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The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One [ESL Audio Short Story]

What Happens When An Entire Town Gets Tired of A Young Prankster And Decides To Give Him A Taste Of His Own Medicine? Read the newest short story that I wrote for my English students. You can listen to the audio through Gumroad or Patreon.

Read The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One

There was a boy who loved to play games. He was sneaky and played a lot of pranks on his family and neighbors. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like the things he did. They called him ‘the prankster,’ and they didn’t like him. They found him ornery and irritating. They were very upset at him and the pranks he pulled.

So, one day, they got together at the city hall and decided to pull a fast one on him. “What are we going to do to get him to stop this foolishness?” one of them asked.

“We need to find a way to teach him a lesson, so maybe then he’ll stop,” another cried.

They put their heads together and brainstormed up many ideas. They laughed and had a really good time. Some of their ideas were really crazy and far out, but they didn’t discard a single one. They continued coming up with more and more crazy ideas that became ever zanier and weirder.

Finally, his mother came up with the strangest idea of all. She wanted to fake the disappearance of everyone in town. It wasn’t hard to pull off because they lived in a small town near the top of a mountain that was completely surrounded by the forest.

It took them three days straight of planning and plotting to prepare everything. They did a lot of research and organized everything just right. When everything was ready, they all gathered once again in the city hall to hash out the final details and make sure they were all in agreement.

They had a big party with lots of food. It was a huge celebration. They couldn’t wait to teach this little brat a lesson.

The next day, they all woke up at 3:00 a.m. and headed out into the woods. They made strange noises to terrify the boy and wake him up. They all had a good laugh as they imagined his fear at waking up all alone.

It was true. Everything went just as they had planned. The boy sat up in bed terrified. He lay back down and hid his head under the pillow to drown out the noise. But the sounds got louder and louder.

The prankster jumped out of bed and screamed for his mother, but of course, she didn’t come. The boy went running through the house looking for her, but she was gone. No one from his family was in the house, so he cowered behind the sofa and cried like a little girl.

Some of the people felt sorry for him and wanted to go comfort him, but his mother wouldn’t let them.

“No way,” she said. “He needs to learn his lesson, and we’re going to see this through to the very end.”

Everyone stopped screaming and making noises now that the boy was awake. They all went back into the woods to wait for morning. A deathly silence covered the town. The boy became even more afraid of the silence than he had been with all the noise. It was eerie and strange.

He walked outside and looked around under the light of the moon, but no one was around. The boy ran over to his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door, but of course, no one answered. He went inside and saw that everything was a mess. There were strange symbols painted on the walls and floors in bright red paint that looked like blood.

“They are here!” some of the messages said.

“They are coming for you,” other messages said.

This happened in every house that boy entered, and he went to almost every house. The messages became weirder and uglier with each house he visited. The boy became more and more terrified. His heart was filled with dread.

If they were coming for him, he decided to play the ultimate prank. He wouldn’t let them have his town, nor his house, nor even him.

So, he went back through every house, setting it on fire. Then he jumped in his mother’s car and drove out of town vowing to never return.

When the people returned to the town, all the houses had burned to the ground. They looked around for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found. Everyone was horrified because their perfectly planned prank had backfired on them.

“Well, look on the bright side,” the boy’s mother said. “At least you don’t have to put up with his pranks anymore now that he’s gone.”

But the people were sad without the boy around. They slowly rebuilt their homes and lives, but they missed having someone around to pull pranks on them. Even though it irritated them, they still missed having something to liven up their day.

“We need to find the boy,” they said.

“We need to bring him back to play pranks on us,” others said.

What none of them really wanted to admit was that they secretly enjoyed playing that prank on the boy. Well, not playing the prank so much. But what they did enjoy was the time they spent together laughing while planning the prank. They all agreed that it was the best time they had ever had and decided to make it a yearly event.

Meantime, they sent out several search parties to surrounding towns and villages. Others swept through the forest to find out what had happened to the boy.

They finally found him holed up in a cave on the other side of the mountain. He had fled there to hide from whoever was coming. The entire village went together to bring him back.

He laughed and laughed when he learned that it had all been a prank.

“That’s the best prank ever. The joke’s on me because you learned from the best,” he said.

