Stephen L. Thompson’s Published Works

Stephen L. Thompson’s
Published Flash Fiction 2009-2013


Hello. Here is a listing of all of my published flash fiction works from 2009 until ??. (I consider flash fiction to be between 100 and 1000 words.) They are listed with the most recent publications on the top and I have the work’s title, when and where it was published, and a brief blurb or history of the story. Most of these stories are on the web and I have linked to them. I hope you enjoy.









Steve’s Homepage Main Publication Page




“Little Multi-Colored Lies”

December 6, 2013 Bubblews

This is based on something that happen to me with an ex-girlfriend. She loved Christmas lights, and I didn’t want to argue.

This story is no longer online.

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“A Whale of a Tale”

September 10, 2013 Bubblews

When I did my 30 Stories in 30 Days for 2013, I didn’t do so well. There were several stories I had started, but never got around to finishing them. Such as this one. A storm had blown an inflatable whale out of a neighbor’s pool, and I figured I could turn that into a story.

This story is no longer online.

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“Memories”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

I saw online where someone was looking for good stocking stuffer ideas (in June!) and my first thought for a good stocking stuffer was a severed foot.

Click here to read the story.

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“Woggy”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

I got this idea and started this story. Then I couldn’t think of a way to end it. Hopefully, you found what I came up with amusing.

Click here to read the story.

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“Directions”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was looking for a simple idea to write when I thought of a lost time traveler. At first I tried to avoid the “left turn at Albuquerque” bit, but eventually I couldn’t think of anything better.

Click here to read the story.

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“For Want of a Pen”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

The phrase “For want of a pen” came to mind and I figured I should write a story about it. What I came up with was a poet writing himself to death.

Click here to read the story.

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“Heartbeat of the Night”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was out with our dog about 2:00 AM. At one point I heard, as from a great distance, a low, short thrum. Which repeated. At first I thought it was from the gas drilling, but it was coming from the wrong direction. I listened for a few seconds trying to figure out what it was when I heard voices around the thrumming. That’s when I realized someone was having a party and had cranked their music up. Of course, as a writer I had to think it was something more interesting like the heartbeat of the night.

Click here to read the story.

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“A Not so Different Future”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

I have to thank Jamie Cawley for the idea for this story. On my 10 day update post for this challenge on Bubblews, she wrote “You usually get faster, the more you write. Think it dusts off your brain or something :D” I chuckled at the image of a dusty brain, and had to write a story about it.

Click here to read the story.

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“House Call”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

Several years ago, a friend started writing a story about a sentient “vehicle.” (It would take too long to explain more.) So a couple of years ago, I came up with an idea for a story that “borrows” the sentient vehicle idea. But why stop at vehicles? What about sentient homes? With that, I realized for remodeling, you’d call a cosmetic surgeon.

Click here to read the story.

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“Hot Heads”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

One of the ideas behind my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge is to use up old ideas. Unfortunately, what usually happens is I end up just writing stories from fresh ideas. This year, for example, “Figures” and “Hmmm” were ideas I had about a week ago. And “You Didn’t Pray Hard Enough” and “Details” were ideas I had that day. But this story came from an old idea. About two years ago I jotted down in my writing notebook an idea about terrorists attacking some project combating global warming. It was an interesting idea, and every time I saw it when I flipped through my notebook I told myself, “I need to write a story for that.” Now I finally have.

Click here to read the story.

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“Details”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

Each day on Sidetick (now defunct), this woman asked a question on her blog. The question today was what animal would you want to own. My answer was a goose that laid golden eggs. Right after I typed that, I wondered what you would have to feed such a goose.

Click here to read the story.

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“You Didn’t Pray Hard Enough”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

This started when I saw a headline reading “Pat Robertson Blames Tornado Victims For Not Praying Enough.” To be honest, I didn’t dig into the story because, if I saw a headline that read, “Pat Robertson says God told him Obama wasn’t a man, but a ‘man suit’ operated by three weasels,” I would be like, yeah, that sounds like something Pat Robertson would say.

Click here to read the story.

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“Hmmm”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

The other day, I saw a comment online about how things can’t be fixed because the people who really run the world don’t want them to be fixed. (A crazy conspiracy online, I know, shocking.) But as I read about these people who supposedly run everything, I had to say that they’re doing a pretty piss poor job. That’s where this story came from.

Click here to read the story.

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“Figures”

June 2013 30 Stories in 30 Days

For the last few months, I’ve been having some computer issues. About a month ago, I bought a new laptop, but I have issues with that as well. The other day I had the idea I was beset by writing gremlins, and figured that would be a good story to start this year’s 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge.

Click here to read the story.

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“Four Score and Dear God!”

May 25, 2013 Bubblews

This was a short story I wrote but couldn’t find a place that would take it. So I just self-published it on my Bubblews profile.

This story is no longer online.

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“Who’s Watching?”

April 11, 2013 Writer’s Stew

The writing group I’m part of got the idea of putting together a little collection of poems, artwork, short stories. I wanted to do a story relating to writing, so one day I went to the library to – among other things – get some writing done. While I was there, some old guy was yelling at the computer, and I worked that into a story.

The story is not online.

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“The Color of Possibilities”

March 25, 2013 Figment

This was a story I wrote for Figment’s Spring Fever Short-Story Contest. The prompt for the story was “In 250 words or fewer, write a story that’s set in springtime.” This is what I came up with.

Click here to read the story.

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“This Generation”

February 27, 2013 Ficly

I was talking with one of my brothers one day, and we were talking about stuff that happened when we were kids and he brought up this game our dad played during Sunday drives. I figured such a game wouldn’t work to well these days.

Click here to read the story.

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“Do You Remember Me Now?”

August 28, 2012 Wattpad

A couple of years ago, I chatted on Facebook and talked on the phone with this woman. We never actually met, but for reason it would take too long to go into she is someone I remember. One day she left a comment on one of my postings, and I just wondered if she even remembered who I was, or if I was just a random Facebook friend.

Click here to read the story.

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“Loaner”

August 23, 2012 Ficly

I had to take my car into the garage. I sat there for a couple of hours, I read for a while, but I ended up zoning out and having weird ideas, such as this one.

Click here to read the story.

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“Lucas Witnesses”

July 31, 2012 Ficly

This was just something silly I thought of during a long drive.

Click here to read the story.

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“Check Brain”

June 18, 2012 Ficly

The check engine light came on in my car. It’s happened before. It would go on for no apparent reason, stay one for a day or two, then go off. So instead of being super worried about it, I wrote a short story. Make’s sense.

Click here to read the story.

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“Have to Learn the Hard Way”

Issue 167, May 2012
AntipodeanSF

I can’t remember where this idea came from. It was probably just the realization that whenever we develop the technology of brain implants, some asshole will develop malware that targets brain implants. Won’t the future be exciting?

