Welcome to 81words

How short is a story?

The challenge is to write a complete story in exactly 81 words.
You can see how other people have done and rank their stories. Can you do better?

Why 81? It’s just long enough to allow for a story to develop but short enough to mean every single word needs thoughtful weighing. Mostly though it’s just a nice number, ask a mathematician.

Scroll down to read stories, or register / log in to vote and submit your own stories.

The Weather Before Yesterday

“I’ll guess: the vote went against us?”
“Ten to two. They just don’t believe in it. “
“Pea brains.”
“Hey, name calling won’t help our cause. We need to convince them.”
“Climate change is real. We know it. If they don’t know it, it’s because they don’t want to. “
“We keep trying. “
“You know, I think maybe it’s all too late. “ He shivered. “I can feel it getting colder already.”
“Me too. “The two dinosaurs wandered off together

A Nice Dream

The cold is viciously driven against me by relentless wind. I don’t care: I’m out, satiated and exhilarated. Even this late, the city beckons.

My cigarette burns low; everything shrinks and darkens. I’m no longer in that distant city. I’m under the humming lights of a gas station surrounded by a tiny, dark town. Not darkness that beckons and embraces, darkness that’s disinterested and empty.

I toss my cigarette and walk home. At least I was there for a little while.

Posted in Other on
A Nice Dream
  • 4.12 / 5 5
8 votes, 4.12 avg. rating (80% score)

The Hot Seat

Jay lit the match and watched it burn for a second before dropping it into the pool of gasoline. The flames sprang to life and stampeded up the gas trail like a herd of fiery buffalo. Vince struggled to break free from his restraints as the fire engulfed him, but it was too late. He could hear Jay laughing over the sound of the crackling flames. “Momma told you to never trust a junkie Vince, even if he’s your own brother.”

Posted in Crime on
The Hot Seat
  • 3.00 / 5 5
8 votes, 3.00 avg. rating (60% score)


She counts backward from 100, as he instructs.
There’s rustling, but she resists the urge to open her eyes.
Hands move across her nakedness, raising gooseflesh. Her nipples are erect.
She’s altogether tense, giddy.
Something eases up her thigh, which elicits a gasp.
She does as she’s told.
She marvels at the leg, stomps a heel, tests its heft.
It looks exactly like the one she lost.
But that’s an omission.
It looks exactly like the one he took.

Posted in Other on
  • 3.25 / 5 5
8 votes, 3.25 avg. rating (64% score)

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