They all laughed and laughed while they planned future pranks to pull on each other. They changed the name of the city to Pranksterville, and tourists would come from miles around to get pranked and have a good time laughing at each other.

Of course, the boy grew up to become the mayor, and they all lived happily ever after. His mother was amazed and always expressed her shock and awe.

“That’s the best prank he ever pulled on me because I never thought he would grow up to amount to much,” she said with a huge smile and tears in her eyes as she gave an interview on a national network.

He just smiled back and said, “No, it’s not. One of these days, I’m going to come up with a prank to end all pranks. Just you wait and see.”

But no one ever came up with a better prank than the one they pulled the night he burned their homes all to the ground.

Listen To This Short Story About The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One

Thank you for reading my latest short story ‘The Boy Who Pulled A Fast One‘. I hope you enjoyed it. You can listen to the audio by clicking on the button below that says “I want this!’. You can also listen to more audios on my Patreon page.

Got questions or want to license a short story, hit me up in the comments or through my contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – Read more of my ESL Audio Short Stories here

Dave Bailey Booklist – Read other books that Dave Bailey published here

Learn & Improve Your English – Get more tips to improve your English skills

Immersion [ESL Audio Short Story]

Do you ever wonder who might be watching you? Read this short story asking ‘How Far Will A Watcher Go To Overcome The Effects Of A Devastating Vision That Srips Him Of The One Thing He Treasures Above All Else?’ Another short story I wrote for my English student. So, if you have questions, leave a comment. If you want the audio, you can listen on Gumroad or Patreon

Read Immersion

Azarael swooped down lower over the city. He watched closely everything that went on. Nothing escaped his attention. He was the silent observer who watched events unfold as people lived out their lives like characters playing a role on an endless soap opera that never let up. No commercial breaks for him to grab some popcorn and coke. Not a single moment for him to relax and take some time off. He had no concept for vacation. Even though he saw others taking a vacation and leaving the city while others came on vacation in his city, he didn’t consider taking one himself. He prided himself on his attention to details and not letting a single scene escape his sight. He was like an eternal webcam viewing and recording everything that went on in the city below. He had honed his focus and skills till he could do it without really even trying. He had been asking for a promotion and to oversee more cities. But so far, he had been turned down all three times. After thousands of years, he had honed his skills to the point where he could focus on one person doing one thing, and yet still be completely aware of what everyone else was doing in the entire city.

And yet, Azarael never intervened. He never tried to stop anyone from doing anything. Nor did he help anyone even when they looked like they could use a hand. He had developed a strictly hands-off policy. Don’t get involved was what he always told himself. Everyone has their share of problems, and they just have to learn how to deal with them. That’s how they grow stronger was what he said. It’s like helping a chick out of an egg or a butterfly out of a cocoon. Ultimately, they don’t get the exercise and blood flow that they need to develop their skills and talents to their full potential. Help them out of a mess, and they would be weaker for it. Leave them to resolve it themselves, and they would grow through their own effort. Besides, most of them didn’t really want the things they said they wanted.

Humans were so fickle. They said they wanted something and worked towards it. They complained because they didn’t have it. But then, as soon as they got it, they didn’t want it anymore. They complained about the the new problems that it brought into their lives. Humans! So double-minded. Always griping and moaning. They grumbled and complained about everything. They were never satisfied. Walking blobs of insatiable desire. Always walking around angry, wretched, and frustrated. Constantly ungrateful. Persistently irritated. Give them an inch and they’d take a mile. No, thanks! Forget it. There was no satisfaction in helping them under those conditions. Better to just stay at his post and do what he had been doing for the past few thousand years. Just watch and observe. Record it all.

Azarael never forgot anything that he saw. It was always perfectly filed and stored away in his memory for perfect recall as needed at a moment’s notice. Until one day, all of that changed. Something caught his attention. Something grabbed his eye. He turned to focus a little more attention on it. It was easy for him to split up his attention wherever he needed at any time. He still paid attention to everything else going on around the city.

