Short Story AdviceShort, Story, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2018

301 Short Story Ideas Guaranteed to Kick Your Writing into High Gear

With shorter attention spans and increasingly hectic lives, it's no wonder readers love short stories now as much as ever. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Minority Report," and "Brokeback Mountain"—even Hollywood has taken a renewed interest in short stories.

Below are 301 short story prompts and starters to help you become inspired, get past writer's block and explore the fascinating process of writing in a genre that Stephen King famously once compared to a kiss in the dark from a stranger.

Adventure

  1. A group of hunters are on a hunt. Their dress and actions are completely primitive until the end when they change back into suits and leave the area in modern vehicles.
  2. Weather patterns across the globe suddenly shift, causing natural law to go haywire. A family tries to make sense of it while getting to safety.
  3. A flood swept away an entire town, leaving only the library and its strange secret.
  4. Your main character is evicted from their home and forced to call in some favors. Although, those favors take him/her on a wild ride they never expected.
  5. The night before an important social function, your main character is tasked with saving the world.
  6. Your main character's boat is sinking in the middle of the ocean and he/she only has 1 hour to make a raft from parts of the vessel.
  7. Your main character joins the communist regime and leads the party to glorious victory over the capitalist bourgeoisie funded by your antagonist's Super-PAC.
  8. Your main character has a change of heart and partners up with your antagonist, joining their evil organization and proving a much more capable evil overlord than your antagonist could ever hope to be.
  9. Your character's things are packed up and they are ready to leave town tomorrow. Before they say goodbye to their town, they decide to stop by at their favorite bar just to say goodbye. Something that happens at the bar makes them question whether or not leaving is the right decision.
  10. When your character is hanging out at their favorite coffee shop, they notice someone loitering outside. As your character leaves, they see a black SUV pull up and a very handsome man gets out. The loiterer goes to lunge for the man, but your character instinctively decides to jump on him, blocking him from attacking the unsuspecting man. It turns out that the handsome man is the governor of the state. What happens next?
  11. Two giant fingers reach down and pluck your main character away from what they were just doing, and unceremoniously deposit them on a pirate ship.
  12. Your main character finds an abandoned car, keys still inside, parked outside their home.
  13. Your protagonist is a corporate CEO who suddenly must hunt and forage his own food.
  14. Your characters are trapped in a structure that constantly shifts and changes. How do they find their way out?

Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Supernatural

  1. Your main character wakes up in the body of the person he/she most despises.
  2. An outdoor music festival receives strange, otherworldly visitors who decide to take the stage for their own performance.
  3. A man wakes up to discover he can no longer hear but can see things he's never seen before.
  4. A man and his dog go to the dog park to play and the dog finds a bone with strange carvings on it that reacts to the environment in unexpected ways.
  5. A group of high school friends cross paths 10 years after graduation to catch up, only to learn that one in their midst has developed special, superhuman powers.
  6. A secondary character stumbles upon a talking blade, and they begin behaving suspiciously.
  7. Your character wakes one morning and finds that they are physically stronger, faster, and have greater reflexes than when they went to sleep. Each time they sleep, they become stronger.
  8. As if losing everything she owned in the tornado wasn't enough, Lila learned that she'd been laid off from her job. And that's when she started noticing the monsters.
  9. A tertiary character is revealed to be "The chosen one," and your main character must help them to succeed in fulfilling their destiny.
  10. The antagonist dies, but the story doesn't end.
  11. Your main character is given a suit that protects them from danger—unfortunately it has a different threshold for safety than seems ideal.
  12. A character in your story becomes aware that they are in a story.
  13. our character wakes up deaf and mute but sees more colors than he or she knew was possible.
  14. Your main character finds that time has slowed for them. Each year they age only several weeks, and slowly those nearest them are beginning to take notice.
  15. Your main character makes a pact with an alien visitor to trade bodies for the day to tour around unnoticed.
  16. Your main character wakes up in an unrecognizable city that is at least 100 years more advanced in technology than we are today.
  17. Lightning strikes your main character and he/she wakes up in the hospital with a small black goblin perched on their shoulder, which no one else can see.
  18. The sun goes out, replaced by building-sized lights in the sky over each major city. Across the world, beams of light descend from the sky, and each points toward your main character.
  19. A secondary character is visited by aliens. They are told that they have been chosen as a representative of humanity amongst the interstellar accord. They need your main character's advice.
  20. Your main character has a theme song which plays for ten seconds every time they enter a room.
  21. Your protagonist is visited by a comic book hero who needs their help.
  22. Your character cannot wake from a series of back-to-back dreams that feel like he or she is awake.
  23. All rhinos have gone extinct except for two, and your main character has been granted guardianship of the last two of their kind.
  24. Your character notices a weird growth on their arm one morning. They brush it off as a weird bump or scratch—until it turns into something else entirely.
  25. Your character has always thought of their parents in a certain way, but here lately they're doing something unusual that changes your character's opinion of them.
  26. Your main character is the owner of a variety store and an invisible car crashes through the wall, driven by an invisible person.
  27. Your antagonist and protagonist meet in the afterlife, hundreds of thousands of years after your story takes place.
  28. Your antagonist and protagonist get freaky-Friday-ed. When they wake up, each is in the other's body.
  29. Your main character is suddenly invisible, but they don't know how long it will last.
  30. Your main character wakes up, in high school again, and finds that they are late for an important test.
  31. Your main character is granted a single wish, but must be careful, because the genie granting the wish will attempt to misinterpret any wish they make.
  32. Your main character finds himself/herself in the video game they were playing.
  33. Your main character is the leader of a random group of apocalypse survivors who must now forage for food.
  34. A cell phone is found locked inside a cabinet in a home recently purchased by newlyweds. On it is a recorded message from their future children. What does the message say and how did it get there?
  35. Your main character and the three people standing closest to them, are thrown backwards in time three hundred years.
  36. Your protagonist can see the future and doesn't want to leave his/her home.
  37. Your main character discovers that they are a wizard, and that this means they will have to leave their family to learn how to safely practice magic, in a school they have never heard of.
  38. Suddenly, your main character can hear the thoughts of everyone who is wearing the same color shirt as they are.
  39. Your protagonist dies. The story doesn't end.
  40. Your main character is really a guardian angel in human form.
  41. Your protagonist meets a man claiming to be God. He/she doesn't believe the man, but then miracles ensue.
  42. Two adult sisters discuss a fateful night when they were teenagers and ran away from home, only to encounter a pack of vampires waiting to take them in.
  43. A family comes together for Christmas, only to discover that they have somehow switched bodies and perspectives over the course of the meal.
  44. A man or woman wakes up as his/her dog or cat and it's breakfast time.
  45. Two writers discover they've written the exact same text, word for word, 1,000 miles apart from each other.
  46. A parent and child encounter their ancestor, who has been dead for centuries, and they go on a walk through the city/the woods.
  47. A lost Incan treasure is found in the basement of a school in Ohio. How did it get there? And more importantly, how is it glowing?
  48. Your main character suddenly loses his ability to see but can hear things he hadn't heard before.
  49. .It's 2050 and most of America has become one large city except for a small area in the middle of the country, considered uninhabitable by most people except for a few. Who are they and how do they survive?

Romance and Drama

  1. A secondary character starts their own business and enlists your main character to help it succeed but falls in love instead.
  2. Your antagonist wins over your main character's best friend, convincing that friend of their good intentions.
  3. Your main character gets a new job, working at the evil corporation run by your antagonist—but the work they would be doing could really help people.
  4. Your main character and their best friend find themselves in a love triangle with your antagonist.
  5. A couple is having an argument at the table beside your character at a restaurant. Although they are trying to avoid eye contact, your character realizes that one of them is the ex that the other never quite got over.
  6. A tertiary character is seriously stressing out, and your protagonist feels the need to reach out to them with a kind gesture. It does the opposite of help.
  7. Your character is talked into going to their romantic interest's mother's dance recital, and their romantic interest doesn't show up.
  8. Your character is at a friend's house for a dinner party. Suddenly, someone they absolutely despise walks in. What do they do now?
  9. Your character's boyfriend of five years surprises them with an engagement ring at a dinner with their whole family. They pause for a minute before they answer him. But if he knew their secret, there is no way he would be proposing right now. The whole room is waiting for the response.
  10. Your character gets matched up with a famous person on Tinder. What happens on their date?
  11. Your character's friend introduces them to someone at a party. It turns out that your character and the other person actually know each other quite well. However, neither of them acknowledges this fact. The friend steps away. What do they say to each other now?
  12. Your character's mom seems really tense when they are out to dinner with her one evening. They ask her what's wrong. "I have something to tell you," she says gravely.
  13. Write a story about a father and son reuniting for the first time in 20 years. Why did they go so long without talking? What finally brought them together?
  14. Your main character's romantic interest finds one day that they are much more interested in your antagonist.
  15. Suddenly, a tertiary character confesses their love for your protagonist, getting down on one knee and producing a ring. But your protagonist loves someone else.
  16. One night when your character is at a bar with all of their friends, a mysteriously charming stranger starts talking to them. They are instantly captivated by their every word. They ask for your character's number, but there's just one (major) problem.

