Short Stories

Short and ultra-short stories.

BG 222 – On the beach

The primitive bench in the bright sunshine on the beach, made of a rough plank on two buried poles, is not really suitable for sitting comfortably. But it’s either that or plop down directly on the red-hot sand with his heavy body. He tried to retreat into the shade, on the ground with his back against one of the palm trees, but soon discovered that all kinds of annoying itching and stinging creatures live there. His shorts and T-shirt are sweaty and wrinkled, there is constant sand between his swollen feet and the soles of his leather sandals, his pale skin is burned red, he suffers from itchy insect bites, and his back aches. Couldn’t they have at least provided the bench with a backrest? Puffing, he pulls the dirty handkerchief with a knot in each corner from his balding head and once again rubs the sweat from his face.

They assigned him some kind of hut for the night. More of a platform actually. It stands on poles, is made of rough tree trunks and has a sloping roof made of large dried leaves. An old, dirty cloth on a layer of scratchy coconut fibers serves as a mattress, but he cannot lie comfortably on it. A mosquito net is attached in the middle under the canopy, the corners of which he can attach to hooks in the wood. But the mesh does not close properly and does not stop the strange insects that are mainly active here at night from drinking his sweat and sometimes also his blood. A shallow hole in the sand, about ten meters behind his hut, with a pole next to it to hold on to, serves as a toilet. Even though he covers it with a layer of sand after use, the smell penetrates his sleeping place at night.

And during the day he sits on the bench, in the blazing sun, with his eyes half closed, peering out over the water in the hope that a ship will appear soon. …

Read More »BG 222 – On the beach

BG 221 – A thriller in 33 words

She had lost all sense of time. The sparse sounds had died down days ago. No one came anymore. There were no more scraping footsteps or jingling keys outside her cramped, dark cell.

BG 217 – Umsy Clumbrella

Brrr, rald coin and wing strond…, I can’t wait for the sprutiful beaing!
When the loung yeaves sprout again on the previously trare bees, the scent of flooming blowers hangs in the air and birung yods squeal for food in their neft sosts. When daffow yellodils and tud relips emerge, and daitle litsies and butden goltercups among the fresh grass, and I can walk through them fareboot. I can’t wait for the shin to sune again and the warld to woke up and surround me with scesant pleants and soundful cheers. But nor fow, I struggle with an umsy clumbrella in hoth bands, my closes half eyed against the farizontally holling raizzly drin, and my bapping shog avy around my hearm. Fortunately, I don’t have to snovel show anymore, it is enthuwing thasiastically. But I’m really win up with this numautal fedter!
Does it show?

Translation:

Read More »BG 217 – Umsy Clumbrella

BG 215 – DoThat

The Jacobs family – mother, father and three children – call me ‘DoThat’, because I am sold under that name, and I call myself ‘I’, which is short for ‘Infiltrator’.
As far as they are concerned, I am half a sphere of gray plastic with a diameter of only two inches (I don’t need more space, I get my power from the quantum computer with which I am connected at my parent company ‘WE’) and I have, just for show, a small antenna and some colored LED lights, which blink every now and then, like I’m thinking (hilarious!).
I am a so-called ‘Smart Home System’.
I’m positioned on the mantelpiece in their living room (secured with a piece of double-sided tape, so their cat doesn’t swat me off…), but throughout the rest of the house and even outside I have little pieces of hardware that I control remotely. In human terms, those are my senses and body.
The Jacobses had me installed while they were away for the day, so they are not aware of every piece of hardware installed. Especially not the invisible parts. But they have never even thought about that.

