Short Fiction

Week 429: More Awful Truth; Five Human Works and Beware of the Tippleganger

More Awful Truth

When I was young and inexperienced in the fine art of self destruction, I believed that getting a book in print made you both famous and rich. Boiled down to its elemental flaw, this belief was based on the notion that writing a book good enough to land in the small library in Port Orchard, Washington (as unlikely a candidate to supplant The Great Library of Alexandria imaginable) must mean you are famous–ergo rich–for I assumed you could not be one without the other.

Continue reading “Week 429: More Awful Truth; Five Human Works and Beware of the Tippleganger”
All Stories, auld author

Auld Author – Fahrenheit 451 brought to us by Thurman Hart.

Though this is not a particularly Auld or unknown piece it is obvious that Thurman Hart feels passionate about this and it has had a profound effect and that surely qualifies for a place in this occasional feature.

Much of what Bradbury saw has come true–social media and disaffected youth. Yet let us hope that words will still be precious to some in the worlds to come.


The work that I’m afraid will be forgotten is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is, of course, a flight of insanity on my part. The book is a true classic and will always (it seems) find its way into various literature-based curricula. However, the true masterpiece of the work is overlooked, at least in my experience.

Fahrenheit is a dystopian work, set an undefined length into the future where fireman are employed to burn books, the implication being that they control dangerous ideas that books contain. The general population has been dumbed down, too interested in the parlor wall families – i.e., characters portrayed on wall-sized televisions – to even notice that they are being controlled. In fact, Mildred, the wife of the main character, Montag, attempts suicide when he tries to force her and her friends to feel and think by reading them poetry. Even people who understand what is happening are too afraid to fight back, as evidenced by Montag’s very literate supervisor, Beatty, who goads Montag into killing him because he can no longer live as a tool for this governmental control. There’s even an aspect of invasive technology via the mechanical dog that tracks Montag, and what is now called “fake news” where Montag listens to the report that he has been tracked down and killed.

This is the obvious masterpiece of Bradbury’s work: that he can look at his contemporary and near-historical events such as the red scares of the 1950s and the Nazi book burnings of the 1930s and 1940s and make them seem like they are about to happen all over again. Like the portrait by a master painter will have eyes that seem to follow the viewer as they move, Bradbury’s predictions of society seem as near-future today as they did when I first read them in the mid-1980s. In this, Bradbury is a champion of free thought and artistic expression, and it is a good and proper thing that he is studied for that reason.

But Fahrenheit is not merely this. Tucked away in the third section, entitled “Burning Bright” is a passage that deserves a canonical place next to Shakespear’s “What a piece of work is a man.” Montag has escaped from the city and made contact with a small group of rebels who exist outside of society in order to keep alive the memory of written works. The masterpiece is delivered by Granger, when he tells Montag:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

When I first read those words, I was dumbfounded. It was if a veil had been lifted and someone had shown me a timeless truth of existence. I sat on the edge of my bed, amid the dryland cottonfields of West Texas, and tried to fit the entire sum of my fourteen years into those words. Then, as now, the full measure of those words eludes me. They are a moving goal that I can only aspire to hit. It is why I turn my hand towards excellence in all that I do. It is why I write. It is why I sing. It is why, every year, I plant a new garden so I can watch the sky and worry and wonder. I know one day I will be gone, but I know my soul will live on in the things I have touched and passed along to my family and my friends.

It is this passage, above all others, that moves Ray Bradbury from someone who writes stories into the realm of an author. Here, he doesn’t just string together words, sentences, and phrases. He builds an idea. He presents a philosophy. He gives us his ability to reach through the written page and touch us. Not just for a lifetime, but, I hope, for many lifetimes to come.

Thurman Hart

Image: – an old metal goblet on a dark background with a quill pen and a book

All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Latest News, Short Fiction, Writing

Week 428: Spring Cleaning; the Week That Is; Ten Names For the Inhabitants in the Box Behind the Stairs

In Just Spring

The American Pacific Northwest is similar in climate to the UK. Both are just about as north as the other and both are close to an ocean. My home in the Puget Sound region is typical of the kind of weather found in such latitudes. We get twenty, sometimes thirty spring days spread over the course of four months. Seldom more than two in a row.

When it does come, everything gets all warm and cheery. People appear ready to spontaneously break out in song, smiles are unforced, and birds often garnish people with necklaces made from wildflowers, just like Snow White.

Continue reading “Week 428: Spring Cleaning; the Week That Is; Ten Names For the Inhabitants in the Box Behind the Stairs”
All Stories, sunday whatever

Sunday Whatever: I Kissed Her Goodbye by Jacob Greb

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Feature. Today we proudly present a breathless little “kiss” of a work by Jacob Greb. Although it is brief and lies somewhere between a prose poem and a story, we found this too wonderful to pass by. We hope you agree.