It was actually pretty rare for something to catch his attention and cause him to divert his focus a bit more. Mostly, just because he had seen it all. There wasn’t much that a human could do to surprise him anymore. After several thousands of years of watching humans and their eccentric behavior, he had just about seen it all. Or so he thought until today. He siphoned off a bit more of his attention to this strange sight that he was watching. It was so odd. So, strange. And frustrating in an almost excruciating way. It was agonizing to watch. He wanted not to see what he was seeing, but he couldn’t stop watching even if he had wanted to. And ever more quickly, larger and larger portions of his attention were focused on this one, singular event. As he continued to watch, he began to lose sight of everything else around him.

He watched less and less of everyone else as his attention narrowed in focus. Soon, he saw nothing else that was going on around him. He could no longer recall the events that had happened outside of his center of focus. And when all was said and done, his focus was so intense that he couldn’t undo it. He could no longer do his job. He could no longer watch as he had before. So, he turned and left his post. The one he had been given thousands of years ago. The post he had never abandoned. He had heard of stories like this. Watchers who no longer watched. Relegated to the lowest levels of existence for having lost their focus. He had laughed and scoffed, calling them weak and silly. Never had he suspected that something like this would happen to him. That something like this could happen to him. And yet here he was. Finished. It was over. He was free to go. Do his own thing until he could get his broad span of attention back. But he had never heard of any watchers ever returning once they had left their post. Impossible? Maybe so, but he would not give up without a try. If one existed, he would find it and return to his post. Like those he had refused to help he needed to struggle and find his own way without expecting anyone else to do it for him. This was his burden, and he would bear it. Forget the Engineers. He was on his own. If they caught him, they would put him out of commission for good. No, he had to find a way to restore his attention and take back his post. He would do whatever it took. He would go, wherever he had to go. Do whatever he had to do. He walked slowly away from his post.

His boss felt sorry for him, but there was nothing he could do. Like Azarael, all he could do was watch and observe. Maybe this is your chance to do something special. Maybe it’s time for you to develop new skills. It could be a new phase of life since you were already so well developed. Consider it a blessing in disguise. An opportunity of sorts, if you will. Azarael sighed. That was not what he wanted to hear, but since he could no longer observe everything, he would go down and observe what he could up close. He still had to watch. Only he had to do it up close and personal now that he could no longer focus his attention from his post so far away. He continued to walk slowly until he arrived and stood in the very streets he had once watched from so far away.

It was strange to be standing here. A place that he knew so well and had watched so often yet had never been himself. There was a whole new level of sensation that enveloped him. Before he had watched only with his eyes, and yet now, it included so much more. The smells, the sounds, the tastes, and the sensations. He soon lost himself in these strange and varied experiences that more than made up for his lost attention span. He realized that his observation from afar had been like watching a horror movie without sound. Without the eerie, creepy noises to freak him out, he had never fully understood how terrifying it was to be here going through the crazy experiences of life that humans did.

Azarael couldn’t say that he still understood fully why they did some of the crazy things that they did, and yet, somehow, things made so much more sense now as he watched them up close with all these added new sensations. He still didn’t jump in to help them, but at times he felt the urge. He felt like he could empathize with them and understand what they were going through at a whole different level. And over time, with careful practice and exercise, he discovered that his skills began to return. After some time, they seemed to be stronger and better than ever. Once again, he could see everyone in the city and everything they did at any given moment. He could fully divide his attention over millions of different places and individuals.

And yet, he felt no desire to return to his post. He didn’t want to watch and observe from afar. Let the other watchers speak ill of him. He no longer cared if they felt sorry for him for having lost his skills. He had found something far better, and he had no desire to go back. So, he stayed, and lived, and walked among mere mortals as one of them, yet not being one of them. Continuing his task of watching and observing and recording everything they did. And from time to time, he helped one or another in their times of desperation. Just a little. Not enough to harm them or cause them to lose their way. But just enough to see them through their moment of desperation and give them hope that they could see their way through once again to the other side. And the sensation he got in return after a moment like this was worth more than the biggest promotion in the world. Worth more than watching and observing all the cities of the world. The new sensations of watching up close and personal made him want to narrow his focus to immerse himself fully and enjoy every observation in a way that he never could before. He smiled and breathed in a deep breath of gratefulness and appreciation for having been brought down here. Not that he ever wanted to see what he had seen again or go through that experience ever again. But without that, he never would have left his post and experienced all these new and amazing experiences that now seemed so natural and vital to his life. He often wanted to go back and tell the others what they were missing out on, but he knew it would do no good. They would have to go through their own crisis and moment of need to be brought down here to experience this moment of truth. They couldn’t be forced or coerced. They had to come on their own in a moment of desperation and need to fully experience it and realize what they were missing. Otherwise, they would simply flee back to the safety of their post where all they did was watch and observe ever more and more as they expanded their skills and reach without actually immersing themselves in it to fully understand and experience.

