Dribs and Drabbles
Dribs and Drabbles
Copyright Anne Wrightwell 2017
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A short story about a young woman who attends a mysterious interview. Why can’t she remember the name of the firm or the job she is applying for? Why does everyone come up in the lift but nobody leave by it?
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Table of Contents
This is a collection of short stories of different lengths. Very short stories are known as ‘flash fiction’ or ‘micro fiction’ or ‘sudden fiction’.
The first page is incredibly short stories, known as ‘twitter fiction’ or ‘twiterature’; stories told in less than 140 characters.
The following ten stories are ‘drabbles’, short stories told in around 100 words.
The next two are ‘flash fiction’, stories of less than 750 words and the last is the longest; a short story, of around 1,750 words.
I hope you enjoy them.
27-year-old male. Likes to howl at the full moon. Seeks female with penchant for hairy men.
Her – prejudice. Him – pride. Plot includes explanatory letters, stately homes, runaway sisters and interfering aunts.
Down in the labyrinth, The Minotaur roared. Why did they never get his order right? He’d ordered vegetarian not virgin.
One miser. One dead partner. Three ghosts. Change and transformation. Ends up with good will to all men and a great fat turkey. Tiny Tim will become Big Tim.
He was so charming on the internet. Pity, she forgot to tell anyone who he was or where she was going. Even bigger pity, she agreed to meet him at his house.
Oh, God no, Zombies! Please don’t kill—. Me like brains. Brains me like. Like brains. Braains. Braains.
Fairy godmothers don’t always know best. Prince Charming was a sexist miser who had a shoe fetish and lost his hair early.
I am so bored with blood. If I have to bite into one more jugular and watch the blood spurt out, I swear I’ll stake myself.
3 bed house for sale in London. Fantastic bargain price. The buyers were ecstatic. The ghosts of the girls buried in the basement were thrilled too.
Four children find an enchanting and enchanted world in a wardrobe.
‘What’s the best way to kill a knight?’ the young dragon asked her teacher. ‘A strong flame. Don’t forget to let the armour cool down before you peel it off and have a jolly good dinner.’
Three talking walking bears. About to eat Goldilocks until she told them her dad was an agent. Now, they’re performing nightly in Las Vegas.
Advert in yellowed paper. Pair of hand knitted baby booties. For Sale. Never worn.
One wicked stepmother. One magic mirror. One poisoned apple. Seven dwarves. Shame the prince was a necrophiliac.
Janie was bedridden with flu on New Year’s Eve.
At midnight, her best friend Sally interrupted her self-pity by yelling ‘Happy New Year!’ at her from her iPhone. Then ‘Lars, don’t be shy, say hello to my bestie!’
Janie heard a deep voice say ‘Hello.’
She saw no one on the screen.
‘Sally,’ said Janie carefully, ‘can I have a word with you in private?’
Reluctantly, Sally relocated to the toilets.
‘On your own?’ asked Janie.
‘Of course I am!’ retorted Sally.
‘Get the hell away from Lars,’ warned Janie. ‘He’s a vampire. I can’t see him on the iPhone!’
The knight was chagrined to discover the latest maiden had been staked out, yesterday. Next day at dawn-break; he neared the dragon’s lair, sword in hand. Hearing a low moan, he crept in. The dragon lay on his back, on his hoard of gold, twitching feebly. The knight rushed up and ripped his sword along the soft underbelly. The dragon screamed and died.
The knight brandished the dragon’s head, complacently receiving the thanks of the villagers. The old apothecary, standing nearby, muttered, ‘That poor girl was the real dragon slayer. I gave her an opiate and a slow acting poison.’
‘This is a present from the queen,’ The two assassins told the beautiful blind seeress, their swords raised to strike.
‘Tell your queen, “Love is like sand, the harder you grasp it, the more it trickles through your fingers.” In my end is her downfall.’
She desperately tried to fend them off with a sword but the outcome was inevitable. Soon, she lay on the floor, blood and life streaming from a dozen sword thrusts.
