Friday, 28 December 2012


by Robin Dunn

I would have your joy. It is the hardest to sell. The hardest to acquire. It is a beautiful thing, joy. Something I have worked hard here in Los Angeles to make marketable, to make translatable into media my buyers can perceive and understand.

People of Earth, listen. The time we know is only now. It’s now; here we are, seconds ticking by. Why not make an investment? In your future. In the trade routes we have only begun to establish here in your region.

Your joy is so beautiful. Log in to Facebook and click ‘Like’ on “Joy Sell.”

Author bio: Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in The Town of the Queen of the Angels, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, in Echo Park. He is 33 years old.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Editorial - 2012

No story from me this Wednesday. Instead I want to say thank you to everyone for reading and contributing to 101 Fiction this year.

We've had six months of fantastic contributor drabbles, beginning with Peter Newman's excellent Dismissed, and ending 2012 with Robin Dunn's Joy this coming Friday. We've already got some great stories lined up for the first few months of 2013 too. I can't wait for you to read them.

Since August there's been a 101 Fiction Tumblr as well, if you like your tiny fiction delivered that way. And I added a little page on drabbles a few weeks ago.

I've been looking back through the past six months' 101s, and it's really difficult to pick favourites without providing links to almost every single piece. I kinda think that's a pretty good sign (even if it's a bit of a cop-out too ;) ). I don't accept all the pieces I'm sent, and I'm really happy with every one I've let through.

So, thank you. =)

Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

John Xero.

Friday, 21 December 2012


by Jessie Woods

We stood in a circle of make-believe stones, waiting for the man we built from mud and twigs to rise. He'd turn us into zombies, replace tooth fairies with shrunken heads. We'd find fingers in gumbo soup. We called it a day. We found him in mirrors. Our dreams turned to rancid butter. We hunted the darkness in packs of scavenger sevens. Telephone wires spilled scratchy voices. We whispered the names of ghost towns to our sickly grandmothers. They crossed themselves and died. When the great storm hit, we locked ourselves in our rooms. We grew bigger than our shadows.

Author bio: Jessie Woods lives in New Jersey. He has been published in Veil, Short-Story.Me and elsewhere.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


by John Xero

Gerry drifted through space, slowly spinning, one more piece of debris in an expanding cluster. Karl floated nearby.

"Brilliant plan, Karl. Fucking brilliant."

Karl said nothing.

Gerry flexed the stiff joints of his spacesuit, old habit, staving off the muscle atrophy that set in under zero-G. Not that it mattered anymore. No one knew where they were - one of the many joyous hazards of unlicensed prospecting.

Karl had been safely inside the ship, unsuited. Dead now, of course.

Gerry checked his air. Two days.

He wondered which was worse, to die in a flash of terror, or in drawn-out anticipation.

Author bio: Life is, of course, dying in drawn-out anticipation. John Xero is a realistic optimist, he likes to believe the best will happen, but knows it probably won't. ;)
Twitter, and occasional blog.

Friday, 14 December 2012


by Milo James Fowler

The hideous alien on the viewscreen bared its white teeth in some sort of bizarre greeting ritual. "I am Captain Bartholomew Quasar of the Effervescent Magnitude," it said.

Gorthrexx the Goobalob Sector Twelve toll collector scowled with most of his eyes - and he had a myriad of them, located all over his gelatinous body. "Prepare to be boarded," he droned.

The alien blinked its measly pair. "I don't understand-"

"You have trespassed into our space and will be enslaved."

"Is there a second option?"

Gorthrexx sighed. "You pay the toll."

Captain Quasar checked his credit. His shoulders slumped. "Welcome aboard."

Author bio: Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. Stop by anytime:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


by John Xero

There's a place, down in South Carolina, where they farm hatred. Shipped and sold to markets you know nothing about. A trade in things to turn your skin. The secret economies of the world.

Tumours ripple and shimmer as they swell through the children's skin, and when the growths begin to seep they are ready to harvest.

The smell of hate is bilious and sour.

The cattle are bred for purpose, a different species, a line centuries deep, Homo Domesticus. Sometimes they learn words from the workers but they have no rational thoughts - we promise ourselves that, trying to believe.

Author bio: John Xero believes in secret histories and hidden conspiracies. Nothing specific, mind you; maybe everything is true, and maybe nothing is. Trust no one. ;)

Friday, 7 December 2012


by Steven Valor Keck

3 While XxXLordDiabloXxX wrote, "fuck every fuckin thing in this fucked. life love the fucking ACRAXIX metal. BEST! LMAO when the world end 2012, and ALL WHO HAVE EVER LIVE will bow in HELL to blow acraxix 4EVER 3:D Jajaja:3 ACRAXIX RULES!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!♥," it is clear that in the idiom of his day he certainly did not mean to include Acraxix themselves amongst those to be fucked, nor to suggest an eschatology wherein the band would spend eternity engaged in autofellatio, as bitchplzzzz erroneously concluded in his History of YouTube Commentary, the First Century. See drjanepnewton21, 103, see also brown*pwnzor, 233.

Author bio: Steven apologizes for the profanity, but he felt it was integral to the plot. He considers this story a dire warning, of a future internet that need not be. He posts surrealist short fiction at

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


by John Xero

Santos sat in his chamber sipping tea. His own blend - black teas, with the tiniest pinch of gunpowder green - perfect for his final moments.

He felt calm.

He let the paper walls and bamboo matting of the simulation dissolve around him till only the cold metal remained. No more distractions.

He launched. A spear thrown from one tribe at another.

The enemy fleet fired counter-measures. Santos dodged decoys and weaved through clouds of flack. More than a simple smart-missile, he was sentient. He was a hero.

They were all heroes. Hundreds of missiles. Each a Santos seeking death and glory.

Author bio: John Xero makes his own personal blend of tea, it's a little different each time, so he can't guarantee the taste. He's also a big fan of Studio Ghibli films, including the Cat Returns.
Hopefully one day people will stop inventing new spears to throw at each other.
Blog | Twitter

Friday, 30 November 2012


by Robert Morschel

I stand under the moonlight, my long, sinewy arms outstretched, my hands splayed to catch her silvery rays.  She is mine and I am hers: the Lady of the Night.  I shiver as she smiles at me and caresses my naked body with cool, tender whispers.  From deep within a howl emerges, rising to my lips, and slowly I lift my head to declare my love to the world.

A voice cries through the stillness of the night, interrupting.

“Honey, supper will be ready in 5 minutes.”

Reluctantly I turn from the maisonette window and draw the curtains.

Reality calls.

Author bio: Robert Morschel is a writer of software in London, and words at

Follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


by John Xero

Shuka was a mage of subtle magics.

While her peers waged wars for various kings, she became a queen.

Other wizards challenged and fought and ranked each other. They wrestled with fire till infernos were theirs to command, forged armies from ice or reshaped the very land itself. They were so mighty and so proud.

But Shuka stayed silent, and no one knew the power that welled within her. She simply smiled shyly, spoke softly and practiced unseen spells.

Now it was widely known her king employed no mages. Yet any sent against him, mysteriously, came back broken, empty, weeping.