He moved around frequently spending time in every part of the city to fully immerse himself in the experience and understand those he watched up close and personal. It was like nothing he ever imagined in all those thousands of years from his post in the distance.

Azarael loved to go to the center of the city as the crowds slowly began to build up throughout the day. Especially, in those peak moments when they rushed to and from work. Hurrying about in their bustle and daily grind. Always running away from something and towards something else, but never fully aware themselves of what it was exactly. And yet, he knew that he couldn’t stop them to point that out. Only when they lost something they thought was important, would they realize that it was the little things that surrounded them that really mattered more than whatever it was they prioritized now. But that was okay because he understood now that this was what life was about and all those experiences leading them to discover what was truly important once they immersed themselves in that which they had once only observed from afar.

Listen To the Audio for Immersion

Thank you for reading the short story ‘Immersion’. If you want to listen to the audio, just click the button below that says ‘I want this!’ It’s $0.99 cents, but you can pay what you feel is fair. Or you can listen to all the audios for the month on my Patreon page.

Have questions or interested in licensing a story, hit me up in the comments or through my contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – Read other ESL Audio Short Stories here

Dave Bailey Booklist – See more books Dave Bailey has published here

Learn & Improve Your English – Want more tips to improve your English and develop your skills

The Girl Who Lived Alone [ESL Audio Short Story]

Here’s a new audio short story that I wrote for my English students called The Girl Who Lived Alone. If you have any questions about the meaning of the words, you can ask about them in the comments below. You can also get the audio to listen to and practice your pronunciation on Gumroad or Patreon

The Girl Who Lived Alone

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a dark forest all by herself. She had lived alone for as long as she could remember. She didn’t know where she had come from or how she had gotten there. And since she didn’t have a name, we’ll call her the little girl who lived alone in the woods. She lived in a cave where she slept at night. During the day, she would wander around the forest and eat whatever she could find. Most often, it was fruit that grew on the trees.

Lucky for her, she lived in a place that had no winter and the sun always shined brightly for her each day. It was a tropical paradise. And no, she wasn’t raised by the animals or anything like that. She simply lived. She enjoyed each day, waking up when the sun came up and going to sleep when the sun went down. She enjoyed whatever she came across to eat that day. Sometimes she ate a lot, and sometimes she only ate a little. But she never took more than she needed. She simply lived. She lived simply.

She walked among the animals and they walked around her. She didn’t fear them and they didn’t fear her. After she had eaten enough food for the day, she would run through the forest looking for animals to watch. They became her faithful companions as the years wore on. They began to trust her more and even let her touch them as she earned their trust by giving them food to eat and a warm place to sleep. She often took care of them when they fell ill and became sick.

But one day that all changed. The times changed. The girl changed. She often became irritated at the slightest things. She would scream at the animals for no reason and drive them away for the slightest provocation. She always felt bad for it later. She was ashamed of her poor behavior. She had no idea why she acted that way. She knew that it wasn’t right. She knew that she betrayed the trust that she had spent so long to build up. But often, she found that she couldn’t control herself.

The dark moods came on longer and stronger. There were days when she felt okay and was nice to the animals. But then there were days where she didn’t want to see anyone or be seen by anyone. She would hide in the cave and not come out until she couldn’t stand the hunger. Then she would head out and find something to eat, only to run back to the darkness of the cave once again. She noticed that the mood shifted among the animals. They stopped running to her when she came out of the cave. They often avoided her and the areas she was prone to be.

She missed the good, old days when she just played and had fun without worry or care. She looked for ways to stay happy and true. And she wracked her brain, but the more she tried the more blue she became. There was nothing in her environment to explain the shifts. There was nothing that anyone did to her to make her feel this way. But the dark moods came on longer and stronger. Lasting longer each day. Coming more frequently. Often she scared herself with way she felt, but the worse part of it was that she enjoyed the dark moods. That was often when she felt that happiest. When she felt the most alive. Dark thoughts. Dark feelings. Dark moods.