‘Should we tell the queen what she said?’ one assassin asked.
The other snorted. ‘The ramblings of a mad woman need not concern our queen.’
When the news of her murder reached the king on his throne, he turned pale and cried, ‘Alas! What wretches have killed my cousin, my seeress?’
His queen tried hard to hide her joy and display tears and appropriate grief but he was not deceived.
His spies brought him news of men in their cups, boasting of ridding the land of a witch. His torturers in the dungeon revealed yet more. His queen was banished to a desolate tower in the high mountains; to curse the day she took revenge on the king for loving his kinswoman.
Scrooge is a mean-spirited old man, living in miserable frugality. His dead partner, Jacob Marley, trailing heavy chains, starts the change. The three Ghosts of Christmas follow on to complete the transformation of his heart and mind.
He doesn’t like what the Spirits of Christmas Past and Present show him but what hurts the most is when the Spirit of Christmas Future shows him that no one will weep and many will cheer when he dies.
Still giving away a shed load of money and a fat goose will make everybody love him and Tiny Tim will become Big Tim.
The ancient alchemist stared at the precious vial on his workbench. With trembling fingers, he uncorked the vial and prepared to drink. From behind him, strong fingers seized the glass vial and dashed it to the floor. As he cried out, he felt a sharp pain on the left side of his neck and then an equally sharp pleasure, which engulfed him.
The handsome man dropped the drained corpse disdainfully.
‘You should not have created the Elixir of Life, old man. We couldn’t allow that.’ He smiled, showing his fangs. ‘It already exists and we vampires alone possess the secret.’
Down in the depths, the ancient sea monster heard the faint mating call. He had thought himself the only one left. Now, hope unfurled his massive coils and made him begin the journey up. Across the oceans he travelled, occasionally catching the call. At last, he reached the south west coast of the British Isles. He boomed out his mating call repeatedly but there was never any reply. At last, sadly, he swam away, and back down to his distant home. He never knew that the foghorn of the lighthouse at Bull Point had been switched off in 1988.
If a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, then a single woman with little fortune is in want of a husband. And a mother with five such daughters will be desperate to marry them off to any available man. Lizzie Bennet bravely refuses two offers of marriage because she is not in love with either of them. Luckily, the latter, Mr. Darcy gets his chance to prove his worth and she gets the chance to fall in love with Pemberley, his stately home. Thank God for silly sisters and worthless rogues.
The wind roared around the house. Alwyn tugged at the curtains to take a better look. Lightning crackled a thin white arc across the velvet black sky. But that damn tree spoilt his view as always. Alwyn had hated the tree even before he had seen it, sick of the endless stories about her golden childhood.
‘Hopefully, the storm will bring the tree down and save us the bother.’
To his delight, lightning struck it. The last thing he saw was the tree, burning with flames of blue and gold, as it toppled and smashed through the window towards him.
The Star Lord
Holding the burning hot hand of the handsome young man, Lori knew that he was a star lord. They came down from the sky sometimes to visit their worshippers and rarely, to make love to them. Lori could not understand why he had chosen her; she wasn’t the prettiest or the sweetest girl in the village. But she was honoured by his choice. Making love was sweet agony. But that was nothing compared to carrying his child for nine months or childbirth. Her child never felt the cold and could always make a fire by a touch of his hand.
The small sign outside the room in the Museum of Alien Artefacts in the city of Kredal on the planet of Mosreddik glowed, ‘See the lost city of Tan Nadarn at 15:00 every day! Not to be missed!’
Another larger sign inside the room, gave more details, the discovery of one of the very few remains of the former alien inhabitants of Mosreddik over two hundred years ago. The box over the door informed visitors that so far, 1,440,000 people had seen the spectacle.
