Near the Top

Near the Top: Well Told Tales

The Cookie Jar by Amaryllis Torres
Raynar the Broken by John Schuler
Hero by Brandon Barr
Cube Farm Madness by Alethea Knight
Green Man Snot by Kenneth Cross


The Cookie Jar
© 2007 Amaryllis Torres

Four year old Ellen reached inside the jar and pulled out her prize - the forbidden cookie. Closing the pantry door, she tiptoed out of the kitchen with a triumphant smile on her lips. No one would ever know.

Later that evening, when the family was eating at the dinner table, her mother exclaimed,

“Charles, I just can’t seem to find those dog laxatives that the vet prescribed. I just bought them this morning!”

“Where did you put them, dear?”

“I could’ve sworn I put them in that jar in the pantry.”

Ellen’s stomach rumbled.

Amaryllis Torres consumes as much fantasy novels as she can get her hands on. She has never been published before but enjoys the writing craft and appreciates any opportunity to submit her work.


Raynar the Broken
© 2007 John Schuler

Sir Raynar, reeking of sweat, smoke and muck, stared into the pit. Acrid fumes seared his lungs and laced his beautiful blue eyes with cobwebs of blood.

The slave mines of Bur’ Gar-tym...but how?

Last thing he remembered was the tourney—the melee—where he singled out Robert the Hurler and overthrew him. Was it betrayal? That elixir from the academy?

Hands blistered and weeping; resolve ebbing. Truly no escape? If Gravenmord the Bloated turned his back long enough...but no.

“Hey, Ray? Drop some more fries and cover drive-thru while I go to the john.”

“Okay, Mr. Graves.”

John Schuler lives in Alabama (sans the banjo), with his wife and 18 month-old son. This is his first ever fiction submission and he would like to thank Susan Kirkland for offering feedback on such very short notice.


© 2007 Brandon Barr

Argod, wounded, held out his sword. “You cannot have my children. I’ll die before I let you pass.”

The beast idled at the threat, claws tapping rock, saliva spilling onto the ground.

“Then die!” it hissed.

With dazzling speed, the beast charged Argod.

Argod’s blade clanged harmlessly on armored skin and he was driven to the ground. The beast’s claws came crashing down atop him.

Argod gasped. Blood and water poured from the gash.

The beast’s cold eyes found the cowering children.

But Argod, dead, spasmed, thrusting his sword up into the soft underbelly of the beast, rupturing the heart.

Brandon Barr is the author of several short stories published in magazines such as Ray Gun Revival, Revelation Magazine, and Haruah. His first novel, When the Sky Fell, co-authored with Mike Lynch is due out February 2008 from Silver Leaf Books.


Cube Farm Madness
© 2007 Alethea Knight

Heads popped over cubical walls as Janice started screaming. Used to such behavior, the men wearing white coats calmly restrained her.

As the men dragged the office manager from the room, her screams developed words.

"No, you can't leave it here! It spoke to me, I swear. It's going to take over, wipe everyone's minds, make them slaves..."

Her voice faded down the hallway toward the elevator. Standing next to the unfortunate woman's cubical, Brent wondered aloud, "What was that about?"

"She thought I was speaking to her," the radio on Janice's desk answered. "Crazy, eh?"

Alethea Knight would like to thank her coworkers in her own cube farm for inspiring this story. She is a contributor to Light at the Edge of Darkness and is the author of other stories and projects off the farm.


Green Man Snot
© Kenneth Cross

Tim awoke from a deep sleep, his shrill alarm finally piercing his psyche. He walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.

However, as he examined himself, something moved in the front of his right nostril. Disgusted and surprised, he blew on it as hard as he could.

A little alien, only an inch high, tumbled into the sink. It looked at Tim, stating indignantly:

“Hey! I was trying to sleep! You earthlings have no respect.”

Tim, awestruck, could only watch as the creature jumped into the sink's drain and vanished from sight.

Kenneth Cross lives in Ruston, Louisiana and loves writing. He has never published anything but hopes you like his work. (And since he wrote his own bio, yes, he is currently referring to himself in the third person.)