Books Not to Write

Books Not to Write

Let the challenge commence!

Here’s the rules:

Each week I’ll pick a title from the list above. I’ll write a story. While I’m not imposing a word limit, I’ll be aiming for flash fiction for all of them. The story must fit the title. There are no genre restrictions, nor are there “seriousness” restrictions.

For the first week, I’ll be aiming at story #1. I may not be the only one posting entries! :)

If you’d like to join in, using the “contact us” form, and we may post it!

(And yes, that means, for now at least, Barrelbottom is done. I need to free up brain space for another major project — making another run at getting a novel published!)


by Mira Grant

Everyone has a tapeworm.

Symbogen has genetically engineered the tapeworm that will bring you true health and happiness. It secretes whatever meds you need – never worry about missing a pill! Birth control? Insulin? Antacids? Steroids? Whatever your medical needs, the Symbogen Intestinal Bodyguard is there for you!

In fact, it even brings people back from the dead. Just ask Sally Mitchell! She was braindead. Doctors were convincing her family to pull the plug, when Sally sat up and tried to detach herself from the machines.

(Rumors of her having no memory before that time are unsubstantiated. Pay no attention to such conspiracy theorists.)

Sally lives a normal life with her parents and sister in a normal home. She has a boyfriend and works at a pet shelter! Just imagine, if the Intestinal Bodyguard can give her a normal life after death, what could the Intestinal Bodyguard do for you? Continue reading

The Laws of Barrelbottom

“Do not utter that phrase. All of Barrelbottom shall declaim you the bringer of plague and suffering.” Bertha the Genteel Viking Queen sipped daintily at her tea, her large horned helmet sitting at a jaunty angle on her head. She stared daggers at Suzanne.

“I don’t care.” She shrugged. Tonight she wore a gold sequin flapper dress that complimented her dark bobbed hair. Before her sat two empty martini glasses. Suzanne couldn’t wipe that stupid grin off her face. “They all say he’s a gentleman. My rent is paid up. I’m finally moving on from my story.” She sang, “I think my life is finally coming together!”

Bertha clamped two hands the size of hams over her ears. “I have warned you, Suzanne, do not utter such a curse within my hearing!”

“Bertha, you’re so superstitious!”

“Tis not superstitious to know the Laws of Story! When a character has her life in order, then it shall scatter like dandelion seeds in the wind!” Bertha stood from the café table. “I shall not be in proximity when the Law takes you. I shall pray to Wotan that the stories are gentle with you, dear one.”

Bertha turned and strode stiffly out of the pink café, her fur cloak vanishing out the door.

Suzanne raised her hand for the waiter, a shifty fellow in a tuxedo and trench coat. “Can I get another one of these? Martini? Just the basic. Thanks, hon.”

The waiter raised a mysterious black eyebrow. “Perhaps madam should consider. Three martinis are often sufficient to cause… disasters.”

“Shush, you. I’m from a gangster story. I can’t get drunk unless it’s at a part pivotal to the plot.”

The waiter stood. “Very well, madam.”

Really? Get drunk? Never happen. Not anymore. Ever since Suzanne got kicked out of that awful gangster book, her life had gone nowhere. Heck, the author had even had her date some bland c-list character, a musician in the same bar. But now, she was finally starting to break out of the mold.

Magisaur had asked her out!

All the ladies said he was a true romantic. True, he was a dinosaur, and that might pose some problems down the road, but to go on an actual date!

The waiter returned. “Madam.”

“Thanks, hon.”

He nodded and retreated to his other tables.

The bell over the door jingled as someone came into the busy café. Suzanne glanced up.

No. No way.

Apparently the author had been busy. Apparently he’d cut some other people.

Black-Note Benny stood in the doorway, gazing over the sea of customers.

Of course her old boyfriend would be back. The one she never broke up with, because she got written out. And now he was written out.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he’d moved on.

As he looked around, he caught her gaze. His eyes slipped past her.

Maybe he wouldn’t notice!

Nope. His eyes shot back. They widened. He almost fell down. He darted to her table. “Suzanne!”

“Uh, hey, Benny.”


“That’s my name. Come on. Sit down.”


