Cut-Throat – Submit Your Fourth Short Story Today

Cut-Throat – Submit Your Fourth Short Story Today

We have written four stories for 2019. That means we still have eight more stories left in the 12 Short Stories Challenge. This was a short one, and after the long story of last month, it was a big change.

Submit your fourth short story for 2019 today!

I will accept and approve posts for Cut-Throat (Word count: 750 words) from 24 April 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 25 April 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world.

Please submit your story on

  1. Log in.
  2. Submit (Top right).
  3. Complete the form.
  4. Select the correct category: Prompt 4: Cut-Throat
  5. Do not select any other category.
  6. Your story must be 750 words.
  7. Submit for approval.
  8. Read and comment on four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.


  1. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  2. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  3. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.

Can I still join?

You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12. Sign up on

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

Here is my short story:

The Barber Shop by Mia Botha

Prompt: Cut-throat | Word count: 750 words | Genre: Historical WW2

Warning: Nazis

Heinrich closes his eyes and relishes the comforting warmth of the towel wrapped around his face, the gentle rhythm of the razor blade on the strop, Dietrich crooning softly on the radio. Just for a moment he could forget where he was and what was happening. He could ignore the craters in the street, the bombed-out buildings, the uniforms on every corner. The bell above the door chimed, the barber snapped the radio off. They spoke their greeting, tainting the air. He mumbles what he hopes they would consider the correct reply. 

“Doktor Schneider, at last. You are a difficult man to find.” The man steps forward, his voice is measured, clipped.

Heinrich keeps his eyes closed a moment longer, when he opens them again the officer is standing behind him. He meets his gaze in the mirror. Grey uniform, skull and cross bones on his cap.

“I did not know anyone was looking for me, Gruppenführer Baur.” Heinrich tries to sit up, but the major general rests his hands on his shoulders.

“I was told you left the city yet again, Doctor Schneider.” He pushes Heinrich down harder into the chair.

“Ja, I did. For my work.” He still doesn’t break eye contact with the man.

The major general holds out his hand to the barber, the man is confused, but he nods at the blade and the barber places it in his hand.

Heinrich does not move as the Gruppenführer applies the shaving cream with his other hand and then brings the blade to his throat. He watches, hypnotized by the man’s actions.

“We are very interested in this work, mein Doktor. It takes you out of the city often.”

He swallows, the blade slides over his neck, the razor scrapes upwards. The shaving cream splats as it hits the basin.

“It’s the nature of my work,” he nods, but stops as soon as the blade moves again, “lots of research.”

“The party would like to know more. Your trips are becoming more and more frequent. Your routes of are of interest as well.” He leans close to Heinrich, examining his handiwork. “We would like to invite you to present your findings. Genetics is of great interest to the Führer.” The blade moves along his throat again. “You have heard of the excellent work the party is doing? We can do even greater things with a man of your talents.” The blade slides up and over his jaw.

He stops and lifts the blade. “Wonderful, these little luxuries we still have?” He waves his hand around the barber shop and wipes the blade on the towel. “Wouldn’t you want to help your country?”

“Everything I do is for my country, mein Gruppenführer.“ Heinrich says.

The man does not answer but continues the shaving. The barber and the officers who accompanied him stand about. Not knowing what to do. They all watch the blade slip along his neck.

“I’m told your son had a birthday last month.”

Heinrich freezes.

“He turned fourteen. Am I right?”

“Yes.” Heinrich’s voice is a whisper.

“Fourteen years old, for more than a month now, yet he has not joined the Hitler Youth. There have been four meetings since his birthday, but I am told he has not attended.”

“He has been helping me, with my research.” Heinrich clears his throat, hating himself for the weakness.

“It would be best if he attended on Tuesday.”

Their eyes meet. The blade pushes a little harder than before, it pulses against his vein.

The major general straightens, hands the blade to the barber, taking a towel in return. “And it would be best if you presented yourself to the party headquarters by Wednesday.” He wipes his hands and nods at his men. They file out of the door. The bell chimes again. Their salute hangs heavy in the air.

“What will you do?” the barber asks, dabbing the drop of blood on Heinrich’s neck.

“I will present myself to party headquarters on Wednesday,” his voice cracks, “but I will deliver the message first.”

“It’s too dangerous. They’re watching you.” The barber wring his hands.

“We have to get it through, but it’ll be the last time, at least for me.”

The barber hands him the note and he slips it into the lining of his coat.

“And your son?”

He is quiet for a moment.

“I think he’ll be coming with me to deliver this message.”

“It’s dangerous.” The barber says.

“So is the Hitler Youth.”

Here is the fifth prompt for the 2019 challenge:

Here is the fifth prompt for the 2019 challenge

Top Tip: Find out more about our Writing Courses. If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

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Short Story Challenge:

  1. Tag – Submit Your Third Short Story Today
  2. New Me – Submit Your Second Short Story Today
  3. No One Can Know – Submit Your First Short Story Today
  4. Welcome To The 12 Short Stories Writing Challenge For 2019

This article has 1 comment

  1. Martin Haworth

    Your take on ‘cut-throat’ was such a tease to read and wonderfully tense! Loved it!

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