All Stories, Editor Picks, Short Fiction

Week 352- Ch-Ch-Changes

Welcome to Year 8, L.S.E.!

I’ve never understood greeting a new year with changing your ways in mind. If you are doing something that needs to be departed from, why wait until the Earth is at a specific, artificially labeled point in its orbit to quit smoking crack or stealing purses? And if there’s some grand task you want to undertake, don’t wait for Nike to give you permission or inspiration. They don’t give a damn about you unless you buy their shoes. Stuff will always get in the way; Be Persistent and as Inevitable as Death may not be the cheeriest slogan, but I’m not trying to sell you something, either..

Yet there are times when even a lame concept makes a convincing argument. And, yes, there are even times when perhaps evacuating the contents of my mind every other Saturday fails to show keen respect for the tales presented during the week. But most often I usually disregard the negative thoughts I have for my activities and do something different because I consider it a Big Idea.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 350- An Antisocial Experiment, Five Magi, A Special Announcement and Hell’s Jukebox: The Love Songs

An Antisocial Experiment

There are endless social movements dedicated to improving people by requiring them not to be like people. Depending on your point of view this activity lies somewhere between education and brainwashing. I am old fashioned to the degree that I believe a person is influenced by both her upbringing and whatever chemistry is peculiar to her. You do your best to raise a child and if she grows up to be a doctor or a teacher you share in the credit, if she turns out to be a Josephine Mengela or the incarnation of Lizzie Borden, you shoulder some of the blame.

A person can improve. But people, as a whole, seldom do because there are “leaders” who want you to do as they command and will reward “good behavior” with letting you spend your life gazing into your phone and punish “bad thoughts” with unsupported accusations and placing you under the spotlight on the scaffold for a good old fashioned cyberstoning. This has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the third person–the first child who decides that her parents should be severely sanctioned for bringing her into this overlighted, loud and dreary existence, as well as not allowing her to have a phone until she can use one responsibly.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

347: Mental Scar Tissue, Curtain Calls and Scares A to Z

I recently recalled a cherished Halloween memory from my childhood: I was in the living room watching a Casper the Friendly Ghost Halloween special on TV the Saturday morning prior to the big day. My monumentally hung over grandfather just came out of the kitchen, a glass of what surely held only healthy tomato juice in his unsteady hand. A great question had formed in my mind.

“Grandpa, how did Casper die?”

“He asked the wrong people a lot of stupid questions.”

By now it must be obvious that I have seized upon Halloween as the inspiration for this post. Since the Nobel prize for literature has already been passed out, I see no reason to introduce revolutionary literary techniques or topics until the next voting cycle begins.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 341: Where Have All the Disposable Ensigns Gone and Results From the Great Cat Division of the Feline Olympics

Three or four years ago I gave up on network television for the sake of my safety. It doesn’t mean that I have departed from gazing glassy-eyed into a screen, but nowadays I feed the vacuum in my mind caused by a lifetime of watching TV with YouTube and NetFlix. The TV is still on, but in the other room, tuned to one of those retro-channels, to long since departed shows, which star dead actors who come back to life for twenty-three to forty-six minutes five days a week, in worlds where forever usually arrives no later than 1982.

The main reason for this involves the Discovery Channel and its spin-offs on basic cable. For years my general sense of fear and isolation was greatly enhanced by an endless succession of learned talking heads who glibly informed me what would happen to Earth if it wandered too close to a black hole or was bathed in a gamma ray burst or nailed by an asteroid the size of Cincinnati. And none of it was pretty. End of Days. Repent. I was more distrubed, however, by the smarmy attitude of the scientists who spoke of these possible calamities with twinkles in their eyes. Why were they so happy to suggest these things? Isn’t everyday living hard enough already? Are these people sociopaths? And how come they all wear khaki pants and blue shirts? Even Victor Frankenstien owned a tie.

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Week 338: Fearing the Two-Hundred Degree Day and Results From Feline Olympics

The Pacific Northwest winter used to run September through July. The main features were a minimum eight hours’ rain every twenty-four and temperatures favorable for sustainable mildew. Some years, but not all, there’d be a relatively balmy August, which motivated many to rush to the rocky shores of the Puget Sound to frolic drunkenly in the sea until they suffered pointless deaths brought on by hypothermia.

