SMELL OF TIME by Ahmed A. Khan

October 14, 2012 at 7:55 am | Posted in childhood, grandparents, Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from “SMELL OF TIME” by Ahmed A. Khan. A story from Canada about India.

Summer nights in our house were extra special. Some of us – particularly my grandmother and myself – would sleep in the open, on wooden cots covered with crisp, clean sheets. It was extremely pleasant lying there in the coolness of the night, staring up at the star-studded sky and listening to the snores of the rest of the sleepers and the chirrupings of crickets, grasshoppers and other insects, while the fragrance of spring flowers filled my nostrils.

During holidays, my afternoons were usually spent in grandfather’s room. I would lie beside him on his bed and he would tell me stories of prophets, martyrs and great thinkers of the world – and I would lie there assimilating it all, occasionally asking him a question, otherwise remaining silent.

After the story session, he would usually go to sleep and I would get up from his bed and go around prowling in his room, searching for any books he might have brought from the State Central Library. I would find the books and start reading them at once, sitting in his armchair. These books were usually quite old ones, their bindings torn, their pages termite eaten, and a strange sort of smell rising up from them – a mysterious, magical smell. Have you ever noticed what books, particularly old books, smell of? They smell of sunny and cloudy days and dark and moonlit nights. They smell of battlefields and gardens, of open skies and dusty attics, of deserts and mountains, of destinies and purpose. They smell of time.

Read “Smell of Time” in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.

Available on and on for 99c or 77p.

Ahmed A. Khan is a Canadian writer. His works have appeared in several venues, including Interzone, Strange Horizons, Boston Literary Magazine, Queen’s Quarterly (Australia), and Anotherealm. He has also co-edited the anthology A Mosque Among the Stars.


SASHA’S NEW BOOTS by Sara M. DeGregoria (Part 2)

October 13, 2012 at 7:07 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

The conclusion of Sara’s short story SASHA’S NEW BOOTS. A story from the United States.

As she strutted past J.T. and his friends, time slowed, every clip-clop of her boots a double drum beat resounding in her ears, and Sasha gave J.T. a half grin, looking at him sideways-just for a second-and flipped her hair back over her shoulder. A shivering thrill passed through her, knowing his eyes were on her. Some of the boys let out low whistles, and J.T. arched his eyebrows in her direction: 

“Ooo, aren’t you sexy? Why don’t you come over and keep me company for a minute, I’m feeling kind of lonely. “

And Sasha had to admit it made her feel good that he was saying it to her and not to one of those skinny, fine-haired, light-skinned girls at her school, who had boys falling over them, and wouldn’t even need a guy like J.T. to tell them they were fine since they knew it anyway. So when Sasha looked back and saw J.T. grinning that lopsided grin at her, she found herself stopping and turning like a hooked fish, like she didn’t know hooked fish only get cut up the middle and fried. The circle of boys stared at her as she walked back toward them, their eyes roaming up and down her body like it was theirs, and she already wished she’d just kept walking to the bus stop because now she couldn’t just walk away. Not now that she’d let them know she needed their eyes on her, needed them to tell her she was something worth looking at.

“Looking good,” said a shorter boy in a puffy black jacket.

“So, how about hanging out with us for a while?” said another boy, his shaved head glinting in the sun. “We was going back to Eddie’s to smoke some ace. Could always use some company.”

“I don’t know, I have to go meet my friends. They’re waiting on me.” said Sasha, her body there but her mind already at the mall, drinking a banana milk smoothie in the food court, telling Val and Cristina about how Ms. Bishop had run out of class crying the other day, and waiting to see if Sean would show up.

But they were already circling, tightening around her like a noose, and Sasha felt a slap and a squeeze on her behind. She gasped and backed away but bumped in to someone and found her hips being held, tight, and hot cigarette-and-mint-smelling breath on her neck. She struggled to free herself, but not before someone had yanked the sash free from her pea coat,

and reached under her shirt, fingers pinching rudely through her bra. Then Sasha broke through the circle, pushing her way out, stumbling, then running up the block, voices following her, laughing out,

“Come on, baby, where’d you go?”

“Hey – you never even told us your name!”

She circled around the block away from where the boys stood, and entered the back door of her building, jogging up the stairs until she tripped and fell on her hands and knees and had to walk up the rest, panting for breath.

Once in her apartment, Sasha locked the door behind her, chain and all, and looked in the mirror. Her hair was mussed, eyeliner smeared, coat undone and neatly ironed shirt half out of her pants. She looked down at her boots and saw they were still all stiff and buffed and unblemished. Sasha hated them, wanted to scratch them and mar them, their newness and freshness mocking her. She unzipped them and threw them to the back of the hall closet, behind dirty tennis shoes, misshapen umbrellas, and forgotten handbags.

