Short Story: The Disappearing Desk

She realized she was in a time loop when she woke up to find her desk missing.

Ok. That wasn’t the full story.

When she first saw empty space in place of the new desk she’d just spent the whole day building, she thought she’d been robbed in her sleep.

Fear turned to confusion when she rushed to her living room and found her table, still packed in pieces in its original packaging. She could have sworn that she had already assembled the massive furniture, even had the bruise from when she dropped a drawer on her foot to prove it.

Except… her skin didn’t have a single mark.

For one scary hour, she curled in the corner of her couch, wondering if the stress from work had finally driven her insane.

She only had one free day off for the rest of the month, set aside especially to put her new desk together, so she pulled herself out of her spiralling thoughts and got to work. This time, she learnt from past experience and didn’t drop the drawer, but she stepped on a screw instead.

The next day, she woke up once again to an unexpectedly empty space. Only then did she realise time had rewound.

Assembling a desk half her weight was tiring enough once, she wasn’t going to do it a third time, especially if her day was going to reset itself. Which meant… she had a free day.

She rolled over, pulled her blanket up to her chin, and burrowed in.

~End~

Genre: science fiction

Time loop story: 1/8

Short Story: Her Late Brother’s Best Friend

“You’re always together. It’s cute,” her friends say.

She can only smile politely as her late brother’s best friend drinks his coffee, blatantly ignoring the group. What can she say when he’s a constant presence by her side not out of affection, but guilt?

Her late brother’s best friend is a man with many enemies. Her late brother had none. When they found cut brakes at the scene of her brother’s death, it didn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

After the accident, her parents were sent away to another country for their safety. A tactic that works because she remains behind as the more accessible target of revenge. And this time, he’s determined in keeping the remaining sibling alive, even if it means keeping her company for the rest of her life.

~End~

Genre: general

July stories: 20/21

Short Story: Brutal Play Time

Only one word can do this scene justice.

Brutal.

A dozen sweaty, young people lie strewn around the living room like discarded clothes after a flash sale.

Among them, a single Border Collie hops excitedly from one limp child to the other, every bit as energetic as when they first started playing together four hours ago.

Looks like bedtime won’t be a problem tonight.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 18/21

Short Story: The Char Siu Bao

She licks her lips and swallows before her drool escapes.

Glistening braised pork, deep red watermelon juice, glossy stir fried cabbage. The dishes have been left on display for hours, but even cold and stale, it looks delicious. Customers want fresh food, so maybe the owner won’t mind if she snags a bite?

The char siu bao that she grabs is hard and cold, but food is food. She stuffs the bun into her mouth before it can be taken from her.

She spits it out with tears of pain leaking out of her eyes.

The bao wasn’t just tough, it’s hard as a rock.

“That’s fake.”

She jumps at the foreign voice. A man watches her from the side entrance of the restaurant, apron wrinkled and hair tied back in a tangled ponytail.

“Here.” He holds out another white bun. “Let’s trade.”

The other bao curves around his fingers the way hers doesn’t. Is it a trick? She knows some people like to add weird things to food as pranks on people like her.

Without a word, the man pinches out a piece. Steam waffs into the air from the pork filling as he takes a bite.

“It’s safe,” he says.

If he can eat it, she can too. They trade buns at the same time and she scurries back the moment she has her hot treasure.

This is the taste she was expecting when she saw the food on display.

“If you want more, I have an open table inside,” the man says, “My treat.”

“What’s the catch?” she asks.

“No catch. Someone helped me last time. I’m just paying it forward.”

When she doesn’t answer, he just steps back into the building.

“My break’s over, but if you take a seat I’ll serve you,” he says in parting.

She fiddles with the hem of her shirt as she rocks nervously on her feet. She’s still hungry, and this is a public space. If he tries to do anything funny, she can run.

Worn hands smooth the wrinkles out of her clothes, fingers comb greasy hair into order, and she gathers the little courage she has left like a cloak and walks in.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

July stories: 17/21

Short Story: Timeless Valley

For the immortals, who live in a world where lives come and go in the blink of an eye, this timeless valley is a boon.

A perpetually overcast sky hides the movement of celestial bodies. The isolated biome is comfortably stable, consisting of great flora and ancient fauna that have outlived most modern civilizations.

Here, there is no need to change their identities every few years. They can sleep deeply without worrying that they’ll wake to find new faces in old places.

But this valley is also an insidious drug. Those who linger too long risk falling into complacency. An unused mind turns dull, even for an immortal whose physical body can’t die.

So they reserve this refuge only for when they need a breather. As a compromise, many choose to live for a couple of years at a time in the nearby towns. Far enough that they are still part of the fast-paced mortal world, close enough to protect their valley from any threats.

Because if they lose this last haven… even the hardest mountain can be worn away by relentless pressure.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

July stories: 16/21