Category Archives: Short Stories
A collection of original short stories featuring mostly nameless characters.
Genre: slice of life, family
Two words defined the Sou family.
Obsessive and enterprising.
Thanks to Sou Li Wen, who had an obsession with their family history, they knew exactly who the obsession started with: Sou Li Liang, whose obsession with cups almost killed him when a whole mountain of his own collection collapsed on him.
In the beginning, it was a generational hoarding problem that needed to be curbed, until Sou Mei Yan turned her obsession with tea into a business venture.
A thin line divided collectors and hoarders. One could manage their collection, one couldn’t. So every Sou faced the same decision, curb the obsession, or monetize it.
Her mother opened a museum to house her ever growing collection of shoes. She added her vast knowledge to the exhibits to make it an educational experience and worked together with design firms and educational centres as a niche shoe expert.
Her brother began a small business while still in elementary school to save up for a shop he would eventually run to house his model kit collection. Already, he had complete strangers contacting him for help regarding model kits.
Her father married into the family, so he didn’t have an obsession.
Neither did she, but she should have one. It was in her blood. However, it wasn’t unheard of for late bloomers to only find their obsession in adulthood, so she prepared.
She worked very hard and purchased different types of property for her eventual obsession. A shop lot in a cafe area if her obsession was food-related, a store in the shopping centre if her obsession was purchasing but not collecting, a building that she could use as a gallery if she did want to collect items, and the list went on. And because she didn’t know when she would use them, or if she even would need them all, the enterprising side of her made sure she rented them out instead of leaving them empty and useless.
It took her an embarrassing long time before she realised she already had an obsession.
Collecting real estate.
During the day, he did not feel, he did not think.
They tormented him in his dreams instead.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t want to hurt you. I tried to save who I could but I couldn’t save everyone.”
You should have tried harder.
“I’m sorry,” he said, over and over again, to the father he had burned alive as a warning, to the girl whose ear he cut to send a message, to the boy whose hand he sliced as a punishment.
Among the crowd, his younger brother stepped out. He flinched. Of all the spectres who haunted his dreams, his family were the worst. The others he had hurt in the past, his family he continued to hurt day after day.
“I’m sorry. I’m not the brother you’re looking for.”
“That’s ok. At least you’re back,” his younger brother said.
“But I didn’t. Can’t you see?”
His younger brother gave him a smile that was meant to sooth him but felt instead like a stab to his heart.
“We’ll be waiting.”
He woke, and his dream vanished from his memory. Only the last words remained, but without context, it only confused him, and like everything else that confused him, he wiped the thought from his mind.
His armour of apathy snapped into place. It was time to endure another day.
Savoury nibbles, sweet delights, fried bites, fresh goodness, the hall had them all. The boy swallowed before he drooled all over himself.
He walked in circles, watching what the other children took, before finally scampering to the table by the door. A stack of plates sat at the end of the table, and he reached for the top one.
Or he tried to.
“Don’t eat anything here,” another boy said with his hand on the plate.
“But the lady said I could eat anything,” he said.
“If you eat the food, you’ll be trapped. Like me. Follow me,” the other boy said and pulled him. With a longing look at the table, he followed the other boy to the door.
“Try and walk through the door,” the other boy said.
He walked in and out a few times. Nothing happened.
“My turn.” The other boy stuck his hand through the door, but instead of passing through, he hit an invisible wall that flashed red when he touched it. Even when the boy tried to pull the other boy through, he couldn’t pass the door.
“If you eat the food here, you’ll be trapped forever.”
“Forever. You’ll never see your family and friends again. Or your favourite toy, or your favourite place, or your favourite TV series.”
With every word, the boy’s eyes opened wider and wider in horror.
“It’s too late for me, but not you. Escape while you still can.”
The boy nodded and ran without looking back. A woman appeared behind the boy who remained.
“And so, another escapes,” the woman said.
The illusion of a boy faded into the body of a man.
“Another two dozen more to go,” the man said with a glance at the other children gorging themselves on the abundant food that would only make them hungrier, “I won’t stop until they’re all free.”
“I won’t stop either. Remember. You’re the intruder,” the woman said and left.
“Only because what you’re doing isn’t right,” the man said to empty air. Not that it mattered if she actually heard him. He already tried talking to her about her obsession in the past to no avail, and if he waited for her to come to her senses before he acted, it would be too late for the children.
He turned his attention to a girl by the pizza table. He shrugged into an illusion of a pretty, definitely not suspicious older girl and approached.
“I heard there’s chocolate pizza outside. Want to get a slice?”
He began his search with all the wealth he had accumulated over the years. Throughout his journey, he was parsimonious. Living was expensive, and he needed to stretch his funds out as long as possible.
A beggar sat on the side of the road. He walked past without pause. He passed the point of no return two months ago. Unless he found his target, he didn’t have enough resources to go home, and that beggar on the street would find a new neighbour.
Why was he still looking? Why didn’t he just cut his losses and go home?
Didn’t matter now. It was too late anyway.
* * *
“He’s still looking.”
“How long more do we need to watch him?”
“Shouldn’t be long now. He can’t have much cash left.”
“That’s what we keep thinking and he always has more than we think.”
The twins whispered to each other in the shadows.
“Rich people are weird.”
The brother spent his fortune on a fruitless search. The sister spent her fortune to bring him back.
But wait until he gives up first, she said, If you try to bring him back any earlier, he’ll just fight you all the way back.
“Yeah. Not that I’m complaining. It’s easy money.”
The brother crossed the road. Unseen, the twins followed him.
“I hope he finds what he’s looking for. I want to see what’s so special about it.”
Genre: slice of life, family
“I mean, some days I can write pages and pages and pages in one sitting, but today’s not that day. It took me the whole morning to write two lines. Two lines. That’s nothing,” the writer complained.
The composer just grunted and tried to tune the noise out.
“Do you know how bad that is? Terrible. Disastrous. Catastrophic.”
“Go out for a walk.”
“Tried that. Only got half a page’s material at most. I’m supposed to have a novella ready in two weeks!”
“Stand on your head.”
“I’ll only get a headache from that.”
“Go bother someone else.”
The writer gasped dramatically. “You’ll throw a struggling creative out when she needs you most? Your own sister.”
The composer had enough. He hauled the writer to her feet and turned her to the door.
“I have a symphony due next week that’s worth half my grade. Nothing and no one is allowed to bother my until I’m done. Good day.”
The door slammed shut.
The writer’s eyes lit up.
“I’ve got it!”
The writer rushed off to chase her new plot bunny.
Genre: fantasy, mystery?
At a cursory glance, the house looks like a plain, ordinary house. Two stories, like the rest of the neighbourhood, and a clean garden with just enough plants to not look empty.
Go closer, however, and one will see that there is a pattern to the plants, and the white wall is not as blank as first perceived. Faint shadows cover the wall that, if one looks long enough, might look a little like words.
The door has no doorknob. It is not a true door that can be opened. It is just a facade for the house to blend into the neighbourhood.
If one can enter, however, one would see that the two-story house is actually one big, empty room, with four white walls capped by a white floor at the bottom and a white ceiling on top.
Look closer once more, and one will see that all six surfaces are made up of tiles of different shapes and sizes, all arranged to produce a feather-light pattern.
And if one looks, really looks, one might see the faintest shadow of a giant creature, slumbering on the floor.
But the whole point of the house is to go unnoticed. And it does that very well. So the creature continues to slumber, and the house remains, to the cursory glance, and ordinary house.
Genre: slice of life
The boy was completely silent.
The officers whispered among themselves.
“Is he mute?”
“No. He was the one screaming earlier.”
“Anyone managed to get the parents?”
The girl looked at the officers, then at the boy, then back at the officers. In her mind, she saw an invisible wall cut the room. The officers on one side, the boy on the other.
That wasn’t right.
The girl crossed the room to the boy.
The boy stared at her. She waited, and waited, and waited some more. Just when she thought of leaving him, his face scrunched up and he burst into tears.
The invisible wall vanished. The officers rushed over.
“It wasn’t me,” she said.
“We know,” one of the officers stopped to say, “You’re a good girl.”
She couldn’t help but smile. He said she was a good girl!
She skipped happily back to her parents, who pulled her into a hug once she was close enough.
And that kept her happy the whole day.
Nothing was permanent. He learnt that when all the people around him but one left him when he was in trouble. Now the hustle and bustle of life filled his mansion once more, but he couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling that it was just an illusion. That the moment trouble hit again, these people would desert him once more.
If that happened again, however, he would take comfort in the fact that there was one who stood by him in the past, and that he could count on her abiding loyalty for support.
But, his traitorous mind pointed out, What if she doesn’t stay this time?
The thought coiled in his chest, sometimes so heavy that he felt like he couldn’t breathe. It was a weight he would have to get used to, because he would only find the answer when trouble came knocking again.
Something was up.
On the surface, it was just another day at work.
For those who knew their stuff (and she knew her stuff), their cafe did not get this much traffic at 3 in the afternoon.
“I don’t want to go out there,” she told her colleague.
“Me too. But them customers need to be served. Gimme. I’ll do it.”
She happily handed the plates to him and stayed behind the counter. Her professional smile hid her growing anxiety as more and more grim-faced patrons walked in.
Their instincts turned out to be dead on when a patron grabbed her colleague by his neck without warning. The other patron who shared the table tensed, but the quiet conversation continued as if nothing was wrong.
The rest of the room either pretended not to notice or begin to reveal their own threats.
A fight was about to happen.
She slipped into the kitchen and grabbed her phone. The operator picked up as the noise level picked up.
“… your emergency?”
“We’re under attack!”
Genre: slice of life
The problem with having two competitive best friends, was that they competed over everything, including his friendship.
“Which do you like more? The soup or the fried noodle?”
“They’re both nice,” he said diplomatically.
“Yes, but one has to be better.”
“I like the one I chose most.”
His friends wandered into a different topic and he hid a sigh of relief.
He had told them many times, alone and together, that he didn’t want to be part of their competitions.
They said they would try (after saying they wanted a tiebreaker. The two of them were more alike than they liked to admit), and they have, but there was always something new they wanted to compete over.
It was easier to refuse to be the tiebreaker they wanted, and maybe one they, they would settle down and agree on things.
Possibly related to Not A Competition.