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A weekly short story contest
Looking for a steady supply of historical fiction 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 $250!
“I’ve got a plan,” said Mr. Robinson.
All eyes were on him as the candlelight fixtures - spaced regularly along the walls - flickered with an artificial glow. Those that stood around the room seemed to share nervous energy. The only ones who looked calm were the four who sat in leather-bound chairs arranged in a semi-circle and facing a beautifully-carved, oak desk. Despite the massive amount of individual power ...
The three Land-Rovers slid to a stop at the base of the crescent-shaped dune. From the first Rover scrambled Professors Hassan and al-Risala, members of the Faculty of Science at the Libyan University, their red fezzes emerging from the cloud of brown dust kicked up by the tires. They waded excitedly through the deep sand to the tree that stood alone on the barren plain that surrounded the dune. World-renowned Egyptian nature photographer Ali Abdu Hakim, ...
“I’ve got a plan.” Those were the words that doomed Guiscard Lescot, just two days ago.He reached for the next branch and pulled himself higher up the tree, sweat cascading down his face. Not only did it sting his eyes, his stupid chapel de fer kept sliding down too, making it impossible to see. When he finally wedged himself between two branches he took a breather and adjusted his helmet. His whole body was on fire and his heart stampeded in his chest – worse even than when he faced a cavalry charge on foot.Two day...
I got a plan. I wish it was just as simple as that though. Breaking and entering isn’t a easy job to do, but with my 3 step plan I’m sure we can break into any secure building and get away with it.
First, we need to scope out the place we plan on entering.
Second, we dress like custodians on the night shift.
Third, we walk into the building.
Sounds easy enough right. This full proof plan has g...
Hard to keep faith when God blows between the boards of a freight car, trembling the timber -- he stings the nose and you look down at your feet wondering how far you could burn the floor -- before everyone fell.Shiman has donated his hair because little brothers think with their hearts. There are elderly ladies that know the train is going nowhere good, but they won't donate their hair to stay warm. They won't give up their hair for escape. The hair is still a woman's pride.The old men are p...
The sound of thunder exploded overhead as a flash of lightning turned night into day, revealing a ghoulish graveyard replete with wet, broken headstones and consuming ivy. The horseman and his horse kept their composure, though the man did consider if he would ever be buried in a grave, or if there would be anything left of him to bury once his enemies found him.
The man’s horse - a veteran of Europe’s b...
The cat showed up just as the sun had set. An early evening desert breeze made the heat bearable before it cooled off completely. Not wanting to disturb any snakes that might snap at her heels or provoke a scorpion by accidentally stepping on it, Zara made her way to the shadiest part of her garden. Sitting on a stone bench beneath her palm, she observed a moon that was bright and full. A sky which not long ago was a bl...
The lightning bolt seemed to have come out of nowhere, scaring me half to death, its flash of white light very briefly illuminating Laura Foster’s tombstone that had chiseled on it, LAURA FOSTER/MURDERED May 25, 1866/TOM DULA /HANGED FOR CRIME. Looking up, I saw that the darkening sky was clear except for one lone cloud floating in front of a full moon. Not only was the moon full, it was a blood moon, huge and red-orange. Laura Foster’s gravesite is located just inside the camping/parking area of...
CW for animal death and mentions of suicide
Momma didn’t believe in these sorts of things—called them nonsense.
Sarah did, though. Believed every word, because wives tales and whispered fables weren’t to be taken lightly. They were their own sort of magic, tangles of words snaking close and snaring with clever thorns. She’d seen it happen. Seen Johnny bewitched, seen him tighten that n...
This story needs only a brief foreword. It is a verbatim reproduction of a manuscript I recently found among the belongings of my third great-grandfather, James Finch. Finch was a journalist, and worked for several papers across the American West during his long career, including the Rocky Mountain News and Sacramento Bee. As far as I can tell, he was well respected in his time, and his good reputation in the profession continues to this day.**The view out the window was monotonous—a flat bro...
CW: Sensitive themes relating to pregnancy/childrenI never thought I’d leave Hartfield Manor, but the train is moving now, and there is no going back. Everything I hold dear is stowed beneath my seat or in a bundle on my lap; I took only what I needed to start over. I shall miss the staff and little Peter and the twins, but they’ll all forget me soon enough. Once they’ve hired a new nursery maid, I’ll become a distant memory. Lord Thorne will probably fabricate a tale to besmirch my good name—something about how I was a ...
Note: this account is based on actual events in the lives of real people. Names have been changed to protect the memories of the innocent.
October 17, 1905 - Tuesday
My dearest James,
Patience has been staring out the window for miles. We’re nearly a day into the journey, an...
My deceased grandmother was sitting right there in front of me on a train station bench in New York City. The first time this happened I nearly fell backwards onto the tracks, but that was almost a year ago now. I had just moved to New York to escape my hometown and my parents. My first week here I had managed to consume more ramen than any one person should in their entire life, but it was cheap and I didn't have a jo...
Some artists sang, some danced, some performed magic for the fawning crowds, the man in the cage starved.Behind thin metal bars, tall enough for him to stand up, and just wide enough for him to lay down, a man sat cross-legged on a folded mat. He was in conversation with several of the spectators, quietly talking, and then after a comment was made, laughed, along with many of the people. A clock was in the corner, with an extra hand, tracking along with minutes and hours, the days. It read 14 days, 12 hours and 57 minutes.&nbs...
You shall be taken to a place henceforth and hanged by your neck till you are dead!The judge solemnly placed a black cap on his head to pronounce the awful words. My sentence was almost a blessed relief in comparison; Transportation for seven years.From my heavenly rest, cradled in a comfy hammock slung between cumulus clouds, this is my story.I’m Danny Boy, the Bastard son of a housemaid employed by a wealthy family, in Scotland. Delivering me in a hay...
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