flash fiction

Summer Shorts: Going Home

A Uighur returns – flash fiction by Robert Powers


My job for the winter is finished. I am finished here. I am outside a train station in Beijing. It is midnight. The sky is a shroud, the same shroud. There is a board with red lights, and we are looking. A mass looking. People amassed looking the same. All doing the same thing. Everyone impatient, tired, hungry, lonely. People, I think, are the same. But they look at me in the same way: You are an alien. You are not the same. You are not from here. You do not look like me. You do not think like I think. It is always the same. I am going home. Home to the West, leaving from the East to the West, past the desert, to the border, to the rest of Asia.


Summer Shorts: Censor

From inside the machine – by Alicia Lui


It started simply, with those words, “Just hold me.” Normally he wouldn’t have taken a second look; after all, those words were harmless. As a censor at the largest social network in China, it was his job to scan thousands of messages daily to make sure “sensitive” messages didn’t get out. All the new hardware and algorithms his employers invested in made his job easier, but users were finding creative ways to bypass automated filters. Luckily so, or he’d be out of a job.

Every now and then, to alleviate boredom, he would read entire conversations: couples planning the weekend, company executives scouting apartments, teenage girls gossiping about cute boys, all manners of debates, jokes and puns.


Summer Shorts: Frogs at Dusk

Flash fiction and drinking games – by Tom Pellman


Roll up all, the Anthill is launching a "Summer Shorts" season, with a new flash fiction story published every Sunday for the next twelve weeks. This is in partnership with Beijing Cream and their Flash Fiction for Charity competition, which is today at 2.30pm at Great Leap Brewing's original no. 6 Doujiao hutong pub.

Out of thirty submissions, five finalists were picked by the judges (of whom I was one), a winner will be decided today, and you can read those stories over at Beijing Cream in time. But there were so many other great submissions that just didn't make the final five – or did, but the writer isn't in Beijing and so can't join the event – that we've picked a further dozen to publish here.



Flash fiction by Anthony Tao


Ed: twinned with Red Bean Paste on Beijing Cream, for their Flash Fiction competition

Two women, both cleaners, step out of their respective office buildings in a business district in northwest Beijing.

“Where should we have lunch?”

“I don’t want to walk far. Let’s go somewhere close.”

“How close? There’s a diner up by Tarim Petroleum Hotel.”

“We’d have to take the pedestrian bridge over the highway. How is that close?”