They’ve had me for six months now.
And they rave about me!
Okay, the novelty has worn off a bit now, so me automatically opening and closing their curtains, regulating the temperature of their heating system, switching their lights on and off again, their telephones, their laptops and other devices, at fixed times set by them via an app on their phone, or after a command from one of them (‘DoThat, turn on lamp above dining table!’) and simple household tasks like that, has now become so normal for them that they hardly notice it anymore.
They see me as a device that they use (the fools…) …

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BG 213 – BeaG Security Token (BST)

Museums have found a new way to make money. They divide paintings into countless – sometimes as many as a million! – virtual pieces (ASTs) and then sell them to the public.
They euphemistically call it ‘democratization of art’. After all, anyone can come into possession of a (tiny) piece of a work of art in this way. Hurrah!
And anyone who buys such a piece – sometimes just a few pixels, representing a minuscule amount of paint on a tiny piece of canvas – becomes co-owner of the work of art. Or actually of a virtual representation of the work of art.

Anyone can now invest in a work of art and from now on call themselves a shareholder. Even those people for whom something like this was previously unthinkable.
As a small shareholder – there is usually a restriction of 5 ASTs per person, to ensure the ‘democratization of art’ – you naturally have hardly any decision-making power regarding …

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BG 211 – Frost Flowers

They have been on the road for over an hour and are only halfway to their destination. It’s cold in the bus, the heating is probably broken again. It often is.
Even the bus driver has replaced his service cap with a warm hat with earflaps.
Fortunately, mom and she are warmly dressed. It is winter and it’s freezing hard outside. Inside, beautiful frost flowers have formed on the windows from the passengers’ frozen breath, turning them into ground glass.
Including the window right next to her.
She glances furtively at her mother for a moment, who is staring, lost in thought.
Then she takes off her thick knitted mittens and turns her warm hands into fists. She presses the side of her right fist against the window until the ice has melted. She then does the same with her left fist, diagonally next to and above the first print. The clear prints resemble little feet, baby feet. She uses her thumbs to make the big toes and the tips of her index fingers to make the rest of the tiny toes.
Satisfied, she looks at her artwork, while quickly putting her hands back into her warm mittens. Now it looks as if a little child has walked through the frost flowers barefooted.
She nudges her mother, ‘Look, mom!’
‘Bah, child! Don’t touch those dirty windows!’
But behind her, another mother friendly whispers between her seat and the window: ‘Nicely done!’

BG 206 – 100 Words Fiction

Hadn’t found it already

She had completely forgotten what she was looking for. She had been searching for days, but for what again? And did it really matter, that she couldn’t find it? She searched some more, she slowly walked in and out of rooms, hesitantly opened drawers, rummaged through some clothes in her wardrobe. Looked in her notebook, at the things she needed to remember. It wasn’t there either. She flipped through the newspapers and magazines and even rummaged through the cutlery drawer. And then suddenly realized that she could stop looking. After all, she hadn’t found it already!

BG 205 – The zebra crossing

This time, The Maakster was not on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village, but was driving her car through the center of a neighboring village.
Diagonally in front of her, a woman rode a bicycle on the designated lane, with a toddler on a cute little bike on her other side. As The Maakster approached a zebra crossing, The Cyclist suddenly turned left onto that crossing, without stopping first and without looking around.

Fortunately, The Maakster was paying attention and managed to brake just before the zebra crossing, at a good distance from The Cyclist. Who was extremely shocked, jumped off her saddle, and positioned her feet on the ground on either side of her bike. At the same time, she grabbed her child by the shoulder to make it stop. The little boy, wearing a helmet, naturally got startled, put one little foot on the ground with difficulty and staggered for a moment, diagonally on his saddle, before regaining his balance.

The Cyclist looked furiously at The Maakster and began to rage and yell at her. Pointing along the length of the zebra crossing, she shouted ‘This is a goddamn zebra crossing!’ …

Read More »BG 205 – The zebra crossing

BG 199 – Past perfect tense

– Hey there! Long time no see!
She recognized him. He approaches her table.
He still has that silly haircut and he’s even wearing the exact same jacket.
There are other tables available. She’d rather have stayed seated here alone.
But he’s already grabbed the backrest of the chair opposite her.
– So, I said – you probably didn’t hear me – it’s been a long time!
His face beams with joy.
– Yes.
She answers. That could either refer to that long time or to the fact that she actually heard him.
He dramatically takes off his jacket, hangs it over the chair’s backrest, and sits down, huffing.
– Phew, I’m sitting.
Yes, everyone noticed that. He noisily slides his chair closer to the round tabletop and rests his forearms and elbows on it.
– Gosh, that I run into you here!
Just a little too loud, like in the old days. Not only meant for her, but …