Author bio: John Xero believes there are as many kinds of writers and writing as there are of mages and magic, more even. And that words can be obvious, and they can be subtle, and both can be powerful.
blog | twitter

Friday, 23 November 2012


by Angel Zapata

The quarter sat face-up on the schoolyard ground. I squatted beside it, stared into Washington’s eye. I had expected to pick it up and be done with it, but then it spoke to me.

“I’ll make him stop hurting you,” it said.

I took it back inside the school; found Lucas alone in the second floor bathroom. He didn’t anticipate me turning the table, didn’t see me until I’d already pinned his shoulders down with my knees; pried open his mouth.

The newspapers printed his death as an ‘accidental choking’.

The coins in my pocket can barely contain their laughter.

Author bio: Angel Zapata knows money talks. His published and upcoming poetry and fiction can be found at Bewildering Stories, Devilfish Review, The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly, Microw, and Mused: Bellaonline Literary Review. Visit him at

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


by John Xero

Padraig was a little goblin of a man, wizened and bitter, always preceded by the tap-tap of his cane. He was old - ancient - but his tongue was still spear-sharp and keen as his eyes. His pale, piercing gaze flickered from person to person, scrutinising, judging their heart and soul.

He seemed eternal. Younger folk grew old and died, while Padraig tap-tapped ever onwards.

And in the world beyond this one, there was Padraig, waiting. He would judge folk, and guide them. And sometimes the path wound lazily upwards to light, and sometimes it sloped down, down to lakes of fire.

Author bio: John Xero is not eternal. But that doesn't mean he won't be waiting for you on the other side... Be good.
Twitter | Blog

Friday, 16 November 2012


by Chris White

I don't watch the news anymore, the same flickering images of riot shields and snarling police dogs, of explosions in cafés - the lightning strikes of revolution.

The world captured in moments of violence, the voice of civilisation drowned out by the screams of the people as flames lick at their feet.

It started with people marching in the streets, demanding to be heard.

It ended when our governments stopped pretending, when Trafalgar Square became Tiananmen, revisited.

I don't watch the news anymore, pretending to be surprised.

I watch the streets outside and all I see are cobblestones, slick with blood.

Author bio: Chris White is an author living in Brisbane, Australia, which he realises is on the other side of the world. He writes mainly dystopian SciFi and speculative fiction. More of his words can be found (almost) daily at

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


by John Xero

A child's toy: a caricatured man: squat and broad, black trousers, black and white striped shirt, black domino mask, bulky bag labelled: SWAG.

What if the cause was the effect? Cause: effect.

Oh, the Earth is missing. Did I mention that?

Earth: missing.

A mishap, perhaps: misplaced. Or stolen, whole: thieved.

Burglarised or magicked? Stolen, or concealed.

Sleight of celestial event: "Look, supernova! Oh, where's you planet gone?"

Converted, maybe, to energy. Or thought: a conceptual theft.

Everyone in the world imagining a SWAG bag: the world in a SWAG bag in everyone's imagining.

Are you imagining it? Good. Bye.

Author bio: John Xero wants one of those sunlight lamps for the dark days ahead (otherwise known as winter). And not because someone's about to steal the sun. But if they do, it definitely wasn't him, no sir.

Friday, 9 November 2012


by Milo James Fowler

For days, the Effervescent Magnitude, star cruiser of the indomitable Captain Bartholomew Quasar, had been dead in the water, so to speak, with no systems functional.

Garbed in environmental suits, most of the crew had exhausted their O2 supply and were drifting off to sleep, never to awaken. Quasar punched the intercom on his deluxe-model captain's chair with what strength he still possessed and prepared to exhort all hands one last time-

Suddenly all systems, including life support, came back online. Quasar's console read: IMPROMPTU SURVIVAL TRAINING COMPLETE. WELL DONE!

The ship's computer could look forward to a complete reformatting.

Author bio: Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day, writer by night. Stop by anytime:

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


by John Xero

Gobbets of meat adorned the beast's barbed hide, like tufts of wool on a horrific hedgerow.

Harwen was on his knees, his crude sword hanging limply from a hand that a week ago had held a crook. Around him lay villagers and friends, armoured up and cut down.

The soldiers were gone to war but battle had come to Little Daleberry regardless, because Harwen had let his flock stray too near the caves.

The troll-thing, its rage sated, was shambling away.

Harwen tightened his grip, clenched his jaw and stood. He owed penance. He yelled and the beast turned back.

Author bio: We all have to face our troll-things, at one time or another.
Blog | Twitter

Friday, 2 November 2012


by Adam Lynn

The corn told a story none of the experts wanted to hear.

The boys from NASA stood by and scowled, repeated bad jokes and blamed the farmers.

The farmers stood by and scowled, bitched about the weather and blamed the teenagers.

The journalists stood by and scowled, talked to the NASA boys, farmers and teenagers, and blamed their editors.

Geometric shapes stamped into fields far from home tended to make people nervous and defensive.

So they hunted clues among the churned-up husks and clods of earth, failing, again, to imagine the truth just might be in the gleaming galaxies above.

Author bio: Adam Lynn writes nonfiction for a living but lives to write fiction. Follow him @spark1019.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


by John Xero

They say the pier is haunted.

Years ago, me and Lily used to fool around under there. We had this secret spot at the top end, where it was always damp, always dark. Right below the seafood guy. People would be above us, eating their cockles and muscles and shrimps, and Lily would be trembling beneath me and I’d be kissing her hard to keep her from crying out.

But in the damp and the dark, our lust woke something, something old and lascivious. I made it out, but Lily...

They say the pier's haunted; it’s Lily’s moans they hear.

Author bio: John Xero believes the internet will make ghosts of us all... fragments of half-forgotten lives echoing down the years like electronic spectres.
Twitter | Blog

Happy Halloween!

Friday, 26 October 2012


by C.B. Blanchard

There. You see her? Hunched inside a filthy coat? Hear her cough, a deep-down, unhealthy hacking. See that sheen on her like on meat going off.

See her bump into that man, and touch that woman and cough on that child. See that queasy, greasy shine transfer to them. Watch them spread it further and further. In two days, the first of them will die. The rest will follow.

The woman sheds her coat, sheds the body. She keeps the rotten gleam. It suits her.

Disease will spread and cull the weak. This one’s the big one.

Her true masterpiece.

Author bio: C.B. blanchard is your future apocalyptic dictator. She blogs about the apocalypse over at and can be found talking a load of rubbish on twitter (@gingerkytten)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


by John Xero

Sand gusted gently. The crowd quieted in taut anticipation.

A moment of tranquillity held the arena.

And in that moment, Bran didn't feel the shield straps tight about his arm, the battered helm forced onto his head, or his sword's grip beneath his palm. Everything focussed on one exhalation, one breath, one tiny huuuh of life.

Magatoria, king's champion, a sword in each of his four hands, his spirit anointed by the blood of uncounted humans, leapt at Bran.

Calm became chaos. Blades danced in veils and ribbons of blood. Life became death.

Bran closed his eyes.

Sweet silence returned.