Mystery and Horror

  1. A writer's manuscript contains words he didn't write…ghostwriting in its truest form. But who is his co-author and what does the ghost want?
  2. Your main character comes home to find that their family is missing.
  3. Your character wakes up covered with strange tattoos and can't remember how he/she got them.
  4. Your protagonist awoke from a nightmare to find an object from his/her dream laying on the pillow.
  5. Two cousins hitchhike along a deserted country road, following a stream of black smoke to an abandoned house, where there is no one tending the steadily burning fire.
  6. Your main character wakes up in the trunk of a car, their head throbbing.
  7. An escaped convict leaves behind evidence of his innocence for the search party to find.
  8. Your protagonist wakes up aged considerably, after a Rip Van Winkle-esque 20-year nap, and his friends don't believe his story.
  9. There's no way out of the concert hall but the concert-goers tried to find it anyway. Behind them, the snarling monster prowled.
  10. Lost in the woods, two teens encounter a witch-like woman who offers them all they've ever wanted in exchange for one small thing—their baby sister.
  11. Your main character discovers a long-lost sibling who is down on their luck.
  12. Your main character is given an important heirloom, an item passed down for generations in their family. But it is cursed.
  13. Your main character finds a black mahogany door in their basement, shut tight with chains.
  14. One night while your character is camping in the woods with their family, there's a loud noise from inside the tent. At first everyone thinks it's an animal, but this sounds like nothing they've ever heard before.
  15. Your main character has a conversation with a ghost from their past, either literally or figuratively.
  16. Your main character goes broke drinking and gambling and wakes up the next morning with a small white rabbit perched on their chest, possibly stolen from the magic act they saw the night before.
  17. Your main character wakes up on a rooftop, in their underwear.
  18. Your main character inherits a vast fortune, but they must stay in a creepy old house for an entire night in order to earn it.
  19. Your main character sells their soul and seems to have all of their problems solved, only to find out that the devil is a blood relation, and there are no catches.
  20. Your main character wakes up to find that ¾ of the world's population has suddenly disappeared without a trace.
  21. Two adopted twin sisters embark on a journey to find their birth father, only to find that he's been close to them all along.
  22. Your main character's dog goes missing in the night, and they aren't the only one missing a pet. After some sleuthing they discover that a friend has become a werewolf, and that their best friend is the cause of the missing animals.
  23. Your main character wakes up wearing a strange ring which glows with sparks of blue electricity.
  24. People find that if they don't concentrate on keeping their soul attached to their body, it begins to separate. Without continuous concentration, everyone becomes ghosts of themselves.
  25. Your character discovers that there's something really mysterious happening at the neighborhood park. Your character finally works up the nerve to go down there one evening, and what they find is even more peculiar than what they originally thought.
  26. Your main character is trapped in a dream that is quickly becoming a nightmare.
  27. After a particularly grueling day at work, your character groggily returns to work the next morning. The secretary, who your character has said hello to every morning for about five years, suddenly has no idea who they are. When they tell her their name, she responds: "No one by that name has ever worked here."
  28. Your character wakes up one morning in what looks to be a hospital. They try to move, but it appears they are strapped into the bed. A nurse suddenly enters the room and calls them by the wrong name. What happened to them? What happens next?
  29. The doorbell rings. No one is there, but a mysterious package was left behind. Your character opens it up and find something inside that's very unexpected.
  30. Write about a scenario where a character does something terrible and gets away with it completely.
  31. Your character's sibling is wanted for a serious crime. They swear that they didn't do it, but your character is not so sure.
  32. A ghost of your antagonist's great-great-great-grandmother visits your protagonist, warning him to stay away from her great-great-great-grandchild.
  33. On your character's walk to work, they notice that the streets are suspiciously empty. Brushing it off, they finally get to their office. There's no one inside at all. They walk around searching for someone, anyone to ask what's happening. They find no one and nothing.
  34. A child draws scenes that end up happening exactly as he/she draws them. His/her parents try to understand what is happening.