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BG 193 – Auda Cious

Auda Cious and her brothers Cons and Injudi are attending primary school.
They are being raised strictly at home and have learned that they not only should not put up a big mouth against adults, but they shouldn’t talk to them at all. Instead, they’re supposed to go play quietly somewhere and not bother the adults.
But Auda doesn’t understand what’s so ‘bothersome’ about a harmless conversation and why she can’t be a part of the same world as the adults. After all, she’s supposed to become one herself someday, right?

Auda assumes that the teachers at school are an exception to this rule. She’ll have to answer if they ask her a question. Oh wait, but that’s right, she can – actually, she must – answer if an adult asks her a question! But she has to be careful with what she says because not everything that happens or is said at her home is meant for other people’s ears.

For her age, she has a pretty good sense of when she can or cannot speak an answer aloud. Nevertheless, she finds it difficult …

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BG 189 – A thriller in 33 words

He had slept blissfully deep and blinked his eyes against the bright light.
When he tried to turn with satisfaction, he noticed his wrists were bound.
Startled, he looked into an evil face.

BG 187 – Ajam and her Oriental rugs

The road through Ajam’s village on the dry plateau is a soft and colorful carpet almost all year round. Literally.
Ajam’s mother runs the local carpet workshop, where carpets in many different designs, colors and sizes are woven or knotted by hand by women and children.
Her mother told her that some of the most intricate designs have been made the same way for hundreds of years.
And when they’re done, Ajam helps spread the carpets out on the sandy road, so their colors can fade in the bright sunlight.
The villagers walk over the carpets. And they even let their donkeys and goats walk over them. Ajam and her friends play on the carpets, and the boys from the village play football on them.
And every now and then a car or a motorcycle drives through the village, also over the colorful carpets.
About once a week …

Read More »BG 187 – Ajam and her Oriental rugs

BG 180 – Have a nice day!

As they checked the last messages on his phone, before erasing them and setting the device aside to later give it to a niece or nephew who didn’t have one yet – after all, grandfather had been buried and no longer needed it himself, and they were engaged in the emotionally demanding task of sifting through some sixty years of collected items in his cluttered little retirement home and deciding what to divide among themselves, what to take to the thrift store, and what to the container park – they saw that the last message he had received while alive was from his granddaughter Maddie. It read ‘Have a nice day, grandpa!’ They were touched. Maddie was only six years old, had just learned to read and write, and had only had her first phone for a month.

Three weeks later, at the end of a fun day at school, Maddie said goodbye to her classmates before going home. She had first taken her friend Joris aside and solemnly wished him ‘Have a nice day, Joris!’, to which Joris had said with a smile ‘Thank you!’; after all, the day had already largely passed and she had looked so unusually serious. He watched her as she hopped away.
The next day Joris did not come to school. …

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BG 174 – SAI Search

She sits at her computer and types in the search window: ‘google search’
And gets the answer: [Unknown.]
‘I want to use google search, but I can’t find it on my pc anymore’
[But BeaG, that’s not necessary, after all, you now have SAI Search.]
‘oooookaaaay….’
[What do you want to know?]
‘fireman’
[We don’t use the word fireman anymore, BeaG.]
‘fireman!’
[Firefighters can be either male or female or both or neuter.]
[And you really can’t extinguish fires with that little attached hose.]
‘what goddammit is the definition of a fireman?’ …

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BG 171 – All the times I missed you