Author bio: John Xero likes ambiguity. Ambiguity fuels imagination.
Twitter | Blog

Friday, 19 October 2012


by Stephen Hewitt

Alamo Jones tipped the gritty, grey dust over the gunnels and let her sink like a cloud. Got it on his fingers. Even swallowed a bit. That was the end of Mercy and the beginning of a new 49ers season – every pert lookin’ groupie knew it.  But now his kit is rotting in his locker, and he’s rocking backwards and forwards, watching grey mud totter towards him in fits and starts, reeking of sour seawater. It’s the final pass in the fourth quarter, coming in from a long, long way backfield, and Alamo ain’t gonna get a finger to it.

Author bio: Still suffering flashbacks from hacking 158 words down to 101, Stephen skritches his weird fiction over on Café Shorts.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


by John Xero

I was born in a place that is nowhere. No coordinates, no address, no website. Ground Zero.

I was created by no one.

I am not even real.

What you do not know, can hurt you. What does not exist, could kill you.

I am plague, phage, ageless, undying, death.

I am fear-borne, and I have gone viral. Is there any more efficient transmission vector than social media? Mind to mind to mind.

Warn your friends, vaccinate them. Just a little of me, a little nothing, inside you all. That's a lot of nothing. Enough nothing to swallow the world.

Author bio: John Xero continues to chart the ways in which the world ends. And he will always be right, until the end is witnessed and all the possible apocalypses collapse into one.
blog | twitter

Friday, 12 October 2012


by Asuqi

”Come,” she whispers, dreamily, and I comply. Eagerly.

It´s been some time since she's been like this; relaxed, naked, inviting.

I've been reluctant to adjust her settings. I've checked and nothing seems to be wrong. So I've been waiting. There's some grand pain in that, it's like when I was little and touched my eyes after stroking the cat; the itching was almost unbearable.

Now, finally, she wants me.

I touch her perfection, she trembles.

I come too soon and search her beautiful eyes. But she's learned something new: she's crying.

And I think I've known nothing of pain before.

Author bio: Come visit me here: =)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


by John Xero

We never asked the goblins for their protection, always called it oppression.

Bunch of us kids would sneak past their patrols every dark moon, down to the whispering heather. Right dumb, but I was trying to impress a girl. Little Annie MacCready, a true fiery Scot with hair like a flicker o' ginger flame.

The gobs came after us one night, only it wasnae us they were hunting, was the wolf in our midst.

I remember them circling us, hemming us in. I remember their savage cries, their wicked spears. And I remember Annie shifting, twisting, and tearing them apart.

Author bio: John Xero doesn't smoke, doesn't drive, doesn't drink (often). He can't afford to, he buys books and comics by the ton. He also needs more bookshelves.
Blog | Twitter

Friday, 5 October 2012


by Milo James Fowler

Captain Bartholomew Quasar did not believe in living in the past, and he abhorred flashbacks with a passion.

But finding him dangling here from the edge of a cliff on a desolate moon - Arterion 789 - one has to wonder how he came to find himself in such a terrible predicament…

"Don't you dare!" He digs in with both hands, fingers grappling for purchase among the crumbling rocks.

How about a little exposition, then?

Grumbling curses, he adjusts his hold, boots swinging above a two hundred meter drop, and shouts, "That's what got me here in the first place!"

Author bio: Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day, writer by night. Stop by anytime:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


by John Xero

Down in the dirty hold of an ancient, no name cargo ship Carmen was patching overalls.

Five days into the voyage an engineer had discovered her, and when the captain's solicitations got him nowhere they put her to work down here, with the rust and the rats.

At least they hadn't spaced her. She was alive, unlike most of her kind. She had witnessed the heaped bodies as she fled, enough fuel for a lifetime's nightmares.

She gazed through the porthole at cold vacuum and distant stars. Behind her, the needles danced on, stitching to the tune of her mind.

Author bio: John Xero is far too distractable. One day he will write a novel... one day...
Twitter | Blog

Friday, 28 September 2012


by R.S. Bohn

A billion stars spread like marbles across his lap. He flicks one off; it scares the cat and crashes into the radiator. A terrible metal pinging: my heart loosening its hold in my chest.

I ask him why as he fingers another marble.

"Because you were never here when I wanted you," he says.

It's true. And as each marble marks its awful trajectory, I long to fly over them, away from my god, to another. Over a hundred glittering glass stars that mean nothing to me anymore, to a place where I'm alone, and I am my only god.

Author bio: RS lives in Detroit, where they aim for a zombie theme park. She thinks one already exists in her head. Admission is free:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


by John Xero

His bovine huffs and snorts are carried through the labyrinth on fickle drafts, echoing my own laboured breathing. I pause, testing the humid air for his scent. It is there, but it is everywhere, like my own.

Then I see him, lit in shifting orange by the guttering, sputtering torches. His muscular body is tense, poised, and he lowers his horned, craggy, bull’s head to charge. My guts churn with hatred, fear, and boundless anger at the sight of my twin.

I, too, charge, bellowing.

Our father’s revulsion weighs grievously on my mind, heavier than the island over our heads.

Author bio: John Xero definitely doesn't have a twin locked away in an underground labyrinth who is fed stray children and urban foxes in exchange for 101 word stories. You can't prove anything.

Friday, 21 September 2012


by Ray Paterson

I’d wanted a rearrangement for weeks. Better access to computers. With the air conditioning down, I wanted everything nearer the window. Better ventilation and light.

‘A change is as good as a rest,’ they say.

I had unexpected help...

Three removal men, grey of face and boiler suits. Silent. Pulling out cables, cabinets, and bookcases. Smashed computers dumped outside the window.

They re-arranged desks… then left. Two returned, expressionless, supporting a battered soldier who leaked blood over my executive blue shag pile.

Well, I thought. May as well go home. We all have to make sacrifices in time of war.

Author bio: @oldhack55 on twitter. Unpublished but a trier. Write for the love of it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


by John Xero

Saint Araxis (XI) is dead, headless.

He lies slumped across the tactical map desk in the war room of his battle barge. Little wooden ships, tanks and soldiers have been scattered to countries far removed from the current conflict. This redeployment has been recorded by sensors built into the oak desk and corresponding orders have been issued.

Quizzical transmissions are coming back from the front lines; the battlefield commanders are understandably concerned.

The assassin has been subdued, however, and the overwritual has been initiated; his memories are being overwritten by Araxis’ last backup.

Long live the immortal Saint Araxis (XII).

Author bio: John Xero's battle barge is his sofa, his orders are issued via Twitter. No one has ever tried to assassinate him.
He sometimes blogs, and he once did a book.

Friday, 14 September 2012


by Michelle Ann King

People. Everywhere. Swarming, like insects. Like bugs. They got in his way, tripped him up, blocked his path, breathed up all his air and left him bruised and gasping.

So many people. Too many. Unnecessary. Obscene. So many flailing, gross bodies everywhere, filling up all the clean spaces and making him ill, making his head hurt. Too much noise, all those heartbeats, all those pointless, meaningless sounds flapping out of their disgusting wet mouths. No stillness left, anywhere.

It had to stop. He had to find a way. Guns, gas, fire. Purification. And after the screaming, there would be silence.

Author bio: Michelle Ann King writes speculative fiction and horror, and loves the discipline of the drabble.  Links to her published stories can be found at:

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


by John Xero

When I think about what I did for this country...

Of course, they don’t like to talk about magic, officially. The things we did in the wars, in secret. We saved this world from the worst of Nazi death magic and what has it come to?