Other

  1. Your main character has been knocked unconscious, and another character from your story needs to step up and take their place.
  2. At the library one afternoon doing some research, your character notices an unusual photograph. Your character is immediately captivated by it. What's in the photograph?
  3. Your character's grandma recently passed away. In her will, she left your character something very strange.
  4. Your main character has just come face to face with their worst enemy, and they are monologuing.
  5. Your antagonist has finally won, accomplishing their greatest feat. Now what?
  6. Your antagonist and protagonist swap places for a day.
  7. Your antagonist and protagonists are placed in the same dorm room at university. Hilarity ensues.
  8. It turns out your antagonist was right the whole time, and now your protagonist has some explaining to do.
  9. Your main character or antagonist wins the lottery, a jackpot of 3.4 million dollars. But he/she doesn't want it.
  10. Your main character is contemplating suicide until a stranger stops him/her.
  11. The king dies, and your antagonist's best friend becomes the new ruling monarch. The catch is, they don't seem too bad, other than the fact that your antagonist keeps whispering in their ear.
  12. Your protagonist is incredibly late for their next scheduled meeting, and he or she just keeps running into obstacles which stall them further.
  13. Your character's birthday wish that they made when they were blowing out the candles actually comes true. What is it? Is it everything that they hoped for?
  14. Your character's home is a little worse for wear. It seems like everything is broken and your character has no more money to invest in this money pit. In the garage, they see an old can of gasoline. Would they do the unthinkable? What is going through their mind right now?
  15. Your character's family has a lot of traditions. They go along with them, except for one. If their parents knew your character broke this rule, they would likely disown them. What is it? What would your character do if they found out?
  16. Your character is a pretty shy, introspective person. One day they wake up and realize that they are saying everything that they think. They can't control the words that are coming out of their mouth at all. While this is helpful when they are trying to talk to friends and acquaintances at work, it really starts to get them into trouble.
  17. Your character is a member of a family that has always feuded with their neighbors over trivial issues, and now must ask his/her neighbors for help in an emergency. How do the neighbors respond?