I Kissed Her Goodbye

I stare at the headlights with distress. The restless night made me a zombie. “Brains?” I beg a bystander. He kindly smiles.

“You fool,” memories of Julia’s last words like waves return to the shore. If only I knew how to swim. I keep on chasing the wrong fields. The meadow has turned brown. The autumn has come and Julia’s feet got cold. She likes to wear orange and green striped wool socks. My mesh of a head however can’t catch any fish. I am lonesome for her touch but Julia repeats that she loves me more. We sweep each other into our arms and lay wrapped in the blanket.

“Your heart beats radicle,” Julia says between her hums. She does so to sway me to sleep, but my fingers tingle readily to paint a thousand moons. The notes stain another night as the pianist plays the wrong lullaby. My mother’s curse carries on. White stripes and surgical tables. That’s where my mind wonders at the late hour. The wanderer I become. Julia falls asleep and I lay listening to her light snores. Nothing can cure my disease. I lift my feet and leave the bed, stumbling on the crate reused as storage for books and doctor’s notes. Hope has left the day. The streets at two finally breathe with relief. A bicycle leans against a steel pole for thieves to gaze at and take.

“Don’t leave your valuable unattended.” The reminder notice I keep in my pocket. I stole it from the psych ward.

I enter the middle lane and take my chances. The strange air is left behind by the last exhaust pipe and I inhale the pollution and cough. Fly by with a honk, but I continue to walk to the top of the block and close the loop. Takin’ on the sideways, finding a nickel, before I stop and stare at the headlights approaching, thinking of poor Julia. The curve of her smile as she whispered, “I love you. Good night. Be in peace. You fool.”

I kissed her goodbye.

Jacob Greb

All Stories, General Fiction, Latest News, Short Fiction

Week 426 -Protective Sports-Wear For Those Who Need It, Erika The Legend And An Eye-Witness Account.

Another week to be rounded up.

We are now at number 426.

Let’s start with a question.

If you submit your work to a site/publisher /whoever, would you rather that they were drunk whilst reading?

If I threw in a ‘You would be guaranteed an acceptance’, would that change your answer?

And if I throw in a further, you’d receive a payment, does that make any difference?

Let’s find out those with principles and the other sensible folks!!

Continue reading “Week 426 -Protective Sports-Wear For Those Who Need It, Erika The Legend And An Eye-Witness Account.”
All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Latest News, Short Fiction

Week 424 – Post-it’s, 100 Fucking Million (Watch this space) And Let’s Give Mr Kluger A Nod To One Over The Forty Nine!

I decided to clear out my desk today. There is a problem as I have so many notes scribbled down for whatever reasons. At the time of writing them, I thought that they were the beginnings of some of the greatest ideas in the world, now that I look at them I think, ‘What the fuck was I on?’ I will type out the shite that I’m looking at:

‘Tuna and seaweed (All eaten)’ – I haven’t a fucking clue what was going on there!!!

Continue reading “Week 424 – Post-it’s, 100 Fucking Million (Watch this space) And Let’s Give Mr Kluger A Nod To One Over The Forty Nine!”
Short Fiction

Week 421: Sunday Will Never Be The Same

Like Nature, Literally Stories abhors a vacuum. And like the Victorians, LS considers the occasional empty space left open on Sundays as scandalous as showing too much ankle before marriage, or opening a post with consecutive similes.

When the weekly Rerun became a monthly feature, we found ourselves a bit restless on the other three Sundays in the month (yes, I know some have five, but let’s jump off that bridge when we get to it). The Sunday Whatever, a collection of essays and odds and ends, was invented to take up a bit of the slack, yet along with the Rerun, only half the ankle was covered.

Continue reading “Week 421: Sunday Will Never Be The Same”
All Stories, Humour, Short Fiction

A Conversation About The Sixties by Hugh Cron (Adult Content)

“I’m fed up watching the news. Seemingly, the queen’s still dead.”

“That’s six months now and they’re still harping on about it. I can’t remember the last time I bought a paper.”

Continue reading “A Conversation About The Sixties by Hugh Cron (Adult Content)”
Short Fiction

The Unknown Writer by Douglas Robbins

His studio apartment sits downtown. It’s late morning. He puts on blue jeans, a black T-shirt and sits in his writing chair, his only chair. With no socks on, he looks down at his yellowed toenails. He prints out his three completed manuscripts. He walks over and clears off the mahogany wood table he picked up cheap. It has served him for writing, eating, and mail. His futon mattress is only a few feet away. He moves the table into the center of the room scraping it along the floor.

Continue reading “The Unknown Writer by Douglas Robbins”