“We got that part. Come on. You’re making people look at us.”

“But… that’s right! He replaced you with someone else! That means – oh, Suzanne! I thought I was alone with my dimwit sister, but you’re here, too! That means – that means we can start over!”


This is a Barrelbottom Tale. 

Siberian Husky Faces His Fear

Si gulped. “I did it.” He tried smiling but couldn’t do it. “I did it. I resigned. I’m going to stay here. In Mundania. I want to protect this place.”

Sam laced her fingers together, measuring her breath. “So you’re unlicensed?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Si spoke too fast, and he knew he did the second the words bounced out of his mouth. “I mean, I want to serve here. Mundania needs someone to protect them. Why should the city get all the attention?”

“So you resigned.” Sam made sure to keep her words at a careful pace. “And you want to work out here. Without pay, since you’re not registered anymore. And your apartment is still in the city.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Why, Si?” Continue reading

The Journey Home

Bertha Ryder flew her biplane Madame Stork out beyond the edge of the Asphalt Sea. She’d buzzed a pufferfish blimp on the way, laughing at the startled faces of the crew. The fish had sucked in air and they gained altitude quickly. Below her she’d spied a sandsail with some sort of dinosaur on it. All in all, a lot more traffic out this way than she usually passed.

There. She grinned. The Orphanage at the End of the World. She always tried to rattle the windows there; she knew the kids needed some excitement in their lives. She dropped altitude, hovering over the shimmering blacktop of the sea. The rickety house loomed ahead. Closer, closer.

Bertha yanked back on the stick, pulling the plane up and over the house, missing it by just a few feet.

There was a reason the corps trusted her with the most dangerous assignments.

She took a few barrel rolls for fun and then settled back into her seat. Time to get serious. Home would be showing up soon.

The ground dropped away below her into an endless abyss. She’d tried flying to the bottom once, but never reached it. But there, up and beyond the end of the world, stood the cloud hangers, where the clouds came in at night and went out again. She zoomed past them, avoiding a few thunder blasts. A few of the clouds didn’t take a liking to her whizzing through them.

Over and past the cloud hangers. To her left hung the Northern Oracle, where Atreyu’s younger brother brooded for eternity. His brother’s story might be neverending, but his never even started.

And there, as a bright pinprick on the dark, dark horizon, she saw home. The Baby Factories. Continue reading

Blizzard’s Service

The bear pounded against the wall a final time. The cement blocks tumbled around it. A fog of cement dust and filthier junk flew up.

Blizzard held his breath.

He took the bear’s reins and stepped through. The air cleared enough he could inspect the room beyond. A vast chamber in the midst of the sewers. A war map of Barrelbottom on a large table. A dirty throne. A kid sittin’on the throne, his hair in thick strands that whipped around.

Blizzard smiled. “You, boy, are the spittin’ image of your dad. He and I… Well, the bear here owes his life to your dad. And now that he’s gone, we came to pay our respects. And to help out. I hear there’s rumors of foul play. An old varmint your dad always was against got the upper hand. Boy, my name is Blizzard McConnell, and I’m at your service. Until your dad’s killer is found.”

The bear roared his assent and offered a shallow bow. Continue reading

The Prayer of Wasteful Armed Robert

The Orphanage at the End of the World groaned in the wind. Wasteful Armed Robert pulled his thin suit jacket tighter around his broad shoulders. His teeth chattered as he moved from room to room. The floorboards creaked under his weight, but no child fled from his imposing presence. He glided from bedroom to bathroom to dusty cafeteria, but no screams of fear or pleasure greeted him.

The Orphanage was empty.

Outside a subway lay dead. He had searched that, too, but it was just as empty and dead.

Robert reached into his interior suit pocket and removed a taper. He exited the building and set it in the open front door, lighting it. Fragrant smoke drifted up as Robert closed his eyes and recited, “In respect to those you mourn.” He addressed the void of empty rooms beyond.

Velociraptor Ninja approached and bowed its head as Robert continued, “You remember what it is to have life inside you. You mourn the passing of the children in your own way. We do not wish to disturb, but help put them to rest. If you have anything to show us, if you have any way you wish to aid us, we beg that you show us now.” Continue reading