Story Starters

  1. The place where the world stopped was not so strange, but the vertigo was overwhelming. The girl could not decide whether or not it would be wise to jump.
  2. The gear turned, interlaced with another, and another. His eyes traced the inner workings of the machine to the place where the light shone.
  3. Static played between the cracks of the monitor, the spark and hiss of the television muffled as the living room filled with water.
  4. The hand was pale, as if circulation had long stopped; and the ring upon the creature's finger seemed to glow with a spark of interior fire.
  5. They say that when you die in a dream, you die in real life. I can tell you that isn't true; because I died in a dream, and what happened to me was much stranger than that.
  6. The girl spun, dragged by the momentum of her backpack, tilting from one foot to the next so that her balance was tenuous, her motions growing wilder.
  7. The face in the mirror was not his own. It was handsomer, his eyes more vibrant, his skin clearer. He frowned, uncertain, but his reflection smiled.
  8. Once upon a time, in a night with no stars and no moon, there was a shadow in the darkness.
  9. Bright blue water held the stars' reflections, until she dove beneath the surface. Then for a long moment the lake was still, until I began to grow nervous. When she finally returned, she held aloft over her head the star which had hung in the North, the wish-making star.
  10. It was, as the wave of mud descended, sprayed by the wheels of a yellow taxi – it was that moment which made that day the worst of her life.
  11. Again, try again. Concentrate now, it will not come easily.
  12. Strange, to see her here. She seemed out of place. Not the soft out-of-place, like an uncle entertaining unfamiliar nieces and nephews, but the hard of out-of-place which drew every eye in the room.
  13. It was a trick of the fingers, and a twist of the wrist, which changed the shape of the shifting cloak. One moment the garment was a heavy green wool, and the next it was black satin, suitable for the night's entertainments.
  14. I have been many things: a pawn, a dancer, a master of the blade; but none of these in the way you might think, and none of them for less than a moment.
  15. The torch hissed as he plunged it into the river and let the current sweep the light away. Then he was alone in the dark with the red-ember eyes.
  16. Like a dream she had drifted from the room, and like a dream she seemed unreal, and like a dream she was gone.
  17. The pencil was now stuck in the ceiling, the glob of green hanging precariously from it; and before I could dash across the room, or throw the stapler again to dislodge it, Mr. Smythe reentered the classroom.
  18. The lower level was waist-deep already, flooding from a number of breaches along the starboard hull. Younger crewmen were wading through the water in search of bailing buckets. Older crewmates were racing toward the ladders, offering prayers beneath their breath.
  19. The river was home to a great many, and together they drifted along it. It was never fast, never sudden, but always full to brimming of fish, and always clean to drink.
  20. The sphere was some metal he had never seen before, like steel but with a faint blue hue. It stood out nearly three feet from the earth; and where it was exposed to the air, lightning struck it repeatedly, illuminating his surroundings with each strike.
  21. The woman swung her scythe with the steady clockwork motion of a pendulum.
  22. Frost spread across the ground. Slowly at first, with the lingering laziness of autumn, but then with greater fervor; and the creature flew along behind it as it spread across the field.
  23. Doom blanketed the town, like silence might have on a more peaceful night.
  24. Typical, he thought. Another throwaway evening. Not a soul in town, and not a sound to be heard; but that night was anything but typical.
  25. She didn't blink. Not when he made faces, or when he screamed; not when he brought out the joke about the garden gnomes, or the one about the flea circus. She didn't even blink when he resorted to the feather, or when he made a motion like he might poke her in the eye.
  26. His favorite color had always been blue. Not because it was depressing or anything – it wasn't – but because it seemed to soak in the light, and then give some of it back. Like black, he thought, but less dead, less drab.
  27. The ballet slipper would not fit, and that would never do. Only moments now, before they knocked on her dressing room door, and her sister's slipper would not slide onto her foot.
  28. You aren't supposed to have conversations through the wall of the changing rooms, especially not the fancy kind where a woman waits outside to ask if everything fits just right. And yet, here she was, knee deep in the most awkward conversation she could imagine.
  29. There was no gravity here, and so she floated, waiting to come close enough to something solid that she could push off from it, and toward the exit.
  30. They say bleach for blood but the odor is too strong. Best to take it out with hydrogen peroxide. Then again, it looks strange buying thirty bottles of hydrogen peroxide at three in the morning, so I settle for a couple gallons of bleach.
  31. The doctor looked up from the manila folder in his hands and said, "Your test results are positive."
  32. Just as she settled into the backseat with her suitcase and carry-on bag, an oncoming headlight illuminated the driver's face and she realized this wasn't her Uber driver. He was the man they'd been showing on the news the last few days.
  33. As the doctor handed the newborn bundle to her, she gasped.
