In the Shower

It’s like someone’s injected tiredness into my marrow — and, whenever I think of reaching for the soap, numbness pricks and pain shoots through my arm; so, I stand — naked, wet.

The oppressive steam weighs on my senses.

Looking down, I see a dark mass — a shiver runs up my spine like the tarantula I imagine has crept out the drain.

“It’s just hair.” Fingertips reach down and eight gleaming eyes meet mine.

A tiny paw reaches out and scoots the soap toward the drain. “Excuse me, but I’ve a date tonight and I was wondering if I might borrow this?”


By: Alex Meyer


Lush, squishy, red and pink swirls. Watermelon. Yums. Mommy wiped its camouflage-green skin, preparing to cut open “God’s creation.” Remember that time? she said. She’d opened the mini-van’s door, the watermelon’s pent-up energy bumped out, hit the car door’s rim, splitting like a broken egg on our oil-stained garage floor. Fed the pieces to the chickens. Now, mommy gently inserts the knife, then saws. Watermelon splits. Dears, she says, these seeds are moving. Pushing the halves back together, mommy carries it outside. I’m sorry, babies, she says, the seeds weren’t seeds, they were black maggots. Another one for the chickens.


By: Martine Rife

What Is It?

It’s hard to say what it is, exactly. Maybe it’s the grotesquely oversized head. Maybe it’s the completely unnatural colour of the fur, skin, scales and feathers. Maybe it’s the non-stop, over-the-top, cartoon-like gyrations. It could also be the smile, so full of joy — terrible, mirthless joy. Or is it something about the eyes? Those vacant, unmoving, yet all-seeing eyes that seem to look right at me. Or are they looking through me? Maybe it’s the way they constantly and selfishly invade my space, even when they are far away.

Whatever it is, I don’t like mascots.

Not. One. Bit.


By: Aaron Langille

Tea Time?

I woke in the middle of a cold winter’s night needing the bathroom. From my top bunk, I looked out the bedroom door across the hall to see a woman, dressed in 1880s Victorian bustle-dress fashion, serving tea in a room that was now our bathroom. It frightened me, so I stayed in bed.

That spring I helped my father dig a foundation for a new addition to our house. In a backhoe load of dirt, I found shards of porcelain with an intricate floral design. Bending over to examine it more closely, it was clearly from a teapot.


By: Joan Bihun


I was surprised at how smoky it still smelled as I walked through the charred remains of my trail that the fire had blazed through. I crossed the road, remembering how the gravel used to crunch beneath my feet when I was still alive.


Aftermath (revised)

I am surprised I can still smell smoke as I pass among charred remains along my trail.

Why am I here where the terror of crowning wildfire a month ago continues haunting me?

I cross the road, recalling how the gravel crunched beneath my feet when I was still alive.


By: Jim Stauffer


“Drink, Detective? …No? I’ll have one, anyway.”

“You know why I’m here.”

“Yes. What gave me away?”

“A single thumbprint on the decanter. You were careless.”

“It’s true what they say – there’s no perfect crime. Well played, Detective. But if you’re hoping for remorse, you’ll be disappointed. I’m not sorry. Not at all. Major Barker had it coming.”

“I saw your service record. I know how he treated you. The jury will understand.”

“Oh, Detective, how charmingly naïve you are. I’ll never face a jury. You see, I prepared two doses of poison. One for Barker – the other for me.”


By: Thomas R. Keith

The Reclaiming

George and Amy knew the risks of reclaiming artifacts. They leapt the wall easily – height’s no problem. The security camera guy saw nothing, but the guard outside the museum doors noticed and pulled his gun, loosing a single shot. Neither George nor Amy flinched.

“There’s no one here,” sang Amy as they walked past, and he repeated, “no one here” while holstering his pistol.

Collecting the objects on their list was the hardest part; alarms and locks are tricky. George abandoned the clock, foiled by a motion sensor. The two headed home before sunrise, ready for a glass of blood.


By: Jennifer Nardine


“There’s no doubt about it, Jenkins,” murmured Professor Sears, his eyes bleary from hours of staring into the great telescope. “Stellar activity is declining, slowly but perceptibly. Some unknown force is interfering with the fusion process.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes. The sun is going out.”

The two men left the observatory. Outside, it was only four p.m., but the shadows were already thick as night. Sears gave a heavy sigh.

“It will be panic, you know, once the word gets out. A catastrophe for everyone on Earth.”

Jenkins turned toward him. “Oh, not quite everyone, Professor.” And he licked his fangs.


By: Thomas R. Keith

Devil’s Chair of Cassadaga

Stealing in under the cemetery’s Halloween-only security guard’s nose, I was more worried about the dark shadows lurking among the trees as the ghosts and spirits wandered the premises.

This cloak of invisibility, after all, did not come with a money-back guarantee.

Finally reaching the large red-brick bench next to my mother’s grave, I sat to chat with the devil, hoping for an evidentiary message from my beloved grandmother on the other side.

“You brought me a cold beer this time?”

“But I’m still not 21! I just need Grandmary to tell me where she buried the baby.”


By: Jessica Joy Mills

Urban Legends of Tokyo, #1

It was a normal working day at the Shirokiya Department Store, until it caught on fire. Saleswomen atop the blazing building watched the firemen eight stories below. “Jump!” the firemen begged. “Jump for your life!”

The women looked at one another, their kimonos reflecting the red and orange hues from below. “But, brave men,” one called down, “we are not wearing underwear. If we jump, our kimonos will billow in the wind and embarrass us greatly. We would rather die than risk being exposed in such a way.”

And so they died atop the building. Gone. Gone commando.


By: Melissa Wells

Urban Legends of Tokyo, #2

The visitor sat with his Japanese hosts watching TV one evening. Suddenly, screams emerged from his hosts as they covered their ears. “Not again!” they shrieked. “Stop the curse!”

In confusion, the visitor glanced between his hosts and the TV screen. “What curse, exactly?”

Already his hosts were muting the TV as quickly as they could, clearly shaken. “Didn’t you hear that song with the German curse in it? The actors in this commercial have faced untimely accidental deaths, mental breakdowns, and a pregnancy with a demon child!”

The visitor thoughtfully responded, “Well actually, that Kleenex commercial was in English.”


By: Melissa Wells

Urban Legends of Tokyo, #3

“My name is Hanako-san,” the next convention speaker announced. “Japanese children know my name and they fear me. Sometimes they even challenge each other to summon me. You see, I committed suicide in a school bathroom during an air raid in World War II. Ever since then, my claim to fame has been haunting school bathrooms.”

“No way, me too!” called Moaning Myrtle from the audience. “We should grab coffee sometime.”


By: Melissa Wells

Urban Legends of Tokyo, #4

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was invited to a game night hosted by local teens. The first game they pulled out was Kokkuri.

“Wait,” said Mykayla. “That looks like an Ouija board.”

“Oh yes,” said a Japanese teenager. “You can ask it anything. It can even tell you the date of your death.”

“Um, no thanks,” said Simone. “Can it tell us if we do well at the Olympics?”

The teens stared at the board. “We see the media putting unreasonable pressure on a goat.”

“Tell me about it,” sighed Simone.


By: Melissa Wells


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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