The World Ends, As It Always Does, Just Before Teatime, On Friday Afternoon (2: Bradley), by Bruce Arbuckle

She runs the data through another program. The analysis comes back quickly.

The results are the same.

She checks the data again. Perhaps the error can be found there. She desperately wants to find a mistake.

But there isn’t one.

She takes a deep breath before calling Bradley.

He always finishes early on a Friday. Besides, it’s his birthday. He’s out to lunch with his family. Perhaps she should let him enjoy his cake. One last moment of normality before everything falls apart.

Before the world ends.

But she needs to tell someone.

And, after all, it is his fault.

This is the second story in my series, The World Ends, As It Always Does, Just Before Teatime, On Friday Afternoon, imaginings of the end of the world across the multiverse. A 100-word story by Bruce Arbuckle , inspired by the random word prompt “analysis”

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Bruce Arbuckle (

Entry, by Bruce Arbuckle

The ship’s heat resistant shields were struggling. He knew he was entering the atmosphere of this long dead planet too fast and at the wrong angle. Everything was flashing bright red or yellow and several alarms screeched their disapproval.

Movement to his right: damn!

He might not have wreaked his ride, but he’d failed to shake off the drone.

Shaking, juddering, grinding. A missile clipped the right wing.

He was going to crash. He fraught to pull up the nose, hoping to limit the damage.

He plunged into the sludgy brown water, where the city of London used to be.

A 100 word story written by Bruce Arbuckle, inspired by the random word prompt “entry”

Find me (as HumpbuckleTales) on Mastodon

My drabbles (100-word stories) are always published first on Hive:

Read my daily 50 word stories in Humpbuckle Tales or on Hive or on Facebook

Find my 100 word tales right here

Keep on drabblin’!

Bruce Arbuckle (

Bring Them Back, by Bruce Arbuckle

“Just because we can,” the Chief Scientific Officer says. “Doesn’t mean we should.”

“We’ve been looking for intact DNA for so long. We have the ways and means to bring back a species extinct for more than a thousand years. You’ve seen for yourself the specially designed habitat. They can be safely contained.”

The Scientist shifts, uncomfortable in her seat.

“Are we sure? They were extremely dangerous. They laid waste to everything in their path, causing mass extinctions, almost destroying their own galaxy.”

The other smiles.

“We came halfway across the universe to make contact with Homosapians. Let’s do it.”

This 100-word story was written by Bruce Arbuckle, inspired by the random word prompt, “extinct”.

I’ll leave it up to your imagination to decide what the secure habitat might be

Find me (as HumpbuckleTales) on Mastodon

My drabbles (100-word stories) are always published first on Hive:

Read my daily 50 word stories in Humpbuckle Tales or on Hive or on Facebook

Find my 100 word tales right here

Keep on drabblin’!

Bruce Arbuckle (


Captain Alfred “Freddie” Parkway stood in the docking bay staring at the huge hunk of meteor-beaten metal in front of him.

A transporter. Origin unknown. He read the seriel number on the side, for the umpteenth time: AL1 HAL10W5 EVE

The maintenance androids had completed their inspection, it had been scanned, checked for viruses, explosive devices (there were still boobytrapped vessels floating about left over from the Spectre War, over 2 centuries ago), and life. All negative. Not surprising. Aside from Tabitha, the ship’s cat (she would be currently curled up asleep on the bridge), it had been years since he had come into contact with another living being.

It was time to open it up. Freddie watched the two droids as they forced the large doors open.

As he stepped inside, a metallic smell filled his nostrils. The floor under his boots was sticky. Thé droids filled the space with light, and Freddie saw that all the surfaces were painted red. No not painted. Splattered. Even before the droids identified it, Freddie knew it was blood.

In the centre of the room stood a barrel. Freddie had never seen a real one, not made of wood, like this. It looked exactly like the ones he had seen on bottles of brandy. Although it had been years since he had tasted real brandy. Probably, the last time he had been in the company of another human.

It was also the only thing in the room NOT to be covered in blood.

Knowing he should be making a swift exit, leaving the droids to investigate, Freddie found himself walking over the tacky floor towards the barrel.

The barrel was large, chest-hieght and lid-less. He peered inside.

Curled up inside the barrel was a human figure, pale and shrivelled as if all the blood had been removed from it. Clutched in the corpse’s arms was the body of a dead cat. A piece of paper lay beside the cat.

Freddie reached into the barrel and took hold of the paper. He stared at the three words.


From the other side of the room he heard a noise. A clunk.

Something brushed against his leg and he jumped, nudging the barrel. The body shifted and Freddie found himself staring at his own face, dry, wrinkled. Dead.