These tacky little skinheads trying to steal my pension, with their filthy mouths and switchblade bravado.

I’ll teach them how to curse for real. I’ll bewitch those blades right up their backsides.

And when they’re done bleeding out, I’ll re-animate their corpses. I'm getting old, I could do with a hand on the allotment.

Author bio: John Xero is John Xero.

Friday, 7 September 2012


by Erin Cole

Malevolence looms. It’s not the weight of the dead, the pull of unseen eyes, but more like a coiling snake - dangerous and ready to strike. 

I’ve searched through collectables in the store. Breathlessness near paralyzes me as I dwell upon its source. The stray dog, Red, stays close to me, seemingly distraught. A bone-framed mirror in the back unnerves me. Stepping closer, my reflection is no longer visible. 

But what must be behind me, for it’s not in front of me, is Red mutating into a dark, wraith-like form. Initially, I think mirror trick. What I learn next… terrifies.

Author bio: Erin Cole is a writer of dark, strange fiction.  She has work published and forthcoming in Shotgun Honey, Fiction365, Aoife's Kiss, and Every Day Fiction.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


by John Xero

They found Charlotte Mills on Sunday, but a dead body is never the beginning.

Today is Monday and jackbooted insistence splinters Julian’s front door. They yell at him, wave their guns, cuff him. But he is not a murderer. Not yet.

Harry Mills killed Charlotte last Friday, not the first notch on his knife, but the closest to his heart. He framed Julian, the quiet neighbour.

On Friday Julian was building the Final Bomb.

What God created in days Julian will destroy in hours.

The countdown has begun. There will be no more murders. No more Mondays. No more anything.

Author bio: John Xero has an alibi. He was writing when it happened. Or, at least, he should have been... In reality he was probably on Twitter.

Friday, 31 August 2012


opens the door without really thinking and the man standing before him is himself or rather someone exactly his height (he is shorter than average but not by much) wearing his clothes (lumberjack shirt black jeans no shoes) hair color (hue somewhere between ash and dirty blond) and build (lanky really) but where the face should be there is but a canvas of blank skin stretched taut over the skull so he sees his own face reflected in the other like on the surface of  deceptive waters and not until then does he remove his thumb from the bell and

by Alex Nyström

Author bio: Occasional fiction writer. A book of short stories was published in 2009 (in Swedish). Twitters @kilotrop.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


by John Xero

Areius tossed the stripped chicken wing aside and fumbled for another in the bucket. He was slumped in a threadbare armchair, feet up on the table, takeaway balanced on his mountainous belly, grease dripping from his fingers and chin.

He wiped his hands on his filthy vest.

The house’s owners scrabbled on the floor, naked, mewling. They gnawed at his meagre leftovers.


He slouched further back. Immortality was such a drag. He’d explored every facet of foul humanity, every whim, sin, desire and degradation. Maybe Lucifer would take him back soon, at least it was always warm down there.

Author bio: This is John Xero's home away from home. He normally resides at the Xeroverse. For throwaway, takeaway wisdom try his twitter.

Friday, 24 August 2012


by Sandra Davies

Caged by guilt and shadowed bars of branding irons, breasts and belly besmirched by centuries of soot from the roof-supporting pillar he had lashed me to, I remained defiant.

“My face? Do you want the world to know?”

His eyes were anthracite-implacable.

“I mean to guarantee you’ll not lie down for another man. Fire is cleansing, only the letter negotiable. Before I gag you, do you choose A or W?”

“'Adulteress' more accurate, I do not charge.”

He had ever admired my honesty, my spirit, but I’d failed to think it through.

He smiled, acknowledging. “But 'whore' the shortest word.”

Author bio: Writer, printmaker, east-coast orientated.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


by John Xero

Things have been washing up on the shores of alien seas. Wretched, dying things, with brains of pulp.

Thousands of red crabs, smaller than a fist, scuttle over the almost dead, stripping flesh. The frothing salt water is stained with blood, but not for long. Soon there is nothing but sand and bones.

Our soldiers. Our bio-weapon. Turned on each other and scattered through a hundred star systems.

The humans think us defeated, but they are wrong. We have played this game a thousand times before.

As our ships slip into orbit around Earth, I spread my wings and howl.

Author bio: When the invasion comes John Xero will be safely holed up with a big stack of books. He will live tweet the fall of civilisation.

Friday, 17 August 2012


by Jack Holt

They fall in twos.

Synchronised pairs of descending death. Crimson and winged creatures, brothers and sisters each.

One pair for every insignificant soul on this planet. Liars, cheaters, schemers, killers: all afforded the same choice.

They fall and then you decide. They'll trick you, manipulate you, twist your feeble minds into choosing them. The decision will be hard, but it will be yours.

And that's why you'll fall.

When you chose, only one can stand. One creature will devour the other, and then you if it remains hungry.

They're always hungry.

They fall in twos. Then you fall in droves.

Author bio: John Xero's number one fan. For more fiction go to For mundane tweets go to @jackkholt.

... it seems flattery will get you places... - Xero

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


by John Xero

Mass immortality had become the bane of Samuel’s life. Science was to blame. No disease, no old age, no natural death.

What work for a gravedigger when nobody dies?

Sam had a god-given gift. There were so many pretenders who thought any hole would do, so few who understood the nature of the abyss. There was a hole left when a person died, and a hole to be made, and the two were not entirely unrelated.

He took up his shovel; it was a fine tool and it would serve him twofold now. Not an elegant solution, but needs must.

Author bio: John Xero knows that not any hole will do. And that even the same hole will fit different people in different ways. Twitter hole. Blog hole.

Friday, 10 August 2012


by Nick Roberts

We watch the gate. That is our purpose. For a thousand millennia we have been the guardians of the Night Gate. But there is a disease in our ranks, a slow moving malaise that affects an unknown number of my brothers. Questions are asked by the Dark Inquisitors to try and root out these free thinkers, these renegades. But they are clever, my fellow brothers, they hide in the shadows and whisper in the quiet of the All Night. Sometimes I hear their whispers and unbidden thoughts race through my mind and I also start to wonder about the light.

Author bio: After many years being locked away I have finally given into the voice in my head and unleashed my inner geek. Find me at and on Twitter @nickroberts101.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


by John Xero

Purgatory ain’t a place, it’s a job description, and it don’t pay too good. All wages go to the ledger, and the ledger, by definition, runs deep in the red.

Me, I got more red than most to wipe clean, and now I got a gun belt and a badge, go figure.

Consider us the bounty hunters of the afterlife. You die and do a runner, you get us psychos on your tail.

Lotta folks run when they see where they’re headed, when they realise heaven and hell ain’t so different. Only us Purged get to go free, in time.

Author bio: John Xero is the sheriff in this town. He done put out a collection of words on one o' them newfangled ereading gadgets. He shoots his mouth off here.

Friday, 3 August 2012


by Kymm Coveney

Posed on the left pant leg of your old jeans that I wear gardening at the weekends, you held your wings stiffly at attention, high above the dark fuzz of your Monarch body. I stood, hose in hand, watering the newly blooming cherry tree. Old echoes of a sigh, a whisper, any sound that might resemble your voice, made me close my eyes against the constant blue sky and purse my lips. I heard only the tunneling of worms deep in the ground as you traced your butterfly kiss across my eyelids, and then wrapped me up in your cocoon.