If her mom had been there she would’ve said, “Well look who has an egg on their face now,” and told Sasha she shouldn’t have wasted her money.

We hope you enjoyed SASHA’S NEW BOOTS by Sara DeGregoria.

Visit our website for links to more short stories.

Sara’s story is available in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.


SASHA’S NEW BOOTS by Sara M. DeGregoria

October 12, 2012 at 8:35 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from SASHA’S NEW BOOTS by Sara DeGregoria. A short story from the United States.

Sasha pulled on her knee-high brown boots, the kind that hug your calves like a second skin, inhaling the new-leather scent that lingered in the air. Two hundred thirty-nine dollars, but weren’t they worth those extra shifts at Cash Fast, where she mostly just sat and did her homework anyway? Not that she’d tell her mother that, as far as she knew, the boots had been on sale for seventy-nine, ninety-nine at Discount Shoe World.

“Such a great deal,” her mother had said, “maybe I should go get myself a pair,” and Sasha and her mother had laughed trying to imagine her mother wearing boots instead of flats and sneakers. Turning in front of her apartment’s hallway mirror, Sasha liked the way her jeans tucked into the boots, the way the curved line of her behind met the straight line of her legs when she stood sideways, the way the waistband of her black felt coat pulled tight gave her an hourglass shape.

Sasha took the stairs down because the elevator wasn’t working – hadn’t been working for two months, and their sorry excuse for a landlord couldn’t be bothered to fix it. But Sasha didn’t care about that today, or the piss smell in the stairwell she had to smell all eleven flights down, or the woman in the fifth floor hallway screaming at a kid that she was worthless and spoiled rotten, then the crisp sound of hand smacking flesh. All Sasha cared about right then was the clip-clop of her boots on the stairs, and that she knew she looked good in them and that maybe at the mall later she’d see Sean and he’d think she looked good in them too.

Then she was free of the crumbling building, and walking to the bus stop. But as her mother would say, call a spade a spade, Sasha wasn’t walking, Sasha was strutting. Hips swaying and hair bouncing with each long stride she took over the sunshine-drenched sidewalk squares, past Ninety-Nine Cent World, past McDonalds, past Rossetti’s pizza-by-the-slice.  Up at the corner she saw J.T. with some friends, and wasn’t he something to look at. Lanky and tall with a curly-wavy afro and a lopsided grin that made girls all gooey inside. Played defense for East High.

Sure, Sasha knew his reputation, how he’d never be interested in her for longer than it’d take to zip his jeans back up, but there was no harm in just looking, was there?

Read the conclusion of SASHA’S NEW BOOTS in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1. (Or tune in here tomorrow for the conclusion!)

SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1 is now available for 99c at or for 77p at

Sara M. DeGregoria is currently surviving in New York City as an English teacher and worker of odd jobs. She has lived in several cities, including Seoul, South Korea; Alexandria, Egypt; Tel Aviv, Israel; Kanab, Utah; Madison, Wisconsin; and Boca Raton, Florida. She has had her work published in the journal Third Wednesday and has upcoming stories and poems appearing in The Washington Pastime and Aries.


October 11, 2012 at 7:30 am | Posted in Kindle, Romance, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from “LET’S PRETEND IT NEVER HAPPENED, IF ONLY FOR THE NIGHT” by Connor Thomas Cleary. A story from the United States.

I packed a toothbrush and a change of underclothes. Not sure I’ll need them, hope I will. New Jersey Transit hauls me toward the city, toward that big, loud, riot of a city. She’s the only reason I ever go there. The conductor hands me a yellow paper roundtrip with a few hanging chads. I stash it in my wallet behind a Metro Card with a logo worn away by the credit card sheath. Even though she broke up with me months ago, that face keeps fading.

The view from my window is beautiful in spite of the iron sky. Autumn blooms between the stations, surprisingly radiant in the muted light. Soon, I know, these washes of warm color will give way to the cold palette of a city pressing ever outward like greedy fog. I try to hold on to this warmth, to bring these colors with me. I shove a handful of Sugar Maple Red in my pocket, hide some Birch Yellow under my hat, and poke some Oak Orange into my sock.

Mid-town bound, I’m going to see a show. She’s going to be great.

I told her to break a leg—how strange.

The Big Apple. Teeming, wormed with subways …

Read the rest of Connor Thomas Cleary’s short story in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1

Available now on (USA) and (UK) for 99c or 77p.

