Tag Archives: forty-minute story

Forty-Minute Story “End Of The World”



“Dave … wake up.”

“Mmmrgh … what?!”

“The world’s ended.”


“The world, I think it’s over.”

“That was ten days ago, what time is it?”

“Doesn’t matter, the world’s ended.”

“It’s 3am you stupid sod! I have to go to work tomorrow, or today rather.”

“No you don’t, the world’s over.”

“Sadly I do if we want to keep this flat, John. Right now I’m the only one of us working and I need sleep. Why the hell are you up at 3am anyway?”


“Why did you set the alarm for 3am?”

“I didn’t, I set it for 3pm, but I got it mixed up again. I wanted to watch Judge Judy.”

“She doesn’t come on until 4pm.”

“Well there’s no sense in being a lazy arse and sleeping til 4 is there. Though now I suppose it doesn’t matter.”

“Because the world’s come to an end, is that right?”


“So what makes you think the world’s finished anyway? We’re still here talking.”

“It’s all dark outside.”

“That’s what happens at 3 in the morning.”

“No but I mean all the street lights are out, nothings working.”

“Probably just an outage, I was wondering why it felt so cold in here.”

“The sun’s winked out.”

“No it just didn’t feel like waking up at 3am … Wait a minute, if the power’s off how did your alarm go off?”

“It didn’t. I haven’t been to sleep.”

“Talk to Julie, she’s more understanding of talking at odd hours since she works at the pub.”

“Julie’s dead, Dave.”

“What?! Wait, no she isn’t!”

“She is Dave, everybody’s dead. It’s just you and me, presiding over the demise of human civilization.”

“She dumped you didn’t she mate?”


“Come on, there’s a 24 hour donut shop around the corner. They’ll have a generator.”

“But the world’s ended.”

“John, even at the end of the world, there’ll be donuts and coffee.”


Filed under Short Stories

Forty Minute Story “Blind Date”

“Will sir be dining alone this evening?”

The Maître D shook Allen out of his stupor. He’d been standing in line for what felt like an hour, though in reality it was really only ten minutes.

“No. I have a reservation for two under Greenly.”

“Ah, excellent sir. Right this way.”

It had been a while since Allen had been to a restaurant like this, and judging from the menu it would be an even longer while til he did again, but tonight was about trying something new. Someone new.

The table was the same as the ones at every other restaurant in town. A long line of single booths looped all along the wall of the restaurant. Each was barely wider than the person sitting in it, and they ate from tables attached to the booth in front of them. This restaurant tried to make it a little fancier than the rest, the booths were carved wood instead of metal, and curtains were used for privacy instead of the usual glass sliding doors.

The host drew the curtain aside to reveal a small headset resting at Allen’s table.

“If sir would like to put this on I can seat you with your party.”

Allen nodded.

He slipped the band on in front of his eyes and adjusted the headphones larger. Apparently the last person who’d used this set couldn’t have been much bigger than a child. The cold metal table in front of him was replaced with an elegant white table cloth, with polished silverware and crystal glasses. His fellow diners were seated at other tables around him, though their conversation was just a simulated white noise to add to the atmosphere. The only conversation he’d be able to hear would be that of his dinner companion.

“Would you like anything to drink?” The waiter asked Allen.

“I’ll have a glasses of Pinot Noir, the Coppola will be fine thanks.”

“And for Madam?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a large, no make that an extra large diet coke.”

“Very good.”

Allen’s date had come into focus on the other side of the table. While he waited for the waiter to bring his wine, a plastic cup with a long straw appeared in front of Diane, his date and she took a long drag.

“Sorry, just had a lot of Chinese for lunch, and that General Tso’s is giving me heartburn. You must be Allen. You look the same as your profile, only cuter.”

Allen blushed, it had been a long time since he had been on a date, and he wasn’t ever sure how react to someone as forward as Diane. Actually most people were forward, it was Allen who was unusual. Something about the anonymity of not actually being in the same physical location gave most people the license to say whatever they’re really thinking.