  34. As she threw her head back to soak up the flowering spring trees, she saw her ex-husband watching her from across the street. How could he have known she was here?
  35. The young girl was maybe 5 or 6 but there was something about her that chilled me to the bone.
  36. She might never get the chance to be alone with him again. Her husband was across the country; he'd never find out, so why not?
  37. "Is this your handwriting?" the policeman asked with a scowl.
Story Starters
Story starters are a great way to practice writing short stories.
  1. I could have been anything—a doctor, lawyer, architect. Instead, I became a carney.
  2. When he saw the state troopers standing on his front stoop, he thought they must have the wrong house. But when the troopers took off their hats and one of them asked, "Are you James Cooper?" he couldn't find the strength to answer.
  3. "I knew you'd come back to me," she whispered. "It's been a lifetime but I knew you'd come back."
  4. The doctor emerged from the double doors and said, "There were some unexpected complications."
  5. This was the moment he'd been training for. He strapped on his helmet and got in position.
  6. She continued running, but as the trail of blood got thicker and the splattered drops got closer together, she started following the blood instead of the greenway path. She had to find the source of all this blood. Was it animal blood... or human?
  7. When he looked around, he froze. He'd been here before. This was the same place where he kept getting stuck in his dreams. Would he be able to find his way out in waking life?
  8. She shut off the kitchen light and turned to go upstairs to bed, unaware that two sets of eyes were watching her every move.
  9. He frantically searched his lab, but he found no sign of the invisibility potion. How could someone have stolen it before he even got the chance to use it?
  10. As she listened to him snore on the pillow next to her, she wondered how much longer she could stay married to him. She prayed he would die in his sleep or get hit by a car. Then her eyes fell on the pillow at the foot of the bed.
  11. "Mr. Dempsey, they're not both going to make it. We can save your wife or the baby, but we can't save both. You need to let us know your decision in the next two minutes, or we may lose them both."
  12. "Are you sure you want to do this?" the man asked as he positioned the needle over her heart.
  13. Nothing had grown in that patch of grass for 50 years. It had been a barren dirt patch ever since that stranger had conjured a fire bolt and scorched the ground. But Tommy definitely saw a green sprout growing in the middle of the barren square. What was it, and how could it produce life in a place that nothing else could?
  14. The car rattled as if she'd gone over a speed bump, but she knew there were no speed bumps on this road. She looked in her rear view mirror and thought she saw blonde hair… and maybe a human form on the road. She wondered if she should turn back. Had anyone seen her?
  15. "If you walk out that door right now, I don't ever want to see your face in my home again," his mother said.
  16. "I will get my money back one way or another," he growled, as he pinned her arms beneath her back.
  17. "The price of freedom depends on what you're willing to pay. Tell me, sir: how much is your freedom worth to you?
  18. She fumbled in her purse for her keys, but her hands were clumsy with fear. Just as her fingers grazed the familiar key fob, a sweaty hand grabbed her shoulder.
  19. He'd seen her. She could tell by the smirk on his lips. She pushed through the thick crowd in hopes of making it to the exit before he blocked her way.
  20. She glared at the thick bracelet on her bicep. Why did her parents make such a big deal about never taking off? It was heavy and not even stylish. She found clasp and fiddled with it for a moment. Surely her parents were exaggerating about all the awful things that would happen to her if she ever took this off.
  21. He extended his hand to her and said, "Hi, I'm Finkel Wolfson." She looked at his outstretched hand as if it was crawling with spiders and roaches. "Oh, I've heard about you," she said with a sniff. Finkel panicked. He was 3000 miles away from home; how could she have heard about him?
  22. "One of us has to try it," Amir said as he pointed to the lumpy, unfamiliar fruit on the tree in front of them. If we don't, we'll starve to death. Death by poison seems worth the risk in case it's edible, doesn't it?"
  23. The night winds rustled as the door to the old woman's home slowly opened.
  24. She laughed when he told her the news. It was exactly what she expected and she knew the lie was over.
  25. He glanced in his rearview mirror and saw that the blue sedan was still following him.
  26. She stepped off the elevator with a sense of purpose. This time, she would succeed.
  27. He flicked the stub of his cigarette onto the pile and walked away without a second look.
  28. Just as they got to the edge of town, the car started making a terrible clunking sound.
  29. "What's that smell?"
  30. He rolled down his window and called out, "Hey—do you want a ride?"
  31. "You better get down to the station. It happened again."
  32. The dog raced toward her with such intensity that she didn't have time to get out of his way.
  33. "I don't think you're capable of love."
  34. He picked up the glowing rock and inspected it. Where had it come from, and how had it ended up in his backyard?
  35. By the time Johnny got home, thousands of sheets of paper had piled up on the floor beside the printer, each with only one sentence printed in bold type: "I am coming for you, and there's nothing you can do."