Inside the room, the only item was a small, unimpressive, cube on a white painted plinth that only emphasised its dirty grey white colour. Every day, a small crowd would gather, mostly school children. Then the lights would dim and they would see the cube project the vision of Tan Nadarn rising from the waves. Everyone gasped at the sight of the beautiful city; the shimmering slender blue towers, the vast central dome and column, water cascading down the sides. They stared entranced and sighed with disappointment when the hologram vanished and the lights came up.
The curator of the museum was very proud of the exhibit, especially because it was one of their best known exhibits. People had been known to come from all over the planet to see it. He was not at all happy when grim faced officers from the Bureau of Authority turned up to confiscate it.
‘On what grounds?’ he spluttered. ‘I shall take this outrage to the highest authorities,’ he threatened.
‘We have reason to believe that the disappearance of a large number of children is linked to this object,’ the officers told him.
‘Ridiculous!’ he said.
‘Careful analysis has shown that over the last two hundred years, fifteen per cent of all children who visit this museum and view the hologram of Tan Nadarn, vanish without trace by their sixteenth birthday,’ they told him.
‘What are you suggesting? What possible link can there be between children visiting this museum and then disappearing?’
‘There must be something,’ they insisted. ‘These are teenagers who seem to have no obvious link apart from the fact that they all saw the hologram on a school trip to the museum. The daughter of Senator Blilang has recently disappeared. We have been ordered to take the cube for further examination.’
Despite his protestations, they took the cube away. However, it did them little good. The very next day the ancient ruins rose up from the desert that had once been an ancient ocean, sand shifting down the buildings as it rose. The alien hordes came out of the sand to destroy the humans, the missing children transformed into seven foot, blue hued, winged insects, their implacable enemies.
Red Riding Hood hummed as she scampered along the woodland path, swinging her basket to and fro. She swung it so hard, a jar of pickled onions fell out onto the forest floor. Luckily, the forest was so thickly carpeted with old leaves and organic debris, the jar merely bounced away. Red’s mouth opened in an O and she left the path to follow the jar. Her grandmother liked pickled onions best of all. She forgot all about her mother’s warning to stick to the path especially since a comet had been seen in the night skies only a few days go and they were always harbingers of doom. Hunting for the jar, coloured sparkling light hit Red’s eyes. Ahead, a small clearing was heaped up with jewels; navy sapphires, crimson rubies, sea green emeralds.
It was only then she noticed the wolf. She stiffened and gasped with fear. But the wolf was the most beautiful one she had ever seen; grey fur tipped with silver, luminous dark eyes and a plushly plumed tail. It whined and then rolled over onto its stomach, displaying fluffy white fur that begged to be caressed. Red did just that, plunging her small hands into the fur and stroking its belly. The wolf whined again then licked her face, very thoroughly with its long, wet, rough, pink tongue. Red giggled and pushed the wolf away as far as she was able.
‘Bad doggie!’ she scolded.
Then she guiltily remembered about leaving the path and being late for her grandmother. She scooped up as many of the jewels as she could carry into her basket, forgetting the jar of pickled onions.
‘Goodbye doggie, I have to go and visit my granny now.’ She hurried off.
Red didn’t see the wolf proceed to lick one of its front paws, stare at it and then, long minutes later, transform into an alien purple creature possessing several tentacles with eyes at the tips.
A voice sounded in its brain.
‘Agent 357, was your trial transformation successful?’
‘No. I have been unable to shift into the child form of the dominant intelligent species here.’
‘I suggest you try again. Find another subject.’
Agent 357 remembered what the child alien had said about its grandmother, changed back into a wolf and set off in pursuit.
Red Riding Hood was very happy as she skipped towards her grandmother’s thatched cottage. She knew that the jewels would make her and her family rich beyond the dreams of avarice.
‘Perhaps I can have a pony,’ she said aloud.
Red lifted the latch of the wooden cottage door.
‘It’s me, Granny, Red Riding Hood,’ she called and went inside.
Her granny was sitting up in bed. She wore her usual mob cap and long sleeved nighty but something was wrong. Her grandmother was flickering. A wolf appeared who then metamorphosed into a terrible, strange purple creature with a head with snakes on it. Red screamed.