Click here to read the story.
You can also listen to it here

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“It’s Tough Being a Writer”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This was something I started weeks ago, but thought was a little too silly so I set it aside. But a couple days ago I realized it would be a perfect story to end this year’s Challenge.

Click here to read the story.

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“Can’t Hack It”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

When I was in college, I started writing a novel about a writer’s decent into madness. I had all these crazy ideas for it, and I was biting off more than I could chew, so I didn’t get that far into it. But one aspect of it, was that if his novels were made into movies they would have ended up on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I had given some titles to his novels, and I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if I wrote short stories with these titles? So I wrote a story titled “Uranian Vampire Babes.” And let me tell you, trying to write something bad, is really tough. At one point I had to rewrite a bit so there would be a plot hole in it.

That was years ago, but it all came back as I wrote this story. Originally, Mike was going to tell Sue about a story he had written for a college course and how – at the last minute – he discovered a plot hole in it. This was to be part of the reason he hated plot holes so much. But after two attempts to write a description of a story with a plot hole, I found it too difficult. Trying to write things bad just doesn’t seem to work in my head. Things may come out bad, but that’s another issue.

Click here to read the story.

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“How Did They Get Our Number?”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This was just a silly story idea. Don’t know what more to say about it.

Click here to read the story.

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“Idiot 2.0”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

Several years ago, I was thinking about the old saying that once you idiot-proof something, they’ll just make a better class of idiot. I thought about this for a bit, and I came up with “Idiot 2.0.” I had no idea for a story to go with it, but I thought it was a good title. So I jotted it down, and the other day I came across it while looking for story ideas to finish out my Challenge. I started thinking about it again and I wondered why – because of the 2.0 – would anyone need an idiot program. Maybe I’m just on a writing streak, but the first thing that came to mind was a program writers could use to write realistic idiotic dialogue.

Click here to read the story.

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“Connecting with the People”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

Every election cycle, untold millions are spent on TV commercials. Does anyone actually pay attention to them? Outside of political pundits, does anyone actually watch them?

Click here to read the story.

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“Rambling with Purpose”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’ve often heard the advice to writers to write without thinking. Just, fill a page with words and see what comes out. I’m not that good at that. It’s not really my style. But, as I’m trying to write these last few stories for my challenge, I need to do whatever I can.

Click here to read the story.

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“An Improvement”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

One evening I had a bit of a political back and forth on Facebook with mainly one guy but a few of his friends chipped in, and a few hours later I was thinking about it, and one think led to another, and somehow this story – which really has no bearing on the back and forth – came to mind. The thing I like the most about this story is that I was finally able to use – after thinking it up in my naïve college days – the Golden Bullet Paradox in a story.

Click here to read the story.

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“W. A.”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

Okay, this one’s a bit weird. I admit, I do have a problem with too many story ideas – not as bad as Joe’s though – but a problem nonetheless. I do have writing notebooks, including one that is just a list of unwritten short stories I keep, mainly, as possibilities for my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge. One such idea was a support group for writers with too many ideas. One thing that concerned me was how easily the words for this one flowed. I wrote it in a little over half-an-hour, did some other things for twenty minutes or so, went back and read through it again, then posted it. I’m not sure what to make of that.

Click here to read the story.

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“Backup”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

It was 11:00 PM on the 20th and I only had nineteen stories. Could I write another story in an hour to stay on track with my 30 Stories in 30 Days? Turns out, I didn’t need that much time: I wrote this in half-an-hour. Not bad.

Click here to read the story.

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“Faulty Programming, I”
“Faulty Programming, II”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This was a simple idea that almost got out of hand. There were so many possible ways to take this, it’s just that most of them were clichéd. Some examples: the bio-simulate/probe could have been Obama, which would have sent the Birthers into a tizzy. It could have been JFK, and Oswald was another bio-simulate/probe reprogrammed to take him out and stop the interference. Or, it could have been Hitler.

After much debating, I decided to keep the identity of the bio-simulate/probe secret, thus avoiding any cliché. But I do think I’ll need to come back to this idea when I have more time and explore some of the other possibilities.

Click here to read the first, and here for the second story.

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“Quieting the Voices”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’m a few stories behind with my challenge. I have five stories that I’ve started, two of which I’m not all that impressed with, but I hope to finish the other three this month. It’s just that usually in the middle of my challenge I want to give up because it’s become too stressful. I have a lot of ideas, but in the rush to get them out they clog up and that just increase the stress level. So I was sitting here debating if I should write or try to catch up on my sleep, when I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could just turn my imagination off for the night instead of having my ideas keep me awake? Hench this story.

Click here to read the story.

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“We the People”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

I think the idea of the President having a monthly video chat with normal Americans would be a great idea. That’s how I started writing the story. Then I realized that if you picked ten people at random, or actually if you picked ten people off the internet at random, you’d likely grab one or two idiots. So the story took a turn for the, not as refreshing as I had originally planned. Oh well.

Click here to read the story.

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“If Only It Were That Easy”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’ve known for years that I have more ideas than I’ll ever write. But after writing “Bottomless Pit,” the image of something clogging my creative outlet came to mind. Now, I probably write 95% of my stuff on the computer, but I can and will write with a pen. So, naturally, I assumed if something was clogging my creative outlet it must be the pen point. It’s obvious if you think about it. So I just whipped up this silly little story.

Click here to read the story.

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“Bottomless Pit”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

I started working on a story, “The Sophias,” for my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge. I wrote the first 800 or so words and it came to a spot where I could have ended it, but it didn’t really feel finished. So I went on. As I type this, it is now over 1600 words, and I have no idea how to end it. Normally, that wouldn’t be too bad of a problem, but as I’m trying to write thirty stories in as many days it helps to have stories that end instead of just eating up words. When the image of a story eating up words came to me, I just knew I had to write a story about it. Somehow, that became “Bottomless Pit.” Don’t ask me how.

Click here to read the story.

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“Bound to Happen”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

I had planned on this being the third story I wrote for this challenge, but then there was that school shooting in California, so I set this aside until now.

Basically – if it hasn’t already happened – I predict the day will come when religious nut jobs, in addition to shooting abortion doctors, will start shooting biology teachers.

Click here to read the story.

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“In a Rut”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

One of the problems I have with a lot of alien invasion movies is that the aliens apparently only exist to invade planets. They have no other purpose in life. Now I’ll admit that in the vastness of the universe, there probably are mindless alien army ants who just take over everything, but you’d think any society smart enough to build interstellar ships would – I don’t know – pause to wonder if there was something else they could be doing. Or, as in this story, maybe they’re just in a rut.

Click here to read the story.

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“Priorities”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

Someday an atheist will run for President. I’m betting their opponent will make a big deal out of it, which I’d say says more about the weakness of their own campaign than anything else.

Click here to read the story.