Connor Thomas Cleary wrote a story about a town terrorized by dragons when he was nine. His writing has matured a bit since then, and he now works as a professional writer, designer, and nerd journalist. He runs his own blog, The Blue Key, and his own business, Four Stair Multimedia and Design. His work has appeared in the Boxfire Press Heroics Anthology, on, and


October 10, 2012 at 7:16 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from Gary Egan’s short story “Friday’s Children.” A story from Ireland.

Only the Spanish tourist seemed concerned. He stepped over his rucksack and went up to the driver.

“Excuse please – the guys at back of bus, they crazee.” He pointed at Alan Casey and the others. “You do something, yes?”

Michael Flaherty wasn’t best pleased.

“You’re alright. They’re only messing.” He added, jabbing his thumb up the aisle. “You shouldn’t have brought your rucksack on the bus, you know.”

“Que?” The Spanish tourist stared at him uncomprehendingly.

“Never mind,” sighed Michael Flaherty. “Just go back to your seat, please.”

The Spanish tourist shrugged and did as he was told.

For The Spanish Inquisition, racking was a device for extracting confessions of heresy. Sean Gorman’s heresy was to be spastic at sports and clever at lessons. One Friday, another would-be victim had escaped persecution by turning the tables on his persecutors and racking himself. But Sean, unable to rise to the occasion, found himself raised against his will. Teresa Moynes raised her head from her homework, not to look at Sean on the rack, but to bless herself as the bus passed the cathedral. Sean caught the eye of a girl he fancied but found no sympathy there: she fancied his principal tormentor, Alan Casey.

Things might have stopped there but it was Friday, remember. The day of the week when things go further. As the newscasters say when they’re about to read the results of soccer matches to be broadcast later, if you don’t want to know the score, look away now.

To find out more of what happens on the bus, read “Friday’s Children” in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.

Available on (USA) and (UK) for 99c or 77p.

Gary Egan has published fiction in Britain and Ireland (Chapman and U Magazine), poetry in Australia (Famous Reporter and Island), and essays in the United States (Verbatim and The Language Quarterly). He has also performed stand-up tragedy live on the Giraffe’s Neck Tour, including the dingleberries of the Edinburgh Fringe.

THE COLLECTIVE by Gregory Marlow

October 9, 2012 at 6:45 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from THE COLLECTIVE, a short story by Gregory Marlow. A story from the United States.

The Collective painlessly entered Jared’s brain in the night while he slept. The next morning Jared woke after hitting snooze six times. He showered and went downstairs to eat breakfast with his mother and her boyfriend, Steve. Jared ate his pancakes in silence while The Collective waited for the right moment to make their brilliant declaration.

“You doing alright this morning, honey?” Jared’s mom asked as she sat down at the table. Steve looked up from the newspaper and feigned interest.

The Collective seized this opportunity as an invitation to share their infinite wisdom. The first sentiment they wished to convey was that they were The Collective, a different kind of creature, inhabiting Jared’s body. Because of their vast differences, communicating with the human race would be quite difficult. The Collective scanned Jared’s vocabulary and tried to rephrase the statement in the most efficient and natural way possible. Taking control of Jared’s voice, The Collective spoke their first words to the human race. Jared said, “I’m different. No one understands me.”

Steve picked up the paper and started reading again. Was Steve simply assuming that the message would be too difficult for him to understand? Or perhaps Steve was unconvinced of The Collective’s great knowledge? Again, speaking through Jared, The Collective expressed their thoughts. ”I have a lot to say you know? People should take me seriously.”

“Stop complaining,” Steve said as he rolled his eyes. “You don’t know how good you have it. These are the best times of your life. Just wait until you’re an adult and have real problems.”

Enjoy more of “The Collective” and seven other great short stories in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.

Available now on (USA) and (UK) for 99c or 77p.



Gregory Marlow animates for money and writes for fun. He was raised in the mountains of East Tennessee but currently lives in Maryland, where he works for a video game studio and watches sitcoms with his wife Amanda. He is the author of A n00b’s Guide to Using Autodesk Maya 2012. His short fiction has been published or is forthcoming in The Mockingbird 2002, Every Day Fiction, Kzine, and Stupefying Stories.


October 8, 2012 at 7:27 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | Leave a comment

An excerpt from Lisa Cronkhite’s “THE WEREWOLF ATE MY HOMEWORK.” A story from the United States.