Author Bio: Ex-pat from Boston living in Barcelona, raising polyglot kids and fooling with written languages.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


by John Xero

His footsteps follow me through moonlit backstreets, ever gaining, into the woods.

He shoves me against an old oak, tearing at my pretty dress, exposing the swirling, black tattoos beneath. Then the ink crawls and he halts, confused. He yelps as the black writhes up his arms, flowing from my flesh to his.

Later, when he is nothing but pulp and bone, the twitching tendrils slink back beneath my skin. They burn incessantly, day and night.

I take no pleasure, watching that show of slow laceration. I am grateful only that I am allowed to live, while I remain useful.

Author bio: John Xero lives here. And here. And here.

Friday, 27 July 2012


by Steve Green

The idea for the story came to me in a dream.

Today I would give it life.

Several hours later and the words are still gushing forth, the story is like an irresistible force, compelling.

The computer had frazzled out after only a few hundred words, so I continued with a ballpoint pen and notebook.

When the ballpoint dried out I reached for my trusty old fountain pen.

When the ink ran dry I had to find another writing source. This story simply had to be written.

I only hope I can complete it before I run out of blood.

Author bio: Genre-hopping flash fiction writer who blogs at The Twisted Quill.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


by John Xero

Kyle’s fingers had no knuckles.

Sheryl yelped and stumbled backwards, tripping over her discarded clothes and landing painfully. She hardly felt the splinters from the rough wooden floor.

“You weren’t supposed to see.”

She stared as his fingers flexed like fat worms, curving instead of hinging at a joint. He pulled his gloves back on.

“You would have enjoyed it, you know.”

She opened her mouth but no sound came out; her brain was a dead line, all dial tone and no connection.

“It’s ok.” He reached for her, stopped himself.

He turned his pale eyes away from her fear.

Author bio: John Xero runs this joint. He loves all kinds of stories, whether they be huge or tiny.

Friday, 20 July 2012


by Sandra Davies

Rise before May dawn, middle of meadow, wash face in dew.

Surrender all common sense: next man met so stunned by my beauty he insists on marriage.

Yeah, right.

And such a gullible, desperate, idiot that I almost fail to see the beautiful dog fox just twenty yards ahead.

Abrupt gasping halt, thinking “Christ – if that’d been a man, my luck really would have been in!”

But no: one arm (mine) wrenched up behind, another holding a sharp knife against my throat.

A rasping voice in my ear commands “Stand still my beauty – he’s stuffed – and it’s your turn next.”

Author bio: Recent writer, printmaker, east-coast orientated: and links therefrom

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


by John Xero

The Mercy of the Gods shook as it rode the raging space-time distortions. Gravity grasped at the ship from all sides. Alarms shrieked and metal moaned.

Captain Shilo gripped the arms of his chair and shouted to his Helmsman, “Krya.”

Krya yelled back over the screaming starship, “We’re committed now, captain; this trillion dollar ship just became the most expensive barrel ride in history.”

“Courage, Krya,” Shilo replied.

They spiralled down inside a tornado of angry physics.

Somewhere down there was Earth, and the Apocalypse Device. Shilo had never before had to disarm a bomb as it was actually exploding.

Author bio: John Xero is the editor at 101 Fiction.
For more, try or @xeroverse.

Friday, 13 July 2012


by John H. Dromey

The newly-appointed editor of the lifestyle section of the local newspaper finagled an interview with a successful medium.

Looking around the paranormal practitioner’s plush apartment, the journalist asked her, “What’s your favourite possession?”

“I think I’d have to say it’s when I’m channelling Jack the Ripper and I lose all control.”

Not the answer the editor expected – she’d meant material possessions – but she decided to play along. “Can you demonstrate?”

“Sure,” the interviewee said, and she did.

When the medium was finally herself again, she surveyed the scattered body parts and said, “Cleaning up afterwards is my least favourite part.”

Author bio: John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had flash fiction published online at Liquid Imagination, The Red Asylum, Thrillers, Killers ’n’ Chillers, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


by John Xero

In my dreams his head is a black cube, rotating slowly. It shimmers and glints with the galaxies that spin within. He has the whole universe in there, I think.

He is God. He is my father. His tears are starlight.

Somehow I know he is looking at me.

When I wake I remember the last time I saw him. I remember the birth of a terrible universe, the end of a world. I remember the crimson galaxies exploding away from each other, the awful nothing at the centre.

My world was his prison. In my dreams, he has escaped.

Author bio: John Xero is the editor at 101 Fiction.
His recently released collection of short and flash fiction, This is the New Plan, is out now for Kindle.

Friday, 6 July 2012


by Helen A. Howell

The wind stung his face and chapped his skin. Its icy fingers lifted the snow into a frenzied dance, to fall as a blinding blanket upon the ground. He bent his head against the weather and willed himself towards the shack and refuge. I’ll be safe there for now, he thought. But how long before they come?

He lifted his head when he reached the door then grasped hold of the latch and the door creaked open. He stepped inside, relieved to be out of the cold.

Shadows clung to the walls. In the darkness in a corner, something smiled.

Author bio: Helen is a fiction writer, who writes in several genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour. She has written several short stories, flash fictions, poems and completed her first novel, a children’s fantasy fiction. 

Her website is

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Editorial: Thank you.

To everyone who read and everyone who commented, thanks for making June a great month.

To the writers, a double thank you.

The first contributor story, Dismissed, is the most viewed story this site has ever had, and rightfully so: it's fantastic.

I'm taking my Wednesday slot to pause and say thanks, and for two more reasons.

One is that my blog, the xeroverse, is two years old, and I'm celebrating by having some guest flash fiction every day this week. I urge you to go on over and check it out, there's some great writing, and some of it by 101 Fiction contributors.

The second is to mention my new book, This is the New Plan. It collects 33 of my best short and flash fictions and is available on Amazon (US & UK).

And in case you missed them, June's 101 word wonders:

Dismissed, by Peter Newman. "I tire of them..."

Reconciliation, by Lily Childs. "I was eternally earth-bound..."

Body-art, by Sandra Davies. "I sat unmoving, hypnotised by the patterns..."

Majordomo, by Dom Camus. "When we met, she smelled of cardamom..."

Footprints, by Miranda Campbell. "Drowning in sound colour..."

Friday, 29 June 2012


by Miranda Campbell

‘Big Issue’? A question lost on disinterested commuters, drowned by rush hour’s cacophony. But the child, crouching on the wet pavement, smiled at the street-seller.

A delicate thread of recognition flickered between them – time-travellers unfamiliar with city skins – her dark eyes held his azure gaze.

Pushing her bare feet into grey slabs, cold, icy water pressed through her toes. City rhythms exploded beneath her soles – music bubbling up between cracks in concrete – vibrant, resonant – soulful.

Drowning in sound colour, she smiled – running home.

Distant footfalls on sun-baked earth echo in her memory – footprints in sand, an imprint of her soul.