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“Job Security”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

I heard a report about companies asking for people’s Facebook passwords, which I think is insane. On one hand I can sorta understand a company showing a good face to the public, but that seemed too Big Brotherly. That idea festered for a couple of days and then the phrase “Cyber stalking, the job of the future!” came to mind. So I just played with it, and this is what I came up with.

Click here to read the story.

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“One Question”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

If there was a real candidate like this, she’d have my vote, because if I somehow ever became President, this is one of the things I would start. But since my chances of becoming President are nil, I just wrote a story about it in the hope the idea would take off.

Click here to read the story.

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“Stuff Happens”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

I believe the idea for this came during the civil war in Libya. The various Republican candidates made various statements about President Obama’s handling of it. Without considering if these statements were justified or just politics, to me they seemed those of an armchair quarterback. And I think that’s one of the difficulties in going against a sitting President: they are there when stuff happens and they have to deal with it. Presidents deal with situations their opponents don’t have to.

Click here to read the story.

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“Bad Scifi is Universal”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

A week or so ago I watched “When Aliens Attack” on TV (it can be found on YouTube). It was supposed to be this scientific look at a “possible” alien invasion. Now, I said “possible” because the whole thing was stupid. The conjectured reason the aliens came to Earth was stupid, and once they got here their tactics were not aimed at taking over the planet to rip out its resources, but to give humanity every opportunity to eventually beat them. It wasn’t science as much as it would have been a really lame Syfy movie.

So I started thinking about some poor alien from a race invading Earth who can’t understand why they are doing things so stupidly. But that was then turned around to what’s in the story.

Click here to read the story.

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“Free Crap”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

Just so you know, I am a schmuck who will be self-publishing my second book on paper, probably next week.

This started a couple of years ago when I was talking with a writer friend about ebooks vs. real books. I suggested that ebooks would probably take the place of the books you buy, read once, then donate to a library or sell in a yard sale. But books that mean something to you would still be published so you could display them on a bookcase. I’ve wanted to write a story about this, but I could never think of how to do it. Then on Twitter or Facebook I saw where an author – as a promotion – was giving away their ebook for free. I had started collecting free ebooks, and it was probably a couple of weeks later that I began reading this one. I don’t know if I’ll finish it because it’s a good thing it was free; if I had paid a penny for it, I’d probably have buyer’s remorse.

Click here to read the story.

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“A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days

A couple of months ago, I was taking a walk and – for whatever reason – I began thinking about a cabin in the woods. I wondered what a futuristic version of that would be, and I came up with a cabin on the mare. (Mare being the dark lunar “seas.”) So I had a setting for a story, but what would the story be about? At first, I was going to write about a couple on a romantic holiday, but I couldn’t really think of what to do with that, so I switched to someone sequestering themselves away for weeks at a time to finish some important project. As a writer, I was going to have it be about a writer, but I decided I should try writing about some other artistic endeavor. And the reason I wrote about computerized music being bland, is because there are a couple of bands who when they were small and couldn’t afford the technology – or the technology didn’t exist – had a rich, rough sound. But now, I think they smooth the sounds to be “perfect” and I think they now sound bland and pointless. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone, but oh well.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know or pick it up from the story, Mare Nubium means the Sea of Clouds.

Click here to read the story.

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“An Eye for an Eye”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

I’m hoping to have a collection of political stories ready before the election, so I’ve been thinking a lot about various no-win situations a President might have to deal with, such as how to respond to a nuclear attack. Even without our current “Us vs. Them” political climate, it seems that any response would have its downsides and its detractors.

Click here to read the story.

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“Is That How it Works?”

April 2012 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

I was on YouTube and watched a political clip. Someone in the comments had asked something along the lines of, “How much money do rich people need?” I replied, “All of it, of course,” which got me thinking about things and I just typed this up. It’s a joke that isn’t funny, just like American politics.

Click here to read the story.

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“A Clear View”

March 24, 2012 Ficly

This was just a stupid little idea that I found amusing. Also, I’ve been trying to post a story each month on Ficly and this was a way to meet that goal.

Click here to read the story.

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“I Wouldn’t Be Surprised”

January 23, 2012 Ficly

This came about because some days I wish Obama would come out and say “the sky is blue” just to watch the Republicans stumble over themselves attacking him for such radical remarks.

Click here to read the story.

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“Worth a Million”

January 18, 2012 Ficly

I just found it a tad aggravating to hear some schmuck who was paid $1.6 million as a “historian” bitch about overpaid janitors.

Click here to read the story.

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“The Horror”

October 27, 2011 Ficly

This was a quick little story for Halloween. I wondered what the scariest thing that could happen to a kid was. This is what I came up with.

Click here to read the story.

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“Planning Ahead”

October 19, 2011 Ficly
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

Call me crazy, but I think if the economy tanks or World War III happens, things like food, water, medicine, guns, and ammunition will be far more valuable to the survivors than bits of shiny metal. You know, things that will keep you alive instead of things that will get you killed.

Click here to read the story.

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“Failure to Communicate”

October 5, 2011 Ficly

It seems every time there’s an earthquake or hurricane or something, some religious yo-yo comes along announcing God is angry because we … fill-in-the-blank. And I just want to slap them because they’re so stupid. I mean, if He can create a universe, He can set up a Twitter account.

Click here to read the story.

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“It Came Out of the Night”

September 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter<
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

This came from one time when I crashed at a friends’ for a couple of days. One night their cat forced his way into the room. I had no idea what was going on until I accidently hit him. (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t hurt him.) So this is what I came up with about that incident.

Click here to read the story.

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“Housebreaking”

Issue 159, September 2011
AntipodeanSF

To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember how this story came about. The one thing I do remember from the first draft a couple of years ago, was that they were originally Angelina Jolie clones. As such, I needed to know what color her eyes were, so I googled it. (I didn’t want to just look at a photo, since she might have been wearing contacts.) I quickly found several sites, which all gave different colors, from smoky-grey, to grey, to blue-green, to blue. My difficulty in finding her eye color was one of the reasons I went with a generic clone. The other reason is that this story was laid aside for awhile, and when I went back to it, Megan Fox was the new “it” girl. I thought about changing them to Megan clones, but then I realized it would date the story. I guess an Angelina clone isn’t as classy as a Marilyn Monroe-bot.

Click here to read the story.
You can also listen to it here

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“A Golden Age”

August 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

This story came about after a blog posting I had made concerning my going through old VHS tapes and watching some old commercials. It did seem to be a golden age.

Click here to read the story.

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“Backwater”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

There’s a CD stuck in my player, so on my drives home (across a good portion of Pennsylvania) I have to listen to my radio. Unfortunately, there are some places where the only stations that come in are Bible thumpers, staticicy classical, and crappy rock. Being me, I went from my experience to that of aliens.

Click here to read the story.

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“Land of The Dumb”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was driving the other day and I saw a hand written sign reading, “I buy houses,” and a phone number. I stared at it for a few seconds, and went, “Really?”

Click here to read the story.