Fortunately he didn’t have to think of anything to say as Diane was just getting started.

“Wow, fancy place you’re going to. Must have wanted to impress me, but really I’m a pretty easy girl to please. As long as it’s meat I don’t care if it’s been ground and put between two pieces of bread, or glazed with a red wine reduction. So what do you do that brings in the big bucks anyway?”

“I’m … an accountant.”

“Wow, I’ve never dated an accountant before. Is it really as boring as they say?”

Allen chuckled, “Probably more.”

The waiter tapped Allen as the shoulder as he laughed, “I’m sorry sir, but if you could refrain from speaking out loud. The sensors will pick up your thoughts just fine.”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

“Are you ready to order?”

“Well … my date’s having a double quarter pounder with cheese and a large fries so whatever’s your equivalent.”

“Very good, surf and turf with hasselback potatoes.”

Diane smiled, “So that was your real laugh, huh? I’ve never been a fan of those thought laughs myself. Laughter’s about an uncontrollable burst of expression. It’s not something your brain registers internally. It’s your whole body, and they haven’t made the sensor that can pick up on that.”

“No, I suppose not. So what do you do?”

“Telemarketing. Just going from one cube to another. Don’t even need to change headsets.”

“What’s it like being in so many people’s heads?”

“‘Bout what you’d expect. Half of them are thinking about what I’d look like naked, and the other half want to rip my head off. It’s the ones that want both that I worry about.”

Allen thought about laughing, and he laughed.

“See that’s not the same is it. Next time go to a place with kids. There’s no way they can keep the little buggers quiet, so you can use your real voice whenever you want.”

“You’re probably right. You’ll have that burger eaten before my steak ever arrives.”

“Well you can always share my fries.”

Allen chuckled, briefly for real, then more in his head as the waiter shot him a look.

“So which are you thinking about?”

“Hmm… excuse me?” Allen asked.

“Are you wondering what I’d look like naked or are you really just wanting to hang up on me?”

Allen smiled, “I think I’d like to hear more.”


Filed under Writing

Forty Minute Story (“George Washington – Werewolf Hunter”)

It’s bitter cold as I leave camp in the middle of the night. My men are huddled together around fires, wrapping their feet to try and protect their toes, while I trample out into the woods following a different kind of footprint.

I had to wait until all of them were asleep, didn’t want to give any of them the idea that their general was abandoning them. And the moon is so full and bright above me, there is little darkness to conceal my movements, or the movements of my prey.

Because there is a bitter consequence to this war for our freedom. Our mother England brought more than troops and guns with them, they brought a curse, carried by those bastards the Hessians. A disease that had somehow remained trapped with their borders, now runs rampant across my wintry battlefield, and I am the only equipped to fight it.

My prey’s tracks have grown close together and I wonder with a chill deeper than the snow if he has sensed me. The winds are silent, but the nose of this beast is more powerful than a thousand bloodhounds.

A low growl indicates my fears were correct.

If he had still been a man he would have seen as the prize prisoner I would surely be. Now I am merely food, something for him to consume.

The Hessian Beast jumps out from my right and I am temporarily knocked off balance. My gun is back at the camp, it is too clumsy and slow a weapon to attempt to fight off this beast.

I kick hard at the beast’s stomach, creating distance between us while I regain my wits. This hessian must be new to the curse as he is cautious, uncertain of his strength. He’s not my prey, not the one I’m looking for, but I won’t become his dinner tonight either.

“I never tell a lie. Tonight you breathe your last foul beast!”

My right arm flashes forward, straight for the beast’s chest. At the last moment I bend my wrist and a silver blade flies out, impaling the creature in an instant. Benjamin’s done fine work with this weapon. Before the beast has even hit the ground he is no longer a creature, just a boy no more than 15, looking back at me with surprised blue eyes. I don’t like killing someone so young, but this curse is brutal, and I have saved him from a lifetime of killing.