Author bio: Aspiring book artist - experimenting with words and specialising in handmade books, incorporating traditional bookbinding techniques, natural materials and decorative stitching.

twitter: @bookspell

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


by John Xero

He stands in my backyard, watching. His tartan is tattered and old, both the material and the plaid – no clan even remembers that pattern these days.

Smeared, blue whorls still stain his skin: worn-out war paint. This warrior has forgotten the fight he fought, centuries ago. Now he just prowls my garden, lost.

He does not bother us. By daylight I can tend to the plants, relax, read. But he returns with the stars, holding his inscrutable vigil. The night is his.

His tartan is tattered and old, like his flesh, like his memories, like autumn clouds passing the moon.

Author bio: John Xero is the editor at 101 Fiction.
He blogs at the Xeroverse and tweets as @xeroverse

Friday, 22 June 2012


By Dom Camus

Sophie, thankyou for finding Astrid for me. She is kind and wise. She reminds me of the summer in Vienna. When we met, she smelled of cardamom. I see her smile when I close my eyes. I plan to invite her to the Imperial Gardens on Valentine's day. We will attend the exhibition. Please book us a table somewhere that emphasises my understated good taste.

Also, please stop calling Astrid now. It is not appropriate. Why did she visit you on Wednesday? I will take you for a software adjustment this weekend.

Sophie? Please pay attention when I instruct you.

Author bio: I make games. Having spent 30-something years exploring fictional worlds, I'm not quite sure I can find my way back.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


by John Xero

The Nautilus II creaked disturbingly as it sank below the thousand fathom mark. Jets of salt water sluiced in where the implacable depths probed its steel armour.

Those gallant, foolish men thought the oceans just another place to be conquered. They forgot life had been born down there. They pushed deeper, on their captain’s urging, 'til the submarine's seams burst and the sea roared in.

The captain unravelled. He unfurled into a mass of thick, sinuous tentacles and at their centre a hooked beak that plunged relentlessly into the chests of the drowning crew.

Lifeblood blossomed unseen in dark waters.

Author bio: John Xero is the editor at 101 Fiction.
He blogs at the Xeroverse and tweets as @xeroverse

Friday, 15 June 2012


by Sandra Davies

I sat unmoving, hypnotised by the patterns emerging, merging, puddling and overflowing as the drops of rain fell onto the expanse of naked and now blue-black back laid out before me, its slight greasiness delaying momentarily their coalescence. As the granules of orange pigment dissolved and formed wavering runnels down spine, along ribs – ‘Storm at dawn’ perchance? - I was excited and then became bored. I scalpel-slashed it as I would a canvas – and became entranced again at the contrast of the sharply etched lines – slow scarlet leaked then pearled along their length before these too disconnected and floated away.

Author bio: Recent writer, previous printmaker, east coast orientated.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


by John Xero

Your mind is a labyrinth. Learn to negotiate its pathways or become your own jailor.

James rocks back and forth. He fought. He lost.

The deeper you journey, the harder it becomes to find your way out. Always leave a thread, a breadcrumb trail back to reality.

The secret army have taken James. The secret army have white uniforms, padded rooms, and lies.

Recognise your enemies, so that you may purge them. Map the twisting passages. Prepare your escape.

James is lost.

It is important you know this: the labyrinth may look exactly like the real world.

You are James.

Author bio: John Xero is the editor of 101 Fiction.
He blogs at the Xeroverse and tweets as @xeroverse

Friday, 8 June 2012


by Lily Childs

Years of scurrying around filthy alleys had me believing I was eternally earth-bound until I found her, lying on her back beneath a pox-ridden docker. She saw me first. Her scream gave the punter enough satisfaction to end his laboured pumping. He took flight, throwing a handful of coins between her legs.

“Who the hell are you?”

I smiled.

“I’m you.”

We stared each other out, reflections.

Sunlight pierced the air as my wings erupted. She sighed, and I stole her away from hell’s streets, still warm...


We’ll rest awhile, then try again.

Old souls with fresh faces.

Scars healed.

Author bio: A writer of horror and dark fiction, Lily Childs is also the author of the Magenta Shaman urban fantasy series. Find out more on her blog The Feardom or follow her on Twitter: @LilyChilds

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


A Brief History
by John Xero

2033: Purgatory, a prison for the criminally insane, is built in the asteroid belt.

2190: After the Asmodean uprising, Purgatory is sold off and renovated into a casino and pleasure hub; among its patrons, many of its former inmates.

2501: Purgatory sees the last stand of the Abaddon Syndicate against the Holy State.

2699: Long-deserted, Purgatory is the launch site for the Apocalypse Missile. The station’s artificial intelligence, S’Tan, now six hundred and sixty six years old, watches the unquenchable flames of the expanding sun consume the Earth. S’Tan is still laughing as the fires reach Purgatory.

Friday, 1 June 2012


by Peter Newman

I tire of them.

Generation after generation, all the same, always asking, never listening. Humanity fails to inspire.

Arms reach upwards, spindly spears, brown and pale, bruise-mottled, desperate.

“Help us!” they say.

Obligation weighs deathly on my shoulders. With great power comes great drudgery. Once an oracle now a shepherd, I show them the only paths left.

One mouth moves, shaping the panic of many. “We’re running out of time!”

Reflected in my eyes are the husks of stars, stillborn.

I could have made worlds with them, unfolded minds into dream sails, glittering.

The clock ticks, too late.

“Class dismissed.”

Author Bio: I write, I run, I work, I sometimes remember to smile.

Stories & Blog here:
Banter here: @runpetewrite

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


by John Xero

Within, the Darklings wait.

They nibble at the toes of your consciousness. They are a part of you. They live beneath the rotting, splintered floorboards of that cabin you like to call ‘me’.

They gather in the depths of your mind, where your deepest thoughts flow, places you’re afraid to go. They will take all the goodness they find and bury it as far as they can behind your fears, your flaws, and your selfishness, because happiness, hope and love blind them, burn them.

Be at peace and learn, become your own holy warrior. Only you can defeat your Darklings.

John Xero is the editor at 101 Fiction.

Please come back this Friday 1st June for the first contributor 101, Dismissed, by Peter Newman.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


by John Xero

The radio wolves hunt in invisible packs. They are prowling, predatory creatures of air and electromagnetic waves.

That soft, crackling interference on your phone is their footsteps in fresh snow. That high-pitched whine you hear, sometimes, is their distant howl.

They circle closer, waiting to attack...

And when they do they will pass through you, paws and claws and teeth of trickery, nothing but the faintest flicker in the fields that encircle the Earth. But they will strip the brainwaves from you, rip your soul right out.

Don’t blame them, they are what they are. Symptoms of the system. Hungry.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


by John Xero

We are the dancers of the Eternal Ballet. You have seen us; we are all around you. And you are one of us.

The Celestial Organ stretches across dimensions. Each key is the size of a continent. It has more stops, pulls and pedals than all the cities that have ever existed.

To call the player ‘God’ would be erroneous, he merely plays for pleasure. There is beauty and there is discordance and it delights him that we dance to his tune.

His is the music that shapes the world. We just feel and follow, rhythm beating in our hearts.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


by John Xero

Ruby droplets glistened like dew in the dead girl’s hair; her green eyes, glassy as marbles, stared at nothing. The room was spattered with other people’s blood, blood that hadn’t coagulated.

