More From Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Until our judge, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, decides on a winner of the Three-Minute Fiction contest, we're bringing you excerpts of stories that have caught our eye. This week, NPR's Susan Stamberg reads a passage from "Friendly Skies" by Tiffany Hawk of Eastampton, N.J., and Bob Mondello reads a passage from "The 46 Local" by John Lynch of Binghamton, N.Y.

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GUY RAZ, host:

Okay, we have finally finished reading the nearly 4,000 short stories you all submitted this round, round six of our Three-Minute Fiction contest. That's where we ask you to write an original piece of fiction that can be read in under three minutes.

Now, it's in the hands of our judge, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. And next weekend, we plan to announce the winner. Until then, here are few more excerpts from some of the stories that came in.

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SUSAN STAMBERG: A pilot shuffles into the space next to her. He grabs the chrome strap with one hand and holds his hat with the other. She notices he is wearing blue and silver shoulder-boards. Her airline uses blue and gold, so he belongs to someone else.

She remembers her bloodshot eyes and hopes he thinks she was partying all night, not crying into a Cup-O-Noodles from the hotel vending machine.

If it's a guy, forget 'im, says the pilot. She can't place his accent, but he says him like eem. You're too good for 'im.

She smiles back, but she doesn't say anything. If she spoke, her voice would crack and he would sense that she is near collapse, look at her with pity, and the last thing she needs is to be pitied by an arrogant pilot. She is reminded of the old joke: How many pilots does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. He holds it up in the air and the world revolves around him.

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BOB MONDELLO: The 46 local from the West Side to Downtown is full of interesting people. Take Mickey, our driver. He's a fat guy, but Mickey isn't one those nouveau fat guys that the politicians are all worked up about. He was obese long before the epidemic.

Mickey is old-school. You would never find him at a drive-up window. His perfectly round physique came from regular ministrations of things like mashed potatoes, meatloaf and beer. Mickey likes to talk about what he's going to do when he retires. He has a long list. Losing weight isn't on it.

Mary Jane sits behind Mickey. She is nuts. I know this because she told me. Mary Jane only rides the bus on Wednesdays, because on Wednesday at 2 o'clock, she has a standing appointment with her psychiatrist.

I get on the bus at 7:25 a.m. It is a 10-minute ride from the bus stop on my corner to the stop nearest my IT job. Mary Jane's doctor's office is in the building two doors down from mine. In other words, she arrives there more than six hours early. She hates to be late.

RAZ: An excerpt from "The 46 Local" by John Lynch of Binghamton, New York. And earlier, we heard "Friendly Skies" by Tiffany Hawk of Eastampton, New Jersey.

Thanks again to our Susan Stamberg and Bob Mondello for reading them. You can find the full versions of these and many other stories and more details about Three-Minute Fiction at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction.

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