Her days grew darker. Her nights felt more natural. Soon she felt more comfortable going out into the woods at night. She enjoyed the fresh, cool air. She felt safer because she could hide better in the darkness. She didn’t even know what she was hiding from, but most of the animals she had known, no longer saw her during the day. They still came around. They called to her in the cave. They left her treats and snacks that she found when she came out at night. But she no longer wanted to walk in the day. She didn’t like the light, and she no longer wanted to play with her animal friends in the light of the day. She still found the food she needed to eat. She still ran through the woods. She bathed under the light of the moon. She still did many of the things she had done before, only now she did them at night.

And those who watched her observed the things she did as she changed from one of the day to one of the night. They watched carefully and carefully took notes. They created hypothesis and made guesses. Some they got right but mostly they were wrong. The girl surprised them in strange and pleasant ways that they did not expect. They plotted and schemed as they prepared the way. And one day, while she was asleep, they carried her away to the place where others live, to the place where others play.

They let her loose in the city. They let her meet other people, but she didn’t like where she was. She missed her forest. She missed her cave. But most of all she missed the darkness. With all of their lights the night was never dark, and she no longer could go out to eat her fill so she could just run and play in this strange place they called the center of the world. She sobbed and cried in the light of the day. She wept and wailed under the light of the lamps at night. She wanted to go back to the forest. She wanted to be by herself. Just the little girl alone in the woods watched over by those who engineered as they plotted and planned to take over the world. Raven face of the undead.

Would You Like To Listen To the Audio for ‘The Girl Who Lived Alone’?

Thank you for reading the short story ‘The Girl Who Lived Alone’. If you want to listen to the audio, just click the button below that says ‘I want this!’ It’s $0.99 cents, but you can pay what you feel is fair. Or you can listen to all the audios for the month on my Patreon page.

If you have questions or would like to license the story, hit me up in the comments or through my contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – Read more ESL Audio Short Stories here

Dave Bailey Booklist – See all the books Dave Bailey published here

Learn & Improve Your English – Want more tips and suggestions for learning English and developing your skills

Conversations With Death [ESL Audio Short Story]

Hey! This is a new short story that I wrote for my English students. There are some interesting words and expressions that you might not know. So feel free to ask about them in the comments below. Enjoy reading this short story, and if you can listen to the audio on Gumroad or Patreon.

Conversations With Death

Once upon a time, there was a dirty, corrupt politician. He thought he was the cat’s pajamas. He thought he could do anything he wanted and get away with it. He skimmed money from all the social projects. He hung onto money that belonged to others so he could increase the interest in his bank account. In all, he was a real scoundrel.

He lived a long and happy life without ever really caring about other people, but one day all of that changed. He received a visit from an angel. It was the Angel of Death.

“Your time has come, Mr. Politician. I’m here to take you to the Great Beyond.” said the Angel of Death.

The man shrugged his shoulders and stood up to go with the Grim Reaper.

“I’ve had a long and happy life,” the man said. “I guess I’m as ready as I will ever be. But first, let me tell my family goodbye.”

The Angel of Death just laughed. “No need for that,” he said. “They are all coming with you.”

The man was shocked. “No, please. No. Don’t take them,” he begged and pleaded. They didn’t do anything. They don’t deserve to die.”

The Angel of Death said, “They’re not going to die because they did anything bad, just like you aren’t dying because you did anything bad. It’s just a part of life. Everyone dies.”

The man started to cry.

“What are you crying for?” the Grim Reaper asked.

“I’m sorry for all the bad things I did. I’m scared that I’m going to suffer for it. I want a chance to make things right.” he said.

“Oh, don’t worry. You will. You will,” said the Angel of Death. “It’s not over yet. Death is just the beginning.”

The man looked at him strangely. “It’s not. It’s the beginning of what?”

“This is where you switch roles and take the place of those you once mistreated. Now you get to experience life from their point of view,” the hooded angel said.

“What? No. That’s a fate far worse than death,” he said with a scream.