A howl not twenty paces ahead of me indicates I cannot yet safely return to camp. This new beast is wiser, more aware of their own strength and doesn’t feel it needs to rely on surprise to attack me. It’s charging me even through the thick grove of trees, jumping from side to side as if nothing was there. If these had been proper wolves I would have assumed this was the Hessian’s mate, but just before the beast was on top of me I saw the telltale scrap of fabric.

I shove my bladed arm up against this new beast’s neck, trying to hold it’s mouth away from my throat, while its claws tear at my thin jacket. The blade snaps off, falling useless into the snow. Somehow I bring my other arm up, from underneath it’s relentless arms and stun the beast with a blow to the head.

“Martha, it’s me.”

I know the words are useless. I’ve said them countless times before as I’ve tried to sooth her in her confinement. It’s been nearly a year since the curse first arrived, and every month my wife has chained herself in our home, waiting for the day when I can find the beast who changed her, and bring an end to her monthly transformation.

I pull a loop of thick silver rope from behind my shirt. In these times of war it had not been an easy thing to come by, but now it was my only hope of stopping her.

Martha charges again, but this time I’m ready. I sidestep her advance and throw a loop of the rope over her head. This pins her arms to her sides, and she screams in pain in a terrible howl that is some cruel blend of her sweet voice and the beast’s rage. I push down my emotions as I wrap the rope tighter, running in a tight loop to confine her, before watching her collapse from the pain. These bonds are strong and ones she will not be able to break as they burn her with every touch.

In the morning I will wrap her in my jacket and try to find a way to keep her safe these next two nights. For the moment I slump against a tree about twenty paces away, pull out a piece of hardtack, and wait.


Thanks to M.S. Fowle for the challenging story idea.


Filed under Short Stories

Forty-Minute Story “Princess Pony and the Case of the Missing Tiara”

I was halfway through a bottle of Jack Daniels when I heard a knock at the door. I called for my secretary Mary before remembering I had given her the rest of the day off. We hadn’t had a case in months, and today didn’t look any different until SHE walked through my door.

I made a half-hearted attempt to stand up but she let herself in. She had golden hair the color of flax and honey, and a coat so white it was nearly blinding. She had legs that just wouldn’t quit … all four of them.

I gestured at the chair in front of me, but realized it wouldn’t do any good. She was a pony after all.

“That’s okay, I’ll stand. I like standing.”

Her voice cut through the haze of booze and the stale aftertaste of cigarettes. I remembered my manners and offered her a drink.

“Yes, please!” She said bright and cheerful. She licked at the glass with a flash of a small pink tongue, then giggled. “That makes my nose all tingly.”

My nose went to the heart of the matter. “What’s the problem, doll?”

“Princess.” She replied, her eyes bright and glistening.

“Excuse me?” I was confused. A pony walking through my front door was one thing, but a princess?

“Princess Pony.”

“Like with a tiara and everything?”

“How did you know?” She asked earnestly.

“Know, know what?” This dame was losing me.

“That I lost my tiara, and I need you to find it.”

“Oh.” I set down my drink and leaned back in my chair, my “relaxed contemplative” look. “Where’d you last see it?”

“Well I know I was wearing it when I was running through the fields with my friend Gossamer.”

“Anything after that?”

“Hmmm.” She took her left front hoof and moved it around in a circle while she thought. As I looked closer I could see she was tracing a heart. “I think I had it when we went to play tennis. Yes. I know I did.”

I wanted to ask how she held the rackets for tennis, but that would lead me off the point. “What happened next?”

“Well … then I took a boat ride with Dewdrop.”

“Uh huh”

“Went spelunking with Amber.”


“And hang-gliding with Flowerblossom.”

There were just so many questions, but so few answers. “And you had your Tiara with you the whole time?”