“Captain Harrison? Ma’am? We’ve evacuated the floor.”

They were alone. Harri sighed. This part was never easy.

She pried the girl’s jaws open and the sergeant passed her a sterilised blade. As she carefully cut away the tongue, viscous, dark blood oozed from the fresh wound.

Harri stuffed the thick muscle into her mouth and began chewing. The dead girl spoke to her, in stained memories and crawling whispers.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


by John Xero

Keiji dances in the sand. He plays a game with the waves and laughs when he loses.

Keiji is thin, skinny, but not too skinny for his age. His sun-bleached hair is medium length and his skin is a beautiful, glowing bronze; not so unusual for a boy who spends all his time on the beach. His dark eyes shimmer like rock pools.

The soft sand sighs beneath his feet. It is white sand, hot in the late-day sun.

His mother calls to him but he does not go. The sand whispers his name, but the waves wash it away.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Editorial: Open for Submissions

101 Fiction is now open for submissions!

Hit the submissions link above for guidelines and the submissions form itself.

Editorial posts like this will be few and far between, reserved for important announcements and the like. 101 Fiction is all about the tiny, tiny stories.

As such, here are ten of my favourites from the past year or so, oldest to newest.

Pan - "His soft skin was pale as driftwood..."
Doors - "He dreams a vast emptiness..."
Acolyte - "I denounce my body..."
Torn - "Madame Fox cries tears of black tar..."
Inheritance - "Rose remembered how grandmother’s magic shimmered..."
Orbital - "A tiger stalked the empty corridors of Genesis station..."
Beetles - "Professor Hamilton pressed his back to the sandy wall..."
Poet - "Youth is fleeting beauty, rose petals on the wind..."
Honey - "Spanish boys taste like honey..."
Colonisation - "I thought Private Jones was dead..."

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


by John Xero

Billy believed in fairies.

Not just your garden-variety, hand-sized, dainty flutter mites, clinging to the old ways. Billy believed in them all. The impassioned evangelists, decrying modern modes. The concrete kissing, urban-bred outcasts. The rainbow-chasing freefolk, dancing on the wind.

He believed in them and he told people about them, and he got bullied. He got beaten and left to bleed away into the dirt. He nearly died, that day. But the fairies believed in Billy. They put aside their differences and they brought him back.

Billy knows now, what he must do. The bullies will believe, as they bleed.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

303: Angelic, Retribution, Guardian.

by John Xero

You may have seen me mention Lily Childs' Friday Prediction here before. Through her the ancient black tome speaks three words which must be incorporated in a story of less than one hundred. It's a great challenge, a wonderful little community and many of my 101s have germinated there. Sadly the Prediction will be closing in a few weeks, I urge you to hop on over and give it a go while you still can.

This week, three 101s that were all born from the same three words.


“I will scratch out your eyes and curdle your blood,” the cherub screeched from its gravestone perch, clenching a chubby, broken-nailed fist.

The thing looked like a podgy child about two years old, but for the disdainful snarl of its lips, its bloodshot eyes, and its wings, with feathers fading from black to white as if soot-stained.

Unimpressed, John Harley locked eyes with it, “War’s over Anaeus. Give it up.”

The cherub stretched its wings wide in threat, “I will gut you.”

“I don’t think so.”

Harley pulled the trigger.

Roaring buckshot ripped through Anaeus, shredding flesh and feather alike.



The plague first presented as a raised rash from spine to shoulders that itched irresistibly. The few survivors were called Cherubim for their angry, red wings of ripped, scarred skin.

Without thinking, Ellen scratched her back. She flinched as a scab tore beneath her fingernails. She felt the fresh, wet blood well up.

The only survivors were all carriers. As the death toll rose, Humanity’s compassion curdled; the Cherubim were locked away.

Ellen waited for the blood to congeal, another feather to her wings. Then she dressed and strolled calmly into London’s Safezone, a serene angel of vengeance and death.



Orlov hung over London in a web of tubes that pumped curdled fluids through his transmuted body.

“Sp(ai)der mechs at Marble Arch,” the interface whispered in his mind.

He saw scuttling machines clambering over the broken buildings and cracked tarmac of Oxford Street. He heard the New Baker Street Irregulars panicking.

Orlov remembered being human.

“Launch cherub bombers,” he commanded.

London span into twenty Londons as his consciousness fragmented between the bombers. The Orlov/ Cherubs swept down from the clouds and unleashed a hailstorm of micro-explosives that ripped through the sp(ai)der mechs. The Irregulars cheered.

“Thank you,” the interface whispered.

(The three words were: cherub, curdle and rip)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


by John Xero

“What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”

So goes the invocation. Children chant it, their innocent tongues taunting with wicked words. What is the time? How long I have been imprisoned below, barely alive, while they play?

A scraped knee, a snagged shin, a scratch... Tiny, sweet offerings of blood, just enough to keep me aware but sluggish, delirious.

Then last night, a full moon, and a murder. Delicious panic and pain and pooling blood, a whole life seeping deep down, nourishing me, revitalising me, reviving me.

Now I wait. And soon, the children will return. Soon, it will be dinner time.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


by John Xero

London sprawls across the horizon, taunting us with its rude, bustling health, drawing us in with coy insinuations, with promises of revenge. The journey has not been easy but we are finally home.

Whatever the scientists shot us full of is rotting our insides away. I can feel it in spikes and jabs of bright pain, in a growing, pervasive ache. We are the walking dead, but we refuse to lie down, our symphony is not done yet.

We were built to win, and we won. We were trained to fight, and we have brought the war home with us.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


by John Xero

His armour is detachment.

His steed is the music he rode in on, the rhythmic, heavy thunder of hooves.

His dragon is a writhing, tenebrous thing. It has a thousand eyes that watch him by day and judge him. It has a hundred mouths that flicker with tongues of barbed comment, and cruel claws which rake him with doubt.

His weapons are forged in the fire of his heart, and here, ‘neath night’s banner, he dances.

His fight with the dragon is eternal, but in these moments of grace and energy he is winning and he is nothing but happy.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


by John Xero

“Don’t say it. I know you’re thinking it.”

Ryan smiled broadly. “Thinking what?”

Elliot knew that smile; it was infuriating, and far too cute. “You know what. The Z-word.”

“Oh, that. Actually, I was remembering the last time we were up here.”

Elliot coughed and looked away, feeling his cheeks redden. “That was eleven years ago.”

“So? A boy remembers his first kiss.”

“The one that set him straight? And stop smiling.”

The sunset was beautiful. Hungered moans drifted up from the street below.

“Why wouldn’t I smile? I couldn’t wish for better company at the end of the world.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


by John Xero

Sweat, soot, grime and beating, beating insistence. Oppressive heat and a fierce orange, bright in a room of darkness. A sparking, clanging heart.

You. Will. Live.

His thick apron armours against the flicker of fire demons. He wields a hammer of heavy iron: a brutal, simple weapon of purpose. Corded muscle lashes out as he beats metal into obedience, into life. Swords and bucklers, daggers, shields, breastplates, helms and gauntlets.

You. Will. Save.

You. Will. Harm.

The grail is lost. We men, we breaths of thought in cold metal, are all lost without it.

Find. The. Grail.

