A romantic short story for the I/O M/F/? Award by Maya Spore.   I still couldn’t believe it. After all those years of posting my work to various publishers, magazines, and book review sites, I finally got my first job offer to be a writer. Agreed, it was also the very last one on my long list, but a job is a job. I was sitting behind my freshly polished desk, my laptop booted up, and was excited to get started. Then it struck me. What the hell does a girl know about computer games? Game Monster is a growing new website in a growing industry. We are therefore looking for new, enthusiastic game reviewers to reinforce our staff. Do you have a talent for writing? Send us your resume, …

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A short story by Clarissa N G for the I/O M/F/? Award   She came in when I was about to close the game centre. Clothes dripping wet from the rain, she was a mess. ‘I want to use station number seven,’ she said, pointing to the unit. For a moment, I was speechless. I knew she was bad news. Bad, bad kind of bad news. And to be honest, I wanted to send her away. But if I did that, I knew she would break into tears. And a real man doesn’t make a girl cry, does he? ‘We’re already closed. But if you like, you can still play for a while,’ I said. She took out a few dollar notes from her jacket. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ I …

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A short story fable by Charlie Novak for the I/O M/F/? Award   ATTN: Mr. A. Watson DIVISION: Scripting and Story Concept RE: Sun, Moon, and Talia FROM: Leila Simmons — To Mr. A. Watson, You recently instructed my team and I to begin work on a script based on the Sun, Moon, and Talia story concept that you provided us with. It was explained to us that the driving force behind the decision to choose this particular fairy-tale, is your desire for us to produce a darker, grittier, and “more disturbing” story than what we usually use for our interactive storytelling. So far, Interactive Fairytales™ has by and large “played it straight” in regards to the tales we usually adapt. As I understand it, you have expressed an interest …

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A Science Fiction Short Story by Joey To for the I/O M/F/? Award A Preliminary Study On Inter-Xeno Marketing People require amusement and this fact is never lost on two major types: (1) those who demand toys and/or entertaining games and; (2) those who profit from the manufacturing and distribution of said toys and games. The popularity of Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) games have been increasing across the galaxy, always involving participants from different worlds. Terrans [T], Orcs [O], Dwarves [D] and Elves [E] are the four main races interested with 99.6% of all recorded LARP games hosting all four races. However, despite the relative increase, participants are still low. Efforts have been made by various organizations to form leagues to attract new players whilst others have attempted to manufacture and …

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Apologies for the delayed winner announcement. Seems like some of our judges were a little late in getting their scores in. Maybe they were busy writing rejection responses of their own… Not that we encourage that, ahem, ahaw. Our winner this week is not new to the scene, nor are they a seasoned veteran either. They’ve been around for a little while now, with a win already to their name and a lot of strong stories in the bag. If you haven’t already guessed our winner this week is Charlie Novak for his story To The Editor At Needle In The Hay, a satrical, metafictional story that, like a lot of satire, could have gone either way. Well recived by both judges and readers. I’m happy to award this week’s …

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It is a truth universally acknoweledged that a writer, upon discovering yet another rejection, must be in need of some reply Like chilren in an oprhange authors are told to bite their tongues when it comes to speaking out on this particular subject. By all means, write as many stories as you can, but when it comes to why ‘we’ need ‘them’, yours is not the place to question why. It’s above your paygrade. Publishers are simply to busy, you see. They don’t have the time… The whole industry’s in crisis good fellow, don’t you know. Even Needle In The Hay has fallen on hard times. They’re advertising now. So let’s let bygones be bygones. Forgo the sentimentality and get to business. After all, fiction is big business, and all …

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Malt Eclairemont Drizzley CEO Malt Drizzley Productions Buildings 1-100, Malt Drizzley Land Dear Mr Drizzley, I am writing to you regarding your recent rejection letter, in which you pointed out my apparent – ‘shortcomings’ – that you seemed to believe were the reason I ‘was not an appropriate candidate’ for the role of Cinderella in your upcoming film, Cinder Town. I would like to appeal this decision of yours, as I find it most imprudent and foolish, especially from such an esteemed figure as yourself with over forty years’ experience in the industry. Firstly, I would like to address the concern you raised about the ‘face’ of Cinderella. The photo I had attached to my application letter did not display a ‘very commendable degree of puppy fat’, but rather, the …

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From: [SCRAMBLED] To: g.hayward@galacticsecusol.com Subject: RE: Employment Application 7214 Date: 14:16, 21.10.2025 Dear Mr Hayward, Thank you and your staff for granting me the opportunity of an interview last week at your Los Angeles office of Galactic Security Solutions, especially given your initial reluctance due to my age and relative inexperience in field operations. I appreciate your time and was most impressed by the building and its facilities; in particular the computer systems, the training decks and even the toilets. However, I must admit I am a little baffled by your decision to not avail yourselves of my services. I did state clearly that I can be very flexible with my time despite my other commitments which I believe to be highly advantageous in the field of security services. I …

