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A Further Five Flash Fiction Pieces
by Barry Ergang


"Your writings are rubbish." The critic's words echoed in the empty theater.

"I succeed in amusing the public. That pleases me."

"The rabble seeks ephemera. You must write what endures."

"Only soothsayers know what endures."

The critic's lip curled. "The world will never know your work."

"But the Globe does," the playwright laughed.

"Farewell, Shakespeare."

Originally published in QPB Presents the World's Best Shortest Stories (of all time), edited by Steve Moss & John M. Daniel, 2001



"If you want to marry me, you'll have to get a job," she said.

"I'm a writer." He gestured at his paper-littered study.

"Get a job with a steady income," she said adamantly.

He winced. "Writing is hard enough without your nagging, Beatrice."

"You're calling me a nag? That's it! I've had it; we're finished. Go to Hell, Dante!"

Originally published in Maelstrom, Vol. III, Issue 4, 2001



When his friend drew an X through an entire stanza on the manuscript, the poet grimaced. He felt as if his heart had been plucked from his chest.

"You want to cut all that?"

"It doesn't fit with the rest of the poem," his friend said.

"It seems like such a waste."

"Appropriate for this poem, eh?" the other laughed, deleting five lines from another stanza. "Art's as much about paring as adding."

"There's a difference between paring and disemboweling."

"You asked me to edit it, remember?" he asked heatedly.

"Let me put this delicately, Ezra: pound sand."

Glaring, the other crossed out three more lines. "Tee ess, Eliot!"

Originally published at Flashshot, July 14, 2005  



"Captain Stone," the major said, "the enemy has Captain Beecher and his squad pinned down twenty clicks north of our position."

Worry lines creased the corners of Stone's mouth. He and Al Beecher had gone through Officer Training together and were close friends.

"Beecher needs ordnance--and needs it yesterday," the major continued. "Get your squad up there to provide reinforcements."

"Yes, sir. I'll get Al--uh, Captain Beecher--whatever support he requires."

Stone saluted and turned to leave when the major called, "Captain? Take plenty of ordnance with you."

"Don't worry, sir. I'll remember the Al ammo."

Originally published at Flashshot June 16, 2006 



Morrow's hand hovered over the locker door's handle. "I thought the pre-arrival indications were that the Psor'ac aren't hostiles."

"They were," Turner told him, slipping on a protective coverall. "The indications, I mean."

"And when they landed, they were tested and found clean of contaminants harmful to earthmen."

"Also true."

"Then why the hazmat suits?"

"Because the other day something happened to a linguist who was trying to communicate with a Psor'ac. The thing threw up on her."

Morrow grinned. "Was it something she said?"

"It's not funny. The lab boys called the puke 'virulently acidic'. It damn near sautéed the poor woman. She'll recover, but she'll need a lot of plastic surgery."

"You think the alien did it deliberately?" Morrow asked, opening his locker to remove the bulky gray integument.

"We don't know if it was an act of aggression or if the Psor'ac got sick," Turner said. "Another one puked in its room, burned a hole in the mattress and seared a patch of paint on the wall. It could be there's something in our atmosphere that's affecting them. But whether they're sick or hostile, you and I have to be in the room with one for the next interrogation. So put on your suit."

Morrow fingered the coarse, heavy material, scowled at the helmet. "I hate these things. They're not exactly built for speed and comfort."

"No, they're worn to be biled."

Originally published at Flashing in the Gutters, June 3, 2006