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“Did You Think Otherwise?”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’ve often wondered how many American Christians just assume that Jesus will return in America. My guess is they think he’ll show up to get a cable TV program.

Click here to read the story.

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“The Price to Pay”

June 2011 Smashwords

In some ways, this will be a dark day for scifi writers. But it would also be fantastic.

Click here to download the story.

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“Future Tour”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was writing in a bookstore yesterday in the history section. As I looked around I saw a lot of books on the US Civil War as some on Iraq and Afghanistan. I remembered as a kid my family going to Gettysburg, and I just wondered if anyone would tour the battlefields of today’s wars.

Click here to read the story.

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“The Time Will Come”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

If we survive long enough, a new species will either evolve naturally or be created with technological means. I almost see it as my duty to get Homo sapiens used to that idea.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, my Latin expert explains Homo narratus as meaning, “man recorded (man having been recorded).”

Click here to read the story.

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“Talking With Ants”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’ve often wondered why, or if, super powerful aliens would talk to us. This is what I came up with.

Click here to read the story.

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“Indivisible”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

Here’s one of the blog postings I saw on this subject. I’m not sure what else to say about this.

Click here to read the story.

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“Dust to Dust”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I had just finished watching the pilot of Falling Skies and one of the problems I had with it was they went with the standard incompetent aliens. I mean, we humans with our primitive chemistry sets have come up with various toxins and poisons that if you made enough of them and spread them all around the planet would kill off everyone. You’d think the aliens – as they flew around the galaxy taking over planets – would have the time and skill to do the same thing. But no, they can only kill off 90% of people and leave the rest to fight a guerrilla war.

Of course, if the aliens killed everyone, that would be a rather short TV series.

Click here to read the story.

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“From Out of Town”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

Originally, this story was to be from the point of view of a guy in our world. I imagined the director of this dimensional dating service telling him that somewhere amongst the infinite worlds, there was a planet populated entirely by Angelina Jolies who would find him amazing. It would just take time – and money – to locate it. But instead of just making this another story about the male fantasy of going to a planet populated entirely with women, I turned it on its head. Kinda.

Click here to read the story.

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“A Bitter Man Can Dream”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

For the record, let me state that if I were to be chosen to live amongst aliens to teach them about humanity and learn about them, I would never make such a comment about the women who have turned me down. I know that any woman who was only interested in me for my fame wouldn’t be someone I’d be interested in. And besides, if I did make such a statement, they could just write me off as a prick. But by not mentioning what a wonderful catch they passed up, there’s a far better chance of it burrowing into their heads. I’m not bitter, I’m devious.

Click here to read the story.

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“Mercy”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was going through my story idea notebook, trying to find something quick I could write since I was a few stories behind. Along the way I mercy killed a couple of the ideas. I guess my muse smiled at that.

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“Fluid History”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I first had this idea several years ago. I think I had read a collection of alternate history stories and had been annoyed with some of them. It seemed like if they wrote a story where Pickett’s Charge had succeeded, it could only lead to the Confederates winning the war. So I wrote a story where Pickett’s Charge succeeds to split the Union line, and the result is the Confederates lose the war sooner.

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“Give it Time”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

This idea came to me just as I went to bed the other night. At first I thought I would need to work out their spiel about all the benefits of joining the hive mind, but then I was a few stories behind and I wanted to do something quick. So I figured out how to make this one nice and short.

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“Prophets”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

A friend had a party over the weekend. It had been a while since most of us had gotten together, so one of the topics that came up was Harold Camping’s predictions. One guy suggested atheist should put up billboards where through some convoluted math from the writings of Carl Sagan we make the prediction that the world would not end on a certain date. It was such a good idea I stole it.

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“Eyewitnesses to History”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

As a writer, I’ll often read or watch something and wonder how I would have handled the story, or if I could do something similar. So when I watched the Doctor Who episode “Day of the Moon” – which concerns an unknown events dealing with the Apollo 11 mission, I began to wonder if I could write a story about some unknown element of an historical event, which seems to be popular: X-Men: First Class and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Anyway, this idea has been in the back of my head for a month or so, and it ran into the idea of writing something for D-Day. After some fits and starts, this is what I came up with.

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“Unkilling Your Grandfather”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I came up with this title years ago, but I could never think of what to write about it. But I sat down and started writing, and this is what came out.

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“A Downside to Success”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I’m a fan of Doctor Who. Being popular, after every episode fans flock to the web to share their reactions and their pet theories about what will happen next. I was thinking about this after an episode and I wondered how it would feel to spend all that time working on some intricate story, only to have some schmuck online figure it out. I’ll admit, from time to time with various shows, I’ve enjoyed being the schmuck, but someday – I hope – to see it from the other side. I don’t think I’ll enjoy it.

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“Worst Foot Forward”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was thinking of the people vying for the Golden Crocoduck while I wrote this.

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“In the Name of Ideological Purity”

June 2011 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

This pretty much sums up my feelings about the two political parties. It’s just something that needs to be said.

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“Being Sick Sucks”

May 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

I was sick this month. That’s not a big deal, but after writing “Side Benefits” I was thinking of how my life will be different once I’m no longer gainfully employed. I realized I could call in sick when I worked, but soon I’ll just have to be sick. I know, it’s not much, but I was saving up for my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge.

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“Side Benefits”

April 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

I took a few vacation days and went home. One morning I woke to it raining, and I was glad it didn’t have to go work in it. Ilook forward to the day when I won’t have to slog my way through rain or snow because of the yoke of employment.

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“Day 366”

March 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

What’s the deal with the flags?

During the coverage of Discovery’s last landing on March 9, someone mentioned that Discovery had spent 365 days in space. I just had to wonder what her 366th day would be like.

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“Blank”

February 3, 2011, King of Prussia Writing Examiner

I had just started my writing column on Examiner.com, and I wanted to post a story about writing. I revised “Blank” which I had first published over three years earlier on my Newsletter and put it up.

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“The Future of Memory”

January 2011, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

At work a friend and I were having a conversation similar to Tim and John’s. When he asked if I wanted my ass kicking now or later, I replied, “I’ll take later. Say, fifty years.” Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get my wheels turning.

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“The Unerring Word”

January 30, 2011 Ficly

This started when I was thinking about how to start a new religion. I realized that while you could stand on the street corner and shout about how you are Oaoex’s prophet, it probably wouldn’t get you very far. The better approach would be to start a blog. From that it was just a short step to Oaoex starting His/Her/Its own blog.

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“Final Resting Place”

September 26, 2010 FictionPress.com

What will happen to the last generation born on Earth?

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“It Makes Perfect Sense”

September 9, 2010 Ficly

Do people have the right to burn a Qur’an? Yes. Do people have the right to mock some, until recently, unknown “religion leader” for his stupid publicity stunt? Hell yeah.

