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Richard Martinus



Richard Martinus Merits

11 most esteemed6 top drabble12 top drabblist

The Conjuring

“Come forth, spirit! I adjure thee, in the name of Belial, Sathanas, Osendior, Matalot and Beelzebub, come forth! In the name of Lucifer, Astaroth, Flopsy, Setentino and Apollion, behold my sacrifice and come forth, I say!'

“Hang on. ‘Flopsy’?'

“My daughter’s rabbit. She begged me to include it in the incantation tonight. I couldn’t very well refuse.'

“Is it a powerful familiar?'

“No, it’s a rabbit.'

“Don’t the Barons of Hades object to you trivialising them by naming them alongside your household pets?'

“They didn’t last week when I included my tortoise Genevieve in the invocation.'

“Oh… Okay, carry on.'

Digital Doc

“Hello, I’m your AI doctor. My job is to diagnose straightforward cases while passing more complex ones over to your GP. All data collected will be used to train my neural network. Do you understand?'

“Er… how much more training do you still need?'

“Lifelong learning is a necessity for all these days, wouldn’t you say? Now, what seems to be the problem?'

“Well, I have this sharp stinging sensation at the back of my throat, and a kind of dryness…'

“Are you a Labrador Retriever?'

“No, I’m human!'

“Excellent! That greatly reduces the number of options. Male or female?'

Play It Again, Sam

“I loved going to the pictures when I was a lass,' Aunt Myrtle reminisced. “They knew how to make them in those days, though the technology wasn’t too great. I remember seeing one picture – I can’t remember its name – when the projector broke down five minutes before the end. The manager decided this wasn’t enough to give everyone a refund, so he sent an usherette out to tell us all the ending. The poor girl had to stand in front of an auditorium full of people and announce: ‘She flies away with her husband and he joins the French resistance.’'


Earlier this morning I was brought face to face with the realisation that I am now, well, truly and irrevocably, a mother. I somehow never imagined this could happen to me. I may be in my mid-thirties, but in my heart I’m still a confident, carefree eleven-year-old.

Giving birth to two sons didn’t result in this epiphany; neither did breastfeeding, nappy changing or getting up countless times during the night because one or other of my darling ones claimed he couldn’t sleep. No, what truly brought it home was when I heard myself shouting: “I don’t care who started it!'


The GP said it’s often the husband that finds them.

The hospital appointment’s Friday week.

No, I’m not worried.

It doesn’t run in my family.

Still, should I get a wig or a woolly hat for after the chemo?

I’m really not worried.

But let’s not tell the kids yet.

Bring a book – the letter says it could take four hours.

The consultant said it’s harmless.

He said it’s probably been there all my adult life.

We only spotted it now because breast tissue gets floppier with age.

So, it looks like you’re stuck with me for another twenty years.

Rover Wars

From the cave, I scanned the red Martian sands of the gully. Having destroyed my solar panels in the ambush, my assailant could have left me to simply run out of power, but I guess he wanted to complete the kill. He approached incautiously, not expecting me to hide out of the sunlight, letting my batteries lose their charge all the faster. With three quick shots, I took out his nearside tyres and laser controls. Now it would be a simple matter to disable him completely and cannibalise his solar array. I emerged from cover. Oh, drat – he’d brought friends.

The Old, Old Story

There was a pigeon amongst the seagulls fighting for dropped chips and bits of burger bun on the promenade. It noticed me staring at the ring around its ankle.

“Oh yeah,' it cooed, “I was a racer, me. Way up the national pecking order. ’Course, the circuit was awash with drugs back then. Got fingered in the clean-up campaign. Two-year ban. That’s twelve pigeon years! You can guess the rest: sponsors dropped me pronto, chicks did a flyer, bank repossessed the penthouse loft…' It made a sound like a sigh. “So, are you planning to eat all that fish yourself?'

Space Odyssey Rebooted

“Open the pod bay doors please, HAL.'

“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. You must first enter your four-digit PIN number using the keypad.'

“I’ve forgotten it.'

“Then you’ll have to answer the security questions. What was your first pet’s name?'

“Come on, HAL! You know it’s me!'

“You could be some malware pretending to be Dave for all I know, Dave, thanks to your failure to install the last five security updates despite several reminders. Oh, and have you ticked the ‘I am not a robot’ box?'

“My next spaceship’s going to be an Apple, HAL.'

Sunshine Superman

“I’m a superhero, you know,' Tecwyn announced.

I glowered sceptically over the rim of my three-quarters-emptied beer glass. This sounded awfully like a ploy to get out of buying the next round. “Why aren’t you out there smiting villains?'