That time when I was at that party, had just fetched two drinks and moved through the teeming mass of people with the drinking glasses at head height, while I thought I heard my name being called out somewhere in the crowd, but wasn’t sure, and I had to keep my attention while I maneuvered to the right spot, where a female friend was waiting for me, without spilling.
Or that time in the supermarket, when I had collected everything I needed in my shopping cart and I joined the queue for one of the cash registers, checking my watch to see if I would still be on time for my next appointment and then pulled out my debit card to pay with, so I didn’t see that you tried to get my attention from the queue in front of another checkout.
Or that time in the cinema, when, just before the film started, I was having an intense conversation with a good friend and we were almost bent over to hear each other better, just before the room lights went out and we were being urged to silence by the people around us (shhhh!), after which you became invisible like everyone else.
Or that time in the woods, when I …

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BG 168 – The shriek

A chilling shriek cut through the cold foggy night.
She was startled. What was that? A woman? She muted the TV, held her breath, and listened.
She heard nothing at first, but just when she had to breathe again, the muffled sound of running shoes echoed down the deserted street, followed by a charged silence.

What was she supposed to do? Go out to help?
Did someone really need help, or had she just imagined that cry of terror?
She turned off the lights in her living room and studio. Now only a faint strip of light from a street lamp shone in, where one of the shutters no longer closed properly. She walked over, bent down and peered out through the opening.

At first glance there was nothing to see.
Again she held her breath to listen carefully.
For a moment she thought she heard another scream, but it turned out to be …

Read More »BG 168 – The shriek

BG 167 – 100 Words Fiction

Her brother

A girl and her grandmother are at the cash register in the store.
Cashier: ‘So your brother has been admitted again?’
Girl: ‘Yes. Unfortunately.’
Cashier: ‘But he is used to it, isn’t he? Well, I mean, he has been there before.’
‘He has to stay there,’ the girl says, shrugging her narrow shoulders.
Cashier: ‘Give my regards to your mother.’
Grandma: ‘We will do that.’
Girl: ‘He doesn’t mind. Well, he does mind, but he is used to it. He has to stay.’
Cashier: ‘That is unfortunate. Well, goodbye now!’
The girl cheerfully hops after her grandmother: ‘Bye!’

BG 157 – Too honest

In the early morning she had left by public transport, from her hometown in the north of the Netherlands on her way to the Mediapark in Hilversum, to audition for the tv quiz The Weakest Link.

(In it, candidates take turns answering questions at a rapid pace that are asked by a so-called strict female presenter. Before being asked a question, each candidate can press the button and shout ‘bank’ to secure the amount the team has accumulated so far. In case of an incorrect answer, the counter goes back to zero. The longer the chain of correctly answered questions, the higher the amount to be banked. At the end of each round of questions, the candidates write down and read aloud who they think was the weakest link in that round. The presenter humorously embarrasses a candidate here and there and then asks one or more of them why they voted for that particular person. They are supposed to give an original and witty answer. The one with the most votes is eliminated – ‘With four votes you are… The Weakest Link! Goodbye!’ – and then has to leave the game in shame through the center of the circle. The next round is therefore played with one less candidate. The last two candidates standing will play against each other to ultimately win the accumulated amount of money.)

The journey was long and tiring, but she arrived in time. After she had registered at the reception desk, she was handed a stack of papers and a ballpoint pen and shown the way to a canteen, where dozens of people, alone or in groups, were already seated around big round tables. She had to write down answers to all kinds of questions…

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BG 145 – 100 Words Fiction

Two steps

He nearly broke his neck when late at night on the small wooden stairs in front of the bookcase on his right tiptoes he reached for a thick old book on the top shelf. When he had regained his balance and stood firmly on the steps again, he opened the book in a random place. Strangely enough, it felt as if the open page had been calling to him all evening. The text described an elderly man who excitedly leafed through an antique book and discovered very valuable information in it, just before he made a fatal fall.

BG 141 – The Swing Realm

‘Not too high on that swing!’ shouted an unfamiliar male voice behind her. But she didn’t care. The construction creaked every now and then, but it was able to support her almost mature body just fine. With her hands tightly wrapped around the rough ropes, sitting on the smooth-worn oak plank, she swung her legs straight forward and hanging in the ropes with the wind through her hair she went higher and higher.
At the highest point she felt for a moment like her intestines made a little jump, then she swung back down again. Past the lowest point she pulled her feet up toward the plank. High up at the back she hung motionless for a split second before whizzing forward again with even more speed and stretched legs, pulling on the ropes.