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“The Most Important Lesson”

July 2010, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

Just before I went home for the Fourth of July, I was talking to my mom on the phone and she said that my niece had just gotten her learners permit. I think my reaction was, “That’s just … wrong.” Fortunately, I live some six hours away, so I should be safe. From several things.

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“Unrealized Fame”

July 27, 2010, Wordwrights Blog

I was in a coffee shop and this woman was berating this guy – friend or brother I don’t know – about his relationship with this other woman, and she was a tad loud about it. That reminded me of my story “It’s a Guy Thing” which is about a mother and daughter I saw arguing in that same coffee shop, and I started wondering why people argue in public. I also wondered whatever happened to that mother and daughter. And I realized, they don’t even know that a story was written about them and that it was published in a book. I guess that means one should be wary in public, for one never knows when a writer might be lurking nearby who will turn your conversation into a story.

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Tick Tock

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

By no means am I implying that challenging myself to write 30 Stories in 30 Days is like a gun being put to my head, but the analogy fits in my own mental image of my martyrdom. Also, it’s interesting to see what you can come up with when you face a deadline.

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The Headless Gnome

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a mostly true story about an actual event. I think the only difference was I laughed, but I didn’t fall over. The only other difference was I didn’t think of the idea of city monsters being small to hide in the tiny patches of night until I was writing the story.

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Strange Worlds

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

Looking back now, this story needs more work. (Hey, this is the 28th story I wrote in 29 days. You do better. ) Basically, I do have these “daydreams,” but I don’t think I explained them well enough. They take me to strange worlds – where I jab cavemen – and I try to turn them into stories.

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Would That be a Waste?

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

This came about from the three or four emails for cheap Viagra I get every freakin’ day. But also, about three weeks after I posted this story, I logged into my blog to find that I had about 500 spam comments. I wonder if that was payback.

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Endangered Memories

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I have a bunch of embarrassing memories I fear become common knowledge. A few years ago I realized my memories fall into two categories. The first are secrets that a few people know and I hope I can trust them to not blab. The other are secrets that only I know. This second category is further divided into secrets that only I could possibly know – things done completely in private or only in my mind – and one where the other person(s) involved have died, forgotten, or never suspected that I would look back with shame on something I said twenty years ago. Those secrets survive only because I won’t let them go. I’m their guardian. On one hand knowing they will die with me is confronting, but on the other it’s a little sad.

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If Only it Were That Easy

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I went to a local bookstore to write a story for my challenge and pretty much didn’t feel like writing anything. For a moment I thought about a story of a writer straining his “writing muscle” when I thought, Maybe I just blew a fuse.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

Every few months, some politician or athlete or celebrity will be caught saying something offensive. The next day they call a press conference where they say they are deeply sorry and they never meant to hurt anyone blah, blah, blah. Just once, I’d like to see one say that the way they choose to express their feelings were wrong, but that doesn’t change their underlying feelings.

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Not Another One

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

In the past few months, several of my family and friends have come to me either with an idea for a story or to tell me I’ll get a lot of story ideas if I listen to so-and-so when they’re drunk. I’m not saying I don’t like it or wish them to stop, but I already have thousands of ideas filling my head and they’re cramming more in. At least I got a story out of it. Of course now I’m curious about Star Mine and a futuristic/lesbian version of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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Will Any Survive?

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

A memory of my psychic prediction about what will happen on December 22, 2012 came to mind as I searched for a simple idea I could turn into a quick story. Will any survive the End-of-the-World Hangovers?

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“Athorists of the World, Say ‘Hi’”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This was just a quick little story I wrote to mark Atheist Solidarity Day.

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“Be Courteous”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

A few years ago I had a neighbor who – with one boyfriend – was very loud. If their sessions had been more like clockwork – of if they had lasted longer – I probably would have popped some popcorn. I mean, if they were going to put on a show, I might as well.

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“Bury ‘em Deep”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

The way I handle problems is I either solve them or bury them. I’ve also had several women who I’ve had to bury any idea of romance with. Having a twisted sense of humor, I’ve thought of it as burying a body.

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“Take Me to Your Dealer”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

Why would aliens come to Earth? That’s the type of questions I ask myself out of my own curiosity, but also as a writer. As a writer, I wondered if I could get a story explaining the reason aliens mutilate cows is that cows produce some enzyme or something the aliens needed. Why don’t the aliens just abduct some cows and have a herd for themselves? How many great stories have been killed by logic? This story is what I came up with trying to get around such logical roadblocks.

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“It’s What’s Important”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve watched the news and seen stories like, “Earthquake hits Country X, hundreds feared dead. And now, the latest on the local high school basketball team.” I know that most of the people watching that are either family of the basketball team, go to that school, or just live in that school district, while few – if any – know anyone from Country X. But still, it feels like maybe our priorities aren’t straight.

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“Life From Death”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

During the month of my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge, I read an old anthology of scifi stories. One was about swapping your mind into somebody else’s body. I didn’t think much of the story, but the idea of mind swapping was planted in my brain. All I had to do was figure out what would be done with such technology.

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“It Wouldn’t Be Enough”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was reading a news article on Hayabusa, and I looked at the comments. The first comment was someone saying maybe Hayabusa had found Obama’s birth certificate on 25143 Itokawa. I debated replying, but didn’t because I know that there are people out there that you’ll never convince. If you had a time machine and took them back to watch Apollo 11 land on the moon, or see that there wasn’t anyone on the grassy knoll, or watch Obama born in Hawaii, they still wouldn’t believe it.

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“Just Another Day”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

As a proponent of a vigorous space program, one concern I have is for space junk. Several years ago I tried to think of some way to clean it up. The idea I came up with – a satellite that fired balls of sticky foam – became more unusable the more I thought about it. But one of the side effects was the idea the company running the satellite could make some money on the side by producing artificial meteor showers.

That was just a generic idea that’s been in my head for over a decade. But when I churned the depths of my mind for ideas for my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge, it came up. I could make a story out of that, I thought, and I did.

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“Merry Christmas”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

At a writing group meeting a couple of years ago, someone joked about writing a book, but only printing a dozen or so copies to give to the relatives they hated. I thought that was hysterical and figured I should write a story about that. Now I finally have.

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“Dreamcatcher”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

First off, let me state I did not dream about a girl I went to high school with being spanked by Wonder Woman. I’m weird, but not that weird. In my dream, the second woman was just a regular woman. I added in Wonder Woman because I wrote this at the Wizard World Convention. Also, my dream ended when I left the plane. It was one of those dreams you wish you could watch again to see if it made more sense the second time through. And if you could record your dreams, how long before something like YouDream would be up?

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“Tip Your Driver”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I wrote this story at lunch. I remember that. But that’s all I remember of where this story came from. That’s what I get for putting off writing these blurbs for a month.