“You thought you were going to get off scot-free after all the things you did with just a slap on the wrist. Did you think you would just waltz into heaven or drop into hell? Oh, no, my friend. Now you get to experience the way you treated others first hand. That’s the fun part,” the Grim Reaper said with an evil grin.

“But that’s not fair,” said the man with a sigh. “I don’t deserve to be treated this way.”

“Treated what way? The way you treated others. They suffered at your hand. So, now it’s more than fair you take their place and experience what they experienced because of you.”

“That sounds like Karma from some ancient, far-eastern religion. I don’t believe in that stuff,” said the old man.

“No, no, my friend,” said the Fiend with a cry. “This is love. The love you were taught. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Your mother taught you this from the time you were just a child. You had your entire life to prepare and practice.”

“But she didn’t tell me that I would suffer the same fate others experienced at my hand,” the old man whined.

“How would your mother have known at the time exactly how it would play out. She only taught you what she sensed intuitively. But you didn’t even try to play nice or fair with others. You sought to take advantage of them at every turn your entire life.” the Grim Reaper shook his head in disgust.

“Please, no! I want a second chance,” the old man pleaded and begged.

“Sure, thing,” said the Angel of Death. “You’ll get it when you experience what you did to others. And you’ll have the chance to do better.”

“But will I remember this conversation?” the man asked.

“Of course not,” the Grim Reaper replied.

“So, then it’s not fair,” the old man whined. “How can I learn to do better if I don’t remember the lessons I’ve learned.”

“You don’t learn by being told. You learn by experience. You learn by loving. You learn by doing. And you learn by practicing. So, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to practice. C’mon. Let’s get this over with.”

The Angel of Death reached out to touch the old man with his scythe. The man screamed, and everything went black. Suddenly, he woke up in bed beside his wife.

He looked at the clock. Five a.m. Had it all been a dream? It felt so real. He was sweating and shaking and crying.

“What’s wrong honey?” his wife asked when she woke up beside him. “Were you having a nightmare?”

The old man leaped out of bed and ran to the kitchen. He cooked a huge breakfast. He served his wife and children breakfast in bed. He invited all his neighbors over for breakfast too.

Everyone was shocked at the change in the old man. At first, they thought he had gone bonkers. They tried to get him to calm down, but then they realized that they liked this new version of the old man much better. So, they let him be.

No one understood what had happened to the old man to bring about such a radical change. This wasn’t the same arrogant person they had known the day before.

But they didn’t mind it. They actually liked him much better. And always after that, the old man tried his very best to treat everyone around him the way he would want to be treated himself.

Was it real? Was it true? Would he live again as those around him? He didn’t know. He didn’t care. But he would do his best to be prepared. So, when his time came, he would be ready for the scythe of the Angel of Death.

Would You Like To Listen To the Audio for Conversations With Death?

Thank you for reading the short story ‘Conversations With Death’. If you want to listen to the audio, just click the blue button below that says ‘I want this!’ I’m asking 0.99 cents for it, but you can pay what you feel is fair or have available. Or you can listen to all the audios for the month on my Patreon page.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment or hit me up through the contact page.

More Stories & Resources

ESL Short Stories – See all the ESL Audio Short Stories here and find another one to read or listen to

Dave Bailey Booklist – See all the books Dave Bailey has published here

Learn & Improve Your English – Tips and suggestions for learning English and developing your skills

Time Machine Man [ESL Audio Short Story]

Joe is a man who dreams of traveling back into the past, and then later of traveling into the future. But what will he do when the opportunity arises? And why do we desire things that we end up hating when we finally get them?

This is a short story, I wrote for my ESL students to help them improve their English listening and speaking skills with the audio for Time Machine Man here >>>

There was a man. His name was Joe. Joe lived in the future. Society was messed up. People were messed up. Joe felt like he didn’t belong there. He wanted to build a time machine. He wanted to travel back in time. He wanted to go back into the past. He wanted to return to the good, old days.

Joe talked about it all the time, but his friends just laughed at him. “Forget it, Joe. If you build a time machine, travel to the future. The future is where it’s at.”

Joe didn’t agree with them. He thought that the future would be worse than the present. Besides, he didn’t know what was in the future. But he did know what was in the past. He loved the past. He lived his entire life thinking about the past. He studied the past.