A man burst into the cottage. He was tall, burly and most importantly of all, he had a sharp axe with him. Red recognised him as the local woodcutter.
‘Help me, please,’ she begged.
The man ignored her and turned to what was not her grandmother.
‘Control yourself for Florkaki’s sake,’ he snapped.
‘I’m trying,’ said her grandmother/wolf/tentacled monster, ‘but it’s not easy.’
‘Nonsense,’ replied the wood cutter, ‘if I can do it, so can you.’
Red saw her grandmother reappear to her joy.
Then her grandmother said, ‘So we can’t shapeshift into the younglings of this race? Only the mature specimens?’
‘It appears not,’ agreed the woodcutter.
‘Oh well. Maybe it’s for the best. No annoying waiting around to mature like on Lupus 7. What shall we do with this youngling?’
The woodcutter glanced casually at Red Riding Hood, cowering in the corner beside her was a pile of old skin and bones.
‘Might as well kill it,’ he said.
The woodcutter’s axe was very sharp indeed.
‘How long?’ whined Lobakwiks to Tarhoflamak’s image in the locating/transmitting device, cunningly disguised as a silver hand mirror, balanced on the great chest in her bedchamber. She had temporarily reverted to the more familiar lupine form. Her furry ears were down.
‘I can’t say. We’re having some problems with the humans, resistance is greater than we anticipated,’ Tarhoflamaks said.
He was her superior, a squadron leader of the alien invasion. He looked like a handsome, middle aged man with touches of silver at his temple.
‘Anyway, what’s your problem? You survived the escape pod, didn’t you? You’re at the top of the primitive human social structure. Aren’t you queen?’
‘Yes,’ sobbed Lobakwiks, ‘but you’ve no idea what the king makes me do at night.’ She shuddered.
Tarhoflamaks was unsympathetic. ‘You’ll just have to suck it up, for now.’ His tone sharpened. ‘And for Florkwaki’s sake, stop slipping forms.’
She had just reverted to her purple tentacled shape.
‘You have to remain in the human form all the time now, you know that,’ he scolded.
‘I’ll try,’ promised Lobakwiks.
‘You’ll have to do better than try,’ Tarhoflamaks snarled. ‘End Transmission.’
His image disappeared. She reverted to her human form. Once again, the mirror showed the reflection of Lobakwiks’ human shape, a beautiful woman, with a few faint lines on her face to show that she was past the first blush of youth.
Lobakwiks waited years but neither Tarhoflamaks nor any of her species came. She had killed the king and taken the throne as regent. Her stepdaughter Snow White had grown into a lovely young girl whom everyone was expecting to claim the throne when old enough.
‘You’ll have to kill her,” Tarhoflamaks advised. ‘I’m counting on you to keep the country safe for us when we arrive.’
‘Be imaginative. Make sure no one else knows you’ve killed her. End transmission.’
Lobakwiks found it difficult to kill the little princess, she disliked killing creatures unless she was absorbing their form. She resorted to bribing the King’s Huntsman, repulsive as she found the method of bribery. Why were humans so obsessed with sex? She had to give him his disgusting reward when he came back with the heart she had asked for as proof. She devoured it later in her wolf form.
Lobakwiks was perfectly happy until one day, seated in front of her device, she ordered, ‘Update report.’
‘Update on Snow White.’
‘Snow White is not dead. See live transmission.’
The device’s screen flickered and then she saw Snow White moving about a hovel. The huntsman had not killed her after all. Lobakwiks was so angry, she changed to wolf and then to purple tentacled alien and back and forth between her forms for some time.
She should have remembered the proverb, “If a three headed Delendrian wants a helvalatz, he doesn’t ask a funtwander to get it for him.”
Lobakwiks killed the huntsman. The mirror pinpointed Snow White’s exact location.