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“Happy or Not, the End Will Come”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

A few years ago a friend told me she wasn’t really interested in national or international politics because it was too broad an idea. She preferred a narrower view focused on her family and friends. I, on the other hand, am almost the opposite. I spend most of my time thinking about very broad and long-range things, like the future of humanity. I know that someday – hopefully in the distant future - Homo sapiens will go extinct. Whether that is the end of humanity or if we evolve into something else is what I focus on.

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“Everybody’s Published”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

Some years ago I had a dream where some guy was on the street handing out pamphlets about the Whapocalypse. What the Whapocalypse is, I don’t know, but I liked the sound of it so I wrote it down figuring I could work it into a story somehow. This is what I came up with.

On another note, be sure to check out my self-published book, “A Man of Few Words.”

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“What’s in a Name?”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Mike and Sue story.

This began with a story written by a pretty famous author in a magazine. I started reading the story, and almost immediately hated it because it was so bad. I’m not talking about the plot, I’m saying the writing was bad. There were, I don’t know, a dozen characters who all talked in the same, rapid fire manner, and they all sounded alike even though they were from different countries. It was just bad. And it annoyed the hell out of me because if I had submitted something like that, they would have read the first page – if I was lucky – and tossed it aside, but because this guy has novels and won awards and stuff, I doubt they even bothered to read it. If they had, they would have seen it sucked. This story was just me venting.

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“Classics Never Go Out of Style”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

What’s the deal with the flags?

One of the aspects of my Human Republic Universe is the idea that Earth gets left behind. People in my universe travel between the stars by using transient wormholes, or “tunneling.” But the closest a tunnel can be made to Sol is between Earth and Mars. So people on Earth have to go up the space elevator, get in a ship, and fly for a couple weeks until they get to tunnel space, and then they can go anywhere in a matter of hours. Due to the two week roadblock, Earth is left on its own while the rest of the Republic speeds off. Once the industry and economic movers and shakers are away from Earth, what’s left? I figure a few centuries after the time period I write about, Earth basically does become a museum planet.

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“Didn’t See That Coming”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I think I was flipping through the channels when I came across a “psychic” on some talk show. I don’t believe in any of that stuff, since nobody has won the The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. I think there are people who have deluded themselves into thinking they have “abilities” and I have sympathy for them. Then there are outright charlatans who I despise. I enjoy it when people make fools out of such people.

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“You Can’t Please Some People”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

I have no idea where this story came from. I would never do such a thing.

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“A Simpler Life”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This began with the questions, Why would time travelers come to now? What makes this time period so special people would want to come here to visit? One answer is that they’re not here to tour the marvels of early 21st Century, but to rusticate. At least now we have indoor plumbing.

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“Some Things Are Best Lost”

June 2010 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is the first Mike and Sue story.

A few years ago, I began a series of stories involving two writers (Tom and Jeremy) who met at a bookstore café to write. I wrote several stories about them, and I still have a few ideas for them, but I also some ideas that don’t work with them. My solution, create a new pair of writers, Mike and Sue.

This was my introductory story, starting to flesh out their characters. More will follow.

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“Is It Insanity?”

May 31, 2010 Ficly

I wrote this story to promote my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge. It’s based on the fact that the two previous times I’ve done it, by about story 20 or so, I’m banging my head on a table.

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“Devious Muse”

May 19, 2010, Wordwrights Blog

As a writing assignment in one of my writing groups, we had to write how we deal with being in a writing funk. It was a great idea, but I sorta didn’t do it. Instead, I wrote about a guy dealing with a writing funk based on what happened to me when I tried to write about how I deal with funks. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, I guess the way I deal with a writing funk is to just go with it until I’m hit with an idea.

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“Surprise”

May 11, 2010 Ficly

This was based on what I did to my mom. She knew I was halfway through a novel, but she didn’t know I’ve been working on a collection of flash fiction stories (A Man of Few Words) for the past year or so. She didn’t know about it until she received her copy.

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“A Message”

March 2010, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

Some of my writing is humorous, some is just me seeing what I can do with an interesting idea, but some times I try to convey a message. One of the more basic messages I have is that the future - and the rest of the universe for that matter - will be strange. If we are to get anywhere, we’ll need to accept that strangeness. This story started when I wondered if maybe the people in the future should give us a sign, some encouragement.

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“For the Greater Good”

March 27, 2010 Ficly

This is the beginning of a novel. Several novels, in fact, depending on how you want the story to go. I seem to be cursed with ideas for novels. I’ll write the prologue, then set it aside knowing that I may never get around to finishing it. I remembered this and wondered if it would fit on Ficly, so it wouldn’t waste away on my computer. Turns out, it does fit, if I cut it into three parts.

The basic idea for the rest of the novel is that not everyone on Earth is killed. Over the next several thousand years, civilization is rebuilt. Then the descendants of the people who sent the asteroids - who have long since left the solar system - return.

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“Crack Open My Skull”

March 22, 2010 Ficly

I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to think of something quick to write about, and this is what I came up with.

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“The Honored Dead”

March 20, 2010, Wordwrights Blog

Some years ago, for Christmas, the leader of the Wordwrights gave each member a list of inspirational writing quotes and a red pen. I still have the pen (though it was lost in the backseat of my car for three or four months) but it is getting low on ink. I was wondering if I should put in obit for it up on the site. (Actually, my first thought was if I should mention it to our leader and see if she would buy us new pens. )

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“Education is Important”

January 2010, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

I have a hard time falling asleep, so I spend the hour or so I’m lying in bed to think. It’s where I come up with a lot of my story ideas. Such as this one. Yes, I do have weird dreams. Why do you ask?

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“A Bold Plan for Employment”

January 28, 2010 Ficly
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

Years ago I heard a “Chinese proverb.” Whether it is or not, I don’t know, but I still consider it a gem of wisdom: “When the rich become too rich, and the poor too poor, something happens.”

In theory, if the top ten people or so at a corporation are forced to retire, everybody else in the company would move up ten spots. Of course, the argument could be made that forcing such people out would hinder a company by removing all that experience. But really, what do CEOs do but hobnob with other rich guys on a golf course?

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“Omen?”

January 10, 2010 Ficly

This was based on a real event.

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“As All Bad Ideas…”

November 29, 2009 Ficly

Driving back from Thanksgiving, I was flipping through the radio stations when I came across this guy talking about God talking with Abraham. I started thinking how if you were walking along and some guy came up to you and said, “God told me XY and Z,” you’d quicken your pace and reply something like, “Yeah, and say ‘Hi’ to Elvis for me.” But back in the old days, it was a lot easier to convince people God was talking to you.

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“Late Night Swim”

October 10, 2009 Ficly

I took a walk one rainy night. It’s just something I do sometimes. I figured I should write a story about it, and this is what I came up with.

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“Until the End”

September 13, 2009 Ficly
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

One thing that sucks about death is all the books I’ll never get to write or read. I was thinking about that one night while I tried to sleep and got this idea. After ten minutes or so, I had the entire story written in my head, so I got up and typed it up. Funny how that works.

