Short Story Challenge

Inspired by writer Phillip McCollum’s 52 short stories in 52 weeks, I am embarking on a similar creative writing voyage of my own.

52 Short Stories in 52 Weeks

Week 1 and story 1 begin on Monday 8 October, 2018.

(This is a Japanese national holiday here known as Sports Day and a splendid time in which to take on a short story writing marathon.)

My plan is to write one short story each week and publish it here on this blog. All being well, there will be 52 of them in a year’s time.

I have never done anything like this in public before so it’s going to be quite a learning experience. However, in the immortal words of Ray Bradbury:

At the end of the year you’ll have 52 short stories and I defy you to write 52 bad ones.

Let the journey begin!

(Attribution: The story covers are from stock photos available on canva.com, unless otherwise specified.)

UPDATE: My 52 short stories in 52 weeks challenge ended on Tue. 8 Oct 2019 with story #31. Nonetheless, I will write the remaining 21 stories at my own pace and update this page when appropriate. It’s been a blast.

Short Story 01: Clocking Time

Clocking Time

Synopsis: Time and space are sliced and diced in this tale of two neurodiverse teenagers with a secret superpower. Clock jumpers, caught between life and a hard place. Will they ever be together again?

Word Count: 3,300

Genre: Magical Realism

Completed Week: 8-13 October, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 02: Last Rites of the Living Dead

Last Rites of the Living Dead

Synopsis: A surgeon and his brother provide aliens with access to brain-dead bodies in return for unimaginable riches. What could possibly go wrong?

Word Count: 3,300

Genre: Science Fiction; Alien Visitation

Completed Week: 15-21 October, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 03: The Man Who Called Time

The Man Who Called Time

Synopsis: A man caught in a dilemma; atone for a lifetime of trampling the weak or face halloween magic.

Word Count: 3,130

Genre: Horror

Completed Week: 22-28 October, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 04: Barking at the Moon

Short Story #4 Barking at the Moon - mark mcclure - science fiction

Synopsis: Cutoff on the far side of the Moon, will astronaut Judy Watson become the lunar colony’s first homicide victim by robot?

Word Count: 2630

Genre: Science Fiction

Completed Week: 29 Oct - 6 Nov, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.
This story appears in my Big Six short story collection.

Short Story 05: Out of Character - Take 47

05-of-52-short-stories-in-52-weeks-out-of-character-mark-mcclure

Synopsis: A pulp fiction writer with a big problem; a character who has outgrown his limitations as a writer.

Word Count: 1525

Genre: Magical Realism

Completed Week: 7 Nov - 11 Nov, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 06: Mister Blue Tooth

Short Story #6 Mister Blue Tooth - Mark McClure, author

Synopsis: A ghostwriter with a big problem.

Word Count: 1880

Genre: Horror, Supernatural

Completed Week: 12 Nov - 17 Nov, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story. This story appears as ‘The Keyboard Prisoner’ in my Brain Read short story collection.

Short Story 07: Full Body Contact

Short Story #7 Full Body Contact Cover Author Mark McClure

Synopsis: When Louise’s younger sister ventures across the river and into a mysterious forest, a whole world of trouble& is unleashed on a settlement of women who’ve made this idyllic island their home. A magical realism story. (Note: This is an unfinished tale.]

Word Count: 1530

Genre: Alternate World, Magical Realism

Completed Week: 19 Nov - 25 Nov, 2018 (Incomplete Story.)

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 08: Hunting for Humanity

short-story-challenge-8 Hunting for Humanity-mark-mcclure

Synopsis: Gene-engineered to survive and thrive off-world, their blood line goes back centuries. But will ambition and greed to repopulate a barren Earth shatter this bond forever?

Word Count: 2090

Genre: Science fiction, genetic engineering, alien colony

Completed Week: 28 Nov - 5 Dec, 2018

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story.

Short Story 09: Under Submission

9-Under-Submission-paying-markets-short-story-challenge-science-fiction

Synopsis: This story is under submission to paying markets. More details later.

Word Count: 4700

Genre: Science fiction, genetic engineering, anthropogenic climate disruption

Completed Week: 24 Dec - 15 Jan, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story post.

Short Story 10: Moon to the Cold

10-Moon-to-the-Cold-childrens-short-story

Synopsis: This story is with a first reader. More details later.

Word Count: 5660

Genre: Children (9-12 years)

Completed Week: 17 Jan - 5 Feb, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the story post.

Short Story 11: Leaping for Love

11_Leaping_for_Love_valentine_day_short_story_horror

Synopsis: What if revenge is a wish best served retold forever and ever?
This story appears in my second short fiction collection, Brain Read, under the title: “Reliving the First Day of the Dead.”

Word Count: 1760

Genre: Horror / Magical Realism

Completed Week: 8 Feb - 17 Feb, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 12: The Big Six

The_Big_Six_52_science_fiction short_stories_52_weeks_AI_genetic engineering

Synopsis: What if genetically-engineered AI sexbots desired species-wide payback?