He ended up quitting his job at a research facility. He became a history teacher. He read about the past. He read about different cultures. He traveled to many different places.

Joe wrote many articles. He gave many speeches about past history and cultures. He became very famous. He consulted for famous movie directors who made movies about the past. He made a lot of money and became very rich.

Joe told everyone that they should build a time machine and return to the past. The past was where it was at. If they could return to the past, they could do whatever they wanted.

One day, a friend of his from the research facility paid him a visit. He told Joe that they had built a time machine. He asked Joe to join them on their first trip. But Joe didn’t want to go. He liked his life here and now. He thanked his friend for the invitation.

“But I thought you wanted to go back into the past. I thought you didn’t like it here. You said that people were messed up. You said that society is messed up. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You should go,” his friend said.

“Nah,” said Joe. “I like the status quo. My life is good here, and I don’t want to mess it up. If I travel back into the future, it might mess things up even worse. You shouldn’t travel into the past. You should travel into the future.”

Joe contacted his famous friends. The celebrities and politicians. They passed a law to ban time travel into the past. They didn’t want to mess things up. They were afraid someone might change things and cause them to lose out on the good life.

There was a huge public outcry. Most of society wanted to travel back into the past. They wanted to change things. They wanted to try and change their lives just like Joe had when he first began. But now that things had changed and life was good, he didn’t want to shake things up. It would be too risky.

There was a huge debate. People screamed. People cried. But celebrities and politicians were firm. The law was the law. If you broke the law, you suffered the consequences.

“You do the crime, you do the time,” they said.

The scientists in the lab didn’t worry about it. Joe’s friends from the research facility traveled back in time. They found Joe while he still worked at the lab before he became famous.

“Hey, Joe. It’s us from the future. The future is messed up. People are messed up. You’re messed up. We came back to pick you up and take you back in time.”

Joe just shook his head and refused to go.

“No, I don’t really want to travel back in time,” he said. “I like it here. I like my life. I don’t want to mess that up. We need to look to the future. The future is where it’s at.”

His friends just sighed and shook their head. They didn’t understand what was wrong with Joe. How did this happen? They didn’t know.

“Sorry, Joe. Our machine can only go back into the past. We don’t know how to make it go forward into the future.”

They couldn’t figure it out. How someone could complain about something all their life, and yet when faced with the opportunity to change, refuse to take it.

“Okay, Joe. Stay here and enjoy your life,” they said. “We’re going to travel back in time to see the past firsthand. We’re going to make history together with those who live in the past.”

And off they went. Joe just smiled. Talking about the past was nice. He loved reminiscing about the good, old days. Joe liked to complain. He liked to think about how things could have been. And yet, he didn’t want to relive the same things over again. He wanted to look forward to discovering what would happen in the future.

Joe began researching everything he could about traveling to the future. He talked with everyone about the future. They just laughed at him and called him crazy.

Joe ended up quitting his job at the research facility. He wrote many articles. He gave many speeches. He consulted for many famous movie directors making movies about time travel. Joe became very famous. He became very rich.

Until one day, he received a visit from his friends from the research facility.

“Hey, Joe,” they said. “It’s us from the past. We discovered a way to travel to the future. Let’s go see what the future holds for us.”

But once again, old Joe refused.

“Nah,” he said and shook his head. “I don’t really want to travel into the future. I like it here. I like my life. I don’t want to lose what I have. I love my friends. I love people. I love society. We need to stay in the present. The present is where it’s at.”

His friends all sighed and shook their heads. They didn’t understand what was wrong with Joe. How did this happen? They didn’t know. How a man who complained all the time refused to change and follow through on what he said.

Joe just smiled as he sat in his old brown chair. He picked up his pen and wrote his first fiction novel about a man with a time machine who could visit the past and visit the future whenever he wanted. But Joe himself never worked up the courage to go with them. He only wrote out the stories that they told him.

Thank you for reading my latest ESL short story, Time Machine Man. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you have questions about any of the vocabulary or expressions, leave a comment below. Let me know what you thought of the story and how you interpret it as well, if you want some extra writing practice.

If you would like the audio file that I narrated to go along with it to listen to, it’s available on Gumroad. Just click the green button below that says ‘I Want This’. You’ll also get the PDF, ePub, and Mobi versions for download as well.

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help

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