Category Archives: Short Stories

“So a Mongolian Walks Into a Bar” by Khaled Rajeh

A questionable figure stood peculiarly still in the doorway, as if examining, or rather marveling at, every little detail of the bar. How there were no instruments in sight to account for the loud music, how the lamps were supernaturally lit with no visible flame, and how a picture hung on the wall somehow morphed into different shapes and colors, displaying a series of moving images. The questionable figure was dressed rather peculiarly. With what appeared to be a bath mat over his shoulders, a quilt around his waist, and a hanging vase on his head, he looked like a fugitive that had broken into a house to change out of his prison uniform, but couldn’t find any clothes, so made use of whatever was laying about.

It was almost as if he had been untwined from his position in space and time, and flung forward an epoch or two, particularly because untwined from his position in space and time, and flung forward an epoch or two, was precisely what this man had been.

The most questionable aspect of this peculiar matter was that this man, questionably and peculiarly enough, had in fact been, Genghis Khan. (What Genghis Khan was doing in the 21st century and how his thoughts and actions were thoroughly depicted remain two of life’s greatest mysteries. Mainly because many experts falsely speculate that this whole story was actually made up by an absurdly sanguine sixteen-year-old Simon Rich wannabe with an unquenchable thirst for online popularity.)

Genghis Khan carefully edged his way to a nearby table and took a seat. He looked around in bewilderment. A man on the table to his right seemed to be engaged in a highly contentious argument, his tone growing more belligerent after every four-second pause he took to stare mightily into the distance. Another man, seated opposite to him, looked as though he found his companion’s burdensome rage rather amusing, giggling and mentioning something about a Thanksgiving dinner at his mother-in-law’s. This went on for a couple of minutes, and no matter how hard Genghis Khan tried to decipher what in the Mongol Empire had been going on between these two men, it was simply beyond his cognitive span. His first explanation was that if these cyborgs were able to contrive those fancy moving paintings, and the incomprehensible horseless carriages outside, they must have reshaped the basics of social interaction. He then surmised that it might have had something to do with the rectangular hand-held devices pressed to one ear, but instantly dismissed that theory as being utter bollocks.

As Genghis Khan sat there, feeling extremely desolate and betrayed, like a five-year-old that has lost sight of his mum at Target, an attractive, young-looking American blonde, that seemed as though she must have had a drink or seventeen too many, outrageously committed the abominable and often brutally punishable act of making eye contact without formally requesting permission to do so. Oh how he’d love to set fire to her village and enslave its women. If only he’d known where in the world, if not a whole nother, his men were.

“I like your boots, genuine leather?” Inquired the underdressed little outlaw.

“Imported straight from Kazakhstan. They weren’t as waterproof as the Kazakhs promised though.”

“Oh, pity.”

“So I colonized their country.”

The blonde giggled awkwardly, stuck out a hand, and said, “I’m Sam.”

He looked at her outstretched arm, at her, then back at her arm.

She looked at it at too, then at him.

He was looking at her again.

Slowly and shyly, she lowered it and grabbed a seat.

“So,” she tried to say, after four unusually long seconds of silence, “what do you do?”

“I’m Genghis Khan!” Said Genghis Khan.

“Nice to meet you,” replied Sam kindly, “so what do you do?”

Could anyone get drunk enough not to recognize Genghis Khan? Thought Genghis Khan. Shit, I’ve impregnated more women than any other man in recorded history, I’m probably her father!

“I’m an uncompromisingly direct real estate broker,” uttered Genghis Khan. “Can you picture that stretch of land between Iraq and South Korea on a map?”

“Uhm, I guess.”

“I own that.”

She laughed sarcastically. “Isn’t that, like, half of the globe?”

“Yes. A human lifetime isn’t a sufficient period of time to take over both halves of the globe, I once realized. Or will realize, I’m quite confused. Last thing I remember was dying shortly after coming to that realization. And the last time I checked, people don’t usually return after being proclaimed clinically dead by the finest physician in my half of the globe, locked up in a two ton sarcophagus, and buried somewhere deep under the Onon river. Do you have anything to do with this? You were assigned by the Jin army, weren’t you? Huh?”