She came to the hovel Snow White was living in, in the form of a thin, dark faced pedlar she had encountered on the road.
‘Who’ll buy my lovely combs?’ she shouted.
Snow White threw open the door.
‘What do you have there, pedlar?’
‘All sorts of lovely things.’
Lobakwiks sorted through her bundle and drew out a sparkling comb. ‘A pretty for a pretty.’
Snow White stretched out her hand then hesitated. ‘How much?’
‘Nothing to you, my pretty. Let me show you how well it combs.’
Lobakwiks pulled the comb halfway through Snow White’s glossy black hair and stopped. Within seconds Snow White had fallen to the ground. Lobakwiks was gratified that her hard work in her secret laboratory in the bowels of the castle had paid off.
Her satisfaction lasted only until the next day when she asked the mirror for an update report.
‘Error. Snow White is not dead. See live transmission.’
To her fury, there was the girl still prancing about. Lobakwiks had obviously miscalculated her formula. She would see about that. Back to the secret laboratory.
Lobakwiks returned in the form of an old farmer’s wife she had found living nearby. She had a basket of apples, each both rosy red and grass green, all highly poisoned. She knocked on the door. Snow White opened the tiny window.
‘Am I on the right road for the market? I have some lovely crisp, fresh, apples for sale.’
Snow White’s hair was black as jet, her skin as white as the snow on the ground and her cheeks as rosy as the apples.
‘Apples, in winter?’ she asked. ‘How is this possible?’
Lobakwiks hadn’t considered when terrestrial fruits were in season. She thought quickly.
‘Special apples they be from far, far away. Would you like one, dearie?’ Lobakwiks held one out to the girl.
Snow White stretched out her hand then hesitated. ‘I haven’t any money.’
‘You’re such a pretty girl, you can have one for free.’
‘But my dwarves told me not to accept gifts from strange men.’
‘That’s all right then, I’m not a strange man, am I? Here you are.’
Snow White accepted this logic without any further reservations. She was not the brightest of girls, to tell the truth. She hesitated.
‘I’ll show you there’s nothing to fear.’
Lobakwiks took back the apple, bit into the green side and swallowed it. ‘Hmm, delicious.
She offered Snow White the red side of the apple, the poisoned side.
Obediently, Snow White bit into the apple. As soon as her lips touched the apple, the poison affected her and she fell to the ground.
Lobakwiks cackled with triumph. She had picked up some bad human habits.
There came a shout from the woods nearby. Looking around, Lobakwiks saw seven little green men with axes charging at her. Humfpfanickers! What were they doing on this planet? Panicking, she dropped the basket and ran, puffing and huffing. She changed her form; many purple tentacles then four furry paws. Lobakwiks had got out of the routine of regular exercise since she had become queen and she regretted it now.
The next day, Lobakwiks ordered the mirror, ‘Update on Snow White.’
‘Snow White is in a state of suspended animation,’ it reported. ‘Live transmission.’
The seven Humfpfanickers stood, their large heads bowed around a cryogenic chamber, disguised as a glass coffin, lying on the ground aside the hovel.
Lobakwiks debated whether to return for a third time but decided against it. Humfpfanickers could be ferocious when roused. They must be on a survey mission; they couldn’t be staying very long in any case.
An invitation came to the palace, a large stiff card with gold embossed writing inviting her to the wedding of Prince Hans and Princess Snow White in Orgalia, the country next door. Lobakwiks stared at it for a long time. How was this possible? Damned, meddling Humfpfanickers! Still, third time lucky. She would absorb Snow White, take her form and in a few months, kill Prince Hans and take over another kingdom.
She attended the wedding of course, looking glamorous and beautiful in her gown of gold cloth embroidered with silver lace. She wept over her lost stepdaughter now found, congratulated Snow White and Prince Hans on their marriage and confirmed that Snow White would be her heir. The handsome prince’s eyes glittered with greed when she said that. Lobakwiks whispered to Snow White that she would like a word privately with her later, and then went into the gardens to get away from the stinking, noisy throng of humans.