Something touched his leg again. Looking down he saw Tabitha.

He turned towards the door.




Just before the lights went out, he saw them crawling towards him

Magda McFarlin (part three)

The Magda McFarlin posts are written by Bruce Arbuckle, posting as BritInFrance, on the RPG Project Zero on

Click here to read Part One

Made up of several short posts, the quotes in bold are written by other writers. * indicates the end of each individual post.


Magda saw the look in the general’s eyes as she approached. He looked enthusiastic.

“Yes, how can i help you?” he said in a rough voice. He had been drinking, she could smell it on his breath.

“General, Magda McFarlin,” she said, saluting him. “I see you’re looking for volunteers, Sir. I was up here on a hunting holiday, and wondered if I could be of assistance? I was due to meet my cousin. But he hasn’t shown up. Maybe, you know him. Joe Kirk: he works up at the military base.” Magda thought she saw something flicker across the general’s face, at the mention of Joe’s name.


Summary of others posts: The general has told Magda that Joe has gone missing, that he has been taken alive. Another person has joined the group. The general has shown the group a deep wound from the escaped creature. He has also claimed the government have spent several billion dollars preparing the creature for war. He tells the group the best thing to do is to head for the Military Base.

Magda kept pace with the general as the group headed out of the town. She was confused, and not a little alarmed. Since when did the military start recruiting like this? This general was a little bit free with secrets, too. Like he didn’t expect anyone to be around to give anything away at the end. Was he really organizing a hunt, or was he planning to use this group as bait? She cleared her throat.

“Sir,” she said. “What exactly happened up there? I mean, where are all the soldiers, the reinforcements, helicopters and the like? Why are you recruiting,” she looked around at the others. “No offence to you guys: I’m sure you’re very skilled,” she looked back up at the general. “A bunch of amateurs to do the job of a trained unit?”


Magda thought for a moment, the general hadn’t heard her. She was about to repeat her question, when he spoke.

“McFarlin, there are two things that can disable a well-armed unit. And those things are a loss of morality, and a lack of numbers. Every man that has gone out alone to try and catch this thing has vanished. With no one else to try and recruit and the rest of my men scared as rabbits, where do you think that leaves me?”

Jesus, this guy was madder than she thought. Did he have no control over his men? She looked around at the rest of the group, to see if anyone else could see how close to the edge he was. They all avoided eye contact. Perhaps it was better to quit, while she was ahead. Perhaps this guy wasn’t even in charge – perhaps he was an escaped nut-job.

Magda was about to run when the general made a noise. A hiss like a snake being run over by a punctured tire. She followed the general’s eyes. The bloodied carcass of an animal – a deer – hung from the trees. Blood dripped down onto the white snow. Magda saw the creatures head, a few feet away.

“Bloody hell,” she said.


Magda checked the two hand guns she had under her jacket in the twin shoulder holder. Looking around her, she swung her rucksack off her back and removed two more clips of ammo, and the thermal imaging scope. She slipped them into concealed pockets, in her specially designed jacket. She put the rucksack on, checking it did not impede access to her weapons.

“Well, General,” she said. “It seems your expensive pet is around here somewhere. Maybe he just has an aversion to Bambi’s head remaining attached to its body, but my guess is that your missing men haven’t been asked round for a cup of tea and a friendly game of Scrabble.” Magda looked around at the others, “Any of you guys good at tracking animals?”


“I have tracked animals before.”

Magda turned to see a teenager dressed in a camouflage jacket and a hat. She signaled for him to come over to join her.

“You ever seen an animal that makes tracks like that, kid?” she said. She pointed out the claw marks in the tree and the snow. “I can’t tell which direction it went in, but maybe you can. By the look of that deer, it was here recently.” She looked around at the others and gestured at the youth. “Unless anyone has any better ideas, I suggest we follow this guy.”


Magda followed the young man. She couldn’t see any tracks in the snow, but he seemed to know where he was going. She looked behind her. The general had dropped back. He drew his weapon. He muttered something to himself, but she couldn’t hear a word above the noise of snow being crushed under foot. She really didn’t trust this guy.

A roar, snapped Magda’s head around. Something dropped from the trees, in front of her. She gasped and instinctively drew both her handguns. She crouched to the floor, and took aim. What the hell was that thing?

She couldn’t get a clean shot. The boy stood in the way.

“Jump!” she thought, her finger on the trigger, as the creature’s tail swung round towards the youth.


Magda was surprised at the boys speed. He jumped out of the way and shot at the beast before she could fire a round.