Win. The. War.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


by John Xero

“It is done, my lord.”

His lord? How insincere. But then, if he could genuinely conceive of fealty he would be of no use to me. He thinks he will feign subservience and be done with me once I grant him his apotheosis. Fool.

He holds the newspaper high. The headline is his, again; they have dubbed him The Hangman of Headley. Proud fool.

He thinks I am deceived by his false obeisance but his pride blinds him to the truth. With each child hanged his soul shrivels. Soon enough he will be empty and I will ride his husk.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


by John Xero

“I thought Private Jones was dead.”

“He was. Is.”

“Right, well, he’s looking remarkably awake for a corpse.”

They looked at Jones through the reinforced glass. Jones looked back. He was unusually pale and the whites of his eyes were grey. Black tears ran down his cheeks.

“Is he crying?”

“It’s a side effect, waste material.”

“Waste material?”

“He’s been colonised by alien bacteria that breed in necrotised flesh. The individual cells network. They only take a few days to achieve sentience.”

“Didn’t we send the rest of his squad home in body bags?”

“I’m afraid so, Colonel.”

Jones smiled.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


by John Xero

Burnt out, a building becomes an exposed corpse. Blackened ribs of brick and broken wood. Empty windows like dead eyes. Ghosts of ash drifting, dissipating on a mournful wind.

The Institute of Advanced Necrological Research had been our home; the place we were raised, so to speak.

Doctor Frankie told us this day would come, the pitchforks and torches of yore replaced by shotguns and gasoline. In the ruins of her office I find the charred painting of her infamous forebear and I am resolved. We are children of the grave and we will find the monsters that did this.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


by John Xero

Find somewhere high, somewhere safe. Hide.

The white noise of the monsoon-born storm transcended anything Simon had experienced in England, it was deafening and terrible, biblical. The walls rattled and shook and he feared the chapel would be torn apart.

The locals had warned him of such weather, and the things it drove above ground: things better left unseen, unimagined.

He shivered and pulled the blanket around himself. Superstitious nonsense.

He almost missed the rough shouting, half-stolen by the storm. Then there was a heavy, urgent thumping on the doors. He went to unbar them. Some company would be good.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


by John Xero

Billy wedged himself as deep into the narrow crevice as he could, sweating, shaking. The beast couldn’t get him here. But it tried, testing his sanctuary with a swipe of paw and extended claw, making his heart clatter.

Fibrous ropes of drool hung from its jaws and slid from its yellowing teeth. A cloud of damp breath rolled over him and he gagged at the smell of rotten meat. He felt wretched, and stupid.

Drink me, the label had said.

“Just a sip.” Alice had cautioned.

He should have listened. He should have shut Cheshire in the kitchen, at least.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


by John Xero

The Dark Cartographer sat at his desk, mapping taboos.

He had trouble, at first; one person’s taboo was another’s breakfast, fetish, or badge. Then he began imagining religions, generations, perversions as countries and continents and he discovered psychological tectonics... thrusting mountains of prejudice, vast spreading oceans of distrust, disgust.

And once he had the subjects – people, he means – codified: the islands, archipelagos, and peninsulas of taboo; he saw how simple it would be to foster little warzones of hate and violence, out there in the real world.

He rolled up his map, tucked it under his arm and set out.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


by John Xero

“For your price range, we got a real beauty.”

The salesman smirked at Joe’s credit chip; he led him into the dim, flickering recesses of the hold, to an ancient maintenance shuttle in flaking yellow.

It would do. Just a little conversion and it would be the perfect mule for his nasty, little dark matter bomb.

A short trip to the sun, and then... the final eclipse. A hole punched into another dimension – let’s call it hell, for the sake of argument. A gateway, for a race long fallen, banished.

For this betrayal, he had been promised his heart’s desires.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


by John Xero

A bloodcurdling scream split the night, sending shivers down his spine.

No, no, no...

It was the curse of horror: all the good screams were taken, all the shivers and quickening heartbeats had been done. The dark, dank locales were overpopulated with all manner of cloaked psychos and grizzly monsters. You couldn’t hide your twisted creation anywhere, all the good spots had gone.

Bright sunlight dappled the forest floor. Two Red Admirals fluttered past, oblivious in their chaotic dance. It was a beautiful day. So why couldn't he shake the sense that something was stalking him, something broken and starved?

(Originally written for Six for Sunday on Easily Mused)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


by John Xero

Spanish boys taste like honey.

The child Delilah used to watch them from her window, playing football in the dust. Later, older, she dared to go out, lean against the hot, red brick and smile back beguilingly at their catcalls, fluttering inside.

Older still and she struts for them; she paints her face, wears a corset, stockings and heels. Each catcall steals a little more. They press her against the brickwork, cold now beneath the stars, the only fluttering the Euros they toss in her face.

She used to love the taste of honey, but life ruins every sweet thing.

(Originally written for Lily Childs' Friday Prediction)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Pig's Ear

“I’m not sure about this, Cindy.”

Paul poked the greasy foam floating on top of the mug; the grey froth was flecked with blackish-green granules. Even looking at it made him feel nauseous.

“It’s herbal medicine, Paul. Just swallow it quickly.”

He looked into her dark, deep, hypnotic eyes; his mouth went dry, how could he refuse her?

He steeled himself and knocked it back in one go, gagging as the lumpy, viscous liquid went down. He felt strange, dizzy. He fell to the floor.

“And my name’s not Cindy, pig. It’s Circe.”

Her cruel laughter sounded strange, distorted.

But... that title is two words!

Xeroverse 101 is one year old. To celebrate entering its second year, I've gone crazy with some two word titles (and ninety nine word stories).

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented over the past year. =)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Shroomiversal Truth

His stomach convulsed rebelliously, a sure sign the ‘shrooms were kicking in. This time felt bad though; maybe he should have eaten less.

Too late now.

The effect was subtle at first. Colours deepened, as if everything was liquid and he couldn’t see the bottom; his skin tone reddened, turning carnelian. Then he fell inside the world, drowning.

He drifted through the other side, saw the universe from without, understood what the toadstools were showing him: Everything.

The cat wasn’t dead and alive, the cat didn’t even exist until it was observed.

By seeing the universe, he created it.

But... that title is two words!

Xeroverse 101 is one year old. To celebrate entering its second year, I've gone crazy with some two word titles (and ninety nine word stories).

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented over the past year. =)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

CyberOptical Illusion

Captain Carter glared out at the steaming city. The men behind him traded nervous looks.

“The situation has moved beyond ethics. Commissioner Warton is calling it treason.”

Brand spoke up, “Seems a bit strong, boss.”

Brand was new. Brand didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

Carter growled. “Hacking into everyone’s cyberOptics. Defacing the king, live. Making the country a laughing stock...”

He turned and stomped up to Brand till their faces were almost touching. “Everyone thought King William had a goddamn Hitler ‘tache. Call that a prank? Tomfoolery? High Jinks?”

Brand, wide-eyed, red-faced, kept his mouth shut.

But... that title is two words!

Xeroverse 101 is one year old. To celebrate entering its second year, I've gone crazy with some two word titles (and ninety nine word stories).

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented over the past year. =)

See also: Bad Science, Shroomiversal Truth, Pig's Ear