Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: micro fiction

My Friend ~ Micro-Fiction Writer & Prison Librarian

Johnpaul Mahofski—formerly known as Relish, now known as Brokali on Book Island, in the virtual world, Second Life.

I’ve never met him in “real life” but we do have a Real friendship

We’ve had his Micro-Fiction here twice, so far:

Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

Microfiction ~ Revisited

Johnpaul is also the librarian at a real prison in Maryland in the USA.

Recently, I asked him a few questions about his job:

From the figures you gave me, I notice you have over 9,000 books. What are some of the inmates’ favorites?

The collection balance is slowly growing as many have donated books, and I have purchased books. We have a normal dewey system library. With Urban fiction circulating the highest, but Horror and Mystery being second. The number one author is James Patterson. I have an entire section dedicated to his work.

Also note that we constantly weed books due to the inmates reading them until they are tattered beyond repair. Your book was like that!

I’ll be eternally grateful that you found a home for Notes from an Alien in your library :-)

So, do your patrons use the Internet?

Inmates cannot use the Internet. I can however look up things for them. Sometimes they are researching things and want more info. They like to learn about everything they read about and beyond. I have searched for them about Herod, Ring fingers, small towns, slavery, the 1968 Olympics, many medications they are prescribed and much more.

Do they use computers at all? Also, what about printed reference books?

Our reference collection, print-wise, is no different than any public library. The computers we have offer inmate resources including rehabs, outside programs once paroled, zip code finders, resume makers, typing tutors, Word, Excel, Power Point tutorials, Lexus Nexus and many other legal resources. I track stats for all of these.

They can even send for full case reports and use them to help with their legal motions. Everyone can order up to 5 cases a week.

Any special programs you’d like to mention?

Book discussions! Each unit has approximately 5-10 volunteers that read 2 books a month and then discuss them.


I can’t leave this post without mentioning that, whenever Johnpaul and I are on Book Island together, FUN  is a major part of the program :-)
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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

MicroFiction Reprise :-)

Our Internet Age has spawned what appears to be an appetite that’s appeased in bits and bites rather than in full-course meals.

It’s even become a form of writing, whether in blogs, news, or fiction.

The Paris Review had a clutch of excerpts from Lou Beach’s forthcoming book, 420 Characters : Stories.

The book’s description: “Miniature short stories written as Facebook updates, when there was a 420-character limit, spaces and punctuation included.”

Lou Beach’s Site quotes Kirkus Reviews: “Celebrated illustrator Beach…turns his uncommon sensibilities to the written word, composing a small fortune in vignettes that originally appeared as Facebook updates. An adroit experiment that marries linguistic restraint to literary cool.

I was alerted to this new release by a good friend of mine on Book Island in the virtual world, Second life.

His name is Brokali now. As often happens, since Second Life is a virtual world, folks will re-create themselves, changing their names along with their appearance.

Brokali’s name in Real Life is Johnpaul Mahofski and, when he still had the name Relish (in Second Life), I did two posts about his MicroFiction which included 10 of his superb stories.

Johnpaul is a librarian at the Eastern Correctional Institution in the State of Maryland in the U.S. A.

He’s written a huge number of Facebook Fiction stories (as well as other lengths) in the new Literary Realm

Do, please, check out our sampling of Johnpaul’s masterful fiction in these two posts:

Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

Microfiction ~ Revisited

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Microfiction ~ Revisited

A few days ago, we had the post, Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction, which you may want to look at before reading the rest of this post; mostly for the links and references it provides for this very new genre of literature

So, without further ado, I’ll present six more of Relish Resident’s microfiction stories.

Oh! One tiny ado: These are all a sub-genre that can be called Facebook Fiction; or, as Relish likes to call them, Status Fiction—they each have less than 460 characters–not words, but characters!!


All stories copyright, Relish Resident, 2011

House Hunter

“I love you, but I hate our house,” he said.
They stared at it. It was green and too tiny.
The newspaper even looked too big for the front porch.
“Your problem is you notice houses and not new curtains. You notice windows and doors but not the antique table from Grandma inside.”
He spit on the ground, grabbed the grocery bag, and walked towards the house he hated.


They drove for hours to the ocean city boardwalk, split a delicious pizza, bought salt-water taffy, fed a one legged seagull and commented on how it didn’t stop her spunk, and they drove home satisfied they had vacationed.