  36. "How could you have married him? You promised you'd wait for me."
  37. "I've lost him," she screamed, but none of us knew what she'd lost.
  38. For a moment, time slowed, and the sound of the approaching storm was all that we could hear.
  39. "Look out!" he shouted.
  40. I'd never last long in the slammer. I get all frantic when I'm in tight spaces, start tryin' to climb the walls and such.
  41. Tears filled her eyes as she scanned the list a second time. She didn't make the team.
  42. "I'm pregnant."
  43. He watched her leave, knowing that she only locked the flimsy doorknob behind her. He had at least two hours before she'd be back home.
  44. "Where am I?"
  45. "What happened to you?" She asked.
  46. There are three things you never mess with if you know what's good for you: heroin, border patrol, and the Valdez cartel.
  47. She fell to the floor when she heard the first explosion. She didn't know if she should try to escape or try to hide.
  48. "We're sending you to live with another family. It's for your own safety."
  49. As she watched this hulking, hairy animal lope across her backyard, she wondered what two creatures collaborated to make this tremendous beast, and what was it looking for?
  50. "She hasn't spoken a word since the accident. Our friend said that you might be able to help her."
  51. "Don't lie to me. I already know the truth."
  52. As he walked away, his smile grew from a smirk to an all-out grin.
  53. "Why is all of Daddy's stuff in the front yard?"
  54. He counted his register drawer again. How could he be short $2500?
  55. The teacher looked at his gaping shoes and tattered clothes and knew she had to find out what was really going on at home or this kid would end up in the system. She called him up to her desk and asked, "Do you want to help me on a project this weekend?"
  56. If he hurried, he might be able to get back to work before anyone found out what he had done.
  57. "Do you have experience with demons?" she whispered from under the table.
  58. "This medicine numbs the pain, but it will also permanently numb your ability to feel pleasure. Do you want it?"
  59. "Mr. Whipple, we've just learned that your wife is an undercover agent with the Russian government. We need your help apprehending her."
  60. Once she'd confirmed that no one was looking, she ducked into the unmarked building.
  61. When she walked outside the next morning, she realized his curse must have worked.
  62. He pulled his hat low over his brow and tried to blend in with the crowd, hoping no one would realize who he was.
  63. He was inside the video game! But wait—if he was in here... who had the controls?
  64. She bent down to pick up the strange-looking shell from the sand, but as soon as her hand touched it, the earth started to shake.
  65. He opened the letter and sunk to his knees in the middle of the driveway.
  66. "What are we going to do once the last of this food is gone?" he asked.
  67. She looked closer and realized that this tree was growing dollar bills instead of leaves and quarters instead of acorns.
  68. There is never a better time to say "I'm sorry" than when karma is kicking you good.
  69. When the pigeon swooped down in front of her, she realized it had a note attached to its right leg.
  70. "I'll need to speak to at least three of your ex-girlfriends to check your references before I'll go on a date with you."
  71. "Mommy, there's a ghost in my room!"
  72. Something wasn't right. No one seemed to recognize her. No one even really seemed to see her. Could he have erased her existence?
  73. They had never been this high before. As she reached for the next rock outcropping, she wondered if it was actually close enough to reach, or if she was about to fall into the canyon.
  74. "This is something we don't usually show visitors," the museum docent whispered as she unlocked the door marked "DANGER!"
  75. He looked both ways before crossing the street, not realizing that he had just made the worst decision of his life.
  76. "How did you get that scar?"
  77. He muttered a few extra spells as he stirred the potion. He couldn't risk it malfunctioning this time.
  78. Every person on the street and in the mall looked identical. They were all wearing red shirts and blue shorts, and every single one was a man with light skin and short brown hair. What had happened, and how was she the only one who was still different?
  79. "You don't understand," she said, looking at him sadly. "I am not who you think I am."
  80. All the lights in the city went out and they knew the monsters were surrounding them.
  81. "If you take one step closer, it'll be the last step you ever take," he said, pointing the weapon at the strange figure in front of him. But his threat was useless, since the creature had no feet.
  82. There, nestled within the grove of trees, was the thing he'd been waiting for since he was 12 years old.
  83. "Who's there?" Her words bounced off of the metal walls of shipping containers when she awoke. But there was only the echo of her own voice to answer her.
  84. They were lost in the woods and they knew it, although this time was different. This time, they were hunted.
  85. Looking into the fire was the wrong thing to do. He found he couldn't drag his stare away.
  86. It wasn't until my father pushed me off the cliff that I believed he was telling the truth.
  87. The sign hit them like an inanimate object.
  88. The pumpkin would not stop growing, despite the application of the second potion. The witch had lied.
  89. All four tires were on the ground, but I had started floating toward the surface.
  90. Smoke leaked from the exhaust pipes of the Mustang as the plane began to descend. She looked into the jungle below, dreading the impact.
