swirl through Shoichi Tanaka's mind regarding the subject of imminent death…his own. The first was an avalanche of stark, visceral, scrotum contracting, piss pants fear. Fortunately, if but for sanitary reasons, the hero thing seemed to stick pretty good now as he walked to his barracks following a briefing by the air commander and two surreptitious shots of Saki.

But, he wondered aloud, "Would I have returned, if I knew this was how it would end?" ...Read More