Archive for January, 2014

A specially commissioned piece to celebrate the debut performance of H@ndles.


Zoe put an umlaut over the e in her name to make herself more interesting. Mandy said it was only an umlaut if it went over the o but she is wrong.

Zoë couldn’t decide whether to pronounce her name like Noël or Chloë so she put an umlaut over the o as well. Mandy said two umlauts together was stupid but no one cares what Mandy thinks.

Zöë liked her new name because it looked like it had eyelashes. Mandy said names don’t have eyelashes because Mandy has no imagination and we all hate her.

Zöë met a man called Päül on tumblr but it was just Mandy using an old e-mail account. Mandy changed her name to Mąňđŷ and we all said she was trying too hard.

Zöë unfriended Mąňđŷ on Facebook. Mąňđŷ changed her name back to Mandy because she isn’t nearly as exciting as she pretends to be.

Zöe experimented with just an umlaut on the o of her name and started pronouncing her name Zer-ee. Mandy changed her name to Zoe because she is a nasty bitch who will do anything for attention and she smells of sex and bacon and we call her sexy bacon because she is a pig.

Zöe unfollowed Zoe. Zoe reported Zöe as spam because she takes everything too far and we all wish she would just go away and Jack says he did her round the back of school and he probably did because she is so desperate.

Zöe changed her name to Zȣe because it looked like a charity ribbon which was ironic and clever.

Zoe changed her name to Zȣe too because she is a skank and her legs look like uncooked sausages and she only has like six friends on Facebook and most of them are old men who are trying to groom her and she probably loves them.

Zoe changed her name to Mandy. Mandy changed her name to Zoe. Whatever.

Words: 330

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A specially commissioned piece to celebrate the debut performance of H@ndles.


You enter the building fifteen minutes early so that you look eager, your hair is unnaturally trimmed and you found that tie you own. You get in the lift and ride it to the fourth floor. When the doors open, you find yourself in a shabbier office that you thought you would.

There’s a woman sat behind the reception desk smoking, she looks like she slept there. She looks like she always sleeps there.

“Hello,” you say, “I’m here for the job, the agency sent me.”

She doesn’t reply. Instead she points her cigarette in the direction of a door and nods. You go through the doors.

Another woman greets you when you enter the room. You barely have enough time to look around and only get a brief eyeful of the place. There are several people dotted about the room at desks, typing away. No-one is talking to each other. The woman looks friendly enough though, she has the kind of hair that makes you think she’s about to describe herself as ‘crazy’.

“You must be new.”

“Yes, the agency sent me.”

“Good, good. We need as many people as you can get.”

She leads you to a terminal and you sit down.

“You’ll be Alan Sugar. Is that okay for you?”

“I’m what?”

“You know, balding guy, businessman. Just type away and if anyone asks you anything, just reply how you think he’d reply.”

You look at the screen in front of you. You are logged in to Twitter. Above you, a little sign hangs from the ceiling saying ‘@Lord_Sugar’. Alan Sugar’s face is the profile picture.

You look around for some more advice, but the woman has gone. The man sat next to you has a sign above him saying @MrDDyer. He doesn’t respond to your waving.

When you click into the box to write a new tweet, the emptiness is tantilising. You feel the infinite options ahead of you and you begin to type.

Words: 328

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A specially commissioned piece to celebrate the debut performance of H@ndles


The Krathen lurk and lie, eating secrets for breakfast and regurgitating it back for lunch. Their favourite food is data; juicy tidbits of information about humanfolk’s lives.

At first we never realised they were there. Too many cat videos and articles and opinions to think about it. To notice them, just beneath the surface.

But slowly the Krathen ate more and more, pulling pieces of our lives apart. They chew with ferocity, strong jaws clamping down on notions we once upheld as proof we were living in an enlightened age. A post-everything age, where we can say what we like, as loud as we like. Soon we were screaming.

They seem to like the screams, although that slow realisation must have also provided them with entertainment. When the Krathen are excited, or happy, they emit a strong-smelling mucus, oozing from their oversized pores.

Now that smell is everywhere, in our nostrils, in our sleep.

Once we wouldn’t have thought twice before creating or sharing, reposting and tagging and blogging and recording every part of our existence. As the documentation became more desperate, that now-familiar squelch rose in pitch and volume, until it was vibrating like a hummingbird, deafeningly shrill.