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“Some Things Never Change”

Issue 135, September 2009
AntipodeanSF

What’s the deal with the flags?

This was just a fun little story I wrote one afternoon.

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“Change for the Better?”

August 27, 2009 Ficly

If Jesus came back today, would he open a megachurch or would he slip on a pair of sandals and go among the people?

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“On Another World”

August 18, 2009 Ficly

This was just a little idea I had and typed up before going to bed.

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“Ever Onward”

August 18, 2009 Ficly

This is a continuation of “In the Victor’s Footsteps.”

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“Simultaneous”

August 7, 2009 Ficly

I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to think of a really short story I could bang out in a few minutes, a quickie if you will, and somehow I thought of this. Some of my ideas just come out of nowhere.

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“Shield Your Eyes!”

August 7, 2009 Ficly

Given the “outcry” over atheist ads (Here’s some blogs from Friendly Atheist if you haven’t heard), this exaggeration probably isn’t exaggerated too much.

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“To Explore”

August 4, 2009 Ficly

I was talking with a friend about “is space exploration worth it?” My opinion was “Definitely,” while her’s was more of a, I guess, “Yes, with conditions.” So I was trying to think of some short little story I could write banging the drum for space exploration, and somehow, this is what I came up with.

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“Bad Neighbors”

July 2009, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

This started about midnight. I was in bed and I heard a noise upstairs that sounded almost like someone was moving furniture. It only lasted for a second, but I spent some time wondering why someone would move furniture at a time like that. Then I started thinking about bad neighbors in general. I started this story for my Ficly account, but it turned out to be too long.

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“Death by Sexbot”

July 28, 2009 Ficly

One day while I listened to Preston and Steve, they started talking about sex robots. Steve said he had one, but it killed. Not only did I find this amusing, I knew I had to write a story about it. The really funny thing about this story is that my previous stories on Ficly – some of which had been up for over a week – only had one view. This one had over ten views in less than an hour, so I guess the way to get views on Ficly is to put Sexbot in the title.

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“In the Victor’s Footsteps”

July 22, 2009 Ficly

A couple years ago I had the image of a guy walking through a castle with a severed head, so I wrote a couple of pages that would work as an intro to something else. The more I thought about this something else, the more it became. The last time I thought about it, it was up to seven trilogies. Needless to say, that idea isn’t even on the back burner, it’s in the freezer. This little story is about a third of what I had written, and the plan is to eventually get the rest of it up as sequels.

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“Kids”

July 20, 2009 Ficly

I do feel that part of why I write is to get people interested in the future. For about two weeks in the middle of July, there was a great deal of space news, and I felt like I should write some little space story, and this is what I came up with that would fit on Ficly.

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“Perfect Justice”

July 18, 2009 Ficly
A revised version appeared in my book Political Pies

I didn’t watch the hearings for Sonia Sotomayor because, well, I had better things to do, but I knew that some people were worried she wouldn’t be impartial enough. And I almost wanted to smack these people and ask, “Would you prefer a computer? It would be impartial.” I guess this is a “careful what you wish for” tale.

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“An RI World”

July 2009 Writing Shift (Defunct)

What’s the deal with the flags?

I guess one of the yet-to-exist causes I support is AI rights. This story shows that not everyone will share my views.

The story is no longer online.

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“The End Results”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

Other than the pizza boxes, beer bottles, and girlfriend, this is a good description of my apartment after writing 30 stories in 30 days.

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“We All Have to Leave Sometime”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I have written up a pseudo-will naming two people who will be in control of my stories. I did this several years ago – and have updated it a few times – but I had never told either of them. But I’ve always wondered how that conversation would go. So I wrote this story and sent the link to one of these people telling her she was the person in the story. (The other person I’m thinking of writing out, not because of a falling out but a growing apart.) Of course her response was to say using an email as a story was cheating, and to feel honored.

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“Crack”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

Towards the end of my 30 Stories in 30 Days Challenge, my head was so full of half-thought-possibly-interesting-maybe ideas, that it felt like it might explode. One of them was a story of me talking to myself about all my ideas. Oh, as to the laundry story, I’m sure it would have been great if I could have thought of a … plot, and all that kinds of stuff.

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“I’m not Crazy, Honest”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

My job is testing samples of quenching fluids used in manufacturing various metal objects. Usually we run standard tests to make sure the stuff is still in spec, but if they are having problems we can run other tests to find a solution. Sometimes our customers help us in this, they tell us that the fluid may have been contaminated with water or an oil or something. This helps because then we know what tests to run, otherwise we’d have to run all the tests, and extra work is something we frown upon. But sometimes, they’re not so helpful. One late Friday afternoon, a sample came in and the only thing the customer had written was “Check for contamination.” My coworker – even more cynical because it was late on a Friday – held the little plastic bottle up and said, “I see no elephants in here, can I say it isn’t contaminated with elephants?” He added a few more things it wasn’t contaminated with, and then I asked, “What about Elm trees?” “It’s not contaminated with Elm trees,” he said, “but there’s still the possibility of Maple.” I laughed and asked, “Is it hiding behind the Sequoia?” The image of a tree creeping along to hide came to mind, and I wondered what verb you would use to describe a moving tree. I then stopped and thought, Did I just seriously ask myself that? And as I’ve said before, it doesn’t take much for me to go off on a story.

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“The Day”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

To be honest, I can’t remember how this story came about. In my rush to get 30 stories out, I often would take an idea and just go with it so I could get a story up. Looking back on it now, there is a haze over this story.

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“Awkward”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I used to have a neighbor who engaged in loud, un-lady like behavior. While her last name wasn’t really unique, it wasn’t Smith either. Now there is a guy where I work with the same last name. I’m pretty sure he has children, but I don’t believe any of them are old enough to be living on their own and experimenting sexually. Whether this guy and my old neighbor are related in any way is something I do not want to know.

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“Haunting”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

A friend of mine was going through a tough time. On one hand I wanted to offer help, but on the other hand I knew I didn’t have anything to offer. My standard approach to dealing with stuff is to bury it and move on. It may not be a healthiest thing, but it’s worked for me. The only problem is when something gets dug up.

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“Use it, or Lose it”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

This started when a friend vented about her mind numbing job. That got me to thinking of how I’ve described work as a “brick and steel leach that slowly sucks the life from you.” And somehow, this idea came to me.

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“It’s a Job”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I was so tempted to name the guy Ralph. “Morning Sam.” “Morning Ralph.” If you don’t get that, then I pity your childhood. Anyway, I can’t really remember where this story came from. I love this “educational film” from Futurama and have always wanted to do something with it. This wasn’t really what I had in mind, but it was short and sweet.

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“Well Protected”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

At the end of the day on Sunday at the Philadelphia Wizard World Convention, one of the booths was clearing out their stock of John McCain figures. Apparently, they had been selling them for $1, but in the end they just gave them away. A friend of mine said that I should be able to make a story out of that. This probably wasn’t what he expected, but it’s still a story about political action figures.