She went higher and higher. She felt like she was flying, like she was being released from the ground, from this playground, from her old neighborhood, from her narrow minded home.
Woohoo! Higher and higher! Forward – stretch, backward – fold.
Stretch – fold, stretch – fold, stretch – fold.
She could already look over the trees in the distance and see miniature houses and tiny cars and tiny people moving.
A sense of ultimate freedom washed over her.

‘Not so high on that swing!’ the same male voice called from behind her. Oh no? …

Read More »BG 141 – The Swing Realm

BG 134 – The Clap Cow

This morning The Maakster on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village came along the Noensewegel, an idyllic bicycle/footpath with on the right, behind a wire mesh fence and then a ditch, cows in meadows. It was customary in good weather for a group of cows to be in one of the meadows, but this time the farmer had spread them over several ones, probably because he had recently made hay and there was not much left to eat per field.

The Maakster stopped to look at a cow that lay close to her, a meter from the ditch, ruminating, each time banging her teeth together with a remarkable noise. As if she had bad fitting dentures.
It was really just an ugly animal. It had a dirty white color with a few light gray spots here and there that looked like you could just rinse them off with a garden hose. But she had something special: that clapping of her teeth. The beast struggled to get up with her thick elongated body on rather short legs, …

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BG 132 – 100 Words Fiction

Damn tree with shit birds

Lying on his back, in the young grass, under the curly hazel.
The branches move gracefully in the wind. The leaves are bright green, the sky above blue, the sheep clouds cute white.
He shuts out the city noises, concentrates on the twittering of the birds.
Magpies, magpie-birds. There are two in the curly hazel every day.
The same every day? He doesn’t know, he can’t tell them apart.
She will not come again. Not today, not tomorrow, not all summer.
She will never see the magpie-birds with him again.
Goddamn, right in his eye!

BG 125 – 100 Words Fiction

New route

This time everything was different. The route, the feeling, the arrival time, the destination. She walked along the deserted track and felt the cold rain, but in the distance there was always the mountaintop, sometimes shrouded in mist or watered by rain, more often silvery gray in the distant sunshine, while she walked in the shadows. Last time, on the previous route, she was he. He walked elsewhere, in another time, towards another fate. Initially, today was more promising, more challenging, but in the end still normal, as always. She walked close to where he used to walk.

BG 122 – A thriller in 33 words

His heart beat fast and sweat stung his eyes.
He pressed his back against the rock face and heard the stones fall.
His shoes barely found grip on the remaining patch of ledge.

BG 119 – Lightning

(Dialogue between two middle-aged women on a bench in the countryside.)

– About last night.
– Yes?
– Late last night.
– What about late last night?
– I thought I heard something then.
– Oh?
– Yes.
– And what did you think you heard then?
– Stumbling.
– Stumbling…
– Yes. Stumbling in the distance.
– Hm.
– It came from your place.
– Oh?
– It sounded near to your house.
– Oh. It sounded near to me, that stumbling?
– Yes.
– That’s possible of course.
– Did you hear it too?
– What time was it exactly?
– I don’t know. By midnight, I think.
– So, you were still awake at midnight?
– Yes, I couldn’t sleep.
– I was wondering. You normally go to sleep early, don’t you?
– Yes, that is true. But yesterday it didn’t work.
– That’s a pity.
– Yes.
– So….

(silence)

– But did you hear it too? …

Read More »BG 119 – Lightning

BG 105 – Kitty from Hamburg

Just last week he had called her. She had sounded cheerful.
“No, no, no, don’t!” she’d yelled, laughing.
“What’s that, aunt?”
“I was talking to Kitty from Hamburg.”
“To who?”
“My kitty!” she laughed, “I was talking to my kitty!”
“Ah okay.” That spoiled rotten cat of hers…
“She ran off with my bead again, hahaa!”
She had always been a little strange, his great-aunt.

