Short Stories

To keep up to date with stories as I add them, you can subscribe to my RSS feed. Clicking on the links below will open the story viewer, where you can read on-screen or print out. @joshuamalbin

Richard the Vampire

He’d been trying to get his memoir published for fifty years now. Back in the Sixties a human editor at a sci-fi publishing house had urged him to write it. The man knew what he was and thought he could market the book as a novel.


Consolidated Preapplication for Public Assistance

This application is intended to streamline all forms of public assistance in the State of XXXXXXXX by pre-screening applicants for general suitability. Please attach a copy of this completed form to all public assistance applications: Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or Medicaid. You will still need to complete a separate application for each form of assistance, but failure to complete this form will disqualify you from receiving benefits. (read full story)


Alex invited me to lunch. We’d been very good friends in college and for a long time thereafter, but I hadn’t heard from him in well over two years. He’d left my life without warning, having just borrowed several hundred dollars. All at once he’d stopped responding to texts, emails, phone calls. I’d worried about him, and became more so when I asked friends and learned he’d done the same thing to nearly everyone. Not the borrowing, but the disappearance. Only one or two people still spoke to him at all and could confirm he was alive. (read full story)

South Street Seaport

Ben met Ness for the first time on New Year’s Eve. They’d bought tickets to the same party with the same extended group of friends, and at midnight they twined their champagne glasses, sipped, and kissed.

Later she vomited on the street outside, then grabbed his arm and said she wanted him to take her home. It was the single most difficult night of the year to get a taxi on the packed streets of the East Village, and they stood in the cold a long time, watching already-hired cabs pass by. (read full story)


Understand that El was different back then. He was one demon in a host of equally unpredictable and bloodthirsty demons, the one who’d attached himself to my family.

Most of the time we knew how to deal with demons. We kept them glutted with sacrifice blood and they left us alone. El was merely a little more baroque than others in his directions for daubing and sprinkling that blood around his altar. (Read full story)

The Handsome Man

The handsome man took stock of his life on his thirtieth birthday and, while he’d been successful in his career and assembled a wide circle of friends, he was dissatisfied. He’d made it all the way to this age without ever sustaining a relationship for longer than a few weeks—a month and a half at most—and he was lonely.

He knew his problem: he was a compulsive talker. (read full story)

A Chicken-and-Egg Story

Melle was hatched in an incubator tray along with a few dozen other chicks, fuzzy little Nerf balls piled together. It was cramped in there—she was always being jostled, shouldered out of the way, or even trampled when some other chick got impatient of pushing through the crowd and tried to climb overtop it instead. (read full story)

Straight: An Orthographical Fable

The Straight Line concept arose from an interminable discussion on posting and commenting etiquette on one of the big political blogs. On several occasions recently a congressman had ventured to have his staff write posts in his name, the comments had gotten heated, and the politician had been attacked with ads that quoted the most incendiary of these. (Read full story)

MAUL: The Fight Channel

9:00 a.m. ROMAN GLADIATOR 2000 [rebroadcast] The original is still the best. Watch as today’s toughest warriors battle it out with the real weapons of ancient Rome: trident and net, sword and shield. Give the thumbs-up or down by texting and wait for a death blow you’ll swear is real. (Read full story)


After years of trying, Max sold a screenplay. It was sort of a sci-fi comedy in which all the silicone breast implants in the world became sentient and possessed their owners. Finally a producer had appreciated the potential in showing giant-breasted women first manipulating powerful men and then, once they were discovered, battling in the streets with a band of natural-breasted heroines of various cup sizes. (Read full story)


My brother Jacob and I went to work in my family’s restaurant the moment my father, Big Ike, decided it was safe. He had a two-part test. First each of us had to carry a saucepan full of water from one end of the dining room to the other, using only one hand, without rushing and without spilling. Then we each had to cut an onion precisely in half with one stroke of a heavy knife. Once our wrists had grown strong enough for those things, he judged we could handle the rest. (Read full story)

Ghost Story

The ghost showed up the very first night. Levin had gotten a good deal on the house because of her, so he wasn’t surprised. He didn’t usually try to get deals on things; he was Jewish and hated playing into stereotypes. (Read full story)

Great Tits

In the spring of his second year, Peter split from the mixed flock of tits and sparrows in whose company he’d survived the winter, and returned to a wood not far from where he’d fledged. For a couple of days he tried out his song, two notes and two syllables, the second lower than the first and slurring at the end, something like his own name: “Pe-ter! Pe-ter!” But he’d arrived too late. (Read full story)

More stories:

The Pebble and the Mustard Jar

The September 12th Mindset

Sick as Dogs

Back Pain

The Son of Electricity


The Cave

The Truck Across From My Apartment is Not a Metaphor


The Ice House and the Glass House

Swamp Tale

A Lynching

The Most Typical Bar in the World

Six Fingers

Dollhouses With No Dolls in Them


9:00 a.m. ROMAN GLADIATOR 2000 [rebroadcast] The original is still the best. Watch as today’s toughest warriors battle it out with the real weapons of ancient Rome: trident and net, sword and shield. Give the thumbs-up or down by texting and wait for a death blow you’ll swear is real.

10:00 a.m. SAW

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