Monday, May 31, 2021

Wish You Were Here • 1

Today, the first installment in the second iteration of The Pete Wood Challenge. This week we will be presenting ten microflash stories—apparently these are properly referred to as “drabbles;” I didn’t know that—all of which spring from a simple challenge: to write a 100-word story that revolves around the line:

“Wish you were here.”

 Today, the first two. Enjoy!


 “ARE THERE CATS ON MARS?” by Jonathan Worlde

Eight months to reach Mars from lunar base Angelou. Rochelle planned to view the complete films of Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman; write the first draft of a Mars colonization novel; and get to know the dozen other scientists. A sociologist sent to study interpersonal relations in the five-hundred person colony, her two months on Mars would be career-defining.

A week into the trip, she could choose one recipient to send a vid-gram. Instead of her troublesome boyfriend Carlton, who picked a fight the night before she left, Rochelle beamed her smiling face to Mindy, her cat: Wish You Were Here.

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Jonathan Worlde’s
neo-noir mystery novel, Latex Monkey with Banana, was winner of the Hollywood Discovery Award with a prize of $1,000. Recent short fiction appears in The Raven Review, the 2020 anthology Ghost Stories of Shepherdstown, and in Cirque Journal. He is also a traditional country blues performer under the stage name Paul the Resonator, whose CD is Soul of a Man.


“Machine Learning” by Sylvia Heike

I know Ayla misses him—the husband she lost. Wishes he were here instead of me. In his image, I was created. Beneath the skin she touches, craves, I’m gold and wires and a neural network of signals and impulses, trying to be what she needs.

She says my name. I call her my sweetest, my darling, my only one. She rests her head against me. I hold her close. Her whole body trembles as she creates her silent rivers, making me freeze.

I’m still learning how to be him, but I think he would say, I miss you too.

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Sylvia Heike
is a speculative fiction writer from Finland. She likes hiking, nature photography, books, bunnies, and birds. Her stories have appeared in Flash Fiction Online and elsewhere. To find out more, visit her website,, or follow her on Twitter @sylviaheike