The internet is our only way left to communicate now. But messages are dangerous; by the time we finally learned our lesson, it was far too late. The Krathen were everywhere and they were gorged on our stories, made rampant by our distraction and our malice that were thrown into existence the same way they are now thrown up.

Loneliness cannot be borne for long. We don’t stay quiet, no matter the consequences. The creatures know this too, and they wait, smiling, for us to crack. A single, slightly-rambling post; a 6-second video about nothing at all – we hope and pray that it is harmless. We should know better by now.

I should have stopped writing by now.

Words: 329

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A specially commissioned piece to celebrate the debut performance of H@ndles



We met in a local team deathmatch, Hairtrigger IV. She was a flame-haired Rogue with knife skills to die for and the best grenade aim I’d seen. For ages I thought she was a bloke.


He was careful with the friendly fire, didn’t swear at me once. I liked that. In respawn lobby he wouldn’t stop staring at my ava. I knew straight away he was a bloke.


I invited her, casual, to the PvP Mission, my heart thumping like a panicked rabbit IRL. She said ‘yeah sure’ then blasted me in the chest with a shotgun.


Maybe I shot love into him. Maybe it was too much, too soon. He was over-protective in Mission, taking us on long, romantic rambles to sniper nests, keeping out of the action. Three days in I caved and gave him the slip.


I shed armour and ammo like a rookie, my Ur-life dangerously depleted, my stamina more so. IRL I was tired, the chamberpot full and stinking. She was every headshot.


I went back to the Skins, pinpointed every sniper nest on World Map. Some distant bit of my gut ached. He was nice. He didn’t swear at me once.


They airstriked them: every single nest I showed her. I logged out for days, stalked the IRL streets for scraps.


I got my medal, got my heroics on the Board, then got out. I drifted back to the deathmatches, got a few wins into my stats. I watched for his tag, I think, or for derivatives. I wanted to let him shoot me. Get it off his chest. And onto mine.


So I hacked. New name, new ava, new gender, new age, new tag, and hunted her down. Sniper, trip-mines, chopperstrikes, shuriken. Got it all off my chest.


I found him again. No-one is ever that obsessive. So I Rogued-up, sidled over, flagged up chat.


WLTM? she says. IRL?


Words: 328

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A specially commissioned piece to celebrate the debut performance of H@ndles



The journalist from the local paper had Aubrey pinned into the corner; his yellow jowls threatened to drip onto his dog-eared notepad. He asked Aubrey questions with a wet mouth and Aubrey, paint-roller in hand, fixated on the journalist’s flapping, glistening lips.


It had started in the flat. Life had felt overblown and somewhere else. Holly Willoughby was on mute as she interviewed, said a television caption, a graffiti artist. Aubrey scrolled tweets on his Nokia: the deluge of self-promotion, of cries for help, of angry clutter. On the silent television, there was a montage of swirling graffiti. Psychedelic. Vibrant.


Aubrey bought his first brushes from a stressed middle-aged woman in the tatty hardware shop down the road. The barcode bleeps competed with her sighs. Aubrey felt a new dawn in his belly.


His first painted tweet was in shaky red capitals on the living room wallpaper. He took down the wall clock first, but in a few days, he’d paint over anything. In his kitchen, purple and blue letters snaked over hanging pans and spatulas.


Graffiti became design. He added rulers and set squares, rollers and spirit levels. Aubrey’s tweets travelled outside: the wall of the flats; the broken bus shelter; the side of the charity shop. Bigger, bolder, brighter. A new Twitter.


Aubrey stood in the street as he dripped green onto the pavement. He fixated on what came from the journalist’s dribbling mouth. Questions about motivation, about his opinion on urban art spaces, about… Aubrey felt like Holly Willoughby, broadcasting on mute to fearful men gazing into phone screens.


“No comment,” said Aubrey. And the journalist wrote it down.

Words: 329

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January 31 sees the debut performance of H@ndles, the first play written by 330Words creator Tom Mason. The piece, which is part of the Re:Play 2014 Theatre Festival, explores the ways social media affects human behaviour, demonstrating how Twitter and Facebook impacts on our sense of self-worth and identity.

To celebrate the performance, 330words will be publishing a series of tales from its favourite short story authors. Over the course of the next few days, the site will feature specially commissioned pieces from writers exploring some of the play’s themes. Featuring:

  • Fat Roland
  • Dan Carpenter
  • Dave Hartley
  • Benjamin Judge
  • Joe Daley
  • Kate Ashley
  • Nija Dalal

Words: 106

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