Best Friends

My dad’s best friend Mich is ill. Two kind men, one illiterate, but handy, the other literate, but all thumbs.
My dad found his friend free places to live, a farm once, a drive-in theater, apartments, finally a small house.
Mitch fixed our broken house, tubs, stairs, garage doors.
My dad wrote out Mitch’s bills and read his mail aloud to him. And now they just sit in a hospital room and watch tv together.

Close Encounter

“Take me to your leader,” the Alien pointed at him.
“We don’t really have access to our leaders. If I email the President, and I say an alien wants to see you they will put me on a watch list like my middle-eastern friends that fly.”
“Take me to your leader,” it said.
“I can take you to meet my friend Lucinda. She is easy on the eyes and owns a Dominoes pizza.”
“Okay. Take me to Lucinda.”


The cow was livid and he marched right into the tiny butcher shop in the inner city. He rang the bell for assistance at the butcher counter.
“Umm can I help you…si—-cow?”
The cow grabbed the counter man, hacked off his head, arms, and used his machines to create 2 butt roasts, a shoulder roast, ground human, and some delightful stew meat. He then carefully wrapped up the items in white butcher paper and walked out of the store. Stopping twice to moo.


“It is all cycles,” the bike shop owner said. “God’s cool then God isn’t. Having babies is cool, then it isn’t, then it is. Tattoos are bad, now they are good. Cycles.”
The customer seemed confused realizing he had fallen into a deep semantic trap spawned by generations of talk radio, and excessive newspaper reading.
“I mean, I’d like to know more about BIcycles.”
The owner pointed to his sales representative.
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Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

I just left the virtual world, Second Life. I’d been to a literary Happy Hour, hosted by Relish Resident and dedicated to microfiction.

Microfiction is so Niche that even Wikipedia doesn’t have a separate entry for it—it’s in with Flash Fiction

I’ve written many times about my experiences in Second Life and tonight’s event was superb.

I’m going to reproduce four of Relish’s microfiction pieces below but first want to give you a reference to some considerations when approaching execution of this genre. As with all opinions about literature, and especially concerning something as new as this, take the article, The Essentials of Micro-Fiction, with a grain of salt

Read by Relish Resident, at the Writer’s Block Cafe on Book Island

(All copyright 2011 by Relish Resident)


The whole thing was blown out of proportion. A large woman had reached for the tic tacs and a slender man, with the waistline of a teenage girl, felt that she had interrupted his personal space.

Many words were exchanged, which led to pushing and shoving, and soon an all-out fist fight erupted. The slender man was tossed over the boxes of fruit loops (3 for 3.50) and the large woman took 4 gutshots and a knee to the face without so much as flinching. I was gambling, feeding crisp dollars into a poker machine, trying to receive an illegal payout, trying to pay my way through barber school, trying to make a difference in this world by cutting hair.
I was amazed to see the slender man suddenly working an effective jab and cashing in on the large woman’s late-round fatigue. That is when it hit me. I’d never be a success.

Horror Part 1

Blood dripped from its eyes, its head tilted to the left, its chin and cheeks seemed to melt in layers, its skin was painted white, its lips black, it was toothless with a long hairy tongue. It walked from room to room and we all curled into little balls of fear. It yelled, “I am real; you can’t comprehend me.” Everything we ever believed died that night.


They all ate chocolate deserts, average steak-ranch hoagies, pizza, and listened to a lengthy love poem that was read aloud. One person danced while a tall man sang, small electric fans were frequently being turned off and on. Their boss away, they all felt sleepy and useless. It was heaven.

Bird Watching

“What in the hell are we supposed to do now?”
The two men hung from the ledge suspended 36 stories in the air. Many curious spectators gathered below.
“We’ll get a closer look at the nesting Falcons. We are going to die now you ass.” Firetrucks sirened in the distance. The sun blushed.
“You know what’s funny? I just wanted to spend time with you. I hate birds.” They looked at each other and dangled their legs.


One of the best parts of Relish’s weekly microfiction event is that we get to discuss the works after they’re read.

As the LitReactor site says:

Micro Fiction is “…an art form of its own—a different medium for expression—as different from shorts stories as short stories are from novels.”

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