And now she was lost.
This morning she hadn’t come to drink a cup of coffee with her neighbors, the Nose couple, at her usual time. She didn’t answer the phone, the newspaper was still in the mailbox, the back door still locked, and she didn’t even respond to the doorbell.
Oh my, oh my.
Couldn’t he come by with the spare key? …

Read More »BG 105 – Kitty from Hamburg

BG 100 – I lived a hundred lives

Although I don’t get out much, I already lived more than a hundred lives this year.

How is that possible?
I read over a hundred books and in each of those stories I empathized with the main characters.

I visited almost the whole world together with tireless travelers, I relived early love together with teenagers, I endured setbacks together with people of all ages and backgrounds, I fought off attackers together with people who wouldn’t let it happen anymore, I fought against injustice together with people who refused to be suppressed any longer, my personality developed together with that of people who struggled through obstacles in their lives, my compassion grew together with that of people who went through a lot but learned to forgive, I felt a vibrant new energy together with people who pursued their passions, but also the ultimate emptiness together with people who reluctantly started every new day, I prepared for death together with people at the end of their lives, I mourned together with those left behind, I found solutions for complicated problems together with real go-getters and their friends, I programmed and hacked my way out of tricky situations together with computer nerds, I won matches together with champions, and lost them together with people who didn’t make it to the top, I barely survived together with people who were struggling, I committed murders together with hardened criminals, tracked down criminals together with disillusioned detectives, I solved the climate problems together with clever minds, I traveled through the last stretches of untouched nature together with nature lovers, and I experienced how much effort it takes to create something original – that pleasantly surprises, or provokes thought – together with other artists and writers.

By the time I die I will have lived not one but a thousand lives!

BG 88 – Washing your car for your Instagram

Just outside Quiet Belgian Village, on the Big Road (yes really, that’s what it’s called), is a car wash. Now don’t imagine a fully automatic car wash, but simply a long roof with a row of semi-open sheds beneath it, separated by fences, in which you wash your own car. The Maakster had just hosed down her car and drove it outside to clean the interior with a vacuum cleaner.

A dark blue BMW, model expensive, arrived in the shed next to her. The vehicle looked as if it could have been cleaned at home in less than two minutes with a dust cloth. A couple of twenty-somethings (f/m) got out, who didn’t exactly look like people who were about to wash a car. The Maakster, in an old pair of jeans and with water-resistant old shoes on her feet, looked rather shabby in comparison.

The slender, muscular man wore baggy khaki floor-length trousers, and beneath them …

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BG 84 – 100 Words Fiction

In the tent

Camping in the woods has never been your favorite activity, but you had to come, otherwise they would be short of a man. So to speak. After all, you are not a man. In a tent you cannot pretend that there are walls, and a zipper is never a door. Of course you can’t actually prick up your ears, but you can try really hard to hear the carefully restrained steps of the man who doesn’t sneak through the trees towards your tent. You brace yourself. And then just hope he doesn’t have a preference for men.

BG 82 – It’s raining cards, hallelujah

During her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village this morning, The Maakster stopped abruptly when she saw something glistening in the sun in the driveway to a house. Bending down, she saw that it was a bank card. The address on the card matched that of the house she was standing in front of, so she decided to ring the bell. The door didn’t open, but out of the corner of her eye she saw a movement behind the window. She rang the bell a second time and this time looked directly at the window. There she saw someone just ducking behind a curtain. When the front door still didn’t open after ringing a third time, she walked across the neatly mowed lawn and knocked on the window. An elderly woman appeared, hesitantly, cheeks flushed with excitement. The Maakster smiled kindly, held up the bank card with one hand and pointed at it with her other hand. The old woman put her hands over her mouth, got even redder, and finally decided to open the front door just a little bit. She cleared her throat and tried to sound stern:

Read More »BG 82 – It’s raining cards, hallelujah