short fiction

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. …

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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 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 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 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 …

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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 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 …

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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 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? …

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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.