Really, really short stories

Can we tell a story in 50 words? A story—not a report, not an assignment—a real story, a work of fiction.

Some people are trying, and here are some fine examples of very, very short stories which are exactly 50 words long.

SALMAN RUSHDIE/ Another Ulysees: Ulysses comes home after a lifetime’s wandering. His old wife, Penelope, has remarried, and has a beautiful daughter, Telemacha, whom the warrior soon seduces. Old Penelope bursts into their love-nest and kills herself. Telemacha steps over the dead body, comes towards the appalled hero and opens her cruel young arms.

JOHN LE CARRE/ The Eye of the Needle: A rich man died and asked God, “How as I?” God scratched his beard thoughtfully, but made no answer. “I strove,” the rich man protested, “I savaged my competitors! I gave millions to charity! Are you saying you’ve never heard of me?” God sighed, “Only from your competitors,” he said.

MURIEL SPARK/ An ordeal: Strange that the dog should give his emergency bark which normally he reserved for the night-prowling fox. This was daylight. Out of the car stepped our visitors. Three days later, Emma lay fatally stabbed on the kitchen floor. They stepped back into their car. The dog leapt with joy.

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