“It’s imprinted on us damn it -shoulda hit it in the eye like i wanted to. Damn you Doc -why make something like this that can turn against you?”

The dragon-thing took hold of the boy. It steped right over Magda. She thought she saw something in it’s eye when it saw her weapon.

It’s eye. Perhaps the general wasn’t so useless, after all.

Magda took aim at the reptile-like eyes and pressed the trigger.


Please read the whole story here:

Magda McFarlin (part two)

The Magda McFarlin posts are written by Bruce Arbuckle, posting as BritInFrance, on the RPG Project Zero on

Click here to read Part One

Magda turned away from the notice and almost collided with someone. A young man, in his early twenties, was standing beside her, reading the notice.

“Excuse me,” she said. He looked up. He had a strange facial expression. Magda had seen something like it once before. In Afghanistan, when visiting one of her colleagues in hospital. The man in the next bed had had the same wild stare as this guy. A mixture of determination, satisfaction, and… hunger. It had scared her. And she wasn’t easily spooked.

The door of the bar, across the road opened, drawing her attention away from the strange young man. The military guy walked out. A General, if she was not mistaken. She saw him remove his weapon as the door closed behind him. There was a flash of something green – a trick of the light? – and then he closed the barrel and the gun was back in his holster.

She weighed up her options: follow him, or introduce herself? Their eyes made contact, as he glanced over to the notice board. Her decision was made. She cleared her throat, and crossed the street, aware of the eyes of the man by the Town Hall burning into her back as she did so.

“Excuse me, Sir?” Magda said.

To read the next instalment click here

Please read the whole story here:

Magda McFarlin (part one)

The Magda McFarlin posts are written by Bruce Arbuckle, posting as BritInFrance, on the RPG Project Zero on

Something has escaped from a Military Base in Colorado. The nearby town of SnowPeak has been isolated. Magda (formerly in the British Army, currently employed in a private security firm) has received worrying emails from a former colleague. After loosing contact she makes her way to the town.

Magda McFarlin (posted 9th January 2013)

Magda sat on the edge of the bed, wondering how it could be colder than in the forest. SnowPeak was as she had expected: a small town, covered in snow with locals making her feel as welcome a syphilis in a brothel. There was just one motel in town. She had checked. Twice. It was dirty and uncared on the outside. To the owner’s credit he had tried his hardest to keep the same theme throughout his establishment. And, as she saw, when he eventually came to the desk, he had extended this to his personal appearance.

“You a reporter?” he said, after she had asked for a single room for a week.

“No,” she said. “Why?”

He gestured to the TV on the desk behind him. It was tuned to a local channel, there was a reporter standing in the snow in front of a roadblock. The sound was turned down, but the headline read “Bigfoot on the loose in SnowPeak?”.

“Na, didn’t think so,” the man said scratching his backside, before reaching round and plucking a key from a hook, behind him. “You ain’t pretty enough to be a reporter.”

After fiddling with the radiator, Magda managed to get it lukewarm. She decided to take a look around the town. Not trusting the owner, she took her backpack with her, leaving nothing in the room.

The town was not exactly busy. It was ski season: she had expected a few tourists, even in a place like this. More worryingly was the lack of military personnel, or police. It seemed either nothing was going on, and one of her closest friends was playing a joke on her, or that Joe Kirk was right: the people in charge seriously underestimated the threat.

She went into a store and bought herself a Coke. The man behind the counter, looked her up and down as he dropped the change into her waiting hand.

“You ain’t from round here, are you darling?” he said. “You a reporter?”

“No,” Magda said. “I’m not pretty enough.” The man nodded, sagely. “I’ve just come in for a bit of skiing and hunting.” She gestured to the rifle, hanging from her backpack. “I’m meeting up with my cousin, Joe Kirk. He works up at the military base. You know him?”

The man narrowed his eyes. “Don’t know no one from up there, and don’t care to, neither. Say, where you from? You talk funny.”

“I’m from Dublin,” the lie came easily. No one knew where Belfast was, any way. And everyone loves the Irish.

“You don’t say,” the man said. “You come all the way over on the Greyhound bus?”

Magda looked at him in the eye. He was serious. “That’s right,” she said.

As she left the store, she saw a man in uniform pinning something on the notice board of, what she assumed was, the town hall. She watched him walk away, and saw him enter a bar across the road.

Checking no one was watching her she walked over and read what was written:

…..Looking for Volunteers; Skilled both in Combat and Tracking, or are willing to Learn.

Oh, dear God. What kind of amateur operation are they running here?


To read the next instalment click here

Please note: any text written in red, or in bold has been taken from another players posts. Please read the whole story here: