"It's good of you to come here and agree to testify under oath, Mr President."
"Raise your right hand please."
The President's right hand formed its all-too-familiar gesture, then he stretched out "I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!!!" to almost 30 seconds, throwing in a promise to build a wall between the Senate and the House for good measure.
By the time he'd given his name, occupation, and full address including zip code, his testimony had ended. It was a Friday, after all – 100 words maximum.
This photograph taken this morning outside my polling station – a church hall – had a profound effect on me.
As voting closed in the General Election, the TV studio pundits suddenly burst into life. Now, they could share the sensational first exit polls: a swing to both major parties, the Conservatives and Labour. Each party had 60% of the vote.
The news astounded and excited Professor John Butler. Most stunningly, the #TryPraying Party vote had collapsed completely. The pundits speculated that support for #TryPraying had suffered badly after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Voters felt let down by its leader.
Of course as Butler pointed out repeatedly, it was only an exit poll. It could be wrong.
In the week of the bombing of a Manchester pop concert attended mainly by teenage girls.
I am surrounded by filth, the unclean, the dregs, the unbelievers. I am surrounded by animals who, if left unculled, will live to breed and spread their dirt and endless wickedness. I am surrounded by perverts, liars and whores.
My duty is to cleanse. My duty is to bleach, to wipe the filthy animal presence from the Earth before it can do even more harm. I have come to disinfect.
I shall not fail. I shall be remembered for my courage, for my commitment to the one true faith, for my devotion to the highest cause.
My hour has come.
The owl floated across the fields, between the trees, searching for anything that would feed his newborn chicks. The rain had ceased and he could hear easily; he would also be aided as voles and mice looked for food after the storm.
His eyes took in the landscape, but as he flew he turned his head, scanning for something juicy with his ears and that large facial disc.
Suddenly he heard a decent-sized field vole move below. Three silent beats later, he had another snack for the brood to fight over. The vole wouldn’t have to worry about food again.
A dog drops into a pub, approaches the bar and gives a deep bow.
"Wow," says the dog, "this place has changed! Big improvement."
"Thanks. We don't get many dogs here these days," the barman says. "What can I get you?"
"A salty dog, please."
"Sure," says the barman. He fixes the cocktail. "You look a little off colour – are you OK?"
"Feeling a bit rough, actually."
"Sorry to hear that," says the barman, pushing the cocktail towards the dog. "That'll be £8.00."
"What?? That's much more than I'd expected."
"Sorry," says the barman, "prices have gone through the woof."
Martha found it hard to move her head now. She could hear voices, was sure that Lindsey and Mark were both there. Someone – Lindsey, she hoped – was holding her hand. From time to time a face appeared above her: sideways on, talking too loudly. Calling to her: "Mrs Barclay."
Martha could barely make anything out in the room; the lights were brighter now but the shadows were dimmer. Perhaps her eyes weren't fully open. She felt no pain. She wanted to tell Lindsey and Mark that she loved them, but the words wouldn't come.
Exhausted, she closed her eyes again.
In Earth's final hours, a Saviour appeared: an ordinary woman who could do one extraordinary thing: listen. She listened to everyone, the poor, the weary, the sick, the desperate; she listened to everyone.
She heard answers in their own voices: the way to salvation from poverty, sickness, ignorance, and desperation. Most immediately, from destroying the planet.
"Blasphemy!" cried the Christian.
"Blasphemy!" cried the Jew, the Hindu, the Muslim, and the Buddhist.
"Kill her!" they all cried, even those of no religion. It just seemed easier.
They killed her, then fought amongst themselves. They were still fighting when the lights went
It began as a fluttering seed that fell, unnoticed to the ground. A bird had digested it, and the boost to its fertility had it up and running in no time: eighteen inches in the first year, four feet by the second, seven feet by the third.
But its roots were growing at a much faster rate. In the first year they shot down over 30 feet, then still further in exponential leaps in subsequent years. Nobody noticed, of course, it was all happening out of sight.
The tree eventually popped up in the centre of Sydney. With an earthquake.
The building where I worked for almost 30 years – yes, that was a school – is currently being demolished. The Sunday Post and the Weekly News are two of Scotland's more widely-read news publications; they're not so widely respected for their journalism. Those connected with the Portobello High School in the 1970s and early 1980s will recognise the character.
As far as I know there is currently no civil war in Edinburgh.
This is essentially my recollection of a true event.
The young woman greeted me cheerfully in the corridor.
"Will you marry me?"
"Go on, it's the 29th February. I can do the proposing."
"Interesting idea, Caroline. I really like you, but there are difficulties..."
She smiled innocently. "Such as?"
"Well... for a start, I'm your teacher. You're fourteen, I'm a bit older. And I'm already spoken for – I've been married for 30 years."
"Nonsense," she said. "Love will out."
I chuckled. "Caroline, one day you'll make some man very happy." Everyone knew that half of the third year boys had experienced a little of Caroline's 'happiness' already.
He'd been warned.
He was punched repeatedly for what seemed like ages – but was probably only 15 minutes – then thrown into a pit to recover.
He was allowed just two hours' respite. Then, he was beaten yet again, before being rammed into a metal straight-jacket and thrown into a cell with a reinforced glass window.
But the cell was warm. He could grow, strong enough to be a match for any warder. He heard footsteps – now was his chance – the cell door opened –
He looked about and saw... the warder approaching with a knife.
"Yum... I love fresh bread..."
At precisely 10.00 am on 29th March 2017, the Prime Minister of Pluto arrived in person on Earth to deliver 'The Letter' triggering Article 27987645/B/1: Pluto was announcing its intention to become an asteroid and leave the Solar System.
The Head of the Solar Systemic Commission looked bemused: "There musht be shum mishtake," he said in broken English. "Pluto wash kicked out of the Sholar Shyshtem back in 2006. You've no right to leave."
The Plutonian Premier was furious. "You've no right to stop us from leaving!" she said, snatching The Letter back. "We Plutonians must hold a referendum about this!"
In the end, there were only two candidates for the job. She was experienced, qualified and talented. He had no experience, was quite unqualified, and if had talent, he’d managed to hide it well thus far.
The interview committee asked the candidates all the key questions. Have you ever looked after the children in your family? Do you play golf? Can you make good apple pie? Do you know any good dirty jokes? Do you think women should wear trousers or skirts?
Of course he got the position. If she couldn’t accept that, it would prove she really was unsuited.
"How r u x?"
"Gr8 x," she replied. She texted him a selfie.
"U l%k gr8 2 x," he said.
"Thx. Luv u," adding, "Snd a pictuR xx"
"N prob x."
Seeing the photo, she replied, "Kewl. luv u xxx."
"Wot R U doin? x" he wondered.
"Walking dwn d rd. U? x"
"Me 2," he said. "L%kin 4ward 2 CN U l8r xxx."
"Can't W8 x." Then she added, "DIS road's bsy x"
"Sos DIS 1 x."
Just then our two lovers collided, nearly dropping their mobiles.
"U ok? x," he texted.
"yS. U? x"
"yS. Luv u x."
'The Jacobite' rattled across the Highland wilderness towards the dramatic Glenfinnan Viaduct. Excited travellers in the coaches thrilled to the the sounds and smells of the resurrected engine.
They might not have been quite so relaxed had they known of the drama taking place up ahead on the footplate. Old Archie, pressed into service as an extra fireman, had passed out.
"Lift him up, lift him up!" said Tam the driver to his regular fireman Bert. "Hold his head out of the cab!"
Sure enough, the vapour clouds revived Archie in no time.
"Never fails," Tam said. "Steam of consciousness."
Not about me, honest...
Although an avid collector, he was incapable of writing anything original of value himself. Instead he spent his days cutting-and-pasting the work of others onto a website he'd created especially for the purpose.
But without the skills to attract readers to his site, the stories lay unread and unloved. They wanted – needed, even – to be admired, but found themselves trapped in their literary prison.
It had to happen eventually. On February 17th, they finally rose together in anger, surging down his throat. Unable to breathe, he half-drowned, half-choked to a horrible death. Ks, Zs and Ws were particularly painful letters.
What you're looking at there is a nice pink rose lying on that book, a rose especially for you. Like any old-style rose it's full of prickly thorns, but despite the temptation, I didn't put poison on any of them.
No, it's an old rose, so please feel free to take the rose up and smell its perfume. What will then happen is that the book– that innocent old book that's underneath it – will shut suddenly. It'll close suddenly enough to set off a detonator, which in turn will detonate an explosive charge, small but strong enough.
Loosely insprired by an incredible escape story from Down Under yesterday. Remarkably, the guy went back to finish digging the trench the following day.
This is tricky. But it could be worse, I could be dead.
Take stock. I was digging this garden trench. My digger started to tip over, I leapt out to push it upright but ended up face down in the mud with the roll-bar of the digger on my back. No one could hear my screams.
So I'm going to try using my hands to dig beneath me, then slide out myself out. The danger is that the ground will collapse and the digger will push me down into the mud. If you hear nothing more from me, I've drowned.
Flash fiction is very, very short fiction indeed - short stories of any sort of length from a Haiku to ten minutes' reading. Good for when you're in a hurry. This series is a selection of contributions to a LinkedIn discussion in which there's a limit of 100 words. I try to make all mine exactly 100 words.
100 NOT OUT
If you enjoy these stories, why not buy Gordon's first collection of these, called '100 Not Out'? Available for all types of e-readers including Kindle and iPad, for free. Completely free.
Click on the image above to find out more.