She found a shady, cool place by a tinkling fountain and rested for a while. When she stood up to go, she found the seven Humfpfanickers in a row, blocking her way.
‘What do you want?’ she asked. ‘Let me pass. Don’t make me throw you out of the way.’ She amused herself wondering how far she could throw a Humfpfanicker.
The smallest of them spoke. ‘Thanakwil, your race has broken the Galactic Code.’
‘Again,’ added the second smallest Humfpfanicker.
‘What of it?’ Lobakwiks asked. She sneered. ‘Mind your own business.’
‘This is our business. We promised to protect our pet and we always keep our word.’
‘Unlike Thanakwils,’ the third smallest Humfpfanicker said.
The smallest Humfpfanicker said to the others, ‘Will you stop interrupting?’ He fixed his gaze on Lobakwiks. ‘You’ve tried to kill Snow White twice now.’
Her hand flew to her chest. ‘Not I,’ she protested.
‘We saw you changing shape as you fled the second time. We would have left you alone if you had not come back.’
‘I was invited!’ she screeched. Then she calmed herself. “I’ve realised the errors of my ways and have come to make amends. I’ve told Snow White she is my heir and will inherit the throne when I die.’
The smallest Humfpfanicker hesitated.
Lobakwiks continued, ‘We should not have invaded this world, it was wrong to interfere with their culture and ecology. I see that now.’
The seven relaxed their shoulders and their scowls disappeared. It was all going well.
Snow White’s young, trusting voice rang out. ‘Stepmother, where are you? I’ve come for our private talk as you asked.’
The second smallest Humfpfanicker snarled, ‘Never trust a Thanakwil.’
He whipped out a small metal grey gun and fired it at Lobakwiks. A fine rainbow coloured spray covered her from head to toe. She began to laugh, was that the best they could do? Then felt her form distorting and then regaining its most familiar form. Lobakwiks was a seven-foot purple Thanakwil with numerous tentacles. She waved them about, trying to seize the gun but the Humfpfanickers all backed away from her and started shouting, ‘Guards! Guards! There’s a monster attacking the princess!’
The palace guards, all big beefy men with wickedly sharp spears and swords, came running and halted in horror and astonishment for a second before charging Lobakwiks. They chopped her into a thousand tiny purple pieces.
A small silver device flew up into the air and was snatched by the smallest Humfpfanicker, unseen by the guards or Snow White. She was screaming steadily and the Humfpfanickers tried to comfort her. They led her away from the stones of the courtyard now stained with purple ink.
‘What happened to my stepmother?’ she asked.
‘The monster ate her.’
The smallest Humfpfanicker, his footsteps lagging behind the others, pulled out the silver device from his pocket and whispered to it, ‘Update report.’
‘Queen Lobakwiks is dead and Snow White is now queen. Transmit information to Mission Control?’
If you have enjoyed this book, I should be very grateful if you would consider either rating or reviewing it.
I live in London with my husband, a longhaired tortoiseshell and white cat and far too many books. I am an identical twin (my twin sister insisted I put that in).
Discover other titles by Anne Wrightwell at Shakespir.com:
The Little Book of Quirky Christmas Stories
Pride and Prejudice: The Other Way Round
Murder and Mittens
Contact with me online
A short story about a young woman who attends a mysterious interview. Why can’t she remember the name of the firm or the job she is applying for? Why does everyone come up in the lift but nobody leave by it?
Get your free copy of ‘The Interview’ when you sign up to the author’s mailing list.
Get started here:
"Dribs and Drabbles" is a collection of stories, arranged by length. The collection goes from stories in 140 characters (twitter fiction), 100 words, (drabbles), under 750 words (flash fiction) to one short story under 2,000 words. The stories include "Scrooge", a retelling of the classic "A Christmas Carol", completely original tales, "The City From The Sea", and "Red and the Alien Wolf", a rebooted "Red Riding Hood".