  91. Picture us, standing against the world, armed to the teeth, walking out into that blizzard.
  92. If romance is dead, then I suppose there are none to blame but the hopeless romantics. It was a boy, not too long ago, that taught me romance – real romance—isn't something hopeless, or unenergetic like stale poetry, or futile like canned compliments.
  93. It's impossible to tell really, just how many times I've come back.
  94. When a pet passes away, the moment is strangely dense. That moment as I held the shoebox was the longest of my young life, but there were harder times to come.
  95. The girl crept past the open door, listening with piqued interests for clues revealed in the voices beyond it.
  96. Thunder does not crash like a wave, but ripples outward like a pebble tossed into a pond. When the lightning struck, I was the first to hear that thunder.
  97. Heroes wear masks for all kinds of reasons. I wear the mask so they can't see the grey at my temples or the weariness of age in my eyes.
  98. The sun never shone like it did that day. It baked my skin until I felt I might burn in the shade, but I never did. Nothing went wrong that day.
  99. The paper tore once, twice, three times. I shredded it and scattered it to the wind.
  100. Ma always told me not to climb so high. Always lookin' out for me 'cause I ain't look out for myself. Too bad Ma ain't here now.
  101. They think they know me, but they don't really. I hunt only at night and only when I know I have the advantage over my prey.
  102. City slicker like myself doesn't have a wit of business in the country. They knew it. I knew it. Not a one of us in that room was happy I'd purchased the land.
  103. Here's the thing about family. Family sticks together, but it's almost never roses and sunshine. Family sticks together when you have nothing; so when you have it all, well, things get complicated in a different way.
  104. It wasn't my idea to paint the damn cow, it was Johnny's; but I suppose I'm to blame for going along with it.
  105. Stars spin real slow. So slow you can't see it, unless you have the time and the resources to take a really close look.
  106. I can't say I ever much liked gym class. I've never seen the point of running unless you were being chased. But I'm running now, aren't I? I guess I'm glad I never skipped gym.
  107. It's been a few years since the guns got off the street, and the drugs. Didn't happen all at once, but it did happen fast. Not sure I like it.
  108. My dad raised me believing that time is money. Now that money is time though, I'm not sure anything he taught me means what I thought it would.
  109. I realized that something was wrong when I thought "I'm getting married," instead of "I'm getting married to John."
  110. It wasn't a happy winter, but it wasn't so sad either, considering.
  111. "Blood is thicker than water," we all heard that. What people don't do is say it out full: "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb," which, (if you ask me, which you didn't) means almost the opposite.
  112. Never thought I'd dance on his grave, not really.
  113. Clouds parted that night, while I was bending picking weeds in the dark—fool thing to do—and the moon shone down on my garden.
  114. There are dreamers like me, but none as vivid, and none who know the clouds and sunshine of my mind as I do.
  115. You can't sing—can't really sing—a happy song when you are sad; but I know now that you can sing a sad song, and fill that song with life, when you are happy.
  116. All it took was one step into the water and I knew I was home.
  117. If love stories begin with wonder and end with tragedy, this isn't really a love story.
  118. She looked out the window and saw moving shadows, as far as the eye could see, and was thankful at least for the light from the window on the house on the hill.
  119. "I'm falling for you," he said. But he knew that look and he regretted it immediately.
  120. Give me five minutes and I'll turn that girl's silly smile into a look of shock.
  121. At dawn, we were swallowed up by the darkness, but it didn't matter, really. We had waited for it all night long.
  122. If loss were a taste, you'd spit it out as soon as you were able to. But it isn't. It's a sound and a cry and it goes on forever.
  123. That night in September, the body count was almost as high as the temperature.
  124. ."They're not even normal," the little girl whispered. "Look Ma', those men have gills for ears."
  125. She closed her eyes and remembered the flowers in her mother's yard and how red the roses grew.
  126. There was nothing left to say but "I love you" as they stood together and watched the world burn.
  127. "Mamma, there's someone here to see you." I knew from the sound of my daughter's scared voice who that someone was.
  128. Lost in a wonderland of sorts, I wandered the home's slanted hallways until I found the right room.
  129. "There he is," she shouted. "I told you he…..!" But before I could turn to look, she screamed and fell silent.
  130. The explosion could be seen for miles around, but only two people saw it.
  131. She couldn't identify the lifeforms standing across from her but she knew they weren't human. She also knew they weren't friendly.
  132. "Here, put on this mask," she said. "They can't know who you really are."
  133. It took 15 days and 11 hours to reach the mountain range on foot, but there it was in front of us, big as we knew it would be.
  134. "I don't know how you handle this type of thing on Earth," she spat, "but here on Mars, we don't let killers run free."
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