“Well Flowerblossom did tie it to my mane when we were about to jump off, so it wouldn’t fall … Wait a minute.” She turned her head and sure enough there was the tiara, hidden in the rich line of hair down her back.

“Well isn’t that silly. I had it all along!”

I was surprised at how happy this made me. I just hated to see an innocent thing like her in trouble.

“What do I owe you?”

I shook my head. “No charge.” I needed the money, but not that badly.

Princess Pony beamed and all of sudden had skipped over my desk and given me a kiss on the cheek. It was over in a flash, and just as suddenly she was at the door, turning to wink before she shut it behind her.

And that’s the day I stopped drinking.


In two weeks we’ll have the next Writer Reader’s Survey Story, M.S. Fowle’s “George Washington – Werewolf Hunter”. What did we think of this week’s story?


Filed under Short Stories

Writer Reader’s Survey Results!!!!!111

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the reader’s survey this past week. We got some great feedback that should help in providing you with even better content every week.

What You Liked:

Generally speaking many of you seem to be here for two things (writing and short stories). Since there’s “Writer” in the title this isn’t too much of a surprise 🙂 . Work on the non-fiction book has decreased some of my “strictly creative” output lately, but I promise you’ll see more tips to surviving the writer’s life midst all of life’s other concerns, and more strange and endearing forty-minute stories. I’d also like to do another “5% of five” some time in the next month if I can get some time to read. In the meantime, check out M.S. Fowle’s weekly free books. I end up picking up one or two of these every week!

For those of you who like pie charts:

What you like

What you probably wouldn’t miss:

Not too surprised to see that AGFV and Tech Tips in general are some of the most skipped over posts on the blog. A few of you also tend to shy away from the Fractal and politics posts (though site traffic in general on these posts is still some of the highest overall). As a result I’ve decided to put AGFV on semi-permanent hiatus for the time being. I may still do a post about games from time to time, and if you have specific requests for how to get an old game running I’d be happy to take a look. But for most of you (even those who like gaming), technical posts about getting old games running is a bit too nichy (is that a word?). Fractals are here to stay, though mostly on Bonus Friday Posts as they’ve been for the last few months, and tech tips will still be posted from time to time (got some impressions of Ubuntu I’d like to share), but perhaps a little less frequently than before. I’ll be just as happy when politics gets a little quieter in a few weeks, so I suspect there’ll be less on these subjects if we all calm down for a while.

Here’s some tasty pie:

What you don't like

What’s coming

Overall you seemed to like the idea of guest bloggers, more poetry in code, and blog collaborations, and I’ll try to do all three in the coming months. Very shortly I’ll be announcing release dates and information for my upcoming non-fiction project (as well as covers hopefully soon!).

Results of 40 minute Story Contest

We got four different ideas for upcoming 40 minute stories, and I’ve decided to write all four in the coming weeks. The order will be selected randomly with the first story appearing next Thursday (Oct 13), with a new story each following Thursday. Our first story:

“Princess Pony and the case of the missing tiara”

Who says I’m not up for a challenge? This idea was submitted by my lovely wife, the little red haired girl, who enjoys making my life a little more fun and difficult.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted story ideas, and who filled out the survey. As always you can submit your input in the comments section of any post.

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Filed under Writing

Forty-Minute Story “Eulogy for a Redshirt”

“I’m gonna see how this goes.”

When you think about it, most of us don’t get last words. I mean, there’s always something that’ll be the last thing we said, but very rarely does it sum up the way we lived our life or faced our death the way these words summed up our friend Johnny.

Those of you who knew him well know these are the words that preceded almost everything in his life, from jumping off his parent’s roof when he was seven, to meeting his future wife or drinking thirteen shots on his twenty first birthday. That last one didn’t go so well, by the way.

* Pause for laughter *

On the face of it, these wouldn’t seem to be brave words, but life isn’t about flashy shows of bravery, it’s about quietly facing each day with a willingness to keep an open mind, to take what comes to you. That’s how Johnny lived each and every day of his life, even his last. He knew going into that cave was dangerous, that our last four men had mysteriously vanished, but he also knew we had a job to do, and he faced it willingly.