Word Count: 2660

Genre: Sci-Fi / Artificial Intelligence / Genetic Engineering

Completed Week: 18 Feb - 3 Mar, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
This story appears in my Big Six science fiction short story collection.

Short Story 13: Taking the Piss

13-Taking-The-Piss-Short-Story-humour

Synopsis: Would you take a pee for the team in a snowstorm?

Word Count: 1070

Genre: Humour

Completed Week: 4 Mar - 5 Mar, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 14: Playing Ping Pong with Love

14 Playing Ping Pong with Love - Flash fiction short story sci-fi artificial intelligence

Synopsis: This flash fiction story is in a critique review. More details later.
Can a robot fall just a tiny bit in love?
My sci-fi remix of the classic story of Echo and Narcissus.

Word Count: 780

Genre: Science Fiction : Artificial Intelligence

Completed Week: 11 Mar - 14 Mar, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
Published in Flash Fiction Magazine as Echoes of Love

Short Story 15: Going Thru Hell

15_Going_through_Hell_52_short_stories_challenge

Synopsis: A supernatural tale in an Old West setting.

Word Count: 3770

Genre: Supernatural : Western

Completed Week: ?? - 2 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 16: Morning Derision

16 Morning Derision_short_story_challenge

Synopsis: Abandoned Cyborgs in a post-dystopian world.

Word Count: 2660

Genre: Science Fiction : post-dystopian

Completed Week: 2 - 9 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 17: Grave Mistake

17-Grave-Mistake-52-short-stories-in-52-weeks

Synopsis: Ghastly ghouls and sexy gals. But can the guys tell them apart? A chilling tale for those hot, steamy August nights when sleep never comes.

Word Count: 2300

Genre: Horror: Japanese ghosts

Completed Week: 10 - 18 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 18: The Tale of Vegas Lily

short science fiction, alien exo-planet

Synopsis: Gambling that giant bugs on a quarantined planet present no problem lands Vegas Lily in a terrifying bind. Can Nick the bounty hunter bring Lilly back home alive?

Word Count: 3400

Genre: Science Fiction:

Completed Week: 19 - 23 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 19: The Prince of Argent

Short_story_19_Prince of Argent_young_adult

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old William Victor enjoys playing at make-believe in the hills near his home. When school bullies chase him to his hideout, William discovers an unlikely ally.

Word Count: 3890

Genre: Young Adult

Completed Week: 24 - 29 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 20: Cars and Chinese Cuisine

20_Cars_and_Chinese_Cuisine_short_story

Synopsis: Mickie hires an autonomous vehicles with a mind of its own

Word Count: 4800

Genre: Science Fiction

Completed Week: 21 - 23 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
This story appears in my Big Six short story collection.

Short Story 21: Summer Solstest

21_Summer_Solstest_52_short_stories_52_weeks

Synopsis: Midsummer solstice takes on a whole new meaning for a collective of women genetically engineered to see in the dark.

Word Count: 2390

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Completed Week: c24 - 28 June, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
This story appears in my Big Six short story collection.

Short Story 22: Impenetrable Safe Unknowable Heart

22 Impenetrable Safe Unknowable Heart 52 short stories in 52 weeks

Synopsis: Nick had no interest in his partner’s catalog shopping habit. But how about a new life? Or even a new wife? Available from Mirror World Inc while stocks last.

Word Count: 2900

Genre: Speculative Fiction; alternate universe

Completed Week: 2 - 7 July, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 23: Concluded

23_Concluded_alien_first_contact_romance_short_story

Synopsis: Which you? Which world? Does science fiction predict the future or change it?
Graphic designer Ned is about to find out.

Word Count: 3900

Genre: Science Fiction; First Contact

Completed Week: 10 - 14 July, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 24: The Cave Hill Landing

24_The_Cave_Hill_Landing_alien_first_contact_short_story

Image attribution: Ross (Wikimedia)

Synopsis: What if your publisher faked a first contact that actually happened? First time author, Ben Crannog, is about to find out if the truth is really stranger than fiction.

Word Count: 3200

Genre: Science Fiction; First Contact

Completed Week: 19 - 20 July, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 25: The Bloodshot Sky

25_The_Bloodshot_Sky_climate_fiction_short_story

Synopsis: When super typhoons flood Tokyo and turn Greg’s life upside down he flees to northern Japan and finds sanctuary on his friend Naomi’s rice farm. Discovered by the authorities, and facing deportation to a region wracked by war and environmental disasters, their budding relationship looks doomed to end in heartbreak.

