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A weekly short story contest
Looking for a steady supply of fantasy short stories? Every week thousands of writers submit stories to our writing contest.
Coming of Age
People of Color
Teens & Young Adult
We'll send you 5 prompts each week. Respond with your short story and you could win $50!
I squint up at the gigantic billboard looming over the intersection. It’s flashy, big block font advertising a new drug manufactured by a pharmaceutical company with a vaguely familiar name, but that isn’t the thing that catches my attention. The words are small, the typical text size of things worth concealing.“- arasomnias and feelings of ambivalence. If any of these occur, please speak to a health prof –”HONK! HONK!A car flies past me, and I narrowly avoid being drenched by the dank dredges of rainwater po...
“Simple words. Try again.” I looked down at my hands for the third time. They were still mine. They wiggled when I made them. “I’m not a child.” “Mr. Ancoat, this test isn’t designed to insult your intelligence. But the temporal distortion can be a bit much for some patients.”
A stroke of chestnut. Then one more, thicker; fan out the brush and dab, dab, dab, some tans. Layers. Another stroke, rugged, quick. An old brush, with dried tips and disobeying hairs, immersed in green. A touch of colour, extra texture, and a trunk stands firm. A swirl in deep umber, freehand limbs, arms, straying from its roots and reaching toward the sky. Its branches twist around one another, in salutations and farewells, in hopes and longings and the freedom to touch the stars. A splash of emerald and lighter...
And then I screamed, begging for it to be over, I wrote furtively in my notebook. After being shaken awake from a nightmare, I had gone straight to my dream journal to document it. My groggy boyfriend watched me curiously. “Did you finish writing your nightmare, Sarah?” he mumbled sleepily.
I died again last night. It wasn’t like the others. This time, I didn’t wake up. It comes back to you in bits and pieces. In scenes that are blurry at the edges, and in sensations that feel all too real. You th...
He chose San Saba because of Tommy Lee Jones. Two hours from their home in San Antonio, the place was a far enough drive to feel like a vacation. He pulled up the town’s website on his phone and showed Colleen, his wife, the images—a street lined with old-fashioned brick and stone buildings, pecan trees, a bridge over the Colorado river. “The hotel has a special rate for weekdays,” he said. “And there’s a winery nearby.” They couldn’t afford much more than that, Dennis Hardy had lost his job right after Christmas. Five ...
Maybe I was falling and maybe I was not, I did not know where I was or what I was doing, what I was feeling or what that sound in my ears was. It was ringing quite horridly and there was a loud whoosh and it sounded even more louder than I assumed it was originally and there was a silence not quite seen before and it just grew. It stretched out and I felt nothing and heard nothing in that meantime. I quietly opened my eyes and I was scared of what scene of horror would gree...
A year had passed since little six-year-old Candace’s mother had died. She and her father moved away since their old house was haunted by too many fading, painful memories. This new house was quite old and decrepit and, really, the furthest thing from “new” there was. Everything was crumbling and falling apart, but it had to do. They had very little money, left with the debt of hospital bills and mortgage from the old house, and her father’s studen...
Each stone burnt as I stepped. In the summer, all the stones here got unbearably hot. Wearing shoes would’ve helped if my sneakers had more traction. Covered by salty ocean water at night and uncovered to bask in the sun in the morning, they were too slick. Most people avoided the side of the beach beyond these stones in fear of, falling, burning their feet, or being stuck on the other side after high tide. But I’m not most people. Family and friends called me ‘Stella’ even though my real name is ‘Estelle’. Ever since I was little...
The pure serenity of the surrounding pine forests atop the towering, snow-capped mountains served as the perfect backdrop for such an occasion. A mild air and gentle breeze escorted the smell of crisp apples and pears among the patrons, now sitting in the neat rows of white plastic lawn chairs. It was autumn in Wenatchee at the time, and as the sun nestled behind the crest of the Cascades, the fiery hues of amber and orange illumina...
Celia coughed and gasped as the world turned black around her. She heard her name, called over and over, a tin whistle howling, shooting through the darkness. She was here again. It was night. She sat down, the ground smooth and hard. Wooden boards. Celia glanced up, waiting. A window appeared, then three more in a line, each with gauzy white curtains, blowing in some faraway wind. The tin whistle spat one last time, then faded, replaced by the thunking of piano keys. She ...
I open my eyes and am surrounded by white light. Am I dead? As the blur of my surroundings slowly takes shape, the pain comes swiftly into blinding focus. A strangled cry escapes my throat. My fingers grasp for my belly. Has anyone heard me? Is anyone coming to help?A nurse in navy blue scrubs appears next to me. She asks me, “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?” I can’t answer. I can only toss my head back and forth on the granite-hard hospital bed. “Okay, let me get you something for that.”
Chamomile, charcoal, and candles, half-eaten by their own wicks, is the only way I know to put me back to sleep after a nightmare. In this one I was skimming through a forest of hollowed-out logs, draped with moss and moth-eaten pelt-cloth. I was very drunk, or very tired, or both: my head lolled onto my chest and my vision departed when my head wasn’t tilted up.I sigh, the air rattling the steam of my tea. It is not easy for me to leave my nightmares. It is like trying to take off a dress that zips down the spine all by yourself.
I am disgusted with myself for somehow getting myself trapped in the series of events that led to me lying, dizzy and delirious with heat, in the sand at 3:00 in the morning. My clothes are damp with sweat, my body aching with fatigue. I can hardly think of where I would be tomorrow, my bank account drained, no job to fall back on… it’s funny how years of hard work can be destroyed in a week. I laugh weakly. Life is funny. I laugh harder. Life is pointless. I laugh unti...
I was amused the first time I saw her desperately trying to stay awake and conscious while her body slept. Not many humans have the desire to achieve such an exploit, let alone possess the courage to temporarily let go of their physical form. Or a quiescent enough mind to enter another realm. I thought it was just a mistake, that she would quickly go back to her human whereabouts and forget all about her sudden breach. I was wrong. She would often arrive at the same astral pass...
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