I avoid Climate Change as a subject for debate because it really doesn’t matter. It could very well be that the cloud of hairspray sent up into the atmosphere by 80’s Product Rockers, Poison, alone, has punched a lethal hole in the sky. But it still really doesn’t matter. My advice to the people who are smart enough to change the world is stop wasting time trying to make the people who hate you see things your way. Be creative and invent something big that will end the problem. Channel the same egghead pluck and ingenuity that ended World War II. Your scientific ancestors impressively overkilled the most significant event in human history by inventing a device that, when applied vigorously, can wipe out our species’ future in less time than it takes to roast a turkey.

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Editor Picks, Writing

Editor Picks by Adam West

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Faced with tackling an almost impossible task such as choosing my three favourite stories from all the amazing material we have published here on Literally Stories I decided the best course of action was to cheat.

I produced a long-list.

And here it is chronologically (more or less):

Listening In/Jon Green: Elsa/Tobias Haglund: Seven Days a Bag Week/Hugh Cron: Talk to Me/June Griffin: The Conscious Coward/Vic Smith: Waiting For Francis/Todd Levin: Beffroi/Tobias Haglund: 2.45 am./Todd Levin: Ella’s Ghost/Nik Eveleigh: Beach House/Diane Dickson: The Greatest Cock That Ever Lived/Dave Louden: Data/Scott David: Looking for Nipsey/dm gillis: The Woman Upstairs/Michael Mulvey : Where Cherubs Sleep/dm gillis: Reinventing Amy/Nik Eveleigh: Neon/Sharon Dean: The Woman Upstairs/Michael Mulvey: Interview With Lucifer/Frederick K. Foote: Where Cherubs Sleep/dm gillis: Black Roses/Jeffrey Miller: Apathetica/Nik Eveleigh: Joey Schaff…/Dave Louden: A Roaming Tat/Frederick K. Foote: Silent Treatments/Goran Sedlar: Underneath The Rose/Irene Allison: Swan River Daisy/Tom Sheehan: There is a Forest Here/dm gillis: First in Line/Patty Somlo: Dancing in Amsterdam/Tobias Haglund: The Plane That Flew Forever/GJ Hart.

I procrastinated but on a deeper level knew on whose chests I was going to pin gongs.

And the winners are…

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Editor Picks, Writing

Editor Picks by James McEwan

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We invited Literally Stories author and friend, James McEwan to be Editor for a day and choose his three favourite stories from the site. Here is what James had to say about the stories he chose and why he felt they were special…

I am pleased to have been asked to provide a contribution to the Editor Picks, and I have checked the previous selections to avoid any repetition. I have selected three stories, ones I missed reading when they first appeared since I was busy trying to unpick a murder or two. I am still flogging that dead horse.

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Editor Picks, Writing

Editor Picks by Tobias Haglund

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Literally Stories have had picks by a bunch of lovely editors, let’s also have a bunch of picks from an unloved editor. Before I go on I just want to clarify, I’m not picking the ones already picked, which are all great.

Unfortunately to choose one is to disregard another. My lovely better half comes from Belgium where they have a saying: To choose is to lose. It’s why their Food Menus are endlessly long and why the food arrives with an uplifting pep talk; Better luck next time, Brussels sprout.

I’m rambling on, so let me take the advice from the boy with the snotty nose which is: Start with the picking!

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Editor Picks, Writing

Editor Picks by Dave Louden

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We invited Literally Stories author and friend, Dave Louden, to be Editor for a day and choose his three favourite stories from the site. Here is what Dave had to say about the three stories he chose and why he felt they were special…

If there was ever a task that was as enjoyable as it was difficult it’s this one. On the one hand I got to re-read some of my favourite stories this site has offered up but on the other I had to narrow down months of great reading to three stories. Three titles across a cornucopia of genres. How do you compare a Noir to a light-hearted comic fable? A piece of science fiction to a poignant piece of personal history? In the end I had to simply say “F*ck it! Which stories made me wish to Christ I wrote them?”

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Editor Picks, Writing

Editor Picks by June Griffin

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We invited Literally Stories author and friend, June Griffin, to be Editor for a day and choose three great short stories from the site. Here is what June had to say about the three stories she chose and why she felt they were special.

The forces of nature, human and otherwise, are at work in my three top picks, which I heartily recommend to every LS reader and writer, past and future.

Without a shade of murkiness, each story reveals these forces in their own distinctive way and pays tribute to the human comedy with clarity and precision. Each of the writers has perfected a beautiful writing style, and their intriguing plots and characters keep us engrossed from start to finish.

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