Word Count: 2900

Genre: Science Fiction romance; Climate Fiction

Completed Week: 16 - 17 August, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 26: My Digi-Pal Al

26_My_Digi_Pal_Al_science_fiction_short_story_robot

Synopsis: David lands a retiree’s dream job as a maintenance man for a sleepy apartment block. But with a mean supervisor looking for any reason to fire him, and a robot tracking his every move, he must face down this harassment or move on.

Word Count: 2700

Genre: Science Fiction; Mystery

Completed Week: 25 August, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 27: The First Day of the Dead

27_The_First_Day_of_The_Dead_short_story_horror

Synopsis: Handsome, rich, and with the perfect family: Hugh Cheever looked to have it all. But when his wife goes berserk the slaughter is only getting started.

Word Count: 3300

Genre: Horror

Completed Week: 17-18 Sep, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
2020 Update: This story now appears in my second short fiction collection, Brain Read, under the title: “Reliving the First Day of the Dead.”

Short Story 28: Trapped in the Cookie Jar

28_Trapped_In_The_Cookie_Jar_short_story_mcclure

Synopsis: When a mysterious virus brings chaos and death to a floating eco-city, Andy retreats to the top floors of a skyscraper that is not only smart but cunning. His troubles are only just beginning.

Word Count: 2400

Genre: Dystopian

Completed Week: 13-14 Sep, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 29: The Drone Trader

9_The_Drone_Trader_short_story_mcclure

Synopsis: When the village Elder exiles Bill’s father and prepare to claim his mother as a part-time concubine, he must make the trade of his young life with a mysterious stranger from the skies.

Word Count: 2900

Genre: Science Fiction: Alien First Contact

Completed Week: 21-22 Sep, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.

Short Story 30: A Place called Glow

A_Place_Called_Glow_short_story_ghosts_Ballygally_castle_book_cover

Synopsis: When Paul takes his girlfriend on a tour of the Antrim coast road, he never expected there would be more spooks along for the ride than people. But this is Ballygally, where the ghosts are glowing to meet you.

Word Count: 3300

Genre: Supernatural

Completed Week: 28-29 Sep, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
(Cover image credit: Kenneth Allen
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ballygally_Castle_staircase.jpg )

Short Story 31: A Fashion to Die

A_Fashion_to_Die_short_story_death_afterlife

Synopsis: When older people begin talking to themselves it can be time to seek help. For Evelyn Weir, her problems mount up when these selves answer back.

Word Count: 2100

Genre: Supernatural

Completed Week: 5-6 Oct, 2019

Short Story Writer’s Journal: It’s at the end of the post.
2020 Update: This story now appears in my second short fiction collection, Brain Read, under the title: “A Perfect Time to Die.”

Note: Stories 32 to 52 below will all be listed below. However, they will not have individual blog post entries.

Short Story 32: Horror Gakuen

Horror_Gakuen_short_story_challenge micro fiction

Synopsis: For this teacher at Horror Gakuen, the learning never ends.

Word Count: 67

Genre: Supernatural (micro fiction)

Completed Week: 19 Oct, 2019

Note: My 52 short stories in 52 weeks challenge ended on Tues 8 Oct 2019 with story #31. Nonetheless, I will write the remaining 21 stories at my own pace.

Short Story 33: Is There Still Life on Mars?

Is_There_Still_Life_On_Mars_short_story_science_fiction

Synopsis: Born on Mars to human parents, Theodore Macken Jr. cannot remember anything about the colony’s violent collapse. Brought to Earth as the only survivor, everyone wants answers but time is running out.

Word Count: 3000

Genre: Science Fiction

Completed Week: 23-27 Oct, 2019
(Cover image source: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/5300/a-martian-sunset/ )
2020 Update: This story now appears in my first short fiction collection, Big Six, under the title: “Is there Still Life on Mars?”

Short Story 34: Drone of the Dead

Drone_of_the_Dead_short_story

Synopsis: A humorous look at death, dogs and drones through the eyes of Dave, a widower struggling to rejoin the world of the living.

Word Count: 2100

Genre: Literary Fiction, humo(u)r

Completed Week: 15-17 Nov, 2019

Short Story 35: The Martian Challenge

35_The_Martian_Challenge_short_story_science_fiction

Synopsis: Sergeant Audrey Blaire is one nighttime challenge away from becoming a space marine bound for a secret mission on Mars. But her buddy’s gone awol and the mission clock is counting down.

Word Count: 3,400

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure

Completed Week: 24 Nov, 2019
(This is my biggest one day word count so far.)

Short Story 36: For All You Smombies

36_for_all_you_smombies_science_fantasy_short_story

Synopsis: When the alien portals first opened up our young volunteered to fight fire with fire. They braved mutilation and implants before daring to enter those godforsaken worlds.

And we older folks knew it was time to help.

Word Count: 3,100

Genre: Science Fantasy

Completed Week: 8 Dec, 2019
(Smombies are Smartphone Zombies. This story takes my frustration with their antics and makes them the saviors of the universe. Well, the saviors of this world, at least.)