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“To Live on in Unexpected Ways”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

What’s the deal with the flags?

After George Carlin died, I started rereading his books as a memorial. When I read the Buick line I quote in the story, the “I can make a story out of that” bulb went off in my head. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much for me to come up with a story.

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“Project Heaven”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

Years ago I had the idea that with time travel you could do a full family tree of humanity. I had an idea for that, but I can’t remember what I did with it. I’ve also had the idea of people in the distant future taking pity on us and creating a virtual reality heaven for us, but I wasn’t sure what story I could get out of it. But looking back, it’s almost like, “Duh, the idea should have been obvious.” As a side note, this is probably my best chance at an afterlife.

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“Run for Your Lives”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

One of the problems I have with movies like Cloverfield is that we have bullets that can penetrate steel plating and bombs that can burrow through 20-30 feet of reinforced concrete before exploding, and all of this bounces of lizard skin. Explain.

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“First … Contact?”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I needed a quick story to pad out my 30 stories, and one night I went for a walk trying to think of something simple, and I wondered if I could write a really quick First Contact story, and somehow, the idea of the alien is just making a pit stop on Earth and gets seen by a human, just seemed to work.

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“Under the Bed”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

What happens to the monsters under the bed when the kids grow up? Do the monsters grow up and become the other monsters we face as adults?

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“The Problem of Individuality”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

There is an idea here, but I don’t know if I fully expressed it with the story. I did know a guy like the one Nigel talks about in college, and I’ve seen some wannabe avant-gardes, and I just feel that they’re cutting themselves off from 99.99% of people. (This from your friendly, neighborhood misanthrope.) This is definitely a story that needs more work, but I was in a rush getting 30 stories done in 30 days. Speaking of stories, at first Alex’s story was to be something like a cell phone novel, but then I would have to have to write it, so I just reused my previous story. It was the green think to do.

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“Oops”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

Have you ever wondered if the aliens are scratching their heads trying to figure out why we humans haven’t talked back to them yet, after all the work they put into flattening our corn and whatnot? Maybe it is a clerical error and they’re writing in a foreign language. Or a bunch of drunk guys walking around in the dark.

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“Flicker”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

During my 30 Stories in 30 Days, I was a few stories behind and I needed to catch up. I looked over at my flickering light, and wondered if maybe ghosts were trying to signal me. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to get a story out of me.

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“Cursed”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I sometimes worry all my unfinished stories will gang up on me. Not really, but it makes for a good story.

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“Ramble”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

This is a Tom and Jeremy story.

I had the idea for the harem conversation, but I didn’t know how to end it. After a couple of days thinking about it, I just rambled towards an ending.

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“We Is Smart”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

This started when a thunderstorm woke me up early. As a result, I had breakfast and was dressed well before I needed to leave for work. As I looked out my window, across the tiny stream flowing down the street to my car, I had a strong desire to stay home. (I’ll admit I have that feeling just about every day, but that day I had a good reason.) Not for the first time I thought our ancestors were smarter than us. I’m not saying they had a life of leisure, but I’m betting they had fewer artificial obstacles to their happiness. Can you picture an hour long jam as thousands of hunter-gathers try to leave the cave at the same time? Killing time playing solitaire (not that hard since they only had clubs ) before the Quarterly Production meeting? Running all over the savannah for the kids’ soccer practice, picking up the dry cleaning, marriage counseling?

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Last Man, I
Last Man, II

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

These two stories are an example of me getting an idea – the “last man on Earth” starts a newspaper to keep busy and is accidentally killed by someone else – and taking it in different directions. In fact, the original idea was centered on the original “last man” (the Dave Coleman of the second story) and his trouble adjusting to the end of the world. I didn’t write that one because I think it would be too long for this. (It’s easy to write a story a day if you keep them short.) And the first idea just came from me thinking, What if he isn’t the last man on Earth, but he just thinks he is?

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“Do I Have an Idea for You”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

If you’re serious about buying an idea, I’ll be serious about selling you one.

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“Fist of the State”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days
A revised version appeared in my book The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

I’m sure if you talked to reputable people in the intelligence community, the vast majority of them will state categorically that torture is not an effective method of interrogation. However, there are a few out there who still maintain that torture works. To them, I ask, “If torture works, then why don’t we use it on common criminals?”

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“Pink Disk”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

Contrary to popular belief, computers do make mistakes. They results either from faulty input or some internal fault. So it stands to reason that AIs will make mistakes as well. Will we hold them accountable for their mistakes like we do humans?

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“Into the Flames”

June 2009 30 Stories in 30 Days

I picked this story to start my 30 Stories in 30 Days challenge because it is a perfect example of why I’m doing this. Yes, I’m trying to write 30 stories in 30 days because it is a challenge and because it’s a cheap stunt to get people to go to my website, but I’m also doing it to clean out some of my old ideas. In one of my old writing notebooks I had jotted down the idea of a bonfire to burn bad poems. I can’t remember where the idea came from or how it even came up. And it stayed there, forgotten, for over three years until I dug it out, blew the dust off it, and wrote this story. If I wasn’t trying to write 30 stories in 30 days, who knows if I’d ever gone back to it.

I’m sure most writers feel horrified at the idea of destroying old work. But in my notebooks are numerous ideas that I’ll never be able to make something out of and stories I’ll never finish. I have to wonder, would it be better to send them off in a blaze of glory, or let them fall victim to the dim flames of obscurity?

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“Praise the Gods”

April 2009, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

We had a homework assignment in one of my writing groups: we had to “Write about something simple or silly that you are grateful about: a green light, a parking spot near the door, getting the last item off of a shelf, finding a blue feather, a perfect apple, someone who makes you laugh, etc. Who or what do you thank?” A couple years ago I had gotten a good spot, and I joked to myself about pleasing the Parking Lot Gods. I knew I should use it, but couldn’t think of anything. When our leader mentioned a good parking spot as an example, I burst out laughing. Now I knew what to use it for.

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“Cheap Romance”

March 2009, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter
A revised version appeared in my book A Man of Few Words

This is a Lisa and Dave story.

I was looking on Heavens Above – which lets you know when you can see the International Space Station and other satellites – and saw that in the end of March and the beginning of April, I had two chances of seeing the space station going almost right overhead. That’s cool, but could I turn it into a story? Well, recently for one of my writing groups I revised my Lisa and Dave stories and they were in the back of my mind. Lisa and Dave and the ISS, hey, it practically writes itself.

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“Relics”

February 2009, Stephen L. Thompson Newsletter

I had the opportunity of putting a time capsule in my bathroom ceiling. For awhile I thought of – as X in the story – of “loosing” a story, but I didn’t have time. I then thought of writing a letter like X, but in the end I left something that will only confuse whoever finds it.

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