10 FREE Stories Short Enough to Read On A Lunch Break

Want to get in a little extra reading on your work lunch break? Working full-time can really eat into your reading time and it can be pretty hard to find a story short enough to squeeze in when you do get a moment to spare. But never fear! Here is a list of stories short enough for you to read in the lunch time rush, while being so captivating that you’ll wish they were longer.

Please note: This list is aimed for older teens and adults. As such, some of the stories listed here contain content that isn’t child-friendly, including violence, crime, murder, cyber-stalking, adult relationships, and scary situations.

woman reading while having food
Image by George Milton

Disclaimer: To my knowledge all the stories featured on this list are either in the Public Domain or have been graciously shared with the author’s permission. If it comes to light that any of these stories are pirated and a link to a non-pirated copy of the story isn’t available, that story will be unlinked and a note added. I do not support piracy, I support authors and writers.


Stories that can be read in 5 minutes or less:

Recipe for a Sleepless Night by Sherri Turner

This tiny story is described as postcard fiction. What is postcard fiction you ask? It’s exactly what it seems. Fiction short enough to fit on a postcard! It’s so short you’d read it in a matter of seconds, but it’s fun and relatable, especially for those of us who have suffered a sleepless night. Once you’ve read this, you’ll have plenty of time to read more.

Fitting by Molly McConnell

This is a very quick read and very interesting. Kudos to the author! It follows a woman reflecting on a relationship she ended. It’s simple, sad, and best of all short. It took me a little over 3 minutes to read. It’s available for free on Rabid Oak.

Click & Scroll by Julia H Dixon

I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t shamelessly try to plug one of my own stories. My dystopian drama follows a lonely man who has fallen in love online and gives into the temptation of cyber-stalking his unrequited crush. Click & Scroll is approximately 500 words and can be easily read on your break. You can also listen to me read it to you – in less than 4 minutes!

Adjustments by Allegra Hyde

This flash fiction is engrossing and over in the blink of an eye. Or, roughly two minutes. Focusing on climate catastrophe, it’s thought-provoking and sorrowful.


Stories that can be read in 15 minutes or less

John Simnel’s First Goshawk by Tegan Moore

Don’t let the blasé title fool you – there is a lot more going on in this story than a man and his pet hawk. For one thing, the hawk talks. Or does it? It’s debatable.

This story is a fun historical fantasy-esque tale that can easily be read in 10 minutes. The perfect story for bringing a little magic into your day at the office.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

This chilling horror story can be read in about 10 – 15 minutes. Even if you don’t know this story by name, you’ve likely seen or heard it referenced somewhere. It’s the story of a murderer who is haunted by a sound he believes to be the beating heart of his victim. This story is in the public domain and completely free to read. You can also listen to me narrate The Tell-Tale Heart, in a 13 minute story podcast.

Bullet In The Brain by Tobias Wolff

As the title suggests, there’s a bit of gun violence in this story. Just under 2000 words, this story can be read in about 10, maybe 15 minutes. It tells the story of a man who goes into a bank just as a bank robbery occurs. It begins as an engaging action piece, with an dislikable (?) character – personally, I found him hilarious – and slowly delves into an interesting character study that had me feeling sad for him. Very entertaining.

This story is not in the public domain, which means it’s still the sole property of the author, however it is available for free with permission, according to the site hosting it.

The Disaster Store by Helen Phillips

Kids say the darndest things, don’t they? Now imagine what kids growing up on the brink of societial collapse would say – very much still children, pestering their parents, who have worries that they cannot comprehend. That’s a big theme in this story. This should take you between 12 – 15 minutes to read.


Stories that can be read in 30 minutes or less

A Peculiar Kind Of Madness by Matt Dymerski

I rated this in my Top 10 Creepypastas list, so if you want to know my thoughts on it you can give that a quick skim-read. This story is described as having a reading time between 12 to 17 minutes, but honestly, to me, it takes about 20 minutes if you want to read it without rushing, which I highly reccomend you do. It follows a grandmother as she details how she became an orphan in the space of a single night. This story is available on creepypasta.com

Rome Black Magic by Gaither Stewart

This is a 25 minute read. It follows a man whose gotten out of a rather toxic relationship. The catch is, his ex was something of a witch – oh, I don’t mean that as an insult; a literal witch – and now our protagonist thinks he’s being targetting by her black magic.


This is just a small sample of stories available online. There are so many others, of every genre, and most are too long for this list. That said, if you find yourself in the fortunate position of having a little extra time to spare, consider checking out any of the following lists for your next read:

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