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Mr Oguguomakwa Nnakeme Director- Super Scam Pty Ltd 35 Kontagora Rd Kontagora, Nigeria Dearest Oguguomakwa, Thank you for your letter. Despite my disappointment, I thank you for taking the time to respond to my application. I understand that the position of sub-editor carries with it great responsibility. I also appreciate that any suitable applicant for this position should have significant experience in the scam email industry. It is clear that I do not yet have the requisite knowledge to fulfil such a role. Further, I am aware that you would have had reservations about hiring an Australian rather than a local. After all, why would a foreigner want to travel so far for a job? But you see, not all is as it seems. My name is not Steven Schmidt. …

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Food can feature strongly in many stories, to the point where whole recepie books have been published. Our winner this week didn’t go so far as to serve us lamprey pie, Instead, the focus was on preserving memory through food: The lemon tree from Catherine’s childhood stood in the corner of the yard, rotting fruit scattered across the ground. She remembered inhaling the strong citrus scent as she stood on tiptoes to pluck fruit from the branches for her grandmother. She’d also tried scrambling onto the metal fence beside the tree to reach the higher-hanging lemons and cried when the hot posts blistered the soles of her feet. “Silly pork chop,”… A big congratulations to Victoria Nugent, taking out first place by a single, all important point. Special mention to …

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Shining up the polished glass, Reflections she can see- Two cherub faces bounding past, Squealing merrily. Their feet are light across the bed, Warm laughter, up and down; Her eyes refocus on the glass, Her wrinkles, pallor, frown. She’s seeking out the stubborn smudge the grime, the stained, the mess; She scrubs hard at the filth in hopes it will wipe out the rest. Her pursed lips thin, her tired gaze, Her hair a hurried bale; Her body is recoiled, rebelled, Once joyful eyes, now pale. Their loose young curls, their glistened eyes, Their joyful carelessness; Will they keep this youthful joy? Or ruin, like the rest. And with this thought, she starts again, Resumes her mindless task, Abandon useless reverie- Shine up the polished glass.

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She looked at the frozen block of mince, uninspired and frustrated. As per usual, she’d left it too late. She hadn’t remembered to pull it out of the freezer the night before, too harried as she relived her busy day over in her head. She had also forgotten that morning, too focussed on just getting out of the damn house to be thinking about dinner. She barely remembered to eat breakfast these days anyway. She forced the mince into the smaller half of the sink, jamming her fingers between the icy block and the faucet. Of course. She was just trying to keep it together, do something nice, and it comes back to bite her. She couldn’t remember whether the advice she had read was to wash it with warmth …

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  The once-lined page was now a near-uniform pale blue, threads blurring so that they no longer guided the generations-old script that danced across its coffee-stained surface. Ink had spread in patches, dispersed by droplets of a liquid long-since dried, disfiguring letters and disguising words. The paper was stuck within a transparent sleeve that Mally’s mother had used to protect it. Now the disintegrating polypropylene only acted to hide the ancient procedure further, layering ink imprint upon imprint, a plastic palimpsest. In the fluorescence, Mally tilted the page, thinking the perfect angle might make the translation easier, but it was clear some words were unsalvageable; even those that were distinguishable suggested little. Mally decoded the cursive, which resembled kanji more closely than characters from the Latin alphabet. Ingredients: Five hundred …

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“Stir up, we beseech thee Oh Lord…” The words of the collect rolled around her and Sarah felt the magic gather. Her puddings would be the better for her participation in Christian ritual on Stir Up Sunday. The priest noticed her inward focus and guessed the reason. He glared as she came out of the dimly lit church, blinking in the winter sunshine. “How dare you turn my service into heathen witchery, woman?” “But it’s Stir Up Sunday, Father. ‘Tis traditional to make the puddings on this day.” The priest grunted, considering her a lost cause. Sarah slipped away. She had such a lot of cooking to do today. But she’d have to make sure the priest ate one of her puddings. With all the goodness she stirred in, he …

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The rust on the wrought iron gate left brown marks on Catherine’s fingertips as she pushed it open, stepping on to the stony path for the first time in 30 years. Her eyes stung as she gazed at once magnificent old homestead, its veranda now sagging and the corrugated iron roof riddled with holes. Droppings littered the path where sheep and kangaroos had invaded the once pristine yard in search of green pick. The lemon tree from Catherine’s childhood stood in the corner of the yard, rotting fruit scattered across the ground. She remembered inhaling the strong citrus scent as she stood on tiptoes to pluck fruit from the branches for her grandmother. She’d also tried scrambling onto the metal fence beside the tree to reach the higher-hanging lemons and …

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  They ate home-made burritos every Friday. They had both been raised on chicken casseroles and macaroni and hot dogs in the summertime. They had never travelled south of the border and the only non-English words they knew were the same non-English words everyone knew. Hola. Mi casa es su casa. Adiós amigos. It began on her 23rd birthday. She opened the card and read the details slowly. “A cooking class?” The dimples didn’t appear in her cheeks when she smiled at him. On the day he waited in the driveway and watched as she locked the front door, fumbling with the keys she wasn’t used to yet. “New jeans?” he asked. He was asleep when she left work work in the mornings and by the time he got home …

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