“Whoa, someone’s had too much to drink,” muttered Sam.

Genghis Khan snatched Sam’s glass out her hand. He desperately needed a drink to wrap his head around the preposterous state of affairs he was thrown into. He kicked his feet up, leant back, and took a loud, passionate sip.

He was, after all, Genghis Khan.

Discussion Question: Should Sam fuck Genghis Khan? Why or why not?

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“The Man Who Knew The Secret To Happiness” by Khaled Rajeh

He stood at 5’6, weighed around two-fifty pounds, lived with his mother, worked a nine-to-five job, drove a Fiesta, and devoted a substantial proportion of his salary to Netflix subscriptions and pizza deliveries. He wasn’t, however, your average Englishman, for he knew something no one else did. He knew The Secret To Happiness.

It occurred to him on the 2nd of October, 2010, while Manchester United’s goalless draw at the Stadium of Light was on. He wasn’t a fan of either team–or of anything involving a bunch of men playing with balls–but he had to keep himself busy so the two minutes his microwave popcorn took to get ready wouldn’t feel like hours.

“That was a brilliantly timed tackle by Paul Scholes,” uttered the commentator, much to the surprise of anyone who has ever heard of Paul Scholes. And due to the (yet incalculable, unsubstantiated, and inconceivable) immense force a statement of such absurdity could possess, that particular line by the commentator, against all odds, had managed to slice straight through the man who would then soon know The Secret To Happiness’s rather diminutive mental realms and sink deep into his subconscious to trigger an unprecedented chain of thought that would consequently bring forth The Secret To Happiness. It was so staggeringly simple, it could easily have been taught to a third grade class. And not long after that epiphany, he realized that what he had discovered was big. Really big. So big, he simply couldn’t resist the overwhelming urge to tell someone about it. He thought of phoning his best-friend, Eric, but then thought twice, what he had failed to do with most of his life defining decisions. What if Eric turns out to be a back-stabbing prick and steals all the credit? After all, Eric was the sort of pretentious, self-centered whoreson that parks the bus on FIFA when 1-0 up.

He then considered writing a book on the subject, but could only conjure up a page and a half. The Secret To Happiness was fairly simple. There wasn’t much to say. Besides, it was already difficult enough to give an editor a mere glimpse of the idea, and not wind up on a riverbank with a nine inch blade between your lungs shortly after, while worldwide sales of “The Real Secret To Happiness Yes It’s Real This Time I Swear Look!” soar. As do the editor that claimed authorship’s hopes of finally achieving his lifelong dream–one commonly shared amongst editors–of finding a girlfriend.

Posting The Secret To Happiness on Facebook, he thought, was the only reasonable solution. The most sought after bit of knowledge in the world. Millions of books published, dollars invested in research, and lives inefficaciously spent trying to decipher it, and The Secret To Happiness was somehow discovered by a financially unstable, chronically single bloke who had never really bothered to put much thought into it anyway. For once, he felt genuinely proud of himself. Until a rather disturbing thought interrupted. After his Facebook post blisteringly disseminates across the globe to invade minds of all ages, extreme euphoria would permanently engulf our world. The poor would be perfectly satisfied being poor, the rich wouldn’t mind going poor, and Eastenders fans would remain Eastenders fans, creating a population of slothful wastes-of-space that did nothing but tweet corny epigrams in-between naps, thus making human development of any type virtually impossible.

The world’s population would then naturally adjust to its general state of sheer delight, but what if experiencing happiness afterwards is beyond our emotional capabilities, and the human race slips into an abyss of incurable depression? Sure, he’d be a highly acclaimed icon for a while, but then forever be the most despised villain in human history. Possibly even more than Simon Cowell…

But for now, his popcorn was ready.

The man who knew The Secret To Happiness committed suicide three days later.