About 150 years ago, I had something akin to writer’s block. It wasn’t your standard writer’s block, though, where I couldn’t get anything down on paper. This was a weird case in which I was CONSTANTLY writing, starting story after story, coming up with great characters, crazy plots, bizarre mysteries, horrifying monsters…but I’d never FINISH anything. I have notebook after notebook after notebook just FULL of scenarios and characters and twists of fate, but (other than one 17,000 word novella) I kept getting bored with what I was writing, and I would give it up—moving on to the NEXT freaky idea or tantalizing character without ever writing “THE END.”
I wanted to FINISH something.
Just to feel what it was like to COMPLETE a story… ANY STORY. I decided I was going to write a short story. A very short story. A VERY VERY VERY SHORT STORY! And so I did… Here’s what I came up with:
“Tom” by Richard F. Yates
Tom ate several things he found in a drawer at Kimble’s house. No one suspected that this was Tom’s plan from the beginning. Now Tom is dead.
I started a new blog, called it “VERY VERY VERY SHORT STORIES,” and published “Tom” on November 14th, 2011. I showed it to a few friends of mine, and they all said, “That’s just stupid. I could do better than that!” And they DID. By November 28th, we had NINETY NINE of these little stories, written by about 20 different people (several published under aliases)—and we even decided to release the stories as a BOOK! (Which I made 7 inches by 7 inches, so that it looked a bit like a 45 rpm record, because these little stories reminded me, just of bit, of a bunch of novelty songs…) Over time, a few of us kept going back to the V.V.V.S.S. whenever we felt like we needed to write some weird little thing—just to FINISH something again, maybe, or perhaps because we’d started to really ENJOY these freaky, tiny, often absurd little bits of fiction. (Not FLASHY fiction, of course… There wasn’t anything FLASHY about what we were doing. It was just very very short… No flash…)
So—what does any of this have to do with YOU fine folks? I’ll tell you what! This is REALLY about me still enjoying some of these older stories, as weird and ephemeral as they are, and not wanting them to disappear into the garbage disposal that is TIME AND SPACE, so I’m going to REPRINT a couple of them below in the hopes that SOMEBODY might read them again… These are just a few of my favorite weird little bits, and if you enjoy these, there is an entire website just FULL of this junk, by a bunch of different authors (somewhere between 25 and 30 humans in total, I think, although I can’t quite remember which pseudonym belongs to who anymore…) Without further ado, here are six VERY VERY VERY SHORT STORIES that I quite like, even though most of them are very weird and disposable and easily forgotten. I still laugh when I read most of these… Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them, too! (The couple of aliases listed below are also me… So… Yeah…)
“Love Song” by Charlie Centipede
“…crickle crack, crickle crack! Now I want my husband back!” she sang. And the dirt began to move…
“The Floating Cow” by Dr. Ugg (The Educated Caveman)
The cow floated approximately six feet off the ground, chewing absently and apparently unconcerned as it progressed down Henson Street.
“Damn it, Bessie! Get your ass back to the barn,” Jed yelled, then spit a gooey mass of brown liquid into the gutter.
The cow rolled its huge eyes toward the farmer, gave a low mewling grunt, then continued floating toward the edge of town.
Three weeks later, Jed received a postcard of the world’s largest ball of twine that was signed, cryptically, with the word: “Moo.”
“Harold and Abigale” by Richard F. Yates
Harold rolled over in the night and discovered that Abigale was gone. A note pinned to her pillow read, “Harold, I’m leaving you to pursue my dream of becoming a wig maker for Eastern European goth kids. I put a stew in the crock-pot for you. Have a good life.”
“One Day” by Richard F. Yates
One day, the night came early, and everyone went home confused.
“Party!!!!!” by Richard F. Yates
It was a party like no other! Nobody came. There was no music or snacks, and when Jerry went to clean up afterwards, he was stabbed to death by an empty pizza box. Everyone agreed it was a great success!
“Echoes” by Richard F. Yates
In the beginning there was nothing, or perhaps one very small thing, which was, in fact, everything. In the end there will be nothing but echoes.
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Holy Fool)
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