The last time I had seen the wolf was the night before, when I walked home with Seth. I felt the urge to take a shortcut through the woods and had begged Seth to go with. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good guy and all, but man, did he totally bore me out. I didn’t want him to go with me for company; I just wanted to be safe. And in case the wolf wanted to eat for the night, I would have a snack for him. I know he doesn’t want to eat me just yet. There’s a reason he is keeping me alive. Maybe it’s because I bring him people to munch on. Seth was the third person I gave him. Last week it was Jenny Van Hellsing. She was bothering me in class, too. You know the types, the ones that think they’re better than you, yet know nothing. And okay, so she was beautiful and popular. I know, bad choice, right? They’ve already combed the Lincoln Preserves for her. She isn’t there though, trust me, I know …

Read more of Lisa’s short story in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.

Available now at and for 99c or 77p.


Lisa Cronkhite has published works in various print and online magazines such as The Storyteller, Poetry Salzburg Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, Ascent Aspirations, and many more. After taking a two-year writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature, based in Connecticut, Lisa received a certificate and six college credits. She is the author of Dreaming a Reality and Demon Girl, both published with Eternal Press. Lisa’s first YA novel, Deep in the Meadows, will be coming soon from Leap Books.


October 7, 2012 at 7:38 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | 1 Comment

An excerpt from “CITY SPEAKER: SCARLETT” by Tyler D. Hansen.  A story from the United States.

That night, alone in her room, the City spoke to her again. The images came, but weren’t violent or frightening. Instead, they were of the skyline and the river it overlooked. The parks inside Downtown and the streets that outlined each block. Scarlett, determined to figure out what was going on, spoke.

“What am I seeing?” she asked her darkened room. The image of a genderless body, skin taken away and its insides exposed, appeared in her mind.

“I don’t understand,” she said. Another image of the City appeared and this time she could see it all from a bird’s eye view.

“That’s the City,” she said. “Are…are you the City?”

A feeling of warmth and happiness flowed over Scarlett.

“How can that be?” she asked. The images came fast and much stronger and more vivid than before. Scarlett watched as the land next to the river evolved from a place where only animals dwelt all the way to its current incarnation. She felt it go from an erratic and wild place to a more focused energy. She felt it form and grow with every building put up. She felt the City come alive. Finally, she felt it focus on her, and she understood. The City was reaching out to her because she could quite possibly have been the only one who could hear it. It wanted to connect with someone, and more than that it wanted…

“An avatar? You want me to, what? Interpret your will?”

A sense of calm came over Scarlett. She knew she had figured it out. That night, she never went to sleep. Instead, she talked to the City about what exactly she could do with its help.

Read more of “City Speaker: Scarlett” by Tyler D. Hansen at Amazon (USA) and (UK) for 99c or 77p

Part two of City Speaker entitled “City Speaker: Watcher” will appear in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 2, coming soon.


Tyler D. Hansen is a writer in his late 20s currently residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota. When he isn’t sitting at the computer typing away, he can be found exploring the city he lives in or taking care of his daughter Eris.


October 6, 2012 at 7:14 am | Posted in Kindle, Short Stories, Teen, Writing, Reading, YA, Young Adult | 2 Comments

An excerpt from Kurt Bachard’s short story, “GRANDMA SILENCE.” A story from England.

By the time I was thirteen years old my parents couldn’t take much more of my adolescent tantrums and sent me off to my Grandmother’s farm. None of the home comforts, they said, no computer games, no privileges – a kind of punitive expedition. Even so, I packed my own suitcase, determined to show them that I did not scare easily. They met my arrogance by smirking, as if they knew something secret.

My grandmother’s farmhouse lay on the outskirts of a largely deserted town in the countryside. Apart from the farm, there was not a landmark for miles; it looked like the end of the Earth; frozen rocky pathways, denuded shivering trees, and icy air as brittle as glass.

“Where are the shops?” I asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” my father said shortly. “There’s nothing out here but the old farmhouse and your Grandmother.”

It seemed crazy to me that the fabled disciplinarian who was going to set me right was a mere slip of a thing, a shrivelled old woman with jowls like Turkey wattle and a humped back. She looked like a gingerbread woman, with wiry hair stiff as a brush. Her tiny eyes (the only things that seemed alive in her stony face) watched us from the porch where she clung to the rail as we arrived.

“Hey, it’s Quasimodo’s great aunt.” I laughed. I could barely believe it. She would be a pushover. Within a week, I would have her begging my parents to take me back …

Read the rest of “Grandma Silence” in SUDDENLY LOST IN WORDS Volume 1.

Now at Amazon: (UK) and (USA) for 77p or 99c.


Kurt Bachard lives in South London, UK, where he was raised by stray dogs. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, his fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous literary and genre publications. He has forthcoming publications, one of which will be included in Ryga: A Journal of Provocations, and can be reached at

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