The warm night wind sprinkled sand against a faded yellow truck. Its windshield twinkled in the moonlight, and the patter of sand on metal rang like a distant chime. The green uniformed officer in the driver's seat did not move. The wind was strong, covering many night noises.

The sand was the kingdom of Keith, now asleep in the darkened farmhouse a quarter-mile away. Here he was the almighty creator and destroyer. It was he who could part the earth and the seas (when his mother allowed him to use the watering can). It was he who decided exactly which shovelful of sand was to be placed where, and the depth of the valleys, and the height of the mountains.


The sandpile was, to him, an unfrosted cake, undecorated and waiting. It was his habit to build each morning and level each evening, unless he had an exceptional city to preserve. Sometimes wind or rain disappointed the blonde boy and rearranged his work. But Sand City was the place for Keith to apply his imagination, or to vent his frustration. To others it was just a sandpile, and Keith just a green-eyed boy of six.


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The nocturnal cartoon of the city seeped through the drawn curtains of the Simonton home. The seams of lace and light spun a fine thread through screen and pane, stitching the distant activities of nighttime Chicago to the quiet bedroom quilts of the Simonton family. Dancing shadows froze for a moment on a wall, then swept away their darkness to forge the alloy blackness of the night. Through the floodlit intensity, traffic noises, and smog, Chicago held its tranquility. The city, for a moment, dampened its heartbeat, and all movements were quieted. Evening was gone, and the night was poised, ready to unleash its essence, and cover the still streets.

Rowena Simonton felt it.

It was sort of a combination of a bad tuna can and nature's call, but not either one wholly. She woke up.

Her eyes were glazed like meringue marbles. It never felt good to just wake up. Focus arrived.

Blurs became shapes.

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Wired magazine (November 2006) asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to write 6-word short stories. Arthur C. Clarke used 10 words, but all of the other stories are just six words long.

Perhaps the most famous "very short story" is by Ernest Hemingway, who apparently thought it was his best work:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. - Ernest Hemingway

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