* Take off glasses, polish with edge of uniform, then put them back on *

I hope when my time comes I can face it with as much dignity as Johnny. Yes he screamed and begged for us to save him from whatever was in there, but after five guys we got the hint. He knew we wouldn’t have made it in time anyway. There are other caves to explore after all.

* Wait for nervous coughs, let moment sink in *

So, we don’t bury a friend today, whatever got him didn’t leave a thing, we bury a hero. Or more accurately his dress uniform. But we should never forget the words he lived and died by. I’m sure he’s looking down us right now, waiting to see how everything turns out.

To Johnny.

* Raise glass and take long sip *


Filed under Short Stories, Writing

Forty Minute Story (“Lunch”)

Bilson tapped the top of Marshall’s cubicle. The digital clock on Marshall’s desk had already advanced to 12:05, and he had really been hoping for a moment of piece before the second half of his day started but no such luck.

“What’cha got there, Marshall?”

“It’s a peanut butter sandwich.”

“For lunch! Huh? What, did your Mom pack it for you?”

It wasn’t really a question Marshall thought he ought to answer, instead he deflected. “What are you having for lunch?”

“Flannigan’s, for the third time this week. My team’s not doing so well.”


“Yeah, a little something called the Olympics, Marshall.”

“I’ve heard of them. How is that your team?”

“Boy, you really don’t pay attention do you? Flannigan’s has a special going right now where if you buy a super fries you get a tag with an athlete’s name on it, and if they win you win.”

“Win what?”

“Mostly just free sandwiches.”

“Uh huh?”

Danowitz walked down the cube aisle carrying a white bag. “What’re we all talking about?”

“Lunch, what else? What’s in the bag?” asked Bilson.

“Don’t you remember? It’s national support Chicken Grill-It day! I stood in a line for almost an hour to get this sandwich, but I was happy to do it.”

“What’d you get?” asked Marshall, not really interested.

“Chicken sandwich what else? Hey anyone want my pickle? I hate these things.”

As Roshni walked over Marshall was glad he hadn’t toasted his PB&J.

“‘Scuse me guys I just need to get my Tofu out of the fridge.” said Roshni.

“Tofu!” cried Bilson. “Why they hell are you eating that!”

“I’m a vegan. And tofu is great. You really ought to try it sometime. The taste isn’t that good at first but you put the right amount of Chuck’s Chili Sauce on it.”

Bilson faked vomiting, which really was unnecessary but got Danowitz to laugh uncontrollably nonetheless. “Don’t let me sit anywhere near your cube this afternoon. I’ll need a hasmat suit just to talk to you.”

Roshni laughed raucously, though Marshall suspected he didn’t find the joke all that funny either.

“What’s Marshall eating?” Danowitz asked.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly.” answered Bilson “His mom made it for him.”

“Why are you eating PB&J?” asked Roshni.

“I woke up this morning and decided I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s been a while since I’ve had one, and I like the way they taste.”

“What kind of peanut butter do you use?” asked Danowitz.

“Chunky and creamy. Chunky’s too chunky and creamy’s too smooth but together it’s just right.”

“No, I meant brand.”

“I don’t know, JPG I think.”

“You should really switch to BMP, JPG supports gay marriage.”

“I don’t think a peanut butter supports anything. Except maybe the peanuts suspended in the butter.”

“You shouldn’t eat butter.” Roshni said. “Butter comes from an animal.”

“You’re right, a cow. And cows need to be milked or they’re extremely uncomfortable. If some of that milk wants to join up with peanuts it’s fine by me.”

“Did you get that jelly sponsored by Zascar racing?” asked Bilson.

“Nope. Grape.”

Marshall took a bite of his sandwich and smiled.

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Filed under Short Stories, Writing