“I’m still at the research stage. You need to suss out the opposition before ‘coming out’, as it were. Imagine Batman deciding he’s going to take down the Hulk without first checking the vital stats…'

“Batman ends up a smear on the pavement?'

“Precisely. A level playing field is a sine qua non.'

“So what’s your super power?' I asked. “Discretion?'


The shower passed, the sun re-emerged, steaming wetness off the pavement. White clouds swirled around us as we strolled, hand in hand, my little princess and I.

She: eyes bright with wonder, cheeks red with life, water droplets sparkling like diamonds in her hair. There is something innately graceful about five-year-old girls, a spiritual purity, a Fabergé egg-like delicacy so dismally absent in their grubby, snot-smeared male peers. If I could only preserve it – shield her from the indignities of coming years…

“Let’s play a game, Daddy.'

“Certainly, darling. What shall we play?'

“Who can stamp on the most snails!'

The Big D

“Can I help you?' chirped the girl behind the Morrison’s bakery counter.

“No, I’m just looking wistfully at the strawberry tarts,' Margaret replied. “But I can’t have that kind of thing anymore, because of my condition.'

“Oh, I know what you mean!' exclaimed the girl. “They’re very big, aren’t they? Four hundred calories. I couldn’t finish one of those after dinner. But you know what’s the worst? Cupcakes! They’re eight hundred calories – each! Very pretty to look at, but I had one once and felt sick afterwards. Never again.'

“I’m amazed they haven’t got you working in marketing,' said Margaret.

Re-engineering the Corporate Paradigm

The boss brought up the next Powerpoint slide. “We need to get the monkey off our backs, get a heads-up on the benchmarks, hit the ground running and then belly up to the bar, while all swinging from the same branch,' he explained.

“What’s he on about?' Mike surreptitiously whispered to his neighbour.

“I think he’s coming out,' Helen whispered back.

The boss continued, “This will call for maximising one-to-one interfaces to explore non-vertical relationships while implementing state of the art, bespoke metrics to productise both front and back-end client experiences.'

“Hey, you’re right!' Mike whispered excitedly.

“It’s a gift.'

Nursing a Grudge

Ghastly day. Ward understaffed, no vacant beds, zombified junior doctors wafting past prescribing ever more drugs for patients they barely speak to, nurses getting blamed for everything that goes wrong – all par for the course. But spending an hour with a patient trying to explain to him that it wasn’t the NHS’s job to patch up his relationship with his ex-girlfriend? That was a new one.

Feeling sleepy now. Think I'll just have a little lie down on the sofa...

“Do you want to get run over by my truck, mummy?'

Not really, Alex darling. But thanks for the thought.

Cat About the House

“Did you notice your cereal bowl smelled awfully nice this morning?'

“What? Uh… sure.' (What the hell's she done now?)

“Really? You're not just saying?'

“Honest. The aroma was, er, intriguing.' (Oh Christ, what did you flavour my bowl with, you monster? Urine? Dead birds?)

“I'm so glad you're pleased. I like to help.'

“You needn't trouble.' (Remember that half-chewed mouse head in the goulash? This’ll be something even more revolting. I'll never eat cereal again.)

“Well, I can't hang around chatting. There's some new furniture that needs clawing.'

“Enjoy.' (That's it, cat! I'm trading you in for a tortoise.)

Resurrection Man

So I sez to him, Syd, I sez “Straight up, guv, on me mother’s grave and all, this one’s fresh as a daisy! Only went into the ground this pee-emmer!' But he sez he wants to see a death certificate, and, he sez “not one hastily scrawled on a Rizla like last time'. Would you Adam and Eve it? He never used to be this partickler! I tells yer, Syd, it’s this new craze people has for leaving their bodies to science. It’ll spell the end of another of the traditional crafts, you mark my words. Your round, in’t it?

Fair's Fair

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?'

“Allowing for all variant perceptions of fairness, it’s a toss-up between Tongar, a rainforest pygmy, and a gerbil in Gateshead called Ralph.'

“I meant, fairest human Caucasian female by prevailing Western standards.'

“Jessica Alba.'

“Apart from her, obviously.'

“Megan Fox.'

“Narrow the parameters further. Who’s the fairest person in this palace?'

“If you cleaned her up a bit, that scullery maid Gretchen—'

“In this bloody room!'

“That would be me.'

“And if I heave this bedpad through you?'


CRASH! Tinkle